“You could just ask her.”
“Ask who what?”
“Oh c'mon man, how long have we known each other? You're pretty transparent...at least when it comes to this.”
“I have no idea what you're talking about.”
“She's out of my league.” He sighed and drank his High Life.
“That’s possible but how would you know if you don’t ask.”
“I'm willing to speculate about this. It’s better than embarrassing myself.”
“You’ve embarrassed yourself for smaller things than this.”
“You're on a roll tonight.” Anderson glared at him. “Wanna back up over my self esteem now?”
“I got your back and you know it.” Morgan replied. “Go and ask her if she wants a refill. That’s a legitimate question.”
“I could do that.” some hope crept into his voice.
“You can do it. Its just one question; take a deep breath and dive in.”
“If I bomb I'm kicking your ass.”
“Doubtful, but you're not going to bomb. Just do it.”
Though his stomach felt sick thinking about it, Anderson took a deep breath and decided now was the time. He thought about the worse that could happen and it nearly made him run back to the bar and hyperventilate. But his feet kept moving. They moved one in front of the other and soon he was at the pool table.
Reid was preparing to take a shot. Penelope and JJ were trying to psyche him out. Gina leaned on her pool cue and danced to Simple Minds playing over the speakers. She looked amazing in dusky flare jeans and a red button down shirt that left just enough of her torso exposed to stimulate Anderson’s imagination.
“Who's winning?” He asked trying to sound casual.
“Not me.” Spencer replied as he missed another shot.
“Don’t believe him, Anderson.” Penelope smiled. “He's a total ringer. He’ll lose a few, let you get comfortable, and then when the money comes out he goes all Paul Newman on you.”
“I believe it. Hey Gina, you want a refill or something?”
“Oh that would be great. I'm not nearly tipsy enough.” she reached into her pocket. “Thanks.”
“Your money’s no good here.” Anderson smiled when he actually got the stupid line out. He waved away the notion of her paying.
“Be careful what you wish for cowboy, I can drink a lot.”
“I think I remember that. Well there is an ATM around the corner if I run out.”
Penelope wanted to jump in on the banter train but stopped herself. Anderson was clearly working his way up to something and this was a long time coming. She didn’t want to “help” and ruin anything. He’d already been talking to Morgan…he knew what he needed to know.
“What are you drinking?” He asked.
“High Life is fine.”
Gina stepped to the pool table and looked at what she was working with. After chalking her cue, she leaned over and took a shot. Two balls went into pockets. Anderson could only smile as she did a victory dance. He turned to go for her beer.
“I don’t want to say I taught the kid everything he knows but…”
“You taught him everything he knows.”
Emily laughed as she and Morgan stood at the bar drinking. The place was fairly crowded tonight and the BAU took up a couple of booths. There was cheap beer, good music, dancing, friends, pool, and a whole lot of fun. It had been a long week, with one more day to go. Everyone just wanted to let go of some steam.
“The young guys are good guys. Some of them just don’t have self-confidence. Some of them have a little too much. I remember when people at home used to call me cocky. I'm not cocky. Having confidence in yourself and what you have to offer isn’t the same as thinking you're better than every guy out there.”
“Well it’s not always easy for the little guy to take advice from the captain of the football team.” Emily said. “He might feel as if you're setting him up, or you're slumming.”
“I wasn’t the captain of the football team.”
“OK fine, the All-American quarterback.”
“I don’t give it unsolicited, ever.” Morgan said. “And it looks like Anderson is doing OK.”
They both looked over at them. Whatever he was saying to Gina made her laugh. They’d stopped playing pool a while ago but were still having a good conversation.
“So how would you help me?” Emily asked.
“You're beyond help.” He grinned.
“I'm being serious.” She playfully hit his chest. “Let’s say I'm lovelorn and struggling. How would you help me?”
“Are we talking about a girl or a guy?”
“Well firstly, a guy would have to be blind not to see how beautiful you are. And that’s before he even has the chance to talk to you…that’s when the real fun begins.”
“What do you mean?” Emily asked.
“C'mon, you're fluent in like eight languages Prentiss. That means you can say sexy things in eight languages. You're well read; you're witty and funny. I'm not understanding how it could ever be hard for you to find a date.”
“We could just say that guys are stupid.”
“It’s sad to say that many of them are.” Derek nodded. “It could also be your type. Sometimes a woman has to deviate from what she thinks she wants to make her happy. Men have to do it as well.
“We hold these truths inside of us…it has to feel like this or it has to be like that. Nothing is concrete like that. The whole damn thing is fluid. Strangely that makes it harder and not easier.”
“Wow, you're seriously bumming me out Morgan.”
“Keep drinking.” He tapped her bottle with his. “It'll be OK.”
“I need a refill, or five. I should probably give up altogether.”
“You're looking for something beyond the tired ass dating scene.” Morgan said when they had two new ice cold beers. “You're not the wham, bam, thank you ma'am type.”
“Oh aren’t I?”
“You did your dirt back in the day but you're a grown woman now. Men are on two sides of you…they either don’t understand you at all or they do but for some reason you can't get on the same page.”
“We’re not supposed to profile each other.” Emily laughed nervously. She probably should've never started playing this game. If anyone could pull her card it was Morgan.
“I know, but we often do. I'm sorry,” he put his arm around her. “We’re supposed to be having fun. Lets take a cue from those two.” He nodded toward Anderson and Gina. The touchy flirting had begun.
“What? Do you want to get drunk and screw?”
“You say it like it’s the most horrible thing in the world. Like all things it has its pros and cons.”
“I’ll be sure to go home alone tonight and write them down.”
“I usually get annoyed by girls who announce that they're drunk.”
“Says the girl who just told me that she was drunk.” Anderson replied smiling.
“Well since it’s your fault I thought it was only fair that you know.”
“The touching, the giggling…it was a dead giveaway.”
“You're a smartass.” Gina crossed her arms. She tried, but failed, to look peeved.
“It’s a defense mechanism.”
“I like it.”
“You do?” he asked.
“Who doesn't like a smartass?”
“Agent Gideon, Agent Hotchner, Chief Strauss…shall I go on?”
“Anderson, they see all the same great things in you that we do. Even if they didn’t, bosses with sticks up their asses sometimes don’t count.”
“Shh!” he gently covered her mouth with his fingers. “Hotch is here tonight.”
“There are much better ways to cover my mouth Anderson.”
“What are you…?”
She didn’t really care that they were in a crowded bar. It wasn’t as if public displays of affection were her thing, but a girl had to do what a girl had to do. If she waited for Anderson, which she’d been doing, Gina was going to be an old cat lady. He had this persona; he was efficient and could always be counted on.
Since Elle Greenaway for shot, for which he still blamed himself, Anderson became even more of super FBI every guy. He needed to breathe more and just be himself. Gina remembered the witty, sometimes cocky goofball from the Academy. This was the guy who did a legendary Strauss impression. It went down in cadet history.
Anderson kept their entire class in stitches. There was also another side to him. He was a good FBI Agent. He had a lot to learn, they all did, but one day he could be one of the best. Gina liked all the sides of him. She always had and they had become friends over the years even if she felt there were times he avoided her like she had cooties.
“You just kissed me.” Anderson whispered as he slipped his arms around her.
“Ding, ding, ding, tell the man what he's won.”
“I don’t think that we…”
“We’re just kissing. Are you saying you don’t want to kiss?”
“I don’t want to take advantage of a drunken woman.” he clarified.
“I kissed you.” Gina replied.
“There is that. I don’t want it to be just because we’re drinking.”
“Just take me home. I’ll show you what you're missing.”
“Don’t worry.” There was regret in his voice. “I already know.”
“You're still driving me home right.” she smiled.
“Of course. A gentleman always drives a lady home. Especially since it’s his fault she's drunk and all.”
“Let me get my coat.” She started to walk away singing Rod Stewart’s Infatuation, which was playing in the bar. She came back, smiled, and tousled Anderson’s hair. “You shouldn’t worry about some of the things you're worried about, by the way. I'm sober a lot more than I'm drunk.”
He wasn’t sure what he was supposed to think that meant. People said so many things while intoxicated. Usually it wasn’t the best time to take them seriously. That didn’t stop his heart from beating just a bit too quickly as he imagined the possibilities. He’d spent years imagining. A little bit of the real thing was just what Anderson needed.