Author's Note: We're excited to announce our Round 3 of our Fanfic Challenge on Chit Chat on Author's Corner forum. The Dealer's Choice August Challenge is a great way to stretch your writing muscles! Simply suggest a pairing from the seven main Criminal Minds characters and list three different things to include in the story. (Example: You request Hotch/Emily and your prompts are a starry night, a cashmere blanket and a bottle of Merlot.) Your suggestion will be assigned to another author, and you'll receive a similar suggestion. Your final story must include your assigned pairing and must include at least two of the three prompts you were given in some capacity. Stories can be short or long, romantic or friendship, angst or humor…and anything else in between! Sign ups will continue through August 2, assignments will be given on August 3, and stories are due by August 31! Please visit the forum or shoot us a PM if you are interested in participating. We'd love to have you! And please visit the forum to read our latest interviews with the lovely KricketWilliams and the talented Ahmoselnarus! ! Also, we have began a discussion thread for our fellow author, Angel N Darkness, who was in a serious car accident on Sunday. Please say a prayer for her hasty recovery and visit the thread to leave your best wishes. Updates on her condition will be posted there as we receive them.
Someday My Prince Will Come
Sitting glumly at the table in the BAU's version of a break area, Penelope Garcia stared blankly into space as she sipped her peppermint tea. Sweet holy almighty, she was tired of frogs. Frogs and toads...and every other kind of amphibian a man could be compared to. She wanted her Prince Charming, damn it! At thirty-one years old, hadn't she at least earned the right to glimpse him?
Okay, maybe she was overreacting. It had just been one bad blind date, hadn't it? Well, if she thought about it, it had been one bad blind date in a long line of really, really awful dates. Maybe she just needed to accept the fact that chivalry was dead and move on.
But, hell, was it too much to ask for a man to hold a simple door, she thought angrily to herself, rubbing her bruised forehead. Her asshole of yesterday evening hadn't bothered with the simple courtesy and she'd ended up with a mild concussion. Freaking Neanderthal!
Hearing the door open behind her, Penelope glanced over her shoulder, relieved to see that it was no one she had to force herself to be overly nice to. At this point in time, she was fairly certain that her ability to observe social niceties were sorely lacking.
"Hey, Garcia! Good morning," Spencer smiled cheerfully as he walked into the room, empty red coffee cup in hand.
"What's so good about it?" Garcia grumbled, rubbing her throbbing forehead again as Spencer poured a cup of his morning coffee, his morning ritual well known to the entire team.
Hearing the bite in the normally perky analyst's words, Spencer looked sharply over his shoulder. "What are you hiding out in here thinking about?" he asked, wishing for the millionth time he was better at these socially awkward situations. Penelope was a friend, sure. Heck, if he were honest, he wished the amazing woman was a lot more than a mere pal. But when people, even his friends and fantasy lovers, entered their surly mood phase of the program, he felt as inept as a toddler.
"Frogs," Penelope mumbled, hunching over her ceramic mug.
"Pardon me?" Spencer frowned, carrying his mug to the table and pulling out the chair beside her.
"I was thinking about frogs," Penelope repeated, glaring into her tea, wondering if it was possible to read the leaves before she had finished the drink. "And toads...they were on my mind, too."
"Uhmmm," Spencer hummed, leaning back in his chair, "I think you're going to have to offer me some further information to follow this conversation, Garcia."
"Long story made short, evidently, I suck at dating. I keep friggin' picking the frog instead of the prince," Garcia grumbled, her fingers tracing the rim of her mug.
"Well, you know the old saying," Spence began knowledgably.
"I'm putting you on notice," Penelope said tersely, lifting her teaspoon from her cup and wagging it in his direction, "I'm fully prepared to remove your eyeballs with this spoon if you quote that freaking line to me."
"Sorry," Reid mumbled with a shy smile, unable to resist sighing at the flash in her beautiful eyes.
"It's okay," Pen sighed, dropping the spoon to the table with a slight clatter. "I know it by heart, anyway. You've gotta kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince," she dutifully recited, her tone filled with a snap. "Problem is, I keep comin' up with warts."
Laughing openly at her quirky sense of humor, Spence tilted his head as he eyed the normally enthusiastic woman warmly. "Maybe the problem is that you're trying to kiss the wrong species of frog."
"Huh?" Penelope grunted, narrowing her eyes at the supposed genius.
"Let me put it another way. What kind of man are you looking for?" Spence asked, keeping his voice light, but listening with a concentrated ear. While he didn't believe in fate, destiny or any of those karmic devices, he was not opposed to taking advantage of an educational opportunity that might give him further insight into this intriguing woman.
"Well," Penelope drawled, propping her chin in her hand as she honestly considered his question. "Kind. I want him to be kind. Nice to children and little old ladies crossing the street," she said, remembering how her date two weeks ago had intentionally sped up his car when he spotted a geriatric lady on the crosswalk with her walker. That bastard had actually laughed as the poor women had tried to run, walker in hand.
Kind. He could be kind, Spencer thought. Heck, he was kind! Hadn't he just helped his next-door neighbor move her potted plants inside yesterday? Of course he had! "What else?"
"He needs a job," Penelope replied immediately. "No. Not just a job, but a career," she clarified, remembering the unemployed actor she'd gone out with a month ago. She'd ending up paying for her own meal at the nice French restaurant he'd chosen. And his, too.
Career, Spence thought to himself with a smile. Got it, he mentally cheered. "Okay," he nodded supportively. "Next?"
"Hmmm," Penelope murmured, staring into space as she twisted her lips from side to side. "Clean."
"What?" Reid said in confusion, tilting his head as he tried to follow Garcia's logic.
"He's gotta be hygienic," Penelope demanded as she enunciated each word. "That's a must," she shuddered, remembering the guy from last week that her neighbor had set her up with. If he'd had a shower this month, she'd eat her shoe.
"Okay," Reid grinned, beginning to feel a confidence he never expected. "You want a kind, employed guy with good hygiene."
"Yep!" Penelope bobbed her head at his astute observation. "You'd think it'd be simple, right?" she asked rhetorically, meeting his eyes once again. And for a second, she realized that she had never noticed how beautiful those eyes actually were. Hmmm…now that was surprising.
"It is," Reid nodded slowly, swallowing hard as he gathered his courage. Holding his hand out, he said, forcing himself to exude confidence, "Hello. Let me introduce myself. I'm Dr. Spencer Reid. I'm a nice guy with a good job and I shower twice daily. Would you like to have dinner with me tonight?"
Eyes widening in surprise as her jaw dropped, Garcia could only stare at the man beside her. "B-but, you're Reid," she sputtered, shaking her head wildly her eyes widened.
"And you're Garcia," Reid replied evenly.
"I can't date you! You're freaking Reid!" Penelope moaned loudly, his name drawling off her tongue at length.
"I'm not being filled with a warm, fuzzy feeling here, Penelope," Reid said, blushing and shifting uncomfortably in the vinyl chair beside her, suddenly wondering if his attempt at bravado had been met with a hail of emotional gunfire.
"No! That's not what I meant," Penelope groaned, shaking her head quickly as she reached out a hand to press against his. "I mean...you're a genius. An actual certified genius. You should date somebody...genius-like!"
Licking his lips as his lips formed a small grin, her faint touch instilling him with hope again, he whispered, "Penelope, go look in the mirror. You can take over small countries with a couple of keystrokes...I wouldn't cast stones."
"But that's different," Penelope muttered, waving him off, her fingers fluttering through the air. "You're so smart...about everything."
"Yeah, everything," Reid smirked, rolling his eyes. "That's why my social calendar is SO full," he said sarcastically.
"You're serious, aren't you?" Penelope asked, still awed that he actually seemed to be interested in her.
"Absolutely," Reid replied with a genuine honesty that was reflected in his open eyes.
"Okay, then," Penelope said softly, touching his hand again, this time letting her fingers linger. "It's a date."
"Really?" Reid asked hopefully, his bright eyes shining as he leaned forward, unable to draw away from her expressive gaze.
"Definitely," Penelope grinned, a warmth filling her chest as she stared back into the eyes of her friend. "I can't wait."
"I'll pick you up at eight," Reid smiled widely as he stood up slowly, unable to ignore the sounds of voices outside the break room door. Now was not the time that he wanted to explain anything to any of his colleagues. He wanted this moment for the two of them alone. "Any restaurant you choose. My treat."
And as Reid pulled her chair out, allowing her to rise and precede him out the door of the break room, Penelope Garcia realized that chivalry wasn't dead after all. Cleverly disguised all along, it was alive and well in the soul of what she thought could very well be her own personal Prince Charming.
A/N 2 - With this pairing, I've officially written every central pairing there is. My challenge to myself is complete. (Guess it's time to start it over again!)