Thanks to everyone for your exceptional patience as I have been attempting to determine a way to continue this story. I hope that this will be the first of many chapters to come in the near future as I progress this story along. As always, I could not write without ilovetvalot, my co-author, beta, and partner in creative crime.
This chapter was written in response to Challenge 5 – Candy Land Challenge on Chit Chat on Author's Corner. The characters to be included were Penelope Garcia and Jennifer Jareau, and the candy was Reese's Cups.
Pre-Ep, Minimal Loss (Ep 4.03)
Pressing her hand to her lower back as she let out a deep sigh, Jennifer Jareau paused outside the heavy metal door. Letting her eyes close for a moment, she leaned against the doorframe, a sudden wave of tiredness taking over her body. Between the pregnancy and the emotions of the last few days, she found herself needing to rest at the strangest moments, fatigue threatening to overtake her when she least expected it.
At least, though, she had managed to make the man in her life see reason, mentally congratulating herself for accomplishing the impossible. David's anger at her original plan to participate in the infiltration of the religious compound had been greater than anything she had ever experienced from him before. And now that she could view the past with clearer vision, she realized that he might have had a valid reason to be less than thrilled with her choice. Their soon-to-be born baby had become the center of their joined lives, and she had learned a very important lesson about herself over these past few days.
She desperately wanted this child…and she was willing to do anything to keep her. Including not placing herself in dangerous situations or causing the baby's father to have a heart attack in the process.
Shaking herself out of her reverie, she opened her eyes once again. She took a moment to stretch the muscles in her shoulders, then rapped twice before letting herself in to the small darkened room that held the secrets of the entire FBI.
Or at least the secrets that Penelope Garcia cared to share. JJ had learned long ago not to ask exactly what the technical genius knew or how she knew it. The sheer volume of information would be enough to send her into a catatonic state for months to come.
Standing still for a moment, JJ let her eyes adjust to the darkened room, her smile growing as she watched the bubbly blonde tech bounce in her seat. Garcia's less-than-chipper voice snapped out in a mutter as her long talons tapped against the keyboard. "I don't think so, you spineless little so and so. You can run but you can't hide from Big Brother, my crafty little sicko."
Cocking one brow, JJ bit back a laugh as she said, "Garcia, do I even want to know who you are chasing now?"
"Give me just a minute, my little mama gumdrop. I'm chasing a hacker that's been giving Bravo Team a run around for days," Garcia chirped, her eyes still firmly attached to the largest monitor in front of her. "I…need…just.." her voice trailed off into nothingness as she tapped wildly against the curved keyboard. Suddenly, her exuberant voice filled the air as she yelled, "Gotcha! Told you that the great Garcia would find your vapor trail and annihilate you with an h-bomb of lethal capacity!"
Lowering her bulky frame down into the comfortable black chair at the corner of the large desk, JJ let out a happy sigh as she stretched her legs out in front of her, the baby shifting slightly with the new space. Pressing her hand to her rippling stomach, JJ smoothed the black fabric over her tummy as she murmured, "Don't pay any attention to Auntie Penelope, Jelly Bean. She's just a bit focused when she's chasing the bad guys."
Twirling in her chair, the sleeves of her silky shirt billowing with the movement, Garcia pressed her glasses up higher on her nose as she stared at her friend. "Don't be telling my niece tales that I'm going to have to counteract when she makes her blessed appearance. I'm not above filling her with all forms of sugar-laden goodies and sending her back home to her parents…with a whistle!"
Rolling her eyes, JJ shifted again in her seat, holding out her hand in silent demand. "Speaking of sugary goodies, I think it's time that you broke out that stash I know you're keeping in here, Garcie. It's been a long morning, and your niece wants chocolate."
"I think my niece's mommy might be the one with the cravings, hmmm?" Garcia replied knowingly, immediately opening her nearest drawer, paper crinkling as her fingers found the orange and black wrapped confection. Ripping open the package, she pulled out one of the pieces before handing it to her friend. "Here ya go, gumdrop. And I'm keeping one for myself as punishment. You are still in the doghouse for that whole fiasco you tried to pull."
Letting out another sigh, JJ wondered how long she would be held accountable for simply attempting to do her job. Taking a satisfying bite from the crimped chocolate edge, she let the sweetness melt on her tongue as she said, emphatically, "How many times do I have to say it, Garcia? I made a mistake. But I rectified it quickly. You and David and the rest of the team are going to have to cut me some slack sometime soon. And besides, that's old news now. Emily and Spence are on the case, and they'll be back in another day with their report about the children in the compound. Then we can put this whole thing to bed and completely forget it ever happened."
Licking the chocolate off the tips of her fingers, Garcia tapped her foot impatiently against her tiled floor as she narrowed her eyes at her expecting friend. "Don't even think that you're going to be able to sweep all of this under the rug, my deceptive little peanut butter cup. You were going to take yourself and my godbaby off into who knows where and face who knows what all to prove that you're Wonder Woman." Seeing the other woman's mouth open in what was sure to be another disclaimer, Garcia held up her hand to stall the response. "And while I'm as big a fan of the blingy bracelets of bravo as the next gal, I believe it's been proven that your little fanny belongs right here where we can keep an eye on it..and you!"
Swallowing her last bite of the peanut butter and chocolate treat, JJ smiled reassuringly as she patted Pen's hand. "I'll tell you the same thing I told David again this morning. We're going to make the next few months the most boring in our lives. But I'm going to do my job as well as I can without putting Jelly Bean in danger."
"See that you do," Garcia ordered, then grinned widely as she leaned forward. "So, tell me how much groveling you had to do to get the Italian Stallion to let up on his original plans to lock you in a safe house for the rest of your pregnancy."
"David's a pussy cat, Garcia," JJ objected, holding out her hand again, her earlier craving barely satisfied, her taste buds demanding another feeding.
Silently handing over another Reese's Cup, Garcia shook her head, ribbons bouncing on her dog ears as she snorted, "Pish posh. I hear tell that he threatened to drop kick Hotch from here to kingdom come for even daring to mention that ill-fated scheme to you. Then he apparently caused some interesting damage to the various architecture of the building while he was attempting to find you once again."
"He found me. We discussed things. All is well in our world," JJ replied, taking bites from the candy after each phrase. "Now all we have to do is solve the problems in the rest of the world, and we'll be in business." Balling up the now-empty orange wrapper, JJ was about to aim it toward the nearby trashcan when the sound of beeping filled the small room.
Turning quickly toward a side monitor, Garcia narrowed her eyes as she tapped a few keys, bringing up what appeared to be a newscast. Her mouth stretched into a wide circle as she called out, "Oh, oh, oh! Isn't Colorado where our intrepid teammates are?"
Quickly standing up, JJ moved to stand behind Garcia, her eyes scanning the broadcast appearing in technicolor before them. Listening as the solemn newscaster relayed ominous words of doom and gloom, she absently dropped the long-forgotten wrapper to the floor as she attempted to make sense of the information she was receiving. Swallowing hard, she tapped Garcia's shoulder as she commanded, "Start streaming all of these broadcasts to disk, Garcia. And see if you can find out details that they aren't reporting yet. "
"On it," Garcia replied without taking her eyes off the screen, reaching automatically for another keyboard as she mindlessly created the codes necessary. Hearing footsteps behind her, she called out, "Where are you going, buttercup?"
"To find David and Hotch," JJ replied, her fingers already around the door knob, one hand pressed against her fluttering tummy. "Emily and Reid are in that compound. And someone's going to have to go get them."
And as she stepped out into the hallway, her feet determined to reach their destination quickly, one thought overtook her already cluttered mind.
Their well-ordered world had apparently disintegrated into chaos once again.
A/N: Sign-ups for the Criminal Minds Christmas Gift Fic Exchange Challenge end October 31, 2010 at midnight. Please remember to stop by and sign up at the "Chit Chat on Author's Corner" forum if interested. We'd love to have each one of you. And remember, we will be taking NO late entries for this challenge.
Also, friends, don't forget to vote in "The Criminal Minds Profiler's Choice Awards" headquartered at the forum as well (it can also be reached thru my profile page or ilovetvalot's profile page if you choose). We've had a phenomenal response so far, but we want each one of you to be heard through your vote. Voting ends on November 30, 2010, and details can be found at the forum.