"You'd better stop scowling, Dave. Or Garcia might decide you need cheering up."

His scowl only deepened, and Emily frowned, reaching out to touch his arm. "Dave? What's wrong?"

He didn't look at her. "That guy who dropped you off. You're seeing him?"

She shrugged. "I guess."

She watched as his jaw tensed. He was obviously trying to bit his tongue, and that didn't sit well with her. If nothing else, they were always honest with each other, even if it pissed one of them off. They were good friends – they didn't dance around things.

"Just spit it out, Rossi," she sighed. "I don't want you giving yourself a coronary."

This time his eyes slid over to her. "That's not playing nice, Prentiss."

"Neither is you holding out on me," she replied pointedly.

He stared at her for a moment before taking a deep breath. "Fine," he said, his expression resolved. "I thought you were too smart of a woman to hook up with someone who doesn't treat you well."

Completely taken aback, Emily didn't know what to say. It was obvious that Dave was serious, but he had never taken an interest in her dating life before. It made a thousand different ideas race through her mind, and she shook her head, trying to make them go away.

"I don't know what you're talking about," she forced out.

"Come on, Emily. I know you. I know you like to have the door opened for you. I know you hate to feel like a possession. I know that you consider yourself a geek, and that you want somebody to humor you even if they don't understand. I know that you're passionate and love to butt heads, as long as you know you're still going to be friends afterward." He exhaled loudly, looking suddenly more tired. "You deserve all of the things you want – and that guy was none of those things."

She wondered when exactly Dave had acquired the ability to render her completely speechless. Part of her tried to rationalize that he was a profiler – of course he noticed. But he hadn't just noticed. He had saved it, cataloged it, thought about it. He had taken the time to think about her.


He shook his head, breaking eye contact with her. "You deserve better, Emily. You deserve to out with a guy who remembers how to treat a woman with respect."

She could tell that he was uncomfortable – he had shared more than he meant to, and he was starting to feel trapped. Smirking at him, she tried to lighten the mood.

"You saying you could do better, Rossi?"

Dave snorted. "Damn right I could." When Emily just raised her eyebrows at him, he scowled. "Fine. You and me. Dinner tonight. I'll show you how a date is supposed to go."

Emily let out a startled laugh. "You're serious?"

"I am. But don't be surprised if I ruin you for any other man, Prentiss."

Her eyes narrowed. "Bring it."


Emily had to keep reminding herself it wasn't a real date.

She couldn't remember having been treated like this. He dressed up, showing up at her door five minutes early. He complimented her with sincerity in his eyes instead of barely contained lust. He opened doors and let her choose the wine and laughed and joked and listened as the night sped by them.

By the time he was driving her home, her blood was pounding and her head spinning.

As they pulled up in front of her building, she let out a breath she hadn't realized she'd been holding. Her laugh was quiet and shaky.

"I'm glad we didn't bet anything. As much as it pains me to admit, you were right. That was the best date I've had in ages."

He gave her a soft smile. "It wasn't all me. You were excellent company, Emily."

"Thank you." She nodded at the door. "Wanna come up and have some tea before you head home?"

"A gentleman never comes in on the first date."

She rolled her eyes in an effort to quell the butterflies. "Even a fake first date?"

Something flashed in his eyes, but it was gone before she could analyze it. "Exactly," he said. His expression softened. "Goodnight, Emily."

He was leaning in, and she was expecting the kiss on her cheek. What she wasn't ready for was how close his mouth was to hers, his hot breath ghosting across her skin.

Which meant she couldn't stop herself from turning into it. Dave sighed as their lips touched, one hand coming up to touch her cheek.

"Have dinner with me tomorrow," he whispered.

The world was spinning madly, and she needed it to stop, just for a minute, just so she could gather her thoughts. But she could smell his cologne and feel the heat from his body, and she needed to put some distance between them if she was going to make heads or tails of this. Sitting back slowly, she took a deep breath.

"Dave," she said slowly, latching on to the first thought she could. "We can't."

He blinked, and the soft expression was gone, replaced by a stoicism she was used to seeing at work. "Right."

Emily gave him a sad smile, trying not to wince at the painful knot in her stomach. "I had a really great time."

He nodded. "Goodnight, Em."

"Night, Dave."

She got out of the car, walking into her building on shaky legs.