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12 May 2010 @ 06:07 am
Fic Post: The Air I Breathe  
This is the first time I'm writing a fic and I got into a case. It's not "case fic", I dont know if I could ever really go there, but I got deeper into a case than I ever have before. It was fun to do something a little different.

Title: The Air I Breathe
Author: Montiese
Category: Case-fic/Drama/Romance
Characters: Aaron Hotchner, Emily Prentiss, Derek Morgan, Dave Rossi, Ensemble
Pairing: Hotch/Prentiss
Rating: TEEN
Summary: “Someone has to do the dangerous job…we’re the some ones.”
Author’s Note: This is my first real attempt at even a little bitty case fic. I’ve never really done it before so I was happy with the result. The title of the story comes from the Donna Summer song, I Will Go with You. Rule #6 is ‘remember there are so many little ways to show your love for each other’.

The ride home was quiet. The radio didn’t even play; they were both deep in their own thoughts. The plane ride, a little over an hour long, was the same way. The BAU had been in Waterbury, Connecticut working the disappearance of five girls in two months. The whole city was on edge and the arrival of the FBI did nothing to calm their fears.

Fear turned to sadness and outrage when 13 year old Miranda Pickett was found in a ditch outside of town. She’d been strangled and sexually assaulted. One of the first girls to go missing, the autopsy showed she’d been dead for less than 48 hours. It gave the team hope for the other girls. They worked nearly non-stop on a profile, finding it difficult to nail down an Unsub with such a varying victimology.

The girls only seemed to have one thing in common…age. They were all 13, post-pubescent JJ noted with a shudder. Other than that they lived in different areas of town, were different races, religions, went to different schools, and had different activities and friends. Even if two managed to overlap, finding a commonality for all five was nearly impossible. The BAU did the only thing they knew to do, go through the lives of each girl with a fine-toothed comb. In the era of social networking this was no easy feat. The clock was working against them but they wanted to bring the other four victims home alive.

After 72 hours of almost non-stop work they found the connection. It was Dr. Ann Douglas, she was a pediatrician. She saw all five girls in the past six months. Morgan and Prentiss went out to interview the doctor. She was kind, caring, and good at her job. They wanted to have a conversation with her head RN, Adrian Fisher, especially when a quick check by Garcia found sealed juvenile records involving improper conduct with 7 different 13 years old girls over 4 states.

They rushed out of the office, heading to the address Garcia gave them. Prentiss called Hotch from the car on the way. The two profilers got there first, not sure where the rest of the team and the local PD were. The house was just on the outskirts of Waterbury so it might take them some time.

“What's that smell?” Prentiss asked. She and Morgan were standing on the porch. She tried, unsuccessfully, to see through the grimy front windows.

“Shit, shit, I think the house is on fire.” Morgan replied. “We need to go in now.”

He kicked in the door and they rushed in, guns drawn. The living room was smoky but they could see through to the back door.

“We’re never going to find them.” Emily said. “They might already be dead.”

“Upstairs.” Morgan pointed.

They went up the stairs together and looked around. Emily could hear the sirens in the distance as the smoke got heavier but there was still no sign of the girls or the Unsub. Desperate, they started to call out their names. Kara! Shelly! Denise! Lisa! Morgan heard a faint call coming from the back room. He and Emily ran down the long hallway to the door. She touched the knob with a tentative hand. It was cool. It was also locked.

“Back away from the door!” Morgan exclaimed seconds before kicking it in.

Three girls were in the room. One of them, Denise Capshaw, seemed to be unconscious on the bed. Kara McIntyre and Lisa Norris were on the floor. Their ankles and wrists were bound tightly with rope and duct tape. Prentiss holstered her firearm.

“Where’s Michelle?” She asked, rushing to cut them free as Morgan checked Denise’s pulse. She was barely alive and her skin was clammy.

“That bastard took her!” Kara exclaimed. “He took her and left us here to die.”

“Fisher is gone?” Derek asked, checking the bathroom and closet before he put his gun away.

“He left a long time ago, I think.” Lisa replied. “We begged him to let us go but he just tied us tighter and left us.”

“Morgan, we've got to get out of here. The fire is coming.” Emily finally cut the girls free. “I'm sure we can't go the same way we came.”

Smoke started coming into the bedroom. Morgan and Prentiss rushed to put the mangled door back into place. It wasn’t going to keep anything out for long. The fire was moving to quickly and they were trapped. Emily ran to the window.

“There's a back roof.” She said.

“Let’s do it.” Morgan replied.

“None of the windows open.” Kara told them.

Morgan tried to grab the chair but it was bolted to the floor. He rolled his eyes, muttering an expletive.

“Prentiss, see if there are any towels or something in the bathroom I can use.”

Emily ran into the bathroom, coughing from the smoke coming into the room. She came back with a towel. While Morgan held his hand in a fist, she wrapped it tightly around. Emily moved back as he punched through the glass. It broke easily; Morgan pushed much of it out of the way and opened the window from the outside.

“C'mon Kara.” He looked at the girl.


“We need to climb down from the roof.”

“No way,” She shook her head. “That’s insane.”

“It’s not a request.” Morgan’s voice was firm but he didn’t want to frighten her. She’d been through enough. “The house is burning down and I won't let that happen with all of us in it.”

“I'm afraid of heights, Mister.”

“My name is Derek, and I will have you the whole time. I promise you're gonna be safe. C'mon, I need you to trust me. I know you don’t want to but I need you to.”

He held out his hand. She reluctantly got up from the floor and went over to him.

“Prentiss, stay here. I’ll be right back.”

“Yeah.” Prentiss nodded. She looked back at the door, covering her mouth with her hand to keep too much smoke from going down her throat. She told Lisa to do the same.

Morgan went out on the roof. He didn’t even know if there was a way down. If he were a perv hiding girls in the back room, he wouldn’t leave a trellis, pipe, or ladder out there for them to escape. That’s when he saw the firefighters.

“Hey!” He waved his hands and held up his badge. “Derek Morgan, FBI! We need some help; we've got victims up here.”

“Hurry,” one of the firefighters shouted. “Bring a long ladder!”

Kara buried her face in Morgan’s back as she held onto his waist. She didn’t want to look down or across. All that ran through her mind was falling and breaking her neck. After all she’d endured with Fisher she did not want to die that way.

“She’s afraid of heights.” Morgan said as the firefighter came onto the roof and grabbed her. “We’ve got two more girls inside and an Agent.”

The firefighter took Kara down, telling her to hold on tight as if she had any intention of letting go. Morgan rushed back through the window with a firefighter in tow. There was a lot of smoke in the room now. Emily had gotten Denise from the bed; she had both girls lying flat on the floor near the window with her. Morgan grabbed Emily and Lisa, who was having a coughing fit, while the firefighter picked up Denise.

“I'm OK.” Prentiss said, coughing. “Take care of the girls.”

“You're not OK, Prentiss.” Morgan was helping her out of the window. “Don’t fight me.”

“Morgan, I'm fine.”

He ignored her, practically lifting her out and onto the roof. Lisa grabbed a firefighter waiting on the roof and he started to climb down the ladder with her on his back. The second firefighter had Denise over his shoulder so he had to take his time. Morgan and Prentiss had to wait their turn, Prentiss coughing the whole time. They could both see Hotch on the ground with their teammates.

Even with the distance in height and feet, Morgan could see the Unit Chief’s angry face. Oh well, it wasn’t as if he hadn’t seen that face before. They finally made it to the ground and walked a safe distance away to watch the house burn. Ambulances carrying the young victims went roaring down the road. It was dusk now.

“Oh God,” Prentiss put her hand over her stomach. “Oh dear God.”

“Fisher is getting away, Hotch.” Derek was almost breathless. “He took Michelle and left the other girls to die. We…”

“What the hell were you two thinking?” Hotch unleashed his fury. “You wait for backup; you do not rush into a burning house!”

“The girls were in there.” Morgan reasoned. He did his best to keep his tone in check. For one, he knew it was coming. Secondly, once he was riled up it was hard to come down. There was still work to be done. “The firefighters would’ve never gotten to them in time. We were doing our jobs.”

“Foolishly risking your life is not your job, Morgan. And then you drag Prentiss…”

“He didn’t drag me into anything.” Emily said, stifling more coughs. “We both rushed in, knowing and weighing the risks. I wasn’t letting those girls burn to death. No way in hell.”

“And if the firefighters wouldn’t have gotten here in time?” Hotch asked. “You were both reckless, especially you Prentiss. I expect you to use your brain.”

“And I expect you not to put your foot in my ass for doing my job.” Emily countered.

“Prentiss…” Morgan went to pull her away. They didn’t need to be doing this right now.

“Oh no, Morgan, let her keep talking.” Hotch said. “She's already facing possible discipline for this stunt. Let her…”

“Discipline for doing my job?” Emily cut him off. “You should be more focused on the fact that Fisher is in the wind than beating up…” Emily’s eyes rolled back in her head and she crumbled to the ground.

“Emily!” Hotch shouted her name, her first name. He fell to his knees and pulled her to him. The rest of the team crowded around. “Emily, Emily,”

“Medic!” Morgan called out. “Help! We need some help down here!” He bent over Prentiss too as an EMT rushed over.

“She just passed out mid sentence.” Hotch said.

They all heard the panic in his voice but no one planned to call him on it. They were worried too. The EMT ran smelling salt under Emily’s nose. She slowly started to come back.

“Hotch…?” She looked up at him

“You passed out.” He said, gently touching her face. “We need to get you checked out by a doctor.”

“I'm fine.” She mumbled.

“You're on the ground, Emily. You lose…you're going to the hospital.”

Hotch and the EMT helped her off the ground. Emily was definitely not steady on her feet. Hotch told the team to go back to the station; there was more work to be done. He would go with Prentiss to the hospital. The team nodded, watching them walk away to another ambulance. The house was still burning and Adrian Fisher had escaped with one of his victims.

“Dammit!” Morgan exclaimed, running his hands over his face and bald head.

“She’s going to be OK.” Reid said, putting his hand on Morgan’s shoulder.

“You did what you had to, in the moment.” Rossi said. “Any of us would’ve done the same.”

“Then why did Hotch whale on us?”

“I think he was scared to death.” JJ said. “Morgan, look at that house. We thought you might not make it out. It was scary for a few minutes.”

“I wasn’t being reckless and I would never risk Prentiss’ life.” Morgan’s tone was more defensive than he intended.

“Let’s just go back to the police station.” Rossi said. “This isn’t over and it could be a long night.”

Morgan nodded, walking back with his team to three waiting SUVs. He climbed in the passenger seat beside Rossi; he was sure driving right now was not a good idea. His eyes burned, his head ached, and his throat was raw. Closing his eyes, Morgan leaned back in the seat.

“You alright?” Dave asked.

“I’m fine.”

“Morgan, you know it’s OK if you're not. You just escaped from a burning building.”

Morgan nodded but didn’t say a word. Rossi looked at him for a few moments before pulling off the curb. Rossi recognized the behavior; it was an alpha male thing. Morgan would collapse when Fisher was down and Michelle Carter was safe. Until then, game on.


“How is Agent Prentiss?” Hotch asked the guy who looked too young to be a doctor. His tag said Dr. Hendricks.

“She's going to be fine. Her lungs are clear; her pulse and heartbeat are normal. The fainting spell was most likely caused by an adrenaline rush and a drop in her blood sugar. When they brought her in it was about 62, which is pretty low. That’s why we gave her the orange juice. It should always be somewhere between 78 and 98 for someone like Agent Prentiss. She just needs to rest for a while.”

“What about the baby?” Hotch’s heart moved to her throat.

“We gave her a thorough examination and the baby is fine, sir. The heartbeat was strong and the Agent told me she just had a gynecological exam two weeks ago. She hasn’t experienced any cramping or bleeding. I don't think there is anything to worry about at this point. I told her to watch out for anything out of the ordinary and seek medical attention immediately.”

“So there was no damage from the smoke inhalation?”

“That’s not something we can measure for I'm afraid. She was given oxygen on the way over and seems to be in good shape. For right now, that’s all we can do.”

Hotch nodded. He wanted to go in and check on her but he was still livid. Yes, he was pissed at Morgan for rushing into a burning house but Emily was pregnant. She was pregnant with their child. Hotch’s mind flashed back to the car accident in Philadelphia. She lost their baby; she had a miscarriage but it wasn’t her fault.

She didn’t even know she was pregnant. Now she was fully aware and she risked her life and their child’s. They could’ve both been killed. What would Hotch have done if he lost her? He went outside of the ER where nurses, doctors, and patients alike were smoking and shooting the breeze. He dialed Rossi on his cell phone.

“How is she?” he asked when he picked up.

“The doctor said she’s going to be fine. He said the fainting was probably caused by an adrenaline rush and a drop in her blood sugar. I probably shouldn’t have reacted the way that I did.”

“You weren't the only one worried that they wouldn’t make it out of that house.”

“Answer me something, Dave. If you and I had been standing on that porch, we smelled the smoke, and knew that the girls were most likely alive in there…”

“We would’ve run in without a second thought.” Dave finished his sentence. “Someone has to do the dangerous job…we’re the some ones.”

“How's Morgan?” Hotch asked.

“He’s coughing a little but he’ll be alright. He won't go to the hospital anyway so there's no point in pushing the subject. Fisher is dead. There was a shootout with SWAT at a farmhouse; he didn’t make it. They found Michelle in his trunk. She was frightened, dehydrated, but she’s alive.”

“As soon as I can spring Prentiss we’ll go straight to the air strip. Get the team together; its time to go home.”

“You got it.”

Hotch hung up and went back inside. Emily was sitting on the side of the hospital bed. She looked a little pale but other than that she looked fine.

“They said I could go.” She told him.

Hotch could tell from her tone that she was not in the mood for conversation. That was probably for the best. Two FBI agents having a lover’s quarrel in a Connecticut ER was surely not the best idea. He took a deep breath.

“Fisher is dead.” He said.

“What about Michelle?” Emily asked.

“She's alive. I'm sure all the girls are being treated at the hospital. Their families will be happy to have them back.”

“Of course they will. Can you please find a doctor and sign me out. I want to go home, Aaron.”

Hotch nodded, turning and walking toward the nurses’ station. This had been a difficult case and it was over. They saved all the victims they could and the Unsub was dead. Morgan and Prentiss would live to fight another battle with the BAU. Hotch’s child would do the same.


Pulling into the underground garage of the Watergate, the couple still didn’t speak. Hotch parked and cut the engine. They both got out of the car; he could hear Emily sigh. They walked around the car and Emily held out her hand. Hotch took it, holding it tightly in his.

Still there was silence. There was silence in the elevator, silence down the hall, and silence opening the door to her condo. George broke the silence, as he always did, meowing when he saw the two of them coming in. Emily walked right past him, through the living room and up the stairs. Hotch stayed, bending to pet the grateful Abyssinian.

He checked his food but George had been fed recently. The note from Nat was on the refrigerator, held up by a State Department magnet. ‘George is fed, don’t believe him if he cries. I made you some steak, it’s in the fridge. Enjoy it. Call us, we love you. Nat.’. Hotch smiled, opening the fridge and seeing the platter.

He knew he wasn’t welcome upstairs. Hotch made himself a drink, taking off his jacket and tie. He unbuttoned some of his shirt before slipping out of his shoes and socks. TV wasn’t going to bring him down so he went for the satellite radio instead. The station Emily had on played some British indie rock so he flipped around until he found Fleetwood Mac singing Dreams. On the couch, Hotch laid back, throwing his arms over his eyes.

Pretty soon his heartbeat was going to slow down. Morgan was safe, Emily was safe, and it seemed as if their baby was safe. Waterbury was also safe because Adrian Fisher was dead. It was going to be a long time before he shook the after effects of this case. Looking at his watch, it was after nine. Hotch called Jessie to check on Jack.

“What's the matter, Aaron?” Jessie asked.


“Your voice is shaky; what's the matter?”

“It was just a tough case, I'm fine. How are Haley and Jack?”

“Everyone is fine. Haley and I took a short walk today while Jack was at school…that was nice. She’s getting stronger everyday though it’s not easy.”

“I’ll come and visit this weekend.” Hotch replied.

“Should I tell her?”

“No, just in case something happens and I can't make it. I won't keep you too long; I just wanted to check in. Did Jack have a good day?”

“Yeah. He climbed a tree with his new handheld telescope, pretending to be an explorer. He also played baseball at school. He’s doing great.”

“Kiss him for me and Emily. We miss him.”

“Is Emily alright?”



“Jessie, everybody’s fine; I promise. It was a tough case but we’re OK.”

“Alright. Well, sleep tight and give Emily my love.”

“Thank you. Tell Haley I said hello and…”

“I know, I will. Are you sure you don’t want to talk a little?”

Hotch was afraid if he started then he wouldn’t be able to stop. He was shaking his head but Jessie couldn’t see that from McLean.

“How about I just say I'm fine and you accept that?” He asked.

“I can do that, but you know where to find me.”

“Yes ma'am.”

“I love you, Aaron.”

“I love you too. Goodnight.”


He hung up and put his cell phone on the coffee table. That’s where the glass of Maker’s Mark sat untouched. Never had he wanted and not wanted a drink so much in the same breath. Hotch didn’t quite have the energy to drink it right now. George jumped up the couch with him, and Hotch petted the cat’s head. He purred, taking up residence on Hotch’s belly.

He finally started to come down, the constant stroking, George’s purring, and Lifehouse on the radio. Emily came downstairs dressed in her pajamas. She walked right past him and into the kitchen. Hotch’s eyes didn’t even follow her. It was better to maintain space for a while, until they could calm down.

He knew they were both right and wrong. What Hotch wasn’t in the mood for was a fight. They didn’t do it that often but when they did…Emily never backed down. She was more stubborn than he was which Hotch didn’t think was possible. When they got into it, they really got into it.

Letting three more songs go by on the radio, Hotch didn’t know how many minutes that was; he gently put George on the ground. He got up off the couch and went into the kitchen. Emily was turning off the whistling teakettle. After she poured hot water into her mug, he came and put his arms around her from behind. She was tense and it took a while but she finally relaxed in his embrace.

“I need to apologize.” She said. “What I did was reckless. All I could think about was those girls. They had been through hell already and the idea of them burning to death…I couldn’t let it happen Hotch. I wasn’t thinking about anything but that.”

“I know.” He brushed her hair aside, kissing the nape of her neck. “All I was thinking about was losing you and our baby; losing Morgan. I couldn’t let that happen but I couldn’t run in the house and save you. We just stood there helpless. You have to tell them, Emily, you have to tell them you're pregnant.”

“I'm not ready.”

“Why? We’re safe; the first trimester has come and gone.”

“I'm not ready, Hotch. I’ll have to soon; it’ll be difficult to hide. I need more time though.”

“Well I have to put my foot down on anymore running into burning buildings.” He said.

“And I will concede.” Emily replied. “I’ll just tell the team that I'm not feeling 100% because of the smoke inhalation…I’ll sit out any future takedowns.”

“I'm sorry I snapped at you, baby.”

Emily turned in his arms. His eyes were glistening with tears and she stroked his cheek. Then she hugged him close. Hotch exhaled, not bothering to suck it up when a few tears fell. The past five months had been so tough on him. Actually Hotch had never had a chance to fully recover from anything since the bombing in New York and the death of Kate Joyner.

He just kept going and going and going. Emily was always there by his side, in the field and out. She took on such a heavy burden and he didn’t want her doing that anymore. It wasn’t fair; he needed to carry some things too. Especially now, now was when she needed him the most.

“You didn’t snap at me; you snapped at Prentiss.” She said.

“No, I snapped at you. I probably would’ve been upset with Prentiss but she would’ve been doing her job. Emily is pregnant and I was pissed. But I was scared more than anything. If anything happened to you or the baby…”

“I'm fine Hotch; checked out by a doctor and everything.”

“Just promise me you'll never do anything like that again, Emily. Please, I need to hear the words.” He whispered, pressing his forehead on hers.

“I promise.” She kissed his nose. “Now I just want to have my tea and get a full night’s sleep. It’s back to the grind tomorrow. That paperwork won't do itself. Believe me, I've left it there to work it out and it never quite happens.”

“Yeah,” Hotch managed a small smile. It was sad but he did the best he could. He let Emily walk past him, heading out of the kitchen. There was surprise, just like in the garage, when she reached back her hand for his. “I'm not sleeping on the couch?” He asked.

“Don’t be ridiculous. You're better than any pillow I have…firm and soft in all the right places. Anyway, we’ve violated our fair share of rules over the past six months. I'm not doing it tonight.”

“Hotch and Prentiss aren’t allowed in the bedroom…” Hotch recited Rule #4.

“Aaron and Emily never go to bed angry. I love you, Aaron.”

“I love you too, baby.” Hotch slipped his arm around her. They walked through the living room, he turned off the radio, and they headed upstairs. “Nat made us steak, I think I'm going to get up early tomorrow morning and make omelets. How does that sound?”

“Mmm, I think you might be a little busy in the morning.” Emily said. “You might have your hands full.”

“Both hands?” He asked as they walked into the bedroom.

“Mmm hmm.” Emily nodded, putting her tea on the nightstand and sliding underneath the covers. She smiled at him.

Rule #4 was awesome, but combined with Rule #6 it was downright fantastic. Hotch planned to follow them both to a tee.


Where am I?: the lair
Feelings: awakeawake
Background Noise: rain
doctaj10doctaj10 on May 12th, 2010 10:40 pm (UTC)
goodness, how did I not see this all day

I like that you added the case into it, the realism of the situations they would have to put themselves in the field make great additions to an already established universe,

just what i needed for hump day, thanks!
SSA McGeek: Hotch and Prentiss....dynamic duomcgarrygirl78 on May 12th, 2010 10:52 pm (UTC)
The case part came to me first, which was both shocking and exciting. I just followed how Hotch would feel seeing something like that and I knew it was going to be a good writing experience. I'm glad the story didnt completely suck....you read enough of my stories to know I rarely go where I finally decided to go.

I dont know how you didnt see it all day but I'm glad you did and left a comment : )

Yay Wednesday!!!
(Deleted comment)
SSA McGeek: Hotch and Emily....happy grinsmcgarrygirl78 on May 13th, 2010 10:52 am (UTC)
I dont think you've left too many comments so no, you havent told me that, but other people have and I always appreciate it. I do hear their voices when I write so I think its great that I'm able to convey that with my words and the reader can hear them as well.

I am particularly proud of this story because its my first real venture into case-fic. I know it doesnt come close to what others can do but its a big deal for me because I'm more comfortable dealing with the human stories than the case stuff.

I'm glad you enjoyed it.
Clo: Criminal Minds - Hotch and Prentiss (shocitymusings on May 14th, 2010 08:28 am (UTC)
I really liked this piece. I can definitely see the situation from both points of view (Morgan|Prentiss / Hotch), but I'm just glad everyone was okay. I liked your note about Hotch's rough time since Joyner. You make a good point. The man needs a break and a patch of happiness.
SSA McGeek: Hotch and Prentiss....dynamic duomcgarrygirl78 on May 14th, 2010 10:50 am (UTC)
Yeah, I dont try to make it seem as if one of them is right and one is wrong. Their job is not that black and white, their lives arent. There are a lot of gray areas in there and they are standing in one in this story.

Hotch definitely needs a break but he's surely not going to take one. So Emily just holds on and makes sure he doesnt fall over and collapse from being a workaholic.
Clocitymusings on May 14th, 2010 08:37 pm (UTC)
Exactly. She can't in good conscience stand by and watch kids die. That's not who she is. She can't let Morgan go in to a dangerous situation without help. And Hotch can't just let her go and risk the baby's life. It's all gray and you just have to be grateful that it all turned out.

Emily needs to convince him to take a long weekend.
SSA McGeek: Hotch and Prentiss.....giggly and spiffymcgarrygirl78 on May 14th, 2010 08:50 pm (UTC)
What she did was so Emily and Hotch knows that, but he thinks she needs to put the baby first. Pregnant Emily and Hotch had a lot of scrapes because he was thinking like a father from the word go and wanted to put Emily in a bubble to protect her, especially after the first miscarriage.

I know he does take like a week off in the summer. They go to Hilton Head with her parents...I wrote a story about it. The man definitely needed the break, and so did Emily.
Clocitymusings on May 14th, 2010 09:54 pm (UTC)
Absolutely. And it's right that he think that way, because his responsibility is to protect his woman and child. But that doesn't make her wrong.

Good for them!