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[Criminal Minds] Longest Way Round is the Shortest Way Home (Rossi/Prentiss, NC-17)

Title: Longest Way Round is the Shortest Way Home
Author: Smitty & Wojelah (smittywing & wojelah)
Pairing: Emily Prentiss/David Rossi, Criminal Minds
Rating: NC-17/FRAO

Notes: Episode tag for 4x17, Demonology. I started writing Longest Way Round for wojelah when she was working late and she picked up Rossi's POV. Set in the same universe started in her story Cause of Snow. Many thanks to shetiger for being a beta rockstar and checking not one but two stories in one night!


“Think you're escaping and run into yourself. Longest way round is the shortest way home.”
-- James Joyce


Rossi's Side of the Story: Shortest Way Home


Longest Way Round


Emily isn't surprised to see Dave in her kitchen when she finally finds her way home.

"You know," she says, because she's tired and because she doesn't have a lot left in her for pretending, "it's going to be pretty hard to keep up a casual, no-strings relationship if we keep having these deep conversations on faith."

"Drink this," Dave says, pouring her a glass of red wine. "It'll warm you up."

He means physically, she supposes, taking it, but it's Dave, and the double meaning is in there, gentle in its rebuke, and reminding her to be nice to him - after all, it appears that he's making her dinner.

The glass feels odd in her hands - vaguely smooth and hard, but without temperature, because all the feeling is chilled out of her fingertips. She uses both hands to bring it to her mouth and lets the wine wash over her tongue.

"Are you all right?" Dave asks, stepping toward her. His calm, unobtrusive demeanor drops away and suddenly he's in her space, in her face, reaching for her and tilting her chin up for examination. "Is that blood?"

Dave knows blood as well as she does, and Emily glances away. He's been there, being her anchor, her confessor, her co-conspirator, her friend in the way that Matthew had been, and her lover in the way Johnny could never be. It's all a little too much. She can't let herself go spinning away. She needs her space now, her walls intact.

"Bloody nose," she says, stepping back. "Heat makes the air dry and I've had a cold." It wasn't much of a cold, a stray germ she'd passed hastily to Morgan, but Dave nods and steps back.

Emily lifts her glass to her mouth again, feeling the weight of Dave's gaze on her. The wine is rich and strong and warms in Emily's chest with a searing sensation. She's still wearing her coat, but she suddenly feels cold and naked, alone with Dave in her warm apartment. It had been different when she'd been grieving and numb, when she'd been standing out in the cold, empty lot with hot bitter coffee and the winter air, trying to keep the conversation relevant to the case.

"Dinner will be ready in about half an hour," Dave says now, and Emily hears the splash of wine in a second glass. "You've got time if you want to clean up. Maybe take a shower?"

A shower sounds good, heat and steam flushing her clammy, chilled skin. "Yeah, okay," she says.

"Let me take your coat," Dave says, and somehow Emily manages to shrug it off, the wool heavy with ice crystals and water. He takes her wineglass as well and she climbs the stairs slowly. She goes directly to the bathroom and strips her clothes into a sodden heap on the floor.

Her condo is new, modern, and the hot water comes quickly, steaming out from her showerhead and makes the air of the small room moist and hot. Emily looks at herself naked in the mirror and brushes her bangs out of her eyes. There's blood dried around her nose, a bit on her upper lip, and under the nails of her right hand. The faint rust tinge on her fingertips lingers on pale skin, damp from brushing away snow for the better part of an hour. Her chest is pale, blue veins prominent and even her nipples pale, color leached away by the cold. She turns away from the mirror, not liking what she sees, and steps into the hot spray. It burns and she gasps, reaching for the handles that control the temperature.

She stops though, fingers resting on the stainless steel, because the needle pellets of the shower burn against her reawakening skin, but don't actually hurt. It's like the dawning realization that Rossi is in her kitchen and knows things about her that she's never wanted anyone to know, maybe especially not him, but he is down in her kitchen now, and doesn't show signs of leaving.

Emily smooths her hand down her stomach, feeling tiny flakes of blood chip away from her hands, rough on the soft skin. This isn't what she expected her life to be. It isn't what she'd asked for, but it isn't bad, either. If she'd gone a different route, had a different life, there might be someone out there, a man or woman of 23, who loves her, or who hates her, or who wonders wistfully about her. She hasn't thought of the pregnancy, of the baby in those terms in years, and she feels as scraped raw to have to face Dave and his unshakable faith as she had felt all those 23 years ago, clinging to Matthew's hand as she walked into the church, a sanitary pad still catching the occasional drops of blood that her body still shed, two days later.

She turns her face into the spray, letting the water pelt away the blood and tears from her skin. She opens her mouth and closes her eyes and lets the water run over her, taking her regrets and her losses with it. Water is cleansing in almost every culture but Emily has never felt it as viscerally as she does just now, heat and moisture forcing her to square with her body.

The water sluices over her face, between her shoulder blades and between her breasts, and down her stomach and legs, taking with it the surface numbness she's worn all the way home. She finds it in her to move, eventually, and pours soap from one of the bottles in her shower straight into her hand. She shoves her fingers through her hair and smooths her hands over her body, then tilts back into the spray to rinse off.

There's too much room in the shower and she wishes Rossi hadn't stayed downstairs. She wants to feel his hands on her, his arms around her, and the water chasing soap down her legs is a poor substitute. She brushes one hand up and over her breast, seeking a warmth that starts inside.

The first soft knocks are lost in the beat of the water, but when they become louder and off-rhythm, and then when the door cracks open, Emily realizes Dave is looking for her.

"Yeah, come in," she says before she realizes her voice will be lost in the water.

"Emily?" Dave's voice, in the room, guarded and gentle, and the sound of her name nearly breaks her apart. "Tell me you're not drowning in here."

She laughs then, has to, with water flowing into her mouth, and she cries, tears finally breaking free of whatever invisible ice has trapped them. She wipes her hand across her mouth, tasting salt and soap and a bit of coppery blood, and she smiles and says, "I'm not drowning."

There's a pause, and she can feel Dave weighing her words, her tone, gaging what she's left for him between the lines, and she wants his weight and warmth so badly she almost gasps.

"Do you want me to hold dinner?" he asks, a request for more info.

"I want you to come here," Emily says, wiping her eyes and smoothing her hair back from her face. He steps closer, and she can sense him on the other side of the shower curtain, the weight and heat and shape of him inches away.

"Em," he says quietly, and she looks down to see a handful of shower curtain crumple into a starburst. She presses her hand over his, feeling the warmth and his knobbly knuckles, and the faint tremor as he tightens his fist through a layer of coarse fabric. She pushes the curtain aside and looks up at him. She's naked and dripping wet, and he...is not.

"You have to get undressed first," she says, her voice hoarse like she's telling him a secret or playing a game. Like she's almost normal again. "You'll get all wet."

Dave might have looked torn at one point, but he's losing ground on that, fast. "All right," he says. "Give me a minute." He lets the curtain fall in front of her and she steps back, pleased but anxious. She isn't a little girl anymore. She's a woman who can choose what she wants, who can go out and get it. She isn't sure what it means that she chooses Rossi - if she wants friendship, if she wants something impossible, if she just wants a challenge.

But he's good to her, good for her. They're both lonely people, and they're both busy people, and if they share some of their precious downtime with each other, if they share their beds and their bodies, well, they're both consenting and they're both adults, and Emily learned long ago that being something doesn't mean having to be everything.

Her musing only goes so far before the curtain draws back again and Dave slips into the shower with her. She reaches for him, wanting her hands on his skin, pressing over his shoulders, his biceps, his forearms to his wrists, where she bring his hands to rest on her waist. He has something in one hand, something with sharp, fragile corners, and it crushes easily against the bone of her hip. She's on birth control, but they've always been careful; there's no such thing as too careful anymore. She turns in his arms, scraping skin on the corner of the condom packet until he manages to seal it in his fist. She presses her hands over the back of his, until they uncurl and his palms lie flat against his stomach.

Dave's beard scratches the wrong way against the back of her shoulder and then she feels his lips press warm kisses up her scapula and then drag along the tendon that runs from her shoulder to her neck. She hauls in a deep breath and pushes Dave's right hand - fingers tangling firmly between his and pressing into his palm - between her legs.

He sighs against her skin, a puff of warm air in an already humid environment, and sinks two fingers into her, pressing her own knuckle against her clit. He resumes his slow, meandering path up her neck, rocking his fingers in and out, impossibly slowly. He stretches his left hand under hers, capturing her fingers with that hand the way she'd clasped his right hand, and brings their hands up to her breast.

"Dave," Emily groans as he strokes light half-circles with his palm and her knuckles along the underside of her breast.

"Emily," he drawls back, and he's teasing her, dammit, after everything that's happened that day. She tightens her right hand and tries to make Dave move faster, harder, something, but he's strong and patient, moving at half time to her pulse and resisting all her attempts to make him hurry.

"Damn you," she mutters, squirming against him. She can already feel the orgasm building in the pit of her stomach and the sparks of tension that shiver up the backs of her thighs. She wants to race it, to push up to it, through it, so she can burst and stop thinking, so she can let it all go, and float, and not think about anything except how one continues to breathe after such exertions. She can feel him, cock hard against her ass, arms solid around her, and she arches, makes a curve of her body, pushing her ass into his hips and her breast into his hand.

"Stop fighting me," Dave says, low and sweet in her ear, and then he finally finally picks up the pace a little and it's better, it's almost right, but still taking too long and Emily is rocking her hips and gasping his name before he finally sweeps his thumb across her nipple and everything in her body snaps inward and collapses.

Water runs in and out of her mouth and white bursts sketch across the back of her tightly closed eyelids before Emily realizes that she's gasping for breath, panting nearly, and squeezing Dave's hands so tightly her knuckles have gone white, even in the hot water.

"Oh my God," she says, sucking in air and coughing out water. "Oh my God, Dave." She pulls her fingers, stiff and slippery at the same time, away from his, and twists around to face him. He's watching her, eyes a little glazed, and she cups his face in her palms and presses her mouth to his. His lips are wet and his mouth is dry, and they're both gasping as they kiss. His beard prickles against her palms and wrists, but stroking down it's soft and Emily imagines the way he strokes his cheek down her inner thigh when he spreads her open on the bed and eats her out. They can do that tonight, her body still flushed and damp from the shower, opening up for him, knees wide, and feet flat on the quilted coverlet. But later, not now. Now, his cock is pressed against her hip and her orgasm has only just taken the edge off, and she wants him inside of her now.

"Fuck me," she says against his mouth, because she isn't willing to stop kissing him either. "Push me up against the wall and fuck me."

"Hold on, hold on," Dave says, pulling away from her mouth, and when she tries to follow, he smiles at her and strokes one hand down the side of her face, pushing back wet hair and lingering long enough for her to kiss his palm. "Let's be smart about this."

Emily groans into his hand because this was where she wants to be, caught up in this fever, and not thinking, not being smart about anything.

"I'm just saying," Dave chides, shifting them around in a little half circle so he's facing the shower spray, "Some of us aren't as young and spry as we used to be." Then he chucks her under the chin and sits down at the far end of the tub, stretching his legs out on either side of hers, and leaning back against the slope of the wall, letting the water fall against the top of his thighs. "I think this'll do," he says, reaching for the soap dish.

He'd dropped the condom packet there, Emily sees, and now he takes it and tears the wrapper open with his teeth. She gets carefully to her knees as he rolls it on, everything winding back a notch, just enough to let her think and function. She reaches out to touch him and he catches her hand with his and tugs her forward. She has to let go to balance on the side of the tub, and the shower spray shifts from her upper back to her lower back as she moves up to straddle him. He cups his hands around her hips and she reaches down to steady him as she draws him inside her.

"Emily," he whispers as she settles on his lap and rests her hands on his shoulders. His skin is tanned and sun-damaged, brown freckles breaking up the olive tone, and she makes invisible constellations with her thumbs, wondering what he'd done as a youth that left him shirtless and exposed to the sun. Long summers at the beach? Construction work? Ignorance of the danger of UV rays and a mother who didn't worry about how soon he got wrinkles?

She looks up at his face and smiles at him. Now that he's filling her up, now that she can feel him, deep inside her, now she feels calmer, like the panic bubbling up inside her is sliding away. "Hi," she says, matching his quiet tone.

The corners of his mouth quirk up. "Hi," he replies. She leans down to kiss him and lets him shift her weight until she's sprawling on top of him, her chest pressed against his. She rolls her hips and he presses up into her and it's working for her, really working. She comes and it isn't shattering, but another swells immediately after and that one breaks her a little.

"Dave," she murmurs as she rides him, her rhythm going sloppy as she realizes that kneeling on the hard porcelain makes her knees ache. She shifts forward, letting him take more of her weight, and braces her hands on the back of the tub behind him.

He licks his lips and tilts his chin up to look at her. "I'm gonna come soon," he says, and she can hear the strain in his voice.

"Yeah," she says, nodding. "Yeah, Dave, I want you to."

He closes his eyes, then opens them again, as if he doesn't want to miss anything, and he draws her hips down as he snaps his up and she moans a little as he hits home again and again. Then he groans, his body tightening up under her and then he gasps, gazing at her as he comes, and then he wraps his arms around her back and pulls her into a hug that almost feels more intimate than the sex. He's still inside her and they fit together from hip to where Emily's head tucks against his neck. He has one arm wrapped around her waist and the other hand cupping the back of her head and she thinks maybe she has never been so safe, and so secure, not even when Matthew was holding her hand. In a way, this is scarier than the abortion, scarier than Father Gamino, because Dave knows, knows something about her that now, only one other person in the world knows, and she hadn't realized how frightened she had been that knowledge might drive a wedge between them - might still.

Beneath her cheek, Dave's chest swells and deflates in a deep sigh, and then he says, "I gotta say. You've got one hell of a water heater."

"What?" Emily says before his words make sense in her head and then she laughs, the crushing sadness hitting her for only a few seconds as she does, and then lightening into a gentle ache. "God. How long have we been in here? My water bill is going to be ridiculous."

"Forty-five minutes before I came in," Dave says, offering her a hand to help her push herself up. She ducks under the spray and turns off the showerhead and the water, sitting down across from Dave at the other end of the tub. She pulls her knees up to shield her body and wraps her arms around them.

"Thank you," she says.

"My pleasure," Dave says, easing off the condom. "And I really do," he adds, "mean my pleasure. If you maybe want to...thank me again later? I could be up for that."

Emily rolls her eyes. "There's dinner right? You did say there was dinner?" She stands up and pushes the shower curtain back far enough to snag the towels on the nearby rack. She throws one at Dave's head and wraps the other one around her.

"There is dinner," he confirms, rubbing the towel across his head and standing up to start drying his chest and shoulders.

"Good," she says. "Because you'll need your energy for what I have in mind."

Dave's clothes are laid out neatly on her bed and she realizes that she'd left him stranded in the bathroom with only a towel. She finds her favorite pair of flannel pajama pants, washed thin and soft, the red pinstripes fading into pink, an old Yale sweatshirt, and a pair of fuzzy socks.

Dave still hasn't knocked on the door so Emily rubs the towel quickly through her hair and peeks out. "Hey," she says, looking down at him sitting on the top step. "Sorry about holding your clothes hostage. I'm gonna go - " She makes vague motions toward the bathroom. " - Brush my teeth."

The bathroom is still steamy when she closes herself in, and she presses the warm towel to her eyes. Her cheeks are bright when she finally looked in the mirror and her outfit is way too warm, but she isn't really ready to have to talk to Dave. She is sure, somehow, that if she actually has to sit there and listen to him being kind and understanding, she's going to break down.

There's a knock on the door and Dave's voice. "I'm putting dinner on the table," he calls through the door and then she hears him descending the stairs.

Dinner would be good, she thinks. She hasn't eaten much over the last couple days. The coffee Rossi'd pressed into her hand might have been the last time she's had anything.

Besides, Dave doesn't believe in talking about hard things over dinner.

She runs a comb through her wet hair and runs her wet toothbrush through her mouth. Mint paste and Italian food don't mix well, and she feels like she needed to freshen up a little.

She can smell dinner as soon as she opens the door. Something spicy and steeped in sauce. She pads down the stairs to the kitchen. Dave is spooning up sausages and peppers. He's wearing his jeans and a black t-shirt but he's left his jacket and shirt upstairs and he's barefoot. She follows him from one placesetting to the next, deliberately a step too close, and back to the breakfast bar to pick up her wineglass. "Mm, that looks good," she says, taking a deep, appreciative breath.

"It's a little slapdash," he admits, reaching out to rub the back of her neck gently. "But at least you haven't managed to use up that jar of sauce you tied me to the bed for."

Emily snorts into her wine. "You liked it."

"Yeah." He sounds fond, and the expression on his face matches when she glances up at him. "Maybe I did, a little." His thumb digs into the knot at the base of her neck and she sets her wine aside and steps into his embrace, resting her forehead on his chest. She can feel the warmth of his skin and when she turns her cheek to him, the beating of his heart through his shirt. He doesn't say anything, and she's grateful for that. His waist is soft under her arms, the only part of him that is, and for about thirty seconds, she thinks she could stay there forever.

"Okay, I'm hungry now," she says when those thirty seconds are up. "What are you feeding me?"

"There are many things I like about you," Dave says dryly as he lets her go, "but your appreciation of my cooking is one of my favorites."

"Seriously," Emily says, snagging her wine as she goes by and pads to the table and slides into her seat. "Your willingness to cook real Italian food for me is at the top of my list."

"Like so many of the other things I do for you, believe me, it's my pleasure," Dave says, sitting down across from her and taking up his utensils.

Emily manages to swallow the mouthful of wine she's taken before laughing. She chokes anyway and turns away to cough and then, to her complete horror, she starts to cry.

"It can't be that bad," Dave says after a moment, as she tries to blot away the tears without him noticing. "You haven't even tried it yet."

That just makes her laugh again and she gives up and drops her napkin back in her lap before leaning her elbows on the table. (She can hear her mother bristling from two countries away.) "I'm sorry," she says, taking another drink of her wine. "I am all over the place tonight."

"I find it hilarious that you think you have to apologize for that," Dave says, cutting in to the pile of sausage on his plate. He pauses then and looks up, directly at her. "You know you don't have to apologize for that, don't you? Not here in your home. Not with me." His last words sound almost hesitant, like maybe he thinks he'd misjudged something in their relationship - such as it is - and Emily reaches out instinctively, immediately, and hooks her fingers over his wrist. Dave showed insecurity so rarely - anything besides "arrogant bastard" so rarely - that she finds it endearing instead of cloying, worrisome instead of annoying.

"I'm glad you're here," she says trying to put every bit of the sincerity she felt into those words. "Thank you."

He smiles at her and turns his hand to squeeze hers, and goes back to eating. Emily watches him for a moment, food forgotten, until he says, "You're not eating. Not hungry after all?"

"Hm, just...thinking," she says, and turns her attention to her food. "Are you spending the night?"

"Do you want me to?" he replies.

"Yes," Emily says and that wasn't hard at all. He spends plenty of time in her house, usually stays the night if they go to bed together. But somehow, saying stay means something different tonight, that despite her flippant promises of athletic sex, what she's really saying was that she just wants him there with her.

"Then I will," he says, immediately, mildly, as if it isn't a consideration at all.

Emily looks down at her food and cuts herself a piece. The sausage is hot and the sauce is definitely Nonna's recipe. She stretches out a foot under the table and nudges Dave's bare ankle. She isn't a needy person, not usually, but somehow she wants to keep touching him, to keep contact, even in this casual, childish way. Of course, she thinks, as he rubs his foot against her fluffy sock, he would probably tell her that it's normal to seek human contact when grieving.

"This is really good," she says of the sausage, because it was sweet of him to bring over food and cook for her, and for some reason, she isn't comfortable with silence tonight. Some nights they barely speak, reading and listening to music, going to bed with an exchange of expressions, guided more by actions than by words. Dave is comfortable to be around, comfortable to be silent with, but Emily isn't satisfied in her own skin tonight and everything seems just a little bit off. She takes a piece of bread and dabbles it in the plate of olive oil they share.

She wants to thank him again, to make sure he knows how deeply touched she is that he went to bat with Hotch for her, that his faith in her runs as deep as it does. But the rule is nothing heavy at the table, and she doesn't want to break that. It's turned out to be a relief more than she'd expected and if there's one thing she'll cherish above all else when they eventually part ways, it will be his insistence of appropriate dinner discussion.

Actually, it will be how he helped track down Matthew's killer, but before tonight, it would have been the dinner conversation.

She finds herself inexplicably sad about how things end and people move on and how they grow apart. She thinks of John in the hospital and reminds herself to go see him the next day, even though he couldn't bring himself to do the same twenty-three years ago. He was young, they were both young, and it's not his fault Matthew began to doubt. Maybe not as much as it was hers.

It was a lifetime ago, though, and she's grown, changed, and so has John...and Matthew? Maybe Matthew's at peace now. She hopes his questions have been answered.

Her questions are different now, shifting, in that blurry place between one articulation and another. She thinks of the Joyce quote Dave echoed on the street earlier that night and wishes Dave and Matthew could have met. They might not have liked each other - left to their own devices, they probably wouldn't - but maybe if she could have introduced them, made them friends, maybe they could have had those conversations, maybe Matthew could have reached the kind of detente at which Dave seems to have already arrived. She's a little jealous. It took a long time to come to even the fragile acceptance that he seemed to grant her immediately in an abandoned lot.

"Penny for your thoughts?" he asks. She looks up and sees that he's already finished. She's barely made a dent, really, but her stomach reminds her that she's hungry and she takes another bite.

"I was just thinking that Matthew would have liked you," she says when she's swallowed. It's a fib, a tiny one, and he doesn't call her on it even though she doesn't fool herself that he hasn't noticed. "Eventually, anyway." She can feel Dave's eyes on her as she takes another bite. He doesn't say anything until she continues eating, suddenly unable to explain her cryptic comments.

"Do you want to tell me about him?" he asks quietly, as she collects sauce on the side of her fork.

"Tell you about him?" Emily echoes. "I think you've heard all the really flattering stuff already."

"If you don't want to, all you have to do is say so," Dave says mildly. "But you obviously thought the world of him and if you want to talk, I want to listen."

"He loved...people," Emily says because that is always how she'll think of Matthew. It doesn't matter what happened later or what he thought he wanted before. At the heart of him, he wanted to do good, to bring joy and laughter and comfort. "When we were in Italy, we were just fifteen, and he wanted to be a priest. He wanted to devote his entire life to the church. Did you ever want that?"

"Oh, briefly I suppose," Dave says, hooking one arm over the back of his chair and taking a sip of wine. "I think every boy's mother wants him to be a priest at some point. And then we all hit puberty and discover girls and that's the end of that."

"That was Johnny," Emily says with a fleeting smile. "He was our ringleader. I think maybe, if everything hadn't happened, Matthew would have met someone and fallen in love, and made a good father. But he then he got, he got angry, and confused, and well, you know kids on drugs. We didn't at the time, we didn't know it was bigger than us, worse than we could handle. And sometimes he would be the old Matthew, and we thought everything would be better and then - " She shakes her head. "We tried to stick with him, the way kids do, but then our parents were reassigned and it was hard to keep track through letters. Email was better but none of us were very good at following through. He wasn't the same and we just let him slip away."

"We?" Dave asks gently.

"We," Emily affirms. "Me and John."

Dave nods slowly, holding her eye and she can see his brain assembling the pieces.

"You, and Matthew," he says. "And John." He doesn't say, and Matthew wasn't the father but the words are writ large in the air between them.

"Yeah," Emily says, answering his unasked question. "John wasn't - he wasn't strong like Matthew was. He wasn't ready to take responsibility for his mistakes. And I think - I believe - he spent the rest of his life trying to overcome that. He carried Matthew when his parents wouldn't and I - I was running away." She pulls her feet up on the chair, wrapping her arms around her knees, and closing her eyes.

"You were living your life," Dave says, the edges of his voice hard. She knows that tone. The whole team does. She likes to think of it as the, you'd damn well better stick up for yourself because no one else will, tone, but that's not even right, because she's pretty confident Dave Rossi has her back. All their backs. "He gave you a chance to live the life you were meant to lead. He gave you a chance to fulfill your potential. You owed it to him to go out and make something of yourself, and you have."

"He died for me," she says, thinking again of Gretta's line, and then the tears come, hot and hard, and Dave's there, holding her in an awkward hug against his side. She wraps her fingers in the warm cotton hem of his t-shirt and presses her face against his stomach. She clings to him and sobs until she's out of tears and then she just clings to him. He combs back her hair with his fingers and rubs her back, and really, it's the best cry she's had in a long while. There is a certain level of embarrassment, she realizes, crying on your co-worker, but he's also her friend and her lover, and it is, she realizes with some surprise, the first time she's really felt they were crossing the streams.

"Hey, come on," he says, and she realizes he's easing her up by her shoulders and bullying her over to the couch. "Let's get somewhere comfortable."

She shakes her head, all the embarrassment and doubt crashing in and resists Dave's attempts at comfort. "How can you be like this?" she asks, shrugging away from his arms.

"Like what?" he asks, dropping his hands from her shoulders. He keeps walking forward, though, still crowding her toward her sofa, so she goes and drops wearily onto the nearest cushion.

"Doesn't it bother you?" she says, turning her face away as he sits down on the middle cushion - beside her, not on the end.

"Doesn't what bother me?" he repeats and she wants to hit him on his stupid head. She wants him to guess, to read her mind, like he did earlier that day in the lot that used to be Robbie Doe's home, saving her from having to say certain things out loud.

"Your faith is important to you," she says. "You don't have to be a profiler to see that."

"Okay," he says, and she could feel the edges of tension in the word. "And?"

"And..." She shakes her head. "Aren't you upset? Angry? Disappointed?"

"About what?" He's angry now, unquestionably, and it's easier to look up at him, to witness whatever judgment he's inclined to pass. "That you had an abortion 20 years ago, when you were fifteen years old and scared to death?" He gets up from the couch and walks to the table, then over to the bay window and the lights of the Washington Memorial and the Capitol. "When you were in a strange city with a mother who didn't give you the time of day, a my-way-or-the-highway blowhard giving you spiritual advice, and two fifteen-year-old boys as a support system? Believe me, I was a fifteen-year-old boy a long time ago. Don't underestimate the depths of stupidity we manage to plumb." He turns back and runs one hand over his mustache and goatee and sighs. "What kind of bastard do you think I am?" The anger has washed out of his voice by the last sentence and Emily wipes invisible tears from her face with her fingertips to avoid the tinge of hurt that echoes in his weary words.

Emily shakes her head. "I didn't," she says. She hadn't, not really. She just wanted to hear him say it, even though he's shown her, by his tacit disapproval of Father Gamino when she first told him the story, by going to the Bentons' with her, by running interference with Hotch and who knew who else. By being in her kitchen when she got home. "I just wanted to - I just don't know - We never talked about what would happen - "

His eyebrows knit together and she watches his brain go to work again, trying to parse out her statements. "Emily," he says, voice hushed. "Are you asking if we're okay?"

Emily rolls her eyes because that wasn't how she was trying to put it at all. "No," she says. "Yes. I don't know what I'm asking." Dave is a friend. Someone she can trust. Not a happily-ever-after. She's never tried to make him into that and she isn't trying now. "I just want to know what you're thinking," she admits. It's the closest thing to the truth she can summon.

He stands there and stares at her for what seems like a long time, and then he boots her ottoman across the room until it's in front of her. "I believe in good and evil," he says, swinging one leg over the cushion and sitting in front of her. He leans forward, elbows on his knees, and looks her straight in the eye. "God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit. Heaven and hell. All that stuff. And yeah, I was raised Catholic. But don't forget. I've already been divorced three times and I'm pretty sure the birth control pills I see you take every night and the condoms in my nightstand aren't really popular with the Vatican either, but I don't have a problem with them, either."

"That's not the same," Emily says, grateful anyway, and wondering why she'd ever doubted.

"Maybe not," he allows. "But I've shot a few people and some of them haven't gotten back up. And there's some of those who might've been innocent. You do what you have to do, Emily. And then you keep going."

She nods. She likes that he's pragmatic. He makes sense to her. "Thank you," she whispers.

"And as for us," he says as if he hasn't heard her. "We have been extremely careful and I don't intend for that to change. But if something were to happen?" He turns his head to the side, breaking eye contact for a moment, and then looks back to her. "I don't control you, Emily. I - we - see people perverting control every day, and nine times out of ten, it's some guy over some girl. Woman," he amends. "I won't do that. Ever. Especially not to you." He takes a deep breath. "It's your life. Your call. Maybe the church is right. Maybe not. But I would not ever turn my back on you."

Emily feels her eyes filling with tears and this time it isn't grief for Matthew, sorrow for the collapse of his life, but for the guy in front of her, who, she realizes, is holding her hand right now and making her feel worthy.

"I couldn't - " she says. "I couldn't do that again. Not now."

"I have money," Dave says, and it was a ridiculous thing to say because of course he had money, he was a millionaire several times over, thanks to his books, but it was also the last thing Emily cares about. "I have a house, I have nothing but time on my hands. I'd give you anything you wanted. I told you, I'm all in."

All in. It sounds like a happily-ever-after. It isn't that Emily thinks he's lying, but they'd been clear about what they didn't want and this sounded an awful lot like it.

"Rossi," she says and then curses herself for using his last name. That's a distancing technique and she's just pushed him away.

"Or, all out," he says, just as easily. "My point is, I'm not a fifteen-year-old boy, and in the unlikely chance something unexpected happens...It'll be different this time. I promise." He raises both eyebrows at her and peers into her face questioningly.

"I'm a big girl, now," she says, and it's easier to say now that she knows Dave has her back for sure.

"And I'm a big boy," he says. "So can we agree to deal with it like grownups if it happens? Which, considering the precautions we're taking, is a pretty big if." He squeezes her hand and she smiles at him.

"It's a deal," she agrees.

"Good," he replies, but stays where he was. "How are you feeling now?"

Emily shrugs. She feels drained, spent, but somehow not relaxed. She's still tense and wired, even after the marathon shower and the sex, and the food, and the wine. Dave rubs his thumb over the back of her hand and her skin prickles in an entirely good way. "Let's go upstairs," she says, standing up and tugging him after her. "The tv's up there."

Up there, he'll put his arms around her and she'll lean in to his shoulder because that's what couples do in bed and she won't need to negotiate the awkward terrain of asking for comfort. She's never been good at asking for things - she prefers to get them herself, to barter or trade, rather than depend on simple kindness. It's kind of a failing, but as failings go, she'll take it over so very many others.

"Okay," he says and kisses her on the forehead. "Go on up and I'll be there in a few minutes. I'm just going to clean up here."

"No, come now," she says on impulse, wrapping her hands around his. "We can clean up later."

The expression that flashes across his face is panic, or maybe just desperation at having to choose between the careful and methodical cleansing, rinsing, drying, and putting away of each and every dish, and conceding to her pleas.

In the end, she wins out. It's a silly, petty victory, but there's something amazing about knowing he'll put her before his own fussy custom.

"All right," he concedes, pressing a kiss to her temple and letting her tug him up the staircase. "Let me check the locks."

"You checked them when I was in the shower," she says, and from the way his eyebrows lift, she knows she's right. "You can sneak downstairs and do the dishes and triple check the locks later," she offers in conciliation. "It's late."

"It's late," he agrees, his lips brushing her ear as she leads them into her room and flips the light on. She sees his button-up shirt on the foot of the bed and leans forward to see what's folded underneath.

"Going commando, huh?" she says, and feels a hot rush in her chest at the idea.

"Emily..." he murmurs as she turns, sliding her hands under his shirt to the warm skin beneath.

"This is weird, isn't it?" she says, leaning her forehead against his chest. "This thing where I need to jump you every five minutes, when I'm supposed to be grieving."

"It's not weird," Dave says, smoothing her hair back and turning her head up to him as he does. He frames her face with his hands and kisses her lightly on the lips. "It's part of grieving. It's part of surviving."

"I'm not very good at this," she confesses, and she means the grieving, expressing emotion, trying to figure out what is inside of her and what needs to come out, and how she can do it in a way that wasn't completely crazy.

"Shh, no one is," he says, kissing her softly again. "It's not really something you practice."

She laughs a little as he kisses her again, and this time, he keeps kissing her, and after a bit, the discomfiture and self-consciousness slip away and it's easier to concentrate on Dave's palms on her jaw, his fingers in her hair, his mouth on hers. She runs her fingertips over his biceps, first over the sleeves of his t-shirt, crumpling the cotton at his shoulders in her fists. He doesn't stop, doesn't waver, and after a moment, it feels safe to let go, to move her hands in closer to trace over the broad cut of his collarbone and the tendons of his neck.

As if in answer he slips his hands down to her shoulders, plucking at the oversized sweatshirt tenting around her. "Can I take this off?" he whispers against lips, and she nods, their mouths brushing in not-kisses, warm air of their breath mingling. It smells and tastes like wine, and Emily leans forward for one more kiss before Dave's hands find the bottom of the sweatshirt and drag it over her head.

Her hair tumbles with it, strands wisping against her cheek. She'd thrown on a thin flowered cotton camisole under the sweatshirt and hadn't bothered with a bra. She glances down, remembering 15, remembering Rome and her first awkward time with Johnny touching her breasts. She'd felt too skinny, too flat, and she hasn't changed a whole hell of a lot since then, but this time her nipples are hard, visible through the cotton, and this time they ache with her longing for Dave's hands. He tosses her sweatshirt across the room - it lands perfectly on her wing chair because, well, that's Dave - and presses both hands against her back, pulling her flush with him.

Her breasts press, not hard enough, against his chest, and his leg slip between hers, letting her feel his own arousal against her hip. She hadn't been kidding when she'd said she wanted to jump him - right now she wants to crawl up his body, wrap her legs around his waist, press herself right up against him and slip him deep inside her.

"Rossi," she gasps when the ebb and flow of their kisses give her a window of opportunity. "You'd better throw me down on that bed - "

He chuckles against her mouth, then presses his thumb to her lips. "I've got other plans," he says.

"Oh, other plans," she manages, but he's tilting her head back and pressing his lips to her throat in a way that makes her words catch and stutter. He mouths gently at the base of her throat, the notch of her collarbone, and Emily realizes suddenly that she is wet. "Oh, God, Rossi," she murmurs, and then she hits the bed with the back of her thighs. She hadn't even realized he'd been moving them. "Dave...."

"Shh," he vibrates against her skin. He tucks one knee up between her legs and she squirms against the hard muscle as he boosts her onto the bed and back against the pillows.

"Dave," she whines, twisting against him, but that just makes him sit up and that's entirely unacceptable. He folds the hem of her camisole up, leaving her breasts covered and her stomach bare, and kisses her navel. "Dave!" His beard rubs against the pale strip of skin between her belly button and the top of her pants and she shivers, bringing her knees up on either side of him. He kisses her again, a little higher, then higher still, in the center of her abdominal muscles.

"You're beautiful," he says, pressing a kiss against her sternum, just below the fold of her camisole.

"I'm ticklish," she despairs, writhing against the brush of his beard which isn't helping matters in the least.

He smiles and turns her camisole up once more, bringing the fabric above her breasts. They feel cool, bare, delicate in their exposure. "Beautiful," he counters, framing one breast with his hand and thumb, and ducks his head to kiss it. She reaches down to touch him, sinking her fingers into the hair at his temple, and inhaling to feel the cotton of his t-shirt brushing against her stomach.

What he lacks in obedience, he more than makes up for in both thoroughness and skill. Which is good, because he's crap at following directions. Her bed doesn't have slats or anything to grab onto, so she turns her face into her pillow and whimpers. He draws away from the breast he's been kissing and smooths a warm, dry, palm over it. She flails to the side for a throw pillow to, well, throw at his head - that's what they're there for, aren't they? - but he tangles the fingers of his free hand with the one groping for a soft weapon, and pins it to the bed.

It's embarrassing how much that turns her on.

"Doing all right?" he asks against her cheek. It's just him and her in that room, her and Dave, who has failed to let her down, no matter how many chances she's given him.

She nods shakily and brings the hand he hasn't captured to rest on the back of his neck. He stays just long enough to let her catch her breath, then kisses her mouth and sits up. He releases her hand but she doesn't go looking for a pillow. She should sit up, reach for him, at least participate in this, but she's breathless, trembling, and before she's recovered enough to do anything about it, he's running fingers under the waistband of her pajamas and she knows exactly what he has in mind.

"How long have you had these?" he wonders aloud, tugging on the drawstring and teasing them away from her stomach.

"Forever," she says, because math is a lost cause. "Since college. They cost $4.50 on sale."

He chuckles again and she loves that sound, and he palms her hips and says, "Lift up." She pushes her hips forward and lets him slide the soft flannel down and away. "Old Navy," he comments. "Men's small."

"I hope you're not thinking of replacing them," she warns him, but it comes out pretty pathetic. "I've only just gotten them broken in."

"I'll keep that under advisement," he says, which means he's clearly paying her no mind, and slides them down her legs and off. She doesn't see where he throws them, but she bets that by morning, they'll be folded neatly and laid somewhere out of the way - maybe even returned to the correct drawer, or more likely, the laundry hamper even though she's worn them less than three hours. For all that she mocks his neatness and organization, she doesn't mind it. It's nice to have something to rely on.

Then he drags two fingers over the soaked cotton between her legs and his breath catches audibly. He rasps her name and his voice sounds awed. He pushes her underwear aside with his thumb and strokes those same two fingers against her, and finally sinks them inside. She arches against the bed, straining toward him, but then he withdraws his fingers and the sound she makes is definitely a whine. "Don't stop," she complains, but he is stroking wet fingers against the inside of her leg and that's enough to make her want to know what he's going to do next.

The next thing he does is strip his shirt off and then settles himself between her legs. He kisses the inside of her thigh, licking and sucking at the wetness he'd left there. He kisses down to her knee and back up again, and then he mouths along the crease where her leg meets her hips, slipping his fingers just under the elastic of her panties.

He's clearly trying to drive her insane.

She writhes and whines, but bites her lip against pleas for him to just fuck her. They did that already and she knows him - he'll draw the whole thing out longer, just to make a point.

Also, she trusts him, and she knows that if she lets him do what he wants, he'll make it very, very good. That's not always enough to keep her mouth shut, but tonight it feels all right to cede this to him.

Finally, finally he tugs her panties down and helps her kick them off. It's awkward and close, but he's familiar with her body and manages to maneuver them both to keep anyone from being kicked. She starts to sit up to snag a condom from the nightstand drawer, but Dave tugs her toward him.

"Not yet," he says, and sets her leg on his shoulder.

Emily flushes hot, remembering her wandering fantasy in the shower and lifts her other leg to mirror the first.

Dave strokes her open with his thumb, then ducks his head and licks her so lightly she almost can't feel it. She lifts her hips and twists a little but his hand is there again and then his mouth is, too, pressing against her. He works her with his tongue, alternating light laps with deep slow strokes. He knows her, knows where to push, what to skim over, how hard to suck. It's good, it's ridiculously good, and it breaks her apart a little, that somehow, everything in Italy, losing her virginity to Johnny, the abortion, Matthew's death, it all led her here, to the FBI, the BAU, to David Rossi's bed.

Emily loves her job and she loves her life and yeah, maybe she loves Rossi a little, too. She knows she loves her team, but this thing, whatever it is with Rossi - it's different and it's special and even if it really is nothing more than a deep friendship, it's one she'll cherish forever.

Rossi knows how to take her apart and how to put her back together again, and she's already writhing against his mouth. She tugs at his shoulders, urges him up to her, and opens her legs, dropping her knees around his shoulders to give him room.

"Hold on," he rasps and fuck, she'd forgotten he was still wearing his jeans. He disentangles himself from her legs and strips them off, then grabs the all-important condom from the nightstand.

For a split second, Emily wants to tell him to forget and come to her - she's on the Pill, after all, and how many layers of careful do they really need? But she keeps that thought in her own head because it's a conversation still fresh in her mind and even though she demanded an answer from him, she's not ready to ask herself the same question.

He moves back onto the bed and settles between her legs, holding himself up on his hands, bracketing her shoulders. "Ready?" he whispers to her as if she hasn't been for hours. Or what feels like it.

She nods and touches his face, the arch of his eyebrow, his cheek, his jaw, and he doesn't look away as he reaches down and brushes the tip of his cock against her. He slides inside a moment later - she's still wet, from before, from him, and she brings her legs up to wrap around his waist. He scatters kisses over her face and she just holds on to his biceps and breathes in the scent of him, and then he finally begins to move.

Rossi's not the first guy Emily's been with who can pace himself. But he's kind of the first guy who paces himself to her. He doesn't get it right every time, but they've worked out a kind of system, and oh God. His strokes are deep and steady, not too fast, but also not quite fast enough. She doesn't squeeze his shoulders, though, or beg him to speed up. She just lifts her hips to meet him, runs her hands up and down his arms, and watches him - watches him watch her. Her body rocks up with every thrust and after a minute or two, he puts his arm over her head to keep her from hitting the headboard, even through the pillows. He's close enough to kiss her now, and he does, teasing his way over her mouth, up her jaw, down her neck. She holds him to her, running one hand up his neck and combing the hair on the back of his neck the wrong way. She feels his beard on her collarbone and thinks there's nowhere she'd rather be.

Just when she thinks she's going to have to beg, he does speed up, breath gusting against her skin. She shifts her legs higher and her hips lower, trying to pull him deeper, and urges his head up. She want to be kissing him when he comes.

He looks a little broken when he lifts his head and she can't quite decipher the expression on his face. She touches his face, her palm against his cheek, and it reminds her of the first night they were together, months ago, and that's when he ducks his head and palms her breast. He rubs his thumb over her nipple and sucks on the patch of skin at her throat that prickles insanely under his touch.

"Dave," she says except that her voice breaks and the rest of her words are indistinguishable as the rest of her breaks apart into what feels like tiny, tiny pieces. She gasps and closes her eyes and that's when Dave gets around to kissing her, letting her cry and moan into his mouth.

She's weak and trembling, off-kilter, and a little light-headed when she catches her breath. She has to unwind her legs from his waist, although she keeps her knees up to cradle his hips. He's keeping rhythm, which means he's probably going to come soon - if he was going to keep going, he'd stop and tease her a little while she recovered - and forget kissing, she wants to see him.

Emily knows how to touch him, has a few tricks up her sleeve that she knows will make Rossi a very happy man. But her best trick is really the simplest - he likes to feel her hands on him, and she can't seem to stop moving her fingers over his skin. He's always warm and she loves the way muscles wrap around bone and the way he shivers as she strokes her hands from his shoulders down his back and up his sides to his chest.

His jaw is tight as he fucks deep into her, and she walks her fingers up the tendon in his neck and cups his cheek. He gasps her name, dropping his head but she says, "Open your eyes," and holds his soft, brown gaze as he peaks and shudders, his hips pushing fiercely against hers.

Emily holds his gaze for as log as she can stand and then presses forward to kiss him. He relaxes against her, loose and lazy and drowsily kissing her back. He rolls to his back, bringing her with him until she's sprawled atop his body. Their skin is sticky and feverish, but Emily lays her cheek on his heart. She doesn't mind and she needs to be as close to him as she can.

She's been running for so long, away from the Church, away from men, away from the fifteen-year-old she'd been in Italy, twenty-three years ago. And here she is, having run around the world and right back into herself.

But Dave broke her fall and somehow she's here, and he's here, and they've made it through relatively undamaged. She hasn't slept in days, but now, with Dave's breath and heartbeat under her, now she can exhale and let herself relax.

Dave wraps his arms around her back, keeping her close, and she thinks hazily, as she drifts off to sleep, that she has him pinned down, and that he can't sneak downstairs to wash the dishes.

Fin
Tags: criminal minds, fic
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