Author's Note: Toodling along here, we're picking up almost directly from where we left. As always, thanks for the prior alerts and reviews.
And please note the prompt choice ;)
Prompt Set #34 - September & October 2011
Show: According to Jim
Title Challenge: Plot Twist
Boy Makes A Bad Call
Aaron started out of the park still holding Emily's hand . . . and then he realized.
He was still holding Emily's hand.
He bit down into his lip . . . that wasn't good.
His office was only a few blocks away, and even if all of his coworkers hadn't yet met his wife, he did have a picture of her on his desk.
And she didn't look a DAMN thing like the woman at his side!
But not wanting to hurt Emily's feelings (again) rather than dropping her fingers and moving a chaste six inches away from her . . . like any respectable married man should be doing when out walking with a hot girl that was not his wife/blood relative . . . Aaron simply let go of her fingers.
Then he moved his hand up to her shoulder.
Not AROUND her shoulders mind you, just on her shoulder. Like he'd do with his sister . . . if he had a sister . . . it was just an acknowledgment that they were traveling together. He was simply 'guiding' her along. That was it.
No funny business.
And given the shy smile Emily shot up to him, it looked like she approved of the adjustment of physical contact. So, with that little societal mind field addressed . . . he could definitely never have a real affair, just this WALK was stressing him out(!) . . . as they stepped out onto the sidewalk running opposite the White House, Aaron began moving them back in the direction from whence they'd came.
"One thing before we go to lunch," he said as he began digging into his pants pocket with his free hand, "I need to pop back into the bank for a minute. I have a birthday check that I need to deposit and," he gave a little head shake as he yanked the crumpled paper from his pocket, "it really isn't one that can wait."
As it was the check was already looking seriously worse for wear for the hasty pocket cramming when he ran out of the bank. He was just lucky that he hadn't dropped the damn thing in the gutter when he was chasing after Emily. But if he held onto it any longer . . . he tried to shake out the worst of the wrinkles . . . he was definitely going to lose it.
And that was going to be an embarrassing phone call to his mother.
"Whoa!" Emily exclaimed when her eyes fell on the check in Aaron's hand, "that's a lot of zeroes!"
That was one big ass BIRTHDAY check! Was he a Kennedy or something?
"Yeah," Aaron shrugged a bit self-consciously as he dropped his arm back down to his side, "my mother sent it to me this morning. My grandfather had left me the money in his will years ago, but I didn't know about it until today because it wasn't supposed to be distributed until I turned thirty. I just want to deposit it before I lose it."
Okay . . . Aaron's brow wrinkled . . . he had now just told Emily the huge secret that he had decided to keep from his wife. Huh. Well, that was uh . . . unplanned. And also . . . his nose wrinkled . . . probably some sort of violation of the marital trust.
Or at least it felt like it was.
But . . . he tried to comfort his discomforted self . . . as long as Emily never told his wife the secret . . . and if the two of them ever randomly met then he'd have MUCH bigger problems than an undisclosed birthday check . . . then perhaps it wasn't so bad. At least in regards to his physical well-being.
He'd have to get back to that marital trust thing on another day.
"Oh man," Emily snorted as they continued walking towards the bank, "I would have already lost it. I'm terrible about stuff like that. That's actually why I was going to the bank today. I lost my stupid card thingy sometime over the weekend."
And now she was also feeling better about the ginormous birthday check. At least he wasn't actually a Kennedy. Because that would have totally blown if he was gorgeous, funny, nice AND filthy rich!
Talk about worst missed opportunity EVER!
Aaron's lips twitched as he looked down.
"Stupid card thingy," he repeated in amusement, "would that translate in English as the 'automated teller machine debit card'?"
Ridiculous statements like 'stupid card thingy,' were how he'd lost the initial twenty minutes of his life to her in the bank . . . she was quite amusing.
In an 'easily get sucked into her gravitational pull' kind of way.
"Potato, potatoe," Emily huffed with a flap of her hand. "So anyway," she moved back to the more interesting topic of conversation . . . the money, "the birthday check. Do you have big plans for it? A trip or," she grinned up at him, "maybe one of those giant foam fingers? Because you know catching a cab would be a BREEZE with one of those things."
Joke or not, that actually wasn't a bad idea. If nothing else it would save her from having to flash her legs at two am to get a cab.
Always a plus.
"No," Aaron's mouth quivered again, "no, sorry I wasn't planning on purchasing any foam fingers. And no trips to Venice or Stuttgart either. I'm just putting it towards my student loans. It won't even really make that much of a dent but," he shrugged, "every bit helps."
Then . . . realizing he might sound a bit ungrateful for his gift . . . he quickly clarified.
"Not that I don't appreciate the money either way of course," he added as the bank entrance came back into view, "I'm just saying that school's expensive. And you don't really realize how expensive, until you get out and all the loans come due," then he squeezed her shoulder, "you'll see."
"Um," Emily's nose wrinkled sheepishly as she looked up at her new friend, "actually I don't think that I will. My family's sort of um, rich. I don't have any loans."
Great, she thought with a cringe, now SHE was the one that sounded like a Kennedy! And seeing Aaron's eyebrow go up in amusement, Emily was quick to add.
"But just to be clear though, I'm not rich. They are. I actually bartend three nights a week. It covers all my expenses. And then once I'm out of school, I'm completely on my own. But my mother said that there wasn't any reason for me to go into debt for college, so they pay my tuition and housing directly, the rest is all me. It's really nice that school's covered, but my folks aren't super rich or anything, just," she shrugged, "'well off' I guess would be the best term."
And about half of that was family money . . . both of them came from it . . . and half that was just her parents working their asses off for the last twenty-five years. So she wasn't actually embarrassed about the enormous house in Kalorma or the beach front cottage in Martha's Vineyard.
'They both traveled too often to enjoy either of them anyway,' she thought with a trace of bitterness. But she shook that off.
It wasn't the time to focus on her family dramas.
Aaron paused for a moment to look down at Emily in curiosity. They had just reached the front of the bank again . . . and though they had things to do . . . he now had a question on the tip of his tongue.
Because he had known quite a few 'rich girls' in his day . . . he had spent four years at Harvard and then another four working a career path in Washington . . . and by his experience, there weren't many rich girls that were qualified to brew a pot of coffee, let alone support themselves mixing drinks. Not to mention that offhand remark Emily had made earlier about her father 'making her practice maneuvers until she could flip the Marines.'
So the question was really just BEGGING to be asked.
"What do your parents do?"
That was not something that had been touched upon at all earlier. Given his own 'parental' issues . . . and the horror show therein . . . Aaron didn't generally inquire directly about other people's home lives or upbringing. But, seeing as she'd brought both points up . . . he didn't feel the question was out of line.
And if it was, she could just decline to answer.
Emily's teeth sunk into her lip as she stared up at Aaron for a moment . . . should she?
Oh . . . she sighed . . . what the hell.
"Um," she cleared her throat, "at present, my mother is the Ambassador to Belgium, and my father works for the CIA."
Though she didn't tell most people what her parents did for a living . . . generally she just said they worked "for the government" . . . Aaron did work for the DOJ . . . and that was true, she'd seen his lanyard . . . so he obviously had a security clearance.
Not that his clearance alone would have been reason to disclose her father's job in particular . . . half of this town had a clearance in something or other . . . but given that Daddy wasn't working deep cover assignments any longer, his general employer wasn't so much a secret anymore. Or, at all really.
He had business cards and everything.
She had one in her wallet.
Still though, she was a little nervous about Aaron's reaction to what she'd said . . . even for this town it was kind of a weird background. And she could see him staring at her for a moment, almost like he was processing the data . . . and then he nodded.
"I can see that." Then he stepped back to let her go through the door. "So," his eyebrow quirked up, "where do you want to go to lunch?"
A mother who was a professional politician and a father who was a spy . . . he huffed faintly to himself . . . Emily Prentiss certainly didn't let him down in the parental expectation department.
And she was now officially the most interesting person that he'd met that month.
For a moment Emily ignored Aaron's question about lunch. And she did that because she was again taking a second to kick the fates for sending this man into her life pre-betrothed. Honestly, he was probably the first 'regular' person that she'd mentioned her parents' jobs to, that hadn't asked ten invasive follow up questions.
Ones that had made her regret opening her mouth to begin with.
But he hadn't asked one question . . . he was just cool about it. Cool with it. And that was making her feel kind of depressed.
Maybe the lunch wasn't going to be such a great idea.
Still though she tried to give him a little smile . . . even if she did have a slightly angsty dig in her chest . . . as she patted the arm holding the fifteen thousand dollars.
"Your choice on lunch," then her tone brightened slightly, "after all you've got as much money there as Scrooge McDuck."
It was a goofy little joke, but when Emily saw Aaron's mouth quiver, she ended up giving him a saucy wink in response. And seeing his eyes widen slightly at that, the angst began to fade.
Even if her attraction to this man would remain unrequited, it was still fun to flirt with him.
He was gorgeous after all.
And as long as they both knew that nothing was going to happen between them, then really . . . she turned to step into the next space on the revolving door . . . what was the harm?
Though he saw Emily disappear into the glass merry go round, rather than following her through, Aaron remained on the sidewalk.
He was blinking like an owl.
Was she just flirting with him? Though he was admittedly a bit of out of practice with the activity . . . you didn't flirt much with your own wife . . . that wink did very much seem like flirting. But that didn't make sense . . . his brow wrinkled . . . because Emily knew that she wasn't supposed to be flirting with him.
Because he couldn't flirt back!
Wait . . . he froze for a second . . . that made it sound like he WANTED to flirt back. But he didn't. Not at all.
Not even a little.
Okay . . . he groaned to himself . . . maybe he did a little. Actually . . . he bit his lip . . . maybe he did a lot. Maybe he'd had a little too much fun doing that earlier. And maybe, as he ground his teeth together, he realized that making Emily smile, had brought him a little too much personal satisfaction.
And maybe he was just an awful husband that was going to burn in hell.
But putting aside his not so stellar character defects for a moment . . . wanting to begin CONSCIOUSLY flirting was not a good road for him . . . as he slowly let out the little breath that he'd been holding, Aaron reminded himself that Emily was . . . as they say . . . a 'nice girl.'
A nice girl that had already made it QUITE clear that she wasn't interested in engaging in any "funny business" with a married man.
So most likely . . . a little more of the tension left his body . . . that wasn't her flirting. That was just her joking around. That seemed to be her way.
And it was a nice way.
So that meant, again character defects aside . . . he finally stepped into the revolving door . . . that he was just being an idiot. He rolled his eyes.
And not the first time.
And to Emily's credit . . . again, as a nice girl . . . Aaron was relieved that she chose not to question why it had taken him nearly a minute longer to clear the bank entrance than it had her. After all, it wasn't exactly Checkpoint Charlie that they had to needle their way past.
It was just a glass door moving in a circle.
Though . . . his lips pursed together disapprovingly . . . perhaps the reason that she hadn't noticed how tardy he was in following her in, was because she was lost in her own world again. Not only was she wandering off, he shook his head.
But she was back digging into that damn purse again.
The damn purse . . . he hurried after her as she began heading towards the same patch of floor that she'd gone splat on a half an hour ago . . . that had been her downfall earlier.
She really should invest in one of those new fanny pack things.
"Careful," he murmured as he caught up, smoothly slipping her arm through his, "this is the icy spot. And if you fall down again, you might not be so lucky this time.
"Lucky?" Emily blinked as she sputtered up at Aaron in surprise, "you think it was LUCKY that I flipped my skirt up over my head?"
Again, the only thing that was LUCKY about that, was that she'd had on new underwear when it had happened!
"No," Aaron rolled his eyes, "I'm not saying that was lucky. I'm saying that your fall could have been worse. You could have taken a bad bump to your head the last time."
And now . . . he huffed to himself . . . he was starting to feel like he was talking to his wife. So maybe the desire to flirt was just an aberration.
One that hopefully wouldn't come back.
"Oh," Emily calmed down a bit, "well, that makes more sense," then her attention dropped back to her shoulder bag as she murmured back absentmindedly, "though I did take a pretty bad bump to my head then too."
Hearing the squeak of concern in Aaron's tone, Emily shot him a sheepish smile.
"It's okay. I do that all the time. It only hurts for a minute. Though," her eyes fell warily down to her nemesis . . . the shiny gold marble, "in this instance you're probably right," she shifted a little closer to him, "best not to push my luck with another head bump today."
Her search for a piece of candy . . . she was starving and she could have sworn she had a box of junior mints in the bottom of her bag . . . would have to wait until they were on safer ground again.
It would be nice if she didn't end up with a concussion just because of these stupid shoes.
Aaron stood there for a moment with his gaze bouncing between Emily's head and the slippery marble beneath their feet. Then he rolled his eyes.
It might not be his smartest move, but . . . he removed his grip from her arm . . . it was the gentlemanly thing to do.
"You're right," he nodded as his arm slipped down and around her waist, "best not push our luck."
And when he saw Emily look up at him sideways at the liberty he'd just taken . . . though he did note the faint bit of amusement there as well . . . he just rolled his eyes again.
"You can holster the look," Aaron huffed as he began walking them in the direction of the teller windows, "there's no ravishing afoot. This is purely a safety precaution. We really don't have time for another spectacular spill this afternoon. Because for one thing," he continued in a vaguely bored tone as they cut around an old woman standing in the middle of the bank, "I'm getting hungry, and it would be nice to eat something before my actual birthday party rolls around . . . seven hours from now. But also," he made another course correction around a random human statue, "though I'm not a doctor, I'm fairly sure that if you slam your head into marble twice in one day, then we're going to have to trot on over to the ER to get you a CAT scan," then his expression softened as he looked back down at her with a little smile, "and I do have a day job that I need to get back to eventually."
Really, these were the ONLY reasons that he was touching her in this fashion. It had absolutely nothing to do with anything else. Like . . . he bit his lip . . . the fact that she was soft and cushiony and her hair smelled really . . . he discretely inhaled . . . really, good.
He liked roses.
Not that that mattered, he reminded himself while blinking to refocus. Even if she had been bony and poky with hair smelling like TUNA FISH he still would have been doing his damndest to keep her from wiping out on the floor again. It was the right thing to do. He was just being chivalrous, that's all.
At least that's what he told his conscience.
Though . . . he bit back a sigh . . . his conscience didn't seem to be buying it.
Hearing Aaron's blustery defense of his unsolicited arm wrapping, Emily felt a half dozen sassy responses RACE to the tip of her tongue.
But for once in her life . . . she slipped her purse back onto her shoulder . . . she kept her tongue firmly holstered. Instead she opted to just chuckle quietly as he walked them around the other patrons and over towards the velvet ropes.
Really, if the awesome, hot guy . . . that smelled AMAZING . . . though she didn't know if that was aftershave or just HIM . . . wanted to briefly pull her to his side for a 'safety precaution,' she wasn't going to complain.
She was just going to enjoy the ride.
Because really, as 'advances' went . . . though she didn't really consider it an 'advance' . . . it was a very chaste one. Old fashioned even.
It was kind of sweet really.
He just didn't want her to fall down.
But also . . . she rolled her eyes slightly . . . his points about eating food and them getting on with their respective days were all valid ones. It was entirely possible that she could indeed go flying onto her butt again. Especially given that she probably was going to get distracted talking to him about something. Like . . . ooh . . . Emily's eyes suddenly lit up as a new thought popped into her head.
Then she excitedly patted the hand resting on her hip.
"Oh, can we get cake for dessert?"
Aaron's brow wrinkled as he looked down at Emily curiously.
"Emily, if you'd like a piece of cake, of course you can have some." His lip quirked up slightly, "you can even pick out your own entrée and drink too."
That was a very odd thing to ask permission about.
"No," Emily shook her head, "I mean can we get BIRTHDAY cake? You know, for you? After we eat, can we stop at a bakery and get a little cake with a candle in it?"
Yes, it might seem a little forward to extend out their NON date to include other NON date activities. But really, he was being very nice. Just him asking her to go lunch to make up for what happened in the bank earlier was so sweet, that she just wanted to have her own way to say thank you to him.
And given the day . . . his birthday . . . this kind of stop just seemed the most appropriate way to say thanks.
But seeing Aaron's teeth start to dig into his lip . . . he was clearly mulling the request . . . she knew that he was a little nervous about the idea. So she smiled up at him.
"No ravishing on my side either, I promise. I just thought that it would be nice if you had the opportunity for an extra birthday wish. Plus," she grinned, "I like cake."
Seeing Aaron burst out laughing at that pronouncement, Emily knew then that she'd won him over.
"Okay," Aaron chuckled as they stepped into the velvet rope area, "fine, we can get some cake."
This woman was completely and utterly ridiculous!
But for some reason . . . he started feeling a little stirring where he shouldn't be having any stirrings at all . . . the more time that he spent with her, the more time that he WANTED to spend with her. And that . . . he somewhat reluctantly pulled his arm away from her waist . . . they were now just standing still in line . . . was bad. Very bad.
On par with conscious FLIRTING, bad!
Because he was still married . . . and he was STILL not going to cheat on Haley. Right . . . he pushed down the quiver of attraction that was starting to become distracting . . . not cheating on Haley.
He wasn't that guy.
Though . . . his eyes crinkled slightly as he listened to Emily's excitement while rattling off her favorite bakeries within walking distance . . . the German one sounded interesting . . . he had to admit that his memories of this birthday . . . or more particularly of this random girl who had floated into his life on this birthday . . . were probably going to stick with him for a long time.
And maybe that wasn't such a bad thing.
Again, he loved his wife. But the world was a big place, and there were so many people to meet.
Maybe he was supposed to meet Emily.
Maybe this was how his birthday was supposed to go. Because there was no denying, that as he saw Emily's eyes sparkle as she started telling him about the best slice of cake that she'd ever had . . . in Paris . . . that this brief time with her had been . . . with the exception of the awkward misunderstanding . . . the most fun that he'd had all week.
All month really.
And that meant . . . they shuffled forward slightly in line . . . that her short contribution to his life, had already been a very worthy one.
The problem was that he was wishing that the contribution could be extended a bit further.
That perhaps they could maybe be friends.
But as she shook her hair back and he got another whiff of the rose scented shampoo, he knew that friendship just wasn't in the cards. And he knew that because he'd just felt that little quiver of attraction brushing over him again.
He'd wanted to slide his arm back around her waist.
And that was bad too.
Because even if he wasn't the type to cheat . . . physically cheat anyway, the lunch was kind of a grey area . . . he knew that he just couldn't be in a committed relationship and maintain a platonic friendship with another woman that he was finding himself attracted to. It would just be too confusing on so many levels. Emotionally . . . physically . . . sexually.
You name it.
But also . . . Haley's face suddenly popped into his head . . . he couldn't be married and maintain personal friendships with any attractive women, period. Perhaps if Emily was a co-worker or a neighbor . . . or someone else with a label that held some distance . . . the situation would be a little different.
At least from Haley's point of view.
But unfortunately Emily didn't hold another label. She wasn't anything but what she was.
A really hot chick that he'd met in a bank.
And that meant that Haley would have a fit if he . . . against his better judgment . . . tried to add Emily to his friend roster. Hell, Haley would have a fit right NOW! And all they were doing was standing in line together at the bank!
"Are you okay?"
Hearing Emily's worried tone . . . and then processing that she'd stopped talking a few seconds earlier . . . Aaron's somewhat startled gaze snapped down to hers.
"Uh, yeah," he nodded, "sure."
Just suddenly freaking out about my wife catching me in the bank with you is all!
Emily stared up at Aaron for a moment, gauging the look on his face. Then she bit her lip.
"I was talking too much wasn't I?" Her lips pursed slightly as she shook her head, "I'm sorry. I do that sometimes. I just get excited about something and then forget that the rest of the world doesn't generally care to hear to my . . ." she gave Aaron an awkward smile as a memory flashed in her head, "stupid opinion, on whatever dumb thing I'm talking about." Then her eyes dropped to the floor as her voice faded slightly, "I'll just be quiet until we get out of here."
And the spaz takes another bow. But really it's not like it was the first time that she'd bored some guy to tears with her rambling. She was just so clueless sometimes. People didn't want to her thoughts on every little stupid thing that popped into her brain.
And she just needed to remember that.
"What?" Aaron sputtered in surprise. "Emily," he continued in astonishment as he reached over to lift her chin, "don't be ridiculous! I don't want you to be QUIET!"
Realizing that his tone was much too loud . . . especially for a building with twenty foot ceilings and an unfortunate echo . . . Aaron continued in a softer tone.
"That had nothing to do with you," he said while shaking his head at the sadness in her eyes, "that was just me getting distracted for a moment. And that was very rude on my part," he dropped his fingers from her chin down to take her hand, "I apologize."
God, he was such an ASSHOLE! It was probably in the poor girl's best interest that this would be their only day together. So far he'd stomped on her little feelings TWICE in the forty-five minutes that he'd known her!
At this rate he might as well just sock her in the FACE and be done with it!
And it wasn't until Emily's expression began to lighten right before she whispered, "okay," that Aaron started to feel a little better about what he'd just done. About how he'd fucked up with her.
And just as he was about to ask Emily to repeat the last thing that she'd been talking about . . . he'd lost the thread after French buttercream . . . her choice of words from the moment before popped back into his head.
And he could tell from the look on her face when she'd said it . . . that hurt smile . . . that it wasn't just a randomly chosen phrase.
Somebody had said those exact words to her.
And given what she'd told him out in the park, he was guessing . . . it was probably a man.
One that was an even BIGGER asshole than he was!
But not wanting to embarrass her in front of the people waiting in line around them . . . well, embarrass her any more than he had ALREADY, again loud talking and echoes didn't go together . . . Aaron leaned in close to say the last thing that needed to be said.
"And your opinions aren't stupid Emily," he whispered as their eyes caught, "I've known you less than an hour, but that adjective wouldn't even make the list of the words I'd use to describe you. You are clever and funny and well spoken. And you've made me laugh more in our brief acquaintance, than anyone I've talked to in a month. So the next time that someone," his expression hardened, "some guy, tells you that you're boring him, or that your opinions are stupid and he doesn't want to hear them, you tell him to shove it up his ass," he squeezed her fingers, "okay?"
When she'd told him out in the park that he was one of the few 'nice' guys that she'd met, he'd found that hard to believe. She was just so pretty and personable, how could she not have a line of men . . . of ALL stripes . . . beating down her door?
But now, as he saw the tears begin pooling in her eyes, that idea didn't seem so farfetched at all. She'd clearly been hurt.
And for some reason that really pissed him off.
Emily tried to hurriedly blink away the tears forming in her eyes . . . must be PMS'ing or something. Either that . . . she sniffled slightly . . . or this was the sweetest guy she'd ever met.
Okay . . . her breath caught as he reached up to catch a stray tear that she felt spill onto her cheek . . . yeah, he was the sweetest guy that she'd ever met.
"I'm sorry," Aaron whispered as he pulled his fingertips away, "I didn't mean to make you cry."
And he should not have touched her that way . . . that intimately. But he couldn't help it. Not when he'd realized that she was crying again because of something that he'd said.
Maybe he was the one that needed to keep his mouth shut.
"No," Emily sniffled again as she gave him a watery smile, "no, it's okay. You're just being nice. And I think I'm just," she shook her head, "probably still a little worked up from earlier."
Yeah . . . she took a few quick breaths to get her emotions under control . . . let's go with that. But seriously . . . she took another deep breath as she wiped the corner of her eye . . . they were in the middle of the BANK for God's sake!
Time to get it together Prentiss!
So when she looked back up again, she made sure to give Aaron a bright . . . genuine . . . smile.
"I'm good now. And thank you," she squeezed his hand, "for what you said. That was very sweet."
And then . . . not wanting to get into anything deeper . . . anything else that could make her cry . . . Emily shifted her gaze . . . and attention . . . up to the teller counters. And that's when she noticed the open space . . . almost a four foot gap . . . separating them from the four customers in line in front of them.
At least three of those people had moved up since she'd last been paying attention.
"Oh," she spun around to apologize to the people waiting behind them, "I'm sorry."
Though unintentional, holding up the line was a bit embarrassing.
But then when she saw the two men closest to them roll their eyes, right before one of them muttered, "women," Emily felt that burn of embarrassment hit just a little harder. Hit her right in the gut.
Why did people have to be like that? Why couldn't anyone ever just be nice?
Why was that so hard?
And she wanted to say something to them . . . to that man in particular, to ask him those questions.
To watch him maybe squirm a bit as she waited for his answers.
But that just wasn't her way.
Instead she just swallowed as she turned to move forward again. She was going to suck it up.
But then she felt Aaron's hand on her back.
"No harm done Emily," Aaron said loudly while shuffling Emily forward, "it's not like they were going anywhere that we weren't going first."
Dickheads. Seriously, if not for the fact that he didn't want to get kicked out of the bank before depositing his check, he would have happily gotten into that guy's face for the smart remark.
Why couldn't they just be nice to her? Why was that so hard?
And now he was definitely starting to see what she'd meant about nice guys and not nice guys. It was strange suddenly looking at the world from the viewpoint . . . not of a married man . . . but now of a single girl.
He had no idea that there were so many assholes in the world.
And as he felt another wave of protectiveness come over him, Aaron decided to do something REALLY stupid . . . he let his arm snake back around Emily's waist.
This time he had no 'safety precaution' reasoning to fall back on. This time he didn't even try to justify it to himself. He'd simply done it because he didn't like the way those men had treated her. And he didn't like the slump he could see in her shoulders because of that treatment.
It made him feel bad.
And he really needed to get out of the damn bank before he did something even stupider . . . like give her a hug.
They'd already set the 'no funny business' rule, so a hug would just CLEARLY send her a wrong signal.
Plus it would definitely be WELL over the acceptable line of married man behavior.
Still though, he couldn't quite let it go yet. Because that little sparkle from earlier . . . the one that made him happy . . . was gone from her eyes.
And he wanted it back.
So he tipped his head down to whisper in her ear. "Do you want me to say something to him?"
If it would make her feel better, he would . . . he would tell the guy he was a dick and that he wasn't even good enough to speak to her, let alone to think that he could speak to her like that. And then he'd make him apologize for being rude and making her feel badly about herself.
He'd be happy to do those things . . . and perhaps knock the guy on his ass if he said anything back to him . . . but it just needed to wait one minute.
He needed to get rid of the fifteen thousand dollars first.
Feeling a bit of protective shelter from Aaron's presence . . . something that she didn't usually have out in the world . . . Emily found herself leaning into his side. Then she shook her head.
"No," she shot him a little smile, "thanks though."
God was she starting to hate his wife.
Seeing that Emily's spirit was looking a bit lighter . . . but still hoping to get that sparkle back again . . . Aaron decided to do a little something to move things along.
Yes, it was going to be flat out flirting . . . but it would be flirting with good cause.
He was doing God's work!
"No problem." He whispered back with a slow wink and a single dimple. And when he saw her lips begin to twitch . . . and then that little crinkle around her eyes . . . he was ridiculously proud of himself.
"You're supposed to keep those things holstered," Emily huffed as she poked Aaron in the side, "they're dangerous."
The man wasn't going to be happy until he'd RUINED her for all other men!
Though at this point . . . she started to giggle as he suggestively waggled first one . . . and then the other . . . brow at her . . . he didn't really have far to go.
It was going to be a while . . . she grinned at him . . . until somebody else was going to turn her head like Aaron Hotchner had.
She saw many months of celibacy ahead of her.
Seeing that sparkle had finally returned . . . all it took was him making faux suggestive faces at her . . . Aaron gave Emily a squeeze.
"You feel better now?" He asked with a little smile.
"Uh huh," she nodded happily as she fought off the little sting in her eyes, "thanks."
Yeah, she was ruined.
"No thanks needed," Aaron brushed off the gratitude, "I'm a public servant, I'm here to serve. And now," he craned his neck to see what the holdup was on the line, "if we could just get out of here, then we could get some damn lunch."
Though they had started out with a decent line in front of him, Aaron really couldn't see why they still hadn't reached the front of it.
For God's sake they had FIVE teller stations open!
So what was taking so . . .
And then his eyes suddenly widened as the rest of his thought was lost in a flood of new ones.
A flood of bad ones.
Something had just caught his attention. Something not good. And as his respirations began to increase, he let his agitated gaze float further around the open space of the bank.
And then something else caught his attention. And his level of alarm . . . which had already been on an escalating path to Code Red . . . spiked clear through the roof.
"Emily," he whispered while pulling her closer into his side, "we're going to leave now."
Please don't question me on this!
"What?" Emily blinked as Aaron suddenly turned them around and started cutting back around the other patrons, "why?"
They'd already been standing there for almost ten minutes. What was another three?
But then suddenly she took note of the tension in his body . . . and the fact that he was ignoring her question . . . and she realized that something had happened.
Something was wrong.
And feeling a little kick of adrenaline . . . his nerves were catching . . . she leaned up to hiss in his ear.
"What did you see?" She asked anxiously, "What's wrong? I promise not to freak out. Just tell me."
She was having flashbacks to her days living in the embassies.
It was not a good feeling.
Though Aaron didn't want to stop and chat . . . there was absolutely no time for that . . . he also knew it wasn't right to keep Emily in the dark either.
And she didn't seem the type to panic, so that wasn't really a concern.
But besides that . . . he slipped them out of the last curve of the ropes . . . she'd probably be more cooperative moving towards the door if she knew what was happening. As of now her steps were dragging against his.
And that was because she didn't understand what was happening.
So he pressed his lips back to her ear . . . if anyone else heard what he said, it was definitely going to cause a panic.
"The man at the third window," he murmured, "has a gun."
Feeling Emily's body go rigid next to him, Aaron bit his lip.
"I know," he soothed, "that's bad. But what's worse is that he has a friend. Don't look, but he's at two o'clock. So we're just going to go outside and tell one of the fifty or so Secret Service agents standing thirty feet away, what's happening in here." He spared her a quick look.
Emily gave a quick jerk of her head.
Shit, shit, SHIT! Why did she have LUCK like this?
Okay Em . . . she took a shallow breath . . . just calm down, and keep your head. You've been in worse situations than this. Aaron's right . . . she slowly exhaled . . . all you guys have to do is walk out the door.
Just stay cool.
"Good," Aaron let out a slight huff, "now can you think of a way to make us not look quite so conspicuous running out."
Though he didn't think the number two man had noticed them yet, clearly he was going to be watching for any unusual behavior.
And him dragging Emily out the door in the crook of his arm probably counted as 'unusual.'
And yes . . . Aaron felt a dig in his chest as he passed an elderly couple . . . he did feel like absolute SHIT leaving all of these other people in here with whatever was about to happen. But . . . he tightened his hold on Emily . . . the best . . . most responsible . . . thing to do, was tell somebody with a badge that there was a problem.
And neither he nor Emily fell into that category.
Though he had to give Emily some major respect for solving their 'conspicuous flight' issue. She'd stepped right up.
She was now covering for their hasty exit by clutching her stomach as she moaned in pain.
Under other circumstances . . . and without of course his marital entanglement . . . he would have happily smacked a kiss on her lips.
The girl could definitely think on her feet!
And he could see that their exit was finally coming up . . . the revolving door was just ten paces away . . . when suddenly there was a body blocking their path.
"Is there a problem here, sir?"
It was one of the security guards.
A/N 2: Oooh, plot twist! Yeah, it was always going to be a bank robbery :) Because I didn't really see a simple 'run in' as being notable enough to actual wind their respective paths together.
And, fun trivia fact for fans of the Girl'verse, you already know who one of the bank robbers is! My only hint (beyond it not being a member of the team) is the reminder that the year is 1993. That is a date that has been specifically referenced in a chapter of Girl proper. And once you remember when the year was mentioned, you'll know who it is. But I'll be very impressed if anyone gets it off the top of their head :) Otherwise, I'll let you know next time around!
As to all the touchy, touchy stuff, this is the Girl'verse, and this is a much younger, open, version of them. I see Aaron (without all the Hotch armor and FBI regs) being more immediately attracted to Emily here. Because even in Girl, when they met at her mom's he was taken with her, she made a lasting impression, but then their paths separated again. This time they won't ;)
If the FF login continues to be cooperative, I should have another update in a few days. Not here, elsewhere.
And thanks for all the support kids! Without you it would just be me and my cat reading this stuff, and he prefers non-fiction :)