Written for 2010 Christmas gift fic exchange on the chit chat on author's corner forums.
So this is for Wraith Ink-Slinger, an author whom I personally love, and so I hope she enjoys this!
Clicking her pen on the desk and sparing the clock a quick glance, JJ rose to her feet and grabbed her coat, making her way out into the bullpen at an unhurried pace. Sapphire eyes caught sight of her friend and colleague at his desk, looking ready to leave himself.
"Finally leaving here, Spence?" She asked, tilting her head fractionally and eyeing him with a thin smile.
"Yeah," He replied, taking a few steps toward her and slinging his bag over his shoulder. He skirted around the small tree that had been set up against the wall and she joined him in the walk outside.
She punched the button for the elevator and he brushed a hand through his hair, shifting his weight uneasily.
"You're unusually quiet tonight," she piped up suddenly, "what's up?"
He paused, offering her a sidelong glance before stepping into the elevator. She followed with a raised brow.
"I'm not really into the holidays," he replied slowly, pushing the button for the ground floor. "I usually go back home, but my mom's doctor said she's not up to it this year."
JJ's pale brow drew together. "Is she alright? I mean, I know it's a dumb question-"
"No, you're fine," he murmured, "she has good days and bad days; it just hasn't been good recently. I might go visit in a few weeks when she's okay, but for now I'm just going to stay here."
"But Christmas is in two days…" JJ supplied, her mouth twitching in a frown when she realized what he meant.
He didn't look at her, shrugging one thin shoulder in disinterest. "I don't really celebrate it, anyway. I have too much work to do."
"Paperwork can wait," JJ protested softly. The elevator dinged and they stepped out into the frosty night. JJ pulled her scarf tighter and Reid put his hands in his pockets.
They walked in companionable silence, the snow crunching under their feet until they made it to her car, and she realized with a start that he'd walked her there out of courtesy.
"Thank you," she said with a soft smile.
He tilted his chin in response. "Sure… so I'll see you in two weeks?"
He sounded uneasy, and JJ knew he felt uncomfortable.
"Listen," she started before he could leave and she could see his eyes narrow, just slightly. "My dad surprised my mom with a trip to Europe this year."
"Okay," he replied carefully, unsure of where this was going.
"Therefore, my family won't be getting together for Christmas this year until after the actual holiday."
She resisted the urge to roll her eyes. "So I'll be alone for Christmas. And so will you."
He stared at her. "JJ… are you… what are you-"
"Reid," she said exasperatedly, "be at my house by five. No arguments- it'll be fun."
"I'll see you then," she interjected cheerfully, sliding into her car and leaning back in the seat with the faintest of smiles.
Reid watched her for a moment before he blinked and turned to go, wondering if the night had really just turned out the way it had.
Two days passed too quickly for Reid. When it came time to leave, he felt suddenly rooted to floor of his apartment, watching the clock with a sinking feeling. He wasn't sure what to expect; he wasn't someone who was usually unprepared, but this was something he had no idea how to prepare for.
It's just JJ, he told himself sharply, it's not like you haven't been with alone with her before.
Grabbing his keys before he could change his mind, he sauntered out the door without allowing his mind to wander to all of the things that could possibly go horribly, terribly wrong.
Reid was, as usual, perfectly on time. JJ answered the door just at five and let the rather nervous profiler follow her into the living room.
"So," she began as he sank down onto the couch, folding his hands in his lap. "I don't have anything planned formally, but I thought I'd start cooking here in a little bit, and we can just relax."
"Okay," he murmured, setting his bag on the ground and digging through it. "I got you something."
JJ sat down beside him, pale eyebrows drawing together. "You did?"
"I was a little stuck on what to get," he said shyly, pulling a big rectangle from the bag. It was wrapped in brown paper and tape. It looked more like it was packaged to keep it safe than wrapped as a gift.
He offered the object to her, and she took it and set it in her lap, surprised at the weight.
"It's heavy," she commented, "what is it?"
His mouth twitched in a half-smile. "Well… if you want to find out, you can just rip the paper…"
She rolled her eyes. "Don't be snarky, I'm going."
She slid a nail until a strip of tape and pulled, getting a grip on the paper and tearing it loose. When she'd cleared the front of the object, her blue eyes went wide as saucers.
"Spence, I…" dumbfounded, she traced a hand over the smooth glass surface, the silky, neon blue beneath reflecting over her face.
He shifted, frowning again. "It's a morpho didius – a morpho butterfly. They usually only fly very high up in jungle canopies, and so they're extremely seldom ever seen unless captive. This one is male, with a wingspan-"
"Reid," she cut him off with a wavering voice, "I haven't collected butterflies since I was young… after the fisher king case, I packed them all up, and they're in my attic."
"Oh," he murmured, looking unsure of what to say.
"Spence, this is the most beautiful one I've ever seen," she sounded stunned, unable to look away from the dazzling aquamarine wings below the glass. "I want to hang it up in my room… I want to get the rest of them out and put this one at the center."
She set the framed butterfly on the couch beside her, and leaned forward to snatch her elusive friend in a tight hug. He stiffened, and she smiled into his neck when he awkwardly hugged her back. "Thank you so much… I don't think I've ever gotten a gift that's meant so much."
"You're welcome," he replied sincerely, folding his arms when she pulled away.
"I have something for you too," she said, "well actually, it's a few things."
"JJ, you didn't-"
"Yes," she bit out, "yes I did. And you're going to love it."
She sauntered to her small, delicate Christmas tree and returned with a neat, brightly wrapped box. She handed it to him and sat down, nearly squirming as he opened it.
"I won't lie," he said seriously, a grin edging over his face, "this is the most amazing thing ever."
"When I saw them, I knew I had to get them," JJ replied cheerfully as he held up the reindeer-patterned socks. "There are some Halloween socks in there too so you can mismatch them."
"Oh, I like this too," he said, pointing at the coffee cup. It was dark, porcelain indigo. It said 'genius' in white bubble letters. "And- oh, a book! The Evolution of the Criminal Mind? I wanted to have this for reference. I told you that months ago- how'd you remember?"
"Maybe I have an eidetic memory too," JJ said with a smile as he leafed through the book. "But that's not it."
"JJ, this is already more than I gave you."
"You said it yourself- the butterfly is rare. It wasn't cheap, Spence. I collected them; I know it wasn't cheap. But this stuff was… which is why I got this last thing that I know you'll like."
He tilted his head and she bit her lip, twisting her hands in her lap. "I booked us an appointment for a guided tour of the library of congress next week."
He stared at her. "JJ… really?"
When she nodded, he blinked. "I've wanted to visit since I moved here… but we've been to busy for me to take a trip for that."
"Yeah, well, I thought you'd like it."
"I do, thank you," he sounded so surprised. He looked at her thankfully, and she grinned, opening her arms. Trying not to blush, he folded his arms around her the way she had to him, and she hugged him back snugly.
"You're welcome. The tour is going to be led by the librarian of congress- he's going to give us the full history of the place."
"And you're really coming too?"
"Do you want me to?"
"Of course," he replied quickly, "I just didn't think that sort of thing interested you."
She nodded quickly. "It's for you, not for me. I'm happy to go with you."
They pulled apart and JJ stood up, making a grab for the coffee mug she'd given him. "I'm going throw the food in the oven."
She went into the kitchen, leaving Reid in the living room. He leaned back and tried not to grin like an idiot, setting the box on the floor.
"Hey, wear this!"
He was nearly smacked on the head with the flying red fabric, but he ducked down and it hit the couch behind him. JJ poked her head into the room as he picked it up.
"A santa hat?" he asked dubiously, feeling the soft velvet.
"Well, we have to get you in the holiday spirit. Don't be a hater."
She stared at him, and he realized she wasn't leaving until he put it on. Expression confused, he put the velvet hat on, and she laughed.
"I need a picture of that," she called out as she returned to the kitchen. It only took her a few minutes to return with occupied hands. She handed him his new cup and sipped her own.
"Peppermint tea," she said as he looked at the amber liquid, "It's not coffee, but you might like it."
"It's nice," he replied honestly.
It was getting dark outside, and JJ set her cup down on the coffee table, moving to turn on the tv. She flipped a few channels until she landed on a music station. The music was soft, and she set the volume low.
The best time of the year
When everyone comes home
With all this Christmas cheer,
It's hard to be alone…
JJ hummed along to the song and she plugged in the Christmas tree, allowing the rainbow colored lights to dimly illuminate the living room. Reid set his cup down when JJ sat down again, and their eyes met.
"JJ," he asked seriously, "thank you. For all of this… you know, I haven't done anything like this since I was really young."
"It upsets me that you haven't had amazing Christmases every year," she replied sincerely, her expression sad, "but you're always welcome to come here. Even when I go to my family's."
In one impulsive move that was completely unlike him, he reached out and pulled her against him. It was quick and unplanned, but JJ squeezed his torso affectionately.
"This is the third time tonight," she smiled, "I don't think we've hugged this much before… not that I'm complaining."
They were in companionable silence for a while, looking at the glittering lights on the tree before JJ leaned up and whispered, "I'm glad you're here."
He could smell the sweet peppermint on her breath, and it made him that much more aware of her. "Me too…"
They looked at each other, and she leaned up to press her lips to his. It was quick and chaste, and he stared at her with wide hazel eyes once she'd leaned back.
Her face held a lazy smile, and she leaned against his chest again. "Peppermint kisses..."
That's all I want
when Christmas comes to town…
His nimble fingers combed through her flaxen hair and she sighed contentedly. "Is that a once-a-year-thing?"
"They don't have to be," she replied, smiling when he tilted her chin up and kissed her gently.
"Merry Christmas, JJ."
He closed his eyes and leaned back against the couch while JJ rested against him, looking out the window and watching the snow fall outside. Christmas couldn't have been more perfect.
This kind of got a life of it's own and possessed my mind and wrote itself they way it wanted to… but I hope everyone (Wraith Ink-Slinger especially!) likes it. I kind of do.
I've never used song lyrics in a fic before so I hope that little snippet was okay.