Title: Precisely My Cup Of Tea
Disclaimer: Not mine. None of it.
Spoilers: Set after Lo-Fi/Mayhem, but no specific reference to it.
Summary: One of the greatest gifts you can give anyone is the gift of attention. - Jim Rohn. A screw up with hotel bookings around Thanksgiving leaves Emily and Hotch sharing a room while on a case. Various things are keeping them awake, so what are they to do but fill the silence?
Assignment: Written for hopscotch_hotch as part of the Criminal Minds Exchange Fest on LJ. I went with the fifth promt: Hotch & Prentiss are stuck sharing a hotel room - JJ is on maternity leave (but made the original bookings and screwed up), everything's booked up for Thanksgiving and Hotch seems like the most sensible guy to share with. Cue getting to know each other's little quirks and a late-night conversation. All five prompts were tempting, but I really want to help propagate the Hotch/Prentiss 'ship, so I went with this…
They landed at Colorado Springs Municipal Airport in the early afternoon to light showers and a chill in the wind. "Apt weather for hunting a serial killer," Emily said - apparently to herself, since Hotch was up ahead and Morgan and Reid were lagging behind her, still fussing with their bags on the jet. Great, she thought, now I'm just talking to myself. Rossi was actually taking some time off, having been invited to Indianapolis by the Galens for Thanksgiving; JJ was on maternity leave.
Technically, JJ's leave didn't start until the next day as it was Sunday, but this case took them by surprise and demanded their immediate attention – JJ would be serving her last day as a pregnant lady with the BAU back in Quantico with Garcia. At least she'd been able to liaise by phone, buttering up the local PD who had graciously come to meet them, and booking their hotel rooms in establishments already pushed to the limit with it being the weekend before Thanksgiving. As soon as the case had come through, JJ had refused to leave them until midnight and Emily had a feeling her cell phone wouldn't even be switched off after that, just in case her talents were needed: "This baby doesn't make me deaf and mute, now, does it? I can still work a damn telephone."
She watched as Hotch made his usual greetings and introductions to the Colorado Springs PD before deploying his team. With two members out, integral parts of their highly effective machine were missing, but they'd just have to make do. "Reid, Prentiss: get talking to the families and see if we can't narrow down that geological profile. Morgan, you and I are taking the crime scene." Reid gave Emily a jaunty grin – no doubt because of the disgustingly strong coffee he'd been drinking steadily on the plane – and they piled their bags into the back of the SUV that was to take them to the station.
Emily was exhausted; exhausted and famished. The words on the pages of the suspect reports were blurring together, and even Reid was starting to slump. They hadn't made much progress on the geographical profile and now Hotch and Morgan were on their way back to the station to pick them up. Emily couldn't wait to sink into the hotel mattress that was waiting for her across town, and no offence to JJ, but Emily was really looking forward to waking up to something other than the sounds of the other woman being sick in the bathroom. JJ's morning sickness had been a bitch for both of them. The idea of a room… all to herself… just a short drive away… it sounded like heaven to Emily right now. Well, almost. "I'm so hungry," she grumbled, glaring at the door as though it was to blame for not letting Hotch and Morgan through it right this minute.
Reid looked up from the file he obviously wasn't reading and blinked blearily. "We'll grab some food from the hotel."
"At one AM?" Emily shot back. Reid looked around the room for a clock, and finding one on the wall behind him, he groaned.
"We've been here for almost twelve hours, seven of them in this room, no wonder I can't focus my eyes anymore."
"You and me both. Any sign of them yet?" Emily tried craning her neck, but Reid had an unobstructed view and she was getting very lazy. If she stood up, she didn't want to sit down again until she was in a car to the hotel. Reid just shook his head and Emily almost swore. "Guess I'm sitting right here a little longer then," she muttered.
He flipped closed the file he'd been studying. "We have four victims, no leads, and a partial profile at best. There must be thousands of religious men in their late thirties to early forties with military training in Colorado Springs."
"Well, we do as much as we can. If we don't get any new leads, then we have to leave it to the local law enforcement and go back home," Emily shrugged.
"Sad, but true."
Emily leaned her head back. "Hotch, Morgan. You guys took your time." And they looked worse the wear for it in dishevelled suits and Hotch's hair was rather rumpled. It was a different look for their supervisor.
"And in penance, I'll pay for the room service we're all about to order from our hotel rooms," Hotch offered with a very small grin.
Morgan gave a laugh and shook his head. "We all know it's going down as expenses."
"I don't care; shut up and feed me," Emily said, already on her feet and shrugging on her coat. She didn't care where the food came from (within reason) so long as she got to sleep in a warm comfortable bed afterwards, with the promise of a shower and a decent breakfast for when she woke up.
"The lady has spoken," Hotch muttered, though they all heard, and he closed the door behind the three members of his team present. "Morgan, you drive."
Emily was certain she'd actually dozed off in the SUV between the precinct and the hotel, not remembering any of the journey and waking only when Morgan opened the door to the beeps that told him his lights were still on. She forced herself out of the vaguely comfy seat and into the cold night, Morgan picking her bag out from the trunk for her and carrying it too. Never let it be said that Derek Morgan wasn't the ultimate gentlemen for those women he actually had to see more than once.
She drifted to the desk in a slight haze, Hotch already there and …arguing with the receptionist?
"I'm sorry sir, there's only two twin rooms under that name," the woman on the other side of the counter said, her shrugging and shaking of her head not dislodging her hair from its complicated up-do or the untailored but well-fitting suit jacket from her shoulders. "We're fully booked; I'm sorry sir, but there's nothing else we can offer you."
Hotch heaved a sigh before nodding, almost resigned. He signed a few papers, received a few key cards, and turned to his team. "Two twin rooms."
She had heard correctly then. Well, if she had to share with Reid then-
"Morgan, Reid, you take one. Prentiss, do you mind if I take the second bed in your room?"
'Well, shit,' Emily thought. There was her nice, relaxing scenario out of the window, swapped for an awkward, mildly unpleasant one. Sharing a room and bathroom with her supervisor – and a supervisor who had only mildly warmed to her in the year and a half she'd been working under him? Emily believed in karma in that moment, and wondered just what the hell it was she'd done to deserve her ruined plans. But of course what she said was, "No, sir; so long as you don't snore." She ignored the incredulous look Morgan shot her as he and Reid walked off, glad that the elevator door closed on them just as Hotch turned around, handing her a room key in the process.
"Thanks," Hotch said, surprising Emily. It wasn't really the thankfulness that surprised her, but the fact that he was at all – that didn't even make sense to her. She listened as he continued. "I don't think I could have stood another ten minutes with Morgan – and he sleeps as quietly as a foghorn." Emily giggled, the warm hand of her supervisor on her back guiding her into the elevator. "So, Miss. Prentiss, can I treat you to some room service?"
The elevator opened on the sixth floor and Hotch guided her out, both duffel bags in hand. Let it never be said Aaron Hotchner wasn't a gentleman, Emily thought. She headed to their room, two floors above Morgan and Reid, and opened the door, holding it open for her supervisor. "Does your kindness stretch to Caesar salad?"
"Of course," he set the bags on the floor. "Any preference?" He gestured to the beds, and Emily shook her head.
"I'll take the left if you don't mind?"
He shrugged. "You take the left, I'll place the order."
She smiled, and began to rifle through her bag for her pyjamas. She pulled out her tank and cotton pants and waved for Hotch's attention, pointing at the bathroom. He nodded, the hotel phone clutched to his ear. Emily slipped into the bathroom, wondering how she got herself into this rather different situation. The bathroom was nice, not exactly spacious, but she had room to manoeuvre. The hotel supplied shampoo-conditioner had a sweet scent that she found she rather liked, so she decided it was worth using rather than going back into the room for her own strawberry one. She stood under the spray, thinking that even if JJ had managed to mess up the room booking, they hadn't gotten a raw deal – she'd stayed in worse hotels, even if she'd stayed in better.
There was a knock on the door, and Emily stuck her head out of the curtain to hear Hotch say the food would be ten minutes. "Thanks, I'll be right out." She finished rinsing her hair, dried off and dressed, and wrapped her hair up and fixed it in a bun. She'd only be washing it again in the morning anyway, and she'd rather just have it out of the way. She picked up her clothes, glad to be out of them after so long sitting in that office, and left to find Hotch reclined on his bed in a t-shirt and flannel pants, flicking through the TV channels. There was only soft porn and news, and so the TV was quickly turned off.
Emily packed away her clothes, hoping Hotch would be the one to start the conversation. They'd come a long way in the eighteen months or so she'd worked for him, and she could even count him as a friend, though not necessarily a close one. Whatever issues he'd had with her, and she with him, had been resolved – mostly over Strauss' attempt to use her, admittedly. She'd proved something to her supervisor in quitting rather than snitching.
"I'm sorry you got stuck in that office all day," he said, eventually.
She shrugged, "Someone had to draw the short straw. I'm just sorry that we couldn't narrow the profile down more."
Hotch shook his head. "You're one of the best – sometimes there's only so much we can do."
"Yeah, but it doesn't make it suck any less."
He barked a laugh and Emily almost started. "It's not often that this job doesn't suck." The porter arrived with their food, and Emily manoeuvred the trolley between the beds to form a make-shift table. "That smells delicious," Hotch practically groaned, and it made her grin.
"I've only ever heard JJ use that tone of voice over food," she laughed.
"Well now I'm embarrassed," he didn't seem anything of the sort to Emily, and she rolled her eyes.
There was silence as they each began to eat, Emily devouring her salad and Hotch putting away his eggs Benedict with gusto. Emily found it to be strangely domestic – and what was equally disturbing was that it didn't feel wrong at all. It felt… comfortable. It was another reminder of how far they'd come. "Either I'm hungrier than I thought, or this isn't too bad," she said, to fill the gap more than anything.
"Well, these eggs are terrible," he replied, putting away another mouthful anyway. "Not at all as the smell advertised."
Emily set down her fork and yawned. "Well, I'm sorry to be a spoil-sport but I'm ready to pass out – do you mind?"
"Not at all," he shrugged. "Is it alright if I keep a lamp on, I want to read some before I turn in."
She was already climbing under the covers, shaking her head. "Not a problem – night Hotch."
Emily blinked, her arm cramping a little from the awkward position it was in under her pillow. The lamp was still on, and Emily bit back a curse – she'd probably only been asleep for half an hour. But when she looked up, the digital clock above the TV told her different – it was half three, and Hotch was …still awake. "Is something wrong?" Emily asked softly, trying not to startle the man who seemed a little too engrossed in a file.
He looked up, smiling wryly with tired eyes. "Yeah, I finished my novel."
"Ah, can't sleep," she rolled onto her side so she could see him better without actually sitting up.
"Amazing, considering how long this day has been."
Emily almost shrugged. She knew as well as the rest of the team how unexpectedly insomnia can strike. "I doubt the case-file is going to get your brain to shut up."
"How do you do it then," he asked, closing the file and setting it on the floor. She watched as he shuffled down in the bed until he was mirroring her position.
She gave a sigh. "TV helps, sometimes I listen to classical music – it depends on how the case goes."
There was a short silence, then: "I used to watch Jack sleeping."
Emily was shocked by the unexpected candour, and wasn't sure what to say. "I used to watch my cat sleeping, not quite the same." Her efforts were rewarded with a laugh.
"It's the rhythm that counts," he said with gravitas and a grin.
"JJ had these headphones which were attached to his microphone on a belt," she spoke softly, after a moment, "And when she couldn't sleep, she'd wrap the belt around her bump and listen to the baby's heartbeat. Sometimes it'd have her drifting off in ten minutes."
"I think I'm ill-equipped for that strategy, Emily."
Emily giggled. "I dare say. I wonder who'll be next?" Hotch hummed questioningly and she adjusted her pillow to lie a little more comfortably. "I just mean… Jack's coming up for three now, right? That means two team kids in three years. I just wonder who it is that's going to provide the next member of the Baby BAU."
Hotch was grinning, and Emily felt a little stupid. "Baby BAU?" he asked.
"Working title," she replied, blushing. It was just like always, everything going great until bam, her status as uber-geek is revealed. And did she really just aliken this conversation to one of her many failed dates? Oh, God.
"I think it's cute, although I certainly hope Jack doesn't follow in my career footsteps," he confessed. "I'd put my money on it being you."
Her breath caught and she began to shake her head vigorously. "Oh no, I'm not even dating anyone right now."
He shrugged. "One baby every three years – I think that's workable time-frame."
For a moment, Emily almost thought the words 'Is that an offer?' had actually passed her lips, but Hotch was still looking at her like she was a normal person so they couldn't possibly. Then she realised that she had thought the words in the first place, and it didn't seem so ridiculous a notion. Oh, this really was not good. She wasn't the crush-on-one's-boss type. Not only was it a big no-no in the Bureau, but it only complicated things no matter where you were, and if there was one thing Emily was determined never to be accused of, it was having help up the ranks – by politics or sex. She forced her voice to work again, "We'll see."
"You'd make a wonderful mother, Emily," and he really wasn't helping at all. If she didn't know better she'd be sure he was doing it on purpose.
"One day, maybe. For now, I'm happy being Aunt Emily."
"Very-" Hotch yawned. "Very wizard of Oz."
Emily smiled, feeling her heart skip a beat at the sight of a vulnerable, sleepy Hotch. She really was in trouble. "I think you're all tuckered out, mister."
"See – practising already," he reached for the lamp. "'Night Emily."
She pounded her pillow once, and turned her back on her room-mate. "Night, Hotch."