Author's Note: I keep finding stuff in my folder that's basically done, so, I just keep putting them up :) The short ones anyway. They're manageable. But I've got two mega stories in there that can't go anywhere until I wrap up at least two mega stories already in progress. So we've got a year or two to go before you see them :)
This is another entry in the Finding Universe. Not a one shot, but it's only a couple of chapters, and they're pretty much done. Again, manageable.
This one picks up a few weeks post "Finding a Place to Dump the Body," and if you haven't, it would be VERY helpful to read that one first, as it does set the groundwork for everyone's interactions here.
H/P are still physically uncoupled in this entry. Just, close. And FYI, though the Finding Verse overall is known to be generally heavier on the humor, this one (though it does have humor in it) is more a specific focused story.
Twitter: ffsienna27 – For story announcements, etc. If the alerts, (or the site), are down, this is a backup to find out what's going on for postings. There's also some random randomness that is my brain.
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Prompt Set #14
Show: Everybody Loves Raymond
Title Challenge: Someone's Cranky
I'm Okay, You're Okay . . . So What's Wrong With Them?
Emily and JJ's heads both snapped back from the case files in front of them.
Hotch had just begun screaming at Dave from behind the paper thin walls of the conference room down the hall.
"GOD DAMN IT DAVE, IT WAS NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS! NOW DON'T FUCKING INTERFERE IN MY LIFE AGAIN!"
Emily's eyes popped in astonishment.
HOLY CRAP! What the hell was THAT?
Just as she was about to ask JJ if she knew what was going on, Emily heard the conference room door crash open. A split second later Hotch stormed out, and she quickly dropped her gaze back down to her case notes so he wouldn't see her watching him.
Though as soon as he'd moved by the small work table in the precinct bullpen . . . going at a clip bordering on 'light jog' . . . her gaze shot back up again.
It was just in time to see him crash into a uniformed patrolman . . . it was a rookie from the looks of how he went down like a sack of potatoes . . . and then keep right on flying out into the back corridor.
He left a stunned bullpen . . . and a rookie, covered in, what appeared to be evidence slips . . . in his wake.
Once Emily had processed that that incredible, inconceivable, event had indeed JUST happened . . . in all of her years with the BAU, Emily couldn't recall Hotch EVER losing it so completely, and certainly never so publically . . . her eyes snapped back over to JJ's equally stunned ones.
"What the frigging hell was THAT?" She hissed to her friend in disbelief.
Yes, Hotch had been a bit 'cranky' for the last six days they'd been in San Antonio . . . he'd snapped no less than four number 2 pencils completely in half, the last one having a ricochet shard that nearly took out Reid's eye . . . but she'd chalked it up to the lack of progress on the case. Again, they'd been in Texas for a full damn week!
That was enough to drive anyone around the bend.
But there was NOTHING in his previous behavior . . . pencil snapping was (mostly) a victimless crime . . . to indicate that he was about to go all drunk ass Mel Gibson on anyone! Especially on DAVE of all people!
That was his best friend!
After considering Emily's question for a second, JJ's ponytail whipped back and forth vehemently.
"I have NO idea!" She blinked once before her eyes trailed over towards the open doorway a little further down the hall, "wow. Seriously, I haven't seen Hotch that angry since . . ."
She trailed off for a second before her wide eyed gaze flipped back to Emily's.
"You know, I don't know if I've ever seen him that angry."
It just wasn't like Hotch to lose his temper. Yes, he did get pissed off . . . fairly regularly in fact, understandable given the stress of their work . . . but with his level of control, it rarely showed as more than a flicker of annoyance on his face.
Or maybe . . . if it was a really bad day . . . a slight clip in his tone.
Even then though, he was quick to cover up any upset with his rigid professional mask. Apparently tonight the mask had slipped a bit . . . and then crashed down onto the floor.
Sort of in the manner of a bulldozer falling off of a cliff.
"Me either," Emily chewed her lip worriedly as she looked down at her notepad, and then back up at JJ, "and I've never heard him get angry at Dave before. I mean," her brow wrinkled slightly as she shook her head, "you know, not genuinely upset, angry. I wonder if it was about the case."
She didn't think so. What she'd heard sounded like a personal upset.
A VERY personal upset!
But as far as Emily knew, Hotch had no major personal upsets right now. Not that she knew everything about his personal life . . . obviously not given how this mega meltdown had taken her completely by surprise. Because as much as she wished it wasn't so, their relationship was still very much in the platonic, 'friends with no benefits,' stage.
Though . . . she bit her lip . . . over the last few weeks they'd admittedly grown even closer than they'd been before. There had been touching, dancing . . .
Coat putting on'ing.
Basically all of the minor . . . platonic . . . physical interactions you could engage in with somebody that you were totally in love with . . . yet not allowed to be with . . . were now showing full engagement.
Really . . . Emily thought back fondly . . . him shipping that man chasing, hootchie mama little skank bitch off to Baltimore, had really been a bit of a turning point in their non-relationship. He'd been much more attentive since then.
Much more 'open' since then.
And given that openness . . . and attentiveness . . . she was now wondering just how piss poor her observational skills were . . . and her friendship skills too for that matter . . . if this was the first that she'd perceived that there was a major issue going on with him.
They should have now been on fairly even footing in the sharing department.
Her brow wrinkled . . . but perhaps this has nothing to do with that . . . with her. Perhaps he was just keeping something close to his vest.
Something that he considered "private."
Still though, she should have at least picked up that there was a something in the vest area. He didn't have to tell her everything . . . again, they weren't sleeping together so private concerns were 'allowed' . . . but she really wished that he had at least let her know that something was weighing on his mind.
Otherwise, how was she going to help?
So now with this unknown thing in the vest area . . . clearly that's what it was, a close to the vest thing . . . she was completely flying blind. But she was really worried about him now though . . . she starting tapping her pen nervously on the tabletop . . . because if he was THIS stressed out that he'd explode at Dave . . . in public no less . . . then that meant that he really needed some emotional support with whatever his issue was.
And the only person besides Dave . . . cue irony . . . that Hotch ever went to discuss anything with, was her.
So that meant . . . she dropped her pen with a clatter . . . that she needed to go find him.
She looked up at JJ, and then by unspoken agreement . . . it was just a slight tip of their heads . . . each closed their file folders. Then they shoved back their chairs.
It was time for them to go deal with their respective non significant others.
Not that JJ knew about her unrequited devotion to Hotch . . . at least she hoped she didn't, Emily would sooner show up at the office in her circa 1992 Marky Mark night shirt, than have that one get out . . . but it was still understood . . . she got up and began heading towards the exit Hotch had disappeared into . . . that when something clearly needed to be discussed, that the men clearly didn't wish to discuss, that she handled Hotch and JJ handled Dave.
When it came to Reid and Morgan they flipped a coin.
Just before she got to the back doorway, Emily decided to turn around to go over and assist the rookie. He was still down on his hands and knees grasping at the scraps of paper that had flown out of his hands.
Though she wanted to get to Hotch sooner than later . . . she started making her own stack of blank evidence tags . . . he had admittedly also been running nuclear when he'd stormed out.
This way . . . she gave the young kid a sympathetic smile . . . he'd have a minute to cool down. And then she wouldn't get her face ripped off. It seemed the most sensible approach.
After all . . . she slid her first stack of tags into the larger grouping . . . she was pretty attached to her face.
JJ paused for a second to watch Emily helping the patrolman on the floor pick up his paperwork. For a moment she considered going over to pitch in, but after a quick count, she realized that there were only a few slips left scattered about.
They could handle it.
So she turned, and with her jaw twitching in a slightly nervous anticipation, continued along the short hallway that Hotch had come storming down a moment before.
When she reached the open door where she knew Rossi was still located, she took a breath . . . and raised her fist.
After one quick rap, she poked her head around the corner. Seeing Dave's back was to the door . . . he couldn't see her . . . she was about to call his name. But then suddenly he barked.
"I have the room!"
She flinched at the tone.
It was a bad tone.
But it didn't deter her actions . . . not much anyway . . . as she took a step over the threshold and slipped inside the room.
"Dave it's me," she said quietly while pushing shut the door behind her, "what just happened with you and Hotch?"
Hearing JJ's voice behind him, Dave immediately spun around. And he was just about to tell her to go back to work, when he saw the worry on her face.
Even if he was righteously pissed off, he could never take it out on her.
She was always his soft spot.
So feeling his expression immediately softening, he shook his head. "It's nothing Jennifer. Don't worry about it."
With a roll of her eyes at that ridiculous answer . . . who the hell did he think he was talking to . . . JJ stepped farther into the room.
"David Fedele Rossi," she huffed impatiently, "if you think that I'm going to listen to Hotch SCREAMING in a police precinct, and then take, 'it's nothing Jennifer,' for an answer as to why that happened, you're nuts."
Seeing Dave had winced at the realization their argument had been heard so openly . . . the Bureau's professional reputation was important to both men . . . JJ felt a wave of sympathy override her irritation with his evasiveness.
So she closed the last few steps separating them.
"Just tell me what happened," she whispered as she took his hand.
Dave stared down at her for a moment . . . but he didn't speak. And then . . . when his gaze dropped to their joined fingers . . . she realized that she'd been holding on to them for a bit too long.
She should have just patted his arm and left it at that. And feeling a slight tickle of embarrassment at her actions . . . not the first time in Dave's presence . . . JJ immediately let go of his hand.
Her arm fell back to her side.
Though she was a happily married woman . . . most of the time, everybody went through some bramble patches . . . JJ had a little bit of a crush on Dave Rossi. It had been going on for about . . . well, oh fifteen years or so.
Ever since that day she'd seen him speak at Georgetown.
And she knew that he knew that she had this little crush. She knew this just as well as she knew that he knew that she knew, that he had MORE than a little crush back.
Basically it was a bit of a cluster.
Long story short, Dave was in love with her. But since neither of them was going to do anything to break up her family, rather than all of these cross feelings making things awkward and uncomfortable, it had actually bonded them in a special way. Though as an unspoken rule, both did try to keep their hands to themselves.
Dave shoved his hand into his pants pocket, still feeling the tingle where JJ's small fingers had been touching his skin.
God, that woman did drive him insane.
And as he looked down at her nervously biting her lip, he couldn't help but reach out to brush a strand of hair back behind her ear.
It had come loose from the ponytail.
"Honestly Jen," he said softly, "it's nothing for you to concern yourself with. It's just a personal thing between me and Hotch," he shook his head firmly, "and really, he wouldn't appreciate me talking about it," then he winked at her to try to lighten the mood, "guy stuff you know."
Well, not so much 'guy stuff you know,' as Hotch would honest to God take his balls off if he found out that he'd told JJ what was going on with him.
Granted, what was going on with him did actually affect her . . . or it could potentially . . . she didn't need to know that right now. Right now it was still Hotch's business.
And seeing the shy smile that she was giving him as a response to the wink, he knew that he had succeeded in lightening the mood.
He'd also succeeded in adding a new ache to his gut.
Oh Jennifer . . . he sighed to himself . . . you're going to drive me to a not so early grave.
But she had a ring, long before he had a clue, so here they were.
Traveling different paths.
Still though, her happiness was important to him . . . it would always be important to him . . . and he didn't want her worrying about things that she didn't need to worry about.
So he took advantage of the ground he'd gained with the wink . . . he'd thrown her off balance, as had been his intention . . . and moved his hand down from her cheek to her shoulder.
"Now come on," he started guiding her out of the room before her stubbornness returned, "let's go get some coffee and one of those strawberry pop tarts out of the vending machine. Then you can show me what you and Emily came up with over the last couple of hours."
Strawberry pop tarts were her favorite.
JJ looked up at Dave, feeling the gentle pressure of his fingers pressing into her shoulder.
Though she still wanted to know exactly what had happened between him and Hotch . . . it was clear from the lines around his mouth that he was still upset about it . . . she also knew that there were times when she needed to let things go.
Sometimes it just wasn't her business.
And if he said it was 'guy stuff,' that meant that it was 'personal stuff.' And it wasn't right to push him on something personal.
At least not when he'd closed the door so firmly on the conversation.
That said . . . they stepped back into the corridor with his hand still on her shoulder . . . if things were still obviously strained between him and Hotch when their day started tomorrow, then she was taking another run at Dave's little barrier.
Keeping secrets was bad for his heart.
As Emily stepped out of the back door of the frigid police precinct . . . they kept the place like a meat locker . . . the oppressive air immediately smacked her in the face.
Good Christ . . . she grimaced while pulling her cotton blouse away from her body . . . Texas in early October SUCKED!
And this was how much it STILL sucked at ten in the evening!
But of course . . . she blew out a disgusted huff of air as she began scanning the enormous parking lot for Hotch . . . this part of the country didn't really have much of a fall. It went from summer to mild winter to summer again.
Basically it was pretty gross from most of the year. And serial killers never did seemed to have much consideration for the weather.
But knowing that she needed to put her personal . . . physical . . . discomfort aside . . . this was a Hotch Hunt after all . . . Emily decided to turn towards the area where they'd left the SUVs late that afternoon.
Seeing as he wasn't right by the back door . . . she began walking . . . that seemed as good a place as any to go looking for him. It wasn't likely that he had driven off . . . again, they were in the midst of a HUGE case . . . so most likely he was just letting his temper settle a bit before he went back inside.
Maybe he thought a walk through the lot would do him some good.
And quite a 'lot' it was.
When they'd returned from the last round of interviews that day, it had been in the middle of shift change . . . twice as many officers were onsite then than any other time of day . . . so they'd been stuck parking way in the back part lot.
It was officially the "auxiliary" area . . . unofficially it was tagged, "Siberia."
After a lot of walking around parked cars . . . it was a good two minutes now since she'd left the station house . . . she finally entered Siberia. And sure enough . . . there was Hotch under the glow of a sodium lamp.
He had his back to her.
And seeing that his head was down, Emily pouted slightly as she increased her strides . . . poor thing.
What could have thrown him off this much?
And figuring that Hotch would expect that she'd be coming after him . . . he was always coming after her when she was upset . . . as Emily walked up behind him, she put her hand out to touch his back.
And suddenly found an elbow smashing into her face.
A/N 2: What was Emily thinking sneaking up behind him like that? Why is Hotch so upset with Dave? Will Morgan and Reid ever settle down and get married? Will anyone out there get this SOAP reference?
For those of you that did, I hope you enjoyed it :)
Next chapter's written here. I'll hold it for this weekend though because I don't know what else I'll have done by then. Otherwise, Second Chances, I'll put that up tomorrow. It's polished, but I've been cleaning all evening and I'm yawning at this moment so I'm just too tired to dig that one out right now too.