Just a quick post ep on my take after the kitchen scene. I am not sure if it's going to be heartfelt or fluff. I guess I will just have to write and see where Dave and Em take me.

Written for ilovetvalot.

Quick disclaimer: Still don't own Criminal Minds.

Song prompt: "Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word" by Elton John

~*~ Profiler's Choice 2011 Fanfic Awards for the Criminal Minds Community ~*~

Hosted by ilovetvalot and tonnie2001969

It is our pleasure to announce the Second Annual Profiler's Choice Fanfic Awards for the Criminal Minds community!

The nomination ballot is now available, and all rules are posted on Chit Chat on Author's Corner forum! Nomination ballots must be received by October 15, 2011 and must be sent to this PM at Profiler's Choice CM Awards. Fics for consideration must have appeared on the CM section of between September 1, 2010 and August 31, 2011 (see rules for full details.)

Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word

Dave closed the front door and leaned against it. Letting out his breath, he closed his eyes. It had been a long night and he was exhausted. But in a good way. The team had been brought together to bury the hatchet and what better way than over food and drink? And of course, an impromptu cooking lesson.

Very few people had ever been brought into his sanctuary…not even his ex-wives had been allowed to do anything other than the most mundane of tasks. The kitchen, his study, and the backyard - those were his domain. Those were the things he could do with his hands and his mind and be productive. He didn't ask for much, and if that made him a fussy, anal retentive neat freak…well, it could be worse. Hell, he had been called worse by his ex-wives.

Mudgie bumped his head against Dave's thigh and whined pathetically.

"What's wrong, boy?" Dave asked and rubbed the black Lab's head lovingly. Mudgie whined again.

"Yeah, I saw Garcia slipping you treats under the table. And I'm sure that half of JJ's dessert landed in your stomach." The dog looked away guiltily. "Don't worry about it; it was a good night and you deserved to be spoilt by beautiful women."

Dave walked to the back of the house. Mudgie excitedly followed him. Opening the back door in the laundry room, he let the dog out. "Stay near the house. No chasing opossums." Mudgie whined his distress. "I mean it. Leave the critters alone," Dave warned. The dog bounded off happily. He stood and watched the dog bound around the yard happily.

The sound of the doorbell made him jump. It was getting late and he wasn't expecting anyone. Hurrying to the foyer, he unlatched the deadbolt and chain. Pulling the heavy oak door open, he blinked to see Emily standing on the porch.

"Prentiss. What are you doing here?" he asked casually. His eyes took in the brunette from head to toe though he had just seen her less than fifteen minutes earlier.

Em tossed her hair back from her face. "I was on my way home when I remembered my manners."

"What do you mean?" Dave continued to block the doorway.

"You cooked for all of us and we left you to clean up the mess. I came back to help."

"You don't have to; that is why I have a dishwasher and housekeeper."

Em snorted softly. "After what we did tonight, you are actually going to leave that mess for your housekeeper? Are you going to pay her double?"

"She gets paid well enough and this isn't the first party I've had here," Dave replied back with his own snort.

"It's the first with the BAU," Em replied. She held Dave's gaze without backing down. "So, are you?"

"Am I what?" Dave returned.

"Are you going to let me in to help clean up? Or do I need to call the team back?"

A small smile tugged at Dave's mouth. Slowly he stepped aside. "Come in," he replied and gestured with his hand for her to enter.

Pulling her coat tighter, Em walked carefully into the foyer. Her ears listened carefully for any other noises in the too quiet house. She nearly jumped as Dave's hands tugged on her coat.

"Let me take that for you," he suggested.

"Thanks." She shrugged out of the coat and didn't wait to watch him hang it up in the closet before making her way into the kitchen. Yanking open drawers, she searched until she found an apron. Quickly tying it around her waist, she began stacking the numerous dishes, then turned on the tap to fill the sink with hot water and soap.

Finding a rhythm, Em set to washing and rinsing.

"I do have a dishwasher that can make that easier," Dave commented from the doorway.

"I don't mind," Em replied never turning her head.

"It wouldn't be any trouble to stack everything and turn it on."

"I like the water on my hands." Slowly, she rinsed the large frying pan, taking her time.

"You don't have to do this."

"Yes, I do."

"May I help?" Dave asked.

"No. I have it under control." She set the pan in the dishwasher.

Dave raised his eyebrow. "That goes…"

Em turned to look at him. "Really, I have it under control. You made dinner, so I can help clean up."


She took a deep breath. "I'll be done in a few minutes, I promise. Then you can have your kitchen back."

Dave started to speak, then thought better of it. "I'll be in the study."

Em wiped down the counters, the stove, and the sink. Turning off the tap, she wrung out the cloth and threw it in the laundry room.

Taking a quick look around the spotless room, she turned out the light and headed down the short hall toward the main room. Tiptoeing past the study, she listened for any sound. She breathed a sigh of relief when her ears picked up the sound of silence.

"Thank goodness he's gone to bed," she whispered to herself. It had been a long night with the team getting together at Dave's for an impromptu cooking lesson and dinner. And though there seemed to be no hard feelings for the deception that had been committed, there was no denying the tension between her co-workers.

Em shook her head slightly as she remembered the look of surprise and anger on the faces of the team she had come to love as her own brothers and sisters. She wouldn't have blamed them for turning their back on her. Lord knew that she probably would do the same if she could. But it was the one remark that haunted her.

"Come on, Em," she chided to herself. "Did you really think it was going to be forgive and forget? No one compartmentalizes like you do, Hell, not even Rossi can compartmentalize like you can."

But she had done her duty tonight by being pleasant and then cleaning up. Now she had to leave. The lights were off in the main room, she was going to have a hard time finding her coat.

"I heard that," came the low voice from the dark. The slight sound of a match striking followed.

Pressing her hand over her heart, Em spun around. Her eyes tried to adjust to the dark room. It was then she realized that there was a fire in the fireplace.

"Rossi! You scared the hell out of me!"

"I don't mind that you kicked me out of my kitchen to clean it up, but to sneak off without saying good-bye is rather rude, wouldn't you say?" he stated and took a puff of his cigar. The red end glowed bright as he inhaled.

"I thought you were asleep," Em commented stupidly.

"It would have been bad manners to let you go without saying thank you," he answered.

Em crossed her arms over her chest. "I really should go."

"Don't run off so fast. Sit down and have a drink. After all you deserve it for all your hard work," he commented evenly.

Em blinked hard. Was that sarcasm in his tone?

"I don't think…" she began.

"Stop thinking. Sit your ass down and have the drink," Dave stated in a tone reserved only for those who dared to push him.

"That's an order."