To Tonnie and Tracia, though more for Tracia who has been hounding me for weeks to write something JJ-Rossi. This was the best I could do for now. And I wrote this instead of writing Dark of My Nightmares, so I'm not fully sure how I feel about that just yet. I was hoping to get a new chapter of that up....
David Rossi was used to getting everything he wanted. He was used to asking and receiving, heck, sometimes not even asking or demanding. He got what he wanted. It was a rule in his world. Or it had been until she had waltzed into his life.
'She' was Jennifer Jareau, a small woman, a thin woman, a blond woman, and yet his mortal enemy at the same time. Well, that was probably going too far. She was just the one that challenged his preconceived notions of the world and most especially the BAU. From that first case they'd worked together she hadn't given him an inch. She made it very clear to him that she didn't appreciate him infringing on her job. From day one she'd made it clear that he had to make some changes in his life.
So he had. Slowly, and in many cases with her not-so-gentle shoving, but he had. And somehow those changes had only served to bring them closer and closer together. He hadn't been shocked to find out about Will, but he had been shocked to find out about her pregnancy. With a baby in the picture, things changed irrevocably. His plans were completely de-railed because if there was one thing he knew Jen deserved, it was a family. And it seemed like she'd gotten it with Will and her new baby.
Healthy baby Henry came into the world the same night Dave drunk himself into a drunken stupor in Little Creek. It had taken him over a week to go and visit her at home with Will and Henry. And that had terrified him. Why did it hurt so much that she seemed so happy with Will and with Henry? Why did it feel like a punch in the gut when he saw her, smiling up at Will with Henry in her arms? He'd gone home and gotten drunk again, trying to erase Jen from his mind, trying to forget her happy face. The next morning had been a rather painful experience.
It had taken him time and an almost literal kick in the pants from none other than Emily Prentiss to have him realizing that he was so upset because he had strong feelings for the little media liaison. Dave had always known Hotch was a luck bastard to be with her – they weren't as subtle as Dave knew they'd hoped to be – and she'd only proven it when she stepped into his office to call him out on being a grouch. Then she'd delivered a swift metaphorical kick to his diaphragm.
Will had left.
Dave felt mixed emotions at that revelation. Why hadn't she come to him? Why hadn't she told him? Emily had an answer for that too. No one wanted to talk to him, no one wanted to deal with him, for the simple reason that he'd been in a right mood since Henry was born. And while the rest of the team pretended it was something else, Emily wasn't going to deal with his moodiness any longer.
"She's struggling, Dave. She won't tell anyone, but she's struggling. She doesn't know where she's going to leave Henry when he starts walking or when Strauss finds out that he's been coming here."
"Henry's been coming here?" Dave asked, his brain still reeling at the information Emily had imparted on him only seconds before.
"Jayje has nowhere else to take him. How did you not know?" Emily asked, a sarcastic smirk on her face. "Oh, right, because you haven't been to her office since she came back. Because you haven't spent more than five seconds with her when it wasn't necessary. If you like her, Dave, grow up and grow a pair."
He'd used the day to plan, to iron out exactly how he was going to face her the next day. Then he'd passed her office long after dinner time that night to find her office light still on. He poked his head in, smiling as baby Henry played with his covered toes in his car seat. Jen had probably put him there when he'd fallen asleep. After nine nieces and nephews, Dave knew infants slept at odd hours. He picked up the baby first, eyes just as wondering as the little blues that looked back at him. There was so much of Jen in the kid's face that Dave felt his heart catch. And he couldn't remember the last time it had happened.
Who was he kidding? His heart had made that same little hitch when he'd thought he'd lost her to Will, the little bastard. He turned with a sigh to find Jen slumped over her desk, files spread beneath her. But Henry demanded attention first and so he did the requisite checks to determine the little tyke was hungry. He searched the little fridge and found bottles, assuming that the way she dealt with Henry was to drop him off with Garcia when she had something she couldn't do from her office. So with tyke and bottle in tow and Emily's words ringing in his head, Dave made his way back to the office and the microwave in the break room. Uncle Dave to the rescue.
Henry seemed to be a happy enough baby as Dave held him in one arm while he heated the bottle. He was getting fussy, but that wasn't a surprise considering. But, from the way Jen was passed out on her desk, he didn't sleep through the night either. He took both bottle and baby back to Jen's office, settling into one of the chairs opposite his desk and popping the bottle into Henry's mouth. This was not what he'd been expecting on his way down the hall.
And why wasn't she at home? She had a young child, heck, a newborn, for all intents and purposes, and she was here well passed the dinner hour. Dave didn't like it one bit. Jen had someone else to worry about now, she had to start taking care of herself to take care of Henry. Maybe Will leaving had been harder on her than even Emily had anticipated. Maybe Emily had toned it down for his benefit. He was already making a mental list of things he could help her with.
Once they got one final barrier out of the way. Because he now knew Will was out of the way, and even if she turned him down, she wouldn't be the first woman who did so. He shook his head as the thought crossed his mind. He'd sworn after his third divorce that he would never put himself in the situation where he could get hurt again. But he wasn't stupid enough to let the chance pass him by. If Jen was willing to hold onto him, cynicism and arrogance included, then he wanted to try. Not just for him, but for her and for Henry. Because he had pull and he was planning on using it, if not for Jen, then to get her baby into a good daycare. It would be one little stress off her back. And maybe he could get Arianna, his sister, to pick up the baby when they had long cases.
He looked up as Jen blinked her eyes open, bleary blue doing nothing but endearing her to him more. "Do you have any idea what time it is?"
"No," she replied with a heavy sigh.
He noticed she wasn't guarded when she first woke up. He wondered how long it would take her to be on her guard considering the minimal time he spent with her these days. He absently wondered how upset she was with him. "Almost nine."
"Hey! Little ears here," he said, twisting Henry so he was settled over his shoulder where he'd tossed the plain white cloth he assumed was for the purpose of burping the tyke. "You should be at home."
She sighed. "I have work to do."
"We all have work to do," he replied, surprised at how calm he was. "Not all of us have a baby."
Her eyes fixed on the baby over his shoulder. "You didn't have to do that."
He shrugged the shoulder not holding Henry as his hand rubbed up and down his little back. "You were sleeping."
"You could have woken me. What are you doing here? Why are you holding him?"
"He got fussy. He wasn't dirty, he didn't seem to calm down until he saw the bottle. And I came here because your light was on. You should be at home."
"Yeah well," she replied.
Dave sat in silence as Jen went about straightening her desk, packing some of the files away in her bag as she moved about. He murmured his appreciation to the baby as the kid let out some of his gas and felt him snuggle into his shoulder. With a sigh, Dave settled him back down in the car seat and reached out for Jen's hand. "We need to talk."
"You know what, Jen. What happened?"
She tried for an unaffected shrug and failed miserably. Her fingers twined with his and he was absolutely shocked to find that she seemed to take strength from him. He'd barely spoken to her. "Will's idea of family didn't seem to fit with the reality. He wanted me to leave the Bureau, I told him I couldn't do it. He said he wanted the 2.5 kids, the white-picket fence, the dog... I told him he was being idealistic and it was difficult enough for me to bring Henry into the world knowing the type of world I was bringing him into. Will didn't like that."
He didn't want, nor did he need her to tell him anything else. "I'm sorry, Jen."
She shrugged and again, missed the nonchalance he was sure she was looking for. "It happens."
He nodded. "It does." He paused. "There's something else I want to talk to you about."
"There is?" Jen asked, in exhaustion. "Does it have to be now?"
"It has to be now. I made the mistake once to wait I'm not going to do it again."
"Wait for what?" Jen asked in confusion.
He sighed. "I was going to tell you... before Will."
"Spit it out, Dave. As you said yourself, it's late."
But he didn't know how to say it. There were few people he trusted with everything in him. The team was definitely the core group and Jen was one of that team. More so, she was the one he trusted most. If she and Emily ever put together everything they'd gathered on him, all of his secrets would be out, of that, he was sure. "Jen, I didn't want to step in the way of your happiness. I will never sacrifice your happiness for anything."
"I'm glad to hear that, I think," Jen replied, leaning against the desk, her hand still wrapped in his. He figured she'd forgotten it was even there.
He stepped closer, the sweet smell of fruit assaulting his nostrils. She always smelled like fruit. "I like you, Jen."
She shook her head. "What does that mean?"
He took her other hand, his thumb stroking over the back. "I want to spend time with you. I want to know more than I know. I want to be beside you, take you out to dinner and the movies. I want to show you my favourite places in the world. I want to hold you close and never let you go."
Her eyes widened with each word, his implication suddenly clear. "You what?"
"I know it seems sudden. I know I haven't spoken with you on a personal level since Henry's birth. I wish I had an explanation other than I was a jerk. I can blame it on the odd feeling in my chest when I saw the three of you together... I didn't want to take away your happiness."
Jen swallowed. "I don't know what to say."
"Say you'll try," he said, voice strong, but eyes, much to his surprise and obviously to hers, showing the underlying vulnerability. "I know I'm dark and cynical and arrogant. I know I've had three wives and too many lovers to count and I'm not here promising you sunshine and happiness forever. We're going to make each other angry, we're going to upset each other, but Jen... I want a chance at making you happy."
She was silent and he could see the wheels turning in her head. She looked down, down at their hands still linked together. He held his breath.
"I don't know," she said finally. "I trust you, Dave, you know that. I trust you with everything."
"Then trust me to try."
"I don't know if I can handle just trying with you," she said softly.
He was sure his ears were playing tricks on him. There was no way she'd just admitted to trying not being enough. "Jen?"
She sighed. "When Will left, I had a lot of time to think about what was going on in my life. I had to make decisions I wasn't sure I was ready to make. But Will pointed something out to me. There has to be more than one reason why I walk into this building every day to look at the most brutal pictures known to humans. I see what one human being can do to another and without the rose-coloured glasses of compartmentalizing. There has to be another reason I come in here. When he left, I thought about it, long and hard, and realized, as much as I came for Pen and for Emily, as much as I love Morgan and Reid as brothers, there was really only one big pull that kept me coming back over and over again. And that was you."
It was his turn for his breath to catch. "It was me?"
"I didn't realize it at the time, didn't realize it until I thought it was too late. Do I love you? Maybe, I'm not even sure, but I know I care deeply for you. And regardless of the women, the cynicism, the endless arrogance, I want to try."
He didn't want to give her time to change her mind. He swept her against his body, one hand cupping the back of her head as she just held her close. "You don't know what you've just given me," he breathed into her ear.
"I'm a package deal, you know," she said quietly. "I come with baggage."
"Henry's not baggage, honey," he replied, separating them and pushing her blond hair back behind her ears.
"Henry is a blessing. I'm talking about the skeletons in my closet. I can't get hurt again, Dave. Not by you."
"And you don't think I have some of my own? Do you remember the Indianapolis case?" he replied with a chuckle. "I don't want to hurt you, Jen, but I do want both of us going into this knowing where we stand. This isn't a promise of a permanent life time commitment right this second. This is about exploring, about seeing where things go. One day at a time. One step at a time."
"Baby steps?" she asked, even as she allowed him to lean in. She tilted her head slightly, her eyes flicking down to his mouth.
He kissed her first, revelling in the experience and the 'right' to do so. She arched into him without the push of his palm, but it was his hand that held her there regardless. Eventually they pulled away, both of them smiling slightly.
"Baby steps," he agreed softly. "I can do baby steps."