Author's Note: Hello, friends. A couple of IMPORTANT announcements for you all today.
LAST CALL! LAST CALL! ABSOLUTELY LAST CALL!
THIS IS THE LAST DAY REMAINING to nominate our favorite stories and authors for first ever ff. net based Profiler's Choice Awards located at "Chit Chat on Author's Corner". The nomination deadline is October 15, 2010. We have had a great response so far and we still want to hear from you. Rules, deadlines, and the blank ballot are all located at the forum (which can be reached thru a link in both my and tonnie2001969's profile pages).
We'd like to thank everyone that has taken the time to fill out a nomination ballot...we've had over seventy unique individuals submit an opinion and we hope to hear from several more of you in this last day! IT IS NOT NECESSARY TO COMPLETE THE ENTIRE BALLOT...NOMINATORS MAY CHOOSE WHAT CATEGORIES THEY FEEL COMFORTABLE SUBMITTING THEIR CHOICES FOR, SO COME ON OUT AND LET YOUR FAVES BE KNOWN!
We'd also like to announce our first ever ff. net based "Criminal Minds Christmas Gift Fic Exchange"! Sign-ups are simple. Participants can either PM us or join on the forum thread telling us 1) Which pairings you would feel comfortable writing, 2) the central pairing you'd like to be featured in the story you receive as a Christmas gift, and 3) Name a Christmas carol plus three Christmas-y prompts you'd like to see in the story you receive as a Christmas gift (you'll only have to use three of the four items in the actual fic). Assignments will be given on November 1st and you'll have until DECEMBER 25, 2010 to post your gift. Further details are available at the forum. Please, let's make this a Merry Christmas for ALL!
We also have a new discussion thread open for your comments called, "What Do We, the Authors, Owe Our Readers?" Please drop by and leave your thoughts.
David Rossi had been placed into a lot of awkward positions over the years. A lot of positions.
And some of them were quite…memorable.
Like the time back in their heyday when a decidedly bitter Erin Strauss had left him chained naked to the radiator in a little no-tell motel in the Florida Keys, his clothes smoldering in a pile of ash in the parking lot. He still owed his nemesis for that humiliation.
Now, that had been an event that had put the "a" in awkward.
But never had he felt more adrift than he did right now, sitting across from his best friend as he watched him steadily drink his way through a bottle of Dave's best scotch.
Now, he wasn't a greedy man by nature. But, damn, it was really rare scotch. And it was such a waste, considering the younger man wouldn't even remember the smooth texture sliding down his throat at the rate he was going.
"I let her get 'way, Dave," Hotch slurred, grabbing the bottle again, this time swigging straight from the lip. "How'd ya let me do dat?" he asked morosely, pursing his lips.
"How did I...?" Dave echoed incredulously. Jesus, had Hotch been sleeping through the many, many hours he'd spent over the last couple of years actively trying to get him laid? Shaking his head, Dave inhaled deeply. Focus, Rossi. He doesn't know what he's doing. "Hotch, man," he began, his voice deep, "what the hell is your problem? You're single and Will's out of the picture. Ergo, JJ is single. She's not with the Bureau anymore. Hence, no fraternization policy to deal with. What the hell do you need? An engraved invitation?"
"Not that simple," Hotch slurred, stumbling over the words. "'s constipated," he frowned with a shake of his bleary head.
"I think you mean that it's complicated," Dave corrected through twitching lips. Damn, his one-time protégé was in a helluva state. Almost as bad as when...no, don't go there, Dave. Shaking off those less than welcome remembrances, Dave steadfastly continued, "And it's not. Complicated, that is." Settling back in his chair, Dave approached it like an elementary school teacher. "Look, son, boy likes girl. Girl likes boy. Boy and girl should at least tell each other that they like each other."
"Can't," Hotch said simply, swigging the scotch again as Dave winced.
"Why the hell not?" Dave groaned.
"Because? That's what you've got?" Dave grumbled, leaning forward in his chairs. "Aaron, I hate to tell you, but that isn't a reason."
"All I got," Hotch said, holding his arms aloft in emptiness. "Lost my chance."
Cocking his head, David narrowed his eyes. "But what if you didn't, Aaron? Would you take the chance if it presented itself again?"
"F'what?" Hotch asked, squinting as he tried to decide which of the two Rossis looking at him was real. One looked a lot angrier than the other, and he knew that a mad Dave was a mean Dave.
"If you still had a chance with JJ, Aaron. Would you want it?" Dave asked slowly, enunciating each word.
"Oh, yeah," Hotch sighed dreamily as the twin Daves merged back into one. "But, it doesn't matter an'more. She's gone, gone, gone."
Pursing his lips, Rossi swiped the keys off Aaron's desk. "Get up," he demanded, walking around the desk and jerking the younger man onto his unsteady feet.
Snagging the bottle from his desk as Dave pulled him toward the door, Hotch asked, confusion filling his slurred words, "Where're we goin', Dave?"
"To retrieve your one and only chance at happiness," Dave replied sternly. "We're going to make Jennifer Jareau the second offer of the day that she can't refuse."
Sniffling as she dug her spoon into the carton of Very Berry Banana ice cream in her lap, JJ lifted her shoulder to wipe at her eyes again.
Damn it, Jareau, get a hold of yourself! It was just a stupid job. A job that sucked every last vestige of energy from you. A job that kept you away from your perfect baby boy. A job that destroyed what, to date, has been your healthiest relationship in your life.
Forget that it filled you with a sense of purpose...of satisfaction. Forget that you've spent almost seven years of your life surrounded with people that you consider family. Forget, forget, forget...
Painfully swallowing the ice cream in her mouth, JJ sighed. Damn, she needed to get a grip on this. Preferably before she sent herself into a self-induced sugar coma. Dropping the empty carton of ice cream onto her coffee table, she shook her head and faced the cold, hard facts.
It wasn't just the loss of her position at the BAU that hurt. Oh, that stung, all right. Bitterly. But, more than that, it was the loss of one man that had torn this rip in her heart.
C'mon, JJ, it wasn't like you ever had him to begin with, she silently chided herself. You never even tried. Of course, neither had he.
Oh, there'd been moments throughout the years when if she'd pushed a little harder...stepped a little closer...then, maybe...
"But you didn't," she said aloud to the empty room around her. And the silence agreed that she hadn't. She'd always allowed fear and embarrassment to stand in her way...the last thing she'd ever wanted was for Hotch to perceive her as the quintessential subordinate with a crush on her boss. As a result, she'd shrouded herself in professionalism at first. Then, as the years passed, she'd told herself to be happy with the friendship they'd developed.
Now, seven years later, she had absolutely nothing to show for it. No job at the BAU. And, certainly no Aaron Hotchner.
She couldn't help remembering the way he'd defended her to Strauss this morning. The way he'd done everything he could to protect her. Or the way his eyes had shined when he'd delivered the bad news. As hard as she tried though, she still couldn't identify what she'd seen in those black depths... that undefined emotion that had, for an instant, left her warm and shaky.
Had she imagined it? Had she only seen what she'd wanted to see? Or, had it been real?
If only she could go back and take those three steps it would have taken to reach him. If only she'd wrapped her arms around him...would this night have ended differently?
Shaking her head hopelessly, she leaned back against the soft upholstery of her sofa, pulling her throw tighter around her. All the "what ifs" and "if only" in the world weren't going to change her current circumstances.
She had to move on. But how the hell could she do that when it felt like she'd left her heart behind? Thank God that there were no witnesses to her internal struggle.
And as if fate desperately needed the last laugh, a loud knock landed against her front door.