Quantico, Virginia was never where Emily thought she would end up. Virginia was never supposed to be the place she called home, at least not permanently. Sure, she'd been through the Academy, but that was almost ten years ago. The FBI had bases across the continent and, for years now, Emily had enjoyed bouncing between them. Most recently, she'd been in the Midwest, in Chicago, in St Louis. She never stayed in one place for too long, and she never stayed long enough to put down any roots. Virginia, however much she might like the city, however much she might know the city, was much too close to her. Luckily for Emily, Elizabeth was hardly the maternal type, so she doubted she'd be getting a surprise visit any time soon. For the time being, at least, she was safe, while she found her footing in her new job.
Since childhood, Emily had been a loner. She didn't build bridges, she didn't exchange personal information and she definitely didn't invite any deeper connections. Connections, romantic or platonic, were messy, unnecessary and, she had learned early on, only hurt in the end. The only friends she had ever considered herself close to, the only friends she had ever wanted to keep around, where Matthew and John, and even they hadn't heard from her in years, although she liked to keep her own tabs on them from afar. That, however, was how she liked it. Anything more than the surface level civility to which she would occasionally consent was just dangerous. That was why Emily had liked the Midwest so much. She had been in constant motion, moving from city to city, never in one place long enough to put down roots that anybody else could pull out of her solid ground. Putting down roots, Emily had learned, did nothing but hold you down and hold you back. Roots were the things that let you get hurt, not the things that let you grow. Emily had learned that time several times over, and each time had hurt more than the one before. The lesson had gotten through to her at an early age, and she had stuck to it's teachings ever since.
So, it begged the question, how had Emily Prentiss found herself back in Virginia, almost nine years to the day after leaving it, supposedly for good? It was more through necessity than choice. There had been a couple of...incidents. Regardless of all of her efforts to distance herself from people, regardless from whether she managed to refrain from getting attached, whether she got along with the people she worked with, whether or not she had friends, which she didn't, Emily still had one fatal flaw. She always took the cases to heart.
It was the first and most important lesson they taught at the Academy. Separate yourself from the situation, maintain a professional distance, compartmentalise. With the horrors she came across in her job, on an almost daily basis, that was the way it had to be.
Emily had excelled at the academy. She'd been top of her class, had won awards and had set new records at the shooting range. But, still, there was one lesson she had never learned. That first and most important one. She felt it all, deeply and personally. Each case, Emily poured a little of herself into it, lost a little of herself to it. Sometimes, more often than not, that got her into trouble. More than once, Emily had questioned the chain of command, had disobeyed direct orders to do what she thought was best, which was never a good idea. But Emily had done it anyway. Perhaps, somewhere inside of her, there was still a hint of the Ambassador's daughter; the spoiled, elitist child who always got her own way and who was used to being catered to and used to people bending to her will. But, she wasn't in her mother's house anymore. But, back in Chicago, she wasn't the daughter of Ambassador Prentiss; she was SA Emily Prentiss. Not even SSA, since that had been taken away months before, over a similar set-to with a previous boss. Quickly, she was earning a name for herself among the FBI circles. She was becoming known as someone who was difficult to work with; a rogue who had difficulty following orders. That, she knew, could describe half of the FBI task force, but as a woman, and as the daughter of an Ambassador, who people already assumed got the job based on her mother's merits rather than her own, Emily didn't get any leeway. Regardless of her impressive academy reputation, no one wanted that girl on their team.
So, when the call came, with the offer of a job, her Supervisory status back, and a clean record, Emily had been shocked, but she had been forced to weigh her options. It was, in many ways, a no-brainer. It was a permanent job. Or, as permanent as they came for Emily: a year, at the very least. And then there was a question of the debt she would be entering into, which would eventually need to be paid. Once again, that arrogant child she used to be raised her head. Emily, though she hated to admit it, was her mother's daughter in many ways; one of which being that she hated to be indebted to anybody. But, she knew that if she didn't take the job, she was going to lose it all. If she did take the job, her slate would be wiped clean, she could start again, start working her way up the ladder and make a name for herself, without Elizabeth's help. She was a good agent. Her credentials spoke for themselves, her record and her Academy score sheets, too. It was the following orders part that she had never been particularly good at.
Virginia wasn't so bad, Emily reasoned, as she tucked her hands into her pocket away from the cold, and wandered down a street that was familiar. The city hadn't change much in the decade since she'd been a student here. A few of her old favourite haunts had closed down, new bars springing up in their place, but such was the nature of a busy and transient city. The roads too, looked as though they'd been relaid a couple of times while she was away, and there were definitely more skyscrapers and blocks than there had been back then but, all-in-all, it was the city she knew, the city she recognised.
Having moved around so much as a kid, Emily had never really enjoyed any stability. There was no single family house that she remembered more than any of the others; every house she'd ever lived in melded into one inside of her head, created a sort of labyrinth of rooms in her head that she could picture herself running through. In each room, she was a little older, a little younger; she could never really tell which house was which or which house was when. So, there had never been a home. Virginia wasn't home, either, but Emily thought it might be the closest she would get to one.
One of the bars she remembered, a little Irish pub, was not too far away from the Academy, and Emily found herself heading in that direction by pure habit. If it was still there, she knew that it would be quiet on a Sunday night, and she didn't want to head back to her new apartment just yet. It still smelled like the Chinese food she had ordered in the night before, and it was too cold. The downside of moving so much was that she'd never bought any furniture, never decorated an apartment for a permanent stay, but she thought she may at least have to buy a rug for the new place, if only to keep her toes warm.
The twenty-nine year old followed the steps that her younger self knew so well, ones she remembered regardless of the decade that lay between the two, until she found herself standing outside of the familiar bar, it's green sign just as bright as it had been when she was ten years younger. The D in The Dubliner flickered, just a little bit, but besides that, it was exactly the same. Now, the shamrock held more meaning than it had for her back then and Emily took a moment, staring up at that sign, to think back on the Emily of the decade before, and she shook her head at her naivete. She had absolutely no idea what was in store for her next.
Making her way into the bar, Emily half expected to bump into some familiar faces; a couple of classmates from the FBI, the same old barman who knew her order off by heart, a couple of the old regulars she used to sing old Irish drinking songs with. She spotted one. He was an old man, who had seemed ancient when she was younger. He used to hand out by the jukebox and play the same song on repeat and, sure enough, Emily could hear the drone of Piano Man throughout the pub. With the notes, a wave of nostalgia washed over her and, suddenly, she felt ten years younger again. The server behind the bar, however, was new. A woman, not the old guy with the red hair and the beard that she remembered. She was wiping down the bar, but glanced up at Emily as she entered, offering her a toothy smile.
"What can I get you?" She asked, and Emily noted that she, at least, had a similar Irish accent to the one that her old bar tender used to have.
Emily cast a glance around the place, with it's old, polished oak floors and it's outdated wallpaper, it's huge bar that extended all along the right wall, lined with beer pumps. It was as quiet as she had anticipated it would be. The same old guy, who she smiled at, but in whose eyes she saw no recognition. A couple of groups of students, from the looks of them, rowdy and laughing, even on a Sunday evening. A guy sitting by himself at the other end of the bar, staring into his scotch as though he wanted to fall into it.
"I'll take a glass of red," Emily returned the girls smile as she took up a seat at the bar, though it fell from her dark painted lips quickly. "Rioja, if you've got it."
They didn't have it, and Emily shouldn't have been surprised, so she ordered a glass of the house red, instead. It was bitter and sweet at the same time, but it was red wine. She shouldn't have expected anything special from a student bar. The wine was as shit as she remembered it being, and suddenly Emily wondered what had encouraged this short and nostalgic trip down memory lane. Even back then, Emily had known what good wine tasted like, and this absolutely was not it. She was eyeing the short glass of scotch glass at the end of the bar, wondering if perhaps she should have opted for a spirit instead of the wine, when she realised the man who wanted to drown in his drink was staring at her. She frowned, offended, her eyes wide with a question, what are you looking at?, before she realised she had been staring at him first.
Averting her eyes without so much as a smile, not wanting to invite any conversation, Emily lifted her wine glass to her lips, thinking that, even if the wine sucked, she would at least get a good night's sleep tonight. What she wasn't expecting, was for drowning guy to sidle into the seat beside her, or for him to speak to her.
"The scotch is pretty good," He said, tilting the glass in her direction. Even in her peripheral vision, Emily could see his attempt at a smile. Emily glanced towards him, then to the glass in his hand, and back again, calculatingly.
"Yeah, I'll bear it in mind," She replied, curtly, hoping to discourage this conversation. He didn't seem to want to take the hint, however, and was still looking at her. She avoided his eyes, instead looking at her glass, but, apparently, he wasn't taking the hint.
"You're not from around here," He prompted, looking at her with warm eyes, "You've been here before, but not for a long time."
That perked Emily's interest. She was intrigued by his summation of her, and Emily raised an eyebrow at him, surprised. "Oh? Care to explain how you've come to that conclusion, strange man in a bar?"
He smirked a little at her comment. "Well, when you first came in, you paused on the threshold. I watched you glance-"
"You watched me?" Emily raised an eyebrow, "You know that's creepy, right?"
"Pretty woman walks into a bar, it catches my attention. I apologise if that makes you uncomfortable." He explained, and, regardless of the playful nature of his tone, Emily thought she could hear sincerity there. "May I continue?" She gestured for him to go on, lifting her glass to her lips once more. "I watched you glance around, like you were looking for something. You smiled, just a little, like you were comfortable. You recognised him," He indicated the old man, who was once again queuing up Piano Man on the jukebox, "Although he didn't recognise you, awkward-" Emily laughed at that, "But not her-" He indicated the Irish barmaid, "And she's been working here for a good few years now. Believe me, I'd know."
He wasn't looking at her, but at the amber liquid he was swirling around in his short glass, and Emily took the moment to regard him. How curious. And she thought she was the one who was good at reading people; hell, it was her job, she ought to be good at it. But he had gotten all of that information, and all of it correct, from just a glance. How curious.
"So," He was smiling down into his glass now, as she regarded him, the roles having been reversed, "How did I do?"
"Emily." She said, offering her hand out to him. He regarded it a moment, before extending his own.
"Aaron." He took her hand, shaking it. He didn't let it go, though, glancing down at her hands. "And you bite your nails." He shook his head, though Emily thought she saw a smirk on his thin lips. "It's an awful habit, you know."
Emily didn't know how it happened, and would never be able to retrace their steps whenever they spoke of it afterwards. The furthest back that she could trace it, after their conversation about her nails, was him calling a cab. He was going to drop her off, that much she had been certain of, at least momentarily. What neither of them had counted on, however, was that she would invite him up for a nightcap.
It was stupid and irresponsible and downright dangerous in her line of work, but reckless had always been Emily's middle name, and lately she seemed to care even less. He'd hesitated only a moment, as she leaned against the door of the taxi, and asked if he wanted to come inside with her. She'd seen the rationalisation that passed through his mind, but then his eyes landed on her bare legs, travelled from her booted ankles, all the way up to the tight dress she wore, glossed over her waist, settled momentarily on the swell of her breasts, then flicked up to her eyes. He was out of the taxi before she could even consider taking back the offer.
And, she would swear, afterwards, she really had intended for it to only be a nightcap.
Besides the occasional leer, they'd been perfectly civil up until this point in the evening. He'd not made a pass at her, she'd kept the flirting to a minimum, though she would forever insist that her eyelashes did half of the flirting for her, so sometimes she came across as flirting without even trying to.
But she must have been flirting, and so must he, because one of them leaned in for the kiss. Who it was didn't matter, because the other responded with equal fervour. Emily, who liked to have the upper hand, caught Aaron's lip between her teeth, sucking hard, and tasted metal as she drew blood. He clamped a hand down on her thigh when she did that, and put his hand to his mouth when she let him go. Glancing from the blood on the back of his hand to Emily, who had her own bottom lip caught between her teeth and was looking at him with big, dark eyes from behind endlessly black lashes, he felt his slacks grow tight. Hooking a hand beneath her leg, not quite believing the effect this woman was having over him, Aaron pulled, until she was straddling him, her black dress pulled tight across her spread thighs, and then reclaimed her mouth with his own. This kiss was indulgent, sensuous, her tongue guiding his, until his alpha male instincts took over and he became more forceful. He started to kiss her deeply, hands moving further up her thighs, pushing the black material .
She pressed down against him, gyrating her core over his hardness, and he moaned, his tongue vibrating in her mouth at the action. Smiling through the kiss, Emily's hands found Aaron's, still on her thighs, and brought one up to cup her breast. She squeezed it for him, but that was all the encouragement he needed before her was roughly palming her with his hand. She felt like a teenager, making out on the couch. Emily didn't like that. She wanted to feel like a woman.
As quickly as she had given him access, Emily withdrew his hand and stood up, stepping away from him for a moment. The expression on his face was one torn between desperation and disbelief. He thought she was about to kick him out. Emily's eyes moved from his to the tent in his jeans and she smiled, appreciatively, before catching the hem of her dress in her hands and pulling it, in one swift motion, over her head. Left standing in just her black lace bra and thong, she dropped the dress to the floor and walked around the sofa, to the bottom of the stairs that led to her mezzanine bedroom. His eyes followed her, hungrily.
"Well?" She threw over her shoulder at him, "Aren't you coming?"
She ascended the stairs without looking back, though she heard the scuffle as he moved from the couch. She could practically see him almost falling over himself to get to her. Standing with her back to him as he climbed the stairs, Emily was pleasantly surprised when his hands snaked from behind her, to graze her stomach, before pulling her flush to his chest. One hand withdrew, moving to her neck, where he brushed aside her dark hair and began an assault on her skin, kissing, licking, even biting occasionally, which she loved. Distracted as she was by his hot breath on her neck, Emily barely noticed his other hand tugging down the cup of her bra until he rolled her nipple between his fingers. Then her breath caught in her throat, head falling back against his shoulder, back arching, pushing the flesh of her breast into his hand. He gripped it, roughly, and chuckled against her neck.
"Oh, you like that," He mumbled against her skin, vibrations driving her wild. She pressed her arse back against him, insistently, in response. He was still fully clothed, she recognised, almost annoyed, and she reached behind her, to fiddle with his belt.
"Patience," He teased, brushing her fiddling fingers away with his free hand, while the other continued it's assault on her nipple, travelling to her other breast to torment her there. "Take it off."
She didn't need telling twice, quickly reaching behind her to unhook her bra. It slid down her arms, and he spun her around. His dark and hungry eyes rested on her breasts, full and fleshly and topped with even, pink nipples, hard with anticipation and pent up frustration. Even as he looked at her, Emily felt them grow harder. Aaron's face registered with pleasure the tight points of her nipples, and Emily felt the tingling sensation travel south, the hidden nerves between her legs crying out for attention as she felt her thong grow damp with her desire for this man that she didn't even know. As Aaron looked at her, Emily brought her own hands up to her breasts, pushing them together, as though offering them to him. Aaron could have come just from that sight, but instead, he surged forwards, holding her face and kissing her, deeply, insistently. She lost her balance, fell back onto the bed and pulled him down with her. His knee was between her legs and she hissed, enjoying the sensation. His kisses travelled down her jaw, across her shoulder, down her chest until he sighed with pleasure as he took a nipple in his mouth. He licked, nibbled, sucked carefully, each flick of his tongue eliciting gasps and moans from Emily, as she encouraged him with a hand buried deep in his dark hair. He spent a long time slowly licking the tip of her nipple, occasionally letting his tongue flutter, vibrate against it. That sent an electric current from her breast to her clit, and each time, she thrust her hips against his knee. She was driving him crazy and, as enamoured as he was by her beautiful breasts, the fullness of them in his palms and the taste of them in his mouth, Aaron needed to feel more of her. As he sucked, alternating now between nipples, enjoying the gentle scratch of her fingers in his hair, he let his hand lazily travel down her stomach. As his fingers reached her underwear, he heard her sigh.
"Yes," She whispered, and he smiled against her skin as he dipped his fingers inside of her black, lace underwear. She was smooth, and that made him groan with appreciation before he even made it to her wetness. When he did, though, he had to pause.
"Emily, you're soaked," He said, appreciatively, his cock growing painfully hard in his jeans. He adjusted himself, fingers lazily stroking her. Noticing this, Emily moved, his hand slipping away from her as she did, to fiddle with his belt. She had it undone quickly, this time, and pushed against his chest to make him lie back on the bed. He could see from the look in her eyes what she was about to do, and had to take a steadying breath before she started, or he knew he would have lost it right there.
Emily's eyes widened as she tugged his jeans down, boxers coming with them. As he sprang free of his confines, he saw her lick her lips, appreciatively. She wasn't looking into his eyes anymore, but at his hard cock, pre-cum forming on the pink mushroom head. She crawled up onto the bed and grasped it's base gently in one hand, her eyes on his. He was thick, she noticed, appreciatively, as well as long, as she licked the tip with a soft, teasing tongue. And he tasted good. She swirled her tongue around the head, concentrating on the tender underside, her eyes not straying from his for a moment. He couldn't have spoken if he'd wanted to. His breath was caught in his diaphragm as he watched Emily fondle his balls as she continued to caress him with her mouth. His hands gripped the sheets, and he saw her eyes flick to the side, see that, and crinkle around the edges in a smile. Smug little minx.
The soft, wet haven of her mouth squelched as he began to fuck it, gently thrusting his hips upwards. Emily withdrew her mouth for a moment, wiping it on the back of her hand. Her cheeks were red and moist with tears that had spilled over when she'd taken him deep into her throat, her lips were dark and swollen from their kissing and her eyes were dark and full of lust. Aaron had noticed how beautiful she was earlier, of course, but right now, she was magnificent.
"I like that," She told him, throatily, "Grab my hair."
Unable to believe his ears, or his luck, Aaron wasted no time. He willingly obeyed, clutching her dark hair at the back and fucking her mouth more confidently. Emily quickly got to grips with his rhythm. She felt dirty now, letting a stranger fuck her mouth like this. Her eyes rolled back in her head, as the thought sent waves of pleasure down into her underwear.
"Stop, stop," He gasped, suddenly, gently pulling at her hair and pulling himself out of her mouth, "Stop, or I'm going to come."
Emily understood what he was saying, and stood up. She stepped out of her soaked underwear and then knelt up onto the bed, crawling on top of him and feeling the wet trail his cock left down her stomach as she moved. She kissed him, deeply, as she positioned herself over his cock, and felt him grip it to steady it, brushing the tip against her wetness. She moaned at the teasing contact, and he growled into their kiss, pushing his tongue even further into her mouth, insistently. Opening her eyes, she repeated her earlier action, catching his lip between her teeth. His eyes snapped open and locked with her own and at the same time, Emily impaled herself on his hard cock.
She thought she was ready for him, wet enough, but he was bigger than he seemed. He took her breath away and Emily closed her eyes, halting on top of him as her walls stretched around him. Her head fell back, mouth open with pleasure. Aaron watched all of this as if in slow motion. His eyes moved slowly from where their bodies were joined, up the toned panel of her stomach, to her magnificent breasts, to her face, thrown back in pleasure, dark curls cascading behind her like a black waterfall. He sat up, wrapping an arm around her waist, using the other to steady them both. She looked at him, still breathless, and pressed her forehead against his, breathing deeply and steadily against him, her chest rising and falling against his. He gave her another moment of stillness, before she began to move, slowly at first, but, as she adjusted around him, she found a rhythm that made her wild. He let her ride him, appreciating every contour of her body, both inside and out, hypnotised by the bounce of her tits as she rose and fell on his hard cock, before he grew impatient. He wanted to be on top, he needed that control and, breathless as she was, Emily didn't have the fight to argue as he flipped them over, not even pulling out of her to do it. He moved slowly at first, and she moaned, appreciatively, as she felt every facet of him, each thick veined ridge, as he pulled out, right to the tip, and then pushed, just as tortuously slowly, back into her wet warmth. She let him carry on like this a while, pressure building inside of her, encouraging moans escaping her lips occasionally.
Aaron had never been a selfish lover, and watching her eyes roll back in her head, as he slowly impaled her, he never wanted to be. He leaned down to capture her lips with his own, and her hands came up to tangle in his hair, legs wrapping around his waist. She met his eyes, and there he saw an unmistakable desire and need to reach her peak, and his hips began to move faster as though of their own accord. She groaned, approvingly, heels falling from his back to the mattress as she spread herself open for him, let him thrust into her, hard, fast, lovelessly. He was panting now, grunting into her ear, which she loved, and he held tightly onto her hips, so she could feel each thrust even deeper, and they both knew knew his fingertips would leave bruises.
"God, yes," She murmured against his ear, feeling it, loving it, every time he bottomed out inside of her. Her encouragement grew silent, as the pleasure mounted, and Emily lost her ability to speak. For a moment, there was nothing but the wet sound of his thrusts and his ragged, heavy breathing, as she gasped for air and clung to him, desperately.
"Yes, I want to feel you come," He urged, quickening the pace of his hips, as his fingers slid between their bodies, searching out her clit. "Come for me, Emily. Let go, baby." His fingers danced against her as his thrusts became more and more violent and erratic. She pushed her hips up to meet his, pulling his face down to hers again, thrusting her tongue into his mouth as he thrust his cock into her tight, wet heat. Their mouths were locked together and stifled Emily's scream as she felt a searing orgasm wrack her body, surging through all of her nerves. She convulsed around him, milking his cock, and then Aaron was coming, too, pouring himself into her. There was so much of it, Emily felt every shot, her walls soaked and fluttering like a bird.
When it was over, he was breathing heavily, and weak from his orgasm. He dropped most of his weight onto her, and she wrapped her legs around his waist, feeling the wetness of their juices running out of her and pooling on the sheets beneath them.
"That was incredible," He said, when he could finally speak.
Emily smiled, lazily, up at him, letting him kiss her gently as she stroked her fingers through his mussed up hair. Then she yawned, stretched beneath him, feeling the ache of tiredness in her muscles, as well as feeling his spent cock slip out of her as she moved. "Do you want me to call you a cab?"
Aaron's expression changed in an instant. His brows furrowed with confusion as he looked down at her and then his weight was gone from above her. He rolled over, laying beside her on the sheets, one hand resting on his stomach, the other above his head. Sitting up, Emily pulled her knees to her chest and watched him, appreciating his lean naked form and his long cock, which, even now that it was growing limp, was impressive. Aaron ran a hand over his face, breathed deeply, and then stood up.
"It's fine, I can call my own cab," He told her, shortly. Emily was shocked at the tone, and raised her eyebrows.
"Listen, I don't have guys sleep over, it's not personal." She told him. He looked at her, and there was judgement there that made her want to defend herself. "Not that I do this often." As soon as the words left her lips, she hated herself a little bit for them. She didn't owe this guy anything, least of all an explanation.
He was pulling his jeans on, buttoning them, then looked around for his shirt. Spotting it slung over the railing of the mezzanine, he pulled it on, then paused in the act of heading towards the stairs. When he turned back to her, there was no judgement in his eyes. Only hope. "Can I call you, at least?"
Emily appraised him a moment. He was a good fuck. Hell, he was a great fuck, but she could tell, from this simple exchange over the cab, that he wasn't the fuck and go type that she liked. He looked like the married with kids type, now that she was really looking at him. He was too nice for her. There was a time not so long ago when she had ruined nice guys like him on the daily, and had a lot of fun doing it.
"Sure," She smiled, knowing that when he called, and he would call, she most likely wasn't going to answer the phone.
Emily was right. She knew men; they were all as predictable as each other so, of course, he did call. He called the very next morning, and Emily didn't know whether to be concerned or impressed. Like most women, she was aware of the three-day rule, or was it five? It was somewhere around that marker, anyway. And most guys she'd known adhered to it. And even when they didn't, they knew they weren't supposed to call the very next day. Especially when said guy was supposed to be nothing more than a one night stand. So she watched her phone ring out, knowing it would be him on the other end, even without the caller I.D. Once the ringing stopped, she turned back to the papers in her lap and returned to signing them. Some admin bits for the Bureau. That was at 10am.
Later, when she was in the shower, he called again. That one was around 4pm, although she didn't see it until an hour or so later when she picked her phone back up. Had she seen the phone ringing, though, she wouldn't have picked that call up either. The guy was starting to seem like a real creep, and Emily almost regretted bringing him. Almost. He was still a good lay, even if he was a bit overbearing.
She fell onto her sofa and looked at the number, her finger hovering over the Add to Contacts button. There was absolutely nothing wrong with Aaron, aside from the premature phone calls. As a matter of fact, Emily thought she might like another round of Aaron very much. But, she had surmised, from the short time they'd spent together, that Aaron wasn't that type. He had those big, soft puppy eyes that told her he was too soft for her. She knew his type, and she definitely wasn't it. He was going to make somebody happy, one day. He was going to get married and have babies and a dog and a yard and, well, Emily wasn't. One day, he would make someone happy. As long as she didn't break him right now. Because she would break him.
So, although Emily saved his number into her phone, 'Aaron from the bar', she didn't call him back.
And, later that evening, when he text her, she was already so deep in a sleep that was riddled with anxiety dreams, ahead of starting her new job tomorrow, that she didn't hear the buzz of her mobile phone on her side table.
I'd like to see you again, Emily. Just think about it. What's the worst that could happen?
When she woke up the next morning, Emily didn't even have a chance to glance at her phone. She threw back her bed covers, leaving them in disarray, and dove in and out of the shower in record time. Dressing in an outfit she had picked the day before, she looked at herself in the mirror. A grey skirt and modest blue jumper that weren't really her style but which she hoped would give the best impression on her first day. At least, she thought, her mother would probably approve of her outfit. After that thought, Emily hated it even more.
That was when she checked her phone, just to check the time and to see whether or not she had time for a quick cup of coffee before she left for work. She had plenty of time for a coffee, but got distracted by the text from Aaron. Sighing, she debated over ignoring it entirely, finger hovering over the home button on her phone.
What's the worst that could happen?
"You could kill me." Emily said, aloud, to herself, only half-joking. In her line of work, she could never be too careful. Nevertheless, there was something intriguing about him.
In the end, she decided to text him back.
You just don't give up, do you?
She sent it, a satisfied smile on her face. It would never be serious, and she would make sure he knew that. But there was nothing wrong in having a little bit of fun with him while she was around.
As she set about making her coffee, she was still smiling to herself. She managed to boil the water and steep the coffee before she heard her phone go off from the other side of the room. Wiping her hands, she walked across the room and tapped the screen.
No, I don't. Is that a yes?
Yes, to what? You've not actually asked me out, you know.
She watched his little bubble pop up, looked at those three little dots. Then she realised she was actually waiting for his reply and shook her head, heading back over to the coffee she'd left on the side and pouring it into a travel mug. She was heading down to the car park when his text came through.
I'd like to see you again. Would you like to go for a drink sometime?
She didn't reply, slipping her phone into her jacket and leaving it on the passenger seat as she drove and tried not to let her nerves get the better of her.
It was an unfamiliar feeling, the nerves that were steadily bubbling in her stomach. Having been raised by her self-important mother, although she hadn't been the most emotionally forthcoming, Emily had learned the value of her presence at a very early age, watching her mother during social engagements, watching her command a room. Hold your head up. Shoulders back. Exude confidence. Emily wasn't a woman who scared easily. That was who she was; it was difficult not to be that girl, with a mother like hers. Her confidence was one of the only lessons Elizabeth had ever taught her that had ever benefited her in life, so it was a rare occasion that Emily felt her nerves get to her. She knew, however, that this was one of her last chances. If she was going to make it in the FBI, if she was going to stick at, and excel at, the career she'd been planning for herself for twenty years, it meant keeping her head down for a while, following the rules and not rocking the boat. She could do that. She would do it. She had to.
The BAU was the dream. An elite and effective branch of the FBI, notorious in her circles. Even Elizabeth had seemed impressed when, during the monthly phone call that she insisted upon, in order to assuage her own guilt of being an absent mother (at least that was how Emily saw it), she had asked how work was going. Emily had thought it best to omit her demotion from SSA to SA in favour of the news about her new job, although she suspected from the tone with which Elizabeth asked, that she already knew.
"Oh?" There was something in Elizabeth's voice that, even from hundreds of miles away, Emily thought she could almost identify as her mother being mildly impressed. "Well, the BAU has a reputation, Emily. I hope you're ready for the pressure and expectation that comes with that job."
As usual, Elizabeth's positivity hadn't lasted very long. As usual, her priority was to ensure Emily knew just how inadequate her mother presumed her to be. Emily had rolled her eyes, and let her mother change the subject.
Now, as she pulled into the FBI car park, into the numbered space she had been assigned by the Admin department, she could hear Elizabeth's voice ringing around in her head, and cursed her mother for her endlessly pessimistic parenting. There was such a fine line between the confidence that Elizabeth had instilled in her daughter, and the crippling self doubt that only her mother could inspire; having been the one to give Emily all of her confidence, she could tear it down just as quickly.
Flipping down her mirror, Emily checked her make-up, brushing away the mascara that had flaked off beneath her eyes, meeting them in the mirror. As she steadied herself, Emily saw the change in her eyes, watched her walls go up behind them, readying herself for whatever she might be about to walk into.
"You're good at what you do," She muttered to herself, gathering her things and slipping her arms into her jacket. "You've got this. You're going to be fine."
Her heels hit the floor with a soft click as she stepped out of the car, tugging her hair out of the collar of her jacket. Tugging her jacket into place around her thin frame, Emily inhaled, deeply. Tossing her curls over her shoulder, she headed straight for the elevator with her head held high.
"Agent Emily Prentiss?" As soon as the elevator doors opened, she found herself met with a perky, smiling blonde. Happy blue eyes found her own, a perfectly manicured hand reached for hers. Emily grasped it, suddenly self conscious of her own bitten down nails.
"Uh, yes," She tried to return the smile, but felt as though it didn't quite reach her eyes. "Yes, that's me. And, you are?" She subtly glanced over the blonde, taking in her well put together appearance. She was wearing a similar skirt to Emily's own, higher heel and a pale blue sweater set. She was well put together, but Emily could tell that the clothes she wore were inexpensive, although she still wore them well.
"Jennifer Jareau. You can call me JJ, most people do! I'm the teams liaison. I'm basically the person who deals with all of the bureaucratic red tape. My door is always open," She gestured down the hall where, sure enough, Emily saw a door standing ajar. "But that's just because you'll rarely find me in there. But I'll give you my cell, for if you ever need to get hold of me, and we'll probably spend a lot of time together, anyway."
"So, I'm assuming you join the team on cases?" Emily asked, as she followed JJ through a set of tall glass doors, and glanced around. This, it appeared, was the main workspace. She wondered which of the desks would be hers.
"I do," JJ nodded, "Although I don't join them in the field. Or, I won't be joining you in the field, I suppose I should say." She explained, as they reached a desk where two men sat. "Morgan, Spence." The two men looked up, one of them turning in his swivel chair to face them, a book in his lap. "This is Agent Emily Prentiss."
The first man stood, offering her a large, dark hand, which she took. "Derek Morgan. Welcome to the team." He gave her a dazzling smile that she couldn't help but return. The second man nodded in her direction but, she noted, didn't offer her a handshake.
"I'm Dr Spencer Reid," He introduced himself, politely enough, "It's nice to meet you."
"You too. What's that you're reading?" She asked, nodding to the book in his lap.
"I'm actually teaching myself Russian." He explained, holding up the book. Emily smiled.
"Ya mog by pomoch' tebe s etim." She told him. I could help you with that. Spencer smiled, impressed. JJ and Morgan, too, were looking at her with mild shock.
"Did you live in Russia?" Spencer asked, "You don't have a specific American accent, there's nothing regional about the way you speak, so I assumed you moved around a lot when you were younger. More than likely around Europe, or your accent would be more notable since it would likely have been picked up in your early childhood. So I'm guessing you spent a significant amount of time in Russia?"
"I-uh-" Emily glanced from Spencer, to the other two agents, for help.
"The kid here is our resident genius," Morgan explained, clapping Spencer on his back with a hint of pride in his tone. "Don't worry. You get used to it."
"Actually," JJ corrected, with a playful tilt of her head that shook the blonde hair around her face, "You don't, really."
Emily joined in with the laughter that rippled around; even Spencer smiled. Their comfortable, easy way with one another was obvious, and Emily could tell they'd been working together for a while. The way they shifted easily from the professional introductions to the playful, friendly jokes was reassuring. Emily had been worried she was walking into another team full of old men who wouldn't listen to a word she had to say. It wouldn't be the first time that had happened to her, and that had been half of her problem last time. It didn't seem as though this was that kind of team, and she felt a spark of hope and excitement for her new job ignite inside of her.
"You need to meet Agent's Hotchner and Gideon," JJ told her, gesturing up towards the ramp. Emily looked up, seeing two offices clearly marked out up there. "Agent Hotchner is the team leader, Agent Gideon is the longest standing team member. He was on the original team when then first set up the BAU in the 70s."
"I was under the impression that Agent Gideon was the team leader?" Emily asked, as she and JJ began to make their way up towards the ramp.
JJ hesitated a moment, glancing sideways at the brunette. She halted at the bottom of the ramp, with a glance up towards the offices. "Agent Gideon was the team leader until a year or so ago. There was an...incident. There were significant casualties. He needed time off, so Agent Hotchner took over and when Agent Gideon returned, it was in a Senior Agent capacity, but Agent Hotchner kept the leadership."
Emily nodded, wondering what the incident had been that had triggered Gideon's sabbatical. She sensed, though, from JJ's tone, that asking now would be the wrong move, so she refrained from doing so. They continued up the ramp and JJ knocked on the first door they came to. Stepping inside, Emily followed, glancing back towards Spencer and Morgan in the bullpen, where Morgan was laughing raucously at something the younger agent had just said. She smiled a little, thinking she might actually like it here after all.
"Agent Hotchner, this is Agent Prentiss." She heard JJ say, as she turned back to the office.
"Agent Prentiss, welcome-" She heard, in a voice that was all too familiar that pulled her right back into the room, and she turned to him with a wide eyed stare.
"Emily!" She saw her own shock reflected on his face, his eyes as wide as hers, his mouth gaping at her as she stared at him staring at her. JJ glanced between the two of them, brow furrowed with curiosity. It took them a moment too long to regain their composure and, profiler or not, the blonde couldn't have missed their shock if she was blind.
Everything came rushing back to her as she met his eyes. They travelled, just like they had that evening when he gazed up at her from the cab, from her ankles, up to her legs, to her waist, her chest, finally landing on her face. His tongue shot out, wetting his lips, and Emily remembered how his lips felt on her throat, on her mouth, tongue flicking over her nipple-
She felt her face flush, and shook her head slightly.
"Agent Hotchner." Emily said, trying to pull herself back into the present moment and maintain some semblance of professionalism. She was all too aware of JJ's eyes on them, and the effect that thinking about him in that way would have on her, as she offered him her hand. He hesitated a moment before taking it, and his warm skin against hers made her breath catch in her throat. She pulled her hand away too quickly and JJ cleared her throat beside her.
"I'll leave you to explain the rest of the admin, Hotch." JJ said, then glanced at Emily. "It's been nice meeting you, Emily. I look forward to working with you." If I stay here that long, Emily thought, as she returned JJ's smile, turning to face her, grateful to have her back to Hotch for a moment.
"You too, thanks JJ."
As the door swung shut behind her, Emily stayed staring at the wooden door, wishing she'd never entered through it, all too aware of his wide, shocked eyes behind her.
"Emily-" He began, in a voice full of surprise and sincerity, "I-uh, I had no idea, I hope you know-" She turned to him, quickly.
"Agent Hotchner," She said, with a polite and entirely professional smile. "I want to thank you for the opportunity to work in your department. The BAU's reputation precedes itself, I'm really looking forward to working with you and your team."
He stared, trying to process the fact that she was standing right in front of him, in the middle of his office. Remembering the phone calls she had ignored, and their texting conversation from earlier that morning, Aaron felt embarrassment burn in his chest. She looked different, standing here, in the light of day. She was dressed so modestly, her make-up so soft and light, and with a nervous energy about her that he couldn't associate with the women he had met only a few evenings before. She levelled him with those warm brown eyes and he found that he saw nothing there beyond polite, professional interest. Even with all of his profiling skills, even staring her down with his own dark eyes, he couldn't read her. There was nothing behind her eyes; no embarrassment, barely any recognition at all. She had reigned in her shock, compartmentalised him, put him into a little box inside of her brain and locked him away there.
"Emily-" He began, but, again, she cut him off.
"Agent Prentiss." She corrected him, abruptly, and he was taken aback by the coldness of her tone. He paused, eyes falling from her face to his desk, pointlessly shuffling around a few papers, not really seeing them. He nodded, clearing his throat, all too aware that she hadn't dropped those eyes that stared at him as though he hadn't seen her naked.
"Right. Agent Prentiss." He followed her lead, his own tone now as cold as hers, as professional. "Have you met the rest of the team?"
"I've met Agents Jareau and Morgan, and Dr Reid." She recited their names, Hotch nodding along as she did so.
"JJ didn't find time to introduce you to our technical analyst yet, then?" He pressed. Emily shook her head, curls waving around her face. He tried not to focus on the soft vanilla scent of her shampoo that drifted across his desk. "Penelope Garcia. Her office is next to Agent Jareau's. I'll have her take you down and introduce the two of you. Agent Gideon's office is just next door. I presume you've not met him, either?" Again, she shook her head. "I'll take you next door and introduce you."
He crossed the floor, walking around his desk and towards her, leaning past her to reach for the door handle. He was only being polite, but Emily stepped back from him, purposefully backing away from his touch, as the scent of his cologne invaded her space. He glanced at her, noting the movement, but said nothing. Stepping back, he held the door open for her and Emily passed through it first, with just a quiet thank you.
Stepping out of his office, grateful for another moment where he couldn't see her face, Emily closed her eyes a moment, unable to believe her bad luck. Upon opening them again, she saw, in the bullpen, JJ standing near Morgan's desk, speaking with both him and Spencer. As they stepped out of his office, she saw three sets of eyes turn to her. She met the blonde's eyes, but found she couldn't hold them. Emily wondered, as she dropped her eyes, what JJ was telling the boys about what she had seen, what she had noted about the interaction between Aaron and Emily in his office.
Great, her first day, and she was already the subject of gossip, already the girl screwing the boss. This was the last thing she had needed.
Falling into step beside Aaron, she turned away from the bullpen, avoiding their questioning eyes. In her peripheral vision, she saw JJ turn and disappear through the glass doors they'd entered through. Spencer moved back to his own desk and Morgan turned away from her, looking guilty, like they'd been caught talking about her behind her back. Which, she supposed, they most likely had.
As they neared the second office, Emily heard raised voices from inside. Aaron paused, glancing back at her, and she raised her eyebrows, questioningly. Aaron frowned, turning back around and leaning his ear towards the wood of the door, before rapping on it lightly with his knuckles. There was a beat of silence, as the voices fell silent, and then the door was pulled roughly open from the inside. The man who answered the door was frowning, deep indentations across his forehead.
"What?" He asked, shortly, not even sparing Emily a glance. Emily could see behind him that, inside of the office, there was a woman standing in the middle of the room. She looked to be in her mid-50s, mousy blonde hair curled into an up-do, pinned at the back of her head. She wore a stern expression upon her face, her arms folded tight across her chest. She, too, was looking at Aaron. On her face, there was an unimpressed expression. Actually, Emily thought, as she glanced over Aaron's shoulder and caught sight of the woman, narrowing her eyes at the expression on her face, she was looking at him with an intense dislike. Emily's eyes flitted away as the blonde looked in her direction, though she wondered what Aaron had done to inspire such hatred.
"Jason, I'm sorry to interrupt." Aaron said, pointedly. "Is everything alright?" His told was soft, but insistent. Agent Gideon looked from Aaron, to Emily, and back again.
"Everything's fine." The older agent brushed him off, easily and unconvincingly. "Who's that?"
Emily was taken aback by his rudeness, unused to being referred to as though she weren't standing right there. She raised her eyebrows at the question, about her, which was directed to Aaron.
"Agent Emily Prentiss." Emily said, interrupting him as Aaron stepped back to introduce her, still annoyed by Gideon's rudeness and unwilling to be treated as an object rather than a person. She reached out a hand, which Gideon regarded a moment before taking it.
"She's joining the team," Aaron continued, "Today is her first day. I just wanted to introduce the two of you before we consult with the rest of the team."
"Yeah, Great." Gideon said, shaking Emily's hand briefly, and a little roughly.
He looked as though he was ready to be done with this conversation, and, frankly, Emily was, too. She had heard good things about Agent Gideon from her mother, but all she could see in front of her was a rude old man. Another old man who wouldn't listen to what she had to say. Perfect. She'd gotten her hopes up too high, meeting the other members of the team. She should have know it was too good to be true.
"Chief Strauss," Aaron addressed the woman behind Gideon, "You should meet Agent Emily Prentiss, too. Agent Prentiss, this is Section Chief Erin Strauss."
The woman behind Gideon, who had looked at Hotch with such an intense dislike, walked towards the door. She had turned her eyes on Emily, and they were marginally more polite than Gideon's had been, as she reached for her hand. Emily took it, and noted that Strauss held it a moment too long. Despite the number of profilers she had met today, Emily felt as though Strauss was the first one truly appraising her. She had eyes like a cat's, analysing and sharp, and they bore into Emily's. Uncomfortable as it made her, Emily refused to back down, holding her eyes, despite the uneasy shiver they sent down her spine. She waited for what Strauss might say.
"Good to meet you, Agent Prentiss." Strauss said, a tight smile on her lips. Emily was relieved ."I don't suppose you're related to Ambassador Elizabeth Prentiss?"
Emily's heart sank in her chest. Strauss knew perfectly well who Elizabeth was; she knew perfectly well of their relationship, and was making sure Emily knew it. It wasn't the first time somebody had dropped Elizabeth's name into conversation as a power move. "She's my mother, actually."
Even here, at the centre of the FBI, in a world where she was trying to make a name for herself, regardless of Elizabeth, and without the Ambassador's house, Emily couldn't avoid her mother's reputation.
"Ah. She's a very impressive woman." Strauss said, as though that were a compliment. They were words that Emily had heard a thousand times before. People always spoke of how impressive her mother was. Emily returned Strauss' tight smile, knowing it didn't reach her eyes.
"Yes, so I've been told." She countered. Thank you, hardly felt like an appropriate response. She knew she hadn't been imagining it; Strauss was appraising her, assessing her, judging her against her mother's reputation, her mother's morals and beliefs. Emily held her eyes, though, still refusing to back down, and thought she saw something like respect in Strauss' eyes, as her mouth quirked up into something like a smirk.
"I hope you'll prove just as impressive, Agent Prentiss." It felt like a threat, and made the hairs on Emily's neck stand on end. Gideon saved her the task of replying.
"Hotch," He gestured to the door, "If you don't mind-"
"Sure, Jason." Hotch stepped back, "I need the team in the conference room in half an hour." Gideon didn't reply, closing the door just as Hotch finished his sentence. Hotch turned back to Emily as Gideon's office door slammed shut behind him. "He's unconventional," Aaron said to her, evidently used to making excuses for his partners rudeness. "But he's the best at what we do. He's one of the greatest minds in our line of work; he and his team were the first BAU. They pioneered behaviour analysis as a staple of the FBI, and implemented using it to understand criminal behaviour and psychology."
"Yes, I've heard good things about Agent Gideon," Emily said, as Hotch began to lead them back to his office. "My mother speaks very highly of him." It was true, though Emily had only heard Elizabeth mention the agent once or twice, and she had no idea of the circumstances of how and why her mother knew Gideon, but that didn't change the way his reputation preceded him, similarly to Elizabeth's own.
"I worked for your mother." Aaron said, as he settled back down behind his desk and gestured to the seat in front of it, indicating for her to sit down. "You would have been at college at the time. Brown, was it?"
"Yale." Emily corrected him, surprised to hear of his connection with her mother. "I went to Yale."
"Yes, of course." He nodded, folding his hands on the desk in front of him. "Strauss is right, your mother is an impressive woman-"
"My mother is a career politician. I'm well aware of who and what she is, thank you." Emily said, shortly. "I'm not here to discuss my mother, and, frankly, I'd rather keep her as far away from my career as possible."
Hotch looked taken aback by her comment, but he nodded, and didn't push it, which she was thankful for.
"Very well," He said, "In that case, I don't suppose I have much more to go over with you. You're aware you need to have a go-bag ready at all times, that we can be called away with next to no notice?"
Emily nodded. She expected he had no idea of just how aware of that she was. Her previous work, after all, wouldn't be in her files.
"If there's nothing else-" Emily began, making a move to stand up, but Hotch opened his mouth to speak. Settling back down into her chair, she inhaled deeply, already knowing what was about to come out of his mouth.
"I just want you to know that I had no idea." He told her, looking genuinely distraught. "Had I known who you were, I never would have-" He shook his head, looking down at his desk. Emily regarded him, taking the moment when he wasn't looking at her to really assess him, raising an eyebrow. He looked thoroughly regretful, and she didn't know whether or not to be offended.
"It's fine, Aaron." He glanced up at her, and she corrected herself, quickly, with a little smile, "Sorry, Hotch. It's fine. We didn't know. It doesn't have to affect our working relationship at all. Nobody else need ever know." She had a feeling that they, especially JJ, suspected something already, but thought it best not to mention that to him. She could deal with their assumptions, but as team leader, he might not be able to. Then he turned those puppy eyes on her, again. "It just can't happen again." She said, though it felt like an obvious and pointless clarification.
"Of course," He agreed, nodding, "Of course. I wouldn't have expected-I mean, obviously, that's the necessary, uh, path, moving forwards." There was disappointment in his tone, that much she could hear easily enough, although he attempted to hide it. She had seen the panic in his eyes as she stepped through the door, but that had quickly clouded into a sort of disappointed shock as they both realised what him being her boss meant.
Emily, on the other hand, was almost relieved to find he was her superior. She'd known since she met him that he was all wrong for her, and that he was smitten. This way, she didn't have to turn him down. This way, she couldn't break him. He'd still have those perfect, puppy eyes for whoever came along next and swept him off of his feet. It was a shame, though, she thought as she looked over him, eyes settling on the large hands he folded neatly over one-another on the desk. He was such a good lay.
It didn't take long for Emily to settle into life at the BAU. On that first day, she was thrown into the deep end, travelling with Gideon and Reid to Guantanamo Bay. She felt as though she were running on a treadmill that was set far too high, her legs weak beneath her, but unwilling to give up as the belt turned and turned beneath her feet. Gideon, she quickly learned, was distrustful. He was like many of the older men she had worked with before him, but at least he didn't spend as much time staring at her ass as they had. And, although he was impossible to please and even harder to impress, Emily kept trying, not just on that case, but on all of the ones that continued to come in after, like a never ending stream of blood and horror. It was nice having JJ around to roll her eyes at, and to share the joke with, whenever GIdeon decided he was going to be difficult, which proved to be more often than not.
Emily felt as though the blonde was happy to have her there, too, to share in the joke. Emily didn't have friends, but it was nice to think of JJ in that way, and share a secret smile, or a knowing eye roll, every now and then, behind someone else's back.
Derek Morgan was easy to like, with the charming smile he would flash at her, and the boyish jokes he made so casually. Emily found it was difficult not to laugh along with him, whenever he tried to lighten the mood. Hotch had taken to pairing them up on cases, she noticed, and Emily was impressed by his people skills. He was good at making people feel comfortable, and not just their victims and witnesses, but he could calm her down, too. His presence was soothing, and she enjoyed his company. He made her feel at ease, fell easily into step beside her, and treated her like she belonged on the team, right from the start. She especially liked sitting near him on the jet, once a case was over. She would watch him, as he listened to his headphones and stared out of the window, or read a new book, or even if they were laughing over a game of cards, and found calm in his easy smile.
Dr Spencer Reid was another story altogether. JJ had been right to tell her there was no getting used to his ways; she found herself constantly amazed at the boy wonder, whether by his incredible analytical skills or the speed at which he could read, it seemed as though his intellect was boundless. Annoyingly, though, he seemed to have little to no regard for his own wellbeing and, like everyone else, Emily found herself falling into the habit of checking on him before anyone else. Her eyes would seek him out at a crime scene, searching for confirmation that he was alright. She noticed the others doing the same, particularly Morgan and Hotch.
The first time Emily met Penelope Garcia, Emily was taken aback. The blonde embraced her tightly, as though they had been friends for years, and pulled her into a bone-crushing hug. Emily shot JJ a wide-eyed look of shock, but the blonde just shrugged, as if to say, "Yep. That's Penelope." and ever since then, Emily had grown quite fond of Penelope's ways; her nicknames and her outrageous fashions. She was as entertained as the rest of them at the flirting that went on between Penelope and Morgan, and she found that the blonde was easy to joke with, although Penelope was usually the one to instigate conversation. When she did, though, Emily didn't shy away from talking to her, instead finding herself readily engaging in conversation with her. Something that had rarely happened at her old job.
Then there was Hotch.
Hotch surprised her. She'd had him pegged as soft, perhaps even somewhat fragile. The first few weeks on the job, though, he barely even glanced in her direction. That, she supposed, was why she ended up working with Morgan so closely; that way, Hotch didn't have to see quite as much of her, he could send her off to the crime scene or the victims homes, and avoid her for most of the day. That suited her just fine, because she didn't want to see him, either. Every time she looked at him, she remembered that night, and even Emily knew that was no way to look at your boss. She wasn't supposed to see him holding a file and remembering his hand grasping at her thigh, and she wasn't supposed to watch him speak and remember what his lips tasted like. So she wasn't offended at all that he didn't want to work with her, because she suspected that when he looked at her, his mind was summoning up similar images for him.
That night, after her first day of work, she'd gone home, poured herself a large glass of wine and immediately changed his name in her phone from 'Aaron from the bar' to Aaron Hotchner (Unit Chief), and tried to ignore those messages they had sent to each other before their official meeting. She knew perfectly well who he was, of course, and titling him as her Unit Chief in her phone was entirely unnecessary, but she felt as though there would come a time when she needed the reminder.
So, between JJ, Morgan and Penelope, who she liked, Reid, over whom she felt strangely protective, and Hotch and Gideon, both of whom she was trying to spend as little time with as possible, but for entirely different reasons, Emily found she didn't hate her new job at the BAU. She almost liked it.
All in all, Emily felt as though she had landed on her feet. Even Elizabeth agreed.
"You seem to be doing quite well for yourself, for once, darling," She had commented, during their most recent phone call. "Although you've not taken my last couple of phone calls, and I can't help but assume you've been avoiding me, for whatever reason."
Emily rolled her eyes; there were a thousand reasons why she might be avoiding Elizabeth, but she wasn't.
"I'm not avoiding you, mother. I've been busy." She sighed, impatiently, balancing the phone between her shoulder and her ear as she unpacked her go-bag, shoving clothes into the washing machine. "The past few weeks we've had four back-to-back cases. I've not been home. I've barely had time to sleep, let alone time to take a call. But I'm not avoiding you."
"You should make time for your mother, Emily," Elizabeth chastised, and Emily bit her tongue, thinking that was a rich statement coming from the mother who had barely been around at all when she was younger, but she said nothing, because she didn't have the energy for an argument and because she desperately wanted to be finished on the phone and curled up in bed, having not slept properly for nearly two whole weeks.
"You're right, mother," She deadpanned, "I'm sorry. Listen, I've got to-"
"Before you go-" Elizabeth interrupted, and Emily closed her eyes, leaning against the counter, heaving another sigh, "I'm hosting a benefit next week in Washington."
Emily's eyes snapped open, her heart beginning to pound in her chest, because she knew exactly where this was going. Elizabeth always did this. With baited breath, she watited for her mother's next comment, already anticipating exactly what it would be.
"I've already sent the invitations to your office. It'll be nice to see you, and to meet your team." It wasn't a request, although she was courteous enough to phrase it as one. Emily, however, had known the difference between an order and a command from her mother since she was three years old; there was very little difference in the wording (Elizabeth was always polite) but the tone told her everything she needed to know. When Elizabeth asked for something in that tone, she got it, regardless of what it was.
Regardless of the tiredness she could feel in her bones, for the first time since starting her new job, Emily was praying for a new case.
"This for real, princess?" Morgan asked, when she stepped into the bullpen the following morning. He had taken to the nickname a few weeks after she'd started, and Emily had never corrected him, finding she quite liked it. She frowned at him, though, confused...until she saw what he was holding. At the next desk, Spencer was holding an identical envelope in one hand, and in the other, a heavy sheet of white card. Even across the office, Emily could see the sheen of the golden, embossed text.
"You've got one, too." Spencer told her, glancing towards her desk.
"Yes," Emily sighed, picking up the envelope on her desk and turning it over in her hands, not even bothering to open it. Elizabeth had even sent her own daughter's invitation to the office rather than to the address Emily had given her weeks ago. How very Ambassador Prentiss of her. "Yes, it's for real. It's all part of my mother keeping tabs on me." She dropped the envelope on her desk, spinning on her chair to face them. "You guys don't have to go."
"Are you kidding?" Garcia's voice came from behind her and Emily spun back around to see her and JJ stepping into the bullpen. "A party at Mount Vernon? If you think I'm passing that opportunity up, you clearly don't know me yet at all, kitten."
"Sorry, princess, but I'm there, too." Morgan shrugged, "A chance to get dressed up and meet me some lovely ladies? Hells yes." He flashed her that boyish grin, and all Emily could do was roll her eyes in response.
"You wish," Garcia spoke up before Emily had the chance to, "You're my date."
Morgan laughed, winking at her. "Sounds good to me, baby girl. I'll have the prettiest date at the party. You putting out at the end of the night?"
"Oh, baby, you couldn't handle it if I did." Garcia smirked at him, raising an eyebrow, before turning and walking back towards her office.
They watched her go, Morgan with a grin still set on his face, JJ looking amused. When they both turned back to look at Emily, she was staring at them both with dead eyes.
"What about you, JJ?" Morgan turned to the blonde, "You up for a party?"
JJ looked from Emily, to Morgan, then back, shrugging apologetically.
"Sorry, Emily, it just sounds too good to miss. We do all this work and we never get to go and have a good time. This party sounds like a great way to just kick back and enjoy some free booze. I'm there, and you've done this all before, so you need to come shopping with me, which means you're there, too."
"Guys, please don't do this to me." Emily whined, sinking down in her chair and looking from one face to another, desperately. "Spence," She shot, over her shoulder, "You're at least with me on this, aren't you? Solidarity?"
But, even the boy wonder looked sheepish. "Actually, Emily, I expect there'll be a lot of important people there. I'm not one for parties, as I'm sure you've assumed, but it seems foolish to miss an opportunity like this. Sorry, Emily."
Dropping her head forwards into her hands, Emily sighed, heavily. "You guys are the worst," She said, into her palms. Looking back up at them, she pointed to each of them, individually, "My mother will find her moment. Her moment to interrogate each and every one of you, and don't think that I can protect you from her. Once Elizabeth Prentiss gets her hands on you, there's no stopping her. You're on your own. Don't come crying to me to help you. I couldn't help you if I wanted to when it comes to my mother. And nobody tells her anything about my life, or I'll-"
"Emily," Spencer interrupted, frowning, confusedly "We don't know anything about your life that we could tell her." JJ rolled her eyes at him, then turned back to Emily with raised eyebrows.
"So, when are we going shopping?"
Emily stared at her a moment, before rolling her eyes back into her head, and she stood up, heading for the coffee station. She was going to need a strong one this morning, and it wasn't even 8am yet.
The large white envelope sat, unopened, on her desk all morning, staring at her. Eventually, irritated by it's presence and by her mother's insistent interference into her life, she threw it into the drawer at the bottom of her desk and slammed the draw shut. She saw, from the corner of her eye, both Morgan and Spencer glance at her, but neither of them said anything.
Emily was almost grateful when JJ walked into the bullpen, calling them into the conference room as she passed them.
"Sex workers are being killed in downtown Chicago. Local PD doesn't know what to make of it, and frankly I got the feeling they want to palm the case off onto us-"
"Because these women are prostitutes, they're not a priority." Gideon pointed out, though he needn't have; the rest of them had already made that connection, and it was hardly a stretch. At his use of the outdated phrase, JJ glanced towards Emily, catching her brown eyes with blue, a pointed look there that Emily shot right back at her. Across the table, she saw Hotch look at her, although he didn't say a word, and he glanced away as soon as she turned her head in his direction.
"It certainly seems that way, sir," JJ said, biring her tongue and clicking the remote at the screen, "What's confusing the local PD, though, is the way he leaves them, afterwards."
"She's clean." Emily noted, glancing from the screen to the notes in her lap. "It looks as though he's brushed her hair out, her make up is delicate, subtle, not the way you might typically expect a sex worker to wear it." She raised an eyebrow at the notes written before her, "He's showing them the respect you wouldn't expect a serial killer to show a sex worker, that's why the local PD are surprised; they wouldn't show them this respect." The disdain in her tone was evident.
"Yes, well, be that as it may, these women, sex workers or not, are still victims." Hotch said, closing his own file. Emily watched, as did the rest of the team, as Hotch stood up, rebuttoning his blazer as he did so. "It's our job to catch whoever's doing this before someone else gets hurt. Wheels up in thirty."