It's the travelling that wears her down, sometimes. Tonight they're in Florida. It's hot, even long after dark, a stilted, humid heat that the rattling air conditioner in their hotel can't seem to break through.
Emily peels out of the day's outfit, into a cotton t-shirt and lace underwear, and rolls the dirty clothes into a ball, stuffed in a corner of her suitcase. She isn't surprised when Aaron knocks on her hotel room door.
Dave shows up on his own, five minutes later. They form a warm, three-sided embrace, and then it's quiet for a moment. The truth is that they're too exhausted, and it's too damn hot, for Emily to do anything besides leave lingering kisses on both their faces and murmur, "Can't sleep?"
Dave shrugs, glancing at Aaron, who hates admitting any weakness, even one as mundane as insomnia. "The place across the street is open 24 hours," Dave suggests.
If the diner has a name, no one can tell what it is. They've already been there twice on this trip, the whole team digging into greasy french fries and hamburgers as they discussed crime scenes and the unsub's escalating rage. Tonight it's just the three of them, a handful of half-asleep night-shift workers, and one bored looking waitress, who slaps down the menus without glancing at their faces.
Emily orders pie while the boys sip thick vanilla milkshakes. She complaints half-heartedly about the calories, and can't help but smile when Dave tells her that she's beautiful. What they have is a secret, still, but every now and then she thinks for sure that the look on her face might give them away.
In DC, the boys visit sometimes when Aaron can get his babysitter, a sweet college-age girl that Aaron is pretty sure lets Jack stay up past his bedtime. It's a purposeful, fortnightly date. "We can't make this just about forgetting bad cases," Aaron points out, and they all know that he's right.
They don't go to Aaron's place too often. He's not comfortable having them there around his son, and neither of them are ready to push him.
"You need to teach him more than how to be unhappy," Emily couldn't help saying once.
Aaron just looked at her, features wrinkling in confusion. "I am happy."
Dave smiled a little, at that. Emily simply didn't know what to say. They alternate between Emily's small house, pretty without being feminine and never quite tidy enough for guests, just to piss off the mother that isn't even present. Dave's place has the best of everything in an immaculate kitchen. He cooks a flawless meal for three at the simplest excuse, with neither Aaron nor Emily allowed to help. They only get in the way, he tells them.
So Emily uncorks a bottle of wine, and sips her glass of red from Aaron's lap. He's warm and comfortable, his familiar, masculine scent surrounding her as she leans her head against his shoulder. He is still wearing his workday suit, and it's nice to undo his Windsor knot and try and mess him up, just a little. Nicer still, that sometimes he lets her.
After dinner, after another glass of wine, they stumble towards the bed. In here Aaron can always be counted on to follow orders. It's one of the things that Emily likes best about what they do. She thinks he likes the change of pace. The chance to forget himself, to be nothing but what her desire shapes him into.
"Breathe, sweetheart," Dave whispers gently, but it's not clear which one of them he's talking to. "Just breathe. What do you want tonight?"
"What do you want?" she asks, with her fingers stroking Aaron's face. "You want to make me feel good?"
Aaron nods, mutely, and kneels at her feet.
It's amazing being the center of their attention, of being at the mercy of the two most focused men that she knows. But sometimes Emily just likes to watch them watching each other, to see that slightly dazed look that Aaron gets when Dave flirts with him in front of her. Then the rare and gentle smile, that means he's ready to retaliate.
She loves that they still find each other sexy, so many years after Dave first noticed that quiet, intense BAU rookie with more potential than any other recruit he'd met so far. Married, though, and so painfully honest that Dave just pushed the thought away.
"He was gorgeous," he tells Emily when she asks about it. Emily likes to hear his stories, and Dave likes to tell them just as much, whispering the dirtier tales into her ear while he pushes one hand up her skirt. "And ready to learn. And I... I mean, I already had something of a reputation by then."
"Legend," she corrects him, and he smiles against the soft skin at the hollow of her neck.
"okay, legend. Every batch of new kids, they were eager to learn from me, but they were also a little... starstruck, I think."
Emily undoes a button on her shirt, and arches her back in pleasure as he unhooks her bra. "Groupies, Dave. You mean groupies."
"Groupies," David agrees again. "And that was what it was, it was interesting sometimes, but... that would never have crossed Aaron's mind. Even without the Haley factor."
"That just made him more interesting to you," Emily guesses, and Dave grins.
"Are you profiling me, Agent Prentiss?"
"I may be," she admits, and then laughs as he picks her up and pulls her down with him, onto soft cotton sheets. "You fantasized about him."
"Didn't you?" he asks her, and she can't deny it. "You wonder what he would be like. What it would take, to get a workaholic like that into bed. "
The truth is that it took Emily, at least in part, and the precisely traced path of Aaron's grief. In the beginning they were the safe choice, partners that understood the darker parts of his life and weren't demanding more than what he had to give. Weren't chasing wedding rings.
If Aaron doesn't think that he'll ever want that kind of life again, Emily and Dave don't ask him if he'll change his mind. Second-guessing the future never got anyone anywhere, Dave says, and Aaron nods gravely and says, "That's very good. You should put that in your next book."
Dave laughs, kisses Aaron and says, "Maybe I'll write about you."
Maybe the team knows, and maybe they don't It's damn near impossible to keep secrets at the BAU, but they try. JJ is the one who knows what it's like for Emily, being a woman in this tough, boys-club job. Who doesn't say anything when Emily sneaks out of their shared hotel rooms at late hours, and claims she's just going to spend some time on the treadmill. Reid is the one who helps her finish the crossword when she's bored on the cross-country flights, and Derek is the one who works to make her laugh. But they can't be in this, with her, and Emily needs this thing that's just her and Aaron and Dave, as much as she can remember needing anything.
In San Diego they catch an unsub who's tearing through a college campus, picking women that remind him of his ex-girlfriend. Emily is the one who knocks on Hotch's door after that. Dave's his roommate on this trip, pretending not to be horrified by the old hotel's worn-out carpet, and the view of the blinking neon sign over the asphalt parking lot.
"What do you want?" Hotch asks. His fingers tangle comfortably with Dave's, but his eyes focus only on her. It's a not a challenge but a genuine question, softly spoken.
Emily simply kisses him, leaning into him so that their hips touch. She wants them both so much right now, a sensation that surprises her every time with the strength of it.
"Make love to me," she says, and Aaron makes a small, barely audible noise in the back of his throat as he reaches out for her.
Dave unzips her dress, watching as the fabric slides down the curves of her skin and pools at her feet.
"You two going to put on a show for me?" he asks, and Emily smiles.
The case is closed. It's back to DC in the morning, but until then it's just the three of them, in the silence of this one room. These are the moments that are rare enough to matter. Emily takes Dave by the hand, with every smile a perfectly lewd promise, and Aaron turns down the sheets.