AN: I'm back with a new story! A friend of mine recently pointed out that I wrote a few helpful Reid stories, and a few helpful Rossi stories, but not one that involved Hotch. So, I figured it was time for me to show some love for the boss man. :) Hope you enjoy this story...
He couldn't believe it was happening yet again.
Shaking his head in a barely noticeable fashion, Aaron Hotchner watched the proceedings before him from above his paperwork. He did that often, but most of his team didn't notice his observations. He liked it that way.
It was the end of the day; everyone remained hanging around in the conference room, talking about plans for the evening and the weekend ahead of them. Rossi was heading out of town to an old friend's house, Reid and JJ were taking Henry to a museum display about Star Wars, and Blake was teaching a class.
And then there was Morgan and Garcia.
As usual, Penelope was sending out feelers to Derek, hoping that whatever plan Morgan made for the weekend would include her, also.
Hotch had heard that the long-term relationship Garcia had with fellow technical analyst Kevin Lynch had gone sour and they'd amicably parted ways. He'd assumed she'd played the field with others—he had heard someone named "Sam" mentioned—but soon, Garcia's attention and her heart had returned where everyone knew it would...to Morgan.
It was almost painful to watch. It was blatantly obvious—even the thickest-headed person should've recognized what she was up to. She batted her eyes at him, gave him coy looks under her thick lashes. However, today, and most other times he'd recently noticed, Morgan wasn't biting. He teased back, but that's all it was—a tease.
A look of pure rejection, along with a pout, appeared on Penelope's pretty face. She tried to hide it, looking down and away quickly at her tablet PC she was holding. However, she wasn't fast enough for his keen eye.
It surprised him; he honestly believed that the two mirrored their feelings for one another. Everything he knew about relationships—he'd been married once; he did know something—stated that they were in love. They had been dancing around each other for years. He'd thought it was a matter of time before they fell into each other's arms, but watching Morgan...maybe not.
Was it really just a tease...and was Garcia headed toward serious heartache?
Hotch's attention was drawn to a conversation happening between Morgan and Reid.
"So, Reid, you got those extra tickets?"
Reid's surprise was obvious. "Tickets?"
"Yeah. You said you had them."
"Well, I do," Reid replied. "I didn't think you'd be interested in the chamber orchestra?"
"I'm not," he replied, a big grin on his face, "but Claudette in the mail room is a huge fan."
"And you're a huge fan of Claudette's huge...err...stamp pads," Rossi quipped, rolling his eyes.
From the corner of his eye, Hotch saw Penelope stiffen just a little, then slowly stand up.
"Hey, I like my girls curvy," Morgan said, that same grin plastered on his face. He leaned back in his chair to look up at Garcia, looping an arm around her hips to keep her in place. "Right, Baby Girl?"
She managed a dazzling smile, little trooper that she was, and replied, "Sure thing, Hot Stuff."
Then she made it out of his grasp and out of the room.
Blind, blind, blind, Hotch thought sadly. Poor Garcia.
The rest of the group remained in the conference room, laughing and joking.
"You know, we need to go out as a group tonight," Blake remarked. "It's been forever since we've spent a Friday night together."
"Far too long," Reid added.
"How about McGovern's tonight?" Morgan asked, getting the surprised looks from the rest of the crew. "You in, Hotch?"
"I could come for a while."
"What about Curvaceous Claudette?" Rossi inputted, with just enough of a sarcastic grin to make the statement perfect.
"Rossi, it trumps everything if I get the chance to spend the night with my Bab-Hey," he said, glancing around the room. He sat up suddenly, looking confused. "Where'd she go?"
This time, Hotch was shaking his head noticeably. No wonder Garcia looked as confused as she did about Morgan! He was glad he stayed out of these kind of things.
However, he was concerned about Penelope and her feelings. He stood, off to see how his TA was doing.
"She left the room about ten minutes ago," Hotch could hear Reid explaining as he walked down the corridor. "I think Hotch just went after her..."
Hotch found Penelope sitting in her office, looking depressed, like a colorful wilted flower that needed a drink of water. She was ferociously stuffing paperwork in a bag, along with a few other things that she might have needed for the weekend.
"I think that's paper abuse," he drawled quietly.
"Well, maybe the paper deserved it," she grumbled under her breath, like she was talking to herself, and then she looked up. Her eyes widened and her mouth made a round O of surprise. "Sir. I didn't realize it was you, sir."
"At ease, Garcia," he replied, trying to keep the amusement out of his voice.
She was still stiff for a moment, but then she smiled brilliantly. "Force of habit."
He could feel his lips curving into a self-incriminating smile. "I tend to illicit that reaction in people."
Originally, she nodded, and then she stopped. She looked at him, peering at him thoughtfully behind her colorful glasses, then announced, "That's kind of a shame, actually."
"Really." Most people thought of his ability to control his emotions and his position of power as admirable and a show of strength. Some were even envious, but no one thought of it as a shame.
"Mmhmm," she murmured and then explained herself. "If people are intimidated, they don't get to see how nice you really are. 'Cause you are nice, boss man, Even as a boss."
"You're one of the rare ones, Garcia," he answered truthfully, shaking his head slightly.
"Does everyone really react that way?" she asked, still studying him.
She gave him a sympathetic smile. "Must make it hard to meet women."
At that moment, he was glad of his stoic nature, because it hid the shock he felt at her words. He hadn't expected that turn of events. Rarely did anyone discuss his love life. Besides, he'd gone to her office because he felt sorry for her, a valued and sweet member of his team, not the other way around.
"Pardon me, sir, for speaking out, but you're really nice guy. You may not always see it, but you are. You're funny, too."
Hotch watched her carefully, watched as she commented with passion and compassion. There was no doubt that she seriously did feel for him. It was humbling that she was lending out encouragement when he knew she wasn't feeling up to her usual chipper attitude. Only Garcia would do something like that.
He stroked his chin. "You see that in me?"
"Oh, yes," she said, her wide eyes enthusiastic and cheerful. "And if I can say...I think if you loosened up and showed your wild side, you'd have women lined up."
Her cheeks were bright red by the time she finished talking, and he did feel for her-although she'd started it. He couldn't avoid his smile now. It was highly inappropriate shop talk, but at this point, he would run with it. It was making Garcia feel better to take her mind off of Morgan.
"So you think that's all it takes?" he asked encouragingly.
"Mmhmm," she answered, nodding. "Seriously. You're good looking, smart—"
"Talking about me again, huh?" Morgan added, coming into the office.
She smiled and winked at Hotch before turning to Derek, "If I'd said vain and incorrigible with it, then yes, I would've been. But, alas, I didn't."
He clapped a hand over his heart. "Wound me to the quick, woman."
"Sorry, Baby Boy," she answered, her eyes twinkling. "Now, what brings my knight to my lair?"
Something in Morgan's expression, a look of pure pleasure, told Hotch he was right all along: Morgan was just as interested in Garcia as she was in him.
"We're headed to McGovern's tonight. Want to come with? Be my date?" he asked, then added a grin only Morgan could pull off. "Short notice, but I know my baby would never let me down."
"I don't know," Garcia teased. "What do I get for giving you, a mere mortal, the most valued time of this star oracle? Perhaps I am busy."
"C'mon, Momma. You always make time for your man," he said, leaning close, nearly nose to nose with Penelope. A second later, he stood, winked, and tapped Penelope's nose, "And the trouble we can get into."
"Charmer," she said. Penelope turned away slightly, but not before Hotch saw a sure flash of sadness in her pretty brown eyes. It was obvious Morgan didn't see it, and that didn't surprise Hotch, either. Being too close to something can skew even a profiler's perception. She was taking it as a tease again, and perhaps Morgan meant it that way for now, but it was tearing her up inside.
Hotch knew three things...
One: Someone with a big heart and a lot of love to give was feeling dejected.
Two: Someone else was very blind, and was going to lose something good he never quite had if he didn't make a move.
Three: Aaron Hotchner never meddled in anyone's personal life. Ever.
He sighed internally, knowing that two things were going to change right now...
"I'm afraid Garcia can't make time for you," Hotch said quickly, before he could stop the words he might regret. "She's coming with me."
Derek frowned. "Where?"
"To McGovern's," Hotch replied smoothly, despite the two surprised faces staring at him, "as my date."
Derek's mouth fell open, completely unable to hold in his usual poker face. "What? Your...what?"
Thankfully, Morgan was under such shock that he didn't seem to notice the nearly equally surprised look on Garcia's face.
Hotch took a step closer to Penelope and smiled softly at her, mouthing the words, "Trust me."
She nodded in comprehension, a smile gracing her full lips, and then she smiled at Derek. "That's right."
Hotch arched a brow at Morgan. "I trust that isn't a problem? Perhaps you can bring with Claudette?"
Derek looked confused. "Who?"
Penelope barely suppressed a giggle, thoroughly enjoying herself now that she was in the thick of this little partial deception. "The girl from the mail room, lover. Go. Have fun."
"As for me," Penelope interrupted with a grin, "I'm going to shake it with the boss man tonight."
Derek was very close to sputtering. "But you don't dance."
"Perhaps she's been dancing with the wrong partners?" Hotch added lightly, before arching a brow and extending a waiting hand to Garcia. "Ready?"
"Sounds great to me," she said, reaching for her purse before letting him lead her out the door. She halted for just a second in the doorway and turned to look at Derek. "Lock the door when you leave, 'k, angelfish?"
When they walked away, they left a very stunned and confused Derek Morgan.