THESE STORIES ARE JUST ME GOOFING AROUND. I AM NOT AFFILIATED WITH CBS OR CRIMINAL MINDS OR ANYTHING ELSE. THEY ARE JUST ME FINDING A WAY TO FILL THE GAP BETWEEN SEASON FINALE AND SEASON PREMIERE—SO IT WILL DEFINITELY BE ALTERNATE UNIVERSE ONCE THE PREMIERE OCCURS. AND TO BREAK ANY WRITER'S BLOCK ISSUES I HAVE IN MY OWN FICTION.
I DO NOT OWN THESE CHARACTERS NOR WILL I PROFIT FROM THESE FANFICTIONS. THIS ONE WILL FOCUS ON A RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN EMILY PRENTISS AND AARON HOTCHNER SO IF THAT'S NOT YOUR CUP OF TEA—THIS ISN'T A FIC YOU WANT TO READ.
THIS IS RATED MATURE…THIS IS CRIMINAL MINDS AFTER ALL…
THE LION AND THE ANTELOPE
Who We Are, Not What We Do:
A story of Hotch and Prentiss
It's like when the lion preys upon antelope.
You lost me
That's because you, Emily Prentiss,
have never been one of the antelope.
Scratch that, you've totally lost me.
Ok. Check this out, the antelope
travel in packs, so the lion, just sits and waits…
PROLOGUE TO CHANGE:
The moment you have in your heart this extraordinary thing called love and feel the depth, the delight, the ecstasy of it, you will discover that for you the world is transformed.
Rossi watched from the back of the group. Just watched his team as they trekked through the South Dakota woods. It was good to be back, he thought, thinking of his return to work four months ago after a ten year retirement. Things had changed since his day, but he couldn't find it in himself to complain. The BAU was more of a cohesive unit, a family, than the older team had been. And he put that down to one thing—or three—as this case may be. The old BAU had been a man's man club. Not a female in sight—unless you counted old Bertie, the secretary the entire BAU had shared.
Emily and JJ—and Garcia, back at Washington—certainly changed things, in a way Dave wouldn't have thought possible. And as far as Dave was concerned, they changed it only for the better of all around them.
Just look at them. Well, two of them.
They walked behind Reid and Morgan, arms linked, as they chatted about shoes, of all things. Their spirits were keeping everyone's spirits up. Distracting them from the fact that somewhere in the woods around them were two groups of men who'd want nothing more than to see the great FBI agents fail and flounder in the wilds they suddenly found themselves in. If they didn't kill them outright.
JJ stumbled, dressed way inappropriately for an impromptu trek down a mountain at nine o'clock at night—but she'd not had time to change after the press conference she'd arranged. Morgan turned to the blonde, one hand wrapping around her arm to help balance her, while Emily did the same on the other side.
Emily and Morgan, at least, knew how to dress for the field. Dark fatigues and cotton tee-shirts, with sturdy, serviceable boots, served those two consummate agents well, making them blend into their dark surroundings—even if Rossi always found the mode of dress incongruous with the younger woman's personality. She seemed more the silk and satin type, compared with the commando type that Morgan seemed to be born to. Still—the woman knew her way around the field, so maybe it wasn't so surprising?
Hotch, JJ, and Reid—they were obviously the more citified members of the team. Chinos and sweater for Reid, although his brown leather shoes were probably at least minimally comfortable. Hotch—Hotch was dressed in his prosecutorial clothes; navy suit, severe tie, black shoes that weren't designed for hiking. But neither complained. Just walked.
It was Hotch, Rossi thought, who was the particular fly in the family ointment, the last holdout to the old way of the BAU, for all his lecture to Dave that day about how things had changed for the better in the last ten years.
Aaron Hotchner deliberately cut himself off from the 'family' the team had become. He closed himself off, separated himself, in a way that Dave knew was completely unhealthy. He'd seen it before—hell, he'd experienced it before.
And it needed to change, for the younger man. And quickly. But how?
Emily paused in her trek, turning toward the man in the rear. "Dave, you getting lost back there?"
"In thought, Emily." Dave admitted, walking a little faster. He linked his arm through hers, being hit with the subtle scent of strawberries he'd learned to associate with this woman—the one whom he felt the closest to out of all of the team. Even closer than Hotchner, these days. If Dave was completely honest with himself—completely, the way only a profiler could be—he'd admit his feelings for the much younger brunette weren't always completely professional. Ten years, if he was ten years younger—and not three times divorced—he'd have been after her from day one.
Emily Prentiss was the kind of woman men should have dreamed about. The kind men wrote poems about—not that she knew that, though. Smart, funny, beautiful, sexy, witty, compassionate, strong, understanding—she understood the human mind, and that made her able to understand the type of man who could do this job. Because shecould do this job. And as far as Dave was concerned it was completely unfathomable that she was still unattached—he'd think that every free man in the BAU would have been after her. Every one of them, on all the teams.
He knew Sommers' man had asked her out, he'd heard her refusal, but it surprised him immensely that the members of her own team hadn't seen what a prize she was. He could see her with someone like Morgan—strong, honorable, a bit on the wounded side, and he could see her with someone like Aaron. Coolly professional, civilized on the outside, primitive on the inside. Yet, as far as he knew, neither man looked at her that way. Derek treated her like the best friend he'd ever had, more so than he did Garcia—although Dave had an inkling as to the feelings between those two—and Emily seemed more comfortable with the man then she did with anyone in the unit. She trusted him completely, and Dave knew that trust didn't come that easily to a woman like Emily—one who was coolly professional, slightly wounded, a straight-shooter, honest to a fault, loving, and compassionate—yet utterly reserved with all but a select few.
Dave was just glad he, himself, was beginning to be one of those select few. Pity, he thought, that he wasn't ten years younger. Emily Prentiss's single status wouldn't stand a chance, then.
"Deep thoughts, Dave?" Emily laughed beside him, and he realized he'd been quiet a little too long.
"Just thinking about the most beautiful woman in the world." He whispered to her, eyes wiggling theatrically. With her, he could be himself, laugh about things he couldn't with the others on the team—even sober, somber Aaron. "How 'bout when we get back to DC, you and I go camping for real?"
"Your cabin, I presume?" Emily laughed fully, then. "Never happening, Romeo."
"A man can dream, can't he?" Dave nudged her shoulder softly. He laughed louder when a coyote sounded nearby and both she and JJ—and Reid—jumped, squealed a little. "Afraid of the big bad wolf, Super Agent Prentiss? Don't worry, Red. I'm sure between Morgan, Hotch, Reid, and I—we can protect you."
"I've got my gun, Dave. If I see that big old wolf, I'll protect myself." Emily snickered, as they caught up to the rest of the little group. "Have any of you ever actually seen a wolf—or coyote—up close and personal?"
"Have you?" Morgan quipped, the city boy feeling slightly out of his depth surrounded by so many darkened woods.
"Well, yes." Emily admitted, as the group stalled for a small break. "I was about twelve or thirteen. Spending the summer in the Alps with my grandfather."
"What happened? Do you know what kind of wolf it was? Was it a gray wolf? How big was it?" Reid asked, excitedly.
"Slow down, Reid. It was more than twenty years ago. The first time I saw one." Emily laughed, reaching up to ruffle the younger man's hair in an unconscious gesture of affection. "I was out with my cousin. She and I were taking photos. We came over a hill, and there she was. Beautiful, and twenty feet away from us."
"Alone?" Dave asked, struck by the apprehension that the thought of two young girls meeting a wolf in the forest caused. "What happened?"
"I think she was denning, actually. We backed away as slowly as we could." Emily's sigh was one of remembrance for a lifetime so long gone. "I managed to get several wonderful shots. Actually won an award with one of them. I'll never forget it. She was beautiful, wild, free, primal. Gorgeous. I saw several more through the years but nothing like her."
"Wow." JJ said, "I would have freaked."
"I'd been in the woods enough to know that you stayed as quiet as possible. Learned not to move when not to move." Emily laughed, then. "It was wonderful."
Dave couldn't really picture it, this woman at home in the woods, but he'd seen the evidence himself. Even today. They'd spent hours on trails, visiting the crime scenes of four dead teenagers. He, Hotch, Emily, and Morgan—and of all them, himself included, Emily had had the least amount of trouble moving around in the steep countryside. She was like a damned antelope, graceful and delicate, yet perfectly comfortable in the wooded world.
"Emily, our little wilderness girl." JJ snickered.
"Every summer for six years. Nothing to do but hang out in the Alps."
"Beautiful country." Rossi said, having been in the region on part of his book tour. "I'd like to go back there, someday."
"I have a cabin there." Emily admitted, "My grandfather left it to me and my cousin when he died."
"You get back much?" Morgan asked, knowing the woman rarely took a vacation.
"Every couple of years. I try. It doesn't always happen." Emily's sigh then was sad, and Dave patted her back slightly.
"Tell you what, Emily." Dave said, slyly, teasingly, loud enough for the entire group to hear. "Anytime you feel the urge to shoot on over to the Alps—I'll gladly provide company."
"Ah, but Dave, the purpose of the cabin—is to be alone." Emily snickered, knowing Dave's teasing was just in fun. "And it's a one room cabin, my friend. You'd have to sleep outside. With the wolves."
"You are heartless, Agent Prentiss." Dave laughed, as well as JJ, Reid, and Morgan. Hotch hadn't said anything.
In fact, Dave realized, the man hadn't said anything at all since they'd climbed into their SUV for the drive back to the small sheriff's office and realized the battery was completely drained. What was going on with him?
"Hey!" Emily said, suddenly pointing to the east. "What's that?"
"What?" JJ asked, "I don't see anything."
"Neither do I." Reid said, straining to see through the dark woods.
"It looks to be a building." Hotch said, flatly. "We might as well check it out. We're not walking all the way back to town this late."
Not with both a group of UNSUBS and a large country militia nearby. Six agents were no match for three dozen armed rednecks. And a storm coming in.
Luckily, it was a building, though it had apparently been abandoned. Still, the barn was shelter, and it had several large piles of hay that would provide some sort of bedding. Still, it was a good eight hundred feet from the road, and it was night—how had Emily seen that? They were just thankful she had.
As the first rumble of thunder sounded in the distance the team moved toward the barn. Hotch's thoughts were as dark as the night around them. He was inexplicably angry at his team—especially Dave. The man had been hovering around Prentiss the entire four mile hike, and it more than pissed Hotch off. Dave was not going to mess up the team's dynamics by putting the moves on one of his female agents. Hotch wasn't going to let that happen.
And Prentiss—she hadn't exactly seemed all that discouraging. Laughing with the older man the way she never even attempted with Hotch. Teasing him, letting him tease her. Touching him. Letting him touch her.
She wasn't exactly being the cool, composed, do-not-touch woman he expected her to be. The perfect agent, the one he rarely had to worry about. The one he'd never seen lose her composure on a case. The one he trusted more than he'd ever thought he could trust on the job. And she was about to abuse that trust by flirting with Dave. A man almost old enough to be her father.
Highly unprofessional. Not like her. Like Dave, though. Hotch questioned for a moment the extent of Dave's feelings, playing over the exchanges he'd cataloged between the two in the four months since Dave had joined the team.
Emily brought Dave coffee and breakfast at least twice a week. Dave took her out for drinks after work, just as often. They spent at least a half an hour together in Dave's office each morning laughing and talking. She'd accompanied Dave to the charity function Aaron had also attended. She was more relaxed with the older man than she was anyone else on the team—JJ and Morgan included. So it was possible they had feelings for each other. But what did Hotch really know about her feelings on anything?
She was never relaxed with Hotch. In fact, Hotch realized, as he contemplated the dark-haired woman walking a few paces behind him, she seemed almost afraid of him. Afraid of what he thought? Afraid of what he'd see in her?
What was it? Why did she not trust him the way she did the rest of the team? Was it just because of the admitted way he'd treated her in the last year, year and a half?
Hotch had spent a lot of time in the last few months since the divorce—and since the separation—delving his actions and interactions with those around him. Including the team.
He knew deep down, he'd let his team down in the more than fundamental ways. He knew he always portrayed the perfect leader, the consummate profiler, to his people. But had he ever showed them that it got to him, too? That it was ok to be human once in a while?
He'd told JJ it was alright to let things get to her, on the outskirts of a Civil War battlefield. Told Reid about the divorce papers Hayley wanted him to sign uncontested. Told Morgan about how she'd left and he wasn't sure she was ever coming back. Told the entire group, right there when those damned papers arrived, that Hayley wanted a divorce.
But had he ever told his team how much they actually mattered to him? How much it had surprised him when Reid had thrown his arms around him after the whole Hinkle ordeal?
He didn't think so.
And if it came down to it, if he had been the one to fly to Indianapolis half-cocked the way Dave had a few weeks ago, would the team have flown to his aid? He didn't know. He did know it wouldn't have been Agent Emily Prentiss leading the charge the way he'd heard she had with Dave.
And if he was honest with himself, it would be completely understandable. He'd done nothing to get to know her, or even to keep up with the rest of his team. What did he know about JJ's life now? Reid's? He knew the younger man had been going to support groups, but for how long? How was he doing?
As for Derek and Prentiss, what did he really know about them at all? Derek had closed himself off some, since the Carl Buford arrest, at least, closed himself off from him. He'd apparently been more than effusive with Prentiss.
Garcia, he'd learned by overhearing, had come to depend on Emily for emotional support after the Battle shooting. She depended on the older woman for emotional support the way she used to turn to Derek. How did Derek feel about that?
Hotch had been watching his team closely since the night he'd signed the papers. Watching to see how his actions had affected the rest of the people he cared about. See where he fit, now.
He wasn't too happy with what he'd seen. He'd cut himself off from everybody, and they might just have given up on him by now. So he'd made an effort, opening up first to the one person least likely to judge him. Reid, he'd felt, deserved the first overture. Especially after the Chester Hardwick interview. Hotch had antagonized the situation, potentially putting the boy at risk. So he'd told him about Hayley, about how yes, his personal life did influence him at work sometimes, too.
JJ and Morgan—things were ok with those two. He'd not done anything to royally screw up his relationships with either one of them. Mostly because he'd not let himself get close enough to them to have something to mess up. But they were ok. And at least he had basic relationships with the two to build on.
And Dave—Dave was probably the closest friend he had, especially now. So they were good. Would be ok.
Garcia—he knew he had her respect, her admiration, and she knew when the chips were down, she could trust him to do what he had to for her. So things between him and the colorful tech were alright.
That left one other person. The one to whom he probably owed the most for his cold, aloof behavior this past year. Longer. Since she'd joined the BAU, really.
The closest they'd ever had to a real, non-job related conversation had been when she'd wanted to take that girl home with her. And he'd told her he needed her objective. What he hadn't told her was that if she lost her objectivity, he didn't know what to do. She'd always, from day one, kept her emotions out of the job. Always. And that's what he'd come to depend on from her. What he needed from her.
She'd looked at him and told him she needed to be human. Told him with her eyes that she doubted he was. Had ever been, and would ever be. It had bruised him, that look of accusation in those dark eyes.
She'd never opened up to him again. Never spoken to him about anything not case related in the months since that day, nothing of importance, that was. Inconsequential things, things that might be work-related, or casual, inane nothings. But nothing real, nothing important to her. If he hadn't been her superior—he doubted she'd have spoken to him at all since that day.
And he'd learned more about her in the last few hours than he had in months. And she hadn't been talking to him. She'd been laughing with Dave. Ruffling Reid's hair. Encouraging JJ to keep walking. Walking beside Derek. Not even acknowledging Hotch.
So how was he to mend the relationship he had with this final teammate?
Aaron Hotchner had no idea. Not a damned clue.