Author's Note: Finally, I got this cleaned up! I know I said side burner but I had meant side burner on my own stove, not like the house down the block. Damn Gingerbread world.

Anyway, chapter 2, all from Em's POV. And I'm nicknaming this AU Emily to be "tough cookie Emily." She amuses me. Hell, I wrote her and she amuses me :)

And I'm seriously behind like 40 responses on my last five postings. So if you haven't heard back from me yet, on a review or a PM, thank you everyone! I have some time tomorrow so I'm expecting I'll get back to most of you then :)


The Good Samaritan

Emily Prentiss began cursing her own stupidity the moment she started walking across the parking lot.

Dumbass!

What was she thinking? This was WAY too much crap to be lugging around. Almost a dozen copies of a 30 page briefing was a HELL of a lot of paperwork!

With a disgusted huff, she hefted the weight of her burden for the third time since she'd gotten out of the car.

Hmmm . . . Emily mused to herself as she began climbing the steps of the federal building . . . maybe she should have taken Creepy AV Guy up on his offer of borrowing one of the dolly carts.

No, no . . . she scowled . . . don't be crazy Em. The women in the office don't call him 'Creepy AV Guy' for nothing.

The man didn't blink! Like ever! You don't appreciate how disconcerting that is until it's literally staring you in the face!

Perhaps he'd once read a book that said maintaining eye contact was a good way to show you were interested in what somebody was saying, but he'd clearly misinterpreted the proper execution.

She shuddered . . . it was like talking to a mannequin. His eyes were just locked on yours with laser sharp intensity as he spoke in a totally NORMAL tone of voice!

The eyes were bad enough, but combined with the normal tone, it was all just freaky as hell.

Really . . . she inched her way around the revolving glass door . . . she'd prefer that he stared at her chest. That might be obnoxious, but at least it would be normal.

Not crazy ass serial killer'esque.

So that's why she'd turned down Kevin's offer when she ran into him on the elevator. She really didn't want to A) be indebted to him for anything, or B) follow him down to his creepy geek lair where he'd probably kill her and make her into a dress.

But now . . . she grumbled to herself as she started fumbling for her ID . . . her arms were starting to get rubbery from the weight of all the damn files.

Okay, enough Em. They're heavy, suck it up. Nobody likes a whiner.

Realizing that the little taskmaster in the back of her brain was right . . . even if she was only whining in her own head . . . Emily dialed down the mental bitching as she yanked her credentials out of her purse and walked up to the main security desk.

Hugging her files to her chest with one hand, Emily flashed her badge with the other. Most places she went security was at least a little impressed to see the CIA seal.

But not this guy.

He didn't even raise an eyebrow as he looked it over. Though she figured from his age that he'd probably been here long enough to have seen Bobby Kennedy pass through these same doors when he was the AG. And if he was going to be impressed by anyone after this many years into the job, it certainly wouldn't be her.

Not . . . she lifted the corner of her jacket so he could see her weapon . . . Miss Emily Jane Prentiss.

She was just a girl in the world, trying to get by like anyone else. Though . . . the guard waved her around the metal detectors . . . she had recently done something that was at least a little bit impressive.

Hence the reason for her trip today to the DOJ. A meeting which the lobby clock indicated would be starting in exactly thirty seven minutes. Her ridiculously early arrival time would have been a little OCD on her part if she was going to that meeting directly.

But she wasn't.

She'd arrived EXTRA early because before she went to that meeting, she had to run up to seven and get her special access badge from the main security office.

And then she'd go down to the bunkers and conduct her briefing. She'd made sure to give herself plenty of time to run upstairs before she went down to set up.

This was a big case and she didn't want to look like an idiot being unprepared.

Though that guard had been new to her . . . Emily figured maybe he worked nights . . . it certainly wasn't the first time she'd been in the building. She'd been traveling up from Langley for DOJ briefings with various parties at least once a month for over a year. So at this point she knew her way around this monstrosity of a structure pretty well.

And as she started across the lobby to the central elevator bank, Emily suddenly stopped as she realized what time it was.

Three o'clock shift change.

Crap . . . she rolled her eyes . . . well, she most definitely wanted no part of that cattle call. Not only would she be waiting ten minutes for the elevator to arrive, but she could easily get an annoying crew that decided to ride up before they went down to ensure that they got a "good" space on the elevator.

Like it was an extended journey! Like they weren't all going the same place! Like simply by virtue of getting ON the elevator, you didn't get a good space!

But for some reason the dumbasses didn't realize that hopping on for a 'good' space, just screwed up the elevators coming AND going! Really, God forbid anyone just walk down the frigging stairs!

Okay . . . she took a breath as she realized that perhaps she was getting a little too worked up over the elevator riding habits of total strangers.

Either way though, let them do what they wanted . . . she turned the corner and headed for the back stairwell . . . she ran three miles a day, so she could certainly traverse the seven flights up and save herself the hassle of the elevators.

And she would do that if for no other reason than to save herself getting ridiculously worked up again over something that didn't even matte a little bit in the grand scheme.

So she yanked the door open, took a breath . . . and began the climb.

All was going well initially, but by the time she hoofed onto the third floor landing she was rolling her eyes again.

Somehow she'd forgotten that she didn't do her morning jog in three inch heels and a skin tight skirt.

SO not the same experience!

'Why the hell did she wear this damn skirt?' She grumbled to herself.

Oh right . . . her head bobbed . . . she'd dropped cheesy fries in the lap of her other good suit. Really good fries, but unfortunately quite messy.

So the black Armani (which it had taken her three months to pay off and she was praying would still be wearable when it was returned) was at the cleaners, and now she was in the tight candy apple red Donna Karan. It looked good.

But like so many women's fashions that looked good . . . it was uncomfortable as hell.

She was having the same problem with the heels.

Her legs looked fabulous (if she did say so herself) but they were 'nice three hour dinner out' shoes, not 'ten hours on the clock hauling ass across half of northern Virginia' shoes.

She'd only worn them because they matched the suit.

As she bitched in her head, a phrase from her mother popped into her brain . . . you've got to suffer to be beautiful Emily.

"Ain't that the truth," she muttered to herself as she yanked open the stairwell door on seven.

Now that she was back in the world, Emily put all thoughts of her aching arms, aching feet and aching calves out of her head. She was very good at compartmentalizing, and now all of her thoughts were focused in on the matter at hand.

Getting her badge

Fortunately, with all of her trips to the building, Emily routinely popped up to the Security office so it took her no time to plow through the crowds around the elevators.

And a minute later as she entered the small, pristine . . . she sniffed . . . inexplicably ham scented office, Emily called out a greeting of, "hey Margie," to the petite woman behind the counter.

In return, Emily got a big grin and an enthusiastic, "Officer Prentiss, how are you today!?"

Emily plopped her files down on the counter in front of her as she shrugged nonchalantly, "eh, same old, same old."

Of course in her head she was screaming, 'oh my GOD! I'm on the biggest case of my CAREER!'

But Margie wasn't exactly read in on said biggest case of her career, so rather than blabbering like an idiot, Emily instead pulled out her credentials again as she smiled politely, "and you?"

The other woman immediately started in on how her son was looking at colleges and Emily groaned internally.

God! No more!

Margie was a really nice lady, but Emily only saw the woman like once a month and she knew more about her personal life than she did about her cubicle mate's. And the two of them sat so close together that they joked they'd have to share an oxygen mask if one dropped from the ceiling!

But the Ambassador's daughter had been raised well, so she continued to smile politely, nodding where appropriate, as Margie chattered on about campus interviews.

Though Emily had to admit, for all of her off topic conversation, never let it be said that the woman was unprofessional.

She never wasted Emily's time.

The whole time she was talking, Margie was running the perfunctory check in the computer to verify that Emily's ID was up to date and that she hadn't been axed and branded an enemy of the state in the last twenty-seven days.

It was the usual routine review that Emily went through every time she came up to get her access card from Margie.

Usually though, she just got a day pass to get her into whatever restricted area she needed to go to.

But today was a big day . . . she thought excitedly . . . this time she was getting her own 'honest to goodness, come and go as you damn well please Officer Prentiss,' little white card!

Not that she was impressed with the card itself . . . she had plenty of those . . . it was the idea that her case was big enough to warrant her regular access to the building that was exciting.

But actually the case was SO big that she was being temporarily paired/assigned/married to (her boss was a little vague on the details) somebody in the prosecutor's office. Emily was supposed to meet him/her today. But the bottom line was, she'd be in the building often . . . and at weird hours . . . so that meant she'd need convenient access to all areas.

Ah . . . Emily's eyes lit up as she saw Margie doing the usual tap, tap, tap of her fingers on the counter that indicated the computer had finished running it's query on her.

Yes . . . she checked her watch . . . still plenty of time to spare.

Now that Margie had verified that Emily wasn't on a most wanted list, she pulled another white card from under the counter and swiped it through the machine, coding it with all the necessary building access. Then she looked up with a bright smile, "here you go," she slid the card over the counter, "all set."

Emily smiled back as she slipped the card onto the lanyard around her neck, "thanks." And then she snatched up her files and hurried towards the door again, calling over her shoulder, "see you later Margie."

As she stepped into the hall Emily heard a cheery, "you have a nice afternoon Officer," and then she felt a little bit guilty for getting exasperated with Margie's chitchat.

Margie was always nice to her so she should make more of an effort to be patient. It wasn't enough to be outwardly polite, unkind thoughts were mean too.

With her new resolve in her head to try and be a better person, Emily stopped just outside the Security office to make sure the new plastic card was firmly attached to the black strap around her neck.

It really wouldn't do to lose it.

Of course her lanyard was already LOUSY with little white cards. Emily had regular access cards for Meade, Quantico, the Navy Yard, and the OEOB.

Basically if somebody ever yanked her lanyard off her neck, the Pentagon would probably have to change the nuclear missile codes.

And that wasn't a joke.

Which is why . . . she turned towards the wall so she could discretely slide her hand into her blouse . . . she always kept it tucked inside her shirt.

If anything ever slipped off the strap, Emily wanted it falling into her bra and not onto the ground.

Once everything was all tucked and buttoned again, she smoothed down her white silk blouse and started back down the hall, heading towards the stairwell.

There was still a crowd around the elevators. And besides, going down the stairs was certainly going to be less of a hassle than going up.

As she walked along, prepping her briefing in her head, Emily accidentally made eye contact with a man standing by the elevators. As soon she saw his eyes light up and the grin spread across his face she swore to herself.

Crap.

Accidentally soliciting attention from the opposite sex was a rookie mistake.

But not one she couldn't easily rectify.

So she was careful to keep her acknowledgment of him down to a curt nod. And not even a hint of a smile touched her lips as she continued passed him.

All she was doing was acknowledging his existence. It was a better approach than flat out ignoring an interested party.

Then you become a challenge.

Or worse yet . . . if it was a real scumbag . . . he thought you were afraid of him.

And Emily hadn't been afraid of a man since, well, ever. From a young age her father had taught her to take care of herself, and her mother had taught her to respect herself. So Emily had no issues with her self esteem, her self worth or her sense of safety.

The Glock on her hip and the Agency teaching her how to kill a man with her thumb didn't hurt either.

And she was most definitely not looking to make any new friends today. And even if she was . . . she scowled as she headed to the stairwell . . . it sure as hell wouldn't be with THAT guy!

Shiny suit, shiny hair, shiny TEETH!

Her eyes hurt just to look at him.

In her peripheral vision she saw him start to follow after her, and she quickened her pace to get away.

But she wasn't quick enough

Just before she started down the stairs she heard from behind her.

"You must be lost baby because Heaven sure is a long way from here."

What the . . .!?

She spun around in astonishment.

The guy was stopped, with his hand casually propping open the door, looking down at her with an expectant grin.

And that's when Emily realized that he was expecting that UNBELIEVABLE tripe was going to result in a favorable response! Probably in his mind something involving a blush and a giggle. Maybe one with her hand over her mouth like a geisha.

Yeah well, you can sit and spin on that one brother.

And though she'd ordinarily just keep walking, she was really so astounded that he'd used SUCH a pathetic pick up line that she held up for a second as she stared at him in disbelief.

"Wow! That was about the LAMEST thing I've heard since the last time I heard that line. And that would be back in 1993!"

She could see him blink in surprise. And that's when she knew that line often brought him some success.

God . . . she snorted to herself . . . women were SO stupid!

Seeing that his first approach wasn't working, he dispensed with the "charm" and went direct. Again though, he slapped on the smarmy smile, "you've got spunk," he gave her a leering wink, "and I like spunk. You should give me your number and we'll have dinner tonight."

Christ . . . she openly rolled her eyes at him . . . he didn't even bother to phrase it as a question!

What a jackass.

"No," she said crisply, "no, I will not be giving you my phone number. I am not the slightest bit interested in having dinner with you. And if that's all, if you'll excuse me," she started down the stairs, "I have to be going."

God, PLEASE don't let him follow me! I just had this blouse dry cleaned and I don't know if Mr. Nguyen can get blood stains out of silk.

But apparently God was getting some amusement from her plight, because as she started down the stairs, the jackass fell right in step with her.

And to her disgust, he was now down to whining.

"Ah, come on honey, don't be like that," he pleaded, "I promise you'll have a good time."

Her temper started to flare. If there was one thing she couldn't stand, it was a guy who couldn't take no for an answer. Why do so many men think that strange women want to bothered with their attention?

It's not flattering, it's annoying.

A simple, unqualified, 'no, I'm not interested,' should be more than sufficient for her to be allowed to move on with her life without any further harassment. But no, this numb nuts has to keep coming back for more!

Well . . . her jaw twitched . . . if he wanted more then that's sure as hell what he was going to get!

They had just reached the next landing when she whipped around to face him, "listen," her tone was ice, "I already said no politely. And I really don't enjoy having to repeat myself. It makes me cranky. But apparently you have shit in your ears," she tipped head, "understandable given the amount of bullshit you're spewing from your mouth. So I'll say again . . . no, niet, non, nein, NAH! Hopefully one of those languages is spoken on your home planet. Now do I make myself clear?" she leaned in, "GET LOST!"

Emily could see his face getting redder and redder as she spoke, and when she stopped he sneered, "you really are a stuck up bitch."

She smirked, "and here I thought you liked my spunk."

Of course if she doesn't want to go out with him then she's a stuck up bitch. What a douche.

She watched as his lip quirked up cruelly and she was waiting for the retort, when suddenly her documents were flying through the air.

"YOU MOTHER!" she screeched as papers began to rain down.

The asshole just laughed as he started jogging down the stairs, calling back over his shoulder, "have fun cleaning that up you snotty bitch!"

Her first instinct was to tackle him from behind, crashing them both to the next landing where she could bounce his face repeatedly into the cold white marble.

Mr. Nguyen did wonderful things with material. She had decided he could definitely get the blood out.

But just before she pounced, Emily suddenly remembered what it was that was now spilled all over the landing.

Her top secret eyes only briefing.

FUCK!!!!

Temporarily banishing all thoughts of revenge, Emily dropped to her knees and began frantically scooping her papers back from the far corners of the stairwell landing.

Good God . . . she groaned to herself . . . if his majesty Mr. Pingsley somehow appeared right now she was so screwed.

Pingsley was NOT her boss, not at all. Her boss was a very nice man.

She LOVED her boss.

Pingsley was just some knucklehead who had enough jurisdictional oversight on the matters being investigated to insert himself into her case.

Of course he'd done no leg work to pull the case together. Nor did he have any experience inside the Beltway that didn't involve him placing his lips directly on somebody's ass.

He was a little weasel who had no genuine interests beyond advancing his own career.

She loathed him! But he did technically outrank her so it would be best if she didn't piss him off.

One rotation in Kabul had been enough.

"Here let me . . ."

A quiet voice suddenly came out of nowhere and Emily whipped her head around in alarm.

Who the . . .?!

Emily had been so intent on her internal meltdown that she hadn't heard the door, or the man walking through it. And then when she saw said man reaching for her files she almost had a stroke.

She yelped in horror, "oh no! Don't TOUCH them!"

And then as his head snapped up, she caught sight of the face attached to the stranger.

Whoa, he's gorgeous!

But she quickly moved past that thought as he murmured an apology, "I'm sorry. I was just trying to help."

That's when her stressed out brain finally processed what was happening.

He was being nice.

And she was being incredibly rude.

So she took a breath and a second later her tone came back much softer, "I mean, thank you for your offer. But these are top secret," her eyes dropped back to the ground as her face began to get warm with anger and embarrassment, "this jerk just knocked them out of my hands."

Wow . . . she thought over the past three minutes with disgust . . . those are some sharp reactionary skills you're demonstrating today Prentiss. First you let some douche knock your files out of your hands, and now you let some random . . . she eyed him appreciatively . . . gorgeous . . . guy get the jump on you.

Christ Emily, perhaps you should consider getting a job at the Gap.

Emily's self flagellation was momentarily pushed aside as the man raised his eyebrow and asked in befuddlement, "why did he do that?"

The first thought that popped into her head was, 'oh my God, he's so cute when he's confused!'

'Grr Emily, FOCUS!' Came the disgusted retort from the little voice in the back of her head.

Right . . . she shook her head slightly . . . there was no time to play fifteen year old girl with a crush. So she shook her head as she began scooping up her files again, "I wouldn't give him my number and he got angry," then she muttered to herself, "called me a stuck up bitch."

Any other day . . . her thoughts of vengeance came roaring back . . . any other day, and he'd be picking up his teeth right now!

Her thoughts were again interrupted, this time by the angry retort of her new companion.

"What an asshole!" She saw the man snap his head up and peer over the ledge of the stairwell as he scowled, "where did he go?"

Emily felt her own anger begin to fade as she saw how upset this man was on her behalf.

Her expression softened . . . that was really sweet.

Gorgeous and sweet, an unexpected combo.

So even though she knew the clock was ticking, she stopped what she was doing to give him a little smile, "he's gone." When the man looked back at her she added softly, "but thank you."

For a moment she held his gaze and then she bit back a sigh as she turned her attention back to pulling her paperwork together.

There really is no time for that right now Emily . . . she chastised herself . . . just hurry up before somebody less sweet and nice and charming and fairy tale good looking cuts through here.

So she focused her intensity solely on the clean up, making a mental note that in the future when she left the office she was putting a binder clip on every file to hold things together.

"Ma'am," she heard tentatively. And when she looked over, the man picked up his lanyard and flipped it over to show her his security card.

"Actually I am cleared above Top Secret. I know I'm not read in on your case, but," he shot her a dimple, "I promise not to peek."

Feeling an involuntarily smile touch her lips . . . she did love a good dimple . . . Emily stared at him for a moment. And then she looked back down at the mess still on the floor.

She was never going to get all of this pulled back together that quickly on her own.

That jackass had scattered her paperwork all over the hall. She just thanked God that it was a back stairwell and not heavily traveled. The Good Samaritan was her first sighting, but really, anyone could be coming along.

And most likely, given the building she was in, that person was going to be less understanding, and less sympathetic about her situation.

Also though, if that nitwit Pingsley came along right now, not only would she get into a serious trouble, but if he saw what had happened he might assume the case itself had been compromised.

Which it most certainly had not.

But he was a Chicken Little type moron, likely to cause a panic simply as a result of his own ignorance. And if that happened they might deviate from the current plan of attack.

And that could be disastrous.

Okay, that cinched it. Though she didn't actually know this man in front of her, she did know good character when she saw it. And . . . she eyed his security card one more time . . . she knew his credentials were legitimate.

He was cleared as high as she was.

So she looked over and nodded, "okay, thank you."

As he began hurriedly scooping up the paperwork she sighed, "I really do appreciate this," she began sorting through the documents in front of her, "this is my first big solo case and then this happens," she scowled, "big stupid jerk, probably a Republican."

Her ex-husband was a Republican. Therefore all big, stupid jerks were Republicans. Even if they voted Democrat in every election and had a donkey stamped to their forehead.

With the Samaritan's help, after another minute the two of them had pretty much consolidated everything into one big stack in front of her.

As she began slipping the documents back into the correct folders, out of the corner of her eye Emily saw the man stand up to grab some loose papers that had flown to the other side of the hall. And then her eyes crinkled as he stood there for a second spinning around to make sure that there was nothing else they'd missed.

God, he was so cute. And nice! When did she ever meet a nice guy? When did ANYONE ever meet a nice guy?

They were a dying breed.

As Emily refocused on straightening the stack in front of her, she heard him say, "did he throw them in a wind turbine?"

She rolled her eyes, "he smacked them up from the bottom," she huffed, "I swear they flew five feet in the air."

That probably wasn't an exaggeration, they almost hit the ceiling.

Her eyes scanned the stack in front of her . . . well, it at least appeared . . . operative word being appeared . . . like they were all back together now.

And that . . . Emily hugged the files to her chest as she pushed herself up off the marble floor . . . was about the best guarantee she had at the moment.

Suddenly she felt warm fingers touching her bare skin where the sleeve of her jacket had risen up.

Oh! He was helping her up. He was chivalrous too!? How had somebody not snatched him up yet? But she could clearly see his ring finger was bare.

Feeling that warmth from his touch travel through her body, Emily blushed slightly as she looked over at him, "thanks again."

As she stared into his eyes, Emily knew without a doubt that she had to get his number. This was the first nice, sweet guy she'd met in forever.

Not to mention . . . her eyes crinkled . . . the gorgeous. Can't forget the gorgeous. And given the way he was looking at her she knew he was interested in her too.

Just as she opened her mouth, the little voice in the back of her head suddenly screamed, 'YOU HAVE A MEETING!' and she jumped like she'd heard the words aloud.

"OH GOD!" She burst out, "I have to go! I have a meeting!"

She started hurrying down the steps, yelling back over her shoulder, "thank you so much for your help!"

CRAP! There was no time to get his number!

Right as that thought came to her she heard him call out.

"WAIT! WHAT'S YOUR NAME?!"

"EMILY," she yelled back from the flight below, "EMILY PRENTISS! AND I REALLY WOULD HAVE LIKED TO SEE YOU AGAIN BUT UNFORTUNATELY I CAN'T TELL YOU ANYTHING ELSE WITHOUT RUNNING A FULL BACKGROUND CHECK ON YOU FIRST!"

And then she spun around the next landing, running down the stairs like the white rabbit on her way to see the queen.

God that was SO her life! He WAS attracted to her and she couldn't stay for two minutes to get his social security number so she could run a background check on him!

Trying to push aside the pang of regret she felt at having to run away from one of the first decent men she'd met in God knows how long, Emily continued circling down the back stairwell at record speed. She started to get dizzy, around level 3 and nearly went flying off her heels on level 2, but fortunately she caught herself on the railing. Unfortunately she wrenched her shoulder in the process of not breaking her neck.

Finally she spun around another corner and came to walls painted a slightly different color.

Darker and the paint was a little chipped.

Okay . . . she slowed as she started down the last flight . . . clearly she'd reached the basement area.

After taking a deep breath and smoothing her hand over her skirt and jacket, Emily pulled open the door and stepped out into the corridor.

And of course . . . she rolled her eyes . . . it was completely deserted.

Well, she started over to the locked wing she could see off to the left . . . that was probably a good sign. After all, this was supposed to be an extremely confidential gathering, it would be best if . . .

And then she rolled her eyes again . . . good God Emily what would a random stranger in the hallways possibly know about the topic of the meeting you're going to attend?

Too many years with the Agency had made her a little paranoid. The whole world wasn't out to get them.

She huffed to herself as she swiped her new entry badge on the pad . . . only a quarter of it was.

Once she was in the locked wing, it only took her a minute to find the correct conference room and she swiped her badge again.

'Oh please, please, please let it be empty,' she prayed.

YES, EMPTY! She dropped her files down on the table . . . thank you God. Now she had a few minutes to get everything pulled back together properly.

Emily quickly sorted the folders into twelve separate stacks. Then she began methodically going through each one to see what she'd actually shoved inside of it.

Crap! Crap! Crap! Crap!

It was immediately apparent that her half assed approach to pulling her paperwork back together had not been the most efficient. The first file she looked in had two copies of the 'key player' flow chart in it.

Man, if she ever saw that jackass again she was kicking his ass into next year!

After a quick glance over her shoulder to make sure nobody was coming in yet, Emily started emptying out all of the files and making neat piles of each document. Fortunately many of the inserts were stapled or color coded so her little memory game went pretty quickly and she was soon refilling each folder with the correct assortment of paperwork.

But she knew that time was running out and if she didn't get this done soon then . . . suddenly she heard the door latch being turned and she swore.

FUCK!

Then she saw who it was and she swore again.

DOUBLE FUCK! Pingsley!

"Hello sir."

Emily pasted on what she hoped was a non contemptuous smile as she turned to face the Junior Director in Charge of Domestic Operations.

Pingsley opened his mouth to say hello, but then his eyes widened in alarm as he saw the documents spread across the table.

"What the hell Prentiss?!" he shot a look over his shoulder as he slammed the door shut. Then he turned back to her and started screaming, "FOR CHRIST'S SAKE! They're going to be here any minute! These files are a mess!"

The stupid bitch was going to ruin everything!

Emily managed to restrain herself from sarcastically clapping for him . . . bravo! The files were a mess. Yeah, nobody could pick up on the obvious like old eagle eyes Pingsley.

But she refrained from mocking him openly. That might get her fired, especially given that the files were indeed a mess and they were actually going to be there any minute.

The obvious did have some validity to it.

Therefore she eighty-sixed any sarcastic retort as she turned back to the files muttering, "there was a little accident. I was just checking them over."

It was a noncommittal acknowledgement that the files were indeed in a state. But if the employee of the month could keep his yap shut for two more minutes everything would be fine.

Of course that was too much to hope for.

As soon as she turned away he started in on her again.

"I'm sorry, did you say you had a little ACCIDENT?! A matter of CRITICAL national security and you can't get from A to B without having an accident? Are you KIDDING me?!"

Yeah . . . she ground her teeth . . . like being a complete ass was going to help! Like perhaps moving his ass two feet into the room and helping her might not have been the more prudent course of action here! After all he was the one trying so badly to take all the credit for her big case.

And passing out the bad files was going to make both of them look bad.

But she didn't say any of that.

Basically she'd discovered the best course of action with him was just to pretend like he didn't exist. Which was probably what was feeding the continued spewing of garbage from his mouth.

He liked to be the center of attention.

Just as she was about to restack all the clean files, he added in a parting shot.

"It's astounding to me that anyone so utterly incompetent managed to be put in charge of a case this important! Did your daddy get you this job? Or did you get it some other way?"

Emily's eyes were blazing as they snapped up to his . . . of all the . . . that son of a bitch!

Her fist clenched, and for a split second she debated whether she had time to strangle him and shove his body into the vent before anyone else arrived.

And then suddenly she heard the door click open again, simultaneous to a very crisp, very terse voice ask, "am I interrupting something?"

She spun around, her eyes widening in shock as they locked on the Good Samaritan's. His jaw opened and closed before he said in disbelief.

"You."

A small smile spread across her face as she said softly.

"Hey."


A/N 2: Hopefully you all saw that ending coming :) And the next chapter will start regular alternating viewpoints.

There were two subtle little references to other worlds in here. One was SUPER subtle (that was for you particularly Chiroho) but I'll be pleased if anyone sees either of them.

I'm totally making up this federal building so don't try and guess which one it is because it doesn't exist. I'm going to have them working there and I wanted to have free reign to design it how I wanted to design it. And the 3 o'clock cattle call, oy! If you've EVER worked in a government building you should know exactly what I'm talking about! I don't think the private sector has 3 o'clock shift change and if they do, I'm so sorry. I once walked down 14 flights to avoid the elevators, got so dizzy spinning around the landings that I almost threw up! And at that point I discovered I was on a floor that wouldn't take my badge so I couldn't get out of the stairwell. So nine more nauseating flights down to the subbasement and then around and back up one flight and a ramp (through the garbage depot) to get back out of the building. Yeah, my life is cabaret!

I also had a creepy AV guy who used to stare at me without blinking. And I really did tell my boss that I thought he was going to make a dress out of me.

Pingsley will be the Strauss of this world. But like, way douchier. And that's saying something.

That God awful heaven pickup line, yeah, my best friend got that once. How AWFUL is that line?! But seriously, they wouldn't keep using it if they didn't have some success with it! Though I guess that sort of goes along the lines that if you fall for that, then you kind of deserve the loser that comes with it. My creepiest attempted pickup wasn't so much a line as an action. I was in the subway, (because clearly that's where all the chicks are waiting to meet Mr. Right) and this guy walks up to me on the platform and TOUCHES my hair (yeah it was really freaky!) and says "this is just beautiful. What's your name?" Yeah, um, don't touch me. Who does that? That's a major violation of personal space. And he wasn't homeless and/or drunk. He was just some dude who probably went to the viper school of dating tips. It reminded me of that Seinfeld where George is feeling up that woman's material because he heard that was a good way to strike up a conversation and she's like "what the hell are you doing?!"

I've been working on Gingerbread for like a week (off and on, RL has been interrupting the fake lives) and I'm still not 100% happy with it. So I'm putting it aside for a fresh look tomorrow to see if I can figure out what's wrong with it. Therefore this is it for postings tonight. Actually I have to go work on my 'Being Emily Prentiss' chapters for Chiroho :) I'm woefully behind! But I have half scenes sketched in my head for both companions and I'm thinking they'll go quickly once I start writing. And if they meet with Chiroho's approval (this is his story after all) then maybe I can get the first one up tomorrow night or Thursday.

And we got 3 new additions to the Christmas prompt stories today. You guys definitely did get your holly jolly asses in gear :) Good job! So new Christmas stories from Chiroho, IrigD, signedsealedwritten, and somebody I forgot to give a yell to the other day, hot4cullenmen. She's actually put up a few JJ/R and H/P Christmas stories this week :) Also kdzl put up a new AU fairytale. JJ/M I believe. At least that's what she promised me ;)

If the stories don't jump out at you from the main page you can find them on the forum.

Please let me know if you're still on board here. RL's been kicking my ass as of late but I'm hoping to get another chapter or two here up over the break (right after I wrap Gingerbread). I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to vacation! I'm taking the train to my sister's so I'm going to have like a day of being by myself (in a crowded train of angry travelers) with just nothing but fake worlds (and again, angry travelers) for company. And then another week and a half off! If nothing else I should definitely get all the little stories wrapped.

And I promise I will get something prepped in Girl that I will hold to post for Christmas day :) (yes, I'll post before Christmas too).