Written in response to the September "Pick Your Own Pairing" Challenge, in which I was to write of Hotchner substituting decaf for Garcia's regular coffee.
Note: Don't expect perfect grammar. Neither of these individuals has made much formal study of a foreign language.
Warning: I have tried to cross-check these on Yahoo's Babel Fish and the results are for the most part pure crap, so I've provided loose translations where necessary – if footnotes translate to upload format (which they have, more or less).
Mother Tongue, Other Tongue
The miracle of it was that Penelope was still there at almost 8:00 PM on a Saturday night, doing her little techie magic, when Aaron Hotchner realized he needed a major data search. That meant that he didn't have to depend on any of the other FBI tech specialists. All of them were magnificent, but Garcia was a sorceress.
He strolled over toward her techie cave, crossing his fingers and hoping that he would not find her shutting down systems and shrugging into her coat.
His luck had held. Garcia's social life at the moment was apparently as bleak as his. She was still plugging away, humming to herself.
"Garcia? You're still here?"
She raised her head and swiveled in her chair. "Mon capitaine! Mais oui, je suis toujours ici. Je suis un esclave à l'ordinateur, mon ami. Pour quoi?"1
Pour quoi. Cool. He knew that one. No idea what the rest of it meant. He smiled weakly. "Because I need a search done, and I need the sharpest brain and the fastest fingers in the agency."
"And the most devastating fashion goddess."
"Er, yes. That too. Can I bring you the-"
"Parameters? Mais oui, mon capitaine. Especially if you also bring me an offering of coffee." She shoved a large, colorful mug at him.
(Like she needs more stimulation. It's always a bad sign when she starts babbling in French.)
"That can be done," Hotch said. He returned to his office and collected the notes she would need, then stopped by the break room.
If it is true that everyone has two spirits, a little angel and a little devil, sitting on his shoulders and whispering in his ear, then there is no doubt which one Aaron Hotchner was more willing to listen to that evening.
There were two large pots of coffee. And one had a strip of masking tape and the word DECAF scrawled in Magic Marker.
Oh, do it, do it, the little demon breathed. She's had more than enough caffeine.
Even a paragon of upright behavior slips from time to time, and this was Aaron Hotchner's moment.
Whistling a happy little tune to himself, he filled Garcia's mug with decaf. He wasn't much of a coffee drinker himself. He could make one cup last all morning or all afternoon, and while he couldn't recall whether he had ever had decaf, he figured they must taste pretty much the same. It wasn't something he paid a lot of attention to.
Two minutes later, he delivered his notes and the coffee to the Oracle, the All-Knowing. To the goddess whose fiery new red tresses fit her volatile personality so perfectly.
"Merci beaucoup, mon petit chou," she bubbled at him even as she slammed the first lines of code into her search programs, then raised an eyebrow. "Why on earth are you whistling 'Waking Up in Vegas'?"
"Oh, is that what that was?"
She made a weird little dismissive noise.
Hotchner escaped back to his office, delighted with the success of his covert mission. He popped a Tic Tac into his mouth and opened a new file. Then, frowning, he went online and entered a few words into a translation engine.
(Must have spelled it wrong. Why would she call me her little cabbage?)
Before long, Penelope Garcia appeared at his door. She coughed delicately and said, "Agent Hotchner."
"Analyst Garcia," he replied dryly.
She raised her mug, a dangerous look on her face. "Où est ma caféine?"
He raised his eyebrows back at her. "Is there a problem?"
"Certainement, crapaud déloyal,"2 she growled in a tone reminiscent of Regan in The Exorcist.
(OK, the first part is "Certainly." And something about crap?)
She stalked into his office. "Real coffee," she said. "At once. Allons, mon capitaine. Vite! Vite!"
He vaguely knew "Allons" from a failed stab at learning La Marseillaise for fifth grade music class.
To play it safe, he merely echoed, "Allons?" and tried to look innocent. He wasn't as good at it as he had once been.
Storm clouds settled in behind her cat glasses. With an elaborate little gesture, speaking slowly and deliberately, she said, "Déplacez-vous maintenant, rapidement!"3
His rose to his feet like the gentleman he was and approached her, trying to look both supportive and intelligent. The only French phrase that immediately occurred to him was from "Lady Marmalade," and he knew for a fact that it would improve nothing,
"Rapidement," she repeated with a smile of encouragement. "Là où il n'y a aucune caféine, il n'y a aucun progrès."4
(OK, OK, something about caffeine ... and progress? Programs? Wonder if it's too late to learn how to do the damn search myself.)
"Um, I, uh, took German?" he hazarded, seeing nothing in his immediate future but an endless stretch of retreat.
"Aw," she crooned, "Es tut mir Leid."
(Oh, holy crap, no. Figures she would speak German, too. Es tut mir Leid. Es tut mir Leid. Literally, "it gives me pain," or maybe "it makes me hurt," Christ, why can't I remember this stuff? It means "I'm so sorry." Or "It makes me sorry." I think.)
She batted her eyes. "Oder verwirrt Sarkasmus Sie?"5
His heart sank. He thought the word sarcasm was probably in there. Or maybe it wasn't.
(This is no fucking improvement whatsoever. I only took four semesters, and I haven't used a word of it in twenty-some years. Except Gesundheit. Which probably doesn't count, since half the population of the United States seems to think it means "God bless you.")
Garcia had definitely come to play. "Das bildet mich traurig, Kapitän - aber ich benötige noch das verdammte Koffein."6
(Traurig, "sad." That's where we get our word "dreary," and why in the hell do I remember that? Then verdammte, that's easy. "damned." Then, aber ich is "But I-" and then, um, rats. Benötige, isn't that "require" or something? Or – or "observe"? No, that's, um, beobachten, I think. I hope.)
"Hotchner," she said sternly, thumping his chest with each word. "Wo. Ist. Mein. Kaffee?"
By then he was so rattled that even this straightforward, painfully basic question baffled him.
(OK, the best defense is a good offense.)
He knew three phrases in Russian, none of which technically applied, but one word might help. He could visualize it. Несчастливо. "Unfortunately." Now if he could just remember how to pronounce it. "Um, nes-chast-li-vo," he stammered, hoping that there wasn't some arcane secret about where the accent lay, hoping this wasn't one of those words that if you shifted the accent, it meant something else, something, dreadful. Like "dead weasel" or "diseased whore."
That got her attention.
"Neschastlivo," he repeated, his confidence staggering to its metaphoric feet.
Which prompted a whole freaking flood of what was probably Russian but could have been Sanskrit for all he knew.
(Oh, God, oh, God, I am way out of my depth here. Back to German, where I at least have a fighting chance.)
His brain raced, stumbled, raced again. OK, a line from some play or other. Maybe a poem, but it's something about wanting to apologize: "Auf meinen Händen und Knien entschuldige mich ich, gnädiges Fräulein."7 That probably wasn't exact, but it should be in the ballpark.
Her expression seemed to soften.
(OK, we're smoking now.)
He blurted the next line, which was all he remembered. "Ich würde mein ganzes Leben geben, um einen Kuss des Verzeihens zu empfangen."8
(No, wait, Kuss is kiss, shit, have I- )
"You are a very sick man, Agent Hotchner," she said. She thrust her mug into his nerveless hand, not seeming to care that a little splashed on his shirt. "Coffee. Leaded coffee, or there will be no data search."
(Got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em. Too bad I have no fucking clue how to say that in German.)
He nodded his surrender. "All right. Coffee. Leaded. But, Garcia?"
"Oui, mon brave?"
"Where did you pick up the languages?"
She raised an eyebrow. "Did you just assume that all the best hackers speak English?"
Well, yeah, actually he sort of had.
"Of course not," he assured her. "Let me get that coffee for you now."
"And a bear claw," she said.
"We don't have any bear claws."
"Human Resources has some in their fridge, and they're just three floors away, mon capitaine."
Some things are just not worth arguing about.
1Approximately, "I am still here. I am a slave to the computer, my friend. Why?"
2Approximately, "Certainly, treacherous toad."
3Approximately, "Move now. quickly.'
4Approximately, "Without caffeine, there is no progress."
5Approximately, "Or does sarcasm confuse you?"
6Approximately, "That makes me sad, Captain, but I need the damned caffeine."
7Approximately, "On my hands and knees I apologize to you, dear miss."
8Approximately, "I would give my whole life for a kiss of forgiveness."