Title: Better Be Home Soon
Rating: PG
Fandom:
Criminal Minds
Characters/Pairing:
Morgan, Prentiss - gen
Genre: Humor/Friendship
Summary:
Because burst eardrums and flight don't mix very well. Spoilers to "Rite of Passage."
Author's Note: Some people suggest that Emily was exaggerating her plight. She probably was, but for the purposes of fic, assume that she wasn't. Thanks to Arwen Lalaith for the beta.

* * *

Better Be Home Soon

Her ears were still ringing as they left behind Deputy Boyd's trailer – it really felt like it should have stopped already, and she tried to be subtle as she let her hand run over the ear. The team were notorious for picking up subtle behavior cues, though, and despite recent events, nobody was going to forget New York for a long time.

'You should get checked out,' Morgan told her, his tone a little more somber.

Emily raised an eyebrow. 'Oh, so now you're sympathetic about my plight now.' She shook her head. 'It's nothing to worry about. I'm fine.' A wave of dizziness washed over her, and she used every bit of strength inside to stop it from showing.

'Interesting how you're so ready to downplay it now,' he countered. 'You know flying with a burst eardrum isn't the best idea.'

'1900 miles to Quantico, Derek – it's not the most appealing trip.' She sighed, because really, he was right, even if she didn't particularly want to admit it.

'More appealing than having your ears feel like they're about to fall off.'

They already felt like they were about to fall off, she wanted to tell him, but that would only prove his point.

'Come on.' He gestured towards the SUV. 'Let's go find a doctor.'

She turned back towards the rest of the team, almost hesitant.

'Hotch already knows,' he revealed, to which she just stared at him. 'What? Come on, Emily – profilers.'

She rolled her eyes at that, but didn't argue – being coddled by Morgan was one thing, but she wasn't particularly interested in the whole team getting in on the action. It wasn't a very debilitating injury – hell, it seemed embarrassing to class it as an injury at all.

'Keep going like this, and you'll take that "Most Hospital Visits" title from Reid,' he commented as they got into the car – the car without the bullet holes, which meant that the rest of the team would be hanging around a little longer. Whether it was solely because of her remained to be seen.

'I'm not the one that fired the MP-5 inside the car,' she retorted, a little more acerbically than she had intended – she thought she'd gotten the bitchiness out of the way in the immediate aftermath of the incident. Apparently not. Her and pain were not the most cordial of bedfellows.

The doctor's orders were disappointing, but not unexpected; Tylenol to minimize throbbing, take a nap, prescription for antibiotics, no flying for a few days. "A few days" was too long to expect the team to stay behind with her, so she resigned herself to making the long trip back alone.

Not alone, though, apparently, she discovered, as Morgan dumped his own go-bag as well as hers in the back of the newly acquired SUV.

'If we break this one, we have to pay for it out of our own pocket,' he grinned, getting behind the wheel.

'What do you mean "we"?' she asked, letting her head fall back softly against the seat. Not the most ideal place to take a nap, but they'd already checked out of the motel. The budget was no joke. They'd have a hard enough time justifying the cost of accommodation for their impromptu road trip.

They bade farewell to the rest of the team, who, she was jealous to think, would get back to Quantico late in the evening. She and Morgan, on the other hand, would be on the road for the next two days at least. A childhood of globetrotting had made her indifferent to the joys of travel.

Satisfied that Morgan wasn't about to start making excessively loud noises, she let herself drift off to sleep, the dizziness receding as darkness crept in.

* * *

The vertigo was back when Emily opened her eyes, and she was almost glad that she was strapped into the seat, because otherwise she might have fallen out of it.

'You alright?' Morgan asked, not taking his eyes off the road. It was pitch dark now, the only light coming from the SUV's high beams.

'Yeah – the doctor said this would probably happen,' she told him, a hand clutching her head to keep it steady. 'Still, better than having my head explode on the jet, right?'

'Right.'

'So how come you didn't get your ears blown out?' she asked, curious – his ears had been closer to the sound, certainly.

'I guess I just have ears of steel.'

She gave a short laugh at that – followed immediately by a pause. Not quite an awkward silence, but the beginnings of one.

'I'm sorry,' he said eventually. 'For blowing out your eardrum. I should have shot out the window.'

Emily shook her head. 'It's okay – I overreacted a little. If you hadn't taken action, it could have ended a lot worse than it did. Running into an ATV probably would have done more damage than just a burst eardrum.' After a moment of consideration, she added. 'I guess I'm just in a bitchy mood today.'

He laughed at that. 'I grew up in a household full of women, Prentiss. I can tell when someone's PMSing.'

She gave him a look. He'd been doing so well, too. 'Word of advice, Morgan – never tell a woman you know that she's PMSing.'

'I'll keep that in mind,' he assured her. With a quick glance at the clock, he added, 'It's getting late – we should probably find a place to stay for the night.'

'And dinner,' Emily agreed, feeling her stomach rumble. They stopped in Fort Stockton for the night, Morgan going to grab dinner while Emily took a shower, making sure not to get any water in her ear.

She felt the slightest bit self-conscious at the thought of wearing her pajamas with Morgan hanging around, but that fell away at the promise of a hamburger and fries.

'You should get some sleep,' he said, his voice taking on that "older-brotherly" tone that he liked to use, in spite of the fact that she was eighteen months his senior. 'Long day tomorrow.'

She rolled her eyes. Another 1700 miles to Quantico.

But somehow, those 1700 miles didn't look too bad.