Author's Note: Offshoot of Girl A. Totally stand alone though so you can read this if you know nothing of the Girl'verse. It's just Hotch and Emily as friends over season four.

For everybody else, I know we're all waiting for updates all over the place, but for reasons I'll explain at the end, this little diddy popped into my head and I had no place to put it in a current story. And it's totally a Girl'verse tale so here we are in the way back machine. It's just a one shot and complete fluff. For Girl, put it as a day somewhere after Airport Pickups and before Fools Night Out.


TV Bonus Challenge #18 - Summer Fun!

Show: SpongeBob Squarepants

Title Challenge: The Battle of Bikini Bottom


August 2008

Bartholomew Cubbins Had Nothing On Emily Prentiss

"Please Hotch." Emily pouted slightly as she looked across the front seat, "it won't take long. I promise, no more than forty-five minutes. If I don't have one by eight thirty we can leave."

Hearing Emily's continued attempts at cajolement to this errand he'd already said no to, Hotch's lips pursed in displeasure as he slowed for the yellow light at Wisconsin and M.

It was Wednesday evening and they were on the way back to Emily's place after catching a fairly . . . for them anyway . . . early Thai dinner at a new place in Georgetown. The food was pretty good but the place was too crowded to sit around talking . . . an activity Hotch had grown to enjoy immensely with the fair Agent Prentiss . . . so they'd decided to just leave and go get an ice cream at Coldstone.

The ice cream was Emily's idea of course.

And once he'd agreed to that stop, she said that he could come back to her place and watch Deadliest Catch. A show that he'd never seen, but Emily had assured him that he'd "love." Fine. He was good with that plan for the rest of the evening. Emily knew the kinds of shows he liked to watch so he trusted her judgment there. And even though it was only Wednesday, it had already been a long . . . stressful . . . week and some extended decompression with the woman at his side would be nice.

It would have been anyway.

But now . . . on their way to Coldstone . . . Emily suddenly decided that she wanted to swing by Pentagon City before they got the ice cream. She wanted to go shopping. And not just any shopping, HAT shopping!

With HIM!

Apparently she'd lost her damn mind . . . or somebody had spiked her Diet Coke at the restaurant . . . but Hotch decided that he really needed to put his foot down on this one. Watching the full director's cut editions of the Lord of the Rings movies over successive Sunday nights was one thing . . . he shot Emily a look across the front seat of his jeep . . . but there was a limit to what a grown man could tolerate and still keep his testicles in working order.

"Prentiss," he shook his head emphatically, "I'm not going to go hat shopping with you. Just call JJ or Garcia. I can drop you at the mall and one of them can meet you there. Hell, I'll even pick you up later and we can get the ice cream if you still want it. I just," a horn honked behind him and his gaze snapped back to see the light had changed, "I don't want to go shopping."

It was just too . . . girly! And . . . he grunted to himself as he took his foot off the brake and continued through the intersection . . . why in God's name Emily would even ASK him to accompany her on this errand he couldn't understand! This was obviously not something that he would enjoy. Granted friendship was a two way street and it shouldn't be all about him having a good time, but seriously, this was clearly not a male friend activity.

Well, okay perhaps a gay male friend, but Hotch was not a gay male friend so again, he couldn't understand why in the hell Emily would think that he'd want to go stand around the department store while she tried on floppy head coverings!

Emily stared over at Hotch's twitching jaw and rolled her eyes at his typical male response to a quick shopping detour. It's not like she was dragging him off to the outlets or something, she just wanted to take a quick peek at the summer beach hats. Her old one had suffered a slight mishap in the closet cleanout a few weeks before . . . she'd accidentally put her fist through it . . . and she really needed to replace it before she headed up to the Cape with her folks.

Yes, there were a couple weeks before that trip . . . if it happened, her mother had cancelled the last two attempted vacations . . . but God knows the next time Emily would have a captive hat shopping audience. She and Hotch didn't hang out on the weekends . . . he had Jack . . . and now that JJ was pregnant and Garcia was with Kevin, her closest female friends were all couplehood entrenched. That sometimes made Emily a bit sad, but then she'd remember that she had Hotch now. And even if they weren't 'couplehood entrenched' like the others, he still made a nice proxy on that front.

Just not on the weekends.

So she only had weekdays . . . and Sunday evenings . . . to spend time with him. And on this particular week day Emily needed to find a way to get him to agree to do this thing that he quite clearly did not wish to do.

And then a thought popped into her head and she smirked to herself.

That'll work.

"How about this," she countered after a few seconds of silence as they drove down M, "we spend thirty minutes hat shopping and then ten minutes bikini shopping?"

Hotch's head whipped around so fast Emily thought he'd get whiplash.

"Seriously?" He asked in disbelief, "In exchange for me standing around for thirty minutes watching you try on hats, you'll model bikinis for me?"

Maybe she was drunk.

"Yep," Emily nodded firmly, "I need both but I was just going to do the swimsuit shopping on another day, but," she gave him a hopeful smile, "we could kill two birds with one stone."

She totally had him. Hotch might not be a typical guy but there was no way in HELL that he was going to turn down bikini shopping. And she really did need the damn hat. Though she didn't as a rule sit out in the sun much, for the last few years . . . since she'd moved back to the South . . . she'd been trying to be a bit more "sun responsible" in that she'd like to a) not get skin cancer, and b) end up looking like a used catcher's mitt by the age of fifty. And with beach time scheduled in the coming weeks, she knew it was time to get the hat replaced before she forgot. Due diligence on the sunscreen only took you so far.

The Stupid Hat was what really saved your ass.

Really the stupider the better. It should be big and round and ridiculous and serve no purpose but to shield your facial/neckal region from the solar rays. And though she wasn't really a 'hat gal' by nature, she knew that she needed to suck it up. Her thought being that it might in some small way offset the teen years she spent lathered in Coppertone three months a year attempting to turn the shade of an Idaho spud.

Hotch's fingers tapped lightly on the steering wheel as he considered Emily's offer . . . or really, pretended to consider it. Of course he was going bikini shopping! Really, the only thing that had prevented him from immediately saying yes was his innately suspicious nature.

He was looking for the catch.

But after he'd run everything down, he decided that there wasn't one. Emily wanted him to do something that he clearly didn't want to do. So in exchange for cooperation, she'd sweetened the pot. It was as simple as that.

And as they slowed for the next light, he turned and nodded.

"Terms accepted."

"Excellent!" Emily grinned as she flopped back in the seat. "Then let's go to Macy's. I'll get the best selection of both there." Then she saw Hotch . . . with a notably more enthusiastic nod . . . put on his directional to turn left at the Key Bridge. And though Emily knew that there was perhaps one additional point that she really should mention to him before they got to the store, she decided it would keep for now. After all, he'd already agreed to go, and she knew that regardless of what she said, he wouldn't renege on his promise. So therefore she saw no reason to mention this particular point of fact until the time had come.

It might ruin his level of enthusiasm for the trip.

And seeing him turn to give her a half a dimple at the corner light, she immediately grinned back at him.

No . . . she leaned over to smack a quick kiss on his cheek . . . the other thing could definitely keep.

/*/*/*/*/

At eight twenty-two pm Hotch found himself leaning against the wall in the women's accessories department at Macy's. His head was tipped down, his arms were crossed at his chest and he was trying very hard to not look like he was ready to beat himself unconscious with a stray mannequin arm.

Though he'd expected that hat shopping would be bad, the expectation was not the same as the actual experience. The actual experience was excruciating. In all the years that he'd been married, not ONCE had he ever accompanied Haley while she went hat/purse/shoe shopping. And yet now, two months into hanging out with Emily she'd somehow roped him into this ridiculous endeavor. How had that happened again?

Oh right . . . he rolled his eyes . . . she promised some skin. Well, bikini shopping might still have been on the horizon, but he was just hoping that he'd remain conscious long enough to get there.

That 'senseless beating with a mannequin arm' was really looking pretty good right about now.

Then . . . seeing Emily hurrying over with the next batch of hats to try on . . . Hotch tried to paste on a facial expression that could pass for interested.

Or at least not bored to tears.

Given the bright smile he got in return for this effort, he was pretty sure that he should be nominated for an Oscar.

"What have you got?" He asked with a slight elevation of both his eyebrow and the cadence of his voice.

Now he was going for the full 'I'd like to thank the Academy' win.

"Well," Emily started unceremoniously dropping hats onto the display of leather handbags, "I went digging on the discount rack so it's kind of a hodgepodge."

With a slight flourish, she dropped the first hat onto her head, "but they all had wide brims," she tipped her head. "What do you think?"

Hotch's eyes widened slightly.

"It's a little um . . . well . . . no."

She looked like the Flying Nun.

"Well what if I . . ."

She tried flipping it around . . . which just made the habitesque qualities more pronounced.

"No," he shook his head vehemently, "definitely no. Next."

If he was going to be forced into helping her with this endeavor he was going to make damn sure she didn't walk out of there wearing something that she'd kill him for later.

And make no mistake . . . if she looked like an idiot, she'd definitely blame him. So it was to Hotch's relief that Emily moved on to the next one without any further argument.

Unfortunately the next one was even worse than the last one. It had flowers AND feathers!

How was this EVER a necessary combination in life?

Hotch looked at the hat, then down to Emily's face, and then back up to the hat again. He raised an eyebrow.

"So when you said we were going 'stupid hat' shopping, you meant LITERALLY the stupidest hat you could find?"

Emily frowned.

"What's wrong with it?"

"The feathers for one thing, you're not a bird," he pointed to the side, "then there's some sort of I don't know what the word is . . . bejeweling, going on over here on the brim and then in the center there's . . ."

"I got it," with an eye roll Emily yanked the hat off of her head, "you don't like the hat."

With a grumble about men and fashion sense, she dropped the offensive headpiece into the reject pile and turned to pick up the next one on the shelf.

"How about this?"

"It's pink."

"So that's a no?"

"Yes."

"Yes, it's a yes or yes it's a no?"

"Take off the damn hat Prentiss."

"Fine," with a grunt that one went flying.

And so it went. Five more on . . . five more off. There were only two left in the stack, and though it killed Hotch to admit it to himself, he could see that if they were going to leave there with hat in hand . . . as Emily so clearly had her heart set on doing . . . they were going to have to move onto a third batch of ten.

That just couldn't happen.

There weren't enough string bikinis in the world for him to last through another fifteen minutes of this new level of hell. So as soon as he'd made his feelings clear on the last two picks . . . they looked like five year old girl Easter bonnets . . . he took Emily's hand.

"Come on," he started tugging her over to a hat display in the corner, "I see some prospects over here. And wipe that pout off your face," he shot her a look, "we're going to find you a damn hat tonight if it kills me."

Again, her heart was set on finding the damn hat. And that meant that they were GOING to find the damn hat. Otherwise she was going to be no fun for ice cream or couch snuggling.

And HE was the one that had had the bad day!

Emily's pout of disappointment . . . twenty two hat rejects was a bit demoralizing . . . quickly morphed to a twitching of her lips.

It was unexpected . . . and quite amusing . . . to see Hotch moving into alpha role for a shopping excursion. Yet here he was . . . he stopped her in front of a display she hadn't dug into yet . . . on a mission to find her a hat. So she let him do what he did best . . . be bossy. And she stood there patiently as five additional hats were dropped . . . and then removed . . . from her head.

From the scowl on Hotch's face she could see that he was finding this process no easier even when he was the one in full control of it. Finally though, he picked one up, placed it on her head . . . and his eyes light up.

"It's good," she asked hopefully as her fingers ghosted up to touch the brim.

"Yeah," Hotch shot Emily a dimple as he took her hand, "come see." And he walked her over to the mirrored column a few feet away.

"What do you think?" He asked from just behind her

Emily nodded slowly as she took in the big black straw hat with the little black silk roses on the brim. It was big and floppy . . . covering both the facial and neckal regions . . . a little bit decorative, but not at all ostentatious or embarrassing.

Her eyes caught Hotch's in the reflection and a grin slid across her face.

"It's perfect," she turned around, leaning up slightly to wrap her arms around his neck.

"Good job Carson," she murmured against his shoulder.

"Who's Carson?" He whispered back as he pulled her to his chest. She smiled.

"Nobody you know."

She gave the hug another few seconds . . . never cut off a Hotch Hug prematurely . . . before she pulled back slightly, tipping her head so she wouldn't bop him in the face with her new stupid hat.

"Okay," she smiled, "bikinis now?"

A promise was a promise . . . though she still hadn't quite gotten around to mentioning the other thing yet. Now was probably the time.

"Actually," Hotch lifted his hand off Emily's waist to check his watch, "how about we defer the bikinis for another day?"

He couldn't believe he was actually saying that but, it was getting late . . . nearly 8:45 . . . and if they were stopping for ice cream . . . which he was really dying for now after being stuck in a dry department store for forty minutes . . . it was best they get going.

"Seriously?" Emily's brow wrinkled, "no bikinis?" She lifted her hand to touch his forehead.

"Are you getting sick?"

"No," Hotch scowled slightly as her hand fell down to his shoulder, "I just want to . . . you know."

"Want to what?" Came back Emily's confused reply.

What could possibly be outranking bikinis right now? It's not like they were going back to her place to have sex . . . and she didn't see him pushing off bikinis for crab fisherman . . . so what the hell was he talking about? But then she saw Hotch's face getting slightly pink, and when she prompted again with a, "well, spit it out," he finally yelled.

"Ice cream! Okay, you happy? I want to go get some damn ice cream!"

Okay . . . Hotch winced slightly . . . that was a bit loud. People were looking at them. Well . . . he refocused on the giggling woman in front of him . . . screw 'em. He had much greater mockery going on in front of him.

"You can stop laughing now," he stated flatly.

"I'm sorry," Emily tried to stop chuckling, "but given all of your grumbling when I said that I wanted to stop for an ice cream cone, I was just not expecting that response from you."

"Well," he scowled down at her still wrapped up in front of him, "that's because you said you wanted to stop and get two scoops plus, quote 'rainbow sprinkles' and as I recall, the last time I checked, you weren't twelve years old."

"Well," Emily shot back with a smirk, "if we go swimsuit shopping then you'll know for sure that I'm not twelve years old."

This was hilarious. As was the fact that he was so clearly embarrassed over picking ice cream before half nakedness. It was probably a blow to his manhood.

Oh . . . she bit her lip . . . maybe it really was. They were so ridiculous about these things sometimes. Which meant that . . . even if it was now a moot point . . . it was probably time to let him in on the other thing.

It was only fair.

"Cute Prentiss," Hotch's jaw twitched as he looked over her shoulder, "so are we ready to go now?"

Probably not. It was unlikely that she was finished busting his balls.

But then he felt her fingers come up and stroke down his cheek . . . it was nice . . . and he couldn't stop his gaze from shifting down to hers again. Surprisingly the smirk was gone. What was there instead was a soft smile.

"There's something I was waiting to tell you until we got to the swimsuit department. And, well," Emily's smile fell away as she sighed, "even if we aren't now going there tonight, it still seems like I should mention it just for reasons of uh," she cleared her throat, "'full disclosure'."

Basically it would make him feel better.

"And what exactly have you not yet fully disclosed?" Hotch asked suspiciously.

He sensed a shoe dropping.

"Well," Emily quickly looked around, saw a few sales people straightening the racks nearby and leaned up to press her lips to Hotch's ear.

"I haven't shaved my legs since Sunday and I'm about two weeks overdue for my bikini wax."

And THAT was why she wasn't originally planning on going swimsuit shopping tonight. Her legs were somewhat chimpanzee'esque.

As Emily pulled back, she gave Hotch a sheepish grin, "thought that might make you feel better about picking ice cream over bikinis."

For a moment Hotch just stared down at Emily with no expression. Then his eyes drifted over her shoulder and he sighed.

"I should have known there was a catch," he muttered to himself.

Then he heard Emily ask with a faint bit of hesitation, "are you mad?" And he immediately shook his head as his eyes dropped back down to her now slightly worried ones.

"No," his expression softened slightly as he slipped his arm down and around her waist, "not all. But you're buying the ice cream. I'm getting three scoops. And," he started guiding her towards the register with a huff, "for your manipulative deceit in dragging me out hat shopping under false bikini shopping pretenses, I think you owe me a gift."

Emily's lips twitched as she took off the floppy hat.

"That seems fair," she said as she leaned her head against his chest and murmured, "what do you want?"

"Um," he tapped his fingers on her arm, "dinner. You have to make me dinner on the day of my choosing."

"Done."

"Okay then," Hotch nodded to himself, "we're good."

"Really," Emily tipped her head back to look up at him in confusion, "that's it? I figured you'd want the bikini shopping rescheduled to a future date after I'm properly 'plucked and preened' to a non chimpanzee like state."

They'd just reached the registers then and Emily saw Hotch turn his head to look down at her in surprise.

"Come on Prentiss," Hotch tsked in disappointment as he let her go, "that one clearly went without saying. Now then," as he saw Emily roll her eyes and drop the hat onto the counter, he stepped back out to the aisle and pulled out his blackberry.

"How's Monday for you?" He called over.

Emily sighed as she slipped her charge card across the counter.

"Fine," then she turned to shoot him a look, "but you're buying me dinner after."

At his look of indignation she wagged her finger.

"Uh, uh, these are the terms if you want to help me pick out a bathing suit," her eyebrow went up, "Deal?"

"Deal," he grumbled as she took her hat bag from the woman, "though," she started walking over to him, "how exactly I ended up buying you dinner for a makeup activity that YOU owe me, I'm not quite sure."

Somehow . . . even when he was the 'injured' party . . . Emily always seemed to come out on top in these things. It was kind of pissing him off.

But then a second later he had a full warm Emily pressed entirely against his front as she wrapped her arms around his waist.

"You're just lucky I guess," she murmured against his chest. Then she sighed, "thanks for helping me pick out my stupid hat Hotch."

And now hopefully her mother wouldn't cancel the vacation she needed it for.

As Hotch looked down to Emily leaning against him, his irritation immediately melted away. She was right . . . he was lucky. And he also realized then . . . he was whipped.

Totally and completely.

But . . . he tipped his head down to lean against hers . . . he was okay with that. What she gave him . . . a person of his own again . . . was worth all the stupid crap that she made him do. Truth be told, he was the one that was coming out on top.

Every damn time.

And a few second later he rubbed his hand down her back.

"Ice cream?" He whispered.

And she tipped her head back to shoot him a little grin.

"With rainbow sprinkles?"

Hotch's lips twitched, "you're ordering." And she kissed his cheek before he slipped his arm up and around her shoulders. With that they started towards the exit.

As Hotch pushed the door open, Emily tipped her up to look at him.

"You know, I kind of need some new flip flops too Hotch."

He stopped and looked down at her.

"Don't push your luck Prentiss."


A/N 2: Origins - I went sun hat shopping this weekend! Though I was with my sister and niece and Hotch's line "so you meant LITERALLY the stupidest hat you could find?" was actually the response that I got from my niece when she saw the hat choice I'd gone with. My final pick looks nothing like Emily's but it is ridiculously big and stupid and could have gotten me a bit part in any "field work" themed movie. And as I sat outside today in the INSANE heat with my big stupid hat on (it really does help a lot!) I caught the reflection of it in the laptop monitor while I was working on another Girl'verse piece. I started picturing Emily and Hotch hat shopping, and hence a story was born. It had to be before Fools Night Out, because that's the one where Emily tells Hotch her mother cancelled the Cape vacation again. And if I didn't have her going away, then she wouldn't have needed new beach stuff.

If you're curious, yes, I heard the news about Paget and AJ coming back full time. And no, regardless, I have no plans to start watching again in the fall. I'm pleased in an abstract way that everybody's once more employed (except the new girl apparently and I don't see them screwing up with Gibson the way they did with the women) but I'm not going back. I think I used the analogy with somebody before, I see CM now kind of like a crappy boyfriend. He's stood me up a few times, he's forgotten my birthday and banged up my car. And every time he apologizes, I take him back thinking THIS time he won't disappoint me again. But he will. And it will be my own fault for expecting him to change. Sooo, I'm cutting my losses for good. It's nice that they finally realized what a colossal screw up they made last spring (ratings drop was a big clue), but it's kind of too little too late for me. I'd rather keep writing these fictional once removed versions of them than deal with the Drama of whatever the hell TPTB will come up with on their own. But I do sincerely hope that CM will be a better boyfriend/girlfriend to all of you than it's been to me :) Good luck!

Back to the story here, if the title isn't clear, that's a lesser known Dr. Seuss book. Bartholomew Cubbins and the 500 Hats. One of my favorites when I was little.

Hope you guys liked this one. Again just a bit of summery fluff. And unfortunately (though I want to cry just writing this) I need to go to work now. Yes, it's a holiday here, but there are still things to be done today that can't be done tomorrow. If I finish up, I'll see if there's anything else I can clean up for posting tonight.

And yes, I might write the bikini shopping at some point. Now that I've wrapped up the Pod People stories, I do miss having something to write that's Girl friendship from this point in their relationship. Summer shopping stories might be a fun substitute.