Author: ilovetvalot PM
When Penelope's curiousity reveals deeply hidden secrets, can Aaron stop her before Emily's life is put in further danger? Angst/friendship, Garcia/Hotch. Two-shot.Rated: Fiction T - English - Drama/Angst - A. Hotchner/Hotch & P. Garcia - Chapters: 2 - Words: 3,127 - Reviews: 24 - Favs: 16 - Follows: 12 - Updated: 06-22-11 - Published: 06-19-11 - Status: Complete - id: 7096721
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Now, on with the show...
She'd never know what had made her run that particular search.
Maybe it was boredom...maybe it was for closure...maybe it was just her sheer morbid curiosity. Or perhaps, it was because deep down in that part of her that was sheer conspiracy theorist, she'd always suspected the deep and not-so-hidden truth.
But, she had never expected to stumble onto proof of her suspicions.
As she looked at the latest bank statement of her allegedly fallen comrade, however, the truth was irrefutable. It was facing her in black and white.
Emily Prentiss' copious funds had slowly been filtered out of her bank account over the last six months...and Penelope had traced the cash to three distinct females...all looking remarkably similar.
Pulling up the three visas side by side on her glowing screen, Penelope shook her head as she stared at the images and tried to process the information she'd unearthed.
Three identities. Arabella Scorria hailed from Valencia, Italy. Sarah Marsh was from New Haven, England. And Nicolette Dubois resided in Paris, France.
Which was a neat trick, she thought with a silent snort.
Especially since Emily Prentiss was supposed to be resting in the eternal arms of the angels.
Now, what the hell did she do? Glancing at the red glowing numbers on the clock on her desk, she flipped her laptop closed with a flick of her wrist, her decision made.
Only one man would know how to proceed from here.
Grabbing her purse with one arm and her laptop with the other, she inhaled deeply, steadying herself.
"Aaron Hotchner, here I come," she said aloud, squaring her shoulders as she walked purposefully out the door.
Hesitating outside the door of Hotch's townhouse, Garcia began to second guess herself. After all, it was two in the morning. Either really late or very early, no matter how she sliced the proverbial pie.
Hitching her bag higher on her shoulder as she stared at the brass knocker in front of her, she twitched her lips from side to side uncertainly. Could this wait? A few more hours wouldn't really make a difference, would it? After all, their Cupcake had been out there all alone for months now. Would another half-day change that horrendous fact?
Lifting her hand to her temple, Garcia grimaced as she took a step backward, her foot dislodging one of the flowerpots on the stoop, knocking it to the sidewalk. The echoing crash marred the black night, and she watched as a light flickered on inside the house.
Damn, there was no turning back now.
Lifting her hand to the knocker, she rapped twice as she began to attempt to form an explanation for her presence on her boss's doorstep at the witching hour.
But, seconds later as a bleary eyed Aaron Hotchner opened the door, his hair tussled, Garcia blurted the first words that came into her mind.
Squinting, Hotch stared at his wild eyed technical analyst for a moment. "Garcia?"
"Emily's alive, Hotch!" Garcia repeated, grabbing Hotch's arm and shaking it, wondering if the man's hearing was more damaged than he had been letting on. "Did you hear me? She's alive!"
Covering the chilled hand resting on his forearm with his, Aaron drew Penelope across the threshold into the much warmer foyer of his home. "Garcia," Hotch said calmly, noting the tight lines around her pinched mouth, her lips almost obscenely pale without her usual war paint, "Emily is dead. You know that."
Shoving Hotch aside as she shook her head, Garcia hurried toward the sofa, dropping her bag to the floor with a soft plop. "I don't know what made me look, Hotch. I really don't," she babbled, pulling her laptop from its carrier and popping it open on the coffee table in front of her. "But, I did...and this," she said, jabbing her finger toward the glowing screen that still displayed the damning pictures, "is what I found."
Frowning, Aaron followed her into the living room. Shaking his dark head, he murmured, "You went looking for information?"
"I was...I just..." Garcia floundered, glancing up at his neutral face and well aware that he was not buying any of her story. "Will you just look?" she finally got out, grabbing his hand and pulling him unceremoniously down beside her.
Peering at the computer screen, Hotch tried to remain emotionless as he stared at the three visas that were undeniably Emily Prentiss. Damn it, why hadn't he and JJ foreseen this complication? Why hadn't they known that with this unique woman's boundless enthusiasm for all things technical, that she'd manage to uncover their secret.
"It's her, Hotch," Garcia said excitedly, bouncing up and down on the leather couch. "It's her!" she virtually squealed, looking at her boss for validation. "Why aren't you happy?" she asked, deflating as she watched his eyes darken. "She's alive."
"No, Garcia," Hotch said softly, reaching out to close the computer. "She's not," he denied as he clicked the laptop shut. "You never saw that tonight," he continued, his voice vibrating with tension as he stared into her shocked gaze.
"Wh-what?" Garcia asked, her jaw dropping as she stared at the taciturn man beside her. "Why?" she asked, raising her voice a notch when Hotch's jaw flexed.
"Penelope," Hotch began, hesitating when he saw her eyes cloud.
"No!" Pen hissed, pointing a finger at him in defiance, "Don't you dare. Don't you dare tell me to ignore this, Aaron Hotchner! She's alive. We have to do something!"
"Sometimes the best thing to do is absolutely nothing," Aaron suggested softly, staring at her.
Eyes widening as she listened to the familiar voice of her boss...her friend...spouting complete bullshit, Pen shook her head. "Who are you?" she gaped, her eyes narrowing. Something was off here. Way, way off. "You're not surprised," she whispered, the complete truth of the situation hitting her squarely between her bespectacled eyes. "You knew!" she shrieked, jumping to her feet.
"Penelope," Hotch murmured, reaching for her hand, "I can explain...sort of," he amended with a wince.
"You knew the truth all along and you let us all suffer," Penelope accused as she began to shake. Before rational thought could take hold, instinct reared its ugly head, her palm slicing through the air to connect sharply with Hotch's jaw, a crisp crack resounding in the air as her hand connected with his cheek.
Aaron's head whipped to the side as Garcia's small hand connected. Ignoring the sting, both to his skin and his soul, he inhaled deeply, searching for a way to convince the livid woman before him to become a cooperative participant in the plan to keep Emily safe.
"How could you do this?" Garcia hissed, taking a step backward as she stared at Hotch with new eyes. When an immediate response wasn't forthcoming, Penelope shook her head furiously, narrowing her sparkling eyes. "You know, Hotch, no man is an island and currently you're swimming in shark infested waters! Talk!" she yelled, lowering her voice as she heard a small cough down the hallway. Wincing, she lowered her voice in deference to his sleeping son. "I mean it, Hotch. Talk or I take this to the team faster than Bill Gates can say, "My Microsoft millions!""
"Penelope, you can't do that," Hotch said quickly, leveling her with a meaningful stare as he tilted his head. "Ever."
"Try me," she snorted, her hands dropping to her hips. "I dare you to present me with one good reason not to yell it from the freaking bell tower!"
"Because one small misstep on our side could cost Prentiss her life," Hotch answered, his deep voice resonating with authority as he silently willed her to back down.