Through the Streets of London

Chapter IV: Taking the ride to the office

"This is a London particular . . . A fog, miss." ~ Charles Dickens

Outside the weather was a bit foggy, wet and cold, usual London winter. It wasn't raining however. Emily put on her coat and so did Hotch.

"Here we are," Gloria said pressing the button of the keys.

The car was a dark blue sedan.

"Sorry but I didn't have time to go back to the office and take a more fancy car. We have to stick with a surveillance one", she continued, opening the trunk for him to put his suitcase in.

Emily opened the back door and was about to take her coat off.

"No, no, don't take your coat off, Emily. The heating system of this car is broken."

"Ooh… And you stayed the whole night in this?"

"Without meaning finally," she answered.

Gloria was doing surveillance of something or someone, Hotch assumed. That meant she wasn't too high in the rate but she wasn't so young to do fishing surveillances.

"And I can survive some low temperature," she murmured looking a little annoyed.

Emily got in shutting the door and Hotch went around the other side of the vehicle. He was glad that he sat on the left side. From this position he could keep an eye on the driver, something maybe could give him a clue about what was off with her. Emily was looking around the car. Gloria got in too, threw the bluetooth in an open case in the middle of the car and put her cell phone on a base beside the wheel. Next to it there was a cup of coffee -Hotch guessed- that should have been cold by now. Gloria took two large gulps from the cup and started the car.

"So you were cleaning up the car indeed," Emily joked.

Hotch remembered the phone call.

"And you drove here with the windows open so we won't smell fried oil or… smoke," Emily continued teasingly.

The agent had bad habits...

"Oh Gosh! I hate profilers and now I'm stuck with two," Gloria said back throwing a look at him through the rear mirror, maybe she was pretty aware that he was profiling her.

"You have no idea," Emily continued looking at Hotch.

She was always aware of what was going on in his head even when she wasn't saying anything, another thing that he had missed. Dave also had that but he was better with the personal stuff. Emily was good with both the personal and the professional stuff… He knew that she was aware that he was studying the woman. However, she made him do it that time, and that was another thing that he wasn't getting.

Gloria maneuvered the car out of the parking that was very busy. The moment they were in the highway she made it to the middle lane and hit the gas but not too much. She was driving conventionally but this wasn't a real fact. She had her boss and a foreigner in the car.

Hotch's hand was resting beside him. Emily touched it briefly to catch his attention.

"We will speak about the case but first, how is Jack and everyone back in DC?"

Emily always asked about Jack. He felt that she always had a soft spot for his kid. She hadn't met him too many times but she always cared.

"He is fine. He is doing great at school."

"Smart kid, Hotch," she stated as a matter of fact.

"And he has many friends, too."

"Is everyone nice to him now? You know, Gloria, his son's solution for a kid that was bad at him was to make friends with him. It still remains the sweetest thing I've ever heard."

Hotch saw Gloria smiling really warmly, something that he hadn't seen from her till then. However, right now he did not want to focus on his on-going profile. He looked at his knees and admitted:

"Yeah, and I told him that he doesn't need to face anything bad that happens alone. He didn't say anything that time but he did it for every time after…"

Hotch admitted for the first time in his life that he had indeed listened to Emily. He was always a bit arrogant. Even when he followed someone's advice, he didn't admit it to the person, never thanked them. Dave knew him, so he wasn't bothered, but Emily… She needed to know and at this point she seemed a bit stunned. Gloria's smile had grown bigger. Did she know anything of all this? She intervened.

"I guess you promised him something good for leaving him for a whole week to come here."

Hotch smiled.

"Oh yes! You caught me on that. I have to do some shopping."

"Christmas-y London. Best thing in the world."

"And how's the team?", Emily asked quickly.

She didn't want him to become more aware of her surprise and she changed subject, Hotch thought, and he was thankful. He did not want to discuss more personal stuff, not yet, at least not in front of a woman he didn't know and didn't trust.

"They cope alright, the usual. Reid has a girlfriend, actually."

"Oh naughty boy! That's why he never answers my e-mails on time!" Emily laughed.

"JJ is supportive, Morgan is teasing him, Garcia wants to learn all the details and Dave is giving him love advice," he continued smiling a bit. He was happy for the young genius, too.

"Oh these sound too familiar!" Emily continued laughing.

"What about the new member of your team?" Gloria spoke, "Penelope was pretty concerned when she was here, that's why I am asking," she continued quickly.

Gloria obviously had met Garcia when she had come here with Morgan, but Hotch had the idea that she was pushing the conversation on purpose towards Emily's replacement and her knowledge of Garcia's concern was the excuse.

"She is efficient. They all get along now," he replied sternly.

He wasn't going to follow the woman's lead. He wasn't going to tell Emily how much she was missed by the team, too, even if she seemed like she wanted a better answer to that question. There was no point. She was here. Did she have to know how much she was missed by him, himself? Only if he felt that it did matter…

His thoughts were interrupted by Gloria's phone ringing.

"Excuse me," she put the handsfree in her ear and pressed the answering button.

"Paterson. … Yeah, Roger. … Yeah, I guessed that. Anyway. I called to remind you of the car. … Yes, yes, I know. … I practically froze my ass off and now it's not only mine that's freezing, but our boss's and her guest's too. … I'm bringing it in now. … OK," she spat back and she ended the call.

She sounded pretty unnerved on the phone and she didn't bother to use a better language. Hotch noticed Emily getting concerned when she heard Gloria mentioning her, not annoyed, concerned.

"And now you're gonna do it," Gloria murmured, "Sorry for this," she said louder.

"Is everything alright?", Emily asked her smoothly.

"Everything is just fine."

Emily shook her head from side to side not convinced. He had to figure out what was the big deal about a cold car with no fixed heating system.

"So, what about the case?" he asked.

It was time to get on the real subject.

"It's always about timing. If it's too soon, no one understands. If it's too late, everyone's forgotten." ~ Anna Wintour

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