As Jennifer Jareau hung up the phone in her glassed in office in the Federal Building, she had one clear thought. She needed David Rossi to save her again. Damn it! It was December 24 and Santa had fallen and broken his damn leg. She needed David Rossi to be Santa Claus for the unfortunate children at her local church on Christmas morning. She'd undertaken this project a month ago, wanting to give as many kids as she could a wonderful Christmas. Everything else was in place - the food, the presents, the Christmas service. She'd had all her bases covered and then Santa, or rather, Mr. McAvey, her neighbor, had fallen off the ladder at his house stringing Christmas lights. It was Henry's first Christmas and birthday and it was the perfect opportunity for him to meet Santa for the first time and for her to make a difference in the lives of some of the less fortunate. For the past fifteen months, she'd been depending on David Rossi as she never had another in her life, including her own father. He'd made it so easy that she'd just fallen into the habit, and she prayed desperately that he'd come through for her now.
Sighing deeply, Jennifer allowed her mind to wonder. It had all began fifteen months ago in this very office. It had been a cool September night when David Rossi had found her, quietly sobbing, huddled on the couch against the wall, legs drawn beneath her and arms wrapped protectively around her stomach. She'd never forgotten the look of concern and alarm he'd given her when he'd stood in her office door and asked her what was wrong. Never forget his look of rage when she'd told him that at six months into her pregnancy, Will LaMontagne had decided a wife and son weren't what he wanted at that point in his life, leaving her alone with only the waiver of paternity to keep her company. She'd never quite remembered how she ended up in his arms sobbing her fears into his shirt. What she did remember though was how strong those arms had felt wrapped around her - how secure he'd made her feel. And, she'd always remember the promise he'd made her that night - the promise he continued to keep. As he'd held her shaking body in his arms that long ago night, he'd promised her that she wouldn't be alone in anything - that he'd make sure she and her son were all right. She'd known that night that the legendary David Rossi didn't make promises that he didn't intend to keep.
So, it shouldn't have been a surprise to her that he did keep his word. Repeatedly. It had started with him spending the last three months of her pregnancy watching her like a hawk. From confiscating her precious coffee to accompanying her to doctor's appointments, David Rossi had spent the last trimester of her pregnancy guarding her with the determination of the most seasoned soldier. Often, he commented that he had no choice but to save her from herself. Otherwise, her child would be born with a cup of coffee and a jelly donut in his hand.
As her pregnancy had progressed, so had her level of anxiety over childbirth. And, like a good soldier, he'd been prepared for that too. Accompanying her to childbirth classes, he'd sat and held her hand through that horrible movie they'd shown. Seeing the obvious distress that had overtaken her, he'd quickly whispered that epidurals were wonderful things and he'd have it on standby. When she'd gone into labor three weeks later at the BAU, he was the one who'd calmly taken control of the situation. Ordering Reid not to pass out and Morgan to get her hospital bag from the trunk of her car, he'd steadily guided her into the elevator and installed her in his SUV. Driving her to the hospital, he'd coached her through contractions without managing to grate on her nerves the way almost everyone else had. Each one of their team had taken their turn with her during labor, but David Rossi had remained her constant, never leaving her side through the entire painful sixteen hour ordeal. It had been he that, with her, had heard her son's first triumphant cry on Christmas Day a year ago. She remembered how he'd had to wipe his eyes as they placed the squirming bundle that was Henry on her chest. She remembered how he'd pressed a warm kiss to her temple before telling her that her son was beautiful. When she'd looked up into his dark eyes and asked if he'd wanted to hold him, she'd never forget the way his hands had trembled when he'd reached out to accept the baby - how he'd looked with her son cradled in his strong arms. That was the moment that she knew she'd fallen in love with him. And, when the nurse had entered while David was bonding with the baby and asked for a name, she'd never given a second thought to naming her son Henry David Jareau.
Yes, they'd been through it. Together. David Rossi could be a dictator and he'd proven that, too, in the months after Henry's birth. When they'd brought Henry home to her cramped one bedroom condo, it had been David that had insisted that she needed a larger space with room for the baby to grow. When she'd told him she couldn't afford to move, especially now, he merely thrown a real estate magazine into her lap, told her he was rich, pick out what she liked and he'd finance the house for her himself. She could just pay him what she paid in rent each month and it would be to OWN something. He was the one who'd gone to a thousand homes with her, searching for the perfect place to raise her son. When the most charming little Victorian cottage with the picture perfect yard surrounded by the white picket fence had been found, JJ had fallen in love with it - until she heard the price. David hadn't batted an eyelash. Knowing how much she loved it, he'd simply told the realtor he'd take it and signed the papers with JJ in his ear the entire time telling him that - No, it's too much. He'd ignored her and she'd gotten her dream home.
He and the rest of the team had moved her into the new house on Henry's one month birthday. JJ smiled as she remembered how David, Hotch, Morgan and Reid had struggled for hours to put the baby's furniture together while she, Emily and Pens had pointed and laughed. More than that, she could never forget the way when everyone left, he'd held her in his arms standing in the foyer when she'd tearfully thanked him for everything he'd done. He'd told her not to be silly - that they were all family. He'd informed her then that there wasn't anything he wouldn't do for her and the baby. And she'd known, standing in the circle of his arms in the dim hallway, that she was a goner. What she didn't know, was that David was as far gone as she was.
Two months later, David had proven himself again when she'd called him at two in the morning, hysterical. Henry had spiked a fever of a 104 degrees and JJ hadn't been able to bring it down. He had been listless and lethargic and JJ had automatically dialed his number. Calm and steady, David had assured her that he was on his way, to get the baby and herself ready. He'd made a ten minute drive in three minutes and it seemed like she'd no sooner hung up the phone than he was walking through the door, letting himself in with the key she'd given him. Seeing her tear soaked face holding the sick baby, he'd immediately taken Henry from her and given her a soft kiss on the lips, murmuring that everything would be fine. He'd stayed with them that long night in the hospital and when they'd admitted Henry for pneumonia, he'd taken personal time at work to stay with her at the hospital. He'd questioned the doctors and handled the nurses while her concentration had been focused on her son. When, a week later, they'd sent them home from the hospital, Henry healthy and JJ emotionally drained, he stayed for a week - on the couch, helping with the baby so JJ could finally rest.
Time and again, David had come through for her and her son. From doctor's appointments to dead car batteries. From broken water pipes to stomach flu. He was there. Always. Her rock. Her best friend. The man she'd fallen in love with. The problem wasn't that she loved him. The problem was that she didn't know if he loved her back. She knew he loved her son. When Henry had said his first word, it had been to David - "da-da". JJ had tried to correct the baby…but as David had laughed at her, he'd also told her that correcting an eight month old was a bit of a waste of time - to leave the boy alone. Her heart had seized at those words and it had given her true hope that maybe, eventually David might want more.
Sometimes, she felt his eyes on her. During cases, when he played in the floor with Henry, different times and it felt like interest. She only hoped she wasn't imagining things. She'd already decided that if David asked her what she wanted for Christmas, she'd tell him in no uncertain terms. HIM!
And, it was with those thoughts that Jennifer pushed away from her desk and went in search of the man who could make her heart melt with a simple look - David Rossi.
As David Rossi sat in his oversized leather chair inside his comfortable office, he realized that for the second Christmas in a row, he was excited. Blessedly excited - because of two special people - people that without realizing it had saved his worthless existence and given him a purpose again. Jennifer Jareau and her son, Henry. His son, too, if the baby boy that called him da-da had anything to say about it.
Fifteen months ago, those two people had saved him. David Rossi was not a man given to whimsical fancies, but it did seem that God had seen fit to send him an angel in his darkest hour. He'd been very close to giving up hope on the whole human populace, having seen too much pain and destruction in his fifty-two years. And, then, he'd found Jennifer crying helplessly in her office and his life had taken on new meaning. When she'd told him that Will had simply turned his back on her and his unborn son, Rossi had thought two things. Number one was that if he ever laid eyes on William LaMontagne again, he'd kill the son of a bitch. Any man that called himself a man should never turn his back on his responsibilities. But, then, LaMontagne had never been worthy of his Jennifer. Never. He was too weak…to yellow. No, she was better off without him and so was Henry. Number two was that he'd been given what equated to one last chance at happiness. He'd known that he'd have to move slowly, carefully. But, David Rossi was nothing if not methodical. He'd achieve his ultimate goal - it would just take some time. And, his ultimate goal - that would be having Jennifer and Henry - for keeps.
He'd made her a promise the night he'd found her desolate and alone. He'd promised her that she'd never have to do anything alone and that he'd always be there for her and her son and he'd meant every single word. From that night forward, he'd done everything within his power to make sure that both Jennifer and Henry had been taken care of. He'd expected her to resist and occasionally she had, but, for the most part she'd allowed him and his wishes to rule.
He'd been the one to watch over her that last trimester of the pregnancy. Hell, he'd even taken her to her Lamaze classes, much to the amusement of their colleagues. It was an open secret between the members of his team that he was in love with Jennifer Jareau. Luckily, everyone supported his bid to win her heart. She was the light of their close knit group and all of them wanted to see her happy.
If David was honest with himself, he'd already been half in love with Jennifer the night he'd found her crying. But over those last few months of her pregnancy, those feelings had only deepened and solidified. By the night of Henry's birth, he'd known beyond a shadow of a doubt that he was in love for the last time in his life. As he'd watched her struggle to bring that baby's life into the world, he'd stood in awe of her. Small and fragile, she'd clung to his hand as she'd pushed the baby from her body into the waiting hands of the doctor. Hearing Henry's small first cries had been like music to his ears and holding him for the first time, still slippery and wet, had been the single most humbling experience of his life. He'd fallen in love with the boy in that moment - standing there, holding him with trembling hands.
Since the night Henry had been born almost a year ago, there had been very, very few nights that he hadn't been with the baby, at least for some small amount of time. More often than not, he'd end up driving Jennifer home from work and staying half the night. And, she'd never seemed to mind. When the baby had started calling him da-da about four months ago, she'd been embarrassed, trying to correct the baby. He'd laughed at her and told her to leave the baby alone, that he could call him da-da if he wanted. He'd been trying to gauge her reaction and he hadn't been disappointed. She hadn't quit smiling the rest of that night.
He hoped that was a good sign. He'd continued to move carefully. Although, he had stepped up his game a bit in the last month or so. He'd began to get her out for little excursions - alone. Nothing too romantic…just a few dinners and a couple of movies. But, he'd had to. Men were beginning to renew their interest in JJ and he didn't like that a damn bit. Another handy thing about his team - they chased off potential suitors for Jennifer with the precision of a finely honed knife. Just last week, Morgan had threatened to emasculate one of the boys from counter-terrorism if they so much as looked at Jennifer in her short black skirt again. David still owed Morgan lunch for that save.
But, as Christmas Day, Henry's birthday, drew closer, David thought that, perhaps, it was time to lay all his cards out on the table for Jennifer. Maybe it was time to tell her exactly how much he wanted her - how deeply he felt for her. But fear was a powerful thing. And, David, honestly didn't know how he'd handle it if there was no chance she could reciprocate his feelings. Love was a risk, though. And, David Rossi WAS a betting man.
David was drawn from his thoughts by the sound of his office door opening. Looking up, David smiled as he saw the object of his desire standing before him. The problem was she was frowning.
Standing, he slowly rounded the desk as his smile changed to a look of concern. "What's the matter? Is it the baby?"
"No, nothing like that. But I need you to save me again," JJ replied, walking fully into his office.
"What's going on, Jennifer?" David asked, raising an eyebrow and relieved to know that Henry was fine.
"Mr. McAvey broke his leg this morning," she said, giving him a pleading look.
Oh, hell. He knew who Mr. McAvey was and exactly why Jennifer was upset. And, damn if he didn't know how she wanted him to save her. Staring back into her clear blue eyes, Rossi knew he was caught in her web. There was no way he could say no - not with the way she bit her lip waiting for him to answer, the way she slowly blinked those intelligent baby blue eyes at him, the way she held her breath as she waited for him to speak. "So you're out a perfectly good Santa Claus, huh?" he asked, staring down at her.
"Yep. Any ideas where I could come up with a really nice guy who wouldn't mind letting a bunch of happy kids sit on his lap tomorrow morning?" she asked hopefully, batting long eyelashes at him.
She had him! She knew she had him! She could tell by the look in his eyes. All she had to do was reel him in! As she watched his face, she heard him ask, "Well, that depends. What would be in it for Santa Claus, Jennifer?" he asked her deeply, taking a step closer.
"Well, other than the joy and delight on those kid's faces, whatever else could Santa possibly want?" JJ asked coyly, holding his gaze.
"Oh, I'm sure Santa has certain desires like most every other man," David assured her in a husky whisper.
"Really? I never really thought about it, David. But, I suppose you're probably right," she conceded.
"I usually am," he smiled.
"Hmmm, I think I'll keep my peace on that little comment," she laughed.
"I'll make you a deal, Jennifer. I'll play your Santa tomorrow morning, provided you take a turn in Santa's lap, too and tell him what you REALLY want for Christmas. What do you say?" asked David, backing her into the desk.
"I'd say you've got yourself a deal. Shake on it?" she asked, holding out her hand.
"Better idea," he said, warmly grasping her hand and pulling her gently toward him. At her quick intake of breath, he lowered his lips to hers. Now, David Rossi had kissed Jennifer Jareau before. Quick tastes, fleeting touches. But, never had he kissed her like this. Slowly molding her lips to his, he slid his hands down her fragile spine to pull her closer to his heat. Sighing into his mouth, he used the opportunity to his advantage and deepened the kiss. Tongue touching hers for the first time, David bit back a moan. Jennifer couldn't though. Moaning softly, she twined her arms around his neck and pressed her body closer to his, relishing the feel of his tongue sliding against hers and the feel of his hands as one hand cupped her neck and kneaded lightly while the other stroked the tender skin at her waist where her shirt had risen up.
Slowly, carefully breaking the connection of their mouths, David trailed warm kisses along her jaw until he reached her ear. Gently whispering softly, hot breath fanning her neck, "I'm sure that Santa would give you anything you wanted for Christmas, Jennifer. You just need to figure out what you want."
"David-," she began softly, "I know what I-," she began.
Putting a gentle finger to her lips, David told her in a quiet, but firm voice, "Think about it tonight, Jennifer. Tell Santa tomorrow."
He drew away as she nodded. She was shaken to her core by what had just transpired, but she wouldn't run away. She wanted him. And, now it appeared that he'd clarified his feelings on the matter, too. All she had to do was wait until tomorrow morning to tell him. They'd already agreed to spend this evening together with Henry, wrapping his gifts and putting last minute touches on the house for tomorrow. Confused, she asked, "We're still on for tonight, aren't we?"
"Of course, we are. I'll meet you in the bullpen after work, honey. Now, was there anything else?" David asked, grinning.
"Nope, that was it," JJ breathed, still off balance from the kiss they'd shared.
Laughing softly, David murmured, "Got more than you bargained for this visit, did you?"
Looking back at him and smiling as she headed for the door to his office, "No, David, I think I got exactly what I wanted." And with those words she disappeared out the door, an amused David Rossi staring after her.
Later that afternoon, David walked into the bullpen. Hotch had told the team to knock off early in anticipation of the holiday tomorrow and David Rossi, for one, was grateful. It gave him more time to spend with the two people he very shortly hoped to officially count as family. Everyone was gathering tomorrow afternoon at Jennifer's for a Christmas brunch and David hoped he'd have the answer to the burning question he had by then.
Seeing Jennifer step off the elevator, Henry in her arms, David grinned. Putting her son down on his sturdy little feet, David watched the baby toddle toward him, waving his arms happily and jabbering "Da-da, Da-da, Da-da" all the way across the room.
Morgan and Emily, who were still gathering their things, couldn't hide their smiles as they watched David hold out his arms to the child and tell him, "Well, come here! Come get daddy!" as the baby advanced across the room.
David heard as Reid walked into the pen and whispered to Emily, "Do you think they'll ever get around to making that whole thing official?"
It was David's greatest hope that by this time tomorrow it would, indeed, be official. But, that all depended on the blonde beauty following her son across the room.
Sweeping the baby boy into his arms and quickly giving him a kiss on the cheek, David held the boy to his chest. "Did you have a big day today, little man?"
Hearing the baby gurgle happily, David smiled at him. "You ready for Santa?" The baby bucked happily in his arms in answer.
"Yeah, I thought you would be," he whispered, hugging the baby tighter against him.
Emily grinned over at the baby and reached out a hand to stroke his cheek. "Hey, Henry, I bet between all your aunts and uncles, you make quite a hall tomorrow afternoon."
"I don't think any of you could top da-da, here," said JJ , jerking her head toward David. "I think he told Santa about every baby and toddler toy under the sun!"
"Hey," David rebuked, looking at the baby, "tell mama that you only turn one once! First Christmas AND first birthday…we owe ya, don't we kid? You got rooked on the whole birthday deal."
The adults standing in the bullpen could only laugh. "Trust me, Dave, with you around that kid's never gonna get rooked on the whole Christmas and birthday deal," said Hotch, walking into the bullpen area.
"No, he's not," said Rossi, with eyes only for the baby in his arms.
Shaking her head, JJ reminded, "We've still gotta pick up the Santa suit, Dave."
"Okay, let's get moving. See everybody tomorrow around eleven, right?" Dave asked.
There were varying nods and assents around the bullpen. "Okay, see you tomorrow! Merry Christmas!" Dave told them, holding the baby and guiding JJ with a gentle hand at her back to the elevator.
Later that night, as Dave walked through the house after putting Henry down for the night in his crib, Dave thought of the Santa suit in JJ's bedroom.
Going back into the living room where Jennifer sat cross-legged on the floor, long blond hair loose and flowing down her back, he found her wrapping the last of the Christmas gifts. "Almost done?" he asked, leaning against the doorframe.
"Almost," she replied, smiling. "I would have been done hours ago if you hadn't decided to add fifteen gifts when we went to the mall earlier."
"Hey, that stuff was just neat! I warned you not to take me inside that mall!" he said, defending himself.
"I just needed to pick up a quick gift for the preacher, Dave. You're the one who got sidetracked at the toy store!" she said, raising an eyebrow. "Did you want something?" she asked.
"Yeah, I'm gonna try on this Santa suit to make sure it fits for tomorrow. You're job is to make sure I've got it on right," he told her.
Nodding, she grinned. "It's in my bedroom, hanging on the back of the door."
"I'll be back in a minute," he warned, "No laughing!"
"No laughing," she grinned. "Is pointing permissible?" she called to his retreating back.
"Smartass," he grumbled, walking toward her bedroom.
Walking into the room that smelled so much like the woman he loved, he couldn't help his body's automatic response to the scent and the sight of the big bed dominating the center of the room. Imagining the things he'd like to do with her in that bed certainly wasn't helping matters. Giving himself a mental shake, he noticed the photograph by her bed. Walking toward it, he saw what it was. It was the picture she'd snapped of him and Henry the day he'd brought them home from the hospital. He'd been leaning over the bassinet to watch the little boy sleep. Smiling gently, he thought of his own picture that he kept on his own bedside table at the cabin. It was one of Jennifer in that same position.
Smiling, Dave pulled the gift he prayed Jennifer would accept tonight out of his pants pocket. Flipping the box open in his hand, he stared down at the three carat marquis cut diamond ring in his hand. It was as flawless as she was, he thought. It was THE ring. She was THE woman. He just hoped he hadn't misread her this past year. Initially, he'd planned to wait until the team left tomorrow afternoon to ask her the all important question. But after the kiss they'd shared this afternoon, Dave knew he couldn't wait another night. He'd been holding onto this ring for almost a year. He'd chosen it the day after Henry's birth, fully comprehending that Jennifer was the one he'd been waiting for all his life. He'd understood then that he'd have to continue waiting for awhile longer. And he had. But, the wait was over - he needed to hear her answer - TONIGHT.
Grabbing the Santa suit off the back of the door, he quickly donned the costume. Affixing the beard to his already whiskered face, Dave stared in the mirror. Well, this was it, he thought, it was now or never. Slipping the ring in the pocket of the red pants, David walked from the room, praying with each step that tomorrow he'd be able to announce that Jennifer and Henry Jareau would become Jennifer and Henry Rossi.
Walking back into the living room, David found Jennifer on her knees putting the wrapped presents underneath the tree. Lights reflecting off her blond hair, she looked almost ethereal. Standing in the doorway quietly, he could only stand and admire her. Finally, slowly, he walked behind her. Offering her his hand as she turned around to grab another gift, he softly said, "Ho! Ho! Ho!"
Giggling delightedly, she took in the sight that was David Rossi.
"Well?" he asked, holding arms out to the side and turning for her to see the entire ensemble. "Do I look enough like the real thing?"
"You look great!" she laughed. "The kids are gonna love you, David! Thank you!"
"I'm glad," said a relieved David Rossi, lowering his body into the recliner. "But now, you've got a bargain to fill, little girl," he said, tugging her into his lap.
"Oh, I do, huh?" JJ said, allowing her body to settle against his.
"I seem to recall you telling me that if I did this, Santa would get to hear what you really wanted for Christmas. Time to pay the piper, Ms. Jareau," he reminded her.
Giggling, JJ snuggled closer into the man she'd fallen in love with. "Well, that's a loaded question, Santa."
"Really?" asked Rossi, stroking her arm. "Care to tell me why?"
"Well, I want a lot of things," Jennifer told him carefully.
"Name them, Jennifer," David ordered, in a gently forceful manner.
"They're just wishes, David," Jennifer said, allowing her head to fall back against his shoulder.
"Santa can't make wishes come true unless he knows them, sweetheart," David whispered.
"You think Santa can give me what I want?" asked Jennifer softly.
"I think you should give telling me a try," David replied.
"I'm scared to say what I want, David," JJ told him,
"I think I might have something that would help," he told her gently.
"Really, what?" asked JJ hopefully.
"One of your Christmas gifts," he replied.
"One of? David I told you I didn't want anything! You've already done so much for Henry and I-," JJ blustered.
"Jennifer, honey, shut up!" he said, pulling the ring box from his pocket.
"See if this goes along with those Christmas wishes that you have," David said, handing her the box.
"David, what is this?" JJ said, voice trembling as she took the box he offered her.
"Open it, sweetheart," David ordered quietly.
Looking at him with startled with her baby blue eyes, she asked, "You sure? This looks like whatever it is is expensive."
"I'm sure, honey. Open the box." he told her firmly.
Cracking the lid on the black velvet box, JJ gasped at the ring nestled inside. "David?!"
Taking the box from her nerveless fingers, he plucked the ring from where it rested. "Jennifer, I bought this ring a year ago on December 26th. I knew then that I'd fallen in love with you. I also understood that you weren't ready then. But, we've been unofficially together a year now. Neither one of us have even looked at another person since the night I found you in your office crying. Hell, I don't think I've looked at another woman since I returned to the BAU. We spend practically every night together and never seem to get tired of one another. We're raising your son - no, make that our son together. It's me he calls daddy. It's me that wants to be called daddy. The only thing we haven't done yet together is the thing I'm hoping we do tonight back there in that big bed of yours. I love you. You came in my office today and told me you needed me to save you again. What you don't realize, honey, is that fifteen months ago, you and that baby in the other room came into my life and saved me from myself. I'd almost given up hope, Jennifer. And, then, there you were - and you needed me. YOU saved me, honey. So, I guess I'm asking you if you'll continue to save me for the rest of my life? Will you marry me, Jennifer?"
Gaping at him, with warm tears trickling down her face, Jennifer saw all her wishes being handed to her on a silver plate. "David, I don't know what to - YES! Yes, I'll marry you! YES! YES! YES!" she said, burying her head against the crook of his neck while he slid the most beautiful ring she'd ever seen on her finger. Using one finger, he tilted her head up to his, as his lips came crashing down on hers. Sitting there, dressed in all his Santa splendor, David Rossi became the happiest man on earth and Jennifer Jareau soon to be Rossi - well, she got her Christmas wish.