Author's Note: So I was rewatching some of my favorite CM episodes and this little story came to me in the form of a post-ep to "Reckoner". It assumes a pre-established JJ/Rossi relationship. I hope you like it.

Additionally, signups are underway on "Chit Chat on Author's Corner" forum for the Criminal Minds Christmas Gift Fic Exchange through 10/31/11. For anyone that has time to participate, swing by and take a look. Simply tell us what pairings you are willing to write, which pairings you WON'T write, whether your write slash or not, the pairing you'd like to RECEIVE as a gift, and one Christmas carol prompt and three Christmas/Holiday theme prompts. For example: Silent Night (carol), reindeer, Christmas tree, blue holiday lights. For anyone that has any questions, simply PM me.

The final VOTING ballot will be released shortly for the second annual Criminal Minds Profiler's Choice Awards will also be up at the forum shortly. We are excited to get this final vote underway.

Also, don't forget to join us over at Facebook. We've got a wonderful community of authors and readers alike waiting to engage in stimulating conversation. Simply friend "Ilovetvalot Fanfiction" or "Tonnie Fanfiction". We can't wait to hear from you!

This prompt was provided courtesy of Kavi Leighanna & Sienna27's Television Prompt forum. Thanks, guys!


A Chance Lost

Teen Mom - How Many Chances?

He couldn't stop her from leaving him any more than he could stop the sun from rising in the morning. She'd made her decision about him. About them.

And all because he'd lied…but not to her.

No, he'd lied to an unsub during an interrogation.

And in her universe, of which he was a rotating planet around her burning sun, that was just as deadly.

Of course, it hadn't been just any unsub. And it hadn't been a normal interrogation; not by any stretch of the imagination.

He now wished it had been. Oh, he now wished that he could halt the rotation of time and return back to that exact moment when he'd known that he'd crossed the invisible line. But he couldn't, try as he might. Time, fickle as it may seem, was a harsh taskmaster, holding firmly to the machinations of man and refusing to change, no matter how strong his sway might be.

She'd accused him of unnecessary cruelty...a cruelty that she had declared that he'd enjoyed inflicting. And if he was honest with himself, which he often avoided doing at all costs, she had a point. It had felt good to twist the knife into the still beating heart of the man that had loved and married Emma.

He never imagined what that momentary satisfaction would cost him in the end, though. He'd never considered what it would do to the woman he loved for her to watch that side of him…a side that he had thought was deeply hidden in the recesses of time.

When he'd walked out of that small, airless room and seen her pale face, he'd known things between them had been irrevocably changed. He'd approached her carefully, but she'd simply shaken her head, not ready to express her feelings.

It hadn't been until later that night, home again after a emotionally draining day, that she'd finally spoken to him.

He'd seen the finality in her eyes when she'd slipped into his office and closed the door behind her, leaning against it and staring at him with sad eyes.

"It's over," she'd whispered.

"No," he'd denied, immediately rising from his chair. "Not because of this, JJ. I lied to him. I never met up with Emma like I said I did. I never committed adultery with Emma. We met that night. We had a drink and we went our separate ways. It never happened."

"I know," she had told him, her defeated eyes meeting his. "Don't you see, Dave...that's why it's over."

"What?" he had barked at her, confused and hurt.

"I know you didn't sleep with her," she informed him softly. "You wouldn't allow yourself to play second fiddle to anyone, especially not a clueless husband. That isn't your style."

"They why?" he had asked her hoarsely.

"Because I saw something in you today...something so maliciously cruel that I still shiver when I think about it. Today, you weren't just trying to get a confession from a killer. Today, you tortured an old man for sport." JJ grimaced, averting her gaze as a wave of anger overwhelmed her. "And you enjoyed every second of it," she whispered, disgust dripping from her words.

"In case you missed it, I got the confession," Dave had spat back, crossing his arms over his chest. "You might not like my methods, but I accomplished the job."

"Did you?" she had asked. "And what did it get you? A dead unsub? Did that finally put Emma to rest in your mind?"

"JJ..."

"No," she'd said, shaking her head, "I didn't think so."

"You have to give me a chance here," he'd said, his arms dropping to his side, his shoulders suddenly heavy with the weight that was descending up on him.

"How many chances, Dave?" JJ had said miserably, tears swimming in her eyes. "Every time I think that there's nothing else...no more about you to throw me off balance, something else happens. Today, you showed me that you're without mercy. No matter what that old man had done, he didn't deserve to have the image of the wife he'd loved...that he'd sanctified... destroyed. You shattered his image of Emma without mercy. NOT because it mattered to the case. You'd already gotten your answers. YOU did it for spite, David. You did it because all those years ago, you didn't have the courage to pursue what you wanted. BUT he did. And you couldn't stand him for it!"

"JJ," he'd said hoarsely as he'd taken a step toward her.

"You're arrogance...your ruthlessness caused a man today to die not knowing that his wife had been true to him. He died believing Emma had betrayed him. And for me, that's unforgiveable regardless of the sins he committed. Because here's the thing, Emma DIDN'T deserve it. She didn't deserve to have her memory ravaged by you! And I can't be with a man that could do that as casually as he ties his shoes." Shaking her head, JJ had turned, her hand on the doorknob. "I'm sorry, Dave. There aren't any more chances. Not with me."

And so quickly, she'd been gone, resolved in her decision. She hadn't faltered or even slowed.

And for the second time in his life, David Rossi had loved.

And lost.