The Peevish Qualities of Man

Chapter Five

"I'm with him," Morgan said, nodding furiously. "You want Lynch's head on a platter, I'll go out right now and get it, no questions asked!"

"Gonna be a long trip," Pen growled, turning away to march back to her seat at the table.

"Somebody wanna explain this to me?" Morgan asked cautiously, casting a glance sideways toward the only other man in the room.

"Lynch took a job in some godforsaken little country in Europe –" Rossi began.

"Which YOU signed off on," JJ hissed.

"Did not! I merely wrote a reference. Hell, I didn't even know what the job was!" Rossi defended himself, knowing that he was going to need any loophole he could get if he hoped to get JJ back on his side anytime soon. "Anyhow, he expected Garcia, here, to uproot her life and join him in Timbuktu."

"Liechtenstein!" Penelope corrected with a frown. Flashing a look at JJ over his shoulder, she asked, "He really only hears the details that he wants, doesn't he?"

Rolling his eyes, Rossi murmured, "Whatever. Anyhow, the ladies are all particularly interested this morning in why all men are selfish, unhearing bastards' intent on ruining their lives."

"In a nutshell," Emily nodded her agreement with Rossi's assessment.

"Baby Girl, he ain't worth your tears if he could walk away from you," Derek said quietly, training his eyes on the colorful blonde in the center of the room.

Lifting tear bright eyes to Morgan's chocolate orbs, Penelope offered a watery smile. "See, Agent Rossi, that's all I wanted," she said gesturing at Morgan's concerned face. "Right there! See!"

Looking from Penelope to Morgan, Dave furrowed his brow. "What?" he finally asked incredulously. "He's been here for less than three minutes and he solves all the world's problems with those simple little words?"

"What can I say, Rossi?" Morgan said with a grin, cocking an eyebrow. "I know my Princess." Narrowing his eyes toward Garcia, he asked, seriously, "You sure you don't want me to take care of Lynch for you? I'll find him and kick his Liechtensteinian ass all over Europe if that would make you happy."

Gathering her bag and her oversized coffee mug, Garcia smiled brightly at him as she passed by him, grabbing his arm, "No, but the fact that you offered means that I'm going to treat you to a grande of that overpriced cappuccino that you so love. And I might even spring for a basket of biscotti to go with it."

"Oh, it'll be my treat, Baby Cakes." Wrapping his arm around her shoulder, Morgan grinned down at her as he added, "A gentleman never allows a lady to pay, especially on the first date."

Watching the couple sail out the door, Rossi stared at the departing couple in wide-eyed amazement as he shook his head. "Would somebody tell me what just happened?"

"Care and consideration," Emily huffed rolling her eyes as she headed toward the door. Pausing to nod meaningfully at JJ, she warned, "I'd try using a little of it now, if I were you."

Watching the dark haired profiler sashay out the door, Dave turned leery eyes toward the only women in the room he truly cared about. He had a feeling that he was going to need to revisit some salient points of their relationship if he hoped to continue said relationship any farther. "If you recall," he said slowly, "when you tore my head off before we left the house this morning, I offered to go to that meeting for you, JJ."

Half-smiling, JJ nodded, as she said simply, "I remember, Rossi."

"And yet, you neglected to mention that tiny fact to our mutual friends," Dave pointed out, slowly crossing the room toward her.

"Did I?" she asked innocently, clasping her hands behind her back as she looked up into his face.

"Yeah," he said, pausing directly in front of her. "You did," he said, staring down at her.

"Hmmm…interesting," JJ shrugged, slowly blinking at him.

"Care to explain why?" Dave asked, deceptively casually. He had grown very talented at reading this tiny woman's mind, and he had a feeling that the answer he was about to receive was going to still surprise him.

"We needed a scapegoat," JJ replied simply, reaching out a hand to pat his chest.

"A scapegoat?" Dave repeated, raising a brow.

"Yep," JJ smiled, looping her arms around his neck. "A scapegoat. Penelope and Emily needed to vent. And I knew my big strong man could take the heat. I was right."

"Your so-called big strong man almost decided jumping out that window over there," he said, nodding toward the far wall's bank of windows, "was preferable to facing down three enraged women," he returned evenly, dropping warm hands to her hips.

"Coward," she whispered with a grin, slowly leaning forward to nip at his lips.

"Bet your ass," Dave agreed, unwilling to be so easily diverted, although his body was reminding him that their argument this morning had precluded many other activities from their schedule. "You owe me," he said, his words a statement of fact, not a question.

"Bet your ass," JJ verified, leaning forward to capture her prize. Yes, she'd gotten one of the good ones. And she couldn't have been happier.