Welcome to the fourth and probably final installment off the Life with the BAU Series!
One of Your Own
Growing Up BAU
Out Living My Life
For all of those keeping track, this follows Gabi, AJ and Kate from the previous stories into their final (or first, as Kate's story is) years of college/university. There will be guest appearances by our favourite cast members for sure, and definitely some quality cameos from some of the children (IE: Kate's best friend Calleigh Reid).
Having said that, I am going to try my best to keep on top of everything in terms of updates, but it is equally as likely that life will get in the way and I'll fall behind. I do have other stories I'm working on too, but at least this one is literally planned from the very beginning to the very last chapter.
The Secret of Now
Gabriella Garcia-Morgan felt tears sting the back of her eyes. She'd searched every nook and cranny of her room. Every drawer had been upended over her bed and she'd pulled every hangar from her closet. Her desk was a mess of necklaces, earrings and bracelets. Her room looked like a bomb had literally exploded right in the middle...
...And she had nothing to wear.
She was starting to panic. She prided herself on having inherited impeccable fashion taste from her mother and the uncanny ability to take little things and make them beautiful. Or at least take them and make them the center of an outfit. Or build an outfit around them. Today, her touch didn't seem to be working, the one day she needed it to more than anything else.
Because today was the day she was going on her first date with Jack Hotchner.
Gabi knew she and Jack had danced around each other for years. But at the end of the day, she couldn't dwell on that. She couldn't think about the fact that their parents were probably going to flip their lids. She couldn't focus on the fact that she was about to go out on a date with her best friend's brother. Because that would destroy any and all confidence she had at the moment and it was really, the last thing she needed.
She glanced at her alarm clock again and almost screamed. Desperate times called for desperate measures. So she reached for the phone.
"Alright, alright, I'm here! What's the epic emergency?"
Gabi looked pleadingly at Anna-Joy Hotchner, her very best friend, as the dark-haired twenty-year-old dropped her purse outside Gabi's room.
"Goodness me, are you redecorating?" AJ asked.
"I have nothing to wear!" Gabi exclaimed.
AJ looked around. "Gabs, you've torn this place to shreds. How can you have nothing to wear?"
"I don't know! But I can't put anything together!"
"Okay, okay, breathe. What are we looking for?"
"A date outfit," Gabi replied promptly, running a hand through her hair.
"A first date outfit?" AJ asked as she started hanging things up again. There was absolutely no way she was going to be able to make sense of the entirety of Gabi's eclectic wardrobe with it all over the floor.
"An official first date outfit?" Gabi replied.
AJ arched an eyebrow. "Is that a question?"
Her best friend swallowed. "Well, I've known the guy forever, but it's just now that we thought it was a good idea to try the dating thing?"
That sent AJ's other eyebrow up. "You don't sound that sure, which tells me you're hiding something."
The way Gabi hesitated in answering and chewed on her lower lip gave away the fact that Gabi was definitely hiding something.
"Gabriella! What on earth are you hiding!? Who are you going on this 'official first date' with?"
Gabi continued to chew on her lip. "Promise not to kill me?"
AJ rushed to sit beside her best friend, shoving clothing off of the bed in the process. "Swear on our families, our friendship, and the bullets in Aunt Jen's gun." AJ knew if Gabi was making her swear against doing damage, AJ knew whatever Gabi was going to spill was going to be big.
AJ knew her jaw had dropped. "I'm sorry... Repeat that?"
Gabi sat on her hands to keep herself from folding them and unfolding them. "Jack."
"As in my older brother?" AJ asked.
"As in the guy that has watched your every move and defended your every broken heart since you were, like, born?"
"You're not helping me here," Gabi said, almost whining.
AJ turned to face her best friend. "Are you serious?"
Gabi nodded again, still chewing on her lower lip.
"But... What... When?" AJ sputtered. "How? How long? Oh my gosh! Mom's going to freak!"
"Freak?" Gabi's eyes widened.
"Oh, for Pete's sake, Gabs! You and Jack have been blind to the fact that you've adored each other for years. We were starting to lose hope. This is like... relief."
Gabi blinked. "You're okay with it? With your best friend dating your brother?"
"It explains so much!" AJ replied. "All of a sudden, I started to feel like a third wheel when we were watching movies together like we used to. Heck, the day I moved to Yale I told Mom that he was likely to move to Massachusetts just to be closer to you."
Gabi had pulled her hands from beneath her and was twisting her fingers in her lap. "What does your mom think? What does your dad think?"
"They don't matter," AJ said, waving her hand dismissively. "The question is what do your parents think of the situation?"
"I haven't told them," she admitted, dropping her head into her hands and resting her elbows on her knees. "Daddy's going to flip."
AJ snorted. "Yeah right. It's Jack. Who could take better care of his baby girl than the guy who's been doing it since you were a baby?"
Triumph spread across her face at the look in Gabi's eyes. "Way to take the pressure off."
"You could wear a paper bag and he'd think you were beautiful," AJ replied with a roll of her eyes.
Gabi wrinkled her nose. "That was corny."
"But true," AJ scoffed. "Look, it's Jack. You've done this eight hundred times without issue. Stop being nervous and just be happy that you finally have the guy you want."
Gabi still looked nervous. "This has to be different."
"No it doesn't. Look at it this way, he knows everything about you that could be potentially embarrassing or totally humiliating. You don't have to tell him those stories. He knows about all of your ex-boyfriends – he's beat up a few of them – so you know there's nothing there you have to feel awkward about."
"But he'll know if I slip up."
"And he'll laugh it off,' AJ replied, rolling her eyes. "Gabs, you're blowing this way out of proportion."
Gabi sighed as she stood, grabbing some of her clothing and setting about helping her best friend tidy. "You really find it that hard to believe that I think this is… Annie, if this doesn't work things are going to be awkward."
"Oh please. Like this is actually going to be awkward. This is Jack."
Gabi rolled her eyes. "You say that like it changes anything."
"It changes everything. There's so much more riding on this."
"There is not," AJ said in exasperation. "You've already been on dates together."
"I'm sorry?" Gabi asked.
"You guys see movies all the time. You go out to dinner together all the time. He drives to MIT to see you all the time. For all intents and purposes, you guys have been dating for years," AJ pointed out. She turned when Gabi didn't respond.
Gabi was at her desk, shuffling through her jewellery. AJ grinned. She had a pretty good idea of what Gabi had found to create an outfit around.
Gabi grinned as Jack pulled into the driveway. She'd had such a great time. It had been surprising how easy it was to go out on a date with Jack Hotchner. It felt comfortable.
Jack smiled back at her as he killed the engine. "Don't move, okay?"
Gabi knit her brow but did as he asked. She shook her head affectionately as he pulled open her door and held out his arm. "Why thank you, kind sir."
They wandered up her front walk. "So?" he asked. "Did I pass?"
"Pass what?" she asked, unable to stop her smile. She'd been smiling like an idiot since he'd shown up at her front door.
"The First Date Test," he replied.
She pursed her lips. She'd once told Jack when she was sixteen that she had a distinct first date test. "Yes," she replied haughtily. "Every criteria. But it's unfair."
"Unfair?" he asked, turning so he could sit on the top step of the porch.
"You knew the test going in," she replied, taking a seat beside him and nudging his shoulder.
"Now that's unfair. You seriously expect me to remember every criteria from when you were sixteen? I'm not that good, Monkey."
Gabi found herself blushing at the use of his nickname. He was still the only one who called her 'Monkey' and had persisted in doing so throughout the entirety of her life. "You remember everything else," she pointed out.
"Half of them on pain of death," he replied logically. "Heaven forbid I hurt Gabi Morgan."
She swung her legs over his, wrapping her legs around her thighs instead of supporting herself behind her. "Damn right. Daddy's pride and joy."
"And your mother's," Jack pointed out, one of his hands absently rubbing up and down her shin. They were both tactile individuals and now that Jack had the 'right', he was going to take advantage of touching her at every opportunity.
Gabi rolled her eyes. "As if you don't know the feeling." She knew he did. He was his mother's only child and his father's oldest. Even her Aunt Emily was immensely proud of Jack and they weren't even biologically related. Of course, her Aunt Emily was proud of what she was doing too, so really, Gabi couldn't throw stones. But he couldn't mock her either.
He was quiet for a moment before tapping his hands on her knees. "I had fun tonight."
"So did I," she replied, with a thousand watt grin that would have made her father proud. "We should do it again sometime."
He was leaning towards her and she didn't realize how quickly the distance was closing between them until his next words came out against her mouth. "I think so too."
Then she was drowning in Jack Hotchner.
At twenty-one, Gabi'd had her fair share of suitors and her fair share of kisses, but nothing in her life had prepared her for the heat that swamped her as Jack kissed her. Nothing prepared her for the hand that wrapped around her back in an attempt to pull her closer and the searing feel of his hand through her shirt. Jack was the one to eventually pull back.
"If I'd known I was going to get that kind of reaction, I would have done that ages ago," he said breathlessly.
"Well, you took forever to ask me out, so I think I can forgive you for taking too long to kiss me."
He nodded slowly, and Gabi thought for a moment he was going to kiss her again, but then he very carefully shifted her so he could stand. "Unfortunately m'lady," he said quietly. "Our night ends here."
She smiled brightly. "Well, I can deal with that if we're going to do this again."
"Most definitely," Jack agreed. He kissed her cheek. "Sleep sweet Gabs."
Gabi slid her key into the lock, looking back at him one last time before closing the door gently. Then she squealed quietly and jumped up and down, happier than she'd been in a very long time.
Louis, she thought to herself, feeling like she was talking to her imaginary friend. I think this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship.