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The Road Not Taken

By Acathla

Drama / Romance

Chapter 11

Chapter 11

The next morning, Emily was up and dressed and out the door by nine am. Katie watched her leave with a smile on her face. It was rare to see her mom even a little bit nervous so this was a treat for her. She was glad her first class wasn’t until eleven so she could take her time getting ready.

Emily grabbed the small banker’s box that contained the few personal items she liked to keep at her desk out of the passenger seat of her Mustang and made her way into the federal building which housed the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit.

She stepped off the elevator and, luckily, caught a tall, dark skinned man on his way inside the glass doors and he held it open for her with a polite smile. Emily thanked him, asked him where the unit chief’s office was and headed in the direction the man had pointed.

Emily reached the door and, after putting a friendly smile on her face looked up at the name plaque and she relaxed only a tiny bit when she recognized the name: SSA Aaron Hotchner.

Emily balanced the box on her hip so she could free up a hand to knock on the door.

“Come in.” A deep, serious voice called from the other side of the door.

Emily opened the door and, smiling, said, “Hi, Agent Hotchner?”

“Yes.” The man looked up and Emily remembered what he looked like so long ago. He had aged well.

Emily placed the box on the corner of his desk and held out her hand, “I’m Agent Emily Prentiss.”

“How do you do?” Agent Hotchner shook her hand, a little confused as to who she was and why she was there but he soon remembered why her name was familiar. “Oh, you’re Ambassador Prentiss’ daughter. I did security clearances for your mother’s staff, it was one of my first commands. I believe you were about to go off to…Brown at the time, I think.”

“Actually, it was Princeton.” Agent Hotchner nodded at the correction but didn’t say anything. “I’ve been in the Bureau for almost 12 years now.”

Agent Hotchner seemed to do the math in his head and he chuckled at how long it had been, “Don’t tell me that, has it been that long?”

“Apparently, sir. But I worked mostly in the New Jersey office, until a year ago when I transferred to the DC office.”

“Good.” Hotchner stopped, not sure what to else to say, then he thought to ask, “Are your parents well?”

“Yeah, they’re great.” Emily was starting to get a weird feeling from this conversation but she decided to see where it went before she said anything about it.

“Good, and your sister, Katie if I remember correct.” He was scrambling for something to say, something he usually didn’t do but he still wasn’t sure what she was doing there and he was hoping she would say what it was before he had to ask.

“Katie’s fine too.” Emily didn’t even pause as she answered, willing to let him go on thinking Katie was her sister for now. “She’s a sophomore at Georgetown.”

“That’s a good school. Your parents must be so proud.” He paused a moment then finally just decided to ask, “So, what can I do for you?”

That weird vibe just got stronger but Emily played it out, “I guess I was hoping you could tell me where to put my things.” She gestured to the box.

Hotchner noticed the box and frowned, “I’m sorry?”

Emily now realized he probably hadn’t been told she was coming in today. Undeterred, she reached for the folder with her transfer paperwork as she explained, “I’m supposed to start here, today at the BAU.” She handed him the folder.

Hotchner took the folder and began to open it as he said, “There’s been a mistake.”

“I don’t think so sir.”

“There’s definitely been a mistake.” He repeats as he reads further into the papers. In the lull, the door opened and a blond woman came into the office.

Emily turned to the door and she was momentarily stunned. For a split second, she thought the woman was Daphne, the resemblance was uncanny. But then she looked again and realized there were subtle but obvious differences and she relaxed a bit as she listened to the woman talk to Hotchner.

“Oh, excuse me,” Agent Jennifer Jareau hadn’t known her boss had someone in his office and she apologized to the woman before she addressed her boss, “We’re getting started.”

’Thank you I’ll be right there.” Hotchner dismissed the blonde and Emily’s eyes met bright blue ones as she noticed the woman noticing her and smiling before she left the office.

Emily turned back to Hotchner when he began to talk as he handed her the folder back and walked towards the office door. “I didn’t approve this transfer, Agent Prentiss. I’m sorry for the confusion but you’ve been misinformed. Excuse me, it was very good to see you again.” With that, he left the office and began walking down the catwalk that connected the offices on the upper level from the main bullpen.

Emily grabbed the box and followed him but stopped at the doorway to the office as she saw him meet up with another older gentleman. Despite their low voices, Emily could still hear them clearly.

“Did you approve a new transfer?”

Jason Gideon looked down the hall at the woman standing in Hotch’s office and then back to Hotch. “No, I would’ve discussed it with you.”

The men began walking towards the conference room, but Emily could still hear them and she wondered why she was transferred without the team leader’s approval.

“She has the paperwork to join the team.”

“Do you want me to make a call?”

“No, I’ll look into it.”

Emily watched as they disappeared into a room on the other side of the bullpen and she sighed. She carefully left the BAU offices to put her box back into her car. She sat in the driver’s seat for a moment and considered finding the office of the Agent who had sent her the email about her transfer, Section Chief Erin Strauss to find out why her transfer hadn’t been discussed with the BAU’s unit leader but she decided against it. For all she knew, this Strauss woman could’ve been messing with her, or the email could’ve been a mistake, intended for someone else or for a different unit altogether. Emily decided to wait it out for a day or two, give Agent Hotchner a chance to look into the transfer before she tried again.

Emily drove home then, since until this was cleared up there wasn’t much she could do and dropped her box off before heading out again to grab an early lunch. She kept her cell phone on her in case Agent Hotchner called her.

***

Emily waited two days before she went back to the BAU to talk to Agent Hotchner and find out of he’d confirmed her transfer. When she got there, she was met by a young agent named Anderson who told her the team was in St. Louis on a case. Emily gave him her cell number and Agent Anderson promised to let her know when the team was coming back.

Emily left then, knowing there was nothing more she could do until the team returned and she could get this transfer cleared up.

***

That night, Emily invited Katie over for dinner, promising her favorite dish if she’d spend the evening with her ‘old mom’. Katie didn’t even need the bribe of the food, she loved spending time with her mom.

Katie was sitting on the couch after dinner, lasagna, drinking a glass of iced tea while Emily sat in the armchair drinking a glass of wine.

“So mom, what’s going on with your new assignment? What’s the BAU like?” Katie was curious because her mom hadn’t talked about it yet and she was used to her mom talking to her about everything.

Emily looked down into her glass, “There was a bit of a…miscommunication I guess and the unit leader hadn’t been told I was transferring in so he’s being resistant to the idea. I have to wait until he makes some calls and clears it up before I can start there.”

Katie frowned, “But, you told him on Monday that you were supposed to start there right? It’s Wednesday, I mean I know the government is slow but surely it’s not that hard to make a phone call to the higher ups to clear this up.” Katie was confused and a little offended on behalf of her mom that she was being made to wait in limbo until the unit leader got off his ass and did something.

Emily grinned, touched by the tone of Katie’s voice, the concern, and slight indignation. “It’s not that easy. Monday the team was called away to St. Louis for a case. They’ve been there this whole time and I am guessing there’s been precious little time to worry about a new transfer while they are trying to find a serial killer, honey.” Emily shrugged her shoulders, “I can be patient, and I have plenty to keep me busy so don’t worry about me okay?”

“That’s easier said than done mom but I’ll try. But still…you shouldn’t just wait around for this guy to decide your fate. You should go there when they get back and fight for what’s yours.” Katie knew this was her mom’s dream job and she wanted her to have it.

Emily thought about that for a moment then revealed, “Well, that’s kind of the plan. I have someone on the inside so to speak who is going to text me when the team is on their way back so I can go see the unit leader Agent Hotchner, as soon as he gets back. Maybe if he’s tired enough I can get him to listen long enough to see that I belong in that unit.”

Katie smiled, “That’s the mom I know and love.”

The rest of the evening was spent watching television until Katie decided it was time to head back to the dorms. Emily hugged her goodbye and she locked up after her car pulled away from the building.

Emily soon headed to bed after placing their glasses in the dishwasher and setting the coffee maker for the next morning.

***

Thursday morning, Emily went about her usual routine and around 11, she got a text from Agent Anderson letting her know the team would be back that evening by 5. Emily smiled as she formed her game plan for convincing Agent Hotchner to give her a chance to prove she belonged on the team.

That afternoon, around 2:30, Emily walked into the BAU and slipped into Agent Hotchner’s office. She sat on the couch as she waited for him, arriving early so as not to miss him. About an hour later, Anderson came into the office to drop off a file, Emily smiled as she took it from him.

She read it, studied the details and began to formulate a profile for the guy who had killed 11 women so far and didn’t show any signs of stopping.

A few hours later, the door opened again and Emily looked up to see Agent Hotchner walk into his office. She stayed quiet until he noticed her. When he did, he didn’t seem surprised but he asked, “Please tell me you haven’t been there for the last four days.”

Emily gave a small smile, “I heard you were flying back tonight.”

“Heard? How could you have heard a thing like that?” Hotchner was starting to wonder about the security of the building and its agents. The drama with Randall Gardner and Elle was still fresh in his mind.

Emily ignored the question, not wanting to get Anderson into any trouble, instead she handed the folder to him, “This was dropped off earlier today.”

Hotchner took the file then looked at Agent Prentiss, “I appreciate your interest Agent, but profiling is a specialty. We can’t just let anyone who wants to, give it a whirl.”

Emily noticed her chance to prove this wasn’t just a ‘whirl’, “The I-80 killer? Co-eds in Indiana.”

“Yes, I read it on the plane.”

“They aren’t blitz attacks. This guy is organized. He’s a white male in his 30s and a smooth talker because even after 11 victims, he can still convince educated women who know there’s a predator out there to get into his car.”

Hotchner studied her a moment as he thought about her assessment, from what he read of the file on the plane, she seemed to be spot on so far. “How would you advise the police?” Hotchner decided to test her execution now, she had proven she could profile.

Emily took a second then said, “I would stake out the Ranch House, a nightclub in Gary. They have a very popular ladies night on Thursdays. If you look closely you’ll see that 8 out of the 11 victims went missing on a Friday morning, which means something gets this creep’s motor running on Thursdays.” Emily paused a moment for a breath, “This isn’t a whirl Agent Hotchner. I don’t know how the paperwork got screwed up, or maybe you believe my parents pulled some strings, which they didn’t by the way. I belong in this unit and all I am asking you for is the chance to show you that.”

Hotchner took a few moments to think about that, sensing that she was telling the truth about her parents and the transfer. He decided to give her a chance, but he was still going to look into it. “I still need to look into this. I’m not promising anything.”

“Understood.”

“We brief new cases at 10am every morning. You can see facilities management about a desk.”

Emily smiled, realizing she was getting her chance. “You won’t be sorry sir.” She grabbed her box that she’d brought with her and left the office. Tomorrow she would see about securing a desk. For now, she went home, stopping by her favorite Italian restaurant to pick up some quick take out before heading home.

***

The next morning, she reported to the Facilities Management Office and was assigned a desk in the bullpen. She had just settled her things when she got a text from Agent Hotchner telling her she had to see Agent Jareau to go over the policies and procedures for the unit before she could join the case briefings.

Emily stood up and, after finding and asking Anderson where Jareau’s office was, she headed out of the glass doors and down the hall towards the office she was told belonged to Agent Jareau, the BAU’s Communications Liaison. She hoped the meeting didn’t last too long, she had never been a fan of rules and regulations.

Emily reached the door and saw it was open, she glanced inside and was about to announce her presence when she realized it was the blonde from Monday. Emily wondered if this was to be her penance for thinking ill of the rules.

***

Emily stood in the doorway of Agent Jennifer Jareau’s office and silently studied the beautiful blonde as she waited for her to lift her eyes from her paperwork and acknowledge her existence. Agent Jareau was beautiful, there was no doubt about that, but she also had an air of competence about her that Emily found very attractive. It was the slight resemblance she bore to Daphne that was holding her back for the moment.

Emily had finally accepted that her best friend, and one-time lover, wasn’t coming back during her sophomore year of college and since then she’d had a few girlfriends but no one serious. No one had ever really captured her attention, much less her heart since Daphne had all those years ago. She had learned to let that portion of her past go and move on with her life, but being a single mom kind of put a damper on most relationships, not that Emily really minded. She knew she probably wasn’t cut out for long term relationships, her devotion to Katie always overshadowed trivial things like relationships. Still, it didn’t mean that she couldn’t appreciate a beautiful woman…like the blonde she was currently looking at.

Jennifer Jareau, JJ to everyone she met, was acutely aware that she was being watched. She was actually pretty used to it by now. Working with a team of brilliant profilers had taught her to ignore the long looks that usually meant she was being studied and in all likelihood, profiled. After letting it go on for a few more minutes, both to allow her observer to get a good look and to also finish up her assessment of the case file in front of her, JJ looked up with a smile at the brunette who was standing in her doorway.

“Good morning, you must be Agent Prentiss. Please come in and have a seat.” Hotch had told her last night that he was sending her a new agent to brief on the protocols and procedures of the BAU. It was in fact, part of her job to make sure any new team members knew how things were done on this team as opposed to the other BAU teams.

Emily walked into the office and sat down in the chair across from the desk. She smiled as she said, “Please, call me Emily.”

JJ gave a slight nod, “Welcome to the BAU Emily. As you may already know, my name is Jennifer Jareau but everyone calls me JJ. I’m the Communications Liaison for the BAU.”

“It’s nice to meet you, JJ.” Emily had a strong urge to call her Jennifer but she realized that it might not be welcome so she stuck with JJ.

JJ smiled, “Likewise. Now, it is my job to brief you on the protocols and procedures for our team. The BAU currently has three teams working on cases. Each team has its own Liaison and its own set of protocols and procedures that set it apart from the others while still adhering to the FBI standard.” JJ paused a moment to let that sink in then she said, “Basically it means that each team has its own way of doing things but we all follow FBI standards.”

Emily nodded, sensing that JJ wasn’t done explaining.

JJ took Emily’s nod as a sign to continue. “So, I’ll try to keep this simple as there aren’t a lot of rules on our team and I am sure you are already aware of the FBI standards, yes?”

Emily nodded again.

“Right. So, here it is in plain English. We brief new cases every morning at 10am unless we are in the field. You are required to have a go bag ready at all times as we are usually called to a scene at a moment’s notice and there’s never time to run home and pack something. We have a private jet that we use to travel all over the country to wherever a case takes us, so hopefully flying won’t be a problem for you. When the team is not on location on a case, you will be assigned minor cases that only require a consultation and a working profile. It can be done at your desk and then faxed over to the local LEOs in charge of the case. Any questions so far?” JJ stopped, wanting to give Emily a chance to ask anything that she needed to.

Emily thought about it and then asked, “yeah, do the consultation profiles have to be cleared by the team leader before they are faxed over?”

JJ smiled, “No, that’s not required, but if you want to run it by him you can, as long as he’s not busy.” JJ paused before she began the other part of her briefing, “there is currently a moratorium on intra-team profiling. I know that it’s probably second nature by now to profile everyone you meet, however, because of how closely we work together, it was decided that unless you notice something illegal or life-threatening about a team member’s behavior, keep any profiling to yourself. It allows for everyone to have at least a small measure of privacy.”

Emily nodded, understanding that sometimes, being profiled by those you work with can be a bit annoying. “Makes sense.”

JJ smiled. “One other thing, Penelope Garcia is our technical analyst. We rely on her for a lot of our information and she is the best at what she does,” JJ paused, wondering how to best describe her best friend, “she’s also…not your standard FBI-issue analyst. She’s…unique. I’m telling you because it can sometimes be a bit of a shock the first time you meet her.”

“Okay. Is she…deformed or something?” Emily couldn’t figure out why JJ was telling her about the analyst unless there was something physically wrong with her.

JJ almost laughed out loud at that, “No! Nothing like that. She just has her own sense of style and she’s a very…bubbly person. Not everyone can handle someone who is that bubbly and happy who also wears loud colors.”

Emily nodded, finally figuring out what JJ was trying to tell her, “I see…well not to worry. I tend to not judge people by their exteriors. It’s what’s inside that counts with me. It shouldn’t be a problem.”

“Good. That’s good.” JJ paused a moment, trying to think of anything else that she might’ve missed. “I think that just about covers everything. Is there anything you want to ask that I haven’t covered?”

Emily thought about it for a few moments, trying to think of anything that the pretty blonde hadn’t already explained. “No, I think you covered everything. But if I do have any questions later on, can I come to you?”

“Of course, anytime.” JJ smiled at that, feeling an odd warmth in her belly at the thought of Emily coming to her with any questions she might have later on, rather than asking one of the other agents. She liked the idea that Emily might be different from the others in that she wouldn’t be afraid to admit there was something she didn’t know or couldn’t figure out on her own. “Oh, one last thing. On days when we’re not off somewhere else, we usually get off around 5 or 6. Occasionally, the team will go out for drinks after work to unwind. It’s not mandatory but it’s usually a good time.”

Emily smiled, “Sounds like fun. I’ll keep it in mind.” Emily knew, though, that it probably wouldn’t happen for a while. The team would have to get to know her first and she’d have to prove herself to them before they would invite her along for drinks. She didn’t mind, she knew she was good at what she did and that she was a damn good profiler. She just had to prove it to the team. Plus, she’d have to make sure Katie wasn’t planning to swing by her apartment the same night she got invited out.

After a few moments of JJ gathering the paperwork that Emily would need to fill out in order to officially become a member of the BAU, Emily left the small office, papers in hand, and went back to her desk. That night she when she went home she prepared a go bag to have ready just in case.

Emily went to bed that night with a smile on her face. Tomorrow was Saturday and unless something major happened, she was going to spend the weekend with her daughter before she began her first official week with the BAU.

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