Author's Note: Thanks to everyone who has been patiently waiting for our stories to be posted. We appreciate your support and apologize for any delays. Real life, however, has taken precedence! We always want to be able to provide you with quality stories and chapters, so our postings may be a bit sporadic over the next month.
Please check out our most recent challenge on our forum – March Madness! The guidelines are simple: You suggest a pairing and choose a TV title from the list provided (shows are from the 70s, 80s, and 90s). We'll assign out the pairings & suggestions by March 4, and you have until March 31 to create just the perfect story based on the prompts you receive. Your final story does NOT have to be about the TV show prompt, but you do have to use the TV show title in the story somehow. Check out our forum, Chit Chat on Author's Corner, for details and to sign up…you can find a link on our profile pages.
And please, check out our new forum topic: A Fanfic Glossary! We want to know if you guys find it helpful and our topic thread "Our Stance on the 2010 Criminal Minds Fanfic Awards". We have also opened a Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior thread where you may discuss the show (respectfully, of course). We also have a forum announcing our fellow author's (Kathi1C) new IheartCriminalMinds blog. You can ask her questions and get directions on going to her site.
As always, we do not own Criminal Minds or any of the characters that we so enjoy writing. If we did own them, we would have never had JJ leave!
On a side note, this begins an arc of stories regarding Ashley Seaver. I hope you like it.
Lead Me Not Into Temptation
He knew he had a problem when he couldn't tear his eyes away from her, her elegant neck bent over some text book at the round table where she was working.
David Rossi had seen beautiful women before. Hell, he'd been friends with them, slept with them...hell, he'd even married three of them.
Ashley Seaver, however, transcended beautiful. She was stunning.
And years too young for him. Many, many years too young, he reminded himself sternly.
Blinking as he watched her head cock to the side, as if contemplating something she'd just read, he sighed. Part of him wanted to blame this current state of discontent on her disturbing resemblance to Jennifer Jareau.
Unrequited love had been a bitch, after all.
But he knew the similarities were only on the surface. Sure, she had that glowing, flowing blonde hair...the same elegant lines in her figure that begged for a man's touch...the same small, delicate frame that a man, such as himself, yearned to cover protectively.
But that was where the parallels ended. He knew Ashley's edges were still forming...not as finely honed as JJ's had been. She was still a work in progress...and JJ had been the finished product, possessing all the qualities that made a red blooded man stand up and pay attention.
God, he still missed her. Every day.
"You're staring again," a deep familiar voice chided behind him.
"You're spying again," Dave snarked back, by now used to Aaron's sudden appearances out of seemingly thin air. Hell, the man had acted as his conscience ever since his return to the Bureau, ensuring that he didn't make any of the missteps he'd been so well known for in the past.
"She isn't JJ, Dave" Aaron Hotchner noted quietly, stepping to stand beside the older man, his posture relaxed but still in control.
"You think I don't know that?" Dave snapped, briefly turning to glare at his one-time protégée. When had the man become his voice of reason in a rapidly reasonless world?
"I think you have that look in your eye again," Aaron countered with soft vehemence, never raising his voice. "And I'm telling you exactly what I told you four years ago. Don't go there."
"Is it even remotely possible for you to mind your own business, Hotch?" Dave replied easily, no rancor in his voice. "I'm not going anywhere."
"Like you didn't with JJ?" Hotch snorted, giving his friend a knowing sidelong glance.
"I never made a move, did I?" Dave asked, attempting to sound casual even as his shoulders tightened, the earlier emotions still barely hovering beneath the surface.
"Physically? No," Hotch replied as he shook his head. "But your heart went all the way there, man," he said as gently as he could, considering this was Rossi he was talking to. "I don't wanna watch that happen again, Dave."
"Leave my heart out of things," Dave ordered stiffly. "Haven't you heard?" he smiled grimly. "Rumor from above is that I don't have one."
"And we both know that's bullshit," Hotch smirked, crossing his arms over his chest.
"Have you heard from her?" Dave asked, his voice husky, unable to resist finding out just a small iota of information…anything to assuage his current discontent.
Knowing to whom his friend referred, Hotch nodded. "Yeah. I saw her when I went over to DOD for a meeting last week. Our wedding invitations should be arriving any day. They set a date. June."
Swallowing as his heart constricted, Dave gave a jerky nod. "That's nice," he said, his eyes finding Ashley again as he let his thoughts run rampant once again.
"She isn't the answer you're looking for," Hotch warned, following his friends gaze. "There are rules, Dave. Most of which, you're responsible for," he reminded the other man.
"First, fuck the rules. I was never any good at following 'em anyway," Dave spat, his control slowly eroding. "Second, if I wanted to make a move - and I'm not saying I do - she's," he said, nodding toward the younger woman immersed in her book, completely oblivious to his perusal, "isn't technically a member of my team. She's an intern. So, no harm, no foul," he retorted as he shrugged. "And third, I'm not interested in her...not that way," he said, wondering himself if he was being entirely honest. There was something about that lady down there that intrigued him.
"That's crap, and you know it," Hotch retorted evenly. "You may not want to sleep with her yet...but you will. You're looking for a distraction. Breaking that young girl's heart isn't going to be the way to heal yours."
"My heart isn't broken," Dave lied, straight-faced, his tone even and in control once again. "I'm fine. She just bemuses me, is all," he said, gesturing toward the slim woman sitting at the table.
"Come again?" Hotch inquired, his brows drawing together. "She wants to be a profiler, Dave. She told us why she was here. Her father's...proclivities...introduced her at an early age to the profession. It's not rocket science. She told us."
"And you bought that?" Dave asked disgustedly, glaring at his best friend. "I didn't do as good a job teaching you as I thought I did," he rolled his eyes, barely resisting the urge to shove Aaron over the banister for his stupidity.
"Well, dumb it down for me," Hotch dared, his eyes glittering.
"She's doing penance for her father's sins, Aaron," Dave replied, his voice barely audible. "She's trying to atone for crimes that she never committed. She's trying to prove that she's not like him. And she's trying to prove it to us. One day at a time."
Blinking as he absorbed Dave's analysis, Hotch glanced down at the bent blonde head of the woman in question. "You just stated one more reason that you can't go there, Dave. You realize that, right?" he asked quietly.
Inhaling deeply, Dave wondered. Ashley Seaver was a soul lost amid a sea of tragedy, trying to navigate the choppy waters surrounding her. He'd be damned if he'd let her drown. He knew all too well how that felt. "She needs someone," Dave stated blandly.
"Not you," Hotch denied, his lips tightening as he turned to glare at the older profiler. "Maybe she'll bond with Reid. They're closer to the same age...and as you said, she's an intern. There would be no impropriety if something...developed."
Laughing outright at the absurdity of that statement, Dave looked at Aaron with twinkling eyes. "You really are clueless about the emotional crap, aren't you. Ashley can only take Reid in limited increments. He makes her head hurt. He makes all our heads hurt," Dave chuckled. "While they might eventually be friends, I can guarantee there won't be a romance."
"As long as you aren't what stands in the way, I don't care," Hotch stated as he shrugged. "She's off limits, Dave. Don't salve your wounded ego over JJ on that poor woman."
"You think I'm that ruthless?" Dave asked curiously, turning to face Aaron.
"Once? Yeah, you were," Hotch nodded. "Now?" he hesitated, gauging his words. "Now, I don't think you'd intentionally hurt her...or anyone, for that matter. But she's fragile...by your own analysis. And whether you'll admit it or not, so are you."
"Fuck you, Aaron," Dave grunted, his fist clenching at his side. "I'm a big boy and have been for quite some time now. I think I can make my own decisions, don't you?"
"I'm gonna let that question go because I think you already know where I stand on the answer," Hotch offered tiredly. "But she won't replace JJ for you."
"I'm not looking to replace anybody," Dave growled, his jaw tightening. "I left JJ alone because it was the right thing to do. She had a kid and a fiancé. I don't screw with families. Even I have an ethical code. But Ashley is alone in the world. The team isn't exactly embracing her. And, I happen to like her."
"Fine," Hotch said with a nod. "Then be her friend, Dave. Hell, be her mentor. Just don't fall into the trap of being anything else. I don't want to see anybody get hurt here. Not her. And especially not you. In case you missed it, you're getting a little old to be rebounding."
"Again," Dave drawled, flicking his eyes toward his teammate. "Screw you. And go get some work done. Or go home to Jack. Either way, just stop talking."
Smiling slightly, Hotch murmured, "Or what?"
"Or I'm gonna follow my first inclination and throw you over the railing," Dave muttered, rolling his eyes.
Clapping Dave on the back as he walked away, Aaron warned, "Make the right decision here, Dave. For everybody."
But as Dave continued his silent vigil, watching the young, beautiful agent-in-training study, he pondered what exactly the right decision was.
For all of them.
Dedicated to all our brave men and women fighting far from home!