Disclaimer: Criminal Minds and any of its recognisable characters are property of the original creators and I make no profit from borrowing them for my story.
A/N: I'm on a really big CM kick at the moment, falling in love with all the characters all over again. I hope you guys like this and though the title for this may be a little lame, I got the idea for the story from the flashbacks offered in season four of how Derek first met Garcia. That and I've done a similar series for NCIS, where the characters are teenagers in a family. So if you like this and are a fan of NCIS, check that out on my profile. Please leave feedback, I'm really worried about this one haha. Thanks, Ange.
The Originality Complex
"Jay!" JJ abruptly looked up and to her left as the call sounded in her ears, admiring the way her friend always seemed to make the end of her nickname tweak on the end with another little j, "If you had bothered to tell me you were walking home, I would have offered to show the short cuts."
"Sorry Penelope, I didn't know you walked," JJ slowed for a few seconds as her friend caught her breath, shaking her long blonde waves fully over her shoulders and adjusting the strap on her red and pink sequined backpack, "I know pretty much all of my brothers catch the bus."
The girl gave a ringing laugh and slung an arm around JJ's shoulders, "Ah the elusive brothers," Penelope Garcia looked wistfully off into the distance and waited for her friend to snort in laughter, "well what do you expect? I've been your neighbour for what, the last month now? And you, you glorious girl are still the only member of your family I have yet to meet."
JJ nodded along, content to humour the girl. Moving house had never really been a pleasant experience for her, and moving with three brothers to take care of and an uncle who was a little bit too experimental with his parenting style was always a lot of strain. But this time she felt that things might finally be a little more permanent, and after meeting Penelope on the first day of school, she had definitely been more positive about the new house. And possibly having a best friend... one that wasn't related to her.
"They're probably all tall, blonde and dashing," JJ gave another snort and started to laugh a little in earnest, "well what? You haven't introduced me, so how would I know?"
"Okay fine," JJ gave a put upon sigh and turned to her friend, placing her hands on her shoulders and looking her in the eye, "we should drop your stuff home and you should come over, but I'm warning you now, my family is weird and you have to promise not to fawn over that weirdness. You promise?"
Penelope Garcia with her red and pink backpack, lime green and yellow plaid skirt and royal blue t-shirt sporting their high schools ridiculous mascot shook her head in sparkly wonder and held her hands out in front of her about to jump in glee, "ohmygod, yes! Of course JJ, I promise to do whatever you want as long as you stick the Adonis's in front of me now!"
"Come on then," JJ gave a laugh and slung her own arm over her friends shoulders, watching out of the corner of her eye as Penelope silently praised her gods, "there might be a few things I should warn you about before we get to my house though..."
"Oh come on JJ," Penelope gave a sigh and turned her head to stare at her friend, "they can't be that bad! Come on, if we run across the Henderson's yard we'll be home in like three minutes!"
JJ gave another smile and took off ahead of her friend, laughing as she continued to yell behind her. It wasn't until Penelope began screaming that she was the only one who knew the short cut that JJ actually slowed down, still laughing.
"Uncle Jason?" JJ ran through the front door leaving her keys in the lock, yelling quickly to locate her uncle, or even one of her brothers, "Aaron?"
"He isn't home yet JJ, what can I do for you?" Her uncle strolled out of the kitchen and into the hall, nose in a book and glasses perched on the edge of it, and barely paying attention as usual.
JJ shouldered off her backpack and dumped it under the coat hooks, ignoring her uncle's stare of disapproval and moving forward, hands out in front of her in her I'm-explaining-and-panicking-at-the-same-time gesture, "Uncle Jason my friend Penelope is coming over and she wants to meet everyone!"
Jason Gideon looked down at his only niece with a blank expression, not quite understanding what the panicking was about, "Penelope Garcia from next door? I don't see a problem with that."
"You don't see a problem with that?" JJ was almost hyperventilating by this point, and Jason was starting to seriously wonder if he should hire at least a maid or someone that JJ might better relate to, "this family is insane! She'll never want to be friends with me if she finds out about all of the weirdness this house has! My ten year old brother is almost ahead of me in school!"
Jason waved a hand towards the large opening on the left hand side of the hallway, right on the end. With a sigh and a quick hurried step, JJ took off for the living room and almost threw herself through the door, quickly landing on the navy coloured sofa. Jason strolled into the room with his usual pace and sat opposite her in one of the matching navy recliners, back bent and elbows on his knees, hands clasped between them.
"JJ," the girl was practically vibrating in the chair opposite him, one ear turned towards the hall in case her little friend came over, "we may not be the most conventional family–"
"JJ, please." Jason gave another stern expression and watched the petite blonde attempt to still herself on the couch, "we may not be the most conventional family, but we are a family, and I know you aren't ashamed of that. From what I have seen of this girl, I don't think she's the one that's going to be judging us for being weird."
"That's exactly what I mean!" the poor girl was almost in tears now, "this is the first time I've had a real friend in ages! A best friend! And they're all just gonna ruin it."
Jason sighed gently and moved to the couch next to his niece, lifting an arm around her shoulders as she cried loudly on the couch, "I didn't mean it like that. I meant she seemed like a nice, level-headed girl. If she is a bit original, then who's to say that's a bad thing? Your brothers will be the charming gentleman I raised them to be, and if you go out there the confident, gorgeous girl you are, they wouldn't dare act otherwise anyway."
"I really want this to work out, that's all," JJ sniffed into her uncle's shirt and then pulled back, not used to affection from the man since she mainly confided in her brothers.
"Just remember how proud you are of all of them, and remember all those reasons you are," Jason said with a light smile, one finger from his other hand still jammed within the pages of his book, "now I think you'll find, your friend is skipping this way as we speak."
JJ nodded and furiously wiped at her eyes, glad she didn't wear mascara and hoping they weren't too red. Plastering a big smile to her face she ran to the door, pulling her keys out of the lock and closing the door behind her.
"JJ!" Penelope walked around the fence separating their properties and smiled, raising one hand into the air with the other on her hip, demonstrating her new outfit, "what do you think?"
The blonde surveyed her friend up and down and smiled. Penelope was now wearing sparkly blue eye makeup, to match the sparkly blue star that donned her white t-shirt. The skirt was red, almost demure for Penelope as there was little to do with it except for the red sequins along the hemline.
"I love it," JJ smiled, she had never once met anyone as original or shocking as Penelope. But she had also never met anyone as loving or friendly, "They're just my stupid brothers though, no need to dress up!"
Penelope jogged over and smiled, all bright red lipstick and stark white teeth, "oh Jennifer my darling. To you they are lousy brothers; to me they are the precious next door eye candy."
"Looks like you're just in luck then," JJ nodded towards the curb, where a school bus was pulling into the stop across the other side of the street, "here they come. One by one."
To JJ it almost looked as if Penelope would scream in excitement, but thankfully she didn't. Her friends' eyes did however follow the three boys meandering across the road. JJ kept her own eyes on her friend, waiting for the inevitable questions that were sure to arise, as they had done in every other situation the family had found themselves.
"JJ..." Jennifer Jereau closed her eyes and waited, then opened them again from lack of response, "your brothers are seriously hot!"
Unbidden a burst of laughter escaped JJ and the trio crossing the road momentarily glanced their way. Penelope waved, and the three brothers waved back, the eldest heading inside with the youngest boys backpack as the other two began to wander over.
"Oh god, they're so cute! I mean, like, when I said they were hot, I was excluding the little one of course, but he is adorable JJ! I am so freaking glad you guys live next door, we are going to have so much fun!"
JJ smiled down at her friend and waved to her brothers, watching Spencer the youngest rush towards them to throw his hands around her waist in a hug, "JJ I got another 100% today!"
"Holy mother of god," JJ's congratulations were cut off as Penelope saw Derek approach from five metres away, "Jen! Introduce me, and introduce me right now."
"Penelope, these are my brothers Spencer and Derek. Boys, this is our neighbour, Penelope Garcia," JJ smiled at Spencer as he offered a smile and a wave, Penelope politely shaking his hand and congratualating him on his grade as Derek came to a stop before them.
"Well hello Miss America," Derek smiled winningly and offered his hand, dark skin and hair a stark contrast to JJ's own, but Garcia seemed barely to notice, "how you doin' baby girl?"
"Oh, I like you handsome," Penelope shook his hand and smiled back, JJ only half listening to Spencer's explanation on the real mother of God as she took in her friends reactions, "I definitely regret not meeting you guys up till now."
Penelope lent a smile to Spencer as well and the boys smiled back, their speech drowned out by JJ's own thoughts as she watched Penelope interact with her siblings. Derek was laughing at a joke she had obviously made, and Spencer was eagerly pulling a book out of his bag to show her. But somehow without noticing she had drifted into her own world, for next second she knew they were all looking at her.
"Um, sorry. What?" Penelope threw an arm over her shoulders and grinned, turning her towards the house as Derek smiled and led the way in, Spencer still explaining his book to Penelope, babbling about mechanical engineering and information technology which their neighbour seemed to completely understand.
"Yo' Hotch!" Derek picked up JJ's backpack with ease and tossed it with his own into the nearest door on his right, waiting for the older boy to come out of the second door, "this here is Penelope Garcia. She's JJ's friend from next door."
Aaron Hotchner walked over and extended his hand, smiling till the dimples in his cheeks were apparent and shaking the younger blonde's hand, "I think we have a business I.T class together? I knew you'd skipped up but I didn't know by that much. You could give Spencer here a run for his money."
"JJ, you didn't tell me your brothers were so nice!" Penelope turned to Spencer and promised to give the book a read, since he had already finished it already and was looking for someone to talk to about it, "and so smart!"
"Spencer is a genius," JJ smiled with pride, her hands on her younger brothers shoulders, "he's ten and already only a year behind us. He takes a couple of senior electives though."
"I find the content of senior classes proves more challenging for me in some regards," Spencer nodded from between his sister and Derek, "though occasionally I prefer the freshman courses, as they generally offer more interesting electives not set to shoe-horn you into certain career paths. I'm hoping that when this year is out they will update their system so I can enjoy the harder subjects."
Penelope smiled and leafed through a few pages of the book, "well, I can probably get this done by the weekend if you wanted to have a go at some of the programming? It's a pretty advanced level but I know my technology. And I have the software enables at home already."
"Seriously?" the three siblings exchanged glances between each other as Spencer almost jumped on the spot, "this is so awesome! I have to go tell Uncle Gideon!"
The ten year old ran down the hallway and into the kitchen at the very end, and the others could still hear his excited chattering from the doorway.
"You really don't have to do that," Aaron started as Derek lifted a basketball from his doorway and turned back around.
"No seriously, it's no trouble. With this book I can finally get the coding right on my computer, and Spencer can probably help me getting running at top speed twice as quickly as I could do it on my own. If it's all okay with your uncle of course."
"He'll probably be thrilled that Spence gets to fiddle around with some equipment that isn't his for a change," JJ smiled at her friend and her brothers offered their support to that, heading outside to play basketball before dinner.
"Don't you go running off too early baby girl," Derek smiled again as he wandered out the door, Hotch not too far behind, "plenty for dinner, and if you stick around we do a killer movie night on Wednesdays."
"My lucky night," Penelope said with a sigh as the front door closed behind the two oldest of JJ's siblings, "Can you guys adopt me too? I wanna live here."
"We'd love to, but you don't get to make googly eyes at them when you're related," JJ joked as the girls turned to the second door on the left, entering JJ's bedroom, "but long story short, our dad had a case of what we used to call multiple-wife syndrome. First marriage Aaron Hotchner, second Jennifer Jereau, and third a little Spencer Reid. Derek was foster care for years before Spencer came along, but the adoption was official not long after that. They're all great though."
"Eugh, you're telling me. They're all damn near perfect," Penelope pouted but then smiled again, motioning to where her house would be next door, "the three brothers I have? Let us not even speak of them."
Both girls began laughing and after a while couldn't stop. The chatter eventually turned to the cute guy in their chem. class and next semesters electives, before Penelope started painting JJ's nails bright purple and they were summoned to dinner by a suddenly shy Spencer.
As the five kids sat around the table eating and chatting and Jason stood at the sink rinsing out lettuce for a salad, JJ thought to herself how stupid she'd been about her family.
Sure they were hardly conventional, and somewhat dysfunctional. But they were highly original just like Garcia. And it was hard to remember a time she didn't want them to meet.