Author's Note: This is a JJ/Morgan love story. My first! Wa Hooh!
Per the challenge guidelines of TV Prompt Bonus #30, which yours truly drafted so I hope I'd get it right :) this is entirely a narrative piece. And this posting is the whole kit and caboodle so (another yay) there will be no dangling participles. This prompt really could have worked with any combination of characters but I've already written so many H/P pieces that I think it's better to try something new when the urge strikes than to write the same thing again and again with a new title on it. Hopefully you as the reader would agree that would be a suck approach to the process :)
One point, obviously this whole this thing is AU in the purest sense that it didn't happen, but given that I don't think it was ever definitively established at what date JJ joined the team (just that she was already established in her role when the show started) and Will doesn't exist in this tale as a love interest, I decided for purposes of timeline this would simply take place after Emily arrived, but before JJ's pregnancy came out.
Bonus Challenge #30 - Potpourri Times Three
Show: Home Improvement
Title Challenge: The Kiss & The Kiss-Off
Begin . . . And Begin Again
It started one night with an offer to get a drink after a bad day. And after a month of bad days JJ had started to think that she was perhaps due for a career change. That three years at the BAU was long enough.
That it was time she moved on before the scars became too deep.
But then . . . almost like he'd known what she was thinking . . . Derek randomly stopped into her office and asked if she wanted to go out and get a beer. Or five. And then his lip had quirked up slightly in that adorable little smirk that had started catching her attention a few months before. So though she had been planning on going home to work on her resume, she found herself instead nodding to him over her desk as she said yes, yes that would be nice.
So they went to a new bar . . . someplace where nobody knew them . . . and they had a drink. And then a few hours later she'd discovered that they'd had five. And she knew that they should stop, that five was enough. That any more alcohol and she would do something stupid.
Something she might regret.
But that bad day was lingering, tainting her actions. Tainting her judgment. So when Derek went to the bathroom, she went up to the bar and ordered round number six. And when he came back to the table to find her with fresh drinks and a worried brow he did something that she hadn't expected.
So she did too. And after they'd tossed back those two drinks, he grinned again and asked her to dance. And that's when she knew for sure that she was in trouble. Big trouble.
That grin was going to break her heart.
Still though, she let him take her hand and lead her to the sticky little patch of dance floor in the corner. A slow song was playing . . . You and Me . . . and as Derek pulled her close to his chest and tucked her under his chin, JJ's eyes began to burn. She wondered why it had taken a half a bottle each of tequila to get them where they were at that moment.
And then he kissed her temple and whispered something sweet in her ear and one of those tears trickled over and down her cheek. The next morning when she found her naked limbs tangled up with his, she tried to tell herself it was a mistake. That it was just the alcohol. That even if the act had meant something to her.
It hadn't meant anything to him.
But then he woke up and he kissed her and as he rolled her beneath him he whispered that he'd had a wonderful night. And then he asked if she wanted to do it again sometime.
And her eyes filled with tears as she smiled and touched his cheek. And then she said yes, yes that would be nice.
And so it began.
First just drinks and dancing, and then they began to go to dinners and hockey games and concerts. Saturday nights were spent out painting the town and Sunday mornings were spent lounging in bed. No longer did she daily wish to move on to another unit, because now she had him . . . and he made all the rest of it okay.
For months it went on . . . six, nearly seven . . . and she thought that they were happy. She thought they were getting serious. So she decided to take a step.
A really big one.
She decided he should meet her family.
It wasn't exactly an invitation to move in, but still, for people in their thirties, it was a major step. So for that reason she was very nervous about what his reaction to the request would be. What if they weren't on the same page? What if he was just having a good time and had no interest in making any real commitment?
What if she was about to make a huge mistake?
Those questions . . . fears . . . were enough for her to hold off asking him for another week. Another week of dinners and movies and time out in the city. And that's when she started to realize that even six months in, they rarely spent date nights together just hanging out at home.
They almost always went out.
It was a slightly bothersome little thought, but one she pushed aside as Saturday rolled around again. It was the one night a week that he always slept over, so it was the one night a week that she could make a plan. So the next morning she woke him up with a lick and nibble on his very favorite spot. Her theory of course being that if she was going to ask this question that she was terrified of asking, that it would be best to put him in a good mood first. And when they were done . . . he was.
He was in a very good mood.
And afterward, as she sat at the kitchen table nervously picking at her uneaten bagel, he was humming as he poured a second cup of coffee. As she saw him tapping his fingers on the counter, she'd known then that she wasn't going to get a better moment. So she took a breath . . . and then asked him if he'd like to meet her parents. That they were having a cookout next weekend and it would be a good time to meet everyone.
She saw him freeze . . . and her heart began to sink. And in that moment that she saw the coffee pot hovering motionless over his cup, she started to panic.
She was definitely moving too fast. He wasn't ready for this.
But before she could take back the question, he'd already turned around with an apologetic smile. And then he told her that he would love to go, but that he had already made plans that day with Garcia and that he was concerned she'd be hurt if he broke them.
Though JJ knew in her heart that he was just looking for an excuse to get out of the invitation, she also knew that it was true that Derek and Penelope's friendship had been under some strain . . . he was still hiding their relationship from her so she didn't understand why he was so often unavailable to go out . . . JJ immediately said that she understood. That it was okay.
That maybe they could try again sometime.
He said of course. And then he smiled and came over to kiss her. Then he murmured against her lips that he was going to take a shower.
As he left the room JJ's gaze snapped back to the just poured cup of coffee he'd left cooling on the counter. Tears began to prick her eyes.
That was the beginning of the end.
He started working late all the time and more often than not canceling their plans on the weekend. Sometimes for work, sometimes for Garcia, but it was always an excuse that she couldn't argue with. And when before they went out five nights out of seven, that quickly began to dwindle. First down to four, then two.
Finally to one.
Just one night, just one dinner . . . just one coupling. It seemed like pity sex, and JJ hated herself for being grateful for it . . . but she hated herself even more for not calling him on it. For just accepting his excuses as truth and not the convenient fiction that she knew them to be. But she also knew the unraveling of their relationship was really all her fault. She was the one that had taken that step that they weren't ready for yet.
She was the one that ruined what they had, when what they had had been so good.
She started crying herself to sleep. And after three days of that she began to get angry. She told herself that she wasn't going to be that girl that everybody felt sorry for.
The pathetic one that pined for the man that didn't want her anymore.
Or maybe he did still want her . . . she knew that those first months together had been truly happy . . . but now he just didn't want her in the same way that she wanted him. Either way though the result was the same.
He was breaking her heart.
And if he didn't have the balls . . . or the will . . . to break things off completely, then she'd do it for him. Though she loved him, and she missed him terribly . . . she could see the handwriting on the wall. What they had before, what had been working so well for them . . . that was gone now.
And she just didn't see it coming back.
So the next night she called and asked him to come over. And when he tried to tell her that he needed to write up a weapons report for Hotch, she cut him off, saying that she wasn't taking work for an answer anymore. That if he still cared about her at all then he'd be at her apartment no later than nine.
He was quiet for a moment . . . and then he said okay. And when he knocked on her door a half hour later . . . the clock said it was barely seven . . . her eyes filled with tears.
He did still care.
But then she reminded herself that he was no fool, that he must have known why she'd called him over . . . so he didn't care enough. So she blinked away the sentimental moisture in her eyes . . . it made her look weak . . . before going over to open the door.
They stared at one another for a moment. She could see the mixture of guilt and relief on his face, and for a second she hated him for being a coward and making her do the hard part. But the second passed and then she was just filled with sadness again.
They were past the point where it mattered who did it . . . it just needed to be done.
Finally she stepped back and he walked inside. Before he could even sit down . . . she didn't want to prolong the process . . . she jumped into it. She told him that she wasn't happy. That she wasn't going to live her life with him treating her this way . . . as an afterthought. And she could see that her choice of words hurt him . . . but sometimes the truth does hurt.
Especially when it's one you weren't facing yourself.
So she gave him a minute to process that reality . . . the one where he wasn't being a stand up guy . . . and then she ripped off the band aid. She told him that she didn't blame him, that it was her fault too for allowing things to get to this point without speaking up before. And that she wasn't angry with him for not being ready to move to the next step. That that was something he needed to decide for himself.
It wasn't her place to decide it for him.
For a second she saw that flicker of relief again on his face . . . but it was short lived. Because the next words out of her mouth brought tears to his eyes.
And seeing his reaction at the finality of it . . . seeing how genuinely upset he was . . . she almost took it back.
But she knew that her decision was the right one. If he couldn't even bring fifty percent to the table now . . . and he was barely bringing five . . . then they obviously had no future together. Still though it was clear that as much as he had wanted out before he walked in the door, he was now having buyer's remorse. So he tried to plead with her, to tell her that he was sorry that he'd been such a jerk and that he just needed a little more time to figure things out. And though his 'baby, please don't do this to me,' was a knife in her heart, JJ was resolute.
As the tears began to run down her face she told him that she still cared about him but that they were at different places in their life. And that she didn't want him to come knocking again until he'd figured out exactly what it was he wanted and who he wanted it with.
And then she showed him the door.
That night she cried herself to sleep again.
The next day work was . . . of course . . . terribly awkward. So bad in fact that Hotch pulled her aside at the end of the day and asked what the problem was. Though she was quite sure that he already knew what the problem was.
Nothing got past him.
So figuring that he already knew . . . she went with the lie. Her eyes falling away from his as she whispered that there was no problem. Not anymore. Then the next day she filed her papers for transfer. Derek had been the only thing keeping her there.
Now he was just one more reason to go.
Two weeks later she left the unit. One week after that something amazing happened.
The stick turned blue.
Two months earlier she would have been thrilled . . . terrified . . . but thrilled, at the thought of having Derek's baby. But that morning in the bathroom she was just terrified. She was going to have to do it all alone. And she really just couldn't believe it had happened at all. They were always careful so that blue stick was just the one random percentage of swimmers that got by the goalie.
She wanted to call Derek immediately, but then she reminded herself that she'd left him for a reason . . . he didn't want to get serious and make a real commitment. And it didn't get any more committed than this.
Of course she knew that he would take full responsibility for his child, but she wasn't going to have him come back to her just because he felt guilty.
So she decided to wait.
He had a right to know that that he was a father . . . but he wasn't a father yet. They had a few months to go . . . seven point five to be exact . . . and she wouldn't be showing for at least another five weeks. It wouldn't hurt anything to keep it from him a bit longer. It would give her time to make her own peace with the situation.
To figure out a plan.
So she let the days tick by, one after another, making sure to avoid going anywhere in the Academy that she might run into him.
She didn't want to be forced into a conversation that she wasn't ready to have yet.
But then one Tuesday night towards the end of her second month . . . three weeks after she'd left the Unit . . . she heard a knock on the door. When she checked the peephole she was astonished to see Derek standing in the hallway.
He was holding a single red rose.
Her breath caught as she stepped back, her mind racing . . . she told him not to come knocking until he figured out what he wanted. And now he'd come knocking with a red rose in his hand.
It seemed as though he wanted to try again.
Feeling her heart start to pound, she smoothed down her hair and quickly ran to check her fading makeup in the bathroom mirror. After she'd wiped away the stray smears, she zipped her navy hoodie up over the small baby bump.
First one conversation . . . then the other.
When she opened the door, they stared at each other as they had the night they'd broken up. But there was something in his eyes this time . . . a little glimmer of something that made her heart go pitter patter as it had for all those months before.
This was her Derek . . . the one she fell in love with . . . now back again.
And though she wanted so badly to tell him how much she'd missed him, she bit her tongue, reminding herself again that she had left him for a reason. And even if he was here now to try to get her back, there were things he needed to say first before she could consider that future.
So she waited for him to find his voice.
Finally his eyes fell away from hers, and he reached into his pocket to get his wallet. Her brow wrinkled in confusion as she watched him pull something from the fold. But then he held it up and she saw it was a picture. Her eyes began to water.
It was a picture of her.
He had taken it months earlier, a few weeks after they'd started seeing each other. They had gone to see the Capitals play the Flyers and later, as they walked to his car, it had started to snow. It was just a flurry but enough to stick, to turn their world clean and white. And as they walked along talking and laughing with the flakes swirling around their bodies, that was the first time she'd started to realize that she was falling in love. And when they got to the car, just before he opened her door, she turned to ask him if wanted to come back to her place and order a pizza. The words had barely left her mouth when he'd surprised her by lifting his phone and snapping a picture. When she laughed and asked what that was for, he had smiled and said two words.
Her eyes had begun to sting and then he'd leaned down and kissed her. When he pulled back, he tucked her hair behind her ears and grinned that grin as he said that pizza at her place sounded great. So they'd gone back to her apartment and had pizza and watched a movie and then they'd made love.
It was a perfect night.
And as she stared at the memory of that night that Derek had frozen in time, her eyes began to water. When she looked back up, she saw that his expression had softened. Then he reached out and took her hand, and as he squeezed her fingers he told her that since she left he had carried that photo with him everywhere. That he pulled it out every night when he went to bed, and every day when he got to work. That those were the places that he needed her with him.
Those were the times he missed her the most.
As her heart swelled with joy, her tears began to spill over. He murmured her name as he reached out and brushed them away. Then he put his hand on her back and guided her into the apartment. She sniffled as he put the rose on the little key table, and shut the door. Then he turned and their eyes locked for a second before he reached over and pulled her to his chest. Her arms slipped around his waist and that's when he began to whisper in her ear all of the things that she needed to hear. The things she needed so they could begin again.
He said that he was so sorry for what he had done. That he had avoided her to try to give himself time to think. But that he should have just been truthful from the beginning and told her how he scared he was of taking that step. And that he really hadn't meant to hurt her, and he hadn't realized until the end just how badly he had. That it wasn't until after she was gone that he'd finally come to see that he really didn't want to go back to dating other women.
That he just wanted her.
And then he promised that if she would take him back that this time he was in it for the long haul. That he would do whatever he had to do to make their relationship work. Before she could say anything back . . . to tell him that he was forgiven and that she wanted so badly to try again . . . he cleared his throat and told her that his mother's sixtieth birthday was in two weeks. And he was wondering if maybe she'd like to fly to Chicago with him for the party.
The happiness that had filled her only moments before was replaced with a burst of pure joy . . . he was bringing her home to see his mom. She leaned back, grinning from ear to ear as she said, yes, yes, that would be nice and that he was forgiven and now they would start fresh.
And they sealed their new agreement with a kiss. A kiss that went on and on as they made up for lost time. And as he started to back her towards the bedroom she finally stopped, pulling her lips away as she tried to catch her breath. Then she said that needed to wait for one minute because she had something to tell him too. She saw his eyes widen slightly in concern, but before he could ask what it was, she took the hand he had resting on her hip and moved it over flat against her stomach. Then she whispered three words.
Seven weeks tomorrow.
As his fingers spread across the small bump she saw the shock register on his face. For a second . . . just a little one . . . she was terrified that he'd turn and run. But then his eyes suddenly lit up with joy and that smirk, that adorable smirk that had first broken her so many months before, again slid across his face. And with a cocky nod he harrumphed, that that's how you do it right.
She laughed . . . and he did too. Then she leaned up to wrap up her arms around his neck. And as he rubbed his hand down her back and whispered how happy he was about the baby, she turned to rest her head on his shoulder.
Yeah, she said as she closed her eyes and sighed.
A/N 2: If you're curious, the challenge with the prompt 'the kiss and the kiss off' was to write a story in narrative where two characters fall in love, then they break up, but then the optional piece was to get them back together again. Figuring this was my first JJ/M love story and I wouldn't get many fans in that camp if my one and only tale for them ripped both of their little hearts out, I knew I needed to get them back together again :)
Here working with new characters and new back stories I saw a new possibility of writing a more contemporary "singles" relationship story. This isn't homebody Hotch looking for a new family and pushing forty Emily looking to find Mr. Right before she's too old to have a baby. This is serial flirt Morgan and barely thirty, no baby, JJ. Whatever overlapping work characteristics you might be able to match up with those two and H/P, when it comes to the relationship front, JJ/M would be approaching everything as polar opposites than the other pairing. And I just didn't see Morgan of early season three (realistically) as somebody who would jump immediately into the deep end of the commitment pool. He was perfectly happy with what they had until all of a sudden he saw that he was falling into domesticity, then he freaked. And then JJ would freak because she felt like she'd screwed everything up even though she wasn't really in the wrong.
The first draft of this, I had Morgan breaking up with her. But then I decided that made her a little too doormatty. And I didn't want her to be a doormat, and I didn't want him to be schmuck. They were just a normal couple that broke up for normal reasons. Somebody gets scared and starts doing the exact thing that they he/she knows will push the other person away. So empowering JJ evened out their power here and forced Morgan to get his crap together. And thank God for the clichéd blue stick! But really, she was getting pregnant at that point in time so this is just a variation where Henry has a new daddy :) But I also wanted to make sure that Morgan had gotten his crap together BEFORE he found out about the baby so neither of them would ever have to wonder why he'd come back.
So hopefully you liked a little something different here. I don't really see me doing a follow up here just because I do already have two other baby stories in the mix and I'm not sure how there'd be a fresh angle with these two (in that respect) as opposed to H/P. But you never know, I do kind of see some potential with the Garcia dynamic. This would be a point in time where she was still obviously pining for Derek (super bowl episode anyone?) and if she'd discovered that he and JJ were dating and having a baby that would be a whole huge thing. So I guess, never say never.
And this was one of the items that's been so close to done. So one more off the list!