The Secret Side of Superheroes

Emily Prentiss had seen a lot of things in her thirty-five years on earth. Some were horrifying, unspeakable acts committed by the very worst that society had to offer. Some were inspiring…heroic acts exercised under extreme circumstances that periodically restored her faith in humanity. And still some…some were unexplainable occurrences that somehow managed to throw even the poised Emily Prentiss off her game. And today had provided one of those such events in spades.

Because today, of all days, Emily Prentiss learned that she had been working these last four years for a closet badass.

And she found that she liked that simple truth. A lot.

It was unsettling, to say the least. And thrilling. And exciting beyond measure, to know that the man she'd always been attracted to had another side. A very sexy, kickass side. The normally staid, unflappable Aaron Hotchner could be a renegade. A bad boy…a very, very bad boy. Memories of her mother warning her to avoid those so-called bad boys at all costs flashed through her mind as she smiled.

Oh, if mother dear only knew the thoughts she'd been having about THIS particular bad boy during the plane ride home, then, of age or not, she'd have been grounded for the rest of her natural life. And it would be worth it. So very worth it. Because Aaron Hotchner proved today that above anything else, he was human….fully capable of making the rash impulsive decisions that they could all be prone to from time to time, protocol and regulations be damned.

And gazing toward his office, she wondered if she could tempt him to make another one so soon after him having made this one. Cocking her head, she trained her eyes on the dark head she saw bobbing just inside the glass, her thoughts definitely leaning toward the dark side.

Pushing away from her desk with one determined movement, she shrugged. Hell, life was a risk, wasn't it? Temptation, thy name be Emily Prentiss.

A woman on a mission…whether of mercy or torture, she wasn't certain, she climbed the metal steps quickly, purposefully. Rapping decisively on his door, she waited for him to call a cool, "Come in." Easing open the door, she took a moment to gaze at his attractive frame hunched over his desk, eyes on an ever present case file. She had five bucks that said it had something to do with Foyet.

"Hey," she said breezily, her footsteps light as she stepped into his inner sanctum. "Morgan called it a day twenty minutes ago. You've got nobody left here to try to outdo, you know."

"Prentiss," he nodded by way of greeting, his voice just as staid as she had expected. "Something I can do for you this evening?"

Damn, she really, really wanted to answer that question with a detailed list of things she wanted him to do to her. But sometimes, those chains of self-restraint came in handy. Shrugging, Emily scrunched her nose as she tilted her head at him, moving slowly toward his closet. "I just have a theory I need to disprove to myself," she offered vaguely, reaching for the doorknob of the small closet. Opening it quickly, she stuck her head inside.

Frowning, Hotch shook his head as he watched his normally reserved agent make herself at home in his office. Prentiss was mysterious under the best of circumstances, a beguiling enigma of characteristics and contradictions. But, this was just bizarre. "Something I can help you find, Emily?" he asked, reverting to her first name unconsciously as he rose from his chair and slowly moved toward her as she rifled in his closet.

"I can't find it anywhere," he heard her mumble, her voice muffled as she leaned further inside.

"If you'd tell me what you're searching for, I might be able to help you find it," he suggested, trying not enjoy the view she was affording him of her rounded backside swaying from side to side in front of him.

Backing out of the closet, she turned and eyed him curiously, fighting the smile that wanted to play against her lips. "It's hidden beneath the suit, isn't it?" she asked with a raised brow, her eyes glancing down the front of his definitely expensive Armani.

"Emily, what the hell are you talking about?" Hotch finally growled in irritation, his mind seriously doubting her sanity, something he had never done with this woman before.

"The cape," she said pertly, hands propping on her narrow hips as she stared into his dark eyes.

"The cape?" he repeated blankly, his forehead scrunching as he tried to determine exactly what had happened to the Emily Prentiss that he had always known.

"You know, the red cape…has an "S" on it," Emily nodded firmly, once again biting back a grin. "It's under the suit."

Compressing his lips, Hotch felt an overwhelming urge to genuinely laugh. Somehow, this woman had managed to break through the ice he'd encased himself in again, melting him with her spirit's warmth. "I assure you, I'm not Superman," Hotch said, offering her a rare smile with a small shake of his head.

"You sure?" she asked in disbelief, cocking her head to the side as she pretended to analyze him. "Cause I was there this afternoon, and if that wasn't Superman…it can only mean one thing really." The sight of his smile almost broke her resolve, but she forced herself to continue.

"And what would that be, Emily?" Hotch asked, his lips still quirking upward as he crossed his arms over his chest, catching a glimpse of a laugh playing in her eyes.

"It would mean," she said, lowering her voice into a conspiratorial whisper as she leaned a fraction of an inch closer, "you're a repressed badass."

And this time, Emily Prentiss was rewarded for her comedic efforts. Because for the first time in many, many months, she heard genuine, heartfelt laughter pervade Aaron Hotchner's office.

For a moment, he couldn't believe that he had actually heard her say what he thought she had said. And then, the laughter seemed to bubble up in his chest, rising out of his mouth uncontrollably as he did nothing more than shake his head in amazement. Regaining control, Aaron wiped at his eyes as he stared down at the serene face of Emily Prentiss. "You do realize that some would term that little performance of yours as insubordination."

"Ah," Emily smirked, raising a finger in objection, "but, I was careful. I waited until you WEREN'T technically my boss for a brief moment in time and thus, no time in the penalty box."

"Well played, grasshopper," Hotch chuckled, leaning back against the edge of his desk as he let himself relax, the atmosphere definitely different know that she had arrived.

"I thought so," Emily returned proudly, satisfaction oozing from her lips as she saw him still trying to conceal a smile. Cocking her head, she narrowed her eyes as she snorted, "Seriously, Hotch, a tackle? YOU tackled somebody?"

"Morgan does it," Hotch stated indignantly, his eyes flashing back to hers as he slightly straightened his shoulders. "Why should he get to have all the fun?"

"You realize we're in a parallel universe. You've become Morgan. Morgan's turned into you…" Emily sighed with an eye roll, his protests falling on deaf ears.

"And what about you, Emily?" Hotch asked with a steady gaze. He knew that he wasn't denying her statements, her assertions a bit too close to the truth. And he felt that at this moment, he could possibly get some answers of his own. He had eyes. He had seen exactly what had happened in the field today.

"Oh, I'm just the girl trying to keep up with all of you, He-Man," she replied, her tone flip as she waved off his probing question.

"I believe I'll take this opportunity to remind you that I wasn't the only one out there today pulling superhero moves. Breaking the glass window with your arm, Emily?" he chided, shaking his head as he maintained a steady gaze on her. "I think you and I have had that particular conversation before, haven't we?"

"Not the boss of me…not the boss of me," she sang, sticking out her tongue, taking a perverse thrill in the irreverent action.

"Right now. Not the boss of you…right now," he corrected with a wry grin, wondering how he had missed this side of her for all these years. Obviously, they both had been hiding secrets.

"So, I'll never have the stealth of Catwoman. Sue me," she chuckled. "At any rate, I think we should both hang up our costumes tonight and get out of here. Come on, even superheroes need to eat," Emily replied, nodding toward the door as she tapped her fingers against her pants, half wondering if he would allow himself to step outside of his Hotch persona.

"I prefer to be a badass…more masculine," Hotch winked, feeling a few ounces of the weight that had taken up permanent residence on his shoulders start to lighten.

Feeling a warm flush flood over her at his easy admission, Emily nodded slowly, her thoughts once again straying into the land of the forbidden. Finding her voice, she murmured, "You are…definitely that."

"Temporarily," he added as he reached up to loosen his tie, taking a step toward her

"Temporarily," she echoed, nodding her agreement, her eyes glued to those strong fingers. Nodding to herself, she added, brightly, "So, buy you dinner?"

"You want to eat with a bad ass?" Hotch grinned, shaking his head at the thought. "That's so very un-Emily of you," he teased, enjoying the sparring, the lightness between them.

"Revenge against my mother," Emily supplied easily, eyes crinkling at the thought of Elizabeth Prentiss and her potential look of horror. "She always told me to stay away from dangerous boys," Emily grinned, trying not to laugh outright.

"Well," Hotch nodded, laying a hand against her back as he guided her toward the door, "In that case, you should probably know, I've always been a rebel."

Glancing over her shoulder, she couldn't help but replying, her voice still filled with laughter, "It'll be our secret, Hotch."

Trailing her down the short set of stairs, Aaron Hotchner couldn't help but feel a silent thrill at the thought of sharing secrets with this woman.

Who knew where that could lead? After all, every Superman needed a Wonder Woman.