The State of the Relationship Address

As Morgan slid into the booth beside Dr. Spencer Reid, he groaned.

"What's the matter with you?" Dave asked around a mouthful of his meatball hoagie.

"Man, Jordan caught me on the way out the door to lunch," Morgan sighed, reaching for the catsup on the table.

"Agent Todd? How's that going?" Hotch asked, stabbing his fork into his cobb salad.

"I thought it was goin' pretty good up until about fifteen minutes ago. But she grabbed me by the elevator and told me not to make plans for us tonight. It seems she wants to sit down and have, and I'm quoting here, fellas, "a serious discussion defining what we are as a unit.""

Seeing twin grimaces and a collective shudder overtake his two older colleagues across the table, Morgan's face tightened as he asked, "What?!"

Wiping his mouth with a napkin, Hotch asked, "Morgan, exactly how long have you two been dating?"

Scratching his head, Morgan thought. "Hell, I'm not sure…three, four months, maybe?"

Shaking his head sympathetically at him, Dave advised seriously, "I'd advise you not to go home until you can answer Hotch's question to the date, time and minute. I'd also suggest you try to remember what she was wearing."

"Why the hell would I need to do all that?" Morgan asked, confused.

"Because you, my clueless friend, are about to have your very first "State of the Relationship Address"," Dave said, smiling grimly. "May God's smile shine down upon you, my friend."

"What the hell?" Morgan asked, his brow furrowing. "A State of the what?"

"Relationship, Morgan. Relationship," Hotch replied calmly. "As in the relationship that you and Agent Todd have been involved in for the past months."

"Why in the world does that woman want to talk about what we have going on? It's working out pretty good for me," Morgan shrugged, reaching for his triple stacker burger. Taking a chomp, he wiped his mouth and added, "What is there to talk about?"

Dave chuckled grimly as he took a long sip of his iced tea. Dropping the glass back on the table, he leaned forward, and said, eyebrow raised, "You've never had a relationship last this long, have you, son?"

Thinking for a moment, Morgan replied, "No, I guess not."

"Then you're about to experience the highly mystical and unbelievably mind numbing occurrence that comes only after the woman you have been seeing has had just enough time and exposure to you to catalogue your each and every transgression," Rossi supplied.

"But I've not done anything!" Morgan yelped, his eyes widening.

"Trust us, Morgan," Hotch chuckled, "You did SOMETHING!"

"Yeah, you're breathing," Rossi snorted. "Some days, that's all it takes."

"Well, it's sounds like a very logical idea to me. A perfect opportunity to make sure the avenues of communication remain open and unfettered," Reid said seriously, popping a chicken nugget into his mouth.

"Yeah, what they don't tell you is that particular avenue only runs one way, Doctor," Rossi retorted.

"And the damn thing is constantly under construction," Hotch muttered.

"Oh, hell," Morgan groaned. "This is crazy! There's no reason why -," Morgan began, looking up to see both older men shaking their heads from side to side in unison. "What? What did I say now?"

"Never use that word in relation to either Jordan Todd or any conversation the lady wants to have with you," Rossi warned seriously.

"What word?" Morgan asked blankly.

"Crazy," Hotch supplied. "Or any variation on that word," he further offered.

"Nuts, delusional, psychotic…," Rossi said, ticking words off on his fingers, "All terms to avoid. Permanently."

"Well what the hell AM I allowed to say?" Morgan questioned, beginning to look desperate.

"Nothing," Hotch said flatly. "Absolutely nothing. You invoke your right to remain silent and keep it that way."

Nodding his agreement, Rossi added, "It's your safest bet. But if she demands you speak, stick with "yes" and "no" answers." Shrugging, he continued, "That usually works with JJ."

"That doesn't sound very productive," Reid commented.

"It isn't about being productive, Genius. It's about coming out of this thing and still having the woman you want. Trust us, don't say a word, Morgan."

"I thought the policy was, "Deny, deny, deny!"!" Morgan said, confused.

"That only works when the woman doesn't know you well enough to call you on your crap," Hotch stated evenly.

Looking momentarily relieved, Morgan grinned as he said, "Hey, there may be hope then. I've been extremely careful over the past few months. Maybe she doesn't know anything yet."

Choking on his tea, Rossi chuckled as he said, nailing Morgan with a look, "Isn't this the woman that knew your name before you had even met her?"

"That's all your woman's fault," Morgan grumbled, his moment of euphoria starting to fade again. "She had to tell Jordan all about the whole team. It gave her an unfair advantage."

"And that's an excellent fact to pay attention to," Hotch said seriously. "Women will tell other women everything they know about the men in their lives."

"And nothing, I repeat nothing," Rossi added, steepling his fingers, "Is sacred. If you have done the least thing wrong and one of our women found out about it, then you can bet your bottom dollar that Jordan already has details. Massive details."

"What the hell happened to team unity?" Morgan asked, disgusted.

"The women of our team do believe in unity. They are firmly united together against US," Rossi explained.

"Something else you need to understand, Morgan. Anything you do in your relationship with Jordan can and WILL affect our relationships with Emily and JJ and vice versa. Count on it."

"Huh?"

"It's like a cult, man. Get with the program," Rossi admonished, taking another bite from his hoagie.

"Wait a sec, when you said that nothing was sacred, you didn't mean -" Morgan began, rattled.

"Oh yeah," Hotch said, casting a knowing smile in Morgan's direction. "Nothing."

"Even -"

"Even that," Rossi said grimly. "I know more about your stamina in the bedroom than I'll ever feel comfortable admitting. And, listen, I'm fifty-three, do me a favor and give a guy a break over here!"

"Yeah, SnookieBear," Hotch grinned.

"Jesus! You DID mean everything!" Morgan gaped.

"Told ya so," Rossi chuckled.

"But that's just....just…."Morgan stuttered, his face paling.

"Completely normal," Reid supplied helpfully, looking around the table at the men. "It's a well known fact that among procreative mammals, females are drawn to males that exhibit specific traits. And they share this information in many forms and fashions."

"Reid…." Rossi warned, his eyes narrowing.

"Actually," Reid continued, warming quickly to his topic, "There was a recent grant study done describing this very phenomena. It seems that, interestingly, bobo gorillas in captivity have been observed "talking" about the alpha male of the pack due to his intimate relations with one female. How the other females learned of this is yet …."

"They learned because one of them blabbed to their girly gorilla friends!" Morgan snapped, rubbing the back of his neck. Ignoring Reid, he turned to Rossi and Hotch and said, appealing, "You've got to help me!"

"We have been," Hotch replied, raising an eyebrow. "Why do you think we've been telling you this?"

"No," Morgan said, agitated, "You've got to get your women to tell me what they've told Jordan. I need to know whatever JJ and Emily knows if I'm going to get out of this alive!"

"And since I also value MY life," Rossi barked back, "there's no way in hell I'm going to ask JJ a single damn thing. " Seeing the look in Morgan's eyes, Rossi added, ominously, "And neither will you. JJ is officially off limits to you."

"The same goes for Emily, Agent Morgan," Hotch asserted. "The first lesson you learn when it comes to this is that you're on your own."

"What?" Morgan squawked. "What do you guys expect me to do?"

"We expect you to do what men have been doing since the beginning of time - - TAKE IT LIKE A MAN!" Dave growled.

Taking pity on his younger friend, Hotch's face softened. "The first one is the worst," Hotch said carefully, "but, they get easier. Before you know it - very little pain at all."

"Speak for yourself, Frodo," Dave said out of the corner of his mouth. "Look, Morgan, this is a necessary evil of being in a relationship. You'll get in there, take your licks, keep your mouth shut and get back out again," Dave directed.

"Are you gonna nurse my beaten, battered body tomorrow?" Morgan asked bitterly.

"Won't have to," Dave shrugged. "The wounds are all psychological. My first one with JJ, I asked Hotch to find me the nearest neurosurgeon willing to perform a lobotomy."

"And I seem to remember telling you that no doctor would be able to stitch up those lesions." Turning to Morgan, he said, "Dave's right. The scars heal over, and you soon find that the scar tissue serves you well. "

"Yeah," Rossi muttered. "Makes it harder for her to get to you the next time. Stiffens your defenses."

Flopping back against the booth, Morgan released a long-suffering sigh as he said, "I almost hate to ask this, but what did you two get hit for the first time?"

"You mean what was JJ's main topic of discussion when detailing my list of ongoing failures to me?" Rossi asked pleasantly.

"Yeah," Morgan replied, his eyes already starting to glaze over.

"Won't help you much, cause each woman goes at it differently," Rossi said, forcing himself not to shudder again at the memory. "But the parts that I remember seemed to start with my inability to follow simple directions concerning the shopping list that she had sent me out with that morning."

"But of course, that was just her cover story, I'm sure," Hotch added helpfully, biting back a grin.

"Cover story? They have COVER stories?" Morgan squeaked as he reached blindly for his soda.

Rossi nodded, thoughtfully, "Oh yes, that was her opening salvo. But that was just her warm up. " Pausing for effect, he added, slowly, "She was holding the best for last."

"Christ, Dave, what did you do?" Morgan asked, trying to resist the urge to scream.

"It's what I hadn't done…I hadn't convinced her that I was committed to our relationship. And, trust me, it didn't matter that we'd been living together for three months. It didn't matter that I'd asked her to think about marrying me on more than one occasion…"

"Then how the hell could she have felt you weren't committed to her?"

"I'd never bought her tampons. Evidently, a truly committed man would make sure that he kept the woman he loved supplied at that special time of the month. You see, I'd made the colossal mistake that morning of indicating that, perhaps, just perhaps, it would be better for her to purchase her OWN feminine products. That, my friend, was a mistake of epic proportion."

Shaking his head dumbly, Morgan swallowed. " Your wife scares me, Rossi." Looking at Hotch, Morgan asked with trepidation, "And you, Boss Man? What did Em nail you for the first time?"

"Popcorn," Hotch replied, his eyes serious.

"Popcorn?" Morgan said, incredulously. "Emily?"

"Yes, Emily," Hotch answered.

"She had some sort of problem with ol' Orville Reddenbacher and took it out on you?" Morgan asked, growing more confused by the minute.

Taking a deep sigh, Hotch settled back into his chair and said, "According to Emily, the fact that I kept only plain popcorn in my cabinet was a severe warning signal that we were completely incompatible. She liked butter flavor and my plain popcorn was telling her that our lives would never completely mesh."

"But couldn't she just buy her own and bring it to your house?" Morgan asked. "Or just add butter?"

Hearing Rossi snorting, Hotch just shook his head as he explained, "Again, we need to have a refresher course for a moment. The popcorn was just an excuse for Emily to draw me into a long, drawn out discussion on whether I would be willing to…and I'm quoting, "adapt my stonewall rigid lifestyle to include other options and considerations." End quote."

Looking from one pitying face to another, Morgan groaned. "I'm royally screwed here, aren't I?"

"Yep," Rossi and Hotch nodded in unison.

"And there's no way out, is there?" Morgan moaned.

"Nope," they agreed in stereo.

"But it gets better…you guys said so," Morgan said shakily.

"There are a lot of variables, but, yeah, generally, on the whole, it gets better," Dave said cautiously.

"When?"

"At your funeral," Dave replied, only half kidding.

"Or your fiftieth wedding anniversary," Hotch added. "Whichever comes first."

"If relationships are this difficult," Reid said, looking around the table at the three men, "then why does anyone even want to be a part of one?"

"Because we love them," Rossi answered simply.

"But isn't love just an emotional response to a physical reaction?" Reid asks, his mind analyzing the data.

Hiding his smile, Hotch said seriously, "It's a bit deeper than that, Reid."

Sighing, Reid asked, his shoulders slumping, "Is this one of those things that I'm gonna understand when I get older?"

"Ask Dave," Hotch replied, nodding toward the older profiler. "He's done it four times now."

"Yeah, but this one is the last. And the only time it's ever really mattered," Rossi replied.

"How do you know that?" Morgan asked, his tone serious. "Apparently you've been here three times before JJ. Hotch's done it twice. I mean, how do you really know that this one is it?"

"Are you asking because you want to know if Agent Todd's the right one for you?"

"Yeah, I guess I am," Morgan answered, pressing his fingertips to his forehead.

"You won't until it's too late," Rossi answered with a shrug, then added, "You'll be too far in to the relationship to be able to pull out. And honestly, you won't WANT to pull out."

"Kinda like now?" Morgan half-asked and half-acknowledged.

"Just one question, kid," Rossi said, not even bothering to hide the grin that was playing on his lips. "Why didn't you tell Agent Todd to go take a flying leap when she told you she wanted to have the talk?"

Reaching for his drink, Morgan drained the glass and held it up for the waitress to see as he answered, "I dunno. I guess I wanted to hear what she had to say." He then said, adamantly, "But I didn't know it was going to be all of THIS!"

"You could still get out," Hotch said, then added, slowly, "If you want to."

"He doesn't want out, Aaron," Rossi said, staring across the table at the younger man. Grinning widely, he added, "He's already caught. Hook, line, and sinker. Todd's got him and he knows it."

Reid shook his head as he said, sadly, "I'll never understand all of this. Never."

"Me neither, kid," Morgan replied, his voice morose. He then looked up at the two older profilers and asked, hopefully, "Any chance you want to send me out this afternoon on a custodial interview or something? I'll volunteer for whatever you've got out there. Just get me out of here."

"Hell, no," Rossi answered, reaching for his wallet as the waitress brought the check. "I'm not about to let you escape. If we went through it, by God, you're going through it."

"With friends like you guys, I can't afford enemies," Morgan grinned.

"An enemy wouldn't have warned you what was coming," Rossi argued.

"Uhmm…it's only my opinion, but I think that might have been kinder," Reid said faintly.

"But a hell of a lot less fun," Hotch grinned. "Welcome to our club, my friend."

FINIS