Author's Note: Hi, ya'll. There are so many exciting things going on over at "Chit Chat on Author's Corner" forum this week! First, we have a brand new April challenge up for those that wish to participate. All the details can be found there, but basically, sign up to write your favorite character. You'll be assigned a random Original Character to pair them with in some capacity. For example, sign up with "David Rossi" and you might be assigned the OC of the second Mrs. David Rossi. Sign-ups are through March 31,2012.
Also, there's a brand new "Author of the Week" thread and this week our spotlight is on the fabulous Ren Kayashima. And, we've added a new discussion thread, "The OCs of Criminal Mind" for productive conversation regarding original characters.
Fortune Cookie Friday prompts are up for your consideration. And, we'd still like to hear from you on the idea of a Criminal Minds Fanfiction Reading Day. The idea is to choose one Sunday a month to set aside for reading and reviewing the many fantastic stories in the CM fandom. Swing by and comment on any of our discussion threads. We'd love to have you.
And a supersized thank you to everyone reading, reviewing, favoriting and/or alerting our work. We appreciate each one of you. Feel free to friend us on facebook at either "Ilovetvalot Fanfiction" or "Tonnie Fanfiction". We've got several fun things going on there too and a whole host of uber-talented author and reader friends chatting.
As always, Happy Reading!
This is my take on what a post ep coda should have been for last night's episode...
When the Music Changes
Why couldn't he have been adopted, he asked himself grimly as he stood just outside the small kitchenette the doubled as the BAU break room. After all, if he'd been adopted, he wouldn't have been raised in a strict Italian Catholic home in which you were taught two things from the cradle.
First, never disrespect your mother. That was a killable offence. Second, under no circumstance did a male that wanted to call himself an Italian man leave a woman in tears without at least offering a token of assistance.
The rules were ironclad and non-negotiable.
Damn the rules. Well, at least the second rule. No one damned Mama!
Running a hand down his weary face as he listened to the sound of a woman's sobs filter through the open doorway, David Rossi recognized that turning and walking away violated both of those innate codes. First, he'd heard the obvious sobs. There was a woman in that room crying. And second, since his mama had taught him said rules, walking away meant disrespecting her.
In short, he was fucked…any way he sliced the pie.
Taking a deep breath, he held his empty coffee cup in front of him like a weapon and turned the corner, coming face to face with a teary-eyed, Penelope Garcia.
"You!" she hiccupped, jabbing one long magenta tipped finger toward the door. "Off my planet!"
Taking in her mascara riddled wet cheeks, Dave narrowed his eyes. "I was on this planet first, cara. Prior occupancy and all that." Hearing her sniff, he sighed as he fished his handkerchief from his pocket and waved it at her. "Mop up," he ordered.
Swiping the cloth that dangled from his fingers, Penelope wiped her face, muttering, "Don't tell me what to do. Why are you here?"
"This is where the coffee lives," Dave replied reasonably, nodding toward the coffee pot. Carefully stopping around her, he made his way to the kitchen counter. "You want a cup?" he asked over his shoulder. "I'll even put on a pot of decaf," he offered magnanimously.
Shaking her head, Garcia swallowed hard as she took another swipe at her war paint. "Coffee won't help," she whispered.
Pouring the dark nectar of the gods into his cup, Dave lifted it to his nose and took an appreciative sniff. It appeared he was going to need all the help he could get in order to wade through this conversation. It would have to be the one person in the office that he had a soft spot for that he'd find crying. That was his luck. Hell, if JJ or Emily had told him to go away, he'd have left skid marks on the tile making his escape. Penelope, however, was different. Nobody, especially him, could just turn his back on her without feeling sub-human.
Slowly making his way to the formica table in the center of the room, he pulled out a chair. "Sit," he commanded in the voice he reserved for intimidating unsubs and reluctant toddlers. Satisfied when Penelope slid into the seat without argument, he pulled out a chair across from her and sat down, sipping his coffee. "What happened, Penelope?" he asked after a moment, carefully putting his mug on the table in front of him and focusing his attention on her.
"I think I've ruined my life," Penelope whispered as another tear slid down her cheek, leaving a black trail in its wake. How could she explain to this Italian stud muffin how much she had completely and totally decimated every iota of her entire emotional being? How?
"That sounds a little dramatic," Dave replied calmly, well aware that any form of sympathy on his part would only add to the passionate reaction…and Penelope Garcia would exponentially explode. "You sure it's that bad?"
"Considering the fact that I'm pretty sure I lost my boyfriend and my best friend in the same day, yeah. I think it's that bad!"
"That sounds like a pretty crappy combo," Dave admitted with a nod, fingering the handle of his cup. "Dare I ask what happened?"
Shrugging as she tried to catch her breath, Pen muttered, "Why not? I'm sure it'll be all over the office by lunch. I suck. I'm a horrible, selfish person that doesn't deserve to be in a happy relationship."
"Who told you that?" Dave asked, his face darkening as his shoulders stiffening.
"Nobody had to tell me. It's obvious," Pen choked out, feeling the sting of shame in her cheeks as she waved her hand in front of her face.
Shaking his head, Dave stared at the normally happy, vibrant woman in front of him in confusion. "You don't suck. You aren't horrible. And even on your worst day, I've never seen you do a single selfish thing . If anything, you spend way too much time trying to make everyone else happy. For the record, if anybody deserves to be happy, it's you. Now, I'm gonna ask again. What happened, Penelope? Start from the beginning and walk me through it."
Taking a deep breath, her tight chest expanding with the effort, Penelope mumbled, "It's complicated."
"Simplify it," Dave demanded sternly, arching one dark brow.
Lifting her head, Pen stared across the table into a pair of surprisingly compassionate eyes. "Kevin wants to marry me," Pen whispered, her painted eyelids jumping high. "He was going to propose tonight. He even went to Derek for advice."
"Okay." Dave nodded, encouraging her to continue.
"I…I didn't want things to change. Lately, it feels like everything around here happens at warp speed. And Derek…he's my best friend, Rossi. And today…tonight, he wouldn't help me. He wouldn't help me figure out a way to turn Kevin down without hurting him."
"Penelope, that's not his place," Dave said softly, momentarily feeling a twinge of sympathy for the other man. "That's not what a best friend does. A best friend supports the decisions you make; they don't make them for you."
"Do you want to be with Kevin, Penelope?"
Shrugging as she pursed her lips, Penelope scrunched her eyes closed as she muttered, "I love him…"
"But are you in love with him. There's a difference, you know," Dave pointed out gently, shaking his head. "I ask, because it seems to me that when there's a moment, good or bad, that you have, it's not Kevin you turn to. It's Morgan," he said softly.
"Derek is my…," Penelope trailed off, her mouth shutting abruptly as she twisted his hanky in her fingers.
"What were you going to say, Garcia?" Dave questioned softly.
"Doesn't matter," Penelope said, shaking her head quickly, her heart thundering in her chest.
"It does," Dave contradicted, his tone kind but stern. "Say it. Derek is your, what?"
"Soul mate," Pen whispered, blinking back tears. "But Kevin…"
"Doesn't deserve to be second best, Penelope," Dave supplied gently, sighing as he watched the woman he had started to think of as a quirky younger sister fight through her pain. "No man can handle that forever, and all three of you deserve more than merely settling for what you think you can have." Watching as Penelope absorbed his statement, he asked out of the blue, "Do you like the opera?"
"The opera?" Penelope blinked. Was the world class profiler actually changing the subject. Now? Seeing Dave nod, she replied carefully, "It's okay."
"You know, you hear a lot of music during an opera. From the aria to the segue to intermission, you're bombarded by musical genius."
Penelope squinted at him, trying to follow his logic. "Where are you going with this, Rossi?"
"Maybe Kevin was your opera's intermission, Kitten. Perhaps Derek is that aria that you build to in the last act."
"I'm not sure I should listen to a critic that's already been to three symphonies," Penelope grumbled, smiling slightly at the elder man, her earlier trauma and drama seeming to lessen as she felt her tense muscles start to uncoil slightly.
"That doesn't make me a critic. Just consider me a very dapper music officianado," he replied as he winked, rising slowly.
But her thoughts once again darkened with a mind-numbing alacrity, and she gulped. Grabbing the older man's arm before he could slip away, she whispered frantically, "What if Derek doesn't want to star in my musical, Rossi?"
Bending, Dave pressed a kiss to Penelope's warm forehead. "Kitten, there are just some roles a man is destined to play. Give yourself a chance to be happy. Genuinely happy."
Squeezing her shoulder before grabbing his coffee, Dave turned toward the door.
"Thank you, Agent Rossi," Penelope called to his retreating back.
Smiling, Dave sighed as he trudged back to his office, his work here on earth once again accomplished.
Mama would have been proud.