Author's Note: Migraines the last few days are impeding the postings. Fracture will hopefully be up later. It depends on whether my headaches come back again. But as I was looking for things that were in near postable condition, this caught my eye. The third story in the Finding'verse. This one takes place BEFORE they get together on Valentine's Day. So at this stage they're both in love but neither is aware of the other's feelings and neither is doing anything about their own feelings beyond a little pathetic pining.

This is the October before Finding a Tree in the Forest. And remember this world is a few years away (and Haley's still alive) so Hotch is a bit softer with Emily than he might be otherwise pre official get together.


Prompt Set #12

Show: Just Shoot Me

Title Challenge: The Assistant


Toil & Trouble

"Who's that?"

Emily's voice dripped with disdain as she stared at the perky redhead with the big boobs busting out of her blouse. Whoever it was somebody should tell her that she looked like a hooker.

Her skirt was two inches too short, her shirt was at least a size too small (yeah, hi, don't need to see your NIPPLES!), and her heels were WAY too tall!

Like teetering transvestite too tall.

And her makeup . . . Emily wrinkled her nose . . . was she going CLUBBING during her lunch break?

JJ looked up from her coffee preparation to squint across the bullpen, "oh, that's Louisa. She's Hotch's new AA."

Okay . . . JJ squinched her eyes open and closed trying to focus on the redhead . . . maybe it was time to get her vision checked. She'd been putting it off but she shouldn't be squinting like Mr. Magoo to see somebody standing twenty feet away. And mostly likely anyone who might be standing within shooting distance the next time she pulled her weapon would probably agree.

Yeah . . . she made a mental note . . . call Dr. Kamen before she accidentally shot one of her co-workers in the ass.

Emily frowned as she looked back at JJ, "what do you mean, new AA? Where's Betty?"

Betty was a grey haired grandmother six times over. She'd been working at the Bureau since the Nixon administration and for the BAU since the Rossi administration.

The first one.

Once upon a time Betty had worked directly for J. Edgar and she'd told Emily a story about finding a pair of ladies stockings in his desk. She said she thought that he was "seeing some chippy." Come to find out later of course that they were his. Then she'd laughed as she whispered to Emily that if she'd known then what she'd accidentally discovered two years later when she walked into his private bathroom unannounced, that she would have gotten a raise and a bottle of schnapps out of it.

Long story short, Emily LOVED Betty.

JJ shrugged as she shot a glance at Emily over her coffee cup, "she retired on Friday. She was 67. And she should have been gone two years ago but you know that she knows everybody and his mother so she called God and got herself extended somehow," JJ took a sip of her coffee, "the new girl seems nice enough."

Though she was dressed a little inappropriately for the office, but JJ assumed that maybe she just didn't know any better. God knows who was going to set her straight on that point though.

JJ certainly wasn't going to say anything to her, that was management's job. And she really didn't see Hotch, or . . . JJ snorted to herself . . . Dave, sitting the girl down and telling her to throw on a parka.

If it was up to Dave he'd probably have all the women walking around dressed like extras in an Austin Powers movie.

Stunned at JJ's announcement, Emily spun around so quickly that she splattered her coffee all over the break room table and floor.

"RETIRED?! What?! Like she's gone, FOREVER?! How did I not know this!?"

For God's sake, Emily had only been out for ONE day! She'd gone to San Francisco for her friend's engagement party and had taken a long weekend. How can someone who has worked here for forty years disappear and get replaced in ONE day?!

Seeing the mess Emily had just made, JJ's Mom Button immediately popped on and she turned to grab her friend a stack of paper towels as she answered her question.

"Well, Hotch said that she told him that she didn't want any fuss. And that if he told one person then everyone would know."

Though she kind of understood where Betty was coming from . . . JJ didn't like a lot of fuss either . . . she was still pretty upset to find out she was just . . . gone. If Betty had just waited until the afternoon she left before she said anything, then she could have accomplished the same no fuss result but at least given people a little closure.

This was just really abrupt.

It took Emily a moment to process what JJ said, and then her lip came out, "but . . . but I didn't get to say goodbye."

That totally sucked. Betty had been so sweet to her. She made cookies and remembered birthdays and she'd been the one to tell Emily all of the really important things when she first started.

Like which copy machine left streaks on your paper (back left corner), which agent got drunk at the holiday party and played grab ass (Kowalski and Crookshanks), and which bathroom stall door didn't lock right so you ended up having people barge in on you sitting on the can (left side, third door down).

That last one was particularly embarrassing when you were the one doing the barging and it was your new chief that was the bargee. That had happened to Emily on the first day of her assignment out in Portland.

Needless to say, she had NOT started out on the right foot in Oregon.

So clearly the stuff Betty taught was the stuff that you really needed to know in a new job and usually took a . . . sometimes traumatizing . . . trial and error period to pick up.

Not to mention . . . Emily moved beyond her selfish concerns to more empathetic ones . . . Hotch had ADORED Betty! Even with somebody who kept his emotions so close to his vest it had been obvious to Emily from the beginning how fond he was of her.

But of course Betty was awesome. She could make anything happen, and she made it all seem so easy. And now she was gone and replaced with this . . . Emily scowled . . . hoochie.

That totally sucked.

JJ pouted slightly, "I know, I didn't get to say goodbye either. Hotch told me when I got in," her eyes brightened slightly, "though she did leave a note for me with him," JJ looked over at Emily hopefully, "maybe she left one for you too."

As soon as the words were out of her mouth JJ cringed . . . God, what if Betty DIDN'T leave Emily a note!? Then Emily would feel like a TOTAL loser.

Crap.

Emily perked up slightly as her eyes shifted up to their boss' office across the bullpen, "oh, well, okay. Then I'll go see Hotch and see if he has anything for me."

She started to walk away but then JJ cut in smoothly.

"Uh, how about you clean up your coffee first lady?"

Oops . . . Emily cringed as her eyes dropped down . . . right. Her latest graceful move was splattered over half the kitchen. And when she turned around she saw JJ smirking at her as she shoved the roll of paper towel into her hands.

"I clean up after Henry, that's it. So unless you've been listed as a dependent on last year's tax returns, you're getting that," she pointed to the brown puddles splattered about, "yourself there missy."

Emily laughed as she started tearing off a few strips, "if I was going to claim myself on anyone's tax returns it would be Dave's," she crouched down and started cleaning up her mess as she joked, "I always wanted a sugar daddy."

Actually what she ALWAYS wanted was one of those craftmatic adjustable beds and a jacuzzi in the bathroom, but she figured having access to somebody with a black AMEX was probably the fastest route to making her dreams come true.

JJ started to giggle, "I know, right. We should see if he'll take us on in concubine status."

Emily snorted and then burst out laughing at the mental image of her and JJ dressed up as geishas for Rossi. Still chuckling, she looked up at her friend, "I find it interesting that the first thing YOU thought was concubine. I was just thinking inappropriately adopted past the age of thirty, foster daughter," her eyebrow rose in amusement, "if you're on concubine status you do know that you're going to have to sleep with him, right?"

It was well known that JJ . . . though happily married . . . had more than a little crush on Dave. And visa versa actually. Not that either of them would do anything about it. But for all the crap Emily put up with being the last single girl on the team . . . regularly listening to happily paired off people talking about how wonderful their significant others were occasionally got a little tedious/nauseating . . . it was fun to push her happily coupled friends' buttons on occasion. And seeing the rising pink glow on JJ's cheeks was giving Emily no small amount of amusement.

But then it got even better when she heard Hotch's voice ask from behind them.

"Who has to sleep with whom?"

Hotch stepped into the kitchen with Dave from the back stairs. He'd only caught the last four words of Emily's sentence but it was definitely a sentence that Hotch felt required further explanation.

Especially if the explanation involved Emily sleeping with him.

Not that he thought that it WAS about Emily sleeping with him. It's just that given that he had recently acknowledged to himself that he was head over heels in love with her . . . and that at some point a few decades from now he might decide to do something about that . . . it would be a step in the right direction if Emily was having impure thoughts about him as well.

Or really any thoughts at all would work.

As far as his knowledge of any romantic feelings on her part he was presently a blind man driving at night during a snowstorm.

There was complete silence for a moment as the women stared at each other. And then to JJ's horror Emily's lips started to twitch right before she burst out laughing again.

Great . . . JJ huffed . . . now the guys were going to know for sure that it was about her! And she was absolutely MORTIFIED at the thought of EITHER of them thinking that she was considering having sexual relations with him!

Though admittedly her mortification with each of them was for two totally different reasons. And as JJ realized that the silence was stretching out . . . Emily now just had an evil smirk on her face . . . JJ could feel her already warm face start to get even hotter as she shook her head violently.

"Uh, nobody," she stammered. And as Dave and Hotch both raised an eyebrow she said more emphatically, "really it was nothing!"

Oh Dear GOD! Is there not a hole she can drop into right now!

Hotch and Dave exchanged an amused look . . . it was hard to get JJ that flustered so Hotch knew that at least one of the sexual dance partners was his media liaison. So unfortunately that meant it wasn't about him and Emily.

Damn.

Still though, this appeared to be a good conversation they'd just stumbled into so Hotch directed his amused eyebrow in Emily's direction, "Prentiss, do you have a better answer than JJ?"

Yes, he did acknowledge that his curiosity had absolutely no basis in anything more altruistic than he enjoyed a good piece of gossip as well as the next person. Just because he didn't stand by the water cooler to get it didn't mean that he didn't have his sources.

All three said sources were standing right in front of him.

And as expected, Emily . . . who was his conduit to all of the really good gossip that he didn't get from Dave . . . began to helpfully fill in the blanks.

"Well, let's see," Emily started slowly so she could torture JJ, "we were talking about tax returns and then JJ said . . ."

"EMILY!" JJ shrieked as she cut off her friend with a wild flapping of her hands, "JUST . . . JUST . . . SHHHHHHH!!!"

What was WRONG with her!?

Dave's eyes twinkled as he looked at JJ . . . busted. Well, he'd have his fun with her later . . . his eyes dropped down to Emily on her hands and knees . . . right now there was a much more obvious joke that needed to be made.

"You know Emily," he began nonchalantly, "if you're going to get yourself into that position I have some other stuff you could be polishing."

Emily turned to shoot a good natured, "you're a pig Dave," over her shoulder and Hotch rolled his eyes.

The man was a walking, talking sexual harassment suit.

And as Hotch grabbed the paper towel off the table and crouched down to help Emily clean up the coffee spill, he shot the other man a look of exasperation.

"Can you go ONE day without violating Section 32?" Then he scowled as he waved the towel in his face, "and how about you help her instead of just adding a running commentary to the moment?"

Recently Hotch had noticed that he'd gotten a little more protective of Emily since his revelation about his feelings for her. Admittedly that could be somewhat awkward if he started hollering at random strangers who were less than courteous to her.

But this . . . he rolled his eyes at the look of indignation on Rossi's face . . . this was only Dave.

Emily floated a soft smile over to Hotch as he scowled at Rossi before he began wiping up the droplets outside the main disaster zone.

It was so sweet when he went all "grrr" on her behalf. And one of these days she was going to tell him how she felt about him doing things like that. And by "tell him" she meant that she was going to have majorly carnal relations with him on his nice oak desk. In her fantasies she even accounted for splinters.

That's what desk blotters were for.

In response to Hotch's rebuke, Dave shot his own scowl back to the man on the floor, "hey, I was just talking about my SHOES! You people are the ones with the dirty minds."

No, he didn't think anyone would really buy that one. But his little off color joke had fallen a bit flat because by getting down and helping Emily clean up the mess, Hotch had actually just made him look like an ass. So Dave was going for a little deflection. But his choice of wording on said deflection didn't seem to be working because both of the women had just shot him an eyebrow. And then JJ said incredulously.

"You really think that's better?"

Moments like this were what allowed her to keep her little crush firmly under lock and key. The knowledge that on occasion Dave seemed to be transported back to the good old days before women could own land.

Dave responded with an opening and a closing of his jaw and Emily smirked, "come one Jayj, he's trading up from sexual harassment to plain old sexist." To which Hotch muttered under his breath, "baby steps."

Emily was the only one close enough to hear Hotch's comment and she started to chuckle as she went to push herself up off the floor. But Hotch . . . who was the most chivalrous man she knew . . . immediately put his hand out to help her, "here," he rose from the floor, pulling her up with him.

Just as she turned to smile her thanks, Emily heard the new girl call Hotch's name and he looked away.

Damn it!

"Oh Agent Hotchner," Luisa hurried over breathlessly, "I'll do that, you'll get your suit dirty!"

Emily barely restrained her eye roll as she shared a look with JJ.

GAG!

Nothing like a bit of mutual nausea to declare a truce to their little bit of good natured teasing. Because it had just become apparent to both of them that Luisa was a 'Fawner.' Emily now had another reason to hate her beyond the fact that she'd shown up dressed like she was going to the Viper Room.

Okay . . . she frowned . . . she was slightly dating herself with that club. But at least she hadn't said Studio 54. Really, what the hell was the cool place to be these days?

Off topic Emily, off topic. What was her point?

THE FAWNERS!

Right, she HATED The Fawners! Occasionally a woman (agent, admin, lab technician, title held no relevance in the world of the Fawners) walked into the BAU, caught sight of Hotch's (admittedly) gorgeous features and she undid a button on her blouse and started fluttering her lashes at him fast enough to create an actual air current.

This was especially true of the young girls who were trying to get ahead . . . or of course the slutty ones who were just trying to get laid.

Though Emily had noticed that for the most part Hotch seemed to be fairly oblivious on this topic. Or if he was aware of what was happening he hid it well. But for the most part Emily was pretty sure that the obliviousness wasn't an act. For all of his observational super powers, his laser sharp focus on the cases meant that he was pretty much an 'all work all the time, straight and narrow' kind of guy.

Hence Emily's difficulties in subtly working 'full on carnal knowledge' into one of their numerous off duty conversations.

In his standard crisply professional tone (one Emily now only received when they were in front of a room full of local LEOs), Hotch brushed off Luisa's concern, "we're done, but thank you anyway." And Emily couldn't help but wonder if Luisa would have been quite so gung ho about slopping up the coffee spill if she knew said spill was Emily's and not McHotchpants (yes Emily had actually heard an intern call him that cringeworthy name in the bathroom a few years ago).

Then she saw Luisa shoot her an appraising look that Hotch didn't see and Emily had her answer.

No, she most definitely would not have assisted with the cleanup if she'd known it was Emily's. Clearly she saw Emily as being the interloper. Though obviously SHE was the interloper trying to get her perfectly manicured red claws into Hotch!

Okay, it was official . . . Emily's jaw twisted . . . she hated her guts.

As Hotch reached over to take the dirty paper towels from Emily's hand, he also tipped his head in her direction, "Luisa Perkins these are Agents Prentiss and," he gave Dave an even look, "Rossi."

'Don't be an ass' was very clearly the psychic vibe Hotch was trying to send.

Seeing the look Hotch was shooting him, Dave smirked as he put his hand out to the hot redhead, "you can call me Dave." She gave him a wide smile as they exchanged the perfunctory professional handshake and then a second later . . . to Dave's amusement . . . Emily put her hand out and said crisply, "Prentiss." And Luisa simply gave a curt nod in response.

Dave's eyebrow rose in amusement . . . meow. Oh yeah . . . he almost rubbed his hands together . . . this was going to be a fun week. And . . . he looked across the bullpen . . . where the hell was Derek?!

He'd be loving this!

It took some effort for Emily to not squeeze the other woman's hand until she brought her to her knees. She'd found that in the past that generally scaring the crap out of people was a good way to drive them far, far away. And after simply knowing of this woman's EXISTENCE for five minutes, Emily knew that she wanted her as far away from Hotch as possible!

But unfortunately an unprovoked battery on an unarmed, untrained young girl probably wasn't the most mature . . . or legal . . . manner of dealing with her issues here.

One thing was for sure . . . her eyes ran over the little hussy distastefully . . . this one had to go.

Emily had seen her share of Luisas over her years at the Bureau and they all had the same shelf life. They stuck around until they got what they wanted or were able to hitch their hiked up skirts to another wagon. And there was no way that this one was going to cut it in the BAU of all places. So Emily would probably just have to tolerate her presence for a few weeks, a month at the most.

And if she wasn't gone by then . . . well, Emily would take more directed action.

Pushing her new thorn out of her mind for the moment, Emily's expression brightened considerably as she turned to Hotch.

"Hey," she jerked her head towards his office, "can I talk to you for one second?"

Now . . . while it was quiet . . . seemed to be the best time to ask him if Betty had left a note for her too. And if she hadn't then Emily really didn't want to ask him here in the kitchen and be humiliated in front of the entire bullpen.

"Of course," Hotch said as he put his arm out for Emily to step in front of him. But then Louisa cut in with a purr, "oh sir, you can't talk to Agent Prentin right now, you have that meeting with the Budget liaison and Section Chief Strauss in five minutes."

"Prentiss," Hotch corrected firmly before he looked over at Emily apologetically, "I forgot, Budget meeting this morning."

Realizing that his hands were sticky from the coffee, Hotch stepped over to wash them as he asked Emily over his shoulder, "can we catch up a little later?"

Emily's lip quirked up, "yeah, it'll keep. Nothing major."

Beyond just wanting to know if Betty left him a note for her, Emily also wanted to see how he was doing without Betty. Hotch wasn't inclined to be chatty with his feelings but she knew that her departure had to have bothered him.

But fortunately over the years Emily had discovered that usually he would talk to her if she broke out her pointy stick and poked him a bit. Sometimes he talked to Dave too but Rossi had more of a, 'swift kick in the ass' approach to getting people to spill their guts.

She preferred the soft feminine whiles cajoling thing.

"Okay," just before he turned away Hotch impulsively shot Emily half a dimple, "I'll track you down when I'm done."

Damn. He really shouldn't be bringing out the dimples during work hours. But he was pleased to have some quiet . . . non autopsy suite . . . time with Emily to look forward to. Even if he had decided that a life of quiet desperation without her was his foreseeable future, that didn't mean he didn't take any opportunity he could to have time alone with her.

That was one of the perks of being the boss and setting the partner assignments . . . he could pathetically pine for the woman he loved from up close rather than then the clich├ęd, "afar."

And really . . . he ran across the bullpen to go grab his spreadsheets for the meeting . . . she didn't seem to mind those partner assignments either so it was a win/win.

Emily watched Hotch go with a twinkle in her eye . . . she did so love those dimples. Then she turned back to see Dave looking at her and she scowled.

"Problem, Rossi?"

He was forever making little insinuations about her and Hotch. He'd been trying to pair them off for so long that he was the only middle aged Italian male who could safely be called a yenta. And though she knew that his comments weren't mean spirited . . . or even his usual off color teasing . . . she really didn't wish to listen to them any longer.

If there was any way out of her little non fraternization, supervisor/supervisee coffin she was stuck in she would have found it by now.

God knows that she'd looked. But the bottom-line was always going to be that Hotch was Hotch and Hotch didn't break the rules. And she wasn't going to ruin their wonderful friendship with any sort of awkward, pathetic discussion of her "feelings" for him.

So her crush was going to remain unrequited, undeclared and unfulfilled until one or both of them retired or dropped dead. She felt confident that hurling herself onto his open grave was unlikely to result in any disciplinary action.

Though him dropping dead was of course the least palatable out of those two options so she was really just looking forward to retirement.

Thank God the Bureau put them out to pasture early.

Seeing the look on Emily's face, Dave put his hands up as he smiled sweetly, "no problem at all. I was simply admiring your outfit today. Is it new?"

He was going to make a remark about her and the new girl, but clearly now was not the time. Actually . . . he saw her look down at her outfit . . . now was the time to make a speedy getaway.

Emily's gaze dropped to review her chosen wardrobe that morning.

Black suit, white tank top.

Yeah . . . she rolled her eyes . . . Project Runway was going to be calling her any minute.

What the hell was he talking about, 'is it new'? She'd worn it twice in the past two weeks. But when looked up to ask him if he'd been drinking that morning she saw that he'd already cleared half of the bullpen and was heading up to his office.

Her lips twitched . . . diversionary tactic to keep from getting yelled at.

Well played Mr. Rossi.

////////

As Hotch hurried up the stairs to his office he noticed that Luisa was scrambling along beside him.

He shot her a look as he ran in to grab his portfolio off the desk.

"Did you need something else?"

Unless it was an emergency he'd think she'd have better judgment than to stop him again now. After all . . . as she'd just pointed out . . . if he didn't have time to talk to Emily, then he certainly didn't have time to talk to her.

"Oh no sir," she stopped right in front of him, blocking his path, "I just wanted to make sure that you didn't need anything else."

His brow darkened slightly at her incursion into his space . . . there was barely a foot between them . . . and he was just about to brush past her with "a no thank you," when Luisa reached up and brushed off his shoulder.

"Lint," she smiled sweetly, "just wanted you to look your best sir."

He stared at her for a moment before he tipped his head, "I'll be back in an hour." And he stepped around her and walked out the door.

Okay . . . his jaw twitched slightly as he started down the steps . . . that was rather forward. Everyone knew that he didn't like to be touched.

Well . . . he suddenly flashed on a raven haired beauty with a killer right hook . . . that wasn't entirely true. He was perfectly okay with Emily touching him, but he knew that was a totally different 'calling Dr. Freud' conversation.

Though as he thought about it he realized that in theory he was okay with JJ or Garcia touching him as well, but they really weren't inclined to do so. Certainly not like Emily . . . was.

Huh. Why was she so physically demonstrative with him when she wasn't with the others? Could she . . .?

No Aaron . . . he cut off that line of inquiry with a shake of his head . . . best not to dwell on what that might or might not mean at the moment. It probably meant nothing. And if it meant something he'd just be torturing himself as he walked to a meeting that was going to provide plenty of torture on it's own.

He got back on point with his issue with Luisa's actions. He maintained his own personal space in the world and expected those outside of his immediate family (bloodline and team) to do the same.

And Luisa was not part of his family.

But . . . he rolled his eyes . . . he did acknowledge that his feelings in this regard were perhaps a bit more rigid than most people's. So a simple brushing of the lint off the shoulder might seem rather forward to him but probably was . . . objectively speaking . . . simply an attempt on Luisa's part to be solicitous and ingratiate herself to her new supervisor.

Regardless . . . he pushed his way back through the glass doors and into the hall . . . perhaps he could persuade Emily to say something to Luisa about his feelings on this particular topic.

Don't touch him unless there was a bullet flying at his head.

Really . . . he shook his head in exasperation as he stepped onto the elevator . . . how hard was it to remember his number one rule?


A/N 2: Luisa is not an improbable employee for the FBI. She's loosely based on a group of secretaries that I knew at a different law enforcement agency. I called them "The Heathers, 1, 2, and 3." They were these skanky twenty-one year old girls that were hired as a favor to somebody in charge. They came to work dressed like it was a Friday night and they flirted with every man that held the slightest bit of authority. They gossiped about other women like it was high school, slept AROUND like it was high school and of course all three of them were dumb as a bag of rocks. And as useless as well, rocks. Needless to say, I hated them. And the feeling was mutual. But unfortunately for THEM I was friends with the chief ;) They didn't know that. And one magical day, Heather #1 got sent away and it was like cutting the head off a demon. The other two fell in line and buttoned up. It turned out to be a great thing though because as soon as I saw the "assistant" prompt I flashed on those girls again and pictured Emily's reaction to them. Hence a story was born :)

There were no redheads amongst the Heathers though. Two brunettes and a blonde, I just use real people for inspiration. It would be creepy to write them verbatim.

Though we never get to talk to the other people in the BAU, I'm convinced one of them is Hotch's "real" Betty. Admins make the world go round and to keep the BAU running like a machine while he's out of town, Hotch would have to have somebody there to keep him up to speed on all the crap that it takes to make a government unit run efficiently. And I loved the idea of writing Jealous Emily in a world where she has NO claim at all to Hotch. And of course Hotch has no interest at all in this girl, right now he simply thinks that she's being over exuberant in her approach rather than all of the unkind things that Emily thinks she is. That's also why I've left Luisa's internal voice completely out of the story. I want her words and actions to be as interpretive to the reader as they are to the characters. It's also fun expanding the ridiculous internal thought bubbles that you get in this Finding universe over to JJ and Dave too. I do have plans to write a larger spin off story for them in Girl so I'm trying to brush up on different styles of their voices.

Like the Valentine's one, this will be a three shot. The second part's almost done so I guess it should be all posted within the next two weeks. Perhaps earlier but obviously I'm wrapping like four different stories right now. I'll just keep posting whatever gets done first.

If my headaches stay away, I'm expecting to get the Fracture up later tonight. I'm also setting up Kavi's and my new author challenge forum.