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****This story is written for Michaela123 for the CM Christmas Gift Fic Exchange on Chit Chat on Author's Corner! Merry Christmas, My Friend!****
An Unforgettable Present
The only thing that wasn't perfect about him was that her family would approve.
The Ambassador had made that pertinent fact entirely too clear on each of the rare occasions she'd graced the Federal Building with her presence. Sighing, Emily Prentiss tiredly recalled that last conversation.
"Now, Emily," Elizabeth Prentiss had said on her last visit just months earlier, "THAT is exactly the kind of man that would complement our family," she'd said with a regal nod toward Aaron Hotchner. "His reputation and character are flawless."
"He's my boss, Mother," Emily had grumbled under her breath.
As always, her mother's keen ears had heard that fine note of regret threading its way into her voice. "And if he wasn't?" she'd asked with a raised brow, her eyes boring into her daughter's with a knowing look.
"He IS," Emily had stated firmly. Hardening her voice and meeting her mother's eyes, she'd added, "And I have no intention of watching Aaron Hotchner leave his position, understand?"
"Rules can be manipulated, Emily," her mother had mused aloud, ever the politician, years of experience coloring her every choice.
"Perhaps," Emily had assented, well aware of her mother's penchant for re-writing the past, present, and future. "But Aaron Hotchner won't be. And neither will I."
That discussion, if you could call it that, had taken place six months ago, when the sun was shining through the windows and all thoughts were light as the summer sky. And Emily, foolish as it was, thought that would be the end of it.
She should have known better; her mother never gave up. More importantly, however, Emily thought as she heard Hotch bellow her last name from the depths of his office, somebody should have informed Aaron Hotchner of that fact.
And with one last grimace, Emily Prentiss went to face her fate.
"Do you hear what I hear?" David Rossi asked JJ as she paused in the act of dropping a file off on Spencer Reid's empty desk to look up the metal staircase leading to Hotch's office with startled eyes.
"You mean the sound of an irate Aaron Hotchner?" she asked, her alarmed blue eyes meeting the darkly amused eyes of one David Rossi. His green and red tie, a gift from her own son that the little boy had just had to have, seemed a whimsical contrast to his black shirt. But Dave had insisted on wearing the monstrosity, just because Henry had liked it. And JJ had to admit that anything that brought the man into the Christmas spirit was a definite improvement.
"No, not that," Dave shook his head, grinning as he watched Prentiss trudge up the steps, her shoulders sagging. "The sound of the gears of fate shifting into place."
"Do you see what I see?" JJ whispered, almost violently, her eyes never leaving the scene unfolding above as Hotch's thunderous face filled his office door as he waited for Emily to approach. Even Garcia's garland, which had managed to grow around the door frames, across the metal railings, and around the window frames, couldn't brighten up the rapidly darkening moment. "What do you think is going on?"
Shrugging, Dave winced as Hotch stepped back, gesturing Emily angrily inside the office and slamming the door behind her. "Not sure, but Aaron's finally showing some emotion. That's got to be..."
"...a sign of the apocalypse?" JJ supplied, turning to look at her colleague with widened eyes.
"Maybe," Dave nodded, his lips twitching at JJ's helpful suggestion, "Or, maybe we could be witnessing the great thaw of the Supreme Snowman up there," he said, lifting his chin toward the corner office.
"You think Emily took a blowtorch to him or something?" JJ frowned, Hotch's muffled agitated voice filtering down the stairs, the words undistinguishable, but the tone clear. Boss Man was pissed.
Shaking his head, Dave grunted noncommittally. "There's only one thing I know for sure here, Jen."
"Yeah?" JJ queried, raising a curious brow at him as she perched on the edge of the desk, pushing the small decorated Christmas tree to the side, the small ornaments tinkling slightly at the movement.
"I wish I had some popcorn," Dave sighed, crossing one leg over the other as he leaned back against Reid's desk to watch the show unfolding above through the slats in Hotch's blinds.
"What's the meaning of this, Prentiss?" Hotch barked as he slammed the office door heavily behind his employee and shook a single sheet of paper at her as she passed him.
"Meaning of what?" Emily asked innocently, her eyebrows drawing together in confusion as she turned to face the irate man in front of her. Rarely had she seen Hotch look so...well, furious. His emotions were usually tightly concealed, guarded like a bulldog with a bone. But this afternoon, he was livid, his swarthy face flushed with emotion...and not in that good way that she still dreamed about.
"Don't play dumb," Hotch sneered, waving the form in the air again, the white page whipping tightly. "It doesn't suit a woman like you."
"I have no idea what you're talking about, Hotch," Emily retorted as she shook her head, taking a hasty step back as he advanced toward her, his eyes glinting with barely contained ire. "What did I do?"
"You could have told me if you weren't satisfied, Prentiss," Hotch seethed, his jaw clenching as his fingers clutched the paper in his hand, wrinkling it. "You really didn't need to send this in the form of a gift wrapped Christmas present to make your damned point," he said, sweeping his hand toward the unwrapped box on his desk.
"I didn't send you anything, Hotch," Emily retorted, frowning at the Christmas paper thrown on the floor, the gold and silver wrapping seeming so incongruous in light of his anger.
"Really?" Hotch snorted, clearly not believing her, no matter how firm her assertions. "I find that difficult to believe since your gift was signed," he replied as he glared at her. "Really, Prentiss, I thought if you had a problem that you'd come to me. Not take drastic measures like this!" he growled, moving behind his desk and shoving the slim box aside with a violent hand.
"Stop accusing me and tell me what you think I did," Emily demanded, watching as the box fell in the floor, landing heavily on the already crumpled Christmas paper.
Eyes narrowing, Aaron Hotchner watched Emily Prentiss' face intently. She certainly appeared clueless. "You really don't know anything about this?" he asked, tapping his finger against the white sheet on his desk, now wrinkled by his angry fingers.
"How should I know, Hotch?" Emily snapped impatiently, her tone hardening with each passing word. "I don't know what that is." Christ, Hotch wasn't usually so dense, she thought to herself. But fury was obviously clouding his thought processes, and she couldn't do anything about that until she knew what she was facing. Which, by the looks of things, was not something she truly wanted to know.
Sliding the paper across his polished desk, Hotch snarled, "Look for yourself then."
Wrapping her fingers around whatever the offending document was, she jerked it toward her. "Thank you, I think I will," she spat back, wearying of his obnoxious attitude.
Hotch stared fiercely across the desk as Emily audibly gasped, the color draining from her cheeks as she scanned the page in her now shaking hand. "Well, Prentiss," he bit out, each word low and precise, "what do you have to say for yourself now?"