Author's Note:

Hold on folks, this is a long note today! First, Tonnie and I would like to announce that signups for Chit Chat on Author's Corner's January Challenge-The Happy New Year's Challenge are open thru December 30, 2010. Simply swing by the forum (you can link to it thru our profile pages) and sign up with the pairing you'd like to see written and three prompts associated with the holiday. On Jan 1, 2011, you'll be assigned a random pairing (not the one you usually write) and three prompts to write by January 30.

Second, I have a question for my readers. I truly enjoyed last night's CM episode, "What Happens at Home" and the introduction of the character Agent Ashley Seaver. I intend to do some stories with her character incorporated into a pairing and I'd like to know who you guys would like to see me pair her with. I know the obvious choice is Reid, but what about Hotch or Rossi. Anybody that knows my work knows I'm a sucker for older man/younger woman pairings. So, shoot me a pm or review and let me know what you think. I think the world of you guys and value your opinions!

Just a reminder, December 25th is right around the corner. Everyone that signed up for the CM Christmas Fic Exchange, please remember your stories. We want this to be a WONDERFUL gift experience for all involved. If you have any questions, feel free to pm either myself (ilovetvalot) or tonnie2001969.

In other forum news, please check out our newest discussion thread, "Serious vs. Light - Which gets the most response?" It is a discussion of serious vs. light stories and the response they get from readers. We also have new interviews with Clarebones and musicxlife4 up for your reading pleasure.

Also please check out the discussion thread entitled, "The Fine Line Between T and M ratings". There's a great ongoing discussion there, too.

Finally, if any of you have any idea for issues/activities that you'd like to see "Chit Chat on Author's Corner" forum tackle in the form of discussion threads and/or challenges, please let us know. We want to bring you all some really fun threads in the New Year!

As always, thank you to every reader, reviewer, and person that favorites or alerts one of our stories. Hearing from each of you means a great deal to each of us. We truly value your thoughts and opinions. Now, on with our story!

How Lonely Can Lonely Be?

Yawning as I stretched my hands over my head, trying to ease the ache in my aching back...too many hours of sitting hunched over a report at my desk, I supposed…it was purely by chance that I glanced upward and noticed the still burning lamp in Hotch's office.

I knew our esteemed leader had left hours ago, full of preparations for tomorrow's Christmas Eve. Sometimes, I wondered if Christmas should be a three day long event. It seemed that in recent years, the festivities often drifted into December 23rd as well.

Shrugging, I pushed away from my desk and headed up the stairs toward his office, my only intention to dim the burning light.

Of course, that was before I found her sitting on Hotch's leather sofa, alone, staring out the window blankly.

"JJ?" I asked softly, blinking rapidly to assure myself that she wasn't a figment of my imagination. You can never be too careful when your mother is a schizophrenic. I've had more than one of those special moments in the past, you know.

Turning her head toward the sound of my voice, I watched her smile faintly, her lips turning up just barely at the corners.

"Hey, Spence," she whispered, her voice sounding a little fragile in the quiet office. "I thought everybody was already gone."

Shaking my head, I cocked it to the side as I studied her closely. As beautiful as ever, she sat, perhaps a little tensely, staring out at the view of the city. "Nope. Are you okay?"

Smiling a little sadly, she offered a small shrug of her slim shoulders. "I just needed a minute to think, and Hotch's office window offers the best view of the Christmas lights," she said all too quietly, nodding outside.

"I...ah...figured you'd be rushing home to get things ready for Henry. Tomorrow is Christmas Eve, after all," I reminded her, my words seeming to come in a rush for some reason I couldn't explain.

Lips twisting, JJ swallowed hard as she shook her head. "Will has him tomorrow. He'll bring him back tomorrow evening, and I'll get Christmas Day."

"Oh," I said weakly, wincing to myself. How could I have allowed myself to forget such an extremely important piece of information? "I'm sorry, JJ."

"All part of what happens when a couple with children break up, I guess," she said heavily, her shoulders sagging slightly, her blonde hair seeming to fall lower, if that was possible.

Closing the door softly behind me, I moved toward the couch. "Mind if I sit with you? I don't exactly have anybody to rush home to either tonight," I offered lamely. What's new about that, Spencer? You never have anyone to hurry back to...just your empty apartment and paperback books.

"Of course not," JJ said with a genuine smile up at me.

Nodding as I tried to smile back, I slid into the seat beside her, our arms and thighs brushing slightly. "I didn't want to intrude on your privacy, JJ. Honestly."

"I never consider your company an intrusion on my privacy, Spence. You should know that by now," JJ chided, covering my hand and squeezing gently. "Truthfully, I could use the company. I'd forgotten how lonely being alone could be," she snorted. Rolling her expressive eyes, JJ groaned. "That didn't sound as stupid in my head as it did out loud."

Laughing with her softly, I shook my head as I let my fingers relax beneath her touch. "Actually it made a lot of sense," I murmured with a smile. "At least, to me it did." I caught my breath as she leaned her glistening blond head against my too bony shoulder. For the millionth time in my life, I wished that I had Morgan's or Hotch's muscular physique. They had nice strong shoulders to offer her. All I had was a knobby joint that probably would probably give her a concussion if she dropped her head too hard against it.

"You're a good man, Spence," JJ breathed, closing her eyes as she leaned against me.

"I try to be," I admitted hesitantly, not exactly feeling like a "good" guy at the moment. The sweet smell of her hair was currently driving me to distraction, and startling developments were occurring south of my belt line. This was not at all what I had planned for the evening….not at all!

JJ must have sensed my faltering confidence because she lifted a hand to pat my chest. "You are," I heard her insist, her words coming over the sudden roar that filled my ears for a second. "Dependable. Loyal. Faithful."

"You make me sound like a dog, JJ" I chuckled nervously, my face flushing. Never had I hated man's best friend more than in that moment.

Something in my voice must have startled her because she lifted her head instantaneously, staring into my eyes fiercely.

"I would never think of you like that," she said with soft vehemence. "A dog isn't truthful. He'll go to anyone that offers him a bone. I don't think dogs are mouthwateringly attractive either," she added softly.

"Y-you think I'm attractive?" I asked her disbelievingly, my throat suddenly tightening uncontrollably as I tried to swallow.

"No, I think you're gorgeously sexy," JJ winked, her full lips lifting into a slow smile. "But I wa trying to be ladylike."

"You're just being nice," I scoffed, hating my fair complexion with a fiery passion. I knew my cheeks were glowing as brightly as Rudolph's red nose and there wasn't anything I could do about it.

I jerked slightly as her cool fingers slid over my jaw, turning my averted eyes back to hers. "You really have no idea how handsome you are, Spence. I think that's one of the things that I adore the most about you," she told me solemnly, her bright eyes assuring me that her words were entirely honest.

Dropping my gaze to her lips, my mouth ached to cover hers and I knew that fact burned brightly in my eyes. But I wasn't sure. Did I dare risk it?

She must have seen the indecision shining in my eyes...or have telepathic powers, because her next words filled me with warmth.

"It's okay, Spence. I want to kiss you, too," she whispered huskily as her eyes met mine.

"I don't want to overstep the boundaries of our friendship, JJ," I whispered anxiously even as my hand crept around her warm neck. Who was I fantasies of her and the many things I wanted to do to her body had been overstepping the boundaries of friendship for years.

"Overstep, Spence," JJ invited with a widening smile. "Please?" she breathed, tilting her face up to meet my descending lips.

I nibbled her lower lip gently as she nipped at my upper, pulling a gasp from me. Slowly, I licked the closed seam of her lips, my touch tentative. I didn't want to push. I couldn't afford to be greedy. I'd gotten farther with the woman beside me than I ever imagined I'd be in just a few short moments. I'd be a fool to ask for more, wouldn't I?

But fate took the decision from my hands when JJ parted her lips underneath mine and flicked her tongue against my own. I heard the rough moan I made low in my throat from a distance, the dull roar filling my ears diminished almost all other sound as our mouths dueled, tongues mating frantically against each other as her hands buried in my hair, urging me closer.

And I couldn't resist.

I tried; I know I did. But her lush lips and sweet taste delivered a high no drug had ever given me. Soon, she was a fire in my blood, raging beyond my control.

I was never sure who lost the first article of clothing. Was it my shirt or hers? But I do distinctly remember her graceful hands sliding across my naked back as our chests pressed together. I knew I'd never forget how firm her breasts felt beneath my lips...or the taste of her need coating my lips...or the musky smell of our arousal pervading the heated air around us. Every sense was heightened in her arms, and I know I allowed myself to lose my reason in the sensual haze of those long moments.

In the aftermath, as our heart rates returned to normal and the sweat on our naked bodies dried, I felt her eyes on me. Almost afraid to look at her, I swallowed.

"Spence," her voice whispered.

"Please, don't say this was a mistake, JJ," I interrupted, my voice hoarse in the darkening office. I could bear to hear almost anything but that. "You can say anything you want...just not that, okay?"

Propping her chin on my bare chest, JJ blinked slowly. "I wasn't going to," she smiled, pressing one of her fingers against my lips. "I was going to say we might owe Hotch a new couch. Then, I was going to ask how soon we can do that again."

"Wh-what?" I faltered, not quite believing my ears.

Pressing her lips against my chest, I could feel her smile against my flesh. "I'm hoping you'll say very soon. Especially since what just happened has been six years in the making. I think we've both denied ourselves long enough."

"JJ," I exhaled on a relieved breath, moving my hand from her warm back to her elegant jaw.

"I don't want to spend one more Christmas without you in front of my tree, Spencer," JJ confided softly, burying her nose against my throat.

"I don't either," I whispered back, wrapping my arms around her and holding on tightly.

And as it happened, I never spent another Christmas alone.