Author's Note: Hello fellow readers and authors!
FINAL VOTING BALLOT IS NOW AVAILABLE for the first ever ff. net based 2010 Criminal Minds Profiler's Choice Fanfic Awards at "Chit Chat on Author's Corner" forum. To vote, you can access the forum through either my (ilovetvalot) or tonnie2001969's profile pages. Details, rules and the voting ballot are available at the forum. Please read the rules first…we want your vote to be counted, so please follow the rules! PLEASE COME ON OUT, VOTE AND HELP US SUPPORT THIS VENTURE!
Want to help publicize the awards? Check out our profile pages for a blurb you can copy and paste to your profile pages and author's notes. We truly appreciate all the assistance our fellow authors have given us and hope you will continue to support this venture.
Take a look at our first ever ff. net based "Criminal Minds Christmas Gift Fic Exchange"! Sign-ups are simple and run through October 31, 2010. Check out the details on the forum...sign-ups are simple and run through October 31, 2010. Please, let's make this a Merry Christmas for ALL! COME ON OVER AND CHECK US OUT! You have FIVE more days to sign-up.
Looking for a prompt to whet your writing whistle? Our newest Friday Fortune Cookie Prompt is now up at the forum….and this week's suggestion was made by celticstarwolf, so be sure to check it out!
Ever wondered how other authors and readers feel about their favorite characters on our favorite show? Visit the forum to check out our new discussion thread open for your comments -"With Which Character Do You Most Identify and Why?" And while you're perusing the posts, check out our newest interviews with fellow authors IcyActress, EmilyHotchLover, KennedyCarter12, drodgers89, Falcon-121!
Thanks to everyone reading, reviewing, favoriting and alerting our stories! We think you're all awesome! And now…on to our story!
~THIS IS TWELTH IN OUR ONGOING SHAKESPEARE SERIES OF POST-EPS. THIS ONE FOLLOWS "SAFE HAVEN".~
The Meaning Within The Word
JJ heard his truck pull up as she pulled the roast from the depths of her steaming oven. Glancing at the red apple clock above the window, she smiled. Prompt, as always, she thought as a truck door slammed outside. "He's here," she sang out to the squirming baby sitting in the high chair beside the kitchen table. "Right on time," she added, turning toward the sound of footsteps on her back porch.
"Dabe da!" Henry chortled, lifting his tiny fists in the air and bouncing within the confines of his plastic prison.
Opening the door seconds before his fist could land against the planed glass, JJ smiled gently as she stared into the tired, lined face of her...what the hell did she call him? Even to herself? Close, personal friend? Yeah, that would work.
"Hey," she said softly, stepping back as the crisp fall night's evening breeze pulled an involuntary shiver from her. Surely it had to be the wind...it couldn't have anything to do with the enigmatic man currently standing on the threshold of her house. "You look wiped, Dave," she said, raising her voice above her son's ecstatic cries behind her. "We didn't have to do this tonight if you were tired," she said, closing the door behind him as he peeled off his dark blue overcoat.
"The hell we didn't," Dave murmured, his hand dropping against her back as he pressed a kiss to her cool cheek before moving toward the animated baby slamming his hands excitedly against his plastic tray. "Hey, there, munchkin!" Dave greeted the baby with a happy smile, unwilling to think about how much the simple act of seeing this small human comforted him. "How's my boy?" he asked, bending to press a kiss against Henry's soft hair. "You been good for mama?"
"I'd say he's had a better last few days than you from the look of things," JJ said behind him, watching as Henry's hands immediately lifted toward Dave's goatee. "At least it looks like he's slept," she admonished gently, frowning as she wondered exactly how rough the BAU's case had been.
"I've slept," Dave muttered, bending to rub his whiskers against Henry's neck, pulling a giggle from the youngster's throat.
"Uh huh," JJ said doubtfully, her eyes narrowing. "When? Four days ago?"
"It was a spree killer, honey," Dave explained easily, smiling widely at the baby as he tickled Henry under his chin. "You know what those are like. Lots of bodies piling up and a limited time table to work on before he struck again. You haven't been gone so long that you've forgotten everything, have you?" he teased, wanting to dispel the worry he saw reflected in her clear gaze.
"Oh, I remember," JJ nodded, moving back to the stove to pull out the fluffy dinner rolls from the oven. "That's how I know you haven't slept," she argued softly.
"I slept on the plane," Dave shrugged, rubbing his hand over his jaw as Henry pulled happily on his other hand.
"I'm sure the two hour power nap made up for your lost rest in spades, didn't it?" she noted, sliding the pan on top of the stove. "You should have canceled. We could have done this tomorrow."
"I wanted to spend some time with the only people in the world that could relax me after a week like this, Jen," Dave replied softly, his dark eyes meeting hers over Henry's head. "I needed it."
Warmth flooded her as she listened to his quiet confidence and she couldn't help the smile that took over her face. "Is that so?" she asked with eyes that glowed.
"That's so," Dave affirmed gravely, slowly advancing toward her across the room. "I missed you both more than I should. It was hard to focus out there, knowing you were both back here. I wasn't quite sure what I was supposed to do with those feelings," he admitted ruefully, sliding his arms around her waist and drawing her against him, reveling in the freedom to do that very thing. "I'm not used to it."
"Honestly, neither am I," JJ replied, her voice faint as she stared into his dark eyes, her hands resting against his firm chest. "But, in the interest of complete honesty, I missed you just as much. And so did he," she smiled, nodding toward her son at the table.
"He asked about me again?" Dave asked, his eyes lighting up as he looked over his shoulder, the jabbering baby happily drawing his attention again.
"Every night. Evidently, Dabe da has become very popular in his little world," JJ informed him delicately, watching the older man's face for signs of anxiety. But, blessedly, all she could observe was joy.
"My littlest fan," Dave murmured, gazing at the enthusiastic toddler. "And my most important," he declared, his throat tightening emotionally. Leaning against her, Dave turned his soulful eyes back to her and shook his head. "After what I've seen this week...I can't screw this up, JJ. I really can't screw him up," he nodded at Henry, his jaw clenching as he let himself remember the previous week. "That kid was only thirteen, JJ. He should still be riding bikes and running around with his buddies...and he was out slaughtering entire families," Dave shuddered, grimacing as images of the crime photos ran through his mind again.
"Dave..." JJ murmured, pressing against him as she attempted to offer what comfort she could, wrapping her arms around his tense neck.
"Six months ago, I could have looked at it all objectively," he muttered, tightening his arms around her. "I could have gone in and just done my job...but now, it all feels so..."
"Personal?" JJ supplied, gently.
"Yeah," Dave acknowledged grimly, closing his eyes for a bare moment. "I don't know how you did it for as long as you did, Jen," he shook his head. "And I don't know how I never let it affect me before this," he grumbled.
"You never had a baby look at you with pure adoration," JJ pointed out carefully. "He thinks you hung the moon."
"That feeling goes both ways..." Dave murmured, grinning as the baby called his name stridently.
"Dabe da! Uppie!" Henry yelled, holding out his arms.
Laughing softly, Dave leaned his chin against JJ's glistening head. "Looks like I'm being paged, doesn't it?" he chuckled, his heart lightening as memories of the week seemed to fade into the distance.
Lips twitching, JJ nodded. "You are. But I'm warning you now, if I catch you playing Grand Theft Auto in front of that baby, I'm going to make the things you've seen in your life look like child's play."
"You heard about that, huh?" Dave grunted, pursing his lips as he released her and walked across the room to the baby drooling up at him.
"Oh, yeah," JJ drawled, her eyes dancing mischievously. "Evidently, you made quite the impression on Reid and Garcia. Who knew you'd be so easily offended over a video game..."
Pressing his lips together to keep from smiling, Dave lifted Henry from his seat and propped him on his hip. "Evidently, Mama doesn't think I know things either," he said with an injured tone to Henry.
"Video games, Dave?" JJ giggled as she turned back toward the stove, sliding the warm, crusty rolls into a colorful dish.
"Hey, the games were cheaper than another ex-wife...and they didn't complain when I won," he shrugged, bouncing Henry playfully. "I make no apologies."
Grinning, JJ rolled her eyes. "You're impossible."
"Believe it or not, you aren't the first woman that's ever told me that, babe," Dave replied with a dramatic sigh.
But, one thing was certain for him, he thought glancing down at the obviously happy child in his arms.
He damn sure wanted her to be the last woman that said it.