Disclaimer: Nope, Criminal Minds is not mine. Neither is the old Budweiser "Wassup" commercial, or any other classic 90's reference you might see here. For the TV Prompt Challenge, Bonus Prompt Set #8, Spin City's "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve Makeout Party '99"
January 1st, 1999
Oh God, oh God, oh God…
With the sickening acidic tang of bile in her mouth, mixed with the taste of tequila, JJ Jareau couldn't look at the floor. It was bad enough that she puked the excessive amount of liquor she'd consumed during the last few hours of celebration in front of the remaining patrons at the bar. Really, on her list of life accomplishments, that ranked pretty low. Oh no, it was because of just exactly where that vomit had landed that made her avert her eyes.
On a pair of fine, Italian leather shoes. Gucci or Prada, she wasn't certain.
And on who's feet were those shoes?
Only JJ Jareau's greatest hero. And quite possibly the unrequited love of her life.
She moaned, struggling to stand up without jostling her stomach too much. This was not the way they were supposed to meet her celebrity crush and secret future husband. Hell, this wasn't even the way she planned to ring in 1999, sick on the floor of a bar.
No, this hadn't been part of the plan at all…
"Jayyyyyy-jayyyyyyy! Are you wearin' your denim mini? Please, please, please, please, pleaseeeeeeee say you're not. I wanna wear it 'cause Paulie wants to take it offa me!"
JJ looked down at her watch. Thirty-five minutes into 1999, and she and her three roommates from the University of Pittsburgh had already turned the New Year into a cautionary tale on the evils of pregaming.
Things seriously couldn't have been timed better. It was their senior year of college, the last New Year's Eve she'd celebrate with her best girls- hell, it was the start of the last friggen year of the millennium- and somehow Gina's dad managed to score them round trip tickets to New York City and a hotel room just a couple of blocks away from Times Square. Goodbye small town Pennsylvania, hello New York!
In JJ's opinion, if any group of friends deserved a chance to take on the Big Apple during the holidays, it was the four of them. And they were making the most of it, as anyone could tell if they looked in their hotel room fridge.
Three nearly empty bottles of Patron are never wrong.
"No, I'm not wearing the mini, Meg," JJ replied, pulling the denim skirt out of the suitcase on the floor. Clothes were scattered haphazardly around it, each an outfit that had not been quite sexy enough to ring in the New Year.
Tossing the skirt across the room to Meg, she grabbed a piece of hotel paper and jotted down a note to have it disinfected before she tried to wear it again. At the rate she was tossing back tequila shots, there was no way in hell she would have any memories of tonight, and JJ didn't particularly want to attempt wearing the skirt after whatever Meg and Paul had planned.
Paul and his pals were a new addition to their group of four. They'd shown up sometime around the start of hour fifteen in Times Square. JJ, Gina, Meg, and Liz, who had spent most of the day guarding their front row spots on the most frigid New Years Eve in the history of life, had started rotating bathroom breaks. On the way back, each girl brought back some small item to help the time pass by. JJ had returned with heat packs for all her friends' hands.
Meg had returned with a group of Marines on leave in their dress blues.
In her defense, Meg was the friend with an eye for men and a penchant for one night stands. She invited the boys to join their group. After all, they did have front row seats, and service men all but guaranteed a few minutes of camera time when the ball dropped.
This explained why, sixteen seconds after the New Year commenced, when the cameras from Dick Clark's Rockin' New Years Eve 1999 fell upon them, Meg and Paul were in the midst of an intense make out fest that made JJ wonder just what balls Meg had come to NYC to see.
"Ohhhhh myyyyy God, JJ you're the best! Thank you!" Meg exclaimed, giving her a kiss on the cheek and another Tequila shot. "Thank you, thank you, thank you!"
JJ smiled before moving to Liz's bag, rummaging for the sparkly green tank top that looked just like the one Britney Spears wore in her Drive Me Crazy video. Even though JJ was the serial monogamist of the group, this was New York, which was one step below Las Vegas on the "what happens here, stays here" list. She was young, drunk, and not about to let the night pass her by.
Besides, Paul's friends were really, really, really cute.
JJ changed into the midriff-bearing shirt, leaving her flare-legged jeans on, and grabbed a matching denim jacket. Running a hand through her crimped, shoulder length hair, she sat on the bed to wait for the other three to finish getting ready. They were meeting Paul at a bar on the Lower East Side in half an hour, giving the boys a chance to change into their civilian clothes.
"JJ where's your curling iron?" Gina called out of the bathroom.
"Plugged in! Should still be warm," JJ called back, picking up her book from the oak night table.
JJ wasn't much of a reader, but this book… well she hadn't been able to put it down. The first chapter was fascinating. The second chapter she couldn't read fast enough. And by the third? Even if she hadn't seen the picture on the back cover of the incredibly rugged Italian man, she would have been a little in love with the author. His words were haunting, so perfectly chosen that she could imagine the grisly crime scene, the elaborate development of a profile, the twisted and deranged criminal minds. She wasn't even halfway through the book, and JJ knew she wanted to be a profiler.
Too bad she majored in communications. Like that would ever land her a job that would put her in frequent contact with David Rossi.
A melodramatic sigh escaped her lips as she fell back onto the pillows, glancing once more at Rossi's picture before opening to the dog-eared page where she left off. The words were a little blurry, no doubt thanks to the alcohol, but she ignored it. JJ absolutely had to know what happened next. Snuggling into the bed, she prepared to be lost in Rossi's words until her friends were ready to leave…
He would kill Kelly for this. Hell, at least his own prosecution would give him a subject for his next book.
But really, what was his publicist thinking, scheduling a book signing in a Barnes and Noble in downtown Manhattan on New Year's Eve? Typical…
"Add it to the tab," he muttered, pushing a hand through his hair. It was getting long again, a sure sign he was stressed. A sure sign that life was going to fall apart. Things weren't going well with Amanda. Their marriage was something akin to World War I, both of them buried in the trenches because if either dared come out, a battle of epic proportions would ensue. And it had only been two damn years.
At least the bar was quiet. It was off the beaten path, a hole in the wall he'd discovered where the staff never asked questions, even though they might recognize you from a tabloid, or the social circuit… or the back cover of a book. He'd been coming here at least fifteen years, and it was always the same no matter who the bartender was. Order a drink, hand over the credit card, keep the booze flowing until the latest calamity was forgotten, or at least numbed.
A frosty breeze blew through the bar, signaling that a new patron had entered. Rossi was wondering when the revelers would start showing up. He knew it was inevitable- last call wasn't until 4, which meant the night had barely begun.
The young man was tall and well muscled, of Hispanic decent, with a red haired girl hanging on his arm. He was laughing hard, reminding Rossi of the fraternity brothers he'd seen during his college days.
"Wassuppppp!" was the response of two of the other men within the group. There were eight of them, four girls and four guys total, all about college age or slightly older. Just barely old enough to drink, still reveling in the fact that they could enter such an establishment.
He didn't understand what was so funny about the phrase they insisted on shouting, but Rossi did realize that they were disturbing the peace. His peace. The one little thing he'd been asking for after this joke of a New Years.
Just finish this one, and then I'll get the hell out of here, he though, settling back on the stool. The older woman behind the bar rolled her eyes.
"New Years and Cinco de Mayo. Only time kids come in here. Sorry, bud."
Dave shrugged it off, sipping the Scotch.
That's when he saw her.
Tall, blonde, and slim, she wore a green shirt that covered so little, it would have offended the eyes of her grandparents, and made her parents shake their heads in shame. She was stopped dead in the doorway, staring at him. Her eyes seemed to be trying to bore a hole in his head, and he couldn't figure out why.
Normally Dave would just brush it aside as an overzealous fan. But this girl fell outside his demographic- way outside it. In no way was Blondie over there a middle aged man going through a midlife crisis, looking for some sort of adventure or out-of-the-ordinary experience to replace his typical nine to five. She wasn't a woman in her forties, halfway into menopause, eyeing his money and his (thank the Lord) well-preserved good looks.
The girl shook her head, breaking eye contact when one of the other young men put a hand on her waist, leading her over to the table the rest of her friends had taken over.
"She looked surprised to see you. Sure you're not her dad or something?" the bartender joked. Rossi let out a gruff chuckle. Him, as anyone's father? Laughable.
Hell of a night, he thought, halfway through his drink. Hell of a night.
JJ tossed her head back as she downed the Corona, slamming it back on the table harder than she expected. She jumped at the noise she made as Alex laughed. "Another drink, babe?"
"Yeah that'd be great!" she laughed, comfortably numb.
He grinned, and sped off to the bar. Alex was a real sweetheart, easy to talk to and easy to win money off of at darts, with manners that would impress her grandmother. He was from rural Montana, where he worked on a family-owned cattle ranch before deciding that he would much rather go to college and study agricultural sciences. With money being tight and grades just slightly too low to qualify for a decent scholarship, he joined the Marines to fund his education.
JJ had noticed him earlier in the night, adorable in his awe of New York. He'd never been here, never seen buildings so large and tightly packed together, and had walked through the streets staring upwards until he accidentally walked into a homeless woman who let out a string of curse words that left him gaping.
"Look at you, Miss Thing!" Liz said enthusiastically. "Playin' the field!"
"Awww, leave her alone Gina," Gina added, though she was smirking. She had volunteered to take over JJ's normal role of staying just sober enough to make sure they all got home in one piece. "When was the last time JJ got any?"
JJ felt her face turn beat red, knowing exactly when the last time was. It fell somewhere in the range of centuries to eons.
Still Alex was cute, and he seemed to have a good set of morals, even if he was a side effect of drunken seduction. And hey, sometimes one night stands turned into something more, right? Long distance dating a Marine… to JJ, it sounded like the kind of stuff a good chick flick was made of.
With a secret smile on her face, she turned back towards the bar to watch Alex… and felt her stomach drop.
Sitting on the bar stool next to Alex, trying to chat him up, was a tall brunette. With legs crossed one over the other, her pink floral miniskirt had risen up so far that JJ could just barely tell it was there. Her shirt covered about the same amount of skin as a bra… and not a sports bra, but one of those fancy, lacy, expensive things from Victoria Secret.
Like JJ could compete with that. Goodbye New Years hookup, she thought.
And there he went, chatting up the brunette Amazon, all thoughts of JJ flown from his mind. Acting the dashing hero, he offered her his arm and led her out on the dance floor, and JJ couldn't help but roll her eyes. Cheesy. Didn't anyone tell him chivalry is dead?
Oooh, JJ Jareau, bitter much?
But though she wanted to say she was angry, she really wasn't. In all honesty, it was just going to be a hookup, and do one night stands really ever turn into anything lasting?
So she brushed it off, determined not to let a stupid Montanan marine whose idea of chivalry was offering a smile and an assisting arm to every girl in the club ruin her night.
Now where had her friends disappeared to?
A drink slammed down on the table, causing her to jump and spin around on the stool to stare down the culprit. Didn't they realize there were people sitting here?
Alright, it was just her. But somewhere around here were her friends.
"What the he—"
"I think this is yours," the older man said gruffly, nodding towards the bottle of Corona with a bright green lime peeking out the top.
JJ wanted to reply, she really did. She wanted interrogate him, ask who he thought he was, buying drinks and hitting on young girls at the bar with an attitude like that. Demand an apology for his behavior, and for spilling part of a perfectly good bottle of beer on the table. But she found her mouth wasn't working.
David Rossi was standing in front of her. Slamming a bottle of beer on her table, and looking damn sexy doing it. Suddenly that action was much less offensive then it was twenty seconds ago.
God, she thought that man looked like him when she walked it in, but figured it was a weird coincidence.
Way to sound intelligence, Jayje.
"You're… 'boyfriend'. He ordered this for you before he got… distracted."
Stop staring, stop staring, stop staring.
Ohmygod David Rossi just spoke words to me.
JJ took a deep breath, trying to get some oxygen to her brain so it would start functioning again. "Oh… thank you. Did he cover the tab? Let me find my wallet…"
Rossi held up a hand, indicating she should stop. "No worries. It's covered. Happy New Year."
He wanted to leave. Really, he did. And what was keeping him here? The party had died down, only a few scattered groups still able to consume liquor without risking alcohol poisoning. Back at the hotel, so kindly paid for by his publishing company, he had a comfortable bed with down mattress and ninety four different television stations- all just calling his name, luring him in.
Sleep would be an escape from the disaster that was his personal life.
But that sweet little blonde girl, so carelessly abandoned by her New Year date, was just barely able to sit in her seat and the upstanding citizen deep down inside him (so often ignored thanks to his easy ability to be a bastard) couldn't leave her to be taken advantage of. She was obviously from out of town, had little experience in the city. Her friends were off partying, returning to the table every once in a while to drop off an empty bottle and exchange a few words.
It was like a target was drawn on the skintight tank top she was wearing.
"Another drink, buddy?" the bartender asked, a younger guy who'd taken over for the last shift.
"Nah," he replied. One more drink would send him over the edge, to a place he hadn't seen since his early years on the force, when he and the other rookies would go out and celebrate a job well done.
That had ended with his first marriage.
And not too long after, that had ended too.
"But if I can get my tab?" The kid nodded, returning to the cash register. Dave turned back to where the blonde sat.
She was gone.
He felt an inordinate amount of worry flood him, considering that he'd only spoken to her once. It didn't even qualify as a full conversation.
So many years on the job, so many violent crime scenes. The horrifying pictures, scenes he described in his book flew through his mind, faster than anything he imagined. And just when he planned on getting up and actually looking for her, he felt a gentle tap on his shoulder.
"Mr. Rossi?" The words were slightly slurred, but the blonde was in one piece and had a gigantic smile on her face.
She opened her mouth, but the words seem to escape her.
"Are you alright? Do you want me to call someone?" He stood, putting a hand on her shoulder to steady her. Close by, he could see one of her friends, walking steadily through the crowds to the bar, signaling for the tab. They must have arranged for one of them to stay somewhat sober- a responsible move that would have impressed him if they hadn't let their friend get halfway to alcohol poisoning.
"I love your books. Like really, really, reeeeeeeally love them. I've read them, like… a billion times." She paused to collect herself, her eyes wide in admiration. "Could… would you… can I have your autograph?"
Dave wanted to laugh at the absurdity of it all, but he smiled at her gently and signaled for the bartender. "Can you get me a napkin and a pen?" he asked. The young man quickly obliged, leaving his bill on the bar as well. "Now who should I make it out to?" He signed his name as he waited for her name.
Did her face look paler? Greenish? It had to be the light of the bar…
"Sweetheart…" he said softly, as she started to waver.
"My name… my name is…"
He never did find out her name. Seconds later, she was doubled over, throwing up on his shoes.
"Oh my God! JJ! Are you alright?" Gina shouted, abandoning her spot where she waited for the group's tab to help her friend. One moment she saw JJ at the bar, hitting on a man old enough to be her father, the next, she was on the floor sick. "JJ look at me, are you alright?"
"Kill me now…" JJ moaned, refusing to look up. "Oh my God I threw up on his shoes."
Gina could hear the sniffles and sobs coming from her friend and kneeled down next to her. "What's wrong sweetie?"
"I threw up on David Rossi's shoesssssssss…."she bawled, loud enough that everyone around them could here. "Now he'll never love meeeee!"
"Who?" Cringing, she glanced down at the floor, then up at the man, doing a double take. "Oh…. OH. You're the guy from the book. The book… at the hotel. Oh my gosh, I don't know if I hope she remembers this in the morning or if I hope she doesn't. Jayje? Sweetie, it's ok. He's not angry at you. Are you?"
She shot a pointed glare at the man, hoping his more-than-likely gigantic, egotistical, famous self would spare her friend further embarrassment.
"Of course I'm not angry at you… JJ?"
Gina could hear the question in the man's voice and nodded her head in confirmation.
"You… you know my name?"
Oh lord… she sighed internally. If this was bad, tomorrow morning was not going to be pretty. "Of course I know your name sweetheart," the author replied. He was taking this all in his stride, and handling the situation so much better than Gina knew she would have in the same situation.
She saw Paul and Alex approaching the bar. "Hey! Hey guys! C'mere and help me get JJ out of here. She's not doin' so well."
At least Meg's Marines have a sense of duty, Gina thought gratefully. Though they didn't entirely sober up, they clearly understood the situation. Paul easily picked up JJ, as Alex said that he would gather the others and hail a taxi.
Gina returned her attention to the author. "I'm so sorry about this. Please, how much will it cost to replace your shoes? I feel so bad…"
"Don't worry about it," he said, waving her aside.
"Are you sure? It's not a problem."
Actually, it probably was. Probably more than she had in her bank account. Or her parents' bank accounts.
"I said don't worry about it. Just get her home in one piece, alright?"
Gina nodded. "Just have to pay the tab."
She knew she was gaping now. They had been drinking nonstop all night, the bill… well she didn't want to know how much of a bill they racked up. At least a couple hundred dollars, given the prices gauging here in New York City. This guy was seriously going to foot the bill, after one of her best friends barfed all over him? Too good to be true.
"Go get in the cab, sweetheart. And have a good New Year."
Shaking her head clear, she glanced down at the counter. "Did you sign this for Jayje?" The napkin had his name scrawled across it, nearly illegibly.
"Oh… guess I did."
"Can I give it to her?"
"Sure," he replied, handing it to her. "But I'd wait a while before I did. When she's not going to die of embarrassment. Maybe embellish it a little. Leave out a few key moments?" He nodded toward his shoes.
Gina smiled as she turned to leave, shoving the napkin in her pocket. "I will."
10 Years Later
"Hey Hotch!" JJ called around the corner, voice serious. The new case file in her hand meant that more people had died senselessly, and it pained her, just like every case did. A woman with her face ripped off, tortured by "Have You Seen Me" posters with her own face on it. People were seriously screwed up. And to top it off, Emily, Reid, and Derrick were all abuzz about this new agent.
She'd missed the meeting where his name was announced, and frankly right now, she was too busy to care. Who knew when this sadist would strike again?
"Got a case… file…"
"Ah, Dave, this is Agent Jennifer Jareau. JJ, this is Agent David—"
"Rossi. Yes. God, it's a pleasure to meet you. I've read all your books- really, they're what inspired me to enter this field. Welcome back to the BAU."
Was her face getting red? Oh, it was definitely getting red.
And why was he looking at her like that? Oh God, she couldn't have offended him that quickly, could she?
"A pleasure to meet you, Agent Jareau."
She smiled, pushing her thoughts aside. "Please, just JJ. Everyone calls me that. Hotch, we've got a case. Meet in the conference room in five."
"We didn't have those when I started at the BAU," Rossi commented, watching the blonde haired woman leave the room, long hair swaying behind her. He then realized how his comment sounded, reconfirmed by the look on Hotch's face. "Media liaisons, I mean. Jesus Hotch, don't let your mind run away with you."
It couldn't be her, could it?
Nah. What were the odds, really?
"Hello?" Gina shouted into the phone, her three little boys running amuck with toys swords and bed sheet capes. Apparently the enemy had stormed the castle, the princess had cooties, and disaster was imminent. Or something along those lines.
"Gina? It's JJ!"
Gina smiled. It had been a while since the two women had spoken. Between the time requirements of JJ's job, and the bodily harm risked by taking her eyes off her boy's too long, girl talks were few and far between. "Hey Jayje! What's up? You in DC?"
"Texas. We're on a case, needed to hear a familiar voice. And I have exciting news!"
Behind her she heard a crash. "One sec. JEREMY! GET DOWN HERE AND CONTROL YOUR SONS!" she hollered loudly. Switching to the cordless phone, she headed upstairs to the bedroom, passing her somewhat terrified husband on the stairs. "Man up, babe. If I can do it, you can too. Ok, I have some quiet now. Fill me in!"
JJ sighed. "So you know that author I love, David Rossi? The profiler who inspired me to take this job?"
Oh, do I ever, Gina thought with a smirk. "Yeah. You've been in love with the man since we were in college, despite the fact that he's old enough to be… oh you know, our dad."
"Well, we lost two profilers recently. Both retired, and we've been hiring replacements. And you'll never guess who one of them is." Gina didn't even get a chance to answer. "DAVID ROSSI!"
JJ's high pitched squeal through the phone may have broken Gina's ear drum. It was a noise unlike any other that had passed the lips of the normally calm and collected blonde. Who knew she had it in her?
"That's awesome. Did you jump him?"
Her friend sighed. "No. Actually, I think I gave him the wrong impression. Not sure how. He gave me the weirdest look this morning…"
Gina laughed loudly. "Oh Jayje, you're a gorgeous girl in a horrifying career. He was probably wondering what drew you to it. I'm sure it meant nothing."
"I guess…" JJ sighed over the phone. "I can't imagine what I could have done…"
Of course you can't, she thought.
But Gina could, and knew before the night was over, the napkin hidden in a shoe box at the back of her closet for the last ten years would be discreetly disposed of.
Some stories were meant to be figured out on their own.
I know what you might be asking yourself. Why on earth publish a New Year's story at the beginning of March? Funny you should mention that. I started writing this on the plane ride back to where I go to school after my Christmas break, meaning to finish it before classes resumed. And then it just never happened. But it's done now, and I hought about waiting til next New Year to publish, but then I remembered how much of a flake I am and feared I would forget it. So we're celebrating New Years in March this year! Hey- 2010 is still relatively new, right? :)
This is my first foray into Rossi/JJ. Hopefully JJ's not too out of character- I tried not to make her college self too much of a stretch from her grown up self. Reviews, and especially constructive criticism, as always are very much appreciated. All the best!