Chasing Demons

***

Warning: Major Demonology spoilers. Thanks to Windy City Dreamer for getting me through that Demonology wait :P.

By the time Emily had made it back to her apartment building, the snowfall had slowed somewhat. Soft, gentle flakes drifted slowly to the ground. She had spent almost three hours outside in the freezing cold, and yet the cold didn't matter. Her mind was focused on other things. She stared at that photo for ten minutes at least, thinking of happier times. Times before she had gotten pregnant at fifteen. Times before Matthew's life had gone to hell.

For all the guilt she still felt, she wondered. If she had kept that child, would things have turned out any different? Instead of mourning his death, would she be with him now, joking about how it isn't as cold as Russia, or maybe lamenting the fact that Rome had better food.

She'd have a child then – a daughter, or maybe a son. God, they'd be an adult now. Just thinking about it made her feel old. How many times in her life had she regretted that decision? It wasn't just about guilt, it was the hindsight bias; she's given up on her one chance to have a child. It was too late now; not only did work consume her life, there was no-one on the horizon that she could even imagine as the father.

She almost laughed when she saw Rossi standing beside her front door. Almost as if fate had known what she was thinking. She pushed away the thought; she really didn't need to be thinking about that right now.

He gave a wry smile the moment he noticed her, looking critically at the wetness of her hair and jacket. In his left hand was a bottle of expensive scotch.

'I would have found a way in, turned the heater on for you...but I think I've intruded in your personal life enough today,' he said.

She made a sound that was half-sob, half-laugh. David Rossi was nothing if not frank.

She dug in her pocket for her keys, though it took a moment; she was only just regaining the feeling in her fingers.

'You were gone a little longer than I expected,' Rossi commented as he put the bottle of amber liquid on her kitchen counter.

'I...' She couldn't find the words to express what she was feeling. The pain, the anger, the sorrow, the guilt. It was all melding into one big confusing mess. 'I'm going to go put on some dry clothes,' she settled on.

By the time she returned, tousling her damp her with a towel, he had already poured two glasses of the scotch.

'You don't have to talk,' he told her. 'I'm just making sure you're not alone.'

She nodded silently, staring at the glass. How good would it feel to just drink until she forgot today had ever happened?

The liquid burned her throat; she had thrown it back like it was water.

Rossi raised an eyebrow. 'I'm not taking you to get your stomach pumped in this weather.'

She did not answer, and he immediately noticed the silent tears that had started to fall down her face. He had not seen her cry before then; today, she had almost reached breaking point, but at most, he saw her eyes just a little moister than usual. These were real, unfettered tears.

'John was the father,' she said eventually, and as if there was some confusion, she added, 'John Cooley.'

He nodded. He had suspected as much from the way they had interacted. There was still some slight tension between them, even after almost twenty-five years.

'Even without the religious thing, it still tore us apart. Matthew was upset with John for freaking out – they stopped talking to each other for a while. I tried to help Matthew through his doubts, but I couldn't do it alone. Not like how he helped me.'

He nodded, not wanting interrupt her. He could see that there was still so much emotion bottled up inside. She had kept herself mostly closed off in the time that he had known her. He didn't want to waste the opportunity to let her open up a little.

'And then...some kind of cruel irony. The one chance I had at a child was at a time when I was still a child myself. I never even came close to parenthood as an adult. Sometimes I wonder if that's my punishment.' There was some scorn in her voice as she said the last words. Then, the tears fell more quickly. It was the pain, the anger, the sorrow, the guilt, all being released at once.

Rossi put an arm around her. 'I'm here for you,' he told her.

'Thank-you.' She gave him a pained smile. 'Really, Dave – thank-you.'

'Judging by the concern from the rest of the team, I'd say you'll be getting a few more visits from concerned friends before the night is through.'

'Yeah,' she said. 'But they won't have brought the expensive scotch.'

He smiled, too, then.

He got the feeling that she would be okay.