Author's Note: A New Year's Eve story in existence solely because of the bonus, because really, I had no plans to write such a thing.

I didn't feel like dealing with all the drama of season 5 (I'm officially still boycotting) so I fastforwarded them to a future date. The ball drop is for 2011.

And if you noticed the change in my avatar, that ladies and gentlemen, is the happy ladybug nightlight that Hotch gave Emily in Ladybug, Ladybug :) Chiroho randomly spotted it in a home improvement store and sent me the link. Good job sir ;)

Challenge Announcement: As evidenced here ;) I put up New Year's prompts. But also Kavi and I adjusted the rules to make the TV challenge forum open to all pairings and then I set up the new community to store all the challenge stories that are TOTAL AU or involve other pairings besides H/P and/or JJ/Rossi. So if you're looking for something different, you can find that community off my profile.

This is a one shot, but you'll see at the end, I might SOMEDAY make it into a longer story. Not now though :)

Bonus Set #8

Show: Grey's Anatomy

Title Challenge: In the Midnight Hour

New York State of Mind


Emily bounced up and down on her heels as she rubbed her hands frantically along her arms trying to warm up. She'd long ago given up any hope of saving her fingers from frostbite, now she'd just moved on to preservation of her limbs.

It was New Year's Eve, just shy of midnight, and the team was in Times Square working back up on the NYPD security detail.

No, not exactly their typical assignment. But there had been a credible threat intercepted for a soft target attack . . . read, a bunch of jackasses blowing themselves up . . . before the clock rolled over to 2011.

So basically anybody who could lend a useful hand had been sent to the city.

And the BAU, with their extensive behavioral training, had been deemed useful in that they could probably spot just which idiot was twitching in just the right way that indicated he was about to become a human piƱata.

For that reason . . . their unique skill set . . . the team had been scattered to different points around the Mid Town area. JJ had recently finished taking her last behavioral certification course and was shadowing Dave for her first six months. The two of them were working the Grand Central area on opposite ends of the street.

Morgan and Reid were somewhere over near the ball drop and the main checkpoint respectively. And Hotch, well, he was roving the crowds on a continuous loop from one end of Times Square to the other.

Though Hotch 'walking a beat' was of course quite helpful, Emily knew that he was also trying to keep warm. And to her amusement . . . and enjoyment . . . he kept coming back around to her area fairly often.

They were on duty so he rarely stopped to talk, usually he just announced through their mikes that he was heading her way and then she'd play "where's Waldo," or really, "where's Hotcho," trying to spot him in the masses of people around her.

Fortunately he . . . like the rest of the team . . . was wearing his FBI windbreaker with the bright gold letters. And he also had on the yellow cashmere scarf she'd given him for Christmas so he at least had a couple splashes of color to catch her attention.

Spotting those little bits of sunny hue were enough to warm her heart for another hour.

Her corner of the world was 44th and Broadway, specifically working the third street light from the corner. Well, it wasn't just her corner. There were probably another five hundred law enforcement types from various state, local and federal law enforcement agencies also patrolling this section of the Great White Way. Overall 'The Powers That Be' had blanketed the mid town area with at least ten thousand people such as herself.

It was quite a show of force.

And it really wouldn't be such a bad assignment . . . she was of course "pro" terrorist attack prevention and happy to pitch in on occasion . . . if not for the sub zero temperatures.

Though the sub zero temperatures were the reason she was sure that it was going to be a quiet night.

Well, fairly quiet. The team had been keeping themselves busy/warm, with policing basic assaults, extreme public intoxication (falling down drunk and creating a hazard on a public way), muggings, and purse snatching offenses.

Actually the last time Emily had seen Morgan . . . at their six pm twenty minute dinner break . . . he'd already worn holes into the knees of his jeans from chasing down a half dozen fine citizens who would be watching the fireworks display from the common room at Rikers.

After one look at Derek's pants Emily had dubbed it a new sport of "extreme tackling" and everyone had laughed. Even Hotch.

Speaking of Hotch, her musings were interrupted by his voice drifting into her ear.

"Status check everyone."

One by one Emily listened as her team . . . from their various vantage points . . . radioed in their position and a status of all quiet on major felonies. Hotch himself was coming into visual range for Emily . . . he was roving through the crowd ten feet away . . . and when he called out, "Prentiss go," she was staring at him as she responded through chattering teeth, "all quiet, though I would like to call a bravo, bravo."

As soon as the words were out of her mouth she saw his mouth quiver behind the wrist that was holding his mike. She smiled as he cleared his throat and then looked up, seeking her out as he nodded, "that's a go for bravo, bravo."

She grinned as he walked up to her, talking into her own mike, "affirmative, thank you sir."

Hotch's eyes crinkled, "how many bravo, bravos is this for you tonight?"

By his count she was at four.

Emily scowled at him as they turned to walk to the Dunkin Donuts down the block, "it's negative FOUR degrees outside Hotch! The cold makes me have to go to the bathroom!"

Not to mention all the damn coffee she was drinking to keep warm. It was just so annoying how the men never had to go, EVER!

Hotch's mouth quivered as they walked along with her huffing at his side, "and besides you know that JJ has gone at least as often as I have but she's getting cleared from Rossi so you can't bust her chops."

With Dave and JJ stationed where they were, and the crowds the way they were, basically her teammates might as well have been on the other side of the world.

"Yeah, yeah Prentiss," Hotch tried to smooth past the topic of JJ's bathroom breaks as he pulled the coffee shop door open for her, "just know that we have to be back out by the time that ball drops," he checked his watch, "we've got eleven minutes."

Given the extreme cold, Hotch been encouraging all of them to step inside someplace heated for at least a few minutes every hour. And he was less worried about their time off the streets right now because DHS had actually downgraded the threat level a little after ten. The CIA had been frantically chasing down intelligence for the past forty eight hours. And at 04:30 EST they'd managed to discredit the informant who had told them about the mass suicide bombers planned for Time Square. And then by the ten PM briefing Hotch had attended at the main tent, it had been confirmed through three other sources that the guy was just a loon who had been in and out of mental hospitals for the past ten years.

Though he might have shared the name of one of the most wanted terrorists on the planet, in fact the man had no legitimate connections to anything but a tin foil hat club.

So now they were basically all on straight crowd control. Though Hotch hadn't told the team that because basically that's what they'd been doing all night anyway.

He knew there would be no discernible difference in their level of vigilance either way. And on the slim chance the next DHS briefing came back with some other report . . . there was always another asshole in the world . . . he figured he might as well keep having them do what they were already doing.

As Emily headed upstairs to the bathroom, Hotch continued over to the counter to get them their fifth cup of coffee since three that afternoon. He had accompanied Emily on all of her "bravo, bravos," on the pretext of simply giving her crap about it. But really, he just liked spending a few minutes with her. And he was actually quite grateful for her ridiculously small bladder because it gave him a few minutes of respite from the bitter winds.

Even with three layers of clothes . . . not counting the Kevlar . . . a hat, gloves, and two scarves . . . one a gift from Emily . . . he was still freezing his ass off.

Christ help them if there was an incident tonight. How there was an officer or agent out there who still had the dexterity in their frostbitten fingers to hold . . . and properly shoot . . . a handgun he didn't know.

The girl behind the counter handed him the two coffees and he decided to order a cruller for them to split. They'd only had time to grab a quick slice for dinner so he knew Emily would be hungry.

Just as he snagged an empty table . . . the place was packed with people escaping the weather . . . Emily came back down the stairs wrinkling her nose.

"That place has gotten more and more vile every hour," she shuddered, "I actually had to break out my rubber gloves just to open the door!"

Thank God her mother had taught her how to avoid the toilet seat when she was five.

Hotch chuckled as he passed her over a napkin and the larger piece of donut.

"Well just be thankful you had the gloves."

Her annoyance at the dismal state of sanitation in the ladies room was immediately forgotten as she saw the cruller. Her face lit up as she took the donut, "thanks, I was starving!"

As she saw Hotch's lip quirk up slightly she laughed, "but you already knew that didn't you?"

Sometimes it was a little freaky how well she and Hotch could read each other now. Of course if the man could truly read her he'd know she wanted him to make her scream his name for three or four hours a night, every night.

But hey, no pressure.

If he could only manage an hour a night she'd deal.

Hotch winked as he took a sip of his coffee, then his eyes flicked away from hers as they scanned the crowd around them. They'd been "live" profiling non-stop since they landed that morning. And after eighteen plus hours with little food, no rest and eight cups of coffee, his brain was getting fried.

At this point he could have a guy walking through the place carrying a bazooka and he couldn't be sure he'd read the situation correctly.

So thank God the night was basically over. The ball would drop and then the crowds would start to disperse.

They should be able to head out by one.

Though . . . he looked back over at Emily warming her hands on her coffee cup . . . if you took away the faintly lingering threat of possible hellfire conflagration erupting, spending New Year's Eve in Times Square with the beautiful woman in front of him was a pretty good time.

Well, what little time they'd actually been able to spend together had been good. And that time basically consisted of her bravo breaks.

And that wasn't nearly enough time with her.

He came to a sudden realization as he stared across the table at her rosy cheeks . . . he'd been waiting far too long to do something about that.

"Hey," he started awkwardly, and when Emily looked up he cleared his throat, "uh, when we get home, uh . . ."

He paused. It wasn't that he'd lost his nerve, it was just that now he was skirting the line of sexual harassment. Not that any part of him thought that Emily would react that way to his question, but still, a couple decades of ingrained training on this topic was enough to trip him up.


Then he suddenly had an idea. He could go a route that Emily would understand perfectly, and yet it would still leave him an out of plausible deniability in the event of a later inquest on this topic.

So his eyes crinkled as he leaned forward and whispered, "when we get home would you like to hotel, delta, whiskey, mike?

As he saw the confusion on Emily's face, Hotch gave her a look, willing her to process the question he'd just asked.

'Come on sweetheart, you can do it!'

Emily stared blankly at Hotch for a moment . . . what the hell was he . . . and then suddenly she processed the look on his face and the question translated in her head.

Would you like to hotel, delta, whiskey, mike? = Would you like to have dinner with me?

A grin spread across her face. Leave it to Hotch to ask her out via the international alphabet.

"I would love to hotel, delta, whiskey, yankee!" she answered excitedly.

He shot her a dimple, "excellent."

Very, very excellent!

Emily was practically bopping in her seat . . . he'd FINALLY asked her out! Good GOD, she had started to think that their first intimate meal together was going to be an outing for the early bird special paid for with his social security check. So this was definitely an OUTSTANDING way to start the new year!

Speaking of the new year . . . she turned Hotch's hand over so she could check the time . . . the ball was set to drop in a few minutes.

She looked back up and gave him a little pout, "back in the cold now, huh."

His nose wrinkled, "yeah, sorry. Just in case something does happen," he rolled his eyes, "which it won't, we should at least be out on the street and not sitting in the coffee shop."

Yeah, that'll look good on his review.

Internal Affairs: "So where were you when the gates of hell opened?"

Him: "Oh, just sitting in Dunkin Donuts, splitting a cruller with Agent Prentiss thinking how hot she looked with the little white beret on and wishing there was some way I could get her down to the beret and nothing else."

Oh yeah . . . he gave an internal eye roll . . . no problems there.

He slipped his last bite of donut over to Emily who popped it into her mouth with a happy grin. The corner of his mouth turned up as he stood and put his arm out for her to go ahead of him.

Just as they stepped out the door into the bitter cold and controlled din they'd been immersed in all night, they heard the crowd beginning the countdown. Hotch and Emily both stopped, focusing all of their attention on reading the people surrounding them.

But there was nothing there.

Nobody but happy . . . albeit icicle laden . . . New Year's Eve revelers.

Though just as the ball actually dropped and the confetti flew through the air, Hotch felt Emily squeeze his arm and he turned to look at what she was seeing.

Three local criminal statutes had just been broken in front of them.

But before either of them took more than a step, an NYPD officer . . . who apparently had trained with Derek . . . came flying out of nowhere and tackled the mugger, knocking them both into a crowd of drunk and stoned college kids.

Two seconds later the cop's female partner came up behind him yelling, "JESUS CHRIST BOSCO! YOU DIDN'T HAVE TO GO ALL FLYING WALENDAS, THE GUY WAS STANDING STILL!"

"YEAH FAITH," the first cop yelled back sarcastically as he cuffed his prisoner, "I KNOW HE WAS STANDING STILL! I'M NOT FUCKING BLIND! BUT NOW I'VE GOT THIS JAGOFF FOR LARCENY AND ASSAULT, AND THESE THREE MORONS," he waved his hand to the stoned coeds on the ground frantically trying to pick up their weed, "FOR POSSESSION! THAT," he shoved the first prisoner at her as he grabbed the next one off the ground, "IS THE ONLY GOOD WAY TO START A NEW YEAR!"

Emily started cracking up as she heard his partner yell back, "YOU IDIOT! WE ONLY HAVE ROOM FOR THREE IN THE SQUAD! ARE YOU GOING TO STRAP THE FOURTH ONE TO THE HOOD!?"

God she loved the NYPD!

As "Bosco" began his obscenity laden retort, Emily turned to Hotch to make a joke about Derek having a good place to retire to. But before she'd more than opened her mouth, it was suddenly covered with Hotch's lips.

Whoa . . . she wrapped the arm not holding her coffee cup around his neck . . . this was DEFINITELY going to be a good year!

Though Hotch knew it was very much against regulations . . . on duty and all . . . he figured it would be the one and only time he'd get to kiss Emily in Time Square at midnight on New Year's Eve.

It's not like they were going to come back as tourists.

So he pulled her against his body and put everything he had into it. First kiss in Time Square just after midnight was definitely going to be one she'd remember.

He didn't want to suck at it.

And as he pulled back a minute later, he saw Emily's breath puffing out in fast little white wisps. And then she grinned at him and he felt a little burst of warmth in his chest.

It took away the chill of the air for a moment.

Yes . . . he once again put a decorous distance between the two of them . . . that kiss was definitely the right call.


Came Emily's yell as she used the thumb of her glove to wipe the last remnants of her lipstick off his face.

If Morgan and Dave saw it he'd never hear the end of it.

Hotch winked as he yelled back, "HAPPY NEW YEAR PRENTISS!"

A/N 2: This wasn't on the list of things to do but it came to me pretty quickly so I put aside what I was working on and decided to type it up.

Of course I borrowed Bosco and Yokas from Third Watch (another Bernero show). If I ever wrote for another fandom it would be for those two. I ADORE the two of them! And yeah, I know the last time we saw Faith she was working as a detective but that was a rather rushed unrealistic plot twist they did as things were winding down. And I always saw her as a beat cop so I say she went back :)

I had the strangest desire to blow something up here at the end, but then I clearly would have had to make this a MUCH longer story. Not to mention a much heavier story and I was just going for a short little light holiday piece. And I obviously can't even consider starting yet another multi chapter fic right now. But I just might come back here some day and take the scene out further. If I do I think it would be a crossover with Third Watch. But this would be aways off, after I wrap a few things and you might have noticed my productivity has been somewhat reduced. I've had some personal issues of late and I'm not sure how much that's going to affect/effect (pick one I'm tired) things going forward. But we'll just keep trudging along at whatever pace comes and eventually all the little stories will get to the finish line. Have no fear, I have no intention of dropping anything. But the idea of Bosco and Yokas working with Hotch and Prentiss does intrigue me. And I checked the crossovers, nobody's ever done one with those two shows so it would be unchartered territory. My favorite kind :)

Sometime later today I'll be putting up a companion to Invasion of the Pod People. Yeah, that wasn't on the list of things to do either but you know the muse wanders and you have to follow after her or she wanders away. You know what keeps her alive though kids :)