(This is yet another fic set between LOFI and My story "Hope". I hope to have it finished within a week. It comes after my story "For Now and Forever". It seeks to explain the developing relationship between Emily and Hotch.

I write all day and well into the night--for my living, for my education, and for fun--upwards of 15 thousand words a day--as such, I RARELY edit fanfiction, so please ignore minor spelling mistakes! Thanks


"So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, And shall cast them into the furnace of fire.." (Revelations)

Derek Morgan was no angel. Emily Prentiss knew that—but she didn't care, she went home with him anyway. It was the smile, the pleading look in the big brown eyes. So she did it.

And look what she got out of it. She looked at the pitiful creature in the passenger seat of her Roadster. "Don't you dare make a mess on my seat, hear me?"

He didn't answer.

Not that she'd really expected one. How had she let herself be suckered into this?

She wasn't quite sure.

How was she going to manage this—with her life, with her job?

She wasn't sure of that either.

But she had to admit he was cute, in an ugly sort of way. "You know, beware of the man who works hard to learn something, learns it, and finds himself no wiser than before—Kurt Vonnegut said that. In my case, it's beware the woman who works hard—and finds herself no wiser than before. I study behavior, and I knew Morgan wanted something. Why else was he so insistent? And now look., I'm stuck with you."

She sighed when she got no response, just a blink of large green eyes. She'd never seen a cat take to riding in cars so well. But the big gold monster just curled into her seat, and acted as if he'd spent hours in a purring BMW every day.

"You'll need a name. Any suggestions?" She asked him, maneuvering the silver car through the busy Annandale evening traffic.

Morgan had looked so innocent when he'd asked her to give him a ride home. She'd thought he just wanted to take a spin in the car her father had bought her for her birthday.

Boy, did she learn her lesson. "How about naming you after Kurt? Do you like that?"

"Merow." He actually answered, and she took it as approval.

"Kurt it is. Kurt Morgan Prentiss, the big ugly cat." She said, pulling her car into the second space assigned to her unit. Her sedan sat right where she'd left it the night before.

She'd tried to tell her father she didn't need two cars, but she had to admit the Roadster gave her a bit of thrill. And who wouldn't want a silver and black BMW for her birthday? Even though she'd have to vacuum the cat hair out of it before she drove it again.

At least it was a weekend. She'd have a few days—provided the BAU didn't get called in on a case—to get Kurt settled in at her condo.

Get herself used to owning a cat.



Her cat owned her. And she was going to kill Derek Morgan. Or thank him. She hadn't made up her mind yet as she walked into the bullpen at nine o'clock Monday morning. Officially she wasn't required to be there until the ten o'clock briefing, but she'd made a habit of arriving early since her assignment to the BAU a year and a half ago.

She'd known she was there on sufferance and she was more than determined to earn her place on this team. She knew she had, but a habit was hard to break. Even though Hotchner told her she was more than a welcome addition to the team, and she could relax, quit over-compensating. Since he'd told her she was part of the heart of the team.

Hotchner. She didn't know what to think about him anymore. He'd been less than welcoming to her from the very beginning. And when Aaron Hotchner gave you the cold shoulder, you felt the chill to the bone. The man had terrified the un-terrifiable. Had faced down the worst of serial killers. Had frozen her to the bone on more than one occasion.

But ever since Rossi's ordeal, Hotch had been running hotter than she'd ever thought she'd see him. And most of the burn was directed solely at her.

His eyes and his touch. His shoulder would graze hers as he walked by, his hand would linger when he handed her a file. He'd call her Emily. He'd smile, just at her.

It freaked her to her toes. Disconcerted her in a way she hadn't been since she'd been a young woman.

What the hell was he up to?


Hotch watched from his office as first Emily then Derek arrived and settled into their desks.

He envied Derek his easy conversation with Emily. The complete lack of tension between the two. The way they totally accepted each other. They exhibited the classic signs of close friendship, of trust, and companionship, and he longed for that—and more—with her.

He hadn't thought of Kate Joiner since the night Rossi had been injured. Hadn't dreamed about Hayley since that night, either. Just strawberry scented dark hair and dark eyes soft and tear-filled. Of small hands caressing him, of a slightly husky voice saying his name. Of a firm and athletic body pressed against his in a South Dakota barn.

Of being only one man instead of two. Having someone who understood the job and that it didn't always stay at the office. Someone who understand the mind-numbing horrors that he saw every day. But someone who could make him smile anyway, without pressure, without bitterness.

Someone who could get close to him, too. Someone he could hold when her nightmares got to be too much. Someone he could lean on, but could lean on him, too.

Hayley never had nightmares—and she hadn't really understood him when he had. He'd never once been able to discuss the pain the job could sometimes bring with his wife of twenty years. And now that the divorce was final, he actually felt like a completely different kind of man.

But maybe he was coming on too strong? Emily had been displaying some serious signs of nervousness in the last three weeks. Ever since he'd held her in the hospital chapel as she'd cried.

Had it only been three weeks since he'd pulled Dave from his burning vehicle? Since the night he'd found Prentiss alone and crying for all that she'd endured that day? She'd killed a man, had an officer shot at her feet—and had a friend and team mate seriously hurt. And yet she'd spent the entire time in the hospital waiting room taking care of everyone else.

Including him.

And he hadn't noticed.

It had been Detective La Montaigne of all people to point it out.

So he'd went searching for her and found her alone. Separated from the team. It had broken his heart to see her that way.

He'd known what it felt like to fight your demons alone, and she didn't need to do it. He'd held her, and actually felt himself move from the two men he'd been forced to live like for years to the one man he should be.

Soon the rest of the team was in, and Hotchner continued to watch from his office, alone and isolated like always. JJ looked a bit green, morning sickness hitting her hard. Spencer was spouting off, his mouth moving fast as he spoke. He watched as Emily wrapped a hand around the boy's arm and shook it lightly, drawing his attention. Reid looked down at her and smiled, almost embarrassed. Emily teased him before releasing him.

He loved watching the way she was with Spencer. The kid was so longing for a family, and Emily fulfilled dual roles—mother and big sister. Spencer needed that. Just like Derek needed a friend he didn't have to mentor, just like JJ and Garcia needed a female confidante who was a bit wiser to the world. How Rossi had needed a female friend who came with no prior preconceptions of the successful author and profiler. Someone who'd visited him almost daily while he was recovering, and just listened to him vent.

Emily filled more roles than Elle Greenaway ever had. Elle had been a young agent, one in need of more training, Emily was calm, competent, and invaluable. He remembered Rossi's words to him before he'd been injured. "You don't know that Garcia sees her as something like Wonder Woman, JJ sees her as the big sister she never had—you don't let yourself see how she mother's Spencer, how Morgan treats her like his best friend, and you don't see how whenever you have a bad day, she's the person right beside you, the one person you talk to. Hell, Aaron, we send her to you when we know you're having a rough time."

He wondered briefly on what role she'd fill in his life. What roles he wanted her to fulfill. What roles she'd want to fill.

JJ looked toward the office and caught his eye. He nodded, understanding that she'd identified another case for the team.

It was time to stop another monster.


The plane ride to California was long and bumpy. It was nerve-wracking for everyone. And hell for JJ. Emily held her friend's hair back as she lost her breakfast in the plane's commode for the third time.

"Oh, God." JJ moaned. "I don't know if I can do this, Em."

"Of course you can, JJ. You're one of the strongest people I know." Emily reassured, handing her a wet cloth. "And this too shall pass. Or so I've been told."

"I don't want them to see." JJ said emphatically, though she kept her voice down. The entire team had chosen to sit at the rear of the plane close to the restroom to shorten the distance if they had to get up during the turbulence.

"The guys? I got your back there." Emily said. "But you know they'll know."

"Can't hide anything from a profiler, can I?"

"No. I won't let them ask you any questions if you don't want them to." Emily promised. "But I think we need to get strapped in. This turbulence isn't doing good for any of us."

"Oh God, no." JJ moaned as another wave of turbulence triggered another wave of nausea. And they still had an eight hour flight to go.

Emily helped her into her seat, and handed her several air sickness bags. They normally didn't need them on this jet. JJ was just fastened in when another strong bit of turbulence hit.

Emily wasn't quite so lucky. She hadn't found her seat in time and the turbulence sent her lurching forward—straight into Hotch's lap. Her elbow caught Spencer straight across the nose and he started bleeding.

"Spencer, I am so sorry!" Emily said, as Hotch tightened his hold to prevent her from moving as more turbulence shook the plane.

"Emily! Hold still." He whispered fiercely against her ear. "I don't think it's over yet. Reid's ok."

"Ok. There are some days when I hate flying." Emily muttered back from her awkward position half in the floor, half clutched to her supervisor's lap with her feet caught between Spencer's. "Spencer, are you alright? I didn't break your nose, did I?"

"Nobe, Embully, juz hi'it kina hard." The good doctor replied, holding a tissue to his face. "I eel be ullride."

"I am so sorry." Hotch's hand was warm on her back, the other tight around her upper arm. She felt the warmth of his thigh against her chest. Talk about awkward. She looked back toward JJ and widened her eyes pleadingly as even more turbulence hit. The younger woman just shrugged helplessly and turned back to her airsickness bag. Garcia patted her knee from across the aisle. Since Rossi'd been injured, the blonde tech had been accompanying them on more cases, just to provide easier access to her research.

JJ couldn't help her. Garcia probably wouldn't. She'd long said Emily should just jump the boss—that someone needed to, else Hotch would freeze up like a Superman sherbet. And process of elimination—since she and JJ were both in relationships—had left Emily to do it. Some how she didn't see that happening anytime soon.

She looked toward Morgan, but he was handing Spencer one tissue at a time and instructing him in the proper way of dealing with a bloody nose.

Emily doubted he'd even think to help her—or think that she'd need it.

The turbulence increased and for a moment—only a moment, as she was a seasoned flyer—she began to doubt the metal bird could withstand anymore. She dropped her head slightly, tucking in tighter to Hotch's stabilizing body. Hotch pulled her up, straight from the floor, and she was momentarily surprised at the power hidden beneath his regulation blue suit. He settled her into the space between him and Spencer and she hurriedly buckled the belt.

The plane lurched and JJ moaned from the other side of Hotch. Emily turned back to her, compassion filling her at the misery on her blond friend's face. JJ dropped her head to the back of the seat and closed her eyes, one hand clutching her stomach, the other the airsickness bag.

Hotch shifted slightly, offering a little bit more support to the blonde's side, helping to box her in between the corner seat and his body. Lessened the area she had to bounce around in during the turbulence.

His other arm he draped around Emily, wrapped it around her waist as best he could—tucking her in tight against his chest.

It was the bumpiest ride that he could remember, and he, too, found himself praying it would ease up—or the pilot would just land the damn thing.

But then again, he was wrapped around Emily, so it was a double-edged sword. Why did she insist on using strawberry shampoo? When had she started doing that? Did she consciously make that decision to taunt him?

If so, it worked.

Poor JJ had finally fallen asleep, and Hotch knew it was due entirely to the changes wracking her body. Spencer's nose quit bleeding, though everyone could still sense Emily's sense of guilt. She hadn't made a move to pull herself away from him and he relished that, though he wondered briefly if she was aware of it.

She seemed to fit perfectly right where she was, and he was fighting his body's natural reaction to her closeness. It had been almost nine months since he'd been with Hayley. And his body was reminding him of that. His body and the nightly dreams that featured Agent Emily Prentiss doing some super things to her supervisor. Things he reciprocated gladly.

Morgan watched the mini-drama across the aisle from him curiously. Spencer was unaware of the attraction that had suddenly boomed between the two members of the team, but Morgan had caught on early.

In the last couple of weeks—since they'd realized Rossi was going to ultimately survive, Emily had been more nervous of Aaron Hotchner than she'd ever been.

He, as her friend, had seen the signs from the very beginning. So he'd watched.

He'd seen Hotch's hand linger the slightest bit too long on Prentiss's shoulder. Seen the way he'd taken to standing directly between her and any male law enforcement they made contact with—but didn't really know. As if claiming her. He wondered if Hotch was aware of how primitive he was acting.

The way he'd insisted on doing all interrogations that normally Emily could handle on her own—he wanted to be there. Had to be there. Watched menacingly from one side of the table.

Derek thought it was about damned time. Hotch and Hayley had been separated for what? Nine, ten months? The divorce had to be final sometime soon—if it wasn't already. Shouldn't the man be free to date whomever he wanted?

Derek wasn't too sure about Emily's feelings on the matter, though.

He couldn't remember ever seeing Emily Prentiss that skittish and he smiled briefly, thinking of a lion and an antelope. This time, Prentiss was definitely an antelope.

Derek just wondered when Hotch was going to pounce.

Still, from what he knew, the man hadn't had to entice a woman since he'd met Hayley twenty something years ago. Maybe Hotch wasn't quite aware of what was happening between him and Emily?

He'd have to watch and find out.