TITLE: I Know the Score
ICON ARTIST: satinlie
AUTHOR: Kuria Dalmatia
Characters/Pairings: Hotch/Haley, Rossi/Wife #2
SPOILERS: None
RATING: R (Profanity, sexual situations)
TIMELINE: Pre-series.

No beta. All mistakes are mine. Standard disclaimers.

Jesus, they were drunk. Not tipsy. Not buzzed. No. They were honest-to-God, goddamn drunk. So drunk, in fact, that Aaron 'Even My Pajamas Are Starched' Hotchner had taken off his tie, unbuttoned his top two buttons of his light blue dress shirt, and rolled up his sleeves. So drunk, that Hotch had knotted the neckwear again before sliding it over Haley's head so it settled loosely against her neck. She, of course, had stared at him in shocked disbelief.

Hotch then declared, quite loudly, "Haley Brooks Hotchner? You are the sexiest woman ever. You know that, right? Sexiest. Woman. Ever." He grinned and then nodded towards the woman sitting next to her. "Sorry, Car, but she's got you beat."

"Aaron!" Haley hissed as she flushed a pretty shade of crimson.

"Oh, honey," Carolena replied with a sharp smile as she patted Haley's hand, "it's not like he can do a damn thing about it." She then looked expectantly at her husband, waiting for the obligatory, My wife is hotter than yours bravado that was expected in social situations like this.

But as David Rossi opened his mouth to reply, the words stuck in his throat. His second wife wore her bleached blonde hair in sharp curls around her salon-achieved tanned face, coal black eyeliner that she swore brought out her green eyes, and ruby red lipstick that she reapplied liberally after almost every drink. How she played tennis with those brightly painted talons was a mystery to him.

Haley was softer, more demure. Not plain by any stretch of the imagination. Minimal makeup. Naturally blonde hair. Sitting next to Carolena, she was sexier. It almost made Dave laugh. Haley was the Politician's Wife. Carolena, the Mobster's Wife. Instead, he quirked a smile, leaned forward, and said with flourish, "Tu sei il sole del mio giorno."

Carolena narrowed her eyes, her lips slightly pursed. Despite her very Italian name, she didn't speak a word of the language. Sometime during the six years they had been married, she had developed a hatred of him speaking Italian, clearly paranoid that he was saying something offensive instead of complimentary.

Haley gasped a little and then dabbed her eyes. "Oh, David, that is so sweet."

He smiled.

Carolena suddenly preened, although he knew she had no clue what had been said. "I didn't know you spoke Italian," she cooed.

Haley nodded shyly, blushing. "I love opera."

"Oh my goodness!" Carolena exclaimed and then raised a hand to her mouth. "David! Those tickets we can't use!" Dave cocked his head to the side, confused. Before he could ask, she turned to Haley and continued, "He has season tickets to the opera, but we're not going to be able to make the one that's coming up... it's by that Po-CHI-nah person."

"Puccini," Dave corrected automatically and tried his best not to scowl. That particular production was the only reason he had re-upped. He knew that Carolena wasn't a fan of opera, but she certainly loved dressing to the nines to go to it and the bonus of a very fancy dinner beforehand. But what she was doing...

"The rival of Gianni Schicchi?" Haley asked, her eyes bright with hopeful interest. She looked from Carolena to Dave, biting her lower lip slightly. She turned to Hotch, who was blinking rapidly as if trying to sober up. "It's based on one of the stories from Dante's 'The Divine Comedy'. It's been sold out for months."

Carolena waved her hand dismissively, "Oh, the names all run together for me."

Haley shook her head. "We couldn't possibly—"

"I insist," Dave's wife stated, complete with thumping her fist on the table. "There! That's settled. Give me your address so I can mail them to you. We can't trust these boys, you know! They'll leave the tickets in Pittsburgh!"

Both women laughed.

Dave twitched.

"C'mon, tiger," Dave finally said, looping an arm around Hotch's shoulders and tugging him a bit more upright. "You and me. The cigar bar and brandy." Because damn it, Carolena had given away his damn tickets and there was no way in hell Haley was going to protest him dragging Hotch off for a stogie after that little stunt.

"Don't get lost," Carolena called after them once they had managed to get to their feet.

Hotch leaned heavily on Dave and then motioned toward Haley. "Camera. Photo. Me 'n Dave."

Haley giggled and dutifully pulled out the small camera. The photo was snapped, Hotch continued to smile like a drunk idiot, and Dave dragged them both to the second floor.

"Two Cohibas," he told the waitress as he pressed a twenty in her hand. He wasn't up to messing with the humidor, not with a plastered and very happy Hotch. "Bring along two Knob Creek's and some water as well."

The waitress, with her pale skin, jet black, straight hair, and curves that he couldn't help but admire, smiled at him. "Coming right up."

"You're gonna make me sick, aren't you?" Hotch asked, still grinning but there was a sharpness to his gaze. He waved a finger, "You know, that's transference."

"No profiling," Dave groused.

"You can have them back," the other man said, honestly and concern bleeding through his slurred words.

"No," he snapped and then rubbed a hand over his face. "They're a gift. Period." He paused. "I didn't know Haley enjoyed the opera. Hell, I didn't know you liked it."

Hotch waggled his eyebrows, which clearly translated to, If I listen to Opera, I get laid.

Bastard.

The most David had ever gotten was a passed out wife in the back of the taxi.

Their drinks and cigars arrived promptly. Dave forced himself to smile. "Give us about thirty minutes." He offered up another five spot and she accepted it. "Then call two taxis."

What he wasn't expecting was the business card pressed into his hand as she took his money.

For the first time in months, he grew hard. He had to shift slightly because of the pressure against his zipper. She sashayed off.

Dave glanced over. Hotch was watching curiously. Dave frowned. "I'm not," he answered the unspoken question flatly and then lit the card on fire. They both watched it burn in the ashtray. "No matter what they say—"

"I know that, Dave," Hotch interrupted. Even drunk, the man was coordinated enough to prep his cigar without slicing a finger off. He paused, took a sip of his drink, and then lit up the stogie. Dave followed suit. Two puffs later, Hotch said casually, "But maybe you should."

Dave stared.

Hotch shrugged.

"You know, I'm gonna remind you of this conversation on Monday," Dave told him. "And I'm going to love every second of you turning beet red and squirming in your chair because of what you just suggested."

Hotch offered a lopsided smile. "What's good for the gander is good for the goose."

And if it had been anyone else, Dave would have leaped across the table and slugged the shit out of him for suggesting his wife was sleeping around. Instead, cold washed through him, sobering him up hard and fast. Dave had seen all the signs but convinced himself that he'd been working too much, too hard, and reading his work into everything that he did nowadays, especially his home life.

Carolena? Cheating on him?

He downed the bourbon in one mouthful and signaled for another one.

"Dave..." Hotch began, his voice full of apologies and embarrassment, but shut up when the other man held up a hand.

"I know the score, Hotch," he said quietly. "I know the score."

/Finis/