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Finding the Fairytale
"I'm afraid I am," Ashley whispered. "I know I made some initial mistakes, Chief Jareau," she admitted, shooting a rueful look at her Unit Chief.
"Have you learned from them?" JJ asked bluntly, tapping her pen against Ashley's file.
"Yes, I'd like to think that I have," Ashley admitted as she nodded. Licking her lips, she continued, "I know that I identify with the victims. I also know that because of my...past...that's always going to be a struggle."
"The martyr complex could get you killed, Agent Seaver," JJ stated, her voice hardening deliberately. "Or worse, it could get the agent standing beside you killed. I'd advise you to find a way to deal quickly with those issues. I won't permit any agent under my authority to be placed into a tenuous situation by an agent with a misguided sense of nobility. YOUR job is to get the bad guy. To get justice for his or her victims. THAT'S how you can make amends. You focus on the case and follow orders."
"Yes, ma-...Yes, Chief Jareau," Ashley said quickly.
"I truly hope you understand me, Agent Seaver," JJ said seriously, her eyes boring into the anxious woman's. "I do believe in second chances and this is yours. You don't have to like my methods. In fact, I'm fairly certain you'll hate some of them."
Holding up a hand, JJ continued, "I do what it takes to get a job done, Ashley. If that means unbuttoning a button, hiking up a skirt or strapping on a gun, I do it. I don't make any apologies for it now, and I won't in the future."
"Just call me JJ, Ashley," JJ directed, watching the younger agents face color slightly.
"The other day...I didn't mean any disrespect by what I said. I just was...shocked," she offered weakly.
"Ashley, let me let you in on a little secret," JJ smiled sweetly. Leaning forward, she lowered her voice. "There's not a man on this team that hasn't checked out your ass, my ass, Garcia's ass, and Emily's former ass, at least once."
Jaw dropping, Hotch coughed. "I hate to disagree, but I can honestly say that's untrue. At least for me."
"Sadly," Rossi sighed morosely, "He speaks the truth. But I intend to have the FBI docs test his testosterone level at their earliest convenience."
"Asshole," Hotch growled, glaring at his best friend.
Rolling her eyes at the two men, JJ returned her stare to a now blushing Ashley. "Hotch aside, what I say is true. And you'll find that occasionally you'll be needed to use those...assets...to your advantage, be it in the field or in the office. I'm not suggesting you whore yourself out. But, I am saying that big girls learn how the game is played...and then, they play to win. Are we clear?"
Ashley nodded, shock still written in her eyes. "Yes. Absolutely."
"Good." JJ smiled. Flipping the file close, she declared, "Then, allow me to be the first to tell you that I'm extending your probationary period for another six months at the end of which time, we'll revisit your future within the BAU. Provided that you continue to improve, you'll officially become a permanent member of the team."
"Thank you," Ashley breathed in relief, her shoulders marginally relaxing as she let herself smile.
"Any questions?" JJ asked.
"No. None," Ashley shook her head, anxious to escape the boss's office.
"All right then. You're dismissed," JJ said as she smiled. "And Ashley," she said as the other woman reached the door.
"Yes?" Ashley asked, her knees weak with relief.
"I think you and I are going to get along just fine."
"Yes, ma...I mean, JJ." Ashley nodded before disappearing through the door.
Returning her gaze to the two remaining men, JJ cocked her head. "Everybody happy?"
"Impressive," Dave murmured, his eyes gleaming with admiration.
"Couldn't have said it better myself," Hotch agreed, straightening his tie. "Although, for the record, I haven't looked at anybody's ass, JJ."
"It's okay, Hotch," JJ said with a scathing look in Dave's direction. "Rossi has looked enough for both of you."
"Hey," Dave said, holding up his hands, "If you're gonna bend over, then I'm gonna..."
"Shut up," JJ and Hotch ordered in unison.
"Buzzkills. Both of you," Dave complained, flopping back against his chair.
Glancing at his watch, Hotch sighed, rising. "I need to pick up Jack from Jessica. I'll be in first thing in the morning."
"Good." JJ nodded. "Then, we'll hit the ground running."
"Sounds like a plan," Hotch agreed as he moved toward the door. "I'll see you both tomorrow," he said as he, too, departed.
"So," Dave said slowly as he grinned, wriggling his brows, "Looks like it's you and me again."
"Get out," JJ grumbled, her shoulders sagging as she looked down at the mountain of paperwork still left on her desk.
Whistling, Dave shuddered. "Damn, I think I just felt the ghost of Erin Strauss waft through here," he goaded, not making a single move to leave his chair.
"Keep it up and I'll start channeling her first cousin, Cruella de Ville," JJ threatened without looking up, just as her office door crashed open.
"Jayje! Thank God you're still here," Derek Morgan yelled as he stomped into his new chief's office.
Jerking upright at the intrusion, JJ's eyes widened. "Derek! What's going on?" she asked quickly, noting the wild look in his mocha colored eyes.
"You've got to do something!" he demanded urgently, pacing in front of her desk. "Like, yesterday!"
"Derek," JJ said calmly, drawing in a deep breath, "Slow down and tell us what's going on?"
"Slow down? I'd love to freaking slow down, but that little maggot boy is going full steam ahead. Buying a farm? Proposing? What the hell!"
Exchanging a look with Dave who merely shook his head blankly, JJ refocused on a vibrating Morgan. "Derek, what the hell are you talking about?"
"Baby Girl! My Baby Girl! Butt Boy asked her to marry him! And I think she's actually considering it, Jayje. You gotta do something! Enact that fraternization thingy that Strauss was always muttering about or something. Just put a stop to it!"
Blinking rapidly as she processed her irate friend's request, JJ shook her head. "Uhmmm, nooooo," she drawled, leaning back in her chair. "I don't think I'm gonna do that."
"What?" Derek yelped, halting dead in his tracks as he glared at her.
"I'm not going to interfere in Pen's personal life. That has to be her decision," JJ explained, wincing as Morgan's face darkened.
"But...but...there are rules..." he sputtered, his hands waving uselessly in the air.
"You know that old saying, Morgan," Dave added as he shrugged. "Some rules were meant to be broken," he said with a speaking glance at JJ.
"By some people," JJ amended quickly, her cheeks heating at the insinuation in his words. Turning back to Morgan, she said, "But that isn't even why I'm saying no. If you don't want Penelope to say yes to Kevin, Derek, then you need to tell her. Then, you need to tell her why."
"No, first you need to figure out why," Rossi offered wisely, trying not to laugh at the look of horror on Derek's face.
"Screw you, Rossi!" Derek spat, his brown cheeks reddening. " And, thanks, Jayje," Derek growled sarcastically, turning on his heel. "For a whole lotta nothing."
Sighing as her office door slammed again, JJ dropped her head to her desk and groaned, Dave's amused laughter echoing in her ears.
Where the hell was the exit on this fairytale ride from hell?