Author's Note: Hello, all our fanfic friends! Several announcements today, so, hang on tight!

First, our forum, "Chit Chat on Author's Corner" has a new interview up with the fabulously talented klcm. Please stop by and get to know her and several other of the brilliant authors in CM fanfic. And if anyone has an author that they'd like to see interviewed, please shoot me a private message. I promise that we'll do our best to coax them over to talk to us!

Second, there are TWO days left for the October Challenge, "The Candyland Challenge". In the spirit of Halloween, the rules are simple. Name a candy, a pairing you'd like to see written and the pairing you normally write. You'll be assigned a pairing and a candy by October 1st. You will have until Halloween (October 31, 2010) to post a story with your candy prompt and pairing. It does NOT have to be a Halloween story...it just must contain a reference to the candy. For example, if you were assigned a "Goo Goo Bar" as a candy, you could make that the candy an actual BAR in your story. The more creative, the better. Sign-ups are at the forum or you can shoot us a PM (ilovetvalot OR tonnie2001969) if you're interested.

Also, please, please, please don't forget to get your nominations in for the first EVER "Profiler's Choice Awards. Nomination ballots and rules are at the forum. Don't forget, I'm (ilovetvalot) still willing to write a oneshot of your pairing choosing to the next five people to complete a ballot. This is a wonderful opportunity to give your favorite stories and authors the recognition that they deserve on ff. net. Also, please remember, in the interest of just saying "no" to self-promotion, ilovetvalot and tonnie2001969 are NOT eligible for nomination.

Also, readers & authors, please come sound off on our newest discussion thread. Tell us how you'd feel about the idea of a fanfic based CM Christmas Gift Fic Exchange. We're eagerly soliciting opinions and ideas!

So, please, drop by and get a blank ballot and tell the fanfic community who YOUR favorites are! We'd love to have you!


Beyond This Pretty Face

Prompt: One Tree Hill - "What Comes After the Blues"

As David Rossi stood outside Penelope Garcia's office door, he winced. The unmistakable strains of "Don't Worry, Be Happy" was blaring at the top of Bobby McFerrin's formidable lungs for the third consecutive day at the BAU, and you didn't need to be a world class profiler to know that the tune was the new theme song for their indomitable technical analyst. And you certainly didn't need to be a rocket scientist to figure out why.

They all had their break-up songs. His was "My Way", by Sinatra. But, hey, he had taste. Sometimes he might mix it up with a little Dean-O, but mostly, he stuck to his standards.

At any rate, the noise had to stop. So did the forced chipperness. Oh, he could deal with the normal peppy outlook from the sometime blonde dynamo. Hell, in truth, he lived for that genuine bright sunny smile.

But, this, he thought darkly, looking at the door, was a decidedly NOT normal response to a break-up...the happy smiles...the baked goods...the entirely too loud music. The entire team had been waiting for her to crack for days, holding their breath as they collectively scanned their horizon for the tornado bound to level their little playground.

And somehow, he'd been elected to feel out the situation. He was beginning to feel like he had been made the sacrificial lamb…and everyone knew what happened to that poor unfortunate animal.

JJ and Emily had couched the request by citing that if he could negotiate with hostage takers, he could surely broker a peaceful resolution to the end of the era of Kevin and Penelope. Morgan had been blunter, simply saying that he was too young to die and that David Rossi had gained more tail than any man had a right to have in a lifetime. He couldn't deny, the kid had a point.

So, here he stood, girding his loins and praying that Garcia wouldn't choose to actually use her keyboard as the weapon that Reid purported she could. She liked him, after all. At least, he hoped she did.

Perhaps he should have brought a boatload of technical gizmos as a bribe.

Silently cursing Aaron Hotchner's absence...stomach flu, his ass...he squared his shoulders and prepared to face off with the Guardian of the BAU's Gate. He'd had three ex-wives, hadn't he? He knew how to handle one lousy break-up, didn't he?

Rapping on the door, he waited until he heard her call out. Carefully opening the door, Dave peered inside the office. One never knew what to expect when he entered her lair. He'd learned his lesson the hard way three months after rejoining the BAU. After unwittingly walking into what had equated to a practical joke War of the Roses between Garcia and Reid and having his best Armani suit slimed within an inch of its life, he'd quickly earned to enter her inner sanctum warily...and at his own risk.

"Kitten?" he called out, looking around at the banks of computer screens scrolling information.

"Right here, Super Agent!" Penelope chirped, crawling on her hands and knees out from underneath a table along one wall. "What can the Oracle do for you this fine day?" she grinned, coming to rise on her knees in front of him.

Offering her his hand as she climbed to her feet, Dave shook his head. "You know that we have interns to do that kind of grunt work for you, don't you?" he asked, nodding to the copse of cables and chords she'd dragged out with her.

"Pshhhwww!" Penelope laughed, waving a negligent hand at the bundle of wires, her bejeweled fingers glittering. "I can handle that in my sleep...WHILE dreaming of the delicious things Brad Pitt can do to me with his goatee."

"What?" Dave grimaced, plugging one ear as her stereo switched from Don't Worry, Be Happy to the Love Shack. "I can't hear you," he shouted above the song, the bass beat surely intent on destroying his ear drums.

Grabbing her remote off the desk, Garcia aimed it at the stereo, reducing the volume considerably. "Sorry, Agent Amazing," she winked. "It's my jam."

"Your what?" Dave asked blankly, studying the exuberant woman in front of him with a critical eye. What the hell kind of foreign techno speak was she jabbering today?

"Never mind," she said with a sunny smile even as she rolled her eyes. "What can I do ya for? Phone programming, Palm Pilot policing...you need some delicious dirt on a mortal enemy?"

Shaking his head as she continued to ramble aimlessly, Dave waited for her to draw breath before quickly saying, "Actually, I stopped by to check on you, Kitten."

"Me?" Garcia echoed, cocking her head. "I'm fine."

"Really?" Dave asked, crossing his arms over his chest as he propped a hip against her desk and eyed her, her assertion coming entirely too quickly for his liking.

"Yep!" Garcia replied, turning to fiddle with her bank of computer monitors. Crap, crap, craaaapppp, her mind yelled. Where the hell had she gone wrong in her act? Can-do attitude? Check. Fabulous fashion? Check. Mad skills? Check. "Why would you think I wasn't?" she asked, striving for innocence.

"Your eyes don't sparkle," Dave commented blandly, waiting for her to turn around.

You've got to be kidding me! Of all the things that could have outed her as heartbroken, he'd zone in on her freaking EYES! Turning, Penelope pasted a benevolent smile on her lips and shook her head. "I don't know what you're talking about, my pesky profiling pal."

"Garcia, you have standing before you one of the leading minds in profiling...are you really going to try to lie to me?"

"I'm not," Garcia shook her head, stepping back, quickly deciding that physical distance might help her case tremendously.

"Did you know that you scrunch your nose when you tell a bald face lie?" Dave asked easily, cocking his head as he watched her immediately try to reverse that action.

"Do not!" Garcia retorted, lifting a hand to cover her nose.

"Do, too," Dave countered easily, wagging a knowing finger in her direction. "It's a tell. You have others, too. And one is that when you're not genuinely happy and you smile...your eyes...they don't sparkle."

Lips compressing, Penelope didn't know which she wanted to do worse...stomp her foot, scream, or throw a modem at David Rossi's oversized head. "Some days I really regret coming to work with a bunch of mind readers," she settled on grumbling, her hands slamming to her hips as she stared dismally at him.

"Sucks to work with the best of the best, doesn't it?" Dave shrugged.

"How exactly did your head and your ego fit through the door at the same time again?" Garcia snorted, throwing herself into her rolling chair, catching herself at the last moment as the wheels decided to travel in four different directions at once.

Smirking, Dave reached out a hand, twirling her chair around to face him. "Raw talent perfected by three ex-wives throwing objects at said target. But none of that is why I'm here, babe."

"I'm fine," Penelope insisted valiantly. "And I'm better off."

"The first part is a lie," Dave declared imperturbably. "But I definitely agree to the second half of your statement. You are better off."

Lips twitching as her heart suddenly clenched, Penelope offered in a raw whisper, "He left me, Rossi. He just up and left...not a whisper of a warning. Just got up one morning and poof! It was over."

"The only thing that proves is that Kevin was not only an ass, he was an immature ass," Dave replied firmly. "His choices were his alone. He was just too much of a coward to face you. You can do better. But not only that, you deserve better, Kitten."

"Maybe," Penelope muttered, dropping her head to stare at her orange tipped nails, her tone expressing her doubt at his words.

"There's no maybe to it, Garcia," Dave replied firmly, tapping her nose with the tip of his index finger.

"I just want to know why...what happened, you know?" Penelope said softly, biting her lip as tears threatened. No, no, no! She was not going to shed another tear over that ungrateful lout who obviously didn't have the manners or good sense that God had given a goose!

"Why? Is any explanation he could give you going to justify what he did...the way he did it?" Dave asked philosophically, his own mind more than made up about the pansy assed twerp she'd fallen for.

Turning over the question inside her mind, Penelope frowned. Son of a biscuit, he was right. "No, I don't guess there is. But..."

"But, what, Garcia?" Dave murmured, his heart tightening in his chest as he watched her beautiful eyes suddenly glisten brighter. God help him if he ever got his hands on that worthless son of a bitch that had caused her such pain….he'd make sure that pitiful excuse for a man learned his lesson in a very memorable manner.

"But it still hurts," she admitted huskily, wiping a tear off her cheek.

"Pain is just the mind's way of letting us know that we still have the ability to feel. It's when you stop feeling anything at all that it's time to worry, kiddo," Dave stated, quietly truthful, his own experience rising quickly to the surface. "But wearing a mask isn't going to help you any more than crying your eyes out. Denying how you feel isn't going to help you heal, cara mia."

"What will?" Garcia sniffled, swiping a tissue from the box on her desk.

"The Three F's," Dave stated firmly, nodding as he spoke. "Friends, Family, and Food. Get your purse. We're going out," he said, pushing away from the desk he leaned against.

Swallowing the lump in her throat as her shoulders began to relax for the first time in weeks, Penelope began to gather her things. Looking up at him through her spiky eyelashes, she murmured, "The sparkling eye thing...that was bullshit, right?"

"Nope," Dave shook his head, letting himself smile…just barely. "But that wasn't the first tell."

"Do I wanna know what was?" Garcia asked with a weak grin, shifting her oversized tote against her elbow as she dug quickly for her compact.

"You had three pieces of triple chocolate cake yesterday," Dave shrugged, opening her office door for her.

"You noticed that, huh?" Garcia asked over her shoulder as she brushed past him.

"Of course," Dave replied, following her out. "It was my cake," he informed her as he closed the office door.

And for the first time in a very long weak, Penelope Garcia genuinely laughed.

She was definitely going to survive.

Finis