A/N: Yes, my latest story is just called "50". Figured the show called their 100th episode "100" so why not? I may not make it that far. Enjoy!
The Monday after the team had returned from New York, Garcia hurries down to the bullpen. She knows all the agents are still recovering from the horrors they had seen and read about but none more so than Emily. The stoic profiler still refused to tell anyone everything she had seen on the videos. Garcia can only hope that she had been open with Dr. Westfallen and that the information she is bringing now will help heal her bruised heart.
"Emily! Good news!"
Emily slowly turns to the excited woman. "I could definitely use some."
"The little red-haired boy has been found alive!"
Emily leaps up and grabs Garcia by the shoulders. "You're shitting me!"
Garcia's smile is as wide as it gets. "Nope! He had been found yesterday wandering down the road naked just outside of Tyler, Texas. The local police tried to find his family but no one recognized him. And then when they got him to a local hospital one of the detectives that went to try to talk to him recognized him from the pictures you had us send out. He's been found and they were able to find his parents and he's going to be reunited with them this morning and it's all so really, really good!"
Emily pulls Garcia into a big hug. "Thank GOD! Oh, thank you for telling me, Garcia. I mean, I know that little boy has a long road to recovery ahead of him but, shit, he's alive. YES!"
Garcia nods. "Yeah, one of Cole's agents is on the way to talk to him and the police are working with the little boy to figure out where he came from. If they find the guy that had him it will be one more bastard shut away thanks to your work in that fucking house."
Emily can't help but laugh. "Garcia…you cussed! You're usually so sweet and innocent around the office. Or at least in the bullpen."
"Well, it's pretty much the way I refer to that place everywhere but on official forms."
Emily grins and nods. "Me, too." Emily drops back down into her chair. "I am so happy he has been found. If you hear of a fund or anything, let me know, okay?"
Garcia nods. "You got it, Emster."
The analyst leaves to go back to her office to continue with other cases she is helping with. Emily looks over and smiles at JJ, who had just let her wife and friend have the moment.
"Another one in your win column, Prentiss," JJ tells her.
Emily nods. "Yeah. There were so many. I thought…I thought Victor would be the only one. But if there's one out there maybe there's more. And maybe, just maybe, we'll get lucky again."
"That sort of hope keeps me going when the job gets hard," Reid interjects.
"Me, too," JJ agrees.
Emily nods. "Yeah, the alternative is too hard to accept." She glances up at Rossi's office. "I need to tell Rossi."
She gets up and goes to his office. She taps on his office door and he gestures her in as he finishes a phone call.
"Yes, Detective, we will look into it. I promise if we can give you a profile that will help I will send it to you myself." He listens a moment. "Thank you, that book was a favorite of mine, too. Talk to you soon, Detective." He hangs up and looks at Emily. "I think I should have written my book under an alias. He wants me to look into a series of vegetable robberies for him."
Emily laughs, her eyes getting wide. "Vegetable robberies?"
"Yeah. Small town, lots of people have their own gardens. Someone is stealing watermelons and corn."
Emily laughs some more…and it feels so good. "This morning keeps getting better and better. Well, uh, let me know if you need a hand writing up a profile on a gopher or something."
Rossi rolls his eyes. "Gee. Thanks. So, what did you need?"
"I needed to pass on some news Garcia just gave me." She tells him about the little boy and Rossi smiles broadly.
"That's great, Emily! Another win for you!"
"Another win for us, Rossi. The team took that bastard down. You, especially." The older man's eyes darken. Emily leans forward in her chair. "Rossi…Dave, are you going to tell me why you get all…all broody when you look at me? Are you mad you had to take that shot? Are you mad at…at me about it?"
Rossi stands and closes the door to his office. He then leans against the short filing cabinet under his office window.
"Yes, I am mad. I'm mad you were in the position that made that shot a necessity. I'm mad I killed the bastard and he won't stand trial for what he did to those kids and to you. And I'm mad that I let him get to me." He shrugs. "Hell, maybe we were all close to the edge. But when I saw him…kiss you…and…and touch you I…" he just shakes his head, unable to finish the thought.
Emily looks down at her hands. "I'm sorry, Dave."
He steps towards her. "Hey, now! Don't you dare apologize for any of that! You gave yourself up thinking you were saving another little boy. I have never been more proud of someone in my life, Emily Prentiss. The only person I'm mad at is me." He takes a deep breath. "That's the first time I ever killed a suspect when anger was the driving force behind my actions. He hurt all those little boys. He may not have done it personally but he arranged it and profited off of it. And then he…he threatened to…shit, I couldn't just stand there and hope for a chance to stop that from happening to you. All I could think was I had to stop him before he raped you and killed you."
Emily nods. "Yeah, that was his plan," she says quietly. "Dave, is there anything I can say or do to help you with this?"
Rossi smiles. "No, kid. Trust me when I say I value your life a hell of a lot more than his. This is more about dealing with that dark part inside me we all fight to hide away."
"Why don't you take a vacation? You and Straus? I know this great vineyard in France," she says with a wink.
Rossi slowly smiles. "You know, Emily, I just might take you up on that."
"Say the word. I'll have them open up the manor house for you so you won't even have to stay at the B&B on the property. You'd have it all to yourself."
He chuckles. "You're a hell of a travel agent. Let me talk to Erin and, uh, Aaron. I'll let you know."
Emily stands. "You got it. And, Dave, thank you again for saving my life."
"Anytime, kid…just don't let it happen again."
Emily laughs. "From your mouth to God's ear, right?"
Rossi nods as Emily lets herself out of his office. He waits a moment then decides to go ask a certain section chief about taking a much needed vacation to a vineyard in France.
Hotch looks around the table at the 10 a.m. meeting. "By now we've all heard that one more little boy taken by Ridgeley's ring has been rescued. Be proud of yourselves, Agents. That was a tough case. I hope you all used the weekend to wash the slime of it off of you." He picks up two folders. "Morgan, Prentiss, you're needed out in Vegas."
Morgan and Emily look at each other and exchange a high five. "SCORE!" they both chant to everyone's amusement.
"Well, if you can stay away from the slots and the free booze you can hopefully testify in the case of the bank robberies you consulted on," Hotch continues.
"The guys who would take a teller and rape her before letting her go?" Emily confirms.
"Yes. Prosecutors need you to explain how you both worked with the police to help them narrow down the suspect pool. You leave Wednesday. Make the reservations today."
"Yes, sir," Emily says as she takes one of the folders. "Any idea how long we'll be there?"
"D.A. says the case may last up to a month but they only think you'll be needed a couple days. Defense may call you back when they present their case but they've been told you'll need at least a day's notice of when they expect to question you. Unlike the Alaska case, no need to stay out there the whole time."
"Thank God. I like the way I'm living. Don't want my wife losing the family fortune," JJ jokes. Emily nudges her good naturedly.
Hotch looks at Reid. "Reid, I want you to take a look at this. Police in several states have a killer with the same M.O. I need a geographic profile of the dump sites, abduction sites, and victims. If it looks like we really are dealing with a serial killer and there is a chance the team can help, we've already been invited in by 3 of the 4 counties involved. If it proves to be interstate we'll steamroll over the fourth county if we need to. Let me know what to do."
Reid nods. "Alright," he says as he takes the accordion file.
"JJ, Rossi, I'd like you to conduct two prisoner interviews. Both are in North Carolina Correctional Institution for Women in Raleigh. The first is in for armed robbery homicide. The second is in for killing her husband and his girlfriend."
JJ rolls her eyes. "Sounds understandable."
Emily looks over at her. "Again, I'm reminded you are a scary little woman."
JJ never looks up from the information Hotch had handed her. "And you best never forget that, Prentiss."
The team grins as Emily does look slightly nervous.
Hotch continues. "These are the case summaries. Plan to fly down tomorrow and look through all the evidence and the full trial transcripts. You can interview one on Wednesday and the other on Thursday."
"Our choice who goes first?" Rossi confirms.
"Yes but make sure to let the warden know before 5 tomorrow so arrangements can be made," Hotch answers.
Hotch finally looks at Garcia. "Now that those are handed out, what files do you have for us, Garcia?"
Garcia hands out the cases she had culled and separated out for each agent. Morgan notices he has two cases Emily would normally handle. He doesn't say anything, knowing Garcia is just trying to give her friend a break after the Long Island case.
"Okay, so does anyone have anything for the team?" No one does. "In that case, have a good week. For those hitting the road, please get me your itineraries as soon as you have them. Dismissed," Hotch says as he stands.
As everyone stands to leave, Morgan grabs Garcia's arm. "Hey, Baby Girl, wait a second." Once they are alone, he gestures to the two files. "I get why you gave these to me but don't start coddling her. You know she'll be pissed."
Garcia's shoulders sag. "I know. But…Morgan…just a couple days. Let her go a couple days without seeing the bad and evil things people do to kids. Please?"
Morgan kisses her on the forehead. "Okay. You are a good woman, Penelope Garcia. No matter what others might say," he says as he leaves the room.
"Aw, thanks." Then she frowns. "Hey! Wait! What do you mean no matter what- -Derek Morgan get your sexy ass back here!"
She chases the laughing man down the hall.
Rossi follows Hotch back to the unit chief's office. He leans against the doorframe as Hotch moves to his desk.
"So, think they've figured it out yet?"
Hotch looks at his mentor questioningly. "Figured what out?"
Rossi moves to stand in front of the desk. He gives a cocky grin. "You send JJ out on a dual inmate visit; pretty easy ones, too. You send Prentiss and Morgan off together. You have Reid solving a puzzle. And you let Garcia slide a couple cases to Morgan and give Prentiss some simple ones to make the analyst feel like she's helping Emily."
"And what did I do for you, if you're so smart?"
Rossi smiles. "I get to mentor a young profiler while softballing a couple of questionnaires. The question is: what did you do for yourself to help you get past the shit we dealt with on Long Island?"
Hotch sits back in his chair and smiles. "I sent you and JJ out on a pretty easy inmate visit, I sent Morgan and Prentiss to Vegas, I gave Reid a puzzle to solve, and I let Garcia send some easy cases to Emily while sending kid-centric cases to Morgan. Granted, the Vegas thing was just a lucky coincidence," he finishes with a shrug.
Rossi laughs. "Well played, Aaron. Well played."
Hotch just nods smugly as Rossi heads back to his own office to read over the information on the inmates he and JJ would be interviewing.