Author's Note: Hello, wonderful readers. I hope everyone in the good ole US of A remembered to adjust their clocks for daylight savings time. (I didn't). At any rate, we have just a few announcements for everyone today.
First, please remember to try and spare a few moments over the upcoming three weeks and VOTE for your favorite authors and stories in the "Profiler's Choice Awards" at "Chit Chat on Author's Corner" forum. You have through the end of November 30, 2010 to let your vote be heard and we want to hear from each one of you. If you don't know much about forums, links can be found through either my profile (ilovetvalot) or my awesome co-author (tonnie2001969). Remember, anyone that wants to help advertise the awards has our unending gratitude and there is also a short blurb you can use on our profile pages.
Second, we also have a new fortune cookie prompt for you at the forum compliments of our "Fortune Cookie Friday post (Sorry, we forgot to advertise it yesterday). And we also have great new interviews with several of our nominees. Today, we are "getting to know" the following: b-mystique, Nagen66, Monkeywand, and Hidge. More interviews are coming soon!
Many thanks to everyone still reading these stories. We really appreciate you. Now, on with the show!
18th in our Shakespeare series. This is a post-ep for "Middle Man".
Bag and Baggage
TV Prompt: To Have & To Hold - "Turkey Day Blues"
He felt like a voyeur...watching her like this.
It had been an accident, really. When he'd walked to his office door, he'd honestly been searching for Morgan. Seeing Emily's crestfallen face as she'd hung up the phone on her desk had been a complete fluke. And his inability to tear his gaze away from her...well, that was an anomaly. Granted, it was a anomaly he found himself facing more and more frequently these days, but an anomaly, nonetheless.
Something in her fallen expression tugged at him. He'd thought what little he had left of his heart had been reserved for Jack and Jack alone. But, despite those thoughts, he found himself wanting to comfort her...to see her smile.
And that bothered him.
Personal feelings for a subordinate? Very un-Hotchner-like behavior...and he knew it.
Nonetheless, he found himself walking down the metal staircase toward her desk before he could talk himself out of the notion. After all, they were friends. And he'd check on Reid or Rossi...even Morgan...if he saw them sitting in a similar condition, wouldn't he?
"Prentiss?" he said softly, not wanting to alarm her in the empty bullpen. "What are you still doing here?"
Lifting her cell phone, as if the simple motion could explain everything, Emily smiled tightly. "My mother. She called as I was gathering my things for the night," she said, nodding toward the go bag sitting on top of her desk.
"Everything okay?" Hotch asked carefully, well aware of the longstanding tension between Emily and her hard-as-nails mother. He'd have been willing to bet that the older woman had perfected the art of imitating ice in the cradle.
Smiling ruefully, Emily stared back at him with sad eyes. "You'd think at my age I would have gotten beyond the point where anything my mother says or does could disappoint me, wouldn't you?"
"I don't think parents ever lose the ability to disappoint their children," Hotch replied softly, leaning against her desk and crossing one long leg over the other. "Want to talk about it?" he asked softly.
Snorting, Emily averted her gaze, her delicate face tight with unspoken hurt. "There's not really much to say. My mother canceled our holiday plans. It seems she's been invited to the US Embassy in China for their holiday celebration." Shaking her head at that foreign notion, Emily smiled bitterly, "It isn't really a shock. Both of us know that my mother never misses an opportunity to further her career. You should remember that from your days on her staff," Emily reminded him with a pointed look.
"She was a very driven woman," Hotch replied neutrally, his eyes still trained on the only Prentiss he cared about.
"Is that your very proper way of saying she was a ball-busting bitch?" Emily smirked, cocking her head as she stared into Hotch's dark eyes.
"That's how some of her employees put it more than once," Hotch recalled with a faint smile.
"That's how her daughter remembers it, too," Emily chuckled, her shoulder relaxing slightly as she let out a deep breath.
"You know," Hotch said blandly, assessing Emily with knowing eyes. "There are similarities between the two of you," he pointed out, silently remembering her own driving need to be successful on several of the cases on which they'd partnered. "You're both very determined and accomplished women in the work place."
"Is that your own unique way of telling me that I'm also a ball-busting bitch on occasion?" Emily asked with a raised brow, meeting his dark gaze without flinching.
"Never a bitch, Prentiss. Just extreme bitch potential when needed," Hotch said, neatly sidestepping what had the potential to be a very explosive conversation.
"Nicely done," Emily said, inclining her head slightly. Sighing, she shook her head. "She invited me to come over there...but I don't think I could take another year of watching Mother explain the concept of Thanksgiving to a bunch of foreign dignitaries that couldn't care less about it."
"Did a lot of that while you were growing up, huh?" Hotch questioned softly, curious about her childhood.
"You have noooo idea," Emily drawled, lifting her eyes to the ceiling as she leaned back in her chair. "Which story should I tell you?" she wondered aloud, her fingers tapping against the solid edge of her desk. "There was the time in India when I watched her defend herself and her penchant for sacrificing small animals in the name of a holiday feast to the local Hindu population. That was fun. And then there was the post in Pakistan when I watched her spend three hours trying to defend the United States' right to celebrate a holiday that basically ended with a whole race of people being persecuted by having their land stolen. Now, THAT was a delight," Emily giggled, her mother's expressive face during that particular festivity forever burned in her mind. Shaking her head, she sighed, "It was a hoot," she snickered with a look at Hotch. "And yet, I'm still ticked that she won't be here for Thanksgiving. Stupid, huh?"
"No more stupid than me trying to find a way to create the perfect Thanksgiving for Jack so that maybe he won't permanently associate the Pilgrims and Indians with his mother's death," Hotch offered, his voice quiet in the empty office.
"Oh, Hotch," Emily grimaced, disgusted that she'd momentarily forgotten how hard this particular holiday must be for the man she'd quietly loved for years and his precious son. "I'm so sorry."
Waving a dismissive hand in the air, he shook his head. "Please don't look at me like that. I'm fine, Emily. I'm just worried about my son. This morning he was vowing to never eat a turkey again," Hotch murmured, staring into space, his son's solemn but angry words filling his mind.
"Do you two have any plans?" Emily asked softly, more than willing to offer her limited culinary skills to the solid man before her and his small little boy.
"Actually, yes," Hotch nodded, meeting her gaze once again. "And you will, too, when word of your change in plans gets out," he said slowly.
"What?" Emily frowned, confusion filling her eyes and voice.
"Two words," Hotch offered with a knowing look at Emily. "Penelope Garcia."
Eyes widening in sudden understanding, Emily's lips twitched. "So, our friend is starting her holiday propaganda early this year then?"
"In a word," Hotch replied, cocking his head at her. "Yes. Since we're on call Thanksgiving week, Reid's not going to see his mother in Vegas. Morgan's plans fell through when his mother decided to visit his sister in Wyoming. Jack and I are on our own since Jessica will be visiting with her husband's family in New York."
"And Rossi?" Emily asked, propping her chin on her fist as she stared interestedly up into Hotch's face.
"Oh, our senior profiler has had his cabin volunteered by Penelope and will be playing the role of reluctant co-host to this year's Thanksgiving festivities. And, if I know Dave, he's already threatened to take JJ hostage if she doesn't play along."
"So the whole crew really will be together then," Emily smiled, her heart lightening at the prospect. Her conversation with JJ a couple of weeks ago had finally put her fears to rest about the other woman, and she honestly could use a little girl talk. Perhaps her holidays were beginning to look a bit more cheerful after all.
"It will if you decide to join us," Hotch said, unable to understand why her attendance suddenly meant so much to him. But it did. And he wasn't about to question the reasoning behind it.
"Well," Emily smiled easily, her heart fluttering for a second, "how can I say no to an offer like that?"
"You can't," Hotch said simply, gratified to see that her grin had actually reached her eyes this time. "You could ride out there with Jack and I if you like," he offered impulsively.
Blinking once as she processed his seemingly innocent invitation, Emily nodded. "Aaron Hotchner, you have yourself a date."
One she planned to make the most of...