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25 January 2010 @ 03:48 pm
Fic: Barely Breathing  
Fandom: Criminal Minds
Pairing: Aaron (Hotch)/Haley
Rating: R
SPOILERS: Through current episodes

Summary: They began as high school sweethearts.

Note: Written for Porn Battle IX, "Hotch/Haley, epistolary", and this is the mostly unporny result.

Aaron's hands are shaking when he takes the box from the closet. He knows what's inside and he knows what he's inviting, but tonight, it's a compulsion he can't resist. He sits on the floor of the bedroom and takes out the scrapbook. The cover has a photo under plastic of him and Haley, taken in a mall photo booth in their senior year of high school. The photo's fading now, but he can still see their faces squished together, grinning. They're so young.

He touches the image of himself from those years ago. It hurts almost as much to see the proof of how happy they'd been, as it does to see her picture. He misses that Aaron almost as much as he misses her.

Swallowing hard, but still compelled to remember, he opens the cover. There, glued to the first page, is his first note to her, scrawled by his nervous hand in History class:

This sub is really a jerk, isn't he?
Do you want to go to Homecoming with me?

Even now, he remembers watching anxiously as she'd read it: she giggled and then her expression turned surprised and brightened with excitement. She hesitated for one heart-stopping second, staring at the teacher, then she turned toward him and mouthed, "Yes." She'd clutched the note to her chest, smiling.

The next page held a note he'd passed in English class:

If I kiss you at the dance, are you going to be mad at me?

Below that, she'd written her answer neatly, If you don't kiss me at the dance, I'm going to be mad at you!!!!

He'd written back, I don't think I could help myself anyway, so I'm glad you agree.

There was a photo of them at Homecoming. He knew she'd always hated her hair in this picture, but all he could remember now was how happy he'd been to be there with her. His hands had been sweaty with nerves because he'd wanted to kiss her and he didn't know when he should. But then during a slow dance, when she'd put her hands around his neck and he put his hands on her waist, she'd swayed into him, and he'd leaned closer, scarcely able to believe this was actually going to happen... and their lips touched. After that, they got bolder, kissing more, and after the dance, parked in front of her house, while awkwardly kissing her across the parking brake, he'd slid a hand up the smooth satin of her bodice to cup her breast. She'd frozen and her lips parted on a gasp - he'd pulled back, afraid he'd done something wrong.

"No," she whispered and grabbed his hand. "Do it again." She put his hand back on her breast, and for a moment he'd just stared into her eyes, until the incredible softness of her skin and the feel of the swell under his fingertips drew him to trace the top edge of her dress and dip down into the V between. "I -- I like that," she whispered. His fingers trembled with all that he suddenly wanted - and his mind raced with all the things he'd learned in sex class and movies and the things other guys had said -- but instead of trying to do any of them, he felt like he could sit there and touch her for hours. She reached over to his face, her fingers echoing his movements on his cheek and down his throat, pressing her hand into his white shirt.

Then the porch light came on and they'd dropped their hands, laughing with nervous guilt. He'd still kissed her good night though.

Monday morning Haley had dropped a note onto his desk on her way to her seat: I had a really good time. And I want to kiss you some more. After class? He'd stared at her, and she'd grinned and licked her lips like a cat in cream.

There were more notes from that first winter they were dating preserved in the book, including the one Mr. Regis had caught him passing to her, forced him to read aloud, and then torn up. Haley had rescued the pieces of Romeo's balcony monologue from the trash and taped them together. He had never quite lived it down in school ("Hotch, such a Romeo"), but her glowing face when he'd read her Shakespeare had made the embarrassment worth it.

Another page held a sign she'd made that had gone into his gym locker for the city basketball tournament: Go Tigers Go! Go Hotch go! Win for me!

When the Tigers had lost to stupid East Lake, and he'd been kicking himself all night about missing four free throws that might have won the game and the tournament, she'd taken his hand and brought him to the car. In the back seat, she'd knelt across his legs, taken off her shirt and bra, and kissed him until he forgot about basketball. Her small agile hand had dipped down his pants and she murmured, grinning, "Just think, if we'd won, we'd have to be celebrating right now with the rest of the team." She wasn't quite as sure as she wanted to seem, since he could feel how tentatively she touched him, but his breathless reaction encouraged her to curl her hand around his erection and stroke him. She watched, biting her lip with that curious intensity he loved so much. After the bolt of fire went through him, he seized her shoulders, kissing her eagerly, trying to touch her everywhere and return at least some of the feeling she'd given him.

The next page held another note. His question on the first day tickets went on sale: Are we going to Prom? Together? I assume so, and I want to, but I just want to make sure.

She'd rolled her eyes and written back: Duh. I'm not going with anybody but you. Let's skip out early before it gets boring.

And then, his own attempt to be bold and mischievous was scrawled at the bottom: Should I bring condoms?

But she hadn't been shocked. She'd written in big enough letters to be seen across the aisle: YES.

The little thrill that had gone through him warmed his blood, and he couldn't wait for Prom night.

That night, they'd lost their virginity to each other. They made out for awhile in the backseat of the car, until she got impatient and unzipped her dress to pull it off. "Your turn." He already had his coat and shirt off, and she helped with the rest. Then feeling greatly daring, he pulled off her panties and explored between her legs with his fingers, a bit amazed how his fingers got wet and the muscles of her legs twitched. "Oh, Aaron, oh god, right there," she panted and shivered as he found the little nub of her clitoris. Blessing Jerry McClintock for telling him what to do, Aaron stroked Haley there, smug at the way her whole body trembled and flushed and she flung her head back, overcome.

Then she pulled his hand away from her and stared at him in stunned amazement. "Oh my God," she whispered. "Why does it feel so good when you do it? I want to try the rest of it."

She giggled helping him put the condom on and then again, when he had a problem finding the right angle in the cramped car, but the giggles had gone away the instant she'd felt him start to push inside. "Oh, go slow, it... feels... It aches." But when he paused, she shook her head frantically, "No, don't stop, Aaron, please.... I want this. I want you."

He could feel the resistance, but she was still slick and eager and opened for him. She felt... "Oh, God, Haley, you feel so amazing."

Her fingernails dug furrows into his shoulders, and his back ached with the effort to curl into the right position and move his hips, but those things seemed far away as her body wrung an explosion of heat from him. After, when he was trying to catch his breath, on top of her, he whispered into her chest, "I love you."

Her hand had slid through his hair, keeping him there. "I love you, too," she had murmured. "I can't imagine not loving you."

Aaron shuts his eyes for a moment, overwhelmed. They'd always fit together so perfectly until his job had ground him into a new shape. His hand shakes as he turns the page to find the poem he'd written for her for her eighteenth birthday.

I don't recall when I first saw you,
There was no bolt out of the blue,
I didn't know then we'd be together,
Or that I'd love you, now and forever.
I want to say it's just love's first bite,
Hormones, not something we'll feel for life,
That someday we'll get over it,
Because it scares me a little bit
How deep you've delved into my heart,
And how much it hurts when we're apart.
Happy birthday, lovely, loved Haley,
I'm yours, as long as you want me to be.

His breath chokes in his throat, as the pain grabs his heart with sharp rending claws. Back then he had never imagined that anything would come between them: not something as mundane as work, and certainly not death. It was supposed to be forever -- that hazy teenage grasp of 'then' of some far distant future. It wasn't supposed to be here and now, cold and alone on the floor of his bedroom, paging through the past because it's the only place he'll ever see her again.

He forces a breath and closes the book, unable to look at more. He can almost hear her voice then, "You're not alone, Aaron. Jack needs you. When you look at him, I'm still there."

Swallowing back the threatening tears, he pads down the dim hallway to Jack's room. He sits in the arm chair beside the bed and watches their son sleep until his eyes burn with exhaustion and the room starts to lighten with the first light of dawn.