As always, thanks to my co-author, beta, and absolute best friend ilovetvalot for her invaluable assistance with this fic! I refuse to write without her!
Written in response to Round 3 Challenge (Dealer's Choice) on Chit Chit on Author's Corner. My assigned pairing was Jennifer Jareau and Penelope Garcia, and my three items were vodka, a red sweater, and a tennis bracelet (I only had to use two!)
A Difference of Opinion
Valentine's Day sucked.
Stomping loudly up the concrete steps that would lead her to her best friend's eclectic apartment, Jennifer Jareau muttered words not suitable for company underneath her breath. Each rising footfall seemed to not only bring her destination closer, but also managed to raise her anger level to a fever pitch. By the time she reached the first landing, she could have cheerfully pounded *someone's* head against the block walls…and lied through her teeth about how he obtained the bruises.
Steady, Jareau, she warned herself as she rounded onto the last flight of stairs. You don't want to frighten Penelope before you even tell her the entire pitiful story, now do you? It's not your friend's fault that you can't choose the right man if your life depended on it, now is it? She warned you. She told you not to do this, didn't she?
But did you listen? JJ growled in her throat again at that thought. Oh hell no!
Tightening her fingers around the thin neck of the clear bottle that she held tightly against her chest, JJ stomped to a stop in front of the brightly colored door that announced the Garcia residence. Momentarily forgetting her earlier anger, JJ let herself be amused by the purple polka-dotted door with the shiny gold trim, remembering the landlord's conniption fit when he had seen Garcia's latest masterpiece. Of course, Penelope had immediately channeled a perfect representation of William F. Buckley, presenting a Supreme Court-worthy performance which had convinced the landlord that not only had she added to the value of the building, but she had also created a homey environment that would attract future renters of a much higher caliber. By the time the woman was done with her impassioned debate, the poor man had forgotten exactly why he had even challenged the objet d'art in the first place.
Shaking her head at that thought, JJ forced herself to return to the present as she rapped sharply against the masterpiece. Frowning when she did not hear an immediate trilling response from the other side of the door, JJ glanced down at her watch. Nope, it wasn't too early and it wasn't too late. Nine PM was Penelope's perfect time of the day, and JJ knew the other woman had announced her plans to curl up on the sofa and watch her favorite television show at precisely this time.
So where was she?
Leaning closer to the door, JJ strained her eardrums for sounds of television chatter from within the apartment, all to no avail. Not a single whistle, bell or peep could be heard from the other side. Standing on tippie-toes, JJ tried to peer through the peephole, only to find her own eyeball staring back at her. Shifting her precious bottle to the other arm, JJ once again announced her presence with a series of sharp knocks, followed quickly by a loud, "Penelope Garcia, get your shapely fanny to this door right this instant!"
There. That should do it. Surely to goodness that woman had not abandoned her in her time of need! Surely!
JJ felt her shoulders loosen slightly as she heard shuffling and a loud yell come from the other side, and seconds later found herself facing an obviously surprised Penelope Garcia.
Holding up her clear bottle, JJ waved it in her friends face. Completely ignoring the other woman's wrong-side out crimson sweater, JJ declared without preamble, pushing inside the brightly lit apartment, "I brought anesthesia. You're going to have to help me surgically remove David Rossi from my life once and for all, Penny."
Her eyebrows meeting her brow line, Garcia shook her head in amazement as she waved her arms wildly, eking out, "You're going to have to give me more to go on than just that, gumdrop!" Carefully closing the door behind her, she watched as JJ plopped down heavily on her couch, clutching the precious bottle closer. Letting out a sigh as she cast a baleful backwards glance toward her now-quiet bedroom, Garcia muttered, "Okay, little sister, what did the bastard do to you this time?"
Twisting her lips from side to side, JJ flopped her head back against the overstuffed sofa as she moaned, "It's what he didn't do, Penny! He completely and totally forgot Valentine's Day!"
"You'd think the loser Lothario would have had enough experience with remembering that one date, wouldn't you?" Garcia snorted, plopping down heavily on the brightly checkered ottoman in front of the sofa. Reaching out, she pressed her fingers against JJ's as she said, cajoling, "Okay, my fine frazzled friend, let's see if we can't let go of the liquor for a moment, okay? I promise that I'll keep it in a nice safe place where nobody will harm it." Carefully checking the liquid level in the bottle, she asked, narrowing her eyes, "And tell Auntie Penny that you were a good girl and didn't choose to self-medicate before you drove like Mario Andretti to get here."
Tightening her fingers on the bottle, JJ shook her head rapidly as she met Garcia's eyes. Tightening her lips, she declared at the top of her normally well-modulated voice, "I didn't take a sip, Pens. But by God, right now I plan on sticking a straw in this bottle and guzzling it down, you hear me? I want to forget I ever even knew the name David Rossi!"
A mere twenty feet away, another member of the BAU team was echoing JJ's loudly wailed sentiment. Fumbling for his phone from Penelope's cluttered nightstand, Derek Morgan quickly punched the perfect speed dial button, impatiently waiting for the connection as he stared at the darkened ceiling.
Seconds later, he heard the gruff man's voice in his standard voicemail message. Covering his head with the oversized pillow, Morgan muttered sharply into the phone, "Damn it, Rossi, get your ass over to Garcia's PDQ and get your woman. And by God, you'd better bring chocolates and flowers." Hearing JJ's voice rise in a shout once again, he amended with a snort, "Hell, man, you're already screwed. You better pull out the big guns and fork over that serious piece of bling I know you bought last week. You've got half an hour, man, or I swear to God I'm going to hunt you down and personally mount your sorry carcass on my Baby Girl's wall for ruining our first Valentine's Day together."
Ending the call with a flourish, Morgan flopped back onto the pillows, wincing as the bedsprings creaked. Honest to God, he ought with a sigh, why couldn't that stubborn old fool just let Cupid shoot him in the ass like the rest of the male population? It would save so much time in the end!
Twenty-eight minutes later, Penelope Garcia liberally splashed another dose of the clear liquid into JJ's glass, well aware that the petite blonde was well on her way to being heavily sloshed. But then, she reminded herself with a philosophical tilt of her head, she'd seen Agent Jareau drink more than one sheriff's deputy under the table before, her hollow leg easily holding all the firewater she could swallow.
Twirling her heavy bottomed glass in her narrow fingers, JJ stared down at the shimmering clear liquid as she muttered, for the hundredth time in the last half-hour, "Why, Garcie? Why do I even want to be with that man?"
Snorting, Garcia arched one brow as she flounced back to her seat. "That's the million-dollar question, sugar plum. Honest to God, what in the name of Macintosh do you see in that ole stick in the mud, anyway?"
Frowning as she shook her head, her heart clenching as she once again thought of Rossi's grinning face, JJ brought the glass to her lips, muttering around the rim, "He's not that bad. He does have his good points."
Narrowing her eyes at her friend's sudden doubtful tone, Garcia leaned forward as she nudged her foot against JJ's ankle, "Surely you're not about to forgive the man for his feckless faux pas, now are you? He forgot the biggest romantic holiday of the year, sweetums!"
Before JJ could respond to that inarguable point, the sound of a loud rapping filled the small room. Glancing over in surprise at her colorful door, Garcia narrowed her eyes as she pushed out of her easy chair. "I swear to God, since when did I become Union Station?" she muttered under her breath, peering through her peephole. Her shoulders stiffened as she saw the whiskered face on the other side, and she glanced back over at the huddled blonde on her sofa as she said, voice grim, "Prepare yourself, my perturbed princess. Mr. Forgettable is here in person."
Her eyes flashing, JJ drew her shoulders back as she shook her head rapidly. "Don't let him in, Pens. If he couldn't be bothered to find me before now, then he can just keep wondering where he lost me."
"Oh hell no," Garcia whispered to herself, casting a longing glance back at the doorway to her darkened bedroom. Why, oh why, did Fate hate her so much? Was it too much to ask to just enjoy one perfect holiday without the interruption of a crazed psycho or an arrogant bastard? Was it?
Jerking open the door, the hinges screeching with the effort, Garcia stared into the dark, worried eyes of the BAU's answer to Hugh Hefner. Slamming one hand against her hip, she cocked one brow as she drawled, "Well, well, well. Look what the cat dragged in."
"Is she here, Garcia?" David Rossi demanded, his eyes darkening as he attempted to peer around the woman currently blocking entry into her humble abode.
"If by she, you mean the beautiful woman that is so far out of your league that you could never deserve her if you lived to be a million years old," Garcia retorted, rolling her eyes, "then yes. She is here. And you are not welcome."
But another voice sounded then, one that was definitely unexpected by all involved. "I called him, Sweetness," Derek Morgan's rich tones announced, drawing all three sets of startled eyes to his frowning face. Stepping through the beaded curtain that covered Penelope's bedroom door, he added, meeting Garcia's flashing eyes, "I think those two have some talking to do. And you and I will be letting them chat in peace, don't you think?"
"Huh?" Garcia sputtered, her cheeks blushing as she turned to see JJ's eyes growing wider with each passing second.
"Penelope Garcia!" JJ exploded, trying to bounce up from the couch, only to find that her balance was no longer the guarantee it had once been. Catching herself on the upholstered arm, she wavered for a second before she demanded, "You mean Derek's been here all the time? And you didn't tell me?"
"Honeybunches, you weren't in any condition to ….." Garcia started, only to feel Morgan's arm drop around her shoulder.
"Don't worry about it, little sister," Morgan said with a wink in JJ's direction. Holding up the small duffel bag in his free hand, he declared easily, "I was here, but now we're both about to be gone. And you and this fool here," he added, motioning toward an uncharacteristically quiet David Rossi standing in the doorway, "Are going to figure out a way to make nice and salvage what's left of the holiday."
Rossi nodded in silent agreement, opening his hand ever so slightly to show Penelope Garcia the sparkling diamond ring that was hidden in a blue velvet box.
And before anyone could raise any further objections, Penelope Garcia felt herself being propelled out onto the landing, her decorated door closed firmly behind her. Somehow, in less than a minute, she had found herself trading places with David Rossi, each of them on the opposite side of the door than before.
Grinding her heels into the concrete with as much force as possible, Garcia came to a dead stop as she demanded, waving a hand back toward her apartment door, "Derek! We can't just leave them! I want to see how JJ responds when he finally gives her the ring she's been hoping for! Even if I do think he's not good enough for her, you can't deny me that pleasure, my chocolate king!"
"Princess, I don't think that Rossi exactly wanted an audience for this moment," Derek soothed, his voice laced with a tinge of humor as he easily pulled her toward the flight of stairs. "I'm sure he has a plan all worked out that didn't need your presence at the proposal."
"But he'll do it wrong and just make her mad again, and then I'll have to pick up the pieces of that ridiculous on-again, off –again horror that they call a relationship!" Garcia groaned, letting herself be led down the risers one by one.
Stopping on the landing, Morgan pulled her flush against him as he circled his arms around her luscious body. Dropping a demanding kiss against her waiting lips, he murmured between each tantalizing contact, "Garcia, the only on-again, off-again thing I'm concerned about right now is this sweater of yours. And if we make good time, we can be at my apartment in fifteen minutes, and this expensive cashmere can be decorating my floor the second we burst through the door. That's MY plan for this evening, David Rossi and his idiotic timing be damned!"
And as she happily skipped down the stairs, Penelope Garcia amazingly forgot about her almost-jilted friend who was soon to be her newly-engaged friend or the bottle of vodka that was more than likely being consumed like water. No, all she could think about at that moment was how much she truly loved Cupid and all of his arrow-flying glory.
Valentine's Day rocked!
Author's Note: First of all, we have exciting news, my friends! Nominating ballots for "The Profiler's Choice Awards" are ready and waiting for you at the "Chit Chat on Author's Corner" forum (you can access through ilovetvalot's profile page). So please, everyone, come on over and name some of your favorite fics and authors from ff . net. Lets honor our favorite stories and authors on the site! We want to hear from you. Rules and guidelines are also available at the forum and as always, ilovetvalot and I would be delighted to answer any questions that you may have.
For anyone willing to help us advertise the awards, we've created a short author's note template available on both my profile page (tonnie2001969) and my co-author's (ilovetvalot). We'd love to have everybody's help making this venture a huge and fun success. Please feel free to copy and paste it into your own author's notes and/or profiles! With your help, I believe this can become an annual event that we ALL look forward to seeing. I hope that you're all as eager as I am to see this incredible project lift off. And a very BIG thanks to all the authors helping us advertise these awards! We truly appreciate any assistance you can provide.
And everyone, you still have until midnight tonight to if you'd like to sign up for the "PYOP" (Pick Your Own Pairing) challenge at "Chit Chat on Author's Corner" forum. Please join us in making this our most exciting challenge yet. So far, we have 83 participants and we can't wait to read all of the wonderful stories! Details and sign-ups are waiting for you.