Author's Note: My co-author and I would like to announce that our core stories (Sunday and Monday weekly publications) will be on hiatus for the weekend after Thanksgiving (an American Holiday on November 25, 2010). Due to familial obligations, we do believe there will be a week break on those ongoing stories. We will continue to publish one-shots and shorter stories through the holiday week.
Also, we're drawing near the close of our first annual Criminal Minds Profiler's Choice Awards. WE CURRENTLY HAVE EIGHT DAYS LEFT TO VOTE FOR OUR FAVORITE AUTHORS AND STORIES. Please remember to try and spare a few moments over the upcoming days and VOTE for your favorite authors and stories in the "Profiler's Choice Awards" at "Chit Chat on Author's Corner" forum. You have through the end of November 30, 2010 to let your voice and vote be heard, and we want to hear from each one of you. If you don't know much about forums, links can be found through either my profile (ilovetvalot) or my awesome co-author (tonnie2001969). Remember, anyone that wants to help advertise the awards has our unending gratitude, and there is also a short blurb you can use on our profile pages.
We also want to take a moment and remind all those participants that have signed up for the Criminal Minds Christmas Fic Gift Exchange that we have just over a month to complete our gifts and publish them for our recipients. If anyone has any questions, please contact us via private message.
And finally, we'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their continued support of our stories. We truly appreciate each review, favorite, alert and private message. It means a lot to us. Please let us continue to hear from each of you!
Stitches in Time
Sitting silently for a few moments, Dave stared at the woman currently taking root on his couch, and after thoughtful determination came to the conclusion that the truth might be the only thing that set him free. "I had a stroke," he confided, his words heavy but even. "A mini-stroke...but still..."
Eyes rounding at his confession, JJ paled suddenly, completely shocked and dismayed. "Wh-what did you say?" she asked, her voice deceptively soft.
"You aren't deaf, Jen," Dave grunted as a throw pillow was hurled in his direction.
"You had a stroke? And you didn't tell any of us?" she asked, her pale features contorting with righteous fury as she watched him try to shift in the chair.
"There was no reason to worry anybody," he shrugged, dodging another soft missile as she lobbed it at him. "The doctors all assured me that I'd recover just fine...it's just going more slowly than I anticipated," he remarked, frowning down at the half-finished crocheted baby cap on top of the basket, his earlier failed efforts coming back to haunt him.
"When?" JJ bit out, the one word fired with the accuracy of a revolver.
"When what?" he asked innocently, wincing as her voice rose another octave, the small room providing a perfect echo chamber for her yells.
"When did you have the stroke?" JJ nearly shrieked, her hands balling angrily in her lap.
"Mini-stroke," Dave corrected automatically, barely resisting the urge to press his hands to his ears. It wouldn't do any good, he told himself. She would just find another way to get her point across.
"Semantics!" JJ snapped, rising to pace the room furiously, her footsteps staccato sharp against his polished wood floors.
"I got sick the day before I called Hotch and told him I needed the sabbatical. I honestly had thought it was just a bad headache, JJ," he added quickly when she turned her mutinous face toward him, her mouth opened in what was certain to be a ringing retort. "But, the docs said it was more than that. By the time I'd dragged my ass to the hospital, it had affected my left side," he shrugged, holding up a hand to forestall her next salvo. "But I'm much better now...you couldn't even notice when you arrived, could you?"
That much was true, JJ thought grimly. She hadn't noticed in apparent changes in him. Taking a deep breath, she forced herself to think rationally about his situation, knowing that she could allow her emotions free reign for only so long. "So, what's with the crocheting?" she said tightly, nodding at the basket resting beside him.
"It's an exercise that my physical therapist recommended," Dave shrugged, trying to kick at the basket again…as if he could hide the evidence. "She thinks it'll help improve my coordination. I'm still having some difficulty with my fine motor skills," he admitted sheepishly, feeling the blush stain his cheeks again. "And since she only knew how to make one thing...baby hats," he said, nodding at the basket, "that's what I do. When I get a whole bunch done, she takes them to the NICU at Washington Memorial."
Face softening as he related his explanation, she shook her head, her breath coming out in a steady gust. "You should have told me...us," she said quietly, her fingers clenching the edge of her suit jacket, her earlier worry and anger fading as they were replaced with concern.
"I don't want pity, JJ. I just want to get better," Dave informed her with as much dignity as he could, his shoulders straightening. "If the wrong people found out about this, my career could be over. I don't want to be perceived as weak. That's why it's very important that you keep this between us."
"I'll keep your secret, Dave," JJ replied softly, perching on the arm of the couch, her ankles resting a few inches from the edge of his recliner. "On one condition," she added pointedly.
Crap...conditional acceptance. His favorite kind, he thought bitterly. "Name your terms," Dave growled, glowering at her.
"There are actually two," JJ informed him gravely, nodding her head. Raising one finger, she spat, "You are NEVER, EVER to hide something like this from me. Friends rely on each other...going through this alone...when you had people that cared about you to help you...that was stupid."
"Agreed," Dave said grudgingly. He had to admit that he was touched that she cared enough about him to make that a condition. It was humbling...and that was not something he was accustomed to feeling.
Unaware of his silent musings, JJ went on. "And second," she said, moving toward him to perch on the arm of his recliner, "you let me come over a few nights a week and show you some other stitches. Baby hats are fine, but a nice afghan would be easier for you...and more useful to the babies at the hospital."
"JJ, I appreciate the offer, but you don't have to..." Dave began, not wanting her to feel obligated to him, even though his mind immediately informed him that such an arrangement would provide him with more time to spend with the beautiful blonde.
"It's not negotiable," JJ smiled, glancing down at him as she fingered the edge of the nearby baby bonnet. "Unless you want to be descended upon by our entire team, that is."
"You're tough," Rossi replied, smiling despite himself, leaning back in his recliner as he stared up at her.
"As nails," JJ agreed, her voice implacable as she swatted his shoulder with the bonnet. "But that's beside the point. Do we have a deal?" she asked sternly.
Looking at her resolute face staring back at him, Dave sighed. There were certainly worse ways he could waste his time than spending it in the company of a beautiful woman...especially this one. Nodding once, he assented. "I'm in."
"Somehow I thought you'd see things my way," JJ grinned, shifting her weight against the armchair. "Now, grab that hook," she said, pointing at the basket as she reached for a ball of yarn. "We've got some work to do."
And with those words, Jennifer Jareau and David Rossi embarked on a very unique relationship that was destined to stitch their lives together for years to come.