Here it is folks - the last chapter in 'The Road Not Taken'. 150 Chapters. Over 500,000 words. Approximately 1500 pages typed out... and a year in the making. I hope you've all enjoyed the story as much as I have enjoyed writing it. And of course, as you all know, the story doesn't end here... we've got sequels. :D
Thank you all for reading and for all of your support over the last year :D See you in the sequels as I make this final update to 'The Road Not Taken'
I don't own Criminal Minds.
Happy reading and enjoy :D
"Hey, what are you doing home already?" JJ asked Spence as she came in the front door where he was hanging his coat, scarf, and messenger bag up in the front hall closet.
"I could ask you the same thing." Spence said raising his eyebrows at his wife as he held out his wrist watch that said it was currently one o'clock.
JJ shrugged out of her coat and handed it to Spence. "It was a slow day at the office so I thought I'd come home early and get a head start on getting ready for tonight. You?"
Spence smiled. "Hotch got sick of listening to Elle and Morgan bicker about what the best holiday traditions were and realized the only way to stop it was to send us all home early. So I stopped on the way home and picked up the things we had on the list… and I got our Christmas tree. I thought it'd be nice to have it up for the party tonight."
"Good thinking baby" JJ replied with a smile and then gave him a quick peck on the lips. "Are Chloe and Henry napping?" she asked as she slipped past him into the living room.
"Yeah. Rebecca said she got them down a little bit ago, but that they fell asleep almost right away." Spence said as he followed JJ into the living room, hoping that she'd like the tree he'd picked out.
JJ gasped as she entered the living room. "Baby, the tree is beautiful." She said glancing over her shoulder as she approached the tree and ran her fingers over the needs one of the bluish green branches. "What kind is it?"
"It's an Eastern Redcedar." Spence said as he stepped up next to JJ in front of the tree. "I'm glad you like it. Morgan and I walked through the tree farm for about half an hour until I found the right tree. Did you know that the Eastern Redcedar isn't really a member of the cedar family? It's actually a member of the Juniper family and is closely related to the Rocky Mountain Juniper."
JJ turned her head away from the gorgeous tree to look at Spence. "You spent time at work this morning researching what kind of tree we should get this year didn't you…wait, you went to a tree farm... you cut this tree down yourself?"
"Really?" she asked as she contemplated the image in her mind.
"Yeah… I mean Morgan helped me with getting it strapped to the car and getting it in the house, but I cut it down myself."
"Next year, promise me you'll wait until I can come with?" she asked as she played with the buttons on his cardigan. "I really like the idea of watching you chop down our Christmas tree."
Spence wrapped an arm around JJ's waist and used his fingers to message her lower back. "I promise." He said as he leaned down and kissed her. "Now how about we go change and then start getting everything ready for tonight? Rebecca went to go change too. She said she'd be back in a few to help out."
JJ nodded and took Spence's hand as they walked up the stairs to change into more comfortable clothes.
"Pwetty Mommy" Chloe said in awe as the family stood taking in the decorations that they'd spent the last couple of hours working on. There were stockings bearing each family members name above the fireplace. An evergreen garland with lights was wrapped around the banister. The Christmas tree, which they'd waited for Chloe and Henry to wake up from their nap to decorate, was lit up and decorated in the corner of the living room next to the fireplace.
"It is pretty, isn't it?" Mommy asked as she ran her fingers through Chloe's curls while the little girl stood next to her. "Why don't you and Henry ask Daddy to read you a story?"
"JJ, baby let me help you get everything else ready." he said.
"There isn't that much to get ready since everyone is bringing something, so spend some time with Chloe and Henry." She said leaning up to kiss him.
"Are you sure?" Spence asked.
"Positive. Besides, Rebecca can help me." JJ said turning to look at Rebecca who nodded.
A short while later, while Spence was reading to Chloe and Henry, and JJ and Rebecca were in the kitchen getting food ready, the doorbell rang.
"I've got it!" Spence called out, going to answer the door with Chloe and Henry happily following behind him.
The Morgans, Hotchners, Elle, Rossi, and Gideon stood on the doorstep waiting to be let in as the door opened.
"What are you guys doing here?" Reid asked glancing at his watch. "You're at least two hours early."
"We thought it'd be nice to have some time together, just the team, before everyone else gets here." Elle said to Reid and then bent over to say hi to Chloe and Henry.
Reid nodded and let everyone in, taking coats and hanging them up in the closet while everyone juggled children, food, and in Rossi's case a case of vintage wine.
Reid then led everyone into the kitchen to say hello to JJ.
"What are you all doing here so early?" JJ asked as she wiped her hands on a dish towel before hugging everyone hello.
"We thought you could use the extra hands peaches." Penelope replied.
"Especially since it looks like pretty boy is keeping you bare foot, pregnant, and in the kitchen." Morgan said with a smile as he glanced down at JJ's bare feet.
"Hey… no… I offered to help." Reid replied.
"I was kidding kid." Morgan replied.
Hotch shook his head while holding Seth in his arms. "And we thought it be nice for us all to have some time together before everyone else got here."
"So what needs doing?" Elle asked as she looked back and forth between JJ and Rebecca.
"You were right Reid. This was the perfect tree for your living room." Morgan said as he and the rest of the men on the team sat in the living room out of the way of the women who were currently working on pulling everything together in the kitchen.
"Yeah." Reid replied nodding as he glanced at the tree. "Thanks for going with me to the tree farm. I don't think I would have been able to get that on the top of the SUV by myself, let alone back off and inside the house."
Gideon smiled as he sat watching Jack, Chloe, Henry, Jake, Avery, and Seth on the floor. Jack and Chloe, as the oldest had grouped off and were playing together. Henry, Jake, and Avery were playing together. Seth sat on his baby blanket highly entertained by the toddlers and Jack.
"So where are Will and Billy?" JJ asked as she and Elle arranged a veggie tray and a cheese ball and cracker tray.
"He's waiting for Billy to wake up from his nap and then he'll be here." Elle explained.
JJ glanced at the clock on the wall. "Hey Becs, we've got the rest of this. Why don't you go get showed and changed?"
"Are you sure?" Rebecca asked as she finished up what she was working on.
"Positive." JJ replied with a smile.
"Okay see you in a little bit." Rebecca said over her shoulder as she left out the backdoor to head across the driveway to her garage apartment to get ready.
Within minutes of Rebecca heading off to get ready for the party, the girls finished getting everything else ready and grabbed some drinks, joining the guys in the living room.
"So while we have a few minutes alone with just the team," Hotch said as he stood up in front of the group. "we wanted to take a moment to thank you JJ. I know the last several years must have been difficult for you, reliving all of those cases… and there really isn't anything we could do that could show you how much we appreciate it, but thank you for making all of our lives and so many others better. To JJ" Hotch said raising his glass.
"To JJ" the rest of the team replied as they raised their glasses.
And then the doorbell rang and Reid stood and walked across the living room to the entry way to answer it.
"Look who decided to join the festivities." Reid said pointing over his shoulder to Will with Billy in his arms and Erin who followed in his wake into the holiday spirit filled living room.
"Hi babe" Elle said in greeting as she stood and greeted Will with a kiss. "Hey, sleepy boy." She said as she took Billy from Will's arms. "Look who else is here!" she said as she put Billy on the blanket close to Seth, but far enough away that they wouldn't topple into one another if they fell over.
"It's amazing to think about how we got here." Emily said as Elle sat down next to her and they watched 9 month old Billy and 7 month old Seth interact with one another.
"Yeah it is." JJ said with a smile as she leaned into Spence's side while he wrapped his arm around her.
More guests showed up and the party became festive with cheer as their co-workers and friends mingled throughout the party over food, beverages, and holiday cheer.
"Hey Jayje," Penelope said turning to look at her friend and blonde hostess. "Who's that?" she asked nodding to a female party guest she didn't know.
"Hm?" JJ asked and then turned to look in the direction Pen had nodded. "Oh, that's Jamie, my assistant at the Pentagon. I'm sorry I didn't realize that you hadn't met her yet. I can introduce you now if you'd like?"
"No" Penelope replied. "I think we should sit back and watch, there's more options than I thought available tonight."
"Pen what are you talking about?" JJ asked as she turned to look at her friend.
"I'm talking about finally, hopefully matching one Agent Anderson up with a lovely lady of his choice." Pen said as she pointed to where Anderson stood talking with Ben, Kyle, and their wives. "I've been trying for months to set him up but he's been very resistant."
"Seeing as he's terrified of you, I can't imagine why." Emily said with a smirk as she snuck up behind PG and JJ and sat down with them.
"Gah!" Penelope gasped jumping as Emily startled her. "Don't do that!"
Emily and JJ laughed.
"PG did you really expect Anderson to willingly let you set him up with the girl of your choice?" Emily asked with a chuckle.
"I admit, that was faulty reasoning on my part. So instead I've been recruiting a variety of eligible bachelorettes as potential dates for young Mr. Anderson… which by the way – his name is Chad." Penelope whispered conspiratorially.
"Who's name is Chad?" Elle asked as she sat down with her friends.
"Pen was just giving us a status update on her match making efforts with Anderson." JJ replied as she glanced at Elle. "Whose first name is apparently Chad."
"Ah" Elle replied with a nod and then leaned into the discussion. "So who have you managed to set him up with?"
"Actually the plan is that tonight, we'll sit back and watch nature take its course." Penelope explained. "I've offered up a variety of choices for single, eligible ladies; it's up to Anderson to make his preferences known." She said as she sat back and began to people watch.
Spence ambled his way through the party, greeting people, and chatting as he headed for his wife. "Hey, are you ready?" He leaned down behind her and whispered in her ear as she sat talking with Emily, Elle, and Penelope.
JJ nodded and took Spence's hand as he stepped in front of her chair to help her up.
Spence led JJ over to the door to the entry way and whistled to get everyone's attention. Once the room quieted down, he spoke. "JJ and I have an announcement to make. We thought we'd put you out of at least some of your misery in regards to the little game of chance that you all have going on." He said with a grin.
Morgan and the rest of the team all looked at each other. Of course you couldn't slide a baby betting pool past a profiler, especially one with an IQ of 187. Then they turned back to watch Reid and JJ to hear the announcement.
"JJ and I" Spence said as he wrapped his arms around JJ, who stood in front of him. "are happy to announce that it's a boy; all the other details, well, you'll all have to wait a few more months to find out. Although, if you want to make any updates, rumor has it Morgan is the keeper of records." He said laughing as all eyes in the room turned to look at Morgan.
Jason Brendan Reid stood off to the side, unseen by anyone other than his accomplices, watching the scenes of festivity, family, and friendship. He turned to his accomplices and smiled. "We did good."
"Yes you did, yes you did grandson." Henry Jareau said with a smile as he watched his youngest daughter with a fond smile, proud of the woman she'd grown up to be.
Jane Jareau smiled with tears in her eyes as she too watched her baby girl, who now had babies of her own, happy that her Jennifer had found the happiness she deserved.
Katie stood watching her baby sister with her family and friends. She wished she could undo the pain she'd caused her sister and brother, but that wasn't a possibility. She was glad however that her brilliant nephew Jason had come up with the idea to get his parents together. She was even more impressed that he had passed up on the opportunity to join them now in order to take on a grander scale mission.
"You know, I'm going to miss you Jason." A man who looked identical to Jason said as he turned to look at his brother.
"I'll miss you too J." Jason replied as he turned to look at his twin brother. "but no matter where or when I am, I'll always be your brother." Jason said as he wrapped his arm around the other man's shoulders. "But I've got a mission to complete and you know how important it is. I promise I'll stop in and check on you from time to time. But let's enjoy our last night together with Grandma, Grandpa, and Aunt Katie before we have to leave tomorrow." He said and then the twin brothers turned to look over their shoulders to where Henry, Jane, and Katie Jareau stood watching the happy holiday goings on in the Spencer and Jennifer 'JJ' Reid household.
And there you have it folks - but wait did you think I would leave you hanging? While you've been reading this chapter - I've posted the first part of the sequels. You can go and read it now. It's called 'Two Roads Diverged'