Title: Next Time
Criminal Minds
Prentiss, Rossi - gen
Five times Emily Prentiss went on a date with a person worse than Viper, and the one time she didn't.
Prompt: Technically, this was started way before the criminal_prompt for this month, but I'm posting it as a prompt submission anyway.

Author's Note: So this has been sitting in my "In Progress" folder forever, so I figured I should probably finish it. I'll be on summer break in a month or so, and I'm building up a list of one-shot prompts to write then; if any of you have anything you want written (one-shots only) post a comment, and I'll add it to the list. Any genre/pairing, but try to limit the creep factor.


She wouldn't call it a date.

Not really.

She's never been on a real date before – not with flowers, and dinner and a movie. Not with any of those things that a date is supposed to consist of. She's never had anyone tell her that her hair looks pretty, or her dress is nice - not in the way a date should.

She was told that it's supposed to hurt the first time.

She wasn't told that it would keep hurting.

She wasn't told about the pain of knowing that it was just a onetime thing. She wasn't told about the pain of knowing that it has far-reaching repercussions.

She wasn't told about the pain of knowing that there's a child inside of you when you're barely a child yourself. She wasn't told about the pain you feel when it isn't there anymore.

It had not exactly been the most desirable experience, but it's an experience she'll learn from.

Next time will be different.


The next time is different.

Not different in a good way, but still, different.

Emily's older now, a little more self aware. Still, nineteen is only four more than fifteen. It's the first persons she's been with since the…she still can't bring herself to say the word, knowing she'll break down into tears. It doesn't matter how much she's told to box things away, some things are just too big.

So when she first feels the hand creeping up the back of her shirt, she panics. It can't happen again. It can't.

She pulls away suddenly, to her date's consternation. 'What the fuck?'

'I'm sorry,' she says, breathless. 'I can't…' She feels like she's choking on air, when really, it's that big secret of hers that threatening to burst free and send her insane.

'Fucking bitch,' he mutters, stalking off, and leaving Emily to wonder exactly what had attracted her to this guy in the first place.

Sex is about intimacy, or so she's been told. She hasn't really experienced that side of the coin for herself, yet. She's only ever been with men who are interested in putting another notch on the bedpost.


The third time, she's not really sure why she's doing it.

She hears the names they call her. They call her frigid, unfeeling, ice queen. If she had a female friend – the kind you paint nails with, gossip with, talk about boys – they might have told her that it's okay, that it's just boys being boys. She doesn't though, so she falls back on the only lesson her mother ever really taught her.

Be what they want you to be.

So she puts on her dress and heels. She puts on eyeshadow and lipstick (both a little more subdued than they had been five years ago) and she goes out, and pretends to have a good time.

She pretends to be okay with it when he wants to take things a little further, and she closes her eyes when his lips touch hers. They stay closed until he's finished. She waits until the door clicks shut before she starts to cry, because she knows that that's not who they want her to be.


The fourth time, she has a little bit more life experience.

She's learnt that her mother's ways aren't necessarily the right ways to go about conducting intimate relationships. She's learnt that some men are interested in a little more than just sex, but the trick is weeding these men out from the others.

She doesn't have that much luck at first.

He picks her up in his nice, two-door sedan, and he takes her to a Japanese restaurant, and at first she thinks he might be a half-decent catch, but then he starts talking about football, and she feels her heart sink.

It's not that she doesn't like football. She does. She'd had a fantastic time watching the Superbowl with the rest of the team (even though that had been right before the Henkel case, and that's something they all try to put out of their minds). However, she's not one to obsess over player statistics, and when asked, she couldn't name a favorite game. The only reason she cheers for the Bears is out of habit.

It's in panic, rather than for any other reason, that she brings up, of all things, Kilgore Trout. A fictional author that has absolutely nothing to do with football.

And because she still hasn't learnt everything about the way relationships are supposed to work, she lets herself go back to his place, but she leaves before he wakes up in the morning, and she doesn't leave her cell number.

The only way he'll be able to catch her is on her landline, and she's home a lot less these days.


The fifth (and, she hopes, final) time she goes on a terrible date, it's not really a date so much as it is an unplanned night spent with another person, and she blames it entirely on Vegas.

By all measures, the case had ended well. They'd saved the boy, and caught the unsub. But there's still a family in mourning over the first death, and that's something she can't quite get over.

So she does something she'd sworn never to do. Something involving alcohol, and Vegas, and a complete strange whose name she can't even remember, come morning.

It doesn't really do anything to dull the pain.

She has a pounding headache, and a bit of a limp, and Morgan, JJ and Rossi find her debacle hilarious, but she figures they'd be laughing a lot less if they knew the truth.

She's falling apart on the inside.


It's a Friday night, and they've just come off a hard case. Garcia and JJ are spending the night with their significant others, and she's pretty sure Morgan has some variety of hot date. Reid has some time off, and he's going to Vegas to visit his mother, and Hotch has Jack for the weekend. She has absolutely no idea what Rossi does with his time.

She decides to finish up her paperwork before going home, because it's not as though she has anything else to do. She's almost a quarter of the way through the pile in her inbox when she becomes aware of a presence behind her.

'Staying late?'

Rossi. Apparently what he does with his spare time involves sneaking around the bullpen and scaring the crap out of her.

She gives a non-committal shrug, and he smiles.

'I was going to grab a late dinner, if you were interested. Best Italian food in D.C.'

She briefly thinks of the empty apartment that's waiting for her, and it doesn't take long to accept the offer.

'You're buying, right?' she asks. 'Because I'm pretty sure I'd have to take out a loan to eat at any of the places you frequent.' It's something of an exaggeration; her lack of relationship prowess isn't the only thing left over from a so-called privileged childhood.

'Sure,' he says, 'why not.'

And while it's not a date, it's still ten times better than most of the dates she's been on, which makes her think that maybe there's hope for her after all.