Chapter III: Meeting someone new
"You must stick to your conviction, but be ready to abandon your assumptions." ~ Denis Waitley
Hotch threw a look at Emily to be sure that she was looking at the person that he was. He felt like a fool when he understood that his quick assumptions made hidden feelings surface in his thoughts. He was expecting to see some tall, blond and handsome guy walking through the door, whose presence was going to make him uncomfortable for the next few days and let him go back to DC with only a cup of tea as a comfort. OK this did not mean that this particular guy did not exist, but definitely he wasn't "this" driver. If he was the laughing type, we would have laughed at himself. He had no actual clue about the driver, yet he had made a whole scenario in his head in less than five minutes. Instead of the Clyde-looking guy Hotch was picturing, the driver was a short… woman with dyed-red, long, curly hair!
She had just finished a call, taking the bluetooth out of her ear and swearing something to herself. The mobile phone should have been somewhere in the pockets of her tight black jeans under a yellow woolen sweater, too long and 2 sizes bigger than it should be. She wasn't carrying a bag or a coat and she had the car keys in her hand. She saw them, smiled at Emily and looked at Hotch. Hotch was pretty sure she checked him out but not in a rude way. Still it made him uncomfortable. He wasn't used to this kind of thing. Walking towards them, she didn't seem to pay attention to the security guard of the airport that looked like he noticed a suspicious, small bulge in the right one of her loose boots. To a trained eye there was a small gun in there, even though it should normally be on the left ankle. Probably the woman used her left hand to shoot. Horch knew that in England only very few police officers were allowed to carry guns. She should be an Interpol agent consequently, even if her appearance did not really shout "agent".
"Hey, Emily! Sorry to be late," the woman said smiling in an accent that definitely wasn't british.
"No problem, Ria", Emily replied cheerfully.
Hotch thought that if she had used this name on the phone, she would have spared him the speculations. Before Emily had the chance to make the introductions, the woman talked to him offering her hand.
"Welcome to the wet home country of tea, bad coffee and fish and chips, BAU Unit chief, SSA Aaron Hotchner. Interpol Agent Gloria Paterson."
"Nice to meet you. Thank you!" he replied and smiled at her comment taking her hand and noticing the lack of details in her own introduction.
"And that comes from someone who is British but not lived in Britain," Emily added laughing.
"It's not a bad comment. It's part of the truth," Gloria replied, "You'll notice it you too, our dear American visitor."
Gloria folded her hands in front of her. She looked him up and down for a second time.
"Impressed. I really couldn't expect anything less…"
She eyed Emily that bit her lip reminding Hotch of how much he had missed seeing her doing that. But was it a look of approval towards Emily?
"I have heard a lot about you..." Gloria carried on.
Was Emily talking about him? This time Hotch started getting confused. This meeting was stranger than he had imagined. In just moments Gloria cleared her throat and continued quickly.
"From Agent Rossi," she added casually.
Hotch didn't know if these last words were added to cover Emily or if it was the truth.
"Oh yeah, Gloria here is the one that called Dave about the cases," Emily explained.
This was Rossi's friend! Rossi was right. The woman was young enough to be his daughter. She didn't look past 34-35 years old. Giving that she was left with the idea that Rossi was still in retirement, she should have met him at least six years ago which meant she wasn't even 30 back then.
"He has written about the one case in one of his books. He hasn't put too many details as it is unsolved. But when that guy appeared, I don't know, it just felt too familiar and that's why I called him for the details."
"It seems like you are right," Emily added.
"We'll find out how good your instincts are, Agent Paterson.", Hotch continued guessing that if Emily trusted her, this meant that she was efficient.
"Oh please, just Gloria."
The security guard finally started to approach them. Gloria had her hand in her pocket, taking out her badge and opening it at the moment the guy was beside her. She had seen him from the start eventually.
"Interpol Agent?" the guy eyed her suspiciously.
Before Gloria answered, Emily intervened and that surprised Hotch a little.
"Exactly. Interpol Agent and I am Emily Prentiss, Head of Interpol London Office," she said in a tone that reminded him of himself, showing her ID.
"Oh, I am really sorry, ma'am. I had to check it," the guard answered.
"No problem," Emily replied.
The guy stood aside but he was still looking at Gloria. Hotch was right, she didn't look like an agent, at all.
"I think we should get going," Emily proposed. "We will have plenty of time to talk during the ride to the city centre."
"Right," Hotch agreed getting hold of his luggage.
"Is there any other problem?" Gloria asked abruptly the guard that hadn't averted his attention from her, "I'm the security detail for my boss."
They started walking towards the exit and the parking lot. Gloria was walking in front of them to guide them to the car. Emily left Hotch a little bit behind and caught up with Gloria.
"Security detail?" Emily told her smiling teasingly.
"Why not? Because I am not dressed up like a penguin, black suit - white shirt? We like to be discrete and you are not a diplomat, my friend!"
Emily laughed. They had an inside joke going on that Hotch did not really get but he was intrigued by that Gloria character and how she had ended up Emily's friend. She wasn't really the type of woman that he wanted around him at any level. She was making him nervous. He couldn't really put his finger on what it was. He didn't know clearly what she knew about him and from who but he could sense that there were also some things deeper. The profiler in him kicked in. No formal dressing, the way she spoke back to the security guard: She clearly had some issues with authority, thing strange for an agent. The way she started talking without letting Emily speak first, the not so discrete comment… She was a like Emily when she first joined the BAU. Hotch smiled thinking of how Emily was at the beginning. With Gideon she was more reserved but with him… Oh God! She was driving him crazy sometimes. Popping, talking and asking questions when she had to just shut up. Once she had even asked if everything was ok after a phonecall from Haley! Yeah definitely Gloria seemed a lot like Emily when she first joined the team but she was definitely worse. There was also something else: Her too much awareness of her surroundings even in conditions that it wasn't needed and her way to camouflage it. Even Hotch thought that she had never seen the guard noticing her. She seemed an easy talking person, but she was too tense, like she was hiding something, like something was bothering her. He had a feeling that something was out of place, but Emily seemed to get along with her very well with her and that was bothering him.
"London is a roost for every bird." ~ Benjamin Disraeli