Reid couldn't decide if it was the second or third day of Emily acting strangely. He knew she'd been sick on Monday, so her bizarre behavior on Tuesday could be attributed to the after effects of whatever bug she'd had. Wednesday and Thursday, though, were definitely odd.
He waited until he saw her go to the break room for more coffee and followed her. "Emily, is there anything I can do to help?"
"Something's been bothering you. I doubt it's Strauss; you don't seem to be behind on your paperwork or consultations; you haven't been gossiping with Garcia or JJ; so I have to conclude it's a personal matter. Is there anything I can help with?"
She seemed to appreciate his logic and turned to pour some coffee. Emily stopped in the middle. "You know, the coffee today sucks, and I don't feel like making a fresh pot. How about I treat you to Sidamo?"
"The Ethiopian place? That's all the way in DC."
"There are enough Ethiopians here that they opened a branch near us last week."
Reid grinned. "In that case, to hell with break room coffee."
Emily grinned back and for the first time all week, looked normal.
When they got to the coffee shop, they allowed themselves the luxury of sitting at a table and getting real cups.
"So. What's bothering you?"
Emily glared at her coffee and went up to the counter. She came back with two teacakes. "If I'm going to talk about my mother, I need food."
Reid accepted his and nodded. "Ah. It wasn't my imagination."
"She's been asked to serve again. Georgia so her Russian will be mostly useful. She leaves on February first. Her plan is to have a big New Year's party and then the clean up can also be a pack-up for storage and shipment."
"Sensible," Reid said.
"If I were just expected to make an appearance late in the evening, no problem, but I'm in a Catch-22. Mother wants me there, but she wants me to join them for dinner which means I need to show up with a date. It doesn't matter if I'm dating the guy or not, she just doesn't want to have to worry about an unbalanced dinner table." Emily sighed.
"Should I be offended? You work with four men, none of whom is currently married."
"No. I know any one of you would have my back. Hotch would make the most sense in terms of age and, to use mother's term, breeding."
"Prep schools and the 'right kind' of university plus a law degree -- he would be perfect." Reid's eyes darkened with sympathy.
"If I'd known about this in September, I could have asked him, but now, with Jack and, and ..."
"He's not going to get over Haley's death for a long time. A celebration, even a perfunctory one, isn't appropriate."
Emily nodded miserably. "Morgan's gotten kind of serious about the woman he met on the DC case. I don't know much more than that, but ..."
"He's going to want to be with her for their first New Year's together. Which just leaves you with a choice between two scandals." He took another bite of his teacake and washed it down with espresso.
"The older man with three ex-wives or the young one with the cane and the long haircut. The Ph.D.s probably weigh on my side, but I bet Rossi owns a dinner jacket."
Emily winced. "I hate to say it, but I was thinking of tossing a coin. You don't seem to like social situations much, but Dave can be really offensive if he thinks something or someone is pretentious. On your side, you've at least met my mother."
"Emily, would you do me the honor of being my date on New Year's Eve?"
"Did you just invite me to my mother's party?"
Reid shrugged. "It seemed to be the only way to get you out of your dilemma. If you turn me down, you have to ask Rossi. If you accept, you have nearly two weeks to point me in the right direction to learn the correct etiquette."
"You wouldn't mind?"
"My current choices on New Year's Eve are to help a beautiful woman out of a bind by eating fine food and meeting new people or staying at home and finishing the paper I'm presenting on necrophilia at the Journal of Abnormal Psychology's conference in January. Beautiful woman wins."
"I have to accept. Any man who knows to call evening wear a dinner jacket will definitely impress my mother."
Reid picked her up precisely on time. They'd discussed logistics and decided to take a cab to and from her mother's residence. He'd take the bus to pick her up, and she'd reserve the taxi for seven p.m.
Emily invited him in since they had a few minutes before the cab was due. She took his coat to hang up.
When she turned around she really looked at him. "That's not rented."
"I asked Hotch to take me to his tailor." He looked a little nervous and fumbled handing her a small, wrapped package.
Inside the golden paper was a small roll-on vial of her favorite perfume.
"It is the custom, right, a sweet scent to welcome in the New Year?" Reid looked nervous.
"It's perfect. How did you know which one I wear?"
"I asked Garcia. A friend of mine in New York got it for me. It's the only Caron boutique in the US."
"You didn't get that from Letitia Baldridge or Miss Manners."
He grinned. "Once I got through them, I started researching European customs. I thought your mother would probably lean that way."
"You're right. Don't tell me you have her favorite perfume, too? And that suit, it couldn't have been cheap."
"I've been invited to give lectures at Edinburgh, Oxford, and Cambridge next year. The Bureau is paying my airfare and hotel, since it's a professional invitation. I was informed I needed black tie for formal dinners. This just moved my timetable up a little."
"Well, my compliments to Hotch's tailor." She'd barely been able to take her eyes off him. The cut was slightly old-fashioned and with his glasses on, Reid, of all people, looked distinguished.
"He and Hotch talked for twenty minutes about the weight of the fabric and another twenty about which cut would be best with my height and build. It was fascinating, the level of skill and intuition a good tailor needs. I hadn't known before." Reid's eyes travelled from her face to her bare shoulders to the stilettos she wore, and he gave a soft whistle. "Red really suits you, Emily."
She glanced away quickly. "You clean up pretty good yourself. I like the walking sticks you've found. Did Hotch convince you to go with a waistcoat instead of a cummerbund?"
"No. I wanted to wear my watch chain." He gave a half smile at her nervousness.
The taxi honked outside. He helped her on with her coat.
Emily said, "Don't tell Garcia. It was my twenty first birthday gift. She'd never forgive me for wearing fur."
He put on his own coat and offered her his arm. "Your secret is safe with me."
Emily found herself fascinated by the party in a way she hadn't been since she was a small child watching between the slats in the banister.
Reid had taken her suggestions about what to read to heart, both for etiquette books and for current novels and non-fiction. With his retentive memory, he was able to hold intelligent conversations with a wide variety of people. The Hungarian ambassador's wife was thrilled to be seated next to him. Somehow Emily hadn't been surprised to find out their entire conversation was in Latin.
As they left the dining room, her mother came up to her. "I thought you'd made a mistake bringing the boy from your team, but he's made quite a hit."
Emily tried to ignore the many levels of backhanded and just take the compliment. "Reid's an intelligent and talented man." She hoped her mother took the emphasis.
"The walking stick seemed like an affectation, but now I think not."
Leave it to her mother to ask a question by making a statement. "It's not an affectation, mother."
She heard Reid's voice. "I was shot earlier this year and contracted an infection which slowed the healing and caused complications. I should be back to normal by Spring."
Ambassador Prentiss gave her best diplomatic smile. "I'm sure that will be a relief not only for you, but your whole team. Thank you for entertaining the Danish Ambassador earlier. He was quite impressed with your knowledge of mathematics."
"One of Doctor Reid's Ph.D.s is in mathematics."
"Forgive me, I thought you were a psychologist. I must return to my guests." She smiled at them both and wandered away.
"I'm sorry about that."
Reid gave a half laugh. "No need. I think you made your mother very happy by coming here tonight."
"I'll miss her. We don't see each other all that often, but it feels like it's more difficult to keep in touch when there's an ocean between us."
"That makes sense." He took a glass of champagne from the tray of a passing waiter and offered it to her before taking one for himself.
"I guess it's nearly midnight."
The countdown to midnight was being started in the room behind them. They turned toward the room and silently toasted Ambassador Prentiss who acknowledged them and turned back to her guests.
Together they said, "Three, two, one. Happy New Year."
Emily felt the faint brush of Reid's lips over hers before he took a quick sip of champagne. She stared into his eyes for a moment and began to pull him back to her. He stopped her. "Reid?"
He put his glass down and adjusted his cane. "Maybe Spencer would be appropriate, Emily?" His broad right hand slid into her hair and he leaned in toward her.
She reached up and completed the kiss. Under her fingers the rough brocade of his waistcoat provided a contrast to the smooth softness of his lips. "Spencer? Is it too early to take me home?"
"If you think you've stayed long enough to appease your mother, then no." She could feel his hand trailing down her back stroking the velvet of her dress.
"You'll have to let me go."
He nodded then picked up his champagne for a quick sip. "Should I come with you or get our coats?"
"Get our coats and make the call for the cab. I'll probably be a few minutes, but I'll meet you at the front door."
"It'll take me a few minutes to get down the steps. Why don't we meet at the bottom."
Their fingertips touched as she gave a tight nod to his suggestion and went to take her leave.
They sat next to each other in their taxi without speaking. Emily could feel her breath quickening whenever he looked at her, and when his gloved hand brushed against hers a jolt of electricity went up her arm.
When the cab pulled up in front of her house, Reid got out of the car with her. As he turned to get back in, she put her hand on his shoulder. "You could come in for coffee?"
He looked at her intently. "Coffee?"
Emily swallowed. "I'll make enough for breakfast."
Spencer gave her a shy smile and paid the driver, giving him a generous tip.
She busied herself taking their coats once they got in the front door. He stood watching her gravely, leaning on his cane.
Emily turned to him. "I must admit, I don't really want coffee this late."
He shook his head as she came nearer to him. "It wasn't uppermost in my mind either."
"You really impressed my mother."
The silence yawned between them.
Reid finally broke it. "Come here." She stepped toward him.
He said, "It's the one night of the year when Metro runs all night."
"No. It's just... Does it sound terrible that I never thought of you this way?"
He gave a small smile. "I've been hoping you might." He held out his free hand and she took it, coming closer.
This time when Spencer leaned in to her, he dragged his lips up her throat to whisper in her ear. "I couldn't take my eyes off you at dinner. I kept wanting to touch your shoulders." He rested one hand against her bare shoulder and captured her mouth. His free hand roamed over her dress brushing the soft fabric against her skin.
He caught her lower lip gently in his teeth, then swiped out his tongue to trace the pattern of her mouth.
Emily heard herself mewl with need. "I think we'd be more comfortable upstairs."
"I've always thought transporter technology was needed mostly for moments like these."
She giggled as she tugged on his hand to follow her.
Her bedroom was as classic as she was.
Emily rose on her toes to kiss him again, and they tumbled back against the wall. "I'm sorry. Your leg ..."
"It's fine." His right arm snaked around her waist pulling her into a lingering kiss. She barely felt it when Spencer found the hidden fastening and unzipped her. It was his fingertips stroking her skin that let her know.
"Lean on your cane so I can take this off."
She took a couple of paces back keeping her eyes locked on his as she pulled the barely-there sleeves down her arms. Emily stood before him in thigh highs and heels, her legs looking impossibly long and her body bare.
"If I'd known you were wearing so little under your dress, I might have tried to taste you on the dining table."
"Really?" Her voice squeaked.
Spencer laughed softly. "You're a very desirable woman."
"One who thinks it's time I saw you naked." Emily's voice held an undercurrent of laughter.
He unknotted his tie and unbuttoned his shirt and vest. "I need to sit down for the rest. Canes aren't useful when trying to put on or take off your pants."
She reached up and helped him shrug off the layers. "Sit on the bed." She draped them over a chair.
"Hey, still not naked." Emily did her best to sound stern when she turned around. His shoes and socks were by the bed. It was only seeing them inside out that let her know the socks were still unmatched.
He looked up at her. "Can't I kiss you again first." Spencer sounded so pleading that she took a step or two toward him.
"I have to get these off. When I look up, I expect to see your trousers on the floor."
"How about you leave them on, and I'll move a little faster." He blushed a little.
"You like stockings."
"And high heels on beautiful women."
"Hmmm. I don't see those pants coming off." She started to reach for the top of one stocking and laughed outright to see Spencer getting his trousers off so quickly. He threw them at her and she caught them, draping them over a chair before walking over to him.
He slid his arms around her waist and kissed her navel, nuzzling at her sternum.
Emily reached down and took off his glasses. "I don't care how nearsighted you are, I'm sure you don't need these any more."
Spencer pulled her onto the bed, and she shrieked with laughter.
He kissed her again and Emily felt herself melting into it. He whispered, "I'd like to explore you." And when she gave the barest nod, she felt his hands begin to stroke down her skin. His lips followed with his tongue flicking out to taste her nipples and his warm breath causing the little hairs to stand up on her skin.
One of his hands disappeared between her legs and she heard his breath catch. "The tops of your stockings are wet."
She tugged on his ears to bring him up for a kiss. "I liked being kissed."
Spencer smiled down at her and traced her eyebrows with his fingers. "I like getting to kiss you." He stole one more then mouthed his way down her body.
Emily gasped when he nuzzled the hair between her legs. She parted her thighs and felt kisses pressed to the soft skin on each side. Then his tongue flicked out and began to trace patterns in her folds.
He groaned with pleasure, lapping at her core, sucking at her clit.
She could feel her release building, one of his elegant fingers slipping inside her while his mouth pushed her closer to ecstasy. She called out his name as she came.
Spencer seemed to know exactly what to do to ease her down and begin to build her back up. Emily felt herself close again, his restless tongue still teasing her.
He pulled away and began to roam his way back up her body.
She saw the need in his eyes. "I'm ready for you."
A quick nod and she heard a condom packet tearing. He place a reverent kiss between her breasts. He eased into her slowly, giving her time to adjust, reveling in the tight heat. When he was fully sheathed, he brushed his lips across her forehead and dipped down for a kiss.
Emily had a wicked look in her eye when it ended and kicked his butt.
Spencer began to move, pinning her hands over her head as he ground their bodies together. The soft noises she made, sounds of need and heat and longing breathed into his ear, made him let go of her hands so his could wander down her body.
Her hands wandered too, a finger slipping through the sweat pooling at the small of his back and teasing the cleft of his ass, a hand twining in his hair pulling his lips to hers, fingernails raking him as her inner walls clenched around him. And then his name chanted as her legs squeezed his waist.
He held on through her orgasm as her body bucked under him. Finally he drove in, twice and came hard, kissing her face, whispering "Emily."
He claimed her mouth again, and all she could think was how beautiful he looked sweaty and panting above her.
A few minutes later when they were stealing little touches and kisses and getting warm under the covers, Emily turned to him and said, "I get the feeling you've done that before."
Spencer had an attack of giggles, but managed to stammer out, "Would you believe I've read a lot?"
"We shouldn't get too comfortable. I'd rather shower before we stick together."
"May I join you?"
"I'd be disappointed if you didn't."
"Will you be disappointed if I say, no fooling around? I may need to use your shoulder for balance."
Emily stroked his face. "Of course."
"Of course, you'll be disappointed?"
She rolled her eyes at him and led him to the bathroom. After they climbed in the shower and set the temperature, he noticed a shadow come over her for a moment.
"Talk to me," Spencer said.
"We have tonight -- maybe the whole weekend. Then comes Monday morning. What happens then?"
"That's entirely up to you. What I'd like is we make plans for next weekend or go out to dinner in the evening, since the semester doesn't start for another week, and we just see where it takes us. If we're still having dinner and weekends together in three months, we take Hotch out to lunch and talk to him. And if it's still going on in six months, we invite the team to dinner." He looked her directly in the eye. "Or I get a nearly perfect fantasy tonight -- or maybe the whole weekend -- and we look at each other occasionally on a case and smile."
She chose to ignore the wider importance of what he said. "Nearly perfect? What didn't go exactly the way you wanted it to, Doctor Reid."
He grinned and ducked his head under the water to claim a kiss. "Well, SSA Prentiss, that depends on whether it's the fantasy I had when I finally got up the nerve to ask you out or the fantasy that I had when I helped you on with your coat."
Emily gasped a laugh. "No. I'm not explaining the mysterious substances that would need to be cleaned off my fur coat. So what's the other one."
"Do you remember that case in Alabama last summer?"
"Hell isn't that hot. I'll never forget it. Morgan was teaching, Rossi was testifying, and JJ was on vacation. You, me, and Hotch in ninety percent humidity, and I still haven't seen Hotch without his tie on a case."
"He took off his jacket though, and I'd never seen that before during the day." Spencer smiled. "You put your hair up."
"Because it was hot."
"It was hot, all right." His eyes sparked when he looked at her. "I thought, if you let me kiss you good night, you just might let me take your hair down."
"That's sweet. I'm sorry I disappointed you." She turned off the water and let him lean on her shoulder to step out of the tub. "Can I get you something for your knee? It looks swollen."
"I have some Aleve with me." He looked a little sheepish.
"Are you blushing because I should have been on top?"
"It might have been better for my knee. There are actually many positions that would be fine for my injury."
"I hope that includes sixty-nine." Emily tossed him a towel.
"You know, I may not sleep thinking about that."
When they woke the next morning, they had a chance to put Emily's suggestion into practice.
Emily looked at herself in the mirror on Monday morning and wondered exactly how weird it would be to see Reid at the office. They'd spent most of the weekend together and a great deal of that had been in bed. If she'd known how inventive geniuses could be, she might have tried one sooner.
The look on his face, which he'd schooled quickly, when she'd said they should spend last night apart, was heartbroken. On the other hand, it felt genuine when he said he understood why.
Never had she thought she'd find him so attractive. There'd been one moment at a museum yesterday when she'd nearly wrestled him to the ground and had her way with him in front of the surrealists and everybody. How was it that Reid explaining the mathematics of Magritte's illusions could do that to her?
She pulled out her coat, stroking the fur next to it a little guiltily, and steeled herself for the drive. Another dull Monday loomed.
It wasn't dull for long. Rossi was testifying at a case in New Jersey he'd consulted on. Morgan was leading an academy seminar that week on the hallmarks of obsessional crime, and the Seattle field office had called them with a short turnaround kidnapping. The unsub had done it before, holding ten year old girls for ransom, but the last one had been killed -- the first time that had happened. They were hoping it would also be the last time it happened, so Hotch told her to work with Reid in the conference room and Garcia patched in Seattle on the computer.
There'd been a couple of little moments, before Shariann Fry became the center of their focus. Morgan had made a remark about their picture being on the society page the previous day as he grabbed his notebook and rushed to his seminar. Reid had blushed when they both reached for the cream in the break room and their hands touched. She couldn't lie; she'd felt the electricity too.
Once Seattle called, though, Emily and Spencer fell away and Reid and Prentiss made a top-notch consulting team. Their skills and strengths complemented each other well, and they worked seamlessly, with an occasional assist from Garcia.
Hotch got lunch orders from them and reviewed their work while they ate. Six hours after JJ first got the phone call, Reid ran to get Hotch and asked him to pull together an entry plan for the suspect's premises that would give Shariann the best chance of getting out alive.
Two hours later, they closed the connection with Seattle and grinned at each other in relief. They'd caught the unsub and while Shariann Fry would probably need some therapy, she was alive and mostly uninjured. It was a good start to the new work year.
Hotch turned to Reid. "The last VRE left half an hour ago. I can drop you at Franconia on my way home."
Reid glanced at her before starting to agree. She'd twisted her hair up and used a pencil to pin it in place. His eyes went wide, and he stammered.
Emily stepped in smoothly. "I can drop him at home. Franconia's out of your way, and you should get home to Jack."
Hotch's shoulders showed his relief. "If you're sure, it would be a big help."
Spencer nodded. "It was nice of you to offer, but it really does make more sense if Emily drops me off."
"You two did well together." He looked between them and gave a small smile. "I think you probably do well together in most things."
They unpinned the case information and put it away silently. Once they were sure Hotch and Garcia had left, they packed up their things and left the building.
"We didn't make it a whole day without Hotch figuring it out," Emily said.
"We work with profilers." Spencer sounded nervous.
"Never on a case. That rule has to be hard and fast."
He nodded. "Understood. No asking you to sleep in my room when we're in the field."
"I'm bad at relationships. You should know that going in."
"So am I. I think I'll be okay with you, though."
Emily smiled as she drove toward DC. "I guess that leaves only one more thing to decide."
Spencer looked at her.
"Your place or mine tonight?"
He grinned. "Mine."