Author's Note: In spite of certain individual's opinions that this pairing has been "done to death", I can't seem to resist. I've written over four hundred stories, but JJ and Rossi will forever be my ultimate pairing. True courage is attained when you write the story despite your critics. Perhaps uncreative and overdone, this story spoke to me a few weeks ago. I hope it speaks to you, as well. Many blessings for this Holiday Season!
Staring at the perfect tree in front of her, each limb full and vibrant green, Jennifer Jareau smiled happily, satisfied with the small step she'd made in her new husband's outlook on all things Christmas. When she'd woken this morning and heard his deep muffled curses filtering up the stairs of their new home, a part of her had known that she'd won the previous evening's argument. Her pleas for a tree had not gone unanswered.
Hurrying into her flannel robe, she had hurried downstairs and found him glaring at the towering fir in the corner of the living room.
"Well," he'd muttered, nodding at the new addition to their cozy family room as he dusted his hands against his jeans, "there it is. Just like you asked for."
Tearing up and incapable of words, she'd only been able to nod, her smile tremulous.
When he'd seen the fine sheen in her glistening eyes, he'd grimaced and started shaking his head. "Don't do that, Bella," he'd ordered, his jaw clenching at the sight of his wife's tears. "You wanted a tree. You got a tree," he said flatly.
"Thank you, Dave," she'd whispered, pressing her fingertips against her quivering lips.
He'd answered her with a terse nod of his dark head. "There's an old trunk in the attic if you're interested. I think it has some of my Nonna's Christmas decorations in it."
Her eyes had lit up with that new knowledge; it was another step in the right direction. "There is?" she'd asked him hopefully.
"Yeah," he'd nodded again, obviously still uncomfortable with the idea of these new Yuletide changes. Hell, he'd been perfectly content for the past ten years with the status quo, hadn't he? "Some of it might be salvageable if you wanna take a look before you buy anything new," he shrugged. "My work here, however, is done," he'd told her firmly, glaring at the tree again. "I'll be out at the woodpile," he said roughly.
"Okay," she'd accepted softly as he had brushed past her, in a hurry to escape the new changes the holiday season was bringing to the Rossi house.
Watching as he'd slid from the house, the front door closing soundly behind him, JJ sighed as she pulled her robe tighter. Baby steps, JJ. He was trying. Which was a hell of a lot more than you'd anticipated when you closed your eyes last night.
Turning toward the stairs, JJ redirected her thoughts as she felt her spirits lift once again. She had a treasure chest to investigate.
Walking back into their home an hour later, Rossi braced himself to hear holiday carols blasting from the stereo and see decorating Yuletide madness in full swing. What he hadn't been prepared for had been complete silence.
Glancing in the living room, he noted the tree exactly where he'd left it, still bare. Looking around the room, nothing had changed. No decorations. No JJ. Concentrating, he heard no sounds of movement anywhere.
"JJ?" he called, walking toward the stairs as he felt his chest tighten. Hell, he'd thought he'd cured the source of the strain between them with the damned tree, her need to celebrate Christmas almost a tangible thing. Had she actually expected him to stick around and string lights? She knew him better than that. His aversion to the holiday had been no secret between them, his feelings public knowledge well before he'd even thought of marrying the beautiful blonde.
But, he'd been trying, damn it. The tree, in and of itself, was as close to a Christmas miracle as he intended to get.
As soon as that thought fluttered through his mind, he shook his head. Who the hell was he kidding? Despite his grumbles and complaints, there wasn't anything he wouldn't do for Jennifer Jareau Rossi, including forcing himself to celebrate a holiday he despised with a holy passion.
"Jen?" he called again, trudging up the stairs, his footsteps landing with dull thuds against the polished wood. "Honey, where are you?" Dave called, raising his voice slightly as he stuck his head in their opened bedroom door. Surely she was just simply changing clothes, preparing for her celebratory workday.
But no. Nothing. Glancing in the guest room across the hall, he found it, too, empty. Heart beating a little faster, he continued down the hallway. Walking into the second spare bedroom, Dave exhaled a relieved breath as he spotted the ladder to the attic pulled down from the ceiling.
Decorations, he thought belatedly, his senses slowly lowering from the Defcon Four setting. Nonna's decorations.
Silently deliberating simply slipping back out of the room and returning outside, he shook his head. His hang-ups weren't hers. And didn't he owe her at least an honest effort? He could at least stick his head up there and make sure she was okay, couldn't he? Besides, who was he to ignore the chance to spend a moment with his beautiful wife?
Climbing the ladder before he could change his mind again, Dave squinted, taking a moment to adjust his eyes to the dim interior of the loft. A single window allowed just the thinnest stream of daylight to reach the cool confines, and a single burning bulb supplemented the lack of sunshine.
"Hey," he said softly, finding her in the corner closest to the window. "You okay up here, Jen?" he asked, ducking his head underneath the low rafters as he stepped carefully over the planked floor.
Smiling over his shoulder as she heard his voice, JJ nodded happily as she pushed her hair out of her eyes. "Dave! You wouldn't believe some of the things I found up here," she said, gesturing at the treasures she'd unearthed from the depths of the trunk. "This stuff is beautiful," she breathed, her fingers barely touching the edge of a lace doily. "Simply breathtaking."
Looking at the family heirlooms scattered around her, he had to smile at the joy he heard reflected in her voice. "I take it you found some stuff you wanna use then?" he teased, dropping a hand against her neck as he peered over her shoulder.
Tugging his hand forward, she urged, "Come look, Dave. Please? Maybe you can tell me the story that goes with some of this."
"Honey," Dave murmured reluctantly, his lips tightening as he once again questioned his reasoning ability. He should have left well enough alone, he thought darkly.
But now he was stuck. And if he didn't want to break her heart again, he was going to have to suffer through this walk down memory lane.