“Good morning.” Hotch cleared his throat as he walked into the BAU kitchen.
“Just a little lower.” Emily mumbled.
“I'm sorry but I don’t know what that means.”
“It means please speak a little lower.”
“Oh. So I guess you have a hangover.” He opened the cabinet and grabbed the variety tin of teabags.
“Yeah, something like that.” she nodded.
“You drank a lot last night.”
“It’s been known to happen on more than one occasion to all of us. Well, some of us.”
“Are you going to be alright to work today?” Hotch asked.
“I can do my job.” Emily didn’t mean to snap but something about the question rubbed her the wrong way. Hell, she’d been the wrong way since she almost fell out of bed this morning.
“I wasn’t saying…nevermind Prentiss, I don’t want to fight.”
Hotch dropped a teabag in his cup, filled it with hot water and got the hell out of there. Emily watched him go. Then she drank down four Motrin with coffee. She didn’t want to feel like hell today but probably had no choice. That didn’t mean she had to be evil Emily. Crossing her fingers that no case sent them running to the jet, Emily made her way to her desk and got started on her paperwork.
“You were bringing the party last night, Prentiss.” Morgan said grinning.
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
“It looked to me like you were having fun. Do you remember having fun or are you one of those people who blacks out and your other personality comes out.”
“I have no idea what you're talking about.” She opened a file. “Unfortunately I remember everything. I remember making an ass of myself.”
“You didn’t do that.” Derek shook his head. “OK, you tied it on but we’re all guilty of that once in a while. It’s not like you jumped up on the bar and stripped. Please tell me you didn’t jump up on the bar and strip. Damn, I knew I shouldn’t have left early.”
“I didn’t pull a Coyote Ugly, no.” Emily managed a smile.
“Well at least I made you smile.”
“How are you not hung over?”
“It’s the age old trick…one slice of pepperoni pizza, three Advil, and a bottle of water.” Morgan said. “It never fails.”
“That’s disgusting.” She turned up her nose.
“Don’t knock what works. I haven’t had a hangover since college. You can't say the same now, can you?”
“I'm never drinking again.” Emily mumbled, trying and failing to focus on the file in front of her. It was going to be an unbearable day.
It was after eight o’clock when Hotch came up for air. No one had bothered to say goodnight to him but Rossi, not that he was so upset about it. His team knew he was busy and if the Unit Chief was in his office with the door closed it wasn’t often they disturbed him. He stood, stretching and taking off his suit jacket. He could’ve done that hours ago but didn’t even think about it.
He was hungry; there was a late dinner waiting for him down in the refrigerator. Hotch made his way to the kitchen, very surprised that someone else on his team had the same idea. Emily was currently using the microwave and he made sure to give her plenty of space. He knew she wasn’t feeling well.
He also knew that she didn’t want to be bothered with him today. For all the compartmentalizing Emily Prentiss could do, some things she wore all over he face. Or maybe it was just some things Hotch was privy to that others weren't. No, she was definitely wearing this all over her face.
“I expected to be here alone at this hour.” He said. He wasn’t sure if he was trying to make conversation or just telling the truth.
“I started to feel better and got into a zone. I have four folders left until I see the bottom of my inbox.” Emily turned away from the microwave and looked at him. “I don’t think I've seen the bottom of my inbox since Gideon, Reid, and I got home from Guantanamo Bay.”
“I bet.” Hotch managed a smile.
“I'm missing movie night too but I thought this was more important. I know it’s not a race but sometimes I really neglect the paperwork. It’s the totally unglamorous part of the job.”
“You're right about that. You said you were missing movie night?”
“Yeah,” Emily nodded. “It’s at Garcia’s house this time around and they're watching Streets of Fire. I probably haven’t seen that movie in a decade. Morgan almost convinced me to go but I just thought it was better to stay here and get things done.”
“I've never heard of Streets of Fire.”
“It’s this low budget indie film about a singer who’s kidnapped by a gang leader and then her long lost boyfriend returns to town to save her. Diane Lane plays the singer, Willem Dafoe the gang leader, and the guy from Eddie and the Cruisers is the long lost boyfriend. It’s from the 80s where it was OK to sing and battle in movies and people still enjoyed it.” Emily opened the microwave. “OK, this doesn’t look appetizing at all. Eww.”
“What is it?” Hotch asked.
“Garcia said it was OK for me to eat her quiche. I love her but I don’t even think I would feed this to Serge. In fact I know I wouldn’t…I don’t want him to have anymore excuses to take my breath. I can't eat this.”
“Maybe we should just order something. There are a handful of local places that can have it here in less than 30 minutes. What are you in the mood for? We could have sandwiches, Thai, Mexican…”
“Oh no, not Mexican.” Emily put her hand on her stomach. “My stomach has been OK today but that might be pushing it. What about pizza?”
“Pizza is good.” Hotch smiled and his dimples came out to play. “I’ll order a pizza and you can finish up your last folders with me.”
“I'm fine at my desk but the pizza sounds delicious.”
“The couch in my office is much more comfortable than your chair.” He reasoned. “You can spread out; have more room to get things done. I don’t do it very often but I can put on some music; that always makes time move at a better pace. The truth is I haven’t had company for paperwork since Gideon left. Dave and I did it once or twice but paperwork was never his thing.”
“OK.” Emily nodded. She wrapped the quiche up before tossing it, didn’t want Garcia to know, and then made her way back to her desk. There wasn’t much left to finish tonight but at least there could be a few creature comforts while she got it done. Thank God tomorrow was Friday. It had been a long week and Emily was anxious for it to end.
“I'm sorry I kissed you last night.”
She was sitting on his couch now, legs crossed, finishing the last of the Jefferson City case file. There were only two more to go, Emily wanted to do them and get the hell out of there but she opened her mouth and those were the words that came out.
“I'm not.” Hotch replied.
“Are you serious, Hotch?”
“What's a drunken kiss between colleagues every once in a while?”
“Are you serious?”
“It’s OK Prentiss. Maybe if I were still a married man it might not be, but I'm not. You were drinking and you didn’t mean anything by it. It didn’t make me feel used or uncomfortable.”
“No.” Hotch lied shaking his head. “I think it’s probably best just to forget about it and move on. No one was hurt.”
“I don’t know if I can just forget about it. You’re my boss, Hotch. More than that I would like to be your friend and I try to be your friend but there always seem to be some disconnection. How are we ever going to get past that if I do silly things like get drunk and kiss you? It just gives you another reason to avoid me like the clap.”
“I don’t avoid you. I don’t avoid you, Prentiss. I just…we’re a team. We’re a team and we stick together no matter what. Some of us are closer than others. I don't think there's anything wrong with that. I'm here for you, as a team leader. I’ll always be here for you.”
“So you don’t want to be friends?” she asked. Was he really saying that?
“I'm not a very good friend.” Hotch replied.
“I don’t think that’s true. But if you don’t want to be friends then I guess I can stop worrying about it all the time. God, I feel stupid for even giving a damn.”
“You're a caring person Emily, you always give a damn. I'm not pushing you away.”
“You're not?” Emily laughed but it there was no mirth in it. “I probably just need to finish this at my desk.” She stood and quickly started to gather her paperwork.
She also gathered up the remnants of her dinner and threw it in Hotch’s trashcan. “You’ve pushed me away since the first day we met. I don’t know what I ever did to deserve that but it hurts. I’ll get over it, I am over it. And you don’t have to worry about my lips coming anywhere near you again.”
“Alright.” It was all he could think to say.
He heard the hurt in her words and didn’t know how to make it better. Hotch didn’t want to get close to anyone anymore. He didn’t want to care for someone and have them walk out on him. Even worse he didn’t want to lose them because of something he’d done. The best way not to be hurt or to hurt anyone was just to stay away.
It wasn’t always logical but it had been working well so far. So he just let her walk away. He just let her swim alone to the other side of the sometimes vast ocean between them. Even doing what he thought was the right thing hurt her. How was Hotch supposed to do the other thing, which might be right but would also be wrong? The team came first, the FBI, and Hotch had to be a leader.
He was barely back to his files, listening to Tom Petty and singing under his breath when Emily walked back into his office. She closed the door, walked over to his desk, leaned over him, and kissed him. The kiss was deep, passionate, and hot. Hotch stiffened for a moment before relaxing under the heat of her touch. He was sure her handprints would be burned in his cheeks when it was over. Moaning into her mouth, Hotch went to wrap his arms around her but she seemed to pull away just as quickly as she attacked.
“There…now I'm over it. I don’t want to just be the drunken colleague who accidentally kisses her boss. I wanted to kiss you and maybe I let alcohol do it for me. I don't need to hide behind that. I don’t need to hide behind anything. That’s just a portion of what you're missing. Have a good night, Hotch.”
He held his hand up in a feeble wave, not even sure what just happened. Leaning back in his chair, he closed his eyes and ran his hand over his face. Damn, she was a better kisser sober than she was drunk. He needed to shake it off though.
Nothing like that could ever happen between them no matter what Hotch sometimes let himself think when he couldn’t fight it anymore. He was her superior, but that wasn’t even the real reason. He was tired. He was too tired to fight, to compromise, to change, to be something more than he was already. That sounded like a lame excuse, even in his head, though it was the truth.
At her desk Emily didn’t feel happy or victorious. She felt sad and a little stupid. Did she really think she was showing Hotch what he didn’t have? Clearly it was something he didn’t want anyway.
She needed to just get over it, return the feelings to the box far in the back of her mind.
She was too old to keep pushing against a resistant force. With what this job took out of her Emily didn’t have the energy. She cared about him but she could do that within the context of the job and leave it at that.
Hotch was someone special to her whether she wanted him to be or not. You didn’t choose who you fell in love with. You could choose to move on though and if there was one thing that Emily Prentiss was good at it was moving on. This time it might only be in the figurative sense but that was better than nothing.