Emily stood at the door, feeling part agitated, part nervous as hell.
She wasn't quite sure what was going on.
The moment they had returned from a place that Emily had already forgotten the name of, tense, exhausted, and wanting simple to go home and sleep, Emily had been called to Strauss' office.
Horrible thoughts ran through her head; she was being fired. She was being transferred to the Juneau Field Office. Strauss was going to ask her to spy again.
What she got was a dinner invitation.
Instead of calming her down, that only made her more suspicious. Why on Earth would Strauss be asking her to dinner? Was she going to be the ritual sacrifice for the evening? Every inch of her was screaming to say no – screaming that it was no doubt a trap. She would knock on the door, and then find herself tied to a stake while people in bizarre costumes did the ritual sacrifice dance? Too stunned to even think of an excuse, she said yes, and spent the next six hours swearing to herself.
What the fuck?
Seriously, what the fuck?
Had she been less exhausted, less frustrated, she would have been more resistant to the idea. After all, this was Strauss.
But no. If the team was in danger, she needed to know, even if it meant spending an evening with the devil.
'Sorry I'm late,' she said nervously, as the door swung open. 'The roads were icy.' It was sixteen minutes past seven on a Saturday night in the middle of January.
'Come in, Emily,' said Strauss softly, and it was only then that Emily managed to notice the things around her. House. Big, expensive, tasteful. Her focus narrowed right down to the woman standing at the door.
Emily would never have considered Erin Strauss as attractive. It didn't help that so far, the only side of her personality that she had presented was that of a manipulative witch; it tended to skew perceptions a bit.
Looking objectively, Emily could see that the Section Chief had aged well. Her hair had not yet started to gray, still retaining the blond, and she hadn't fully experienced the weight gain that often accompanied middle age. In casual clothes – jeans, and a woolen sweater – she looked almost…human.
Emily started, realizing that she had been standing there, profiling her boss' boss for at least thirty seconds.
Stepping inside felt a little like going inside the dragon's lair, and she didn't have so much as a magic ring to protect her.
It was strangely empty inside. Soft music was playing, and yet it seemed so quiet. She knew that Strauss had a husband and kids, but both seemed to be absent this evening. They had been absent for some time, if the little signs she picked up on were any indication.
'Would you like a drink?' Strauss gestured to the wine rack.
'Um…whatever you're having.' Emily hesitated before shrugging off her coat; part of her wanted to leave it on in case a quick getaway was needed. That said, she had left her gun in the glove box of her car, parked out on the street.
'You look tense,' commented Strauss, retrieving two glasses from a cupboard below the bench.
Emily watched as the wine was poured into the glass. Why the hell shouldn't she be tense? 'Tough cases lately,' was the excuse she finally settled on. Cautiously, she added. 'I don't think I'll be barbequing any time soon.'
That, more than anything, shocked Emily. The nerd in her had expected flames to shoot from the older woman's mouth. Maybe even ice breath. Laughter was totally unexpected.
And then it hit her.
Holy, fucking shit.
This wasn't about politics, or spying. It wasn't even about the Bureau.
She was being seduced.
She almost hung her head in shame. She'd been obtuse in romantic situations before, but this definitely took the cake. She should have noticed it the moment Strauss asked if she wanted to have dinner. She should have noticed the candles, the flowers, the music. This was an evening that had been carefully thought out, and here she was, the world's biggest idiot.
Instead of grabbing her coat, and running like the wind – like every single instinct was telling her to – she took the proffered wine glass, and drank as though it were water.
She hadn't been on a date in two years, three months and sixteen days. She remembered every single, horrible detail of the last one. Emily Prentiss was not going to look a gift horse in the mouth. She was going to stay for dinner, even if it was dinner with Erin Strauss, section chief from hell.
After all, they all had their separation between work and home life. What evidence was there to say that Erin Strauss was a manipulative bitch both in and out of the office?
Emily knew the score. She knew how politics affected people; how they could be very different people behind closed doors. In a way, Strauss reminded her of her mother. That was disturbing. Freud would have enjoyed this one.
Dinner was an interesting affair.
Emily learnt that Erin Strauss had a penchant for Renaissance art and classical music; she was all about the classics, it seemed. In spite of herself, Emily was enjoying the evening. It was nice to be able to discuss Tolstoy with someone other than Reid.
She didn't pull back when Strauss leaned forward.
She let those pale pink lips touch hers. They were softer, fuller than she had imagined.
Emily ended up doing a lot of things she hadn't planned on.
It was still dark when Emily woke up, soft sheets the only barrier between her and the outside world. It took her a few seconds to remember where she was, and a few more to remember what had happened.
'Is everything alright?' Erin's – she was Erin now – voice penetrated the darkness.
'I, uh…strange dream,' Emily said, biting her lip. 'There were cows in it. Moo-cows. Why do kids call them that anyway? I mean, it's not like they call dogs "woof-dogs", right?' She was rambling. A defense mechanism to make up for the fact that she had woken up in the Section Chief's bed.
Erin gave a soft laugh. 'Go back to sleep, Emily. It's not even seven.'
Emily didn't argue.
'So apparently Strauss has given us a few extra days to work on our reports,' Morgan said. 'Wicked witch grew a heart. Go figure.'
Emily was sitting at her desk, eating peanut butter on toast – her attempt at a simple lunch. Morgan's words both amused and terrified her. What if the team found out? She'd never be able to live it down. 'It was the tin man that wanted a heart,' she said bluntly.
'She seemed kind of…happy this morning,' commented JJ, who was leaning up against Reid's desk, drinking coffee.
'Maybe she ate her quota of human babies for the week,' suggested Garcia.
'She's not so bad, once you get to know her.' There was a smirk on Rossi's face as he spoke, one which the rest of the team didn't seem to notice. He was looking into Emily's eyes. She gulped slightly.
And then, David Rossi winked.
A/N: As some of you will have guessed, this was a request. The prompts given were Prentiss/Strauss, icy roads, peanut butter and children referring to cows as "moo-cows". And difficult though it was, I definitely enjoyed the challenge. I wouldn't go so far as to call it realistic, but it definitely isn't crack!fic.