DISCLAIMER: Criminal Minds and its characters are the property of CBS. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Written as a belated birthday fic for [info]racethewind10. Hope it was a good one!
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By Ann


"I thought you had a map." Emily maneuvered around a stalled car and proceeded in the direction JJ had indicated earlier, despite the fact that the other woman had only a general idea of where Reid lived. Had Emily known JJ hadn't a clue as to their destination, she'd have logged onto Mapquest.

"I've been there once," JJ defended herself as she glanced around the area, trying to spot anything that looked familiar. Her eyes suddenly widened as she pointed at a storefront. "There – I remember a Ben and Jerry's around the corner from Reid's apartment."

"JJ, there're more than one Ben and Jerry's in this area," said Emily, beginning to become more than a little frustrated. She silently cursed her GPS for choosing today of all days to malfunction. "Let's just call and ask for directions."

"No!" JJ shouted loudly enough to make Emily jump in her seat. Offering an apologetic smile, JJ tried to explain her over-excitement. "I'd never hear the end of it from Garcia. She says I have a terrible sense of direction."

"Well," Emily started, ready to point out that Garcia was spot on in her assessment, but the expression on JJ's face had her altering her next words. "Um, we're going to be late as it is. Don't you think Garcia might already think we're lost?"

JJ frowned. Emily was right. They needed a really good excuse for their tardiness, and for some reason, it was lost on JJ that their tardiness would only be a problem if they'd actually shown up. Her focus was instead on finding a legitimate excuse.

"Pull over!" She ordered, spying a parking place just up the street. Emily just shrugged and followed JJ's demand. Turning off the ignition, she turned to face her colleague.

"Ready to call someone?" Emily didn't know about JJ, but she sure as hell was tired of driving around in circles. The determined look that was projected back at her told her JJ wasn't.

"No." JJ reached for the door handle. "I'll be right back."

"Wait, where . . ." Emily's words were cut off by the slamming of the door. Turning her focus on the rearview mirror, she followed JJ's progress, frowning when the blonde ducked into Ben and Jerry's. Surely JJ didn't think she'd find the directions to Reid's in an ice cream shop. Keeping her eyes on the mirror, Emily reached for her cell.

By the time JJ returned, Emily had a mapped route to Reid's apartment, courtesy of the woman who had given herself a new title – Transportation and Directional Goddess. They weren't anywhere near their destination, but that wasn't even the worst part. It wasn't the right night either. The party was next Friday. JJ had gotten the dates mixed up, and since Reid had asked JJ to tell Emily, there wasn't anyone to set the communications liaison straight. Although, straight wasn't exactly how Emily wanted JJ.

Temporarily distracted by the large shopping bag JJ carried, Emily watched as her colleague climbed in and gently placed her cargo on the floorboard. Her curiosity won out over telling JJ what she'd done.

"What's in the bag?" Emily tilted her head to try to catch a glimpse of the contents.

"Ice cream." JJ grinned, reaching for her shoulder harness. "And we better hurry before it melts."

Emily bit down on her lip, deciding not to let JJ in on her conversation with Garcia just yet. She was curious to find out what JJ had planned to do with the ice cream that would surely melt if they had no idea as to where they were going. This was going to be fun.

"So, where are we hurrying to?"

JJ busied herself by straightening the different ice cream cartons. "Reid's." She could only offer the obvious. Once she'd bought the ice cream, she'd run out of ideas.

"And that would be . . . where?" Emily couldn't keep the teasing tone from her voice. JJ was just too cute when she was flustered.

"Um . . ." JJ pretended to look around the area again. Nothing looked familiar. "South."

"South?" Emily's eyebrows lifted almost to her hairline. Did JJ even know which direction south was? "What makes you think south is the right direction?"

"Reid lives in the southern part of the city," explained JJ as if the statement alone should suffice as to why they should travel further south.

"What if we've already passed his apartment? We'd be going further away."

JJ eyed the ice cream at her feet. Perhaps her purchase hadn't been the best idea. Emily would be none too happy with the melting result. She had another idea.

"Let's take the ice cream to your place."

"My place? The party isn't at my place, JJ."

"It isn't in your car either, but if we don't find a freezer soon, we'll be swimming in ice cream - literally." JJ glanced back at the bag. "I'm sorry, Emily. I've been feeling a bit stressed lately. Buying the ice cream was a stupid thing to do, but I just hate to be teased. I thought if we showed up with everyone's favorite flavor, they'd be distracted enough to forget we were ever late."

"Booze would've been a better idea." Emily muttered as she started the car. Signaling, she pulled from the space and turned at the next intersection. At least she knew where she lived. With one last glance at the bag, which sat on the floor in front of JJ, Emily sped up.

The two women rushed through the doors of Emily's apartment and made a beeline for the kitchen. The ice cream was well on its way to liquid by the time they'd stepped into the building's elevator, but Emily hadn't been too upset at the loss until she'd discovered that JJ had purchased two pints of Chunk Monkey. She'd practically grabbed the bag out of JJ's hand and sprinted to the apartment.

"Think it'll be okay?" asked Emily, gently placing the last of the 10 pints in the freezer. JJ had somehow managed to buy two of her five favorite flavors. She hadn't realized the rest of the team had her same taste when it came to ice cream.

"It'll serve me right if it isn't." JJ sighed loudly. "And now, I get to face the music and call the others."

Emily had wondered why JJ hadn't called Garcia and asked for directions when they'd been outside the ice cream shop, but the brunette's sole focus had changed to making sure her car's carpet wasn't ruined. Perhaps JJ had been too focused on the ice cream as well.

"Um, JJ? While you were in Ben & Jerry's, I might have called Garcia."

"What?" JJ's face went white, and her breath seemed to leave her body at the exact same moment. Emily moved closer, wondering why her friend looked more scared than angry. She still felt the need to explain her actions though.

"I'm sorry, JJ, but we'd been driving around in circles for half an hour."

"You talked to Garcia?" JJ struggled to keep from hyperventilating.

"Yes. She gave me directions and then told me that . . . well . . ." Emily rushed out her next words, "thepartyisnextweek."

"You talked to Garcia?" JJ was stuck on repeat.

"JJ, why don't you sit on the couch? You don't look so good." Emily placed an arm protectively around JJ's waist and directed her to the sofa, easing the other woman to a sitting position. "Let me get you a glass of water."

JJ just nodded. Her lips repeating her now favorite question, only she added a word and changed the question to a statement … 'Shit, you talked to Garcia.' She scrunched her eyes up tightly. This couldn't be happening.

"Hey, drink this." Emily put a hand on JJ's shoulder and steadied the other woman. JJ grabbed the glass and started to down its contents in a single gulp, but Emily pulled it away and placed the glass on the coffee table. "Whoa, slow down. JJ, what's wrong?"

JJ lifted her hands to her face and blew out a breath. "I'm so stupid… stupid…stupid!"

"No you're not. You just got the dates mixed up and forgot where Reid lived." Emily winced; her words hadn't exactly been the best choice to convince the other woman that she'd made a simple mistake – two simple mistakes actually. "Um, it could happen to anyone."

"Trust me, Em. This could only happen to me." JJ moved her hands from her face and looked at the other woman. Emily smiled. She loved it when JJ called her 'Em.'

"What did Garcia tell you?" asked JJ, seeming to have gained better control of her emotions, but her tone sounded almost resigned.

"I gave her the address of the store we were parked next to, and she gave me the directions to Reid's. Then she'd laughed and told me we wouldn't be late – we'd be a week early."

"Did she say anything else?"

"She asked me a question." Emily narrowed her eyes in thought. "She asked if I'd ever known you to get a date wrong. She seemed to think the question was quite funny, too. What's so funny about that?"

JJ sighed; Garcia always loved a good play-on-words. "Apparently she feels I got this date very wrong, and at the moment, I'm tending to agree with her."

Emily was very confused; she'd had no idea what Garcia had meant, and now JJ's words made no sense either. What was going on?

"Emily, I knew the party wasn't tonight." JJ offered a piece of the puzzle.

"But, you said . . ."

"Yes, I know what I said. I just wanted to spend some time with you without you knowing that I wanted to – spend time with you, that is."

"But, the ice cream?"

"That's where the 'stupid' part comes in. I really am 'directionally impaired.' I misjudged the distance to your apartment."

The light started to brighten. "The flavors?"

"I remember you and Morgan having the great ice cream debate on the plane a couple of weeks ago. You named your favorite Ben & Jerry flavors."

"You set this whole thing up – just to spend time with me?" The light maxed to its full wattage, the final piece of the puzzle fell into place, and Emily was flattered beyond belief by the result.

"Yeah, stupid, huh?" JJ gazed down at her lap, not able to look Emily in the eye.

"Not at all." Emily smiled and reached over to take JJ's hand. "You're just much braver than I am."

"Oh, yeah, really brave. I set up this elaborate plan that totally backfired in my face."

"I wouldn't say totally."

JJ's head snapped up, and she looked directly at Emily. "You wouldn't?"

Emily grinned. "No, I've got a pint of Chunky Monkey in my freezer that I bought last week."

JJ broke out in laughter, and Emily joined in. It would be so easy to just lean in and kiss JJ, but Emily didn't want to rush things too soon. Perhaps though . . .

"Want to share a bowl?"

"Why Emily Prentiss, I thought you'd never ask," JJ teased and moved to stand, but Emily had already pushed to her feet and tugged a willing JJ up with her. Hand in hand, the pair headed back to the kitchen. Sharing a bowl of ice cream was the perfect beginning of what was to come.

The misdirection hadn't worked exactly as JJ had planned, but the end result was the same. Something had finally come from all the looks, touches, and teasing remarks - her relationship with Emily had moved forward with both women fully intending to keep it on a steady path.

This was one direction JJ wouldn't screw up.

The End

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