“Hey Superman, when are you gonna stop beating around the bush and ask out Haley Brooks?”
“Lindsay!” Emily exclaimed. She laughed, punching her friend’s arm. “Leave him alone.”
Hotch glanced at the two girls and did his best not to roll his eyes. It wasn’t that he didn’t like Lindsay…OK, he didn’t like Lindsay. It was nothing she did exactly. She was fun, boisterous, and full of life. She reminded Hotch of Elle in a way. When Emily was with her, they were the two girls you would follow around the mall but were too intimidated to speak to.
Both were raven-haired beauties with wide eyes and bodies just coming into womanhood. They did sexy teenage girl things like smoke cloves and wear eye shadow. They listened to bands like Depeche Mode, The Cure, and Nine Inch Nails. They were cooler than you and didn’t even try. Lindsay was almost a full year older than Emily but they were both in the 10th grade, as was Hotch.
Lindsay missed a whole year of school after her mom died. She and her dad left Boston and went on the road for him to clear his mind. The rumor around school was that he was a retired Mob hitman and her mother had been killed in retribution for something he did. It was just a rumor but it spread like wildfire. Lindsay never dignified it with a response and no one ever said it to her face. She didn’t seem to mind the age difference; she said she was older and wiser than most of her classmates.
Emily was one of the few teenagers that she looked upon with something other than disdain. She found Emily to be an equal, intellectually and otherwise. Hotch could tell from their almost Romeo and Juliet type infatuation with one another that this was the first true friendship of their lives. It was the exact way he felt about Jason.
“Oh c'mon, Superman, you know I was just joking around right?”
“Mmm hmm.” Hotch replied. He added more milk to the mashed potatoes and stirred.
The whole living area of the apartment smelled like dinner. Hotch was making baked chicken breasts, mashed potatoes, and broccoli. It would be done in about 20 minutes. Lindsay came over after school to do geometry and Latin but it seemed as if she and Emily spent most of their time giggling, listening to music, and talking. That may have been the new studying.
“Still, I don’t get what you see in blondes, Hotch.” Lindsay went on. “Believe me when I tell you that they don’t always have more fun. Once you go brunette though…”
“I’ll suffer from migraines.” Hotch mumbled.
“I heard that.” Emily told him.
“I have absolutely no idea what you're talking about.”
Jason came down the hall from the back bedroom. He went to the front closet and grabbed his coat. Mid January in the nation’s capital was quite cold.
“I'm going to pick up JJ and Derek from the tutoring center.”
“Can I come?” Spencer asked.
He and Penelope were on the couch, eagerly waiting for dinner. Penelope was reading Ramona the Pest for a book report. Reid was reading War of the Worlds for leisure.
“Sure, just put your shoes on.” Jason replied. “We don’t want you losing any toes out in that cold. Lindsay, are you staying for dinner or do you want me to drop you at the train station?”
“I guess I better boog. I'm not gonna stay for dinner.” She stood, throwing her books, pens, and pencils haphazardly into an overpriced messenger bag. “Princess,” she kissed Emily’s cheek. “I’ll meet you out front of the prison gates tomorrow morning.”
“You got it.” She replied and then lowered her voice. “Do not interrogate him.”
“I would never do such a thing…at least not with Spencer around.”
Emily pinched her butt as she walked away and they both laughed. She threw her jacket on, put her bag across her chest, said goodnight to Hotch and Penelope, and left.
“She can be a little crafty. She would never hurt your feelings intentionally though; she adores you, Hotch.”
“I hope she doesn’t adore me too much.” he replied.
“Ooh, are you thinking Lindsay might have a little crush?” Emily asked.
“She’s your best friend, not mine. I really, really, really don’t want to have that conversation. Just stop, in the name of all that is holy.”
Emily laughed as Penelope popped her head up on the couch.
“I think Lindsay is awesome.” She said. “She's the best best friend ever. Well, after JJ that is.”
“I’ll be mad at her if she interrogates Jason though.”
“Why would she do that?” Penelope said.
“She has an insatiable curiosity. Like you, Penelope, she loves to get into how things work.”
Garcia giggled, going back to her book. Hotch opened the oven and pulled out the chicken. He sat down at the table across from Emily, who was now reading her Latin study book.
“Is it possible Lindsay might be telling the truth?” he asked.
“Huh? Telling the truth about what?”
“Do you think Haley Brooks might like me?”
“How would I…oh God, do you want me to find out?”
“I don't know; not if she doesn’t. But girls talk right? If she did would she tell you?”
“Dunno, but there's no harm in asking. She's not my favorite person or anything but she has friends. If she's into you, someone at school knows.”
“Don’t talk about it with too many people. I don’t want people talking.” Hotch said.
“People are gonna talk no matter what.” Emily replied. “I think gossip should be an elective there. Do you want me to find out or not?”
“Yeah, but I don’t want her to know you're asking for me. OK?”
“Gotcha. I’ll take care of everything.”
“Thanks so much.” Hotch grinned and his dimples poked happy holes in his cheeks.
“What are twins for if we can't help with love connections?”
Dave Rossi was the one who called them that. He started calling them The Wonder Twins and it shortened over time. Their birthdays were only three weeks apart. They looked alike, had the same body language and facial expressions, and even laughed alike. Emily didn’t believe it until she saw a picture of them JJ took at Christmas time. It freaked her out a little but that didn’t make it any less true.
“They can set the table for dinner.” Hotch replied. “That would be quite helpful.”
“If you don’t stop being so sweet to me, Hotch, you'll spoil me rotten.”
That actually got him to laugh and as she got up from the table Emily knew her job was done.
Jason parked his Woody in the student parking lot. It was 20 minutes before first period bell but Hotch was in a rush. Firstly, he was only able to say hi to Haley when she walked past his locker if he was there. Secondly, Jason and Emily had precious little alone time as is. He would get out of their hair.
“See you in bio.” He said to Emily before getting out of the car and doing a steady jog through the falling snow to the entrance of the main building.
“You were kinda quiet last night.” She said. “Please just tell me that Linz didn’t harass you about our relationship or lack thereof.”
“Well…things are different for us than they are for other couples.”
“That doesn’t make it a lack thereof.” Jason replied. “Do you think it’s a lack thereof?”
“You don’t have to apologize. I would like to know what you think.”
“I don’t know, Jason, its just different. That’s all.”
“Lindsay didn’t interrogate me. I could tell she wanted to though so I was quite grateful for Spencer. She mentioned Goth music and he launched into an entire history of the Goths. It was cute. Do you tell her everything? Do you tell her about us?”
“She's my best friend, Jason.” Emily replied.
“You’ve only known her a few months.”
“How long did you know Hotch before you knew he was your best friend? I've never had a true friend before. It’s almost like being in love. It’s such an awesome feeling when someone gets all the weird stuff you're saying. You never have to clarify or justify. We like the same music, books, and movies…I don’t feel out of sorts anymore.”
“I'm happy about that.” Jason said.
“No but,” he leaned to kiss her cheek. “When I look at you two I don’t see many similarities but I know you're happy. I promise not to do anything to mess around with that. Now stay right there, I'm coming to get you.”
Emily waited while Jason got out of the car, came around to the passenger side, and opened the door. She hopped out, holding his hand as they walked toward school under an umbrella.
“We’re OK, right?” Jason asked.
“We’re always OK, Jason.” Emily glanced at him. “What's wrong?”
“I don’t want to think I am but I could be jealous. Lindsay gets a lot of your time and attention lately. I know that…”
“All you need to know is that I adore you. Lindsay is my best friend but you're something more.”
“Princess!” Lindsay exclaimed, bouncing a bit when they were in sight distance.
“I’ll see you later.” Jason squeezed her hand. “Will you need a ride home?”
“I've got a newspaper meeting after school. I’ll take the train home.”
Jason nodded. He said good morning to Lindsay and then headed into the building. Emily slipped her arm in Lindsay’s.
“He's a total prince, Prentiss.”
“I wish you guys could do full-throttle love. No one deserves it more than you two.”
“Hotch deserves it…I gotta talk to Haley today.”
“Oh God,” Lindsay shivered and rolled her eyes. “The things we do for our total babe brothers.”
“He's not your brother.” Emily glanced at her.
“Believe me, I know. If I fantasized about my brother as much as I do yours, I’d need some serious therapy.”
“You are so twisted.” Emily laughed.
“Yeah, I am sometimes. You think if I dyed my hair blonde I’d stand a chance?” Lindsay asked.
“I think if you dyed your hair blonde I wouldn't speak to you until it grew out.”
“You love me and you know it. C'mon,” she started skipping and Emily did as well. “We have small countries to conquer.”