Title: Standing Still
Summary: Whilst conducting a custodial interview, Rossi and Prentiss find the nature of their relationship shifting. Things don't go as planned on both fronts.
Do not fear going forward slowly; fear only to stand still.
She can feel the falling debris striking her body, getting caught in her hair, stinging exposed flesh, can feel the pounding of her heart as each foot strikes the ground. She can hear the cave falling away around them, can smell the dank air, can taste the dirt that gets caught in her mouth on the way down. She can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and really, that's the only thing that matters. Getting out alive.
That might prove a little more difficult than imagined, she realizes, when she hears Hewitt swear from behind her. There's a sharp cracking sound, and he falls forward, knocking Emily down with him. She feels a sharp pain shooting through her body as she hits the hard ground. Not having the time to evaluate the status of her health, she scrambles to her feet as quickly as possible, trying desperately to ignore the twinges that accompany the action.
Hewitt attempts to simulate Emily's accomplishment, but groans the moment he puts weight on his left foot. 'I think I broke my ankle,' he moans, reaching towards the rock wall with his hand.
Emily suppresses a sigh. 'Come on,' she says, taking his arm and hooking it around her shoulders. She thinks that carrying him would probably be better for the ankle, but he's six inches taller than her, and fifty pounds heavier, and it would most probably put both of them out for the count. She makes a mental note to accompany Morgan to one of his half-dozen fortnightly gym sessions. As it stands though, a good portion of his weight is on her, and she knows she'll be even sorer tomorrow morning. They hobble forward slowly, and she tries desperately to ignore the bits of rock and dirt that are getting caught in her eyelashes, impeding her vision.
They step out into the sunlight, finally, and Emily swears that it's the most beautiful thing she's ever seen. And the oxygen – oh, God, the oxygen. She sucks down a breath of air, and makes a vow to never go into a place with dubious air quality ever again. They'd been in the mine less than five minutes, but when the world is crashing down around you, five minutes can feel like a lifetime.
It's not far back to Hewitt's car, so she uses the last of her adrenaline rush to get them there, letting herself fall to the ground once she's gotten him into the back seat.
'There is a reason,' she says, pausing to take a breath, 'why people don't go into abandoned mines. They are dangerous.' And she's kind of pissed, considering that Hewitt really, really should have known this. He's a seasoned detective, not a daredevil teenager with something to prove.
'I'm sorry,' he says, grimacing in pain, and she thinks she can almost see tears in his eyes. 'I just…I needed to know.'
Emily knows that reprimanding him isn't exactly going to help right now, so she finds the first aid kit in the trunk of the car, and starts taking a look at Hewitt's ankle. She slips off the shoe and sock, and notes that it has already started to swell. She probes the area gently with her fingers, pulling away only when he gives a sharp hiss.
'I'm pretty sure it's broken,' she says, but then, it's been a while since she's had a first aid refresher course. It probably needs a splint, but she'd prefer to let experts take care of that part, providing, of course, she can get hold of an ambulance.
There's an instant ice pack in the kit, which she squeezes and shakes, which, according to Reid, causes an endothermic reaction. She wraps the pack in a towel that had been sitting next to the first aid it in the trunk.
'Good think you paid attention to Douglas Adams, right?' she asks, putting the wrapped pack against his foot, only really, she's trying to distract him from the pain.
'You should carry a towel everywhere. They can come in pretty handy.'
'I guess that's true,' he grits, as she elevates his leg onto a pile of blankets – also from the trunk.
'But you were a boy scout, right?' she asks. His brow furrows in confusion.
'How did you…'
'Come on,' she grins. 'First aid kit, towel, blankets, torch. "Be prepared," right?'
'Right,' he grunts, with a forced grin. 'I guess I'll have to hand back that Abandoned Mine Safety merit badge.'
'Keep that foot still,' she instructs him, pulling out her phone, with the intent of calling an ambulance, or at the very least, Rossi.
There's a long, jagged crack down the screen. She presses a few buttons experimentally, holding up the phone to her ear. There's nothing. That's what she gets for keeping the thing in her pocket.
'You have a phone?' she asks Hewitt. He gestures silently towards the front of the car, where she finds it in a compartment in the center console. She dials Rossi's number from memory, hoping like hell that the single bar of reception isn't going to crap out on her.
'Hello?' His voice is slightly frantic, and she's pretty sure that he's driving, judging by the sounds in the background. Why he isn't still interviewing Albright, she's not quite sure.
'Rossi, it's me.'
'Emily, thank God.' And she pauses then, because there is just so much relief in his voice; as if it would have been the end of the world if it hadn't been her on the line. 'Listen, Albright was trying to play us. He never killed those women, he just wanted someone to go looking, and hopefully, get hurt in the process.'
She lets out a shaky breath. 'Well, he succeeded.'
'Em, are you-'
'I'm fine.' She cuts him off before he has the chance to have a heart attack. 'There was a, ah, slight cave-in…while we were inside. Hewitt's ankle could be broken. I'll explain later, but, could you…'
'I'll call an ambulance. Are you sure you're okay?'
She almost laughs at the depth of his concern. 'I'm fine,' she reiterates. 'Some bruises and scrapes, but nothing life threatening. Trust me.' He must be at least partially satisfied with her answer, because he hangs up then, promising to be there soon, with an ambulance in tow.
* * *
He breathes a shaky sigh of relief as he hangs up. He takes a moment to regain his composure before calling for an ambulance. After having received no answer from Emily's cell, he had instructed Garcia to track the GPS on Detective Hewitt's car. That had been twenty minutes ago. Now that he knows that she's safe, or at least that she claims she's safe, he slows down a little bit, so that he's actually driving the speed limit. He's fairly sure that even with that taken into consideration, he'll still arrive a few minutes before the ambulance.
It's another twenty minutes before he actually gets there, the sudden braking throwing up dirt, and he's not entirely sure why he's still feeling slightly panicked. Emily's alive, and she's uninjured, and there's absolutely no reason for his heart to be racing this hard, but it is, and not knowing why terrifies the crap out of him.
He looks around, and at first he can't see her, he can just see the dark blue Ford with its rear left-side door wide open. There's a flurry of movement in the front of the car, and he realizes that she's sitting in the passenger's seat. Evidently noting his arrival, the door swings open, and she steps out to greet him.
She looks like crap.
That's the pragmatic part of him talking, of course. Her hair is messed up, and her clothes and skin are streaked with dirt, and she has tiny scratches all over her body. A thin trickle of blood runs down the side of her head. There's a different part of him that thinks that in spite of all this, she's still the most beautiful woman he's ever seen.
'Hey,' she greets him. Her eyes are slightly wide, and he thinks that behind the façade of strength, she's still shell-shocked. As dangerous as the job can be, near-death experiences aren't exactly everyday events. He wants to hug her, but settles instead for a pat on the shoulder.
'How is he?' he asks, even though it's really not the question he wants to ask.
'In pain,' she says, adding, after a moment's consideration, 'Kind of ashamed that he went in there in the first place.'
And that's all it takes for Rossi to know how this had gone down. He knows enough about guilt, enough about cold cases, to know that sometimes you're willing to do anything, even if it means your life.
'Emily, you should get checked out,' he tells her, when the ambulance finally does arrive, and she gives him a look of sheer exasperation.
'David,' she says. 'Trust me, I'm fine.'
'Please, just…humor me.' He needs to know that she's really alright; her assurances aren't going to be quite enough to convince him that she isn't nursing a stealth concussion behind those bruises.
'Fine.' She rolls her eyes at him affectionately and reports the paramedic that had been standing there, as though waiting for her. Hewitt's being loaded onto a stretcher, making a loud moaning sound. Rossi's no doctor, but he guesses that it had been a pretty bad break. Hewitt might be many things, but he isn't about to admit to pain so easily.
The paramedic gives Emily a brief examination, checking her balance and reflexes and making sure that the rest of her is free from debilitating injuries. He gives her the all clear, but recommends a good night's sleep. Rossi privately breathes a sigh of relief. The last thing he needs is to call Hotch and tell him that Emily's been checked into hospital – on a custodial interview, no less. He'll tell Hotch what had happened when they return, of course, but right now he wants to just get back to the hotel. They're booked in for another night, so providing nothing unexpected happens in the next eighteen hours, they should be on their way back to Quantico tomorrow morning.
So they drive back – or rather, Rossi drives – in silence, but it's not an awkward silence, it's a calm, comfortable thing. She refuses the offer to stop and buy painkillers, stating that no self-respecting woman would go anywhere without Advil. He's not about to ask for elaboration; he'd figured out the answer to that one not long after his first marriage.
It's barely mid-afternoon by the time they get back to the hotel, and Emily's looking exhausted, and he doesn't quite blame her. It's not just the physical tiredness, but the mental exertion of the interview, culminating in a profiler that's having trouble keeping her eyes open. He sees her to her room, but stops short of accompanying her into the shower – he figures that would be taking things a little too far.
He goes back to his own room, and lays down atop the mauve comforter, flicking on the TV. A search for something decent to watch is fruitless; at this time of day, he's hard-pressed to find anything other than soaps and talk shows. He closes his eyes to the sound of silence, figuring that he could probably do with an hour or two of sleep anyway.
* * *
She sheds her clothes, wincing as fabric brushes the multitude of scrapes on her skin. All in all, she thinks she got out of this one easy, considering she could well have died in that mine. Small favors. Her eyes are itching a little, so she searches through her toiletry bag, looking for the eye drops that she knows are in there somewhere. There are half a dozen of them in her purse as well, reserved for those cases where she needs to spend another twelve hours on her feet without feeling like a complete wreck. The saline solution helps, but it's only the first step.
The needles of hot water sting her skin, as the blood and dirt wash away. They stains the water a reddish brown, and it's almost hypnotic as it circles the drain. She closes her eyes. It's not the pain that's the problem – she can live with the pain. Her mind is simply a jumble of events. She's tired and confused and really needs to know what all of this means. Needs to know why all of this has happened. There's Rossi, and there's Albright, and there's Hewitt and all three of them seem hell bent on screwing with her, even if not all of them had realized they had been doing it.
She dries herself off, and disinfects and puts bandages the wounds that look like they might need it. She had never been a boy scout – or a girl scout, for that matter – but she had spent enough time exploring foreign countries as an adolescent to know that preparation never really goes awry. Fifteen had been the first time she'd made the mistake of being really not prepared, and it's something she's had to live with ever since.
The Hello Kitty pajamas go on, and she relishes in the warmth, and the softness, and the cleanliness, and, above all, the safety that it seems to give her. Just like Rossi.
But no. He might be safe, but she really has nothing but her overactive imagination to vouch for the other factors. Safety in itself, though, has been something in short supply for every relationship she's had in the past five years – relationships she can count on a single hand.
She slips into the bed, curling into the covers. She's starting to ache a little now, in addition to the stings of her just bandaged wounds, but it's not really bad enough to dig through her bag looking for the Advil, and she really doesn't feel like getting up right now. Instead, she lets herself drift off into a fitful sleep.
* * *
He wakes up at around five o'clock; through the crack of the curtains, he can see that the sky is a brilliant shade of orange, lit up by the last rays of the setting sun. Truthfully, he's surprised that he had slept for that long, having only intended to rest his eyes for half an hour, or so.
The first thing he does is call Correctional Officer Rosenberg, apologizing for his hasty departure, though he's not sure he really means it. There's no extra paperwork to be done, and there's nothing more that they can do with Albright, so he sees this as a kind of informal wrap-up to the day's proceedings. Not the way he would have gone about it, given the choice.
Rosenberg thanks him, giving assurances that Robert Albright will be transferred to Lucasville for execution next week, and Rossi can't help but think Good riddance.
It's been a while since that sandwich this morning, and he's starting to feel hungry, so he grabs the keys to SUV, and heads out to the elevators, pausing only to knock softly on Emily's door. There's no answer, so he assumes that she's either still asleep, or avoiding him, and he's hoping like hell that it's the former.
He stops by the same Chinese restaurant as last night, because the food's good, and he can stop by the liquor store tonight. He buys a couple of bottles of Merlot, rationalizing that if they don't get drunk tonight, then he can always drink them at home. The clerk raises an eye at his purchases; the cost of the wine doesn't really correlate with the cartons of Chinese food in his other hand. He figures he's got a fair chunk of money sitting around that he doesn't have time to spend, so he may as well use it for something he's going to enjoy.
When he gets back to the hotel, he knocks a little louder on Emily's door; if she sleeps any longer now, she'll be twisting and turning all night. She answers the door in those ridiculous pink pajamas, and he can't help but smile. It's a disguise, in a way; she looks so innocent, so helpless in the things, and yet he knows that the woman beneath them is one of the strongest people he knows. Of course, there's another part of him that's simply thinking Hello, kitty.
She looks a hell of a lot better than she did a few hours ago, the cuts and bruises on her face are a lot cleaner, and her hair is still damp from the shower. She steps back wordlessly to let him inside, and he figures that she's pretty hungry as well, considering it's been just as long since she's eaten, and her day has been much more exhausting. She hasn't taken any painkillers as it turns out, so she is perfectly happy to indulge in the wine. He remembers the last time she drank, and makes a mental note to ensure that she drinks responsibly tonight. But not too responsibly, he adds.
And that's the mentality that has him taking a plunge off the deep end, because if he screws this up, he's not only destroying a friendship, he'll be affecting the team. All the rumor say that David Rossi is the reason for the rules in the first place. They're not wrong.
He leans in slowly, giving her time to pull away if she doesn't want this.
She doesn't pull away.
* * *
Their lips lock, and it's both slow and intense at the same time. He seeks out the most sensitive parts of her mouth, probing. Part of her can't help but remember that he's probably had a lot of practice with the more intimate elements of a relationship. Her own past experiences haven't exactly been characterized by emotional closeness. He has his own troubles with committed relationships, she knows, but they're a different kind of troubles.
'David…' she whispers, as they pull away, and she can't help but cringe at the needy tone of her voice. It has definitely been a while.
'Do you want me to stop?' he asks, face jumping from bliss to concern.
'No,' she replies, decidedly. 'I want this. I want you.'
If he notices the hints of desperation, he doesn't say anything. Instead, he cups her cheek in one hand, the other trailing her torso to rest on her hip. He kisses her again, and she feels his firm fingers brushing up her abdomen to her bare chest.
All of a sudden, she feels far too clothed, so she pushes his jacket off, in the hopes that he'll get the hint, and reciprocate. He doesn't, straight away, so she pulls his shirt from his pants, and starts unbuttoning it slowly, methodically. He pulls back, letting his fingers dance over the tiny trademarked kittens across her breast. 'You do realize that the target demographic for Hello Kitty is the under tens?' he says, a smile twitching on his lips.
She slaps his bare chest playfully. In her lonelier moments, she'll admit (under pain of death) to having had certain fantasies about the male members of the team. With Reid, it's intellectual, with Morgan (though he's not an unintelligent man) it's physical, and she doesn't even want to start thinking about Hotch like that. But with Rossi, she imagines it as being just the right amount of mental and physical. He's one of the foremost experts in criminal behavior, and for a man of fifty and some change, he's definitely still got muscles in all the right places. She can definitely feel something she likes pressed up hard against her thigh.
He lifts her pajama top slowly then, taking care to lay kisses along the underside of her breasts.
'I would have thought you were a clit man,' she says, and almost thinks that she's made a big mistake, but then he looks up, smiling, and says:
'I appreciate beauty in all of its forms,' he replies, and for a moment, she's stunned. Yeah. She definitely doesn't deserve David Rossi.
If he notices her hesitations – which he probably does – he doesn't show it, and for some reason that makes a tear spring to her eye. The compartmentalization thing doesn't work so well in such an emotionally-charged situation. It's different to cases. Cases are something she can deal with, something she can understand. She doesn't understand love.
She lets her fingers work on his belt anyway, because if she idles for too long, then he's definitely going to say something, and she doesn't want to draw attention to her emotional problems.
'You're beautiful,' he whispers, and she feels her heart twang. She's going to burst into tears if he keeps talking like this.
Her hips cant upwards as he slips off the pajama bottoms, and suddenly she's lying there in just her black panties, bared for the world to see. Or bared for David Rossi to see, as the case happens to be. He's already seen part of what lies beneath the façade, and he isn't flinching.
Their hands meet at the button of his jeans, and it's a short step from there to Rossi – Dave. She should really call him Dave when he's doing these kinds of things to her – fumbling around for a condom. A condom from the packet he had picked up at the 7-11 when he bought dinner, apparently.
'You were that confident you were going to get lucky tonight?' she asks breathlessly, watching as he rolls the condom on.
'Didn't I tell you?' he says, 'I'm a profiler.' He pushes inside of her, and his words might have meant more if she wasn't gasping for air. It's been a long time and she's sure as hell going to be sore in the morning.
She wants to say something like, "Oh God," but all she can manage are a few breathless pants. His hand cups her ass, pulling her closer towards him. The pace is perfect, and she's starting to feel the edges of an orgasm coming on, which is more than she can say for the last person she had slept with.
He comes not long after her, holding up his weight with his forearms. They're both breathing heavily, and it's a while before she manages to find enough oxygen to say, 'Jesus Christ, Rossi.' The words come out as a half sob, and she realizes that she's crying the same time Rossi does. He pulls out, taking a few seconds to dispose of the condom and then readjusts his position. His thumb brushes across her cheek, wiping the tear away.
'Are you alright?' he asks. 'Did I hurt you?'
She shakes her head, the tears merging with soft laughter. 'No, it's…I'm sorry. I get a bit…hormonal sometimes.'
He curls an arm around her abdomen, pulling her in closer once again, and she can feel that warmth, that safety. That he's taken the initiative in holding her gives the assumption that they'll both be sleeping in her room tonight. And she's okay with that.
'Productive day, though,' he says, and she can almost see him grinning.
'Yeah,' she almost snorts. And that reminds her; 'We should probably check in on Hewitt. Make sure he'll be on his feet soon.'
'You're trading me in for a new model already?' he asks, and it's with the tone of someone who's committed, and she's entirely sure what she thinks of that, except that she's completely and utterly terrified.