"Baby, I promise to call you back once I'm on my lunch break, ok?" Emily grinned against her cell phone as she walked through the FBI's East Wing door and into the lobby, her daughter chattering away from the other end. "Sweetheart, it's only a few hours."
Quickening her pace to make the elevator, her elbow pushed the doors back open and stepped inside. She noticed a slightly swaying figure to her right and she turned her head, her eyes narrowing as she nodded to the BAU's Section Chief. "Ok baby, I'll be sure to write that down on the grocery list. Be good for Maggie, ok?" After hearing her three year old blow kisses into the phone, she quickly hung it up.
Erin Strauss turned to look at the younger woman, watching as she instantly stiffened when she felt eyes on her. "Good morning Agent Prentiss."
"Chief Strauss," she nodded. "How was your weekend?"
The older woman gently shook her head. "Just fine. So, was that your daughter on the phone? What's her name, Amy?"
Emily eyed the blond at her side, hearing the dings of the elevator as they continued upstairs. "Acelyn," she stated slowly.
"Beautiful name. What's her whole name?"
Seeing the dazed look in the other mother's eyes and watching how she gently swayed back and forth, Emily's brow rose. "Acelyn Alorra. Ma'am, are you alright?"
"Just a little tired," Erin dismissed, leading the younger woman out of the elevator and into the small lobby of the sixth floor. "Have a good day Agent Prentiss."
The brunette woman watched as her Section Chief walk swiftly down the corridor with her head falling to the side only slightly before turning the corner. Tired? the mother scoffed, making her way into the bullpen and sitting herself down at the desk she had been given five years prior. "Hey," she smiled to her genius coworker, opening up her briefcase. "Did Hotch come in yet?"
Reid smiled to the older woman. "It's eight, Em. He's always here by seven twenty-five, unless it's a Wednesday and Jack goes to his aunt's, otherwise h-"
"Ok, thanks Reid." Emily quickly got up from her seat and walked up to her boss' office, the file she had finished working on at home the night before in her hand.
Twisting the handle, Emily stepped inside. "Hey, I have the Emerson file for you to sign off on." She set it down on the top of the pile, her fingers coming to play in front of her stomach. "Hotch?"
The older man looked up from his desk. "Is something wrong?"
"Have you noticed anything different about Strauss?" she questioned, her brow arching.
Hotch frowned, sitting up in his chair and setting down his ballpoint pen. "Did something happen?"
Emily sighed before sitting herself down in one of the visitor chairs. "It's nothing bad per say, but I spoke with her this morning in the elevator and she just didn't seem to be herself."
"Well I heard that she's still getting over her husband's death," he nodded, referring to the car accident that had occurred the year prior. "And she's been dealing with the director and the Pentagon on a difficult case. I'm sure it's nothing, but if it continued then let me know."
The brunette woman nodded. "Of course, sir."
Two hours later, Emily and Penelope were the only two from the BAU's A-team still at Quantico, the brunette woman having to stay on desk duty for at least two more weeks because of her shot wound to the abdomen. She had been cleared by the doctor to go back to work, but Hotch was insistent that she stay home until she was fully healed.
So her technical analyst had set up a tour for her to guide, knowing that she'd get restless going through reports and case files all day long.
Walking before the class of high school seniors, Emily led them out of the bullpen and into the sixth floor's small lobby area. "Any questions?" Her chin lifted hen she saw a couple of hands raise from the back. "Ms. Romero?"
The blue eyed teen quickly nodded her head. "Are there any cases that are easier than others? You know, emotionally?"
Emily bit down on her lip, her hands clasping in front of her. "I wish I had a good answer for you," she smiled gently, "but there's no telling how you can really feel about it until you're in the situation. All I can tell you is that you need a tough skin."
"Are there times when you can't catch them?"
"No," she sighed. "It may take a while, sometimes even years, but we always get them one way or another." Her eyes flickered away from the group and down the hall, a frown etching over her face when she saw the Section Chief stumbling into her office and slamming the door behind her. "Class, if you all can find your teacher down by the technical analyst's office down at the opposite end of the hall. I have a meeting I need to get to."
Waiting until the group of seniors departed from the entrance to the bullpen, Emily expertly spun on her heel and marched down the hall, bustling past other agents and a janitor trying to get a scrape up off of the floor. She pushed into the office after giving a small knock, her eyes trying to seek through the darkness as she shut it behind her. "Strauss?"
She heard metal slamming against the floor, and the brunette woman quickly found herself running further into the darkened room to see Section Chief Strauss on her knees clutching the trash bin. "What happened to you?"
Erin gagged, feeling one of the younger woman's hands pulling back her hair while the other rubbed somewhat soothing circles on her back. "Will you lower your voice please?"
"I'm already whispering," the mother of one hissed. "You got drunk on a work day?"
"I have a headache."
Hearing the whine from the older woman, Emily bit down hard on her cheek to stop herself from screaming. She forced the blond to turn and sit up against the side of her desk. "Just sit for a moment, alright? Don't try to move."
Erin lazily nodded her head. "Yes ma'am," she coughed. Her eyes instantly shut to block out any type of light that might have snuck into her office, only to open them what seemed like a second later when she felt something cold and wet press against her forehead. "Shoo!"
Emily took the woman's batting hand in hers to avoid a slap to the face, keeping the cold compress she had made against her skin. "Keep still, would you? You're going to end up hurting yourself."
"I don't feel good."
The brunette woman made a face when the other burped, and she slowly shook her head. "Did you drive here?" Erin wasn't looking straight at her, but she knew that she was feeling the glare she was sending her.
The Section Chief pouted before nodding her head.
"I cannot believe you." Emily felt as if she were scolding her three year old daughter. "Come on, I'm taking you home."
Erin let out what sounded like an annoyed little mewl. "To your house?"
The brown eyed brunette helped the older woman up off of the floor and out into the hallway once her purse was hanging from her elbow. "If I let you near my child in this state, I'd be considered one of the worst mothers."
Throwing her arm around the younger mother who was helping her down to the elevators, Erin pursed her lips. "You're so sweet," she grinned. "Like a little buttercup."
Emily grimaced at the feeling of the blond staring. "Right."