Title: Death and Taxes
Fandom: Criminal Minds
Characters/Pairing:Prentiss-centric - gen
Summary: Emily's acting strangely again, and this time nobody's going to let it slide. Crack!fic. Sometime post 7x01.
Author's Note: At the end, to avoid spoilers. Thanks to Windy City Dreamer and Yellow Smurf for the feedback/beta.
But in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.
When Emily rushed into the bullpen, it was ten minutes past ten. It was a paperwork day, which meant the only thing she'd missed was the giant stack of files sitting in her in-tray, but Morgan gave her a raised eyebrow anyway.
'Yeah,' Emily nodded. 'I just had a…thing,' she finished lamely, setting her coffee on her desk.
'Whatever happened to no caffeine?'
'What?' She frowned. 'Oh. I guess I stopped that.'
'You'd tell me if something was wrong, right?' There was a hint of accusation to his voice, and she knew he was thinking about the last time she was acting strangely. Really, she couldn't blame him.
'Trust me, Derek,' she assured him. 'It's not some "insane terrorist wants to kill me" kind of thing. There are just some residual issues from me coming back that need to be sorted out.'
Emily gave him a look. She was pretty sure that it was physically impossible for him to not interfere in people's lives. 'Just give me a few days to sort it out first, okay?' she said, weakly, aware that it was a pretty shitty compromise. 'Please…just trust me.'
'I told you, I don't have them,' Emily said, clearly irritated. She was keeping her voice as low as possible, but she apparently hadn't noticed that Rossi was standing six feet away, stirring sugar into his coffee. 'I was on the run, I didn't exactly stop and—' She stopped abruptly as she turned around and saw him standing there. 'Listen, I gotta go...Yeah, I know. Tomorrow at 8. I'll have the rest of it.' She hung up with an exasperated sigh.
'You're not making illegal weapons deals surrounded by federal agents, are you?'
'Well now you know, I'll have to kill you,' she said drily, reaching past him for a coffee cup. 'Nothing illegal, I promise. Where do you think all the gourmet coffee comes from?'
'Well I suppose importing Colombian coffee is an acceptable alternative to weapons deals.'
'Trust me, Rossi, if I was doing any weapons dealing, you'd never find out about it,' she told him matter-of-factly, and he was pretty sure that there was some truth to it. That didn't mean he wasn't curious about the phone call.
Overwhelmed by paperwork, he put the thought aside for the rest of the day, until Morgan came knocking at his door. 'Hey, Rossi. You up for lunch?'
'Sure,' he agreed. 'Who else is coming?'
'Reid and Prentiss,' Morgan told him. 'JJ's busy, Garcia's doing something with Kevin, and Hotch is in a meeting with Strauss.'
So that was how Rossi found himself crammed into a diner booth half an hour later, Reid's overly long legs infringing on his half of the floor space. Just as they'd finished ordering, Emily's phone rang.
'Shit,' she muttered, staring at the Caller I.D. 'I gotta get this.'
She went outside to take the call, which made it perfectly clear that she didn't want them knowing what was going on. Really, though, that only made it more interesting to talk about.
'You know what that is?' Morgan asked, following Rossi's gaze to the diner door.
'Well, it's not illegal weapons deals,' he said. 'I already asked.'
Morgan gave him a look. 'Is that something it was likely to be?'
'Well, you never know,' Rossi shrugged.
'Emily's been consistently late over the last seven days,' Reid offered. 'The only other time that happened was after Doyle escaped from prison.'
'Well, it's not an "insane terrorist wants to kill her" thing either,' Morgan said.
The diner door opened again, and a frustrated looking Emily returned to the booth. 'Sorry,' she said, sliding in next to Morgan. 'Just…some stuff that's going on.'
'Phone call from your bookie?' Rossi joked.
'Actually, it was my accountant,' she offered, which was more than he'd expected to get out of her.
'Why?' Morgan asked, half-grinning. 'The IRS on your ass?'
There was a long pause. 'Actually, yeah.'
Morgan gave her a stunned look. 'Seriously?'
'Apparently they don't like it when you fake your death and forget to pay taxes while you're hiding from a psychopath in Paris. It's like some fucked up Hotblack Desiato thing.'
'It's not unheard of for tax evaders to go on the run,' Reid commented. 'New York gangster Dutch Schultz moved his operations to New Jersey to avoid arrest.'
'The difference being that I wasn't on the run for tax evasion,' Emily told him, with an annoyed look. 'So now they're tearing through my financials and trying to find out how much I owe them.'
'That's bullshit,' Morgan said immediately. 'Can't you do anything about it?'
'Well, since I can't provide any receipts or proof of income for the time I spent in Paris, not really. JJ's been trying to help me out on the paperwork end of things, but since neither of us are experts in taxation law…'
'We could always get Garcia to lay a fake money trail,' Morgan suggested.
'I don't think tax fraud is going to endear me to the IRS, Derek.'
'Considering the circumstances, I'm not so sure it's a terrible idea,' Rossi interjected. 'If the alternative is paying them thousands of dollars you don't have.'
'I'll figure something out,' Emily said dismissively. 'Now can we please talk about something else?'
The rest of the lunch was unsurprisingly awkward. Emily swore them all to secrecy, which Rossi knew wouldn't be a problem for him or Reid, but Morgan would no doubt want to bring Garcia into the fold.
The look that Emily gave him when they returned to the bullpen probably convinced him otherwise.
Emily came into work the next day, but it was a very near thing.
In the end, it came down to the fact that she couldn't exactly yell at anyone if she stayed home, so she put on her Intimidation pantsuit, and drove in angry. It was only nine a.m., but both Morgan and Reid were already there.
'What the hell did you do?' she demanded of Morgan, rounding on him like a parent on a disobedient child. With boots on, she was still two inches shorter than him, but if Emily Prentiss had learned one thing from her mother, it was how to make other people shrink with fear.
Morgan recovered quickly, that much, she gave him credit for. 'What are you talking about, Prentiss?'
'You know exactly what I'm talking about,' she seethed. 'You went and told Garcia about my…about my problem, and now they've decided to drop it.'
'First of all, I didn't tell Garcia anything,' he said matter-of-factly. 'And secondly, how is this a bad thing?'
Emily glared at him. 'It was my problem. I wanted to deal with it myself.'
'Right. And how exactly did that work out for you last time you tried it?'
She ignored his response, and turned to Reid. 'Do you know anything about this?'
'No,' he said, shaking his head. His mouth was open slightly, and his eyes were wide. Emily's profiling skills told her that he wasn't lying.
Which left JJ, who wouldn't have gone behind her back, and Rossi, who at the very least would have been upfront about it if he'd done it.
The alternative, of course, would be that Garcia had figured it out on her own, and hacked the IRS. Like Rossi, though, Emily was sure that the technical analyst wouldn't have done it in secret. She wasn't even sure if Garcia was capable of doing something in secret.
A sudden vibration, followed by the sound of ringing jerked Emily out of her anger. She pulled her phone out of her pocket and glanced at the screen: "Elizabeth Prentiss calling."
'Did you do this?' Emily said, as soon as she answered the call.
'And hello to you too, Emily,' the Ambassador replied, in the tone of voice that said "yes, I absolutely did this."
'Did you blackmail them into dropping the case? Or did you just send them an enormous check?'
'I have a lot of resources at my disposal, Emily.The IRS has everything they need. They won't bother you anymore.'
Emily bit back a sigh.
'A thank-you would be nice – I did teach you manners, did I not?'
Emily gritted her teeth. 'Thank-you.'
'You're welcome. And next time you fake your death, at least tell me in advance. I would have visited you in Paris.'
'Goodbye, Mom,' Emily said, rolling her eyes. With a sigh, she slipped her phone back into her pocket. An overwhelming awkwardness had suddenly intruded on the bullpen. 'Um…sorry for accusing you of telling Garcia,' she said eventually, not quite willing to meet Morgan's gaze.
'Well I was going to,' he admitted. 'I just hadn't quite gotten around to it yet.'
She pushed him, playfully. 'One day, you'll regret that.'
'Yeah?' he asked, teasingly. 'What're you gonna do?'
'Pinch to the neck cuts off the flow of blood to your brain,' she told him. 'You'd be dead within a minute.'
Morgan's eyes widened. 'You can't do that,' he said, defiantly.
'Don't worry,' Reid assured him, smirking. 'Emily is most likely referring to the pinch from Xena, Warrior Princess.'
'So it's not real?'
'No,' Reid frowned. 'It's real, and it would definitely kill you. But I just presumed that she was making a popular culture reference.'
Emily winked. 'Believe that, if you want,' she told Morgan. 'But just remember what I used to do for a living.'
For a split second she saw something approaching fear in his eyes before it slipped away behind the mask.
'So how did your mother find out?' Reid asked curiously. 'I was under the impression that you were keeping the problem under wraps.'
'I was,' Emily answered, frowning. 'But if there's one person you should be more afraid of than me, it's my mother.'
'I think we're all just glad everything's back to normal, warrior princess,' Morgan grinned.
Emily gave him a look.
Everything was back to normal.
It was late when Emily finally got home.
Sergio came to the door, meowing a greeting.
'Hey, kitty cat.' Emily knelt down and scratched the black cat behind the ears. 'And how was your day today?'
Another meow, this one a little forlorn.
'Yeah, me too,' she agreed. 'But at least they didn't find the account in the Caymans. You want some dinner?' Hearing the word dinner, Sergio ran for the kitchen. 'If only we could all have such simple pleasures in life,' Emily murmured to herself.
Paradise would have to wait.
A/N: Retroactively take all mentions of tax law with a grain of salt. In this instance rule of cool trumps actual tax law. Plus, you know, it's crack.