Author's Note: Thanks again, Kavi & Sienna27 for inviting us to the TV Prompt Challenge. This is another partial Mudgie & Magpie Adventure. I hope you all enjoy it. Everyone please read and review and let me know what you thought! It was a blast to write with my co-author tonnie2001969. As ever, we don't own Criminal Minds.
A Family By Any Other Name
Prompt: Family Law - "Possession is Nine Tenths of the Law"
Stalking around the bedroom, JJ muttered a violent curse as she yanked the suitcase out of the far corner of the closet and slammed it onto the bed. If David Rossi was here right now, she had a feeling that she just might shoot him on sight. How she ever decided to combine their families, she would never know. But that was over. She was going to take her clothes, her cat, and herself and get the hell out of here.
"Fucking men," JJ cursed, turning to yank open a dresser drawer. Catching sight of the dog, standing guard in the doorway, JJ cringed as she reached out and patted his head, saying with a weak smile. "Sorry, Mudgie. Mommy didn't mean for you to hear her curse."
"'s okay," I barked back, rubbing my ears against her hand. It's not like I'm not used to it. I had heard my master use those words before, specifically with that second woman that lived here. But I had never heard this new woman, the one called Jennifer, utter such a thing. At least not until today. I wondered if this meant that she wasn't going to get me a Milkbone?
"Damn him!" JJ grumbled, slamming more clothes into the case on the bed. Looking at the dog, JJ muttered, "You know your father is impossible, right?"
"Master," I patiently mentally corrected. The blonde goddess that had conscientiously made sure I'd been adequately supplied with the primo dog food and unlimited doggie treats could be forgiven. "And, yeah, I got that memo…the master is a bit of an asshole…although, usually in a lovable way."
"Your father is an imbecile," Magpie sniffed from her position perched on the rocker in the corner of the room. "He's actually foolish enough to believe that mummy and I will be here when he returns."
"Wait!" I barked. "We're going somewhere?" I asked, beginning to wag my tail and pant excitedly.
"WE are not," Magpie meowed with a twitch of her long tail. "Mummy and I are. You will remain here. Until your father retires you. Weren't you listening to the argument Mummy and the Neanderthal had earlier?"
I hadn't…at the time, I'd had my head buried in my kibble…but that wasn't here or there. My Milkbone provider was LEAVING! Watching the blonde lady that had referred to me more than once as her baby move around the bedroom ranting, I began to feel the first stirrings of panic. Wait! I'd seen this before. And this meant a few things for me. One, my bastard master was shortly gonna stop the infernal humming. That was a bonus…but, there would be a price. The last time I'd seen a woman walk out, the old man had forgotten he'd even had a dog for two weeks. And, I gotta say, I wasn't too eager to subsist on pizza crust and toilet bowl water again! Two, the words the blonde bombshell was currently muttering would be nothing to what the master had to say. I gotta tell ya, loyal reader, I blame my lack of hearing in my left ear to wife No 2's defection. Nope, this wasn't gonna work…and there was only one thing for me to do. Pushing myself up laboriously on all fours, I ran, or as close as I get to running, to grab my leash.
Scampering back into the room, blue leash between my canines, Shitty Kitty looked down her nose at me from her perch. "WHAT do you think you're doing?" she asked as I followed JJ back and forth across the room, looking pleadingly up at her with my chocolaty eyes. She loved my eyes! She'd told me so!
"Saving my doggy ass," I whinnied to Magpie.
Finally, the blonde caught my meaning and looked down at me, her blue eyes glancing down at the leash in my mouth. I had to make this good. Putting on my most soulful expression, I sat at attention as I beat my tail against those cold wood floors. "Come on," I begged as I panted. "Come on….take me with you, take me with you!" I whined, staring piteously at her.
"She's not going to take a brute like you back to that beautiful home that we had before we came to this dump!" Magpie hissed disdainfully as she jumped to the floor, landing on all four paws. But apparently Shitty Kitty didn't know her so-called Mummy as well as she thought, because the blonde stopped in her tracks, indecision in her eyes.
"Oh, Mudgie!" she wailed, kneeling in front of him and framing his doggie face. "Mommy can't take you, at least not now."
"Oh, yes you can! You have to! Do you KNOW what's going to happen to me if I have to live with that asshole after you leave? Have some compassion, woman!" I howled, pushing my snout into her hands, I licked her hands as I dropped my leash into her fingers. Get the hint yet???
Inhaling deeply, JJ nodded. "You're absolutely right, Mudgie. I can't allow you to stay here with him. Especially after what he said!" JJ said, purposefully rising from her position on the floor with me. "You're coming home with us, too."
"What!?" Magpie whined. "Mummy! You don't know what you're saying!"
"Yeah, she does, Shitty Kitty," I doggy grinned at her before licking JJ's hand. "You just got yourself a new roomie!"
Striding off the elevator three hours later, Dave narrowed his eyes on the woman, until this morning, he considered the most rational woman on earth. "Jennifer Elizabeth Jareau,!" Dave bellowed, "Where in the hell is Mudgie!"
Stiffening her spine as she heard his roar, JJ looked up from the file she was currently reviewing with her boss…and her boss's boss. Seeing the look of surprise in both Aaron Hotchner's and Erin Strauss's eyes, JJ muttered a quick excuse, refusing to meet their eyes.. She then slammed the file shut as she turned to stomp toward the man that was currently making her life a living hell.
Punching a finger in his chest, JJ hissed, "Lower your tone, David Rossi. We are at work,
not in a barn!"
"Speaking of barns," Rossi snapped back, his eyes flashing, "That's just where I came from. I've been in my barn, my shed, and every room of my damn house, looking for my apparently missing dog. I've been yelling for that damn mutt for the past hour!"
"Of course you have, you jackass," JJ snarled back, hands akimbo. "That's all you do to the poor thing! It's no wonder he literally begged to come with me!"
"Jennifer…" Rossi threatened, his voice lowering as he glowered at her, "that dog is MY dog. How I choose to talk to him…"
"Is atrocious!" JJ completed, emphatically.
"He's a dog, woman, not some prissy little fluffball that leaves furballs all over my damn cabin," Rossi replied, crossing his arms over his chest.
"Well, I'm happy to inform you that you won't have that problem anymore," JJ bit out.
"You're overreacting. Again," Dave growled. "And when you come to your senses, I'll be waiting. But in the meantime, I want MY damn dog back! Damn it, Jennifer, this is kidnapping!"
"You say kidnapping, I say merciful intervention," JJ shrugged.
"Don't you just hate it when Mommy and Daddy fight?" Garcia asked from where she sat perched on Reid's desk, watching the firework show.
"I don't think this is gonna be a fight, Sweetness," Morgan murmured, propping against the desk beside her. "It's gonna be more like a bloodbath if Dave pisses off little JJ any more."
"I hate it when they bicker," Reid sighed.
"That's not bickering, Reid. That's war," Emily said, nodding at the couple.
"Woman, I'm gonna ask you one more time! Where the hell is my animal?" Dave roared.
"He's safe! And that's all you need to know!" JJ snapped.
"You realize I could have you arrested," Rossi said smugly, crossing his arms over his chest and glaring at the younger woman.
"You wouldn't?" JJ gasped.
"He couldn't," Erin Strauss said with a grim smile at David. "Possession IS nine-tenths the law."
"And I just retained an attorney!" JJ added, slapping a dollar bill into Hotch's shocked hand.
Shaking his head blindly at his two employees, Hotch said with quiet authority, "People I don't exactly think the middle of the BAU's bullpen is exactly the place for this discussion."
"No discussion needed, Aaron," Rossi sneered. "Just tell this crazy lady to give me back my dog!"
"Did you just not hear our esteemed Section Chief?" JJ asked sweetly, gesturing toward Strauss. "She has just informed me that the law is on my side."
Turning to glare at Strauss, Rossi said with a growl, "Thanks a lot, Erin. Don't you have some junior level agent to terrorize because he forgot to submit some bureaucratic form in triplicate?"
Strauss returned Rossi's glare, saying succinctly, "It sounds to me like you've met your match, Dave. Agent Jareau's not going to let you walk all over her."
"Damn right, I'm not," JJ added, mentally glossing over the fact that she was agreeing with Erin Strauss. She turned to Hotch and said, "As my attorney, tell Mr. Rossi that my dog is perfectly safe and sound and is getting the physical and emotional care that he deserves."
"I think, that perhaps, we all need to go to our respective offices until cooler tempers prevail," Hotch replied neutrally.
"Not until she tells me where my damn dog is," Dave seethed, his face flushed with anger.
"I'm not telling you anything, you overbearing oaf!" JJ retorted waspishly.
"I can't believe that you're holding my dog hostage," Dave groaned in disbelief. "I've had that dog through three marriages and YOU, Jen."
"And yet, he was entirely eager to jump into the backseat of MY car and escape your prison. Hmmm, I'd say that's suspicious, wouldn't you?"
"What I'd say is that it furthers my supposition that you've turned my dog into a whipped, pansy-assed mutt!" Dave shouted. "Much like you've tried to do to me!"
"Ouch!" Garcia and Emily winced.
"Don't say that man!" Morgan said, grimacing.
"Oh, Jeez," Reid moaned, dropping his head into his hands.
"You get points for attempting to make the effort, Agent Jareau," Director Strauss sympathized.
"Are you trying to die?" Hotch whispered violently to Dave.
And, JJ, with eyes widened in anger, shouted, "For all the good it did any of us! Mudgie will be staying with ME, Agent Rossi. But, if you'll agree to be reasonable, and I know that's a stretch for you, I might be willing to agree to supervised visitation."
"You want a custody arrangement for my DOG?" Dave gaped.
"That's all you think of him, isn't it?" JJ retorted. Stomping toward him, she ground out,
"Well, let me tell you this. He's not just a dumb animal that you can treat any which way you want. He has feelings, you jackass!"
"Dammit, Jen, would you use the brain that God gave you?" Rossi groaned, his eyes darkening. "The DOG sleeps on the floor. He comes when he's called. And until recently, he was a faithful hunting dog that fetched on command! But YOU'VE ruined him!"
"I can't discuss this with you!" JJ declared. "If this is how you treat our dog, how are you going to treat our child?"
Director Strauss looked in surprise at Hotch and asked, quietly, "How did I miss David Rossi having a child with Agent Jareau?"
Hotch said grimly, "They didn't. But I'm beginning to think that's exactly what this might be about."
Rossi rolled his eyes, his voice incredulous, "You're not seriously standing there considering comparing four-legged animals with two- legged human babies , are you?"
"It's a logical premise. If you are callous in dealing with our pets then you will continue the behavior with our child!" JJ argued.
"I will not," Dave denied angrily. "And you make me sound like some abusive bastard! I've never harmed a hair on either of those animal's heads!"
"Words hurt, too," JJ yelled. "But you never think about the things you say before you open that all-knowing mouth of yours, do you? You called that poor animal, that's been a faithful companion and your ONLY friend at some points in your miserable life, WORTHLESS!"
"JJ, I shot the damn duck, told him to fetch, and the mutt stretched out over my feet and wanted his belly scratched. He was designed to be a HUNTING dog! Not a couch potato!"
"He likes being on the couch with me when I watch television," JJ muttered.
"Well, so do I, but, when it's time to work, I WORK!" Dave growled.
"Like I told Mudgie this morning, you're impossible!" JJ wailed.
"You're only furthering my case here, Bella! You talk about the animal like he's human," Dave said, exasperated.
Catching the interested glances of agents from other divisions starting to pay attention to the little drama unfolding in front of him, Hotch stepped forward, saying firmly, "Like I said, I think this is a subject better discussed in a private office."
JJ shook her head, saying angrily, "I'm not going anywhere with this man. He is impossible to deal with, and I have nothing else to say to him."
"Praise God!" Rossi muttered. "Now maybe we can get this over with and I can get my dog back."
JJ turned to Hotch and said primly, "Tell Agent Rossi that if he wishes to see Mudgie, he may visit him this evening at 6 PM at my condo." She added, throwing the words over her shoulder as she stomped toward her office, "And you might want to let him know that if he's ONE minute late, then all bets are off."
At 5:58 pm, David Rossi stood on the steps of Jennifer Jareau's small, tasteful condo and swallowed as he stared warily at the oak door in front of him. Damn it, twenty-four hours ago, he'd been an incredibly happy man living his own personal dream…a beautiful woman, comfortable home, a spoiled cat, and a faithful dog. Today, he was on the verge of losing everything but the house…and all because he'd never learned when to keep his damn mouth shut. Hell, he knew his Jennifer had a soft spot for all things breathing…people, kids, dogs, cats, didn't matter…she loved 'em all. And he supposed he had been a bit unnecessarily vocal with Mudgie…but hell, that was his DOG. As she'd said, his faithful friend and companion through thick and thin. Now, evidently, his dog had turned into Benedict Arnold. Telling himself he could charm his way out of this trouble (with both the woman and the animals), David lifted his hand to knock against the wood.
A moment later, he held his breath as his beautiful woman opened the front door, clad in well-fitting jeans and…wait….was that HIS damn sweatshirt? "I'm not late," he said quietly as she looked down at her wrist watch.
"No," JJ said regretfully as she looked back up at him, "I suppose you're not…and I was really, REALLY looking forward to slamming the door in your face, too."
"Honey-" Dave began.
"Don't "honey" me, Rossi," JJ sniffed, turning to walk into the empty living room, leaving him to trail behind her. "I'm not sure Mudgie will agree to see you. When I told him you were coming, he didn't seem to be altogether excited about it."
"Heaven knows that I wasn't," Magpie meowed plaintitively under her breath from her position in the bay window's seat. "Mummy, whatever he says, do NOT fall for it," Magpie hissed, eying Rossi suspiciously.
Rossi bit back the curse that he was thinking, instead choosing to say, politely, "I'll be on my best behavior, Jen."
Ignoring the man walking behind her, JJ entered her den, calling softly, "Mudgie! Daddy's here to see you!"
Tempted to correct her, Rossi followed her obediently, biding his time to present his case for reconciliation.
So the old dude actually showed up, Mudgie thought, cracking open one eye as he yawned mightily. Damn, a dog could get used to this city life. A comfy couch to sprawl on, a warm blanket to snuggle with, and kibble galore. "Do I have to talk to him?"
Mudgie yawned again, his tail flopping against the leather couch.
"Hey, Mudgie," Rossi said, careful not to piss off the woman watching him with eagle eyes. Patting the dog on the head, he asked, "Did you miss me, boy?"
"Answer YES, you overgrown mutt, and you and your father can get out of our house!" Magpie instructed, arching her back as she jumped on the top of the sofa.
"Bite me, Shitty Kitty…the master didn't intimate you were gonna visit that big doghouse in the sky," Mudgie barked.
"Come on, boy! Come see me!" Dave said, enthusiastically clapping his hands against his thighs as JJ watched with arms crossed a raised brow.
"Well, GO," Magpie insisted on a hiss. "Don't act like a pouty puppy!"
"Nope, you hurt my feelings, asshole," Mudgie barked at Rossi over his shoulder as he jumped from the sofa and ran out of the room.
Staring shocked at the retreating dog, Dave said blankly, "He's really mad at me."
"Of course he is, you idiot," JJ said snippily.
"Idiot," Magpie hissed, taking a swipe at Rossi as he reached out a hand to stroke her fur.
"Hell, even the cat hates me and I didn't say a word to her!" Dave groaned.
"She sympathizes with Mudgie," JJ shrugged.
"I do NOT, Mummy!" Magpie meowed loudly.
"Hell, Bella, how did I manage to piss off my entire family in less than a day?" Dave asked.
"You have that much talent, you barbarian," Magpie howled loudly, hair standing on end.
"You have to give me another chance, Bella," Dave said, looking at her with pleading eyes.
"Why?" JJ asked.
"Yes, Ghengis Khan, tell us why?" Magpie meowed smartly.
"For starters, I love you, Bella!" Rossi said emphatically, trying to reach for her hand.
Easily sidestepping his touch, JJ moved out of reach as she nailed him with a look. "Those are just words for you, Dave. You don't really mean them or you would act differently."
"That's it, Mummy!" Magpie swings her tail from side to side as she narrows her kitty eyes to dark slits. "Stick to your guns! "
"I have been acting differently!" Rossi defended himself. "I've completely changed everything to make you happy, honey! And I'd do it again just to show you how much I care."
"That's true, Milkbone Lady! The bastard never stopped humming in all these months until this morning!" Mudgie barked from the doorway, tail wagging
"My dog seems to disagree with you, Dave. Our entire FAMILY disagrees with you."
"Crap! Sorry, Dave! I tried," Mudgie yelped morosely.
"Dammit," Rossi muttered, looking around the room then settling his eyes back on JJ. "I finally realized that what we have IS a family, Jennifer. As strange as it may be, you, me, and those two furballs are a real family and I don't want to screw it up this time."
Alarmed, Magpie suddenly jumped up as she recognized the thawing look in JJ's eyes. "No, Mummy, no! Don't let his silver-tongued oratory fool you!"
"Bring it home, Master!" Mudgie barked.
"You're on Mummy's side, you mangy beast!" Magpie hissed.
" Do you really mean that, Dave?" JJ asked nervously. "You think we're a family?"
"Of course I do, Bella. Do you realize that at no time during any of my three marriages did I ever rush home…anxious to spend my free time glued to their side? Now, it's all I think about! Being with you and these two animals!"
Biting her lip, JJ deliberated his words. He seemed genuine. But she wondered if her upcoming revelation would alter his outlook.
"I hope you really mean that, Dave. Because our family is about to expand," JJ revealed quietly.
"You got another animal stashed in this shell of a house?" Dave asked, looking around.
"Oh, it's stashed somewhere alright," JJ murmured.
Looking at Magpie, Mudgie barked, "Do you know what she's talking about?"
Swishing her tail, Magpie stared on in horror. "I hope not!"
"Bella, you're being cryptic and you know how nervous that makes me," Dave warned.
"Not as nervous as I've been trying to figure out how to tell you this," JJ shot back, her eyes beginning to tear slightly.
Rossi stepped toward her, his hand cupping her cheek as he said, alarmed, "Whatever it is, we'll deal with it, Bella."
"David…" JJ began, only to have him interrupt.
"Look, if it's a litter of kittens or something, we'll find them good homes," Dave said, cluelessly. "Then we'll get that furball of yours fixed so this never happens again."
Hissing wildly, Magpie arched in complete indignation as she meowed, "Never have I been so insulted in my life! I am not a common…a common…ALLEYCAT!"
Mudgie grinned his puppy grin as he howled, "Wouldn't bet on it, shitty kitty. Does the name TOM ring a bell?"
Ignoring the unheard conversation going on around her, JJ shook her head as she said, quickly, "Dave, it's not kittens. It's not four legs. It's two legs this time. Or at least I hope it is!"
A confused look on his face, Rossi said, cocking his head, "Bella, the only animal that I know that has two legs would be a bird. And I gottta tell you, I'm not sure that your cat would…""Dammit, David," JJ yelled, stomping her foot, "It's not a bird. It's not an animal. It's not a pet of any kind, you clueless moron! I'm trying to tell you that I'm pregnant!"
"Pregnant!" Dave said, the word rolling off his tongue.
"Yeah," JJ whispered, staring up into his dark awestruck face.
"That's what all that was this morning!" Dave murmured. "All that talk about how I'd treat my child - it was because you'd found out-"
"-that I was having your baby," JJ nodded.
Lost for words, Dave settled a trembling palm against her stomach and stared down at his hand.
"The master's speechless," Mudgie snickered.
"Mark this down in the books," Magpie meowed.
"Dave?" JJ said tremulously. "Dave, say something."
"A baby. A real, honest to God combination of me and you," he whispered.
"God help us all," Magpie yowled.
"Yep," JJ said, swiping at her eyes. "Hopefully more me than you," she added with a shaky smile.
"You can say that again," Dave grinned back raising his eyes to meet hers. "Tell me you're all coming home with me tonight, Bella."
Nodding wordlessly, JJ felt herself engulfed in his arms mere seconds later as their two pets stared on.
"You know what this means, don't you?" Magpie hissed.
"Nope," Mudgie barked happily, already holding his leash in his mouth.
"We're BOTH about to get very familiar with that damn barn again!" Magpie whined.