Author's Note: I said maybe there'd be one more. Here it is. The very LAST in the Pod People series. If you don't know the Pod People, they're just a little series of light hearted one shots following Hotch and a sick Emily's efforts to get back from a consult in Pennsylvania. The order them is "Invasion of the Pod People," "Return . . ." "Night . . ." and now "Escape." They were never intended to be a series, they just kept going on and on. And you'll see at the end why this is definitely the last one.

Thanks to kimtom4eva for the suggested title for the last installment. It works perfectly :)

Opening with them in the car the morning after we left them in bed.

TV Prompt Set #28 (March 2011)

Show: How I Met Your Mother

Title: Wait For It . . .

Escape Of The Pod People







With a grunt Hotch shoved his sunglasses back up his nose as he tried to ignore the sulky look Emily was shooting him across the front seat.

Why couldn't the woman ever just take the one simple unequivocal "no" for an answer? Why did she always have to make him yell? And he didn't want to yell!

Certainly not at her.

Even though their morning had thus far been vomit free . . . knock wood . . . Hotch knew that after a full twenty-four hours of being sick, Emily clearly wasn't feeling a hundred percent yet. So he was going out of his way to try to be extra nice to her. But somehow . . . slow inhale . . . some way, she always managed to find just the right button to push to drive him completely nuts.

She was the only one that could do it.

But of course . . . and slowly exhale . . . Emily was also the only one that would ever even think to a) ask him such a question, and b) KEEP asking him such a question after he'd already responded in the very clear negative.

And the clear negative was not negotiable.

He wasn't doing it. Period. End of discussion. Hotch was resolute in this decision that this thing was not happening. But then somehow thirty seconds later he found himself sneaking another glance across the front seat.

Still sulking.

Damn it.

"Fine," he groaned in defeat, "five minutes but that's it," he shot her a look over the top of his glasses, "no more than that Prentiss."

A brilliant grin blossomed across Emily's face as she turned to look at Hotch.

"You are the best boss EVER sir," she purred with a happy grin.

He really, really was! Because she'd had little expectation of getting him to say yes to her request. Honestly she'd only continued to pester him about it because there was literally NOTHING else to do. They were in farmland so the radio was picking up mostly static, and they'd run out of cases to review before she'd even gotten sick. So she'd actually been genuinely disappointed in him at saying no to this request which . . . though not unreasonable to ask of the average human . . . was completely unreasonable to ask of Hotch. Still though, she'd been feeling quite dejected when he'd done exactly as she'd expected him to do.

But of course . . . she reached over to pat his arm in gratitude . . . she should have known that he'd come through in the end.

"Yeah, yeah," Hotch grunted drily as Emily's hand fell away from his shirt, "just don't tell anyone I did it."

"Mum's the word," Emily promised right before miming a zipping of her lips and a tossing of the key. As expected those actions resulted in an exasperated sigh from the man at her left.

She did so love those sighs.

Okay," Hotch sighed again as he started eying the scenery around them, "how's it work again?"

He hadn't played this game in well, he wasn't sure if he'd ever played this particular game. His family had taken a number of car trips when he was a young boy, but he was still an only child then. And God knows his parents were not particularly frivolous.

They wouldn't have been caught dead counting cows.

"You count the cows on your side of the car," Emily started scanning the view out her window, "and I count the ones from my side of the car. The person that spots the most cows wins."

Yes, it was a rather ridiculously simplistic game, but really, in the backwoods of Lancaster county . . . aka the heart of Amish country . . . there wasn't much else to look at around here. There weren't even enough other cars on the road to try a license plate game.

This was it for entertainment.

"All right," Hotch tried to put aside his exasperation as his gaze flickered between the roadway and the rolling pastures.

"Seven," his brow wrinkled, "no wait, fifteen."

"Four," Emily called out dejectedly.





"Fifty-four!" Hotch yelled out with some satisfaction. Okay yes, it was a stupid game, but as long as he had to play it . . . God damn if he wasn't going to win!

And he had JUST hit the motherload!

"Fifty-four," Emily sputtered in disbelief as her head whipped around. "How the hell did . . ."

And then she saw it.

"That's cheating!" She yelled with an angry finger jab.

"It is NOT cheating," Hotch responded indignantly. "How is it my fault that this structure was built on this patch of land out my window?"

It was incredible timing though . . . he thought with a smirk to himself . . . but it still didn't make it cheating.

"But Hotch," Emily whined as she stared past him to the huge billboards hanging off the bright red buildings, "you're counting cows in a flipping DAIRY farm! That's totally cheating!"

There might not be an official manual here but she was quite sure that was cheating!

"Prentiss," Hotch yelled back in disbelief, "you're the one that's making me count COWS in cow country! How did it not occur to you that there might be a dairy or two out one of our windows?"

As soon as the words were out of his mouth, Hotch cringed. Every time he thought that he'd surpassed his quota of ridiculous conversations with this woman, she would somehow manage to drag him up to a new plateau of insanity.

They were now fighting about cows.

So before she could say a word back . . . he could see her sucking in a lungful of air . . . he put his hand up.

"No more," he said firmly, "that was four minutes of my life I can't get back, we're not going for five. Now," he smoothly changed the topic of conversation to one he knew would distract her, "I see a roadside diner up ahead. So let's stop and grab some food now before we're stuck with just fast food on the Interstate."

Not that he wanted to stop at all . . . they weren't even half way through their seven hour drive home . . . but he knew that Emily needed to keep her strength up. And given that she had thrown up for nearly twelve hours straight, he had to make sure that today of all days, she didn't mow down on any of her usual greasy junk food. The diner at least . . . he put on his directional though there were presently no other cars on the sunny two lane road . . . should have something healthy to eat.

Chicken soup maybe.

Even though Emily knew that Hotch was trying to distract her with food to cut cowgate short . . . he'd totally been cheating . . . she had to admit . . . it was a good distraction.

On a good day she would have been hungry by now, but today, she was frickin' starving! Even though her appetite had returned that morning, Hotch had pointed out that unless she wanted to spend a second day with her head in the toilet, it probably would be best if she stuck to just crackers and Gatorade for her first meal of the day.

As always, the man had a point that couldn't be denied.

Fortunately though, crackers and Gatorade had gone great. No nausea. No cramping. No more stomach bug. All the food had done was whet her appetite for well, more food. And the only reason she hadn't been pestering him to stop earlier for a real meal was because she didn't want to be the cause of any ADDITIONAL delays on their trip home.

The thirty-six hour contribution she'd already made was quite sufficient.

Any more problems from her and Hotch was likely to dump her off by the side of the road. So she pushed her competitive streak aside for more base animal pursuits.

"Food would be AWESOME!" She said with a vaguely Tigger-like bounce in her seat, "I'm getting a cheeseburger and fries and, oh maybe a chocolate milkshake!"


"You're getting soup," Hotch immediately countered. And then . . . seeing the incredulous look he got across the seat . . . rolled his eyes, "fine. You can have a sandwich too, but no burgers or fries. They're too greasy. And if you have to get a shake, get vanilla. Chocolate's not going to do anything for your stomach either."

Christ, she was impossible sometimes. He knew if it was up to Emily she'd be chowing down a half of one of those cows they'd just passed on the byway. But . . . Hotch hit his directional . . . he was not about to have a repeat of their recent misadventures. He'd told her not to eat the chili cheese dog from the cart the other night and what had she done?

Eaten the chili cheese dog from the cart.

Two of them in fact! So to save them (both) additional trauma, for the next six hours not only was he going to be chief of her person, but he was also appointing himself chief of her diet as well.

He sent up a silent prayer . . . God help them both.

With some effort Emily restrained her eye roll at Hotch's culinary restrictions. Yes, she knew he was just looking out for her well being, and she was very appreciative of the way he'd taken care of her the last twenty-four hours, but still, the man could be a major Buzz Killington on occasion. Actually Buzz Killington probably took classes from Aaron Hotchner on how best to ruin a good time.

But . . . Emily slipped off her seat belt as he pulled into an empty parking spot and turned off the engine . . . she wasn't going to let that ruin her lunch. Food . . . particularly solid food . . . was a treat she wasn't going to turn down.

After he stepped out of the car Hotch took a moment to roll his neck before turning to open the back door of the rental. He was going to get his suit jacket, but then he took note of how warm it was . . . at least in the seventies . . . and said screw it.

Shirtsleeves were good enough.

So with the sound of rocks and gravel sliding under his feet, Hotch walked around the car to join Emily up on the length of boards leading to the entrance of the old fashioned diner.

Just as she turned to start walking, he put his hand on her arm.

"Let me see your eyes," he said softly as he gestured towards her sunglasses.

When she'd woken up they were still a bit bloodshot and watery, and since then she'd been wearing sunglasses in the car. So he wanted to know if they'd cleared up yet.

If she really was getting better.

Emily slipped her glasses off and then tipped her chin back as she looked up at Hotch expectantly.

"Am I going to scare anybody?"

Though she was feeling much better today, she also knew that she probably looked a bit pasty. Not to mention the wind had been blowing her hair around in the car.

She had a good rat's nest going on one side.

Hotch stared for a moment, taking in her pale coloring, and faint grey smudges under her eyes. Yet, her gaze was clear and steady, and her whites were white . . . she was definitely looking better. And his lip quirked up a quarter of a notch in appreciation of that fact. But he quickly got the wayward non-smile back under control as he tipped his head.

"You'll only scare somebody if you misbehave," he said drily. "Now come on," he started walking and she scurried to catch up, "let's go. In and out. I want to be back on the road in a half hour."

"Roger that," Emily nodded firmly as they walked up to the door. Again, she didn't want to cause them any additional delays on this trip. And God knows she really wanted to get home as much as he did.

More so probably.

Of course he wanted to get back to the office, she just wanted to go back to bed. The day was going to be pretty shot by the time they arrived in Quantico . . . close to three if the drive went well . . . so hopefully they'd only be stopping by the office long enough to get their mail and check their inboxes. Her only fear about that was Hotch getting sucked into something while they were there.

Because if got stuck then she was getting stuck.

The morning they'd left on this simple overnight trip he'd picked her up directly from her apartment . . . so he was her ride home. And she didn't want to be falling asleep at her desk as he pounded his head in Strauss' office.

That would suck.

But Strauss was really Emily's only concern on the working late front. As long as he could grab any new files off his desk, anything else he could do on his cell or from his laptop at home. And with him still hovering over her today . . . the meal planning of course being a major indicator of his level of interest in her well being . . . high . . . that meant that he wouldn't want her working anymore than need be.

He was sweet like that.

Okay so yes . . . she felt a little dig of guilt as Hotch held the door for her . . . him being a Buzz Killington did have some benefits that couldn't be denied.

A woman suddenly appeared out of nowhere and Emily jumped slightly into Hotch's side.

It must have been the bell on the door.

"Hiya folks!" came the boisterous greeting from the tall, smiling blonde in front of them. Then she took note of their side arms and the badges clipped to their waists, "excuse me, I guess that's officers," she corrected herself, "will that be two for lunch?"

"Yes, please," Emily chose not to correct her assumption about their identity as she gave the woman a polite smile, "a booth if you have it, thanks."

There looked to be about ten seats in each side room off the reception, and the place was only half full so there were definitely booths available. Not only were they generally more comfortable to sit in, but they also assured Hotch and Emily a position along a wall rather than in the middle of the room.

They didn't like to sit out in the open that way.

Fortunately the hostess seemed amenable to their request . . . no nonsense about the impenetrable waitress zones . . . and immediately led them over to the room on their left. Hotch waited until Emily was seated before he turned back to do another quick . . . not at all subtle . . . scan of the room.

Six other patrons. Two single travelers, the other four situated together at the far table in the corner.

Those four were most likely the truckers that belonged to the big rigs parked around the side . . . Hotch's brow wrinkled slightly as he looked them over . . . a bit scruffy. And not in the normal, 'works twenty-four hours straight kind of way.' They were scruffy in the generally bad news kind of way. And also Hotch hadn't much cared for the way they'd all turned and looked at Emily when she walked into the room.

Yes . . . empirically speaking . . . Hotch knew that Emily was quite attractive. So the fact that they'd looked wasn't the problem. The problem was the way that they'd looked. Hotch had seen that expression on plenty of men's faces over the years.

Most of those men had been sitting on the other side of his interrogation table.

Not that Emily couldn't take care of herself . . . Hotch shot the group a hard glare when the biggest of them made eye contact with him . . . but she still wasn't at the top of her game. So as he slid into the booth opposite her, he tipped his head over to the corner.

"Stay away from them."

His tone indicated this was not a point of discussion.

Emily's brow wrinkled slightly as she turned to look again at the group of truckers she'd cataloged when they first came in the door.

Though they were looking in their direction, none of them appeared to be brandishing any weapons. So in that respect, the group still appeared about as harmless . . . to the two armed federal agents anyway . . . as they had when she'd first walked into the room. Yeah, they were a little creepy and she wasn't feeling her most capable at the moment, but still, it was broad daylight and not only was she armed, she was also out having lunch with the Terminator.

Anything she couldn't deal with in her slightly weakened condition, Hotch certainly could.

Emily was quite sure that Hotch could handle the prince of darkness himself if the occasion called for it. Still though, she was also sure that her boss had his reasons for making the remark so explicitly. So when she looked back at him she made sure to give him a little smile.

"Whatever you say, Hotch."

Hotch stared back at Emily with a slightly elevated eyebrow . . . it always threw him off when she acquiesced to his requests with no argument whatsoever. Not that she argued with him at work. She had always been very professional with the, "yes, sir" and the "no, sir" but after a time he'd come to note that those tags were more out of habit than anything else.

She was being polite.

And when it was just the two of them together . . . his gaze dropped from hers and down to the laminated menu in front of him . . . more often than not he swore the woman disagreed with him just for the sake of making conversation.

"So we're agreed," Hotch lifted his head as he heard Emily say brightly, "double cheeseburgers and extra fries all around, right?"

He stared at her stone faced for a second before she grinned. "Just checking your short term memory, sir."

Knowing the sharp retort on the tip of his tongue was going to result in a similarly pointy volley back from her, Hotch's eyes dropped back down to the daily specials for a moment before stating flatly.

"Look at your menu Prentiss."

As she started to chuckle he rolled his eyes.

The woman was going to be the death of him.


After lunch was over . . . a cup of chicken soup and half a turkey sandwich for her, a cup of tomato soup and a whole turkey sandwich for him . . . Hotch went up to the counter to pay the bill while Emily ducked down the hallway to the bathroom. She knew Hotch's eyes were still on her as she walked away. And she knew this because he'd asked her three times during lunch if she was still feeling okay.

Each time she'd said yes.

But now . . . she turned the corner and out of his sight . . . she was starting to feel ever so slightly icky again. Not sick, sick. Not like yesterday. It wasn't the sensation of needing to expel the contents of her stomach outwards and upwards . . . she pushed the bathroom door open . . . it was just a faint cramping.

She was pretty sure it was just her stomach adjusting to actually having food in it again . . . it had probably shrunk a bit . . . but either way, she wished the sensation would just go away. Any discomfort was making her a bit antsy.

For now though . . . she headed over to the first stall . . . her main problem was that she just really needed to pee.

She should have gone before they sat down but she'd been too worried about missing any of the food. But once that business was attended to, Emily washed her hands and then stared at her reflection in the mirror. It might have been her imagination . . . or wishful thinking . . . but she was pretty sure that she had a bit more color in her cheeks than she'd had when she'd woken up that morning.

Maybe the food really had done her some good.

And as she began musing about how much longer their trip would be . . . and how tired she was going to be by the time they got home . . . she used the damp paper towel to yank the bathroom door open again. Before it fell shut, she quickly turned back to toss the crumpled paper into the trash, then she turned around and stepped into the hallway.

She immediately jumped back in surprise.

One of the truckers from the table was standing right in front of her. Not that she was afraid . . . her gaze narrowed at she looked up at him . . . just a bit startled was all.

What was up with these people popping up out of nowhere?

Still though . . . he took a half a step closer to her . . . the jump had immediately set the wrong tone for this encounter.

He thought she was afraid of him.

"If you'll excuse me," she said crisply, "you're in my way."

"What's the hurry, baby?" He responded with a creepy smile, "Your boyfriend's busy out front, so why don't you stay and talk to me for a minute?"

Before Emily could respond beyond a tightening of her fist, she heard Hotch's frosty voice coming from behind the brick wall blocking her path.

"Her name isn't baby."

The trucker immediately spun around and Hotch's eyes narrowed to slits.

"And she has no interest in speaking to you. Nor do I actually. We're leaving. So I suggest you get the hell out of her way."

This was the same behemoth that had tried to challenge him at the table. Apparently he hadn't yet learned who the alpha was on these premises.

"Or what?" The guy huffed derisively as he stared down at Hotch a half a foot below him, "it's a free country. What's gonna happen if I freely assemble right here in the hallway?"

Just then the guy fell to the ground as Emily knocked out his knee. Before Hotch could blink, she'd yanked the trucker's arm behind his back and had him face down on the floor with her own knee pressed into his upper spine.

Hotch nodded in approval . . . her illness hadn't affected her reflexes.

"That's going to happen," he responded matter of factly to the idiot's question. Then he lowered himself to the floor level where the other man now found himself.

"So," he hissed in his ear, "you remember this the next time a woman asks you to get out of her way. You move or she'll kick your ass. Now we're going to be leaving and you're going to stay lying on this floor for another five minutes. If I see your face before I drive out of the parking lot, I will be charging you with attempted battery of a federal agent, is that understood?"

The charge was a bit flimsy on its face . . . the guy hadn't yet actually touched him or Emily . . . but Hotch had no doubt whatsoever that if this little encounter continued into the parking lot, that blood was going to get spilled on one side or the other.

When Hotch got no immediate response to his question he motioned for Emily to press her knee down a bit harder . . . she did . . . and the body beneath her groaned.

"Fine," he grunted, "I got it."

"Good," Hotch hopped up, brushing off his pants, "then we're done here."

"Prentiss," he put his hand out to help her quickly . . . and safely . . . get up and off the man on the floor. But then to his horror, just as she started to reach for his hand . . . she suddenly threw up all over the guy's head and back.

Oh. My. God.

Hotch's eyes popped open as she scrambled in the opposite direction, slamming back through the ladies' room door while at the same time the trucker started screaming.

"You bitch!" he yelped as his hand came up to touch the gunk on the back of his head, "I'm going to fucking kill you!" And then he tried to get up and run after her.

He didn't get farther than a standing position before Hotch slammed into the wall.

"You touch her," he hissed, "and that's the last thing you do as a free man. Now you forget this happened, I forget you just threatened the life of a federal agent."

Not even waiting for a response . . . he was much too concerned about Emily's welfare to be concerned with this asshole . . . Hotch simply shoved the other man through the men's room door.

"Clean yourself up," he yelled as the door started to fall shut. "Our earlier agreement stands. I see you again, I put you in cuffs."

And with that Hotch went running into the ladies room to check on Emily.

She was standing at one of the sinks rinsing her mouth out.

"Are you all right?" He asked worriedly as his hand fell to her back.

"Yeah," she gave him a sheepish smile in the mirror, "I'm fine. I just uh," she turned off the water, "I think it was all the adrenaline. One minute I was fine, the next minute out came my lunch."

Her eyes fell back to the sink.

"I'm really sorry," she said softly.

God, this was so humiliating! Throwing up on a prisoner! How unprofessional was THAT!

"Hey," Hotch heard the self-recrimination in her voice and squeezed her shoulder, "don't apologize. You got sick. If that guy hadn't been bothering you then he wouldn't have ended up in the state that he did." As her eyes slowly came up to lock on his in the mirror, he shrugged, "these things happen."

"Really Hotch," she asked with an incredulous eyebrow, "do these things really happen?"

She would love to hear him cite an additional example of a federal agent vomiting on somebody under detention.

"Well," Hotch's lips started to twitch, "uh, no," he cleared his throat, "I guess these things don't really happen all that often."

For a moment they stared at each other in the mirror, and then Emily burst out laughing.

"I can't believe I did that!"

"Yeah," Hotch put his hand up to cover his own chuckle, "I can't believe you did that either."

Yet another first in the BAU . . . prisoner control via the vomitorium.

Then he started to sober as he saw Emily's hand come up to touch her stomach.

"Really Prentiss," his hand slid down her shoulder to her arm, "are you sure you're okay?" With his free hand he pulled the Tic Tacs out of his pocket for the tenth time in the last two days, "you think it was just an isolated incident?"

Emily nodded as she turned to take the little green mints from his hand, "yeah, I'm sure. I really don't feel nauseous or sick like yesterday. It was just all of a sudden my stomach flipped and then," she rolled her eyes as she tossed the mints in her mouth, "there we were."

It wasn't going to take the guy a while to get that crap out of his hair. Though he didn't seem to be all that hygienically forward to begin with so here's to hoping he even bothered washing it.


"Okay," Hotch pulled his hand back and slipped it into his pocket, "if you're sure." Then he tipped his head towards the door.

"So we're ready then?"

"Yeah," Emily turned back to the mirror to check her appearance one more time, "I promise I'm good." She turned back to him with a little smile, "we can go now."

Her stomach was a little sore from yet another work out, but overall she really did feel fine.

If not a bit hungry again.

Figures . . . she thought with a huff as she followed Hotch back to the corridor . . . first meal she has in two days and she loses it because of some jackass with a greasy mullet.

Though it wasn't until she walked back into the corridor again that Emily thought to ask what had actually happened with the mullet. She had heard his little threat but that was the last thing she'd heard before the door slammed shut. And her lips started to twitch as she heard Hotch succinctly respond to her question with an, "I handled it." In Hotch speak that meant he'd scared the shit out of the guy and that they wouldn't have to deal with him again.

Good man.

As they walked out to the main part of the diner, Emily felt Hotch's hand fall to her shoulder again. Her eyes crinkled slightly . . . it still wasn't common for him to be so openly affectionate . . . but then he leaned down to whisper that the other three truckers were in the corner still eating.

He was clearly marking her as off limits.

Her eyes shifted over to the group of men that obviously had no idea what had just transpired with their friend. And though she knew that Hotch could handle them . . . and she of course she could simply toss her cookies again as the ultimate distraction . . . it was still best that they go now before any more trouble occurred.

One incident a day was more than enough.

When they passed the hostess desk Emily saw Hotch grab a little white bag from the counter.

As they stepped back into the bright sunshine, Emily slipped her sunglasses off her waist as she gestured to the bag Hotch had picked up.

"What's that?"

Instead of answering Hotch just passed the bag over to her so he could pull his own sunglasses out. Emily uncrinkled the white paper as he slipped the shades onto his face.

When he looked down at her again he saw a soft smile on her face.

"Thanks," she whispered as her hand curled around the bag, "that was really sweet."

Another half a sandwich . . . obviously for later in the afternoon . . . two chocolate chip cookies, and bottle of diet ginger ale.

Sometimes the man was so ridiculously sweet that she'd find it impossible to reconcile this man with the other one that she dealt with at work.

Hotch tried to push off Emily's gratitude.

"You have to keep your strength up," he said matter of factly. And then he started walking down the little sidewalk so he could avoid any more discussion on the matter.

He wasn't being sweet . . . he started to pull the keys from his pocket . . . he was just being practical. If she got sick again she'd miss another day's work.

That's all it was.

It wasn't until Hotch stopped next to the driver's side door that he realized Emily had followed him around to that side of the car.

"Wha . . ."

But before he could get the entire question out, she'd hooked her arms around his neck and pulled him down into a hug.

"I know you don't want to hear it," she whispered in his ear, "but you have been really sweet the last two days. So I just wanted to thank you for taking care of me," she closed her eyes as the last words came out on a soft breath, "you're a really good guy."

A split second later she felt his arms come up around her, but the hug came with a whisper.

"Not that good," he said softly as he rubbed her back, "I yelled at you for being sick."

He knew that she had forgiven him for that one, but he wasn't going to forget it happened.

Because he wanted to make sure nothing like that happened again.

"No," Emily leaned back slightly with a soft smile, "that wasn't you that yelled at me. That was Pod Hotch. He's gone now so don't worry about it."

Despite himself, Hotch couldn't help the quiver of his mouth as he looked down at Emily still wrapped up in front of him. "Pod Hotch?"

"Uh huh," she nodded seriously, "he was a real jerk. But he's gone now," she dropped her head to his chest, "Pod Hotch went back to the mother ship."

She was trying to get one more hug in before he went back inside his bubble. Because she knew, every hug, every touch, every smile she could coax out, brought them that little bit closer.

This new friendship they were working on was becoming very important to her.

Hotch's fingers rested in the middle of Emily's back as he stared down at the gravel. The smile was tugging insistently on his lips. Finally the absolutely ludicrous imagery of his alien doppelganger flying through outer space got to him . . . only Emily . . . and he gave in, the grin stretching from ear to ear.

Of course he made sure to hide the smile in her hair though.

God forbid anybody else see it.

"Well," he huffed quietly in her ear, "here's to hoping he stays on the mother ship."

Emily's lip quirked up as she took note of the differences yet again between real Hotch . . . her Hotch . . . and that horrible pod person that had taken over his body yesterday morning.

"I agree sir," she sighed against his chest, "I most definitely agree." A few seconds later she lifted her head to look up at him.

"I guess we should get going before Mullet Head comes running out the front door, huh?"

"Yeah," Hotch snorted as he looked down at his watch, "his countdown will be ending right about now."

Slowly he let go of Emily and stepped back.

"Ready to spend the next five hours in the car?" He asked with a raised eyebrow.

Emily looked up at him and winked.

"Can't wait."

A/N 2: Finally, done. They might not be home, home yet, but they had the little heart to heart so we're definitely done. And this leads them timewise directly into the events of Minimal Loss a week later.

And seriously, you can thank my niece's boyfriend for Emily throwing up on the trucker! Honest to God I was just wrapping this story up when out of the blue suddenly I hear the poor kid race into the bathroom and start tossing his cookies. I of course debated for a moment as to whether I should go check on him . . . pictured his mortification by my appearance at the door . . . and looked back to my page. And eureka, that's what ended up in the story, bleh! One last hurrah for Emily's digestive upset. And then of course had to pull the Pod People back into it for the theme to go full circle, otherwise carrying the title forward would have made little sense :)

That cow game, real thing! I hadn't heard of it until I went onto a website with games to play in the car. That was the image in my head to start one final story, just Emily forcing Hotch into playing some ridiculous children's game to make the time go by. But I didn't know which game. I couldn't see him under any circumstances agreeing to "punch buggy" or "I Spy" but then when I spotted this ridiculous cow counting thing and it just fit perfectly. It was insane, but not so involved (all he had to do was count) that he'd never do it. And apparently if you drive pass a graveyard, all your cows "die." Yeah, whoever invented this thing was seriously nuts.

I do have plans for two more posts tonight. I also have plans to do three loads of laundry and clean the entire house in anticipation of my parents' arrival tomorrow afternoon. So yeah, those postings will be a bit spaced out :)