Emily stood back and wiped her forehead with the sleeve of her flannel shirt, careful not to swipe any more mud over her face or hair in the process. She'd already done it once that morning and suffered Derek's good natured teasing in the interim.
She glanced over her shoulder at Derek who'd walked into the room behind her before turning back to survey her handiwork. "I think I have it evened out," Emily said as inspected the wall with a critical eye. "Once the rest of this dries we'll be ready for sanding."
Derek nodded running a hand over the portion of the wall that was already dry. "Yeah, I'll bring a couple of heaters in to speed things along." He stepped back and nudged Emily playfully with his elbow. "Listen to you, Miss This Old House."
Emily snorted. "Old being the operative word. Along with money pit.”
Both of those things and more had been said ever she'd bought the townhouse about 20 minutes from the office. “Quaint,” and “charming” had given way to “what the hell is this?” on a semi-regular basis but with Derek's help, all the hard work yielded beautiful results. They'd left the living room for last. Given its size and condition when she bought it at a foreclosure auction now that they were nearing the last stage of the renovation Emily could finally see what the realtor raved about. It was going to be a spectacular room.
She turned towards Derek and said, “I never could have done this without you.”
“You would have figured it out eventually.” He checked his watch and rocked back on his heels. “And on that note, I need to get going.”
“Movie night with Penelope.” Derek replied, his smile turning coy as he dusted himself off. “My choice this time.”
Emily scraped the last of the mud into a bucket and covered it before moving it into a corner. “What's on tap?”
“Die Hard and Die Hard 2. Double feature at the Portico Theater.”
Emily chuckled. “This is to get her back for the Fellini revival isn't it?”
Derek took a step back, one hand pressed dramatically against his chest. “I am shocked that you'd even think I'd stoop that low, Agent Prentiss.” He grinned at her then sauntered out of the room to get the aforementioned heaters.
Hearing “Agent” pierced Emily slightly. She was still that person, even if she was on an extended vacation the past few weeks. Her discomfort was quickly covered with a wry smile as Derek came back in with the heaters. “You certainly have some creative forms of revenge.” Emily turned on the one Derek handed to her, positioning it for maxim wall coverage once she turned it on. Derek did the same.
“My vengeance, if I had any, wouldn't involve stooping so low as to bedevil our computer goddess. But .txte I am an honest and gentle soul, I'll only Emily shook her head as Derek shrugged into his jacket. He leaned in and kissed her on the cheek. “I'll see you soon.”
Emily cleaned up the last of the supplies before heading toward the kitchen and a well-deserved glass of wine. This was it: settling down and settling in. Months before, Clyde had taken her refusal of his offer to head the London Interpol office with good grace. “I don't know if you'd thrive without your team,” he'd said to her at the time. “But I guess there are worse problems to have, eh?”
A globetrotting childhood left Emily with the capacity to land on her feet just about anywhere she went. It's what made her deep cover work to bring down Doyle possible as well as integrate almost seamlessly into the BAU. Only after she nearly had everything ripped away and her own inner workings shaken that Emily had taken a leap of faith and dared to set down real roots.
Her phone rang just as she pulled out a wine glass from the cupboard.
“Done for the day?” Dave's mellifluous tones caressed her ear.
Emily poured her wine then turned so she could lean back against the counter. “I am. Where are you?”
“I foolishly thought I could get in and out of the mall in less than 30 minutes during this part of the holiday. Hold on.” She heard some very creative cursing in Italian and suppressed her snicker. “Who lets these people drive?” He groused.
“The DMV.” She paused and sipped her drink before asking, “Do you have time to swing by?”
The slight pause on the other end of the line made Emily wish she hadn't asked.
“I can,” Dave replied. “If you'd like the company.”
“I would. Could you...?”
She could hear his smile across the crackle of the phone line. “I'll call him. We'll bring dinner.”
Two snow covered forms stood on Emily's stoop a scant 40 minutes later. “I told you, she's fine with us coming over,” Dave said for what felt like the hundredth time.
“I just want to be sure we're not intruding,” Aaron said, the smooth tone belying his uncertainty. Dave wanted to shake the other man but held off; he understood what was beneath the other man's reluctance to come to Emily's house. He'd felt it himself at first.
Fortunately, he was spared any further speculation by Emily opening the door with a wide welcoming smile. “Come in, come in,” she urged, holding the screen door open with one hand. They brushed past her and stood aside so she could close the door behind them.
The quiet that threatened to surge between them when Emily turned around was quickly broken by Aaron who held up two steaming bags of Chinese food from Yum Kee. “It's the only place open near here,” he said apologetically.
Emily nodded. “It's fine. They've got great food.” She reached out and took the bags out of his hands. “Coats can go in the closet over there,” she said, pointing with her chin. “And the kitchen's down this way.”
“We remember,” Dave replied affably. They divested themselves of their coats and followed in Emily's wake.
Dave had been to the house twice and Aaron once .txte she'd bought it. In the long months .txte Emily's return, everything between the three of them felt tentative. Nothing got in the way of work; they were too professional for that. It was the quiet, in between and after work moments that were still up in the air. No one wanted to walk away but even Aaron had to admit the year of secrets and misdirection that they'd lived through - the team and the three of them respectively - didn't come without cost.
Aaron had to live with the knowledge that Emily was alive but still in harm's way as she chased down Doyle and he couldn't tell anyone, least of all Dave. Dave knew something had been needling his lover and did his best not to probe any deeper. It had been hard to hold each other with the ghost of the one they'd lost forever in between.
Emily, for her part, hoarded the bits and pieces of news she'd get infrequently from JJ. Her heart ached as she hunted: for her team, for the men she'd opened herself to.
Three places were set out on the island that dominated the middle of the kitchen, along with wine glasses. Emily looked up from where she was opening the containers with a tentative smile. “You got the barbeque duck. A wise choice.”
They took their places, Emily at one end, Dave and Aaron on either side. Emily served. The food was good, the company even better. Then why, Emily wondered, was it so hard to bear the silence?
“Can we…can we just stop for a minute?”
Dave looked over at Aaron who looked at Emily. She put her chopsticks aside and braced her hands on the countertop.
“I don't know if I know if what I'm going to say is going to totally mess us up but we can't keep going on like this.” Reaching out, she caught Dave's hand and then Aaron's in her own.
“Emily,” Aaron began only to stop at Dave's quick headshake. He settled for giving her hand a light supportive squeeze.
Emily blew out a breath then said, “.txte I've been back I've been flailing, even if it hasn't seemed like it. After being gone from you both, from the team, I didn't know myself anymore. It's been like I was going through the motions.”
Tears threatened as she continued. “I love you both so much it hurts. I said no to Clyde because my work here isn't finished.” She pulled her hand away from Dave to sweep at her eyes. “We're not finished. At least I hope we're not.” A half sob followed this statement. “God, I don't even know if any of this makes sense.”
Aaron moved first, his normal reserve falling away as he slid from his stool so he could take her in his arms. She relaxed unstintingly, her dark head falling to rest on Aaron's fleece covered shoulder. “Okay,” she said softly. “I'm okay”
Aaron's hand rubbed her back before moving into her hair. “You are definitely okay.”
Dave approached from the other side, tapping Emily on the shoulder. When she turned her face toward him, her cheeks were damp. “Why the tears, bella?” he asked softly, his hand cupping her face.
Emily gave a hiccupping laugh. “You've both been so patient with me. I've been here but I haven't actually been here, not .txte I got back, not really.”
Aaron released her long enough to pull his stool in closer. Dave mimicked the movement. “I know,” he began slowly. “It's been hard on all of us but I knew it had to be ten times harder for you. I didn't want to push and maybe I should have.” He glanced at Dave who nodded for him to continue. “What we have was fragile. I still want it, want you both if that's what you want.”
“What Aaron is trying to say is that we've both been idiots to let you twist yourself in knots this long,” Dave said dryly.
Emily laughed again and wiped away a stray tear. “Who was it that said that profilers should never profile each other?”
Dave shrugged, “I have no idea but he was probably an idiot. Sometimes we need to dig deeper with each other, if we're going to make this work.”
“Agreed,” Aaron said. He slid one hand on Emily's thigh. “We've got a lot to make up for.”
Her answering shudder made him smile and he squeezed her again. Dave shook his head and began to close up the containers.
The bedroom, along with the kitchen, was where Emily had invested most of her initial decorating energy. She'd bought a bigger bed and Morgan had given her a set of sinfully sensuous Egyptian sheets as a housewarming gift; Dave made a mental note to himself to ask the younger profiler about that.
However, that was a subject for a later time. Right now, Dave was content to appreciate how lovely Emily looked spread out beneath Aaron on those sheets. The Queen Anne chair that Emily had liberated from her mother placed just so made for a perfect vantage point for him to watch as Aaron hauled Emily's thighs on to his own so he could drive deeper within that moist warm heat that they'd both come to love.
Her fingers dug into Aaron's forearms as Emily rode wave after wave of pleasure, her pussy rippling around the thick cock sliding in and out of her. Above her, Aaron was backlit by moonlight from her bedroom window. Emily's turned her head to the side and saw Dave watching, his eyes half closed, one hand wrapped around his cock stroking lazily.
“Are you…fuck…Aaron!” Emily choked out before she tried again. “You just going to watch?”
Dave smirked and got up from his seat, padding over until he stood near the edge of the bed. “You were wanting something more, love?”
Emily whimpered as Aaron gave a twisting thrust that threatened to lift her off the bed. “You know what she wants, Dave,” Aaron said breathlessly. “Such a pretty mouth our Emily has.”
“She certainly does,” Dave agreed. He brought a knee up on the bed which brought his cock right into Emily's range. She grabbed it greedily, licked then sucked at the head as though Dave was something new and fascinating.
“That's..goddamn.. Emily…Aaron, so good!” Dave groaned. He brought his hand to her head, the slide of her hair like silk on his fingers. Aaron reached out at caught Dave by the shoulder, slowing until they were thrusting in time into the woman between them.
Emily's orgasm spiraled upward from her belly until it filled her entire body. She felt wanted and loved, felt that same want and love radiating out from her back into the men who'd sheathed themselves inside of her, their connection white hot and pulsing until finally she exploded, shattering all around them.
They came back to themselves wrapped around each other. Emily licked her lips, savoring the lingering musky taste of Dave as she stared up at the ceiling, her body cradled and warm between her men. “I'm going to have everyone over the day after Christmas,” she said into the quiet. Emily turned her head towards Aaron and added, “Bring Jack.”
Aaron drew back, his brows furrowed. “Are you sure?” he asked hesitantly. “I hadn't told him about this...us.”
She smiled, reaching up to flick the lock of hair away from his forehead. “Whatever you tell him will be fine. He needs to know you have people who care about you, Aaron. That care about him too.”
Dave looped an arm around her waist, resting his chin on her shoulder. “Bring him. If JJ and WIll come they'll bring Henry. I know Derek and Penelope are in town and so is Spence. Family is family.
Emily didn't bother with a tree but she was able to score some evergreen branches from the lot near her house. With Penelope's help, she added white lights and red bows and draped the branches around the unfinished living room. A fire blazed invitingly in the fireplace, lifting the shadows in the corners and adding to the warmth.
JJ slipped her arm around Emily's waist and gave her a side hug. “You look happy.”
A slow sweet smile tugged at Emily's lips. “Does it show?”
“Mmm hmm, especially .txte it means that both Dave and Hotch are happy too.”
The casual comment caught Emily by surprise. “I…um…that doesn't have anything to do with me.” JJ rolled her eyes.
“Em, look around. What do you see?”
Derek and Penelope sat on the couch across from Spencer and Cecilia, the quiet but amusing young woman whom he'd brought as his date. It was hard to miss the press of thighs and Derek's arm around Penelope's shoulder keeping her close. Spencer's long fingers were intertwined with Cecilia's and occasionally he'd turn as though to reassure himself that she was actually there.
Will, Dave and Aaron stood near the fireplace talking while Will and Jack had crashed out on the oversized ottoman, curled together like puppies. Dave and Aaron both glanced over at Emily and smiled, sending a bolt of awareness up her spine.
“Fine, I get your point,” she muttered. “We've tried to be discreet.”
“You and everyone else in this room,” JJ countered gently. “No judgments, Emily. Not from us.”
Emily opened her mouth then closed it as JJ's words sank in. She was right. “How'd you get so smart, lady?”
JJ smirked. “I learned from the best.”
Emily pressed a quick affectionate kiss on JJ's cheek. “Thank you,” she said then walked over to join her men. When she reached them, Aaron drew her in and tucked her neatly between himself and Dave and never missed a beat. Dave's hand curved around her hip, a reliable anchor.
No one, least of all Emily, knew what might happen tomorrow. It might be one case too many; one or all of them might fall.
However, those thoughts were for another day. Emily had her family and two hearts that beat in time with her own.