Title: Still Standing (4/4)
Rating:
R
Fandom:
Criminal Minds
Universe:
Standing (Part 2)
Characters/Pairing:
Rossi/Prentiss
Genre:
Romance/Angst
Summary:
David Rossi has never quite become accustomed to being the damsel in distress. A sticky situation has both him and Emily wondering if they've run out of time.
Author's Note: Betaed by Windy City Dreamer, with guest betage by Yellow Smurf.
Warnings:
Some dark imagery – discussion of sexual abuse this chapter, and some violence.

Still Standing

Pray that your loneliness may spur you into finding something to live for, great enough to die for

Dag Hammarskjold

Part Four

'You think this is going to do anything?' he asks, through broken teeth. It hurts to talk, but then, it hurts to do anything. He allows the smallest part of his mind to look forward to his escape from this unsub, to finding Emily and just holding her. He can't afford to think that he might not make it out, or that she might be dead. 'I'm not the murderer, here, Eric.'

'You'll hurt them!' Briscoe says, angrily, but he doesn't lash out, which is something.

'Hurt who, Eric? Hurt my children? I've been married three times, but I don't have any kids. I don't have anyone to hurt.'

'That won't stop you,' he seethes. 'My father…A monster.'

'What did he do, Eric?' Rossi presses, an act which only earns him another kick to the gut. He feels a rib crack, and it becomes just that little bit harder to breathe. 'What did your father do to you that you can't see past?'

He's already figured it out, from the ambiguous declaration from Briscoe not long before. But he doesn't want ambiguity. He needs Briscoe to admit to his past, so he can move past it. This dark, claustrophobic cell isn't the ideal place for an intervention, but they won't be getting a Freud couch anytime soon.

'He…hurt me,' says Briscoe, and even in the darkness, Rossi can tell that the man is choking back tears. 'The same way those boys' fathers hurt them. He would hold me down, and take off my pants, and he would…he would force himself on me.'

'And he was all you had, wasn't he? There was no-one else to tell you that it was wrong, that it wasn't normal. You had to figure it out for yourself.'

There was silence for a few moments, and then Briscoe spoke. 'Afterwards, he would ruffle my hair, and call me "sport," and then we'd always go out for pizza the next night. Like it was some kind of reward for not telling.'

'Who called it in?'

'A teacher. She saw the bruises. Saw the way I "shied away from any male authority figure."' There's another long silence, during which Rossi notes that he's making progress.

'Michael Summers and Timothy Ford; they had the support network you didn't.'

Briscoe says nothing.

'You could have called Social Services. Those boys didn't have to die, Eric.' He's speaking with a little more intensity now. Putting the pressure on.

'Their lives were already ruined,' Briscoe yells, and he does break, but not in the way that Rossi had intended. The profiler feels every blow at first, but then his body starts to numb, and he instead feels dull thumps against his already tenderized skin.

Briscoe stops.

On the edge of unconsciousness, Rossi lets their eyes lock. 'Who's the monster now, Eric?' he says, before passing out.

***

They have an address.

It's one of the many residences that Eric Briscoe had lived in during his childhood, both under the care of his father, and as a foster child. The house in question had belonged to Briscoe's grandmother, and had been left to Briscoe upon her death. Due to the amount of name changing and paperwork, the residence had fallen through the cracks on their first search.

The house isn't that far from where the boys' bodies had been dumped. Not far from Briscoe's apartment. If anywhere, this is the house where he had administered the shots that sent Michael Summers and Timothy Ford to their deaths.

They're all on edge as they strap on their Kevlar. An agent in danger always throws them for a loop. To have it be Rossi just seems foreign. He's always been the one that remains curiously out of danger, no matter how often every other member of the team gets shot at, or kidnapped, or held hostage. It's one of those things they joke about sometimes, when they're all trying so hard not to think of how serious the situation is.

They're not laughing now.

Briscoe's had Rossi for several hours now, during which time he could have done anything. Thanks to the profiler's resemblance to Briscoe's father, they're assuming that this "anything" wouldn't exactly have been a tea party.

Hotch keeps his eyes straight ahead as he drives. He doesn't need Reid to tell him the statistics. He's lost team members before – not always to death, but then, they've always walked that fine line. He'd lost Elle, almost lost Reid. Lost Gideon. Lost Kate. Haley and Jack fall into a different category, but he still can't help but think that he's lost them too.

They have the house surrounded within minutes of getting there. If Briscoe's inside – with or without Rossi – there's no way he's escaping by conventional means. There's a chance he might take death over imprisonment, but that's another kind of escape, one that Hotch isn't about to facilitate.

They bust the door down, half the S.W.A.T team taking the top floor, the other half taking the ground. It's Morgan that finds the door to the basement. He calls Hotch over, and they both stare at it for a few seconds, before Hotch gives a slight nod.

Morgan steps forward, and kicks the door in.

There's not much light down there, but there's enough to see the shadowy figure standing over an unmoving body. The shadowy figure is Briscoe, Hotch notes, as his eyes adjust to the light.

'Eric Briscoe,' he says, stepping forward. 'Drop the gun.' There's a gun in Briscoe's hand – it's either the gun he shot Emily with, or it's Rossi's gun.

'Is it true?' the figure asks. 'Am I really a monster?'

Hotch doesn't answer – not because he doesn't have the answer, but because he doesn't have time to say it. Briscoe is already swinging the weapon towards him. He squeezes the trigger once, and hears Morgan doing the same beside him. It's not the desired outcome – he much would have preferred a death-free takedown – but he puts the life of his team above the life of an unsub.

He goes straight for Rossi, letting Morgan deal with Briscoe. There's a pulse, but to say the veteran profiler looks like hell is an understatement. His face is marred with bloody cuts and bruises; both his eyes look like they're swollen shut.

'Get the paramedics down here,' he calls out, vaguely aware of the slightly panicked sound in his voice. They'd arranged for the ambulance to follow them, knowing that it would be more likely than not that Rossi would be in a bad state. The body moves beneath his touch.

'Hotch?' Rossi groans, his voice slurred. ''zat you?' There's blood coming from his mouth, Hotch notices.

'It's okay, Dave,' he says. 'We've got you.'

'Eh-' Rossi coughs, letting out more blood. 'Emily?'

'She's alive,' he says, Rossi's words confirming his suspicions about the relationship between the two profilers. As if that's the only thing he needs to hear, Rossi promptly passes out again, and Hotch steps back to let the paramedics do their work.

***

Emily can't sleep.

She's worried about so many things – about Dave, about the baby. Her mind is moving at a hundred miles a minute. She's exhausted, and yet it's as though her body and her mind are intent on keeping her awake.

Of course, she's grateful for that when JJ shows up.

There's a look of concern on the media liaison's face. Emily's profiling skills kick in immediately, noting that it's not sorrow, which means he's still alive, but that doesn't stop her breathing from speeding up just that little bit.

'JJ…' she says, leaving her plea unsaid. JJ knows not to draw this out too long, or to sugarcoat it.

'He took a few blows,' she reveals, 'A few broken bones, a lot of bruising. But there's no lasting damage. The nurse is getting a wheelchair.'

'I can see him?' she chokes out, almost in disbelief. The team knows her all too well. She hadn't even asked, and if the request had been denied, she's not so sure she would have been beyond begging. To know that she doesn't even have to is like music to her ears.

He's unconscious when she gets there, and according to the doctor, he'll probably be out for a little while longer. His wounds have been stitched up, but he still looks like hell, and the first thing she does is reach for his hand with her good one.

The sling makes it a little awkward, but she needs the contact. She needs to know that he's still alive.

'Briscoe?' she asks Hotch softly, the Unit Chief standing on the other side of the bed, as if guarding them.

'He's dead,' he says shortly, and she knows there's more to it, but she isn't going to press him for details. Right now, she's just glad that Rossi – Dave – is alive.

'I want to stay,' she says firmly, not about to take no for an answer.

She falls asleep holding his hand.

***

She wakes up a couple of hours later, when he's stirring. Their hands are still intertwined, but her other shoulder is throbbing, so she pulls away, feeling the loss of contact.

'Em?' he mumbles, the drugs in his system evident from the fuzziness of his tone.

'I'm here,' she says, the exhaustion and the pain shining through. She's grateful that no-one had moved her, but the consequence of her stubbornness is agonizing. 'How're you doing?'

'Been worse,' he grunts, which she's pretty sure is a lie. She's heard all the tales of his professional disasters, and none of them had ended this badly. 'You okay?'

'Been worse,' she echoes, which causes him to make a sound that's half-way between a snort and a laugh. 'The bullet didn't do any major damage. I'll be slinged up for a while, but I'll be fine.' She doesn't tell him what else the doctors had discovered during her hospital stay, figuring that she'll probably leave that revelation for a time when his memory won't get muddled up by narcotics. 'You scared me, Dave,' she says softly, as much an admission to herself as it is to him. 'You scared the ever-living crap out of me. I didn't know…' If you were dead or alive; the words she can't bring herself to say.

'Likewise,' he says.

Even though her shoulder still throbs, she lets her fingers grasp his again, and she stays until they kick her out.

***

Two weeks later.

They're both still on leave, the team having made up for their absence by requisitioning a pair of agents, whom, in Morgan's words, "ain't got nothing on you guys." Even still, things were hectic.

After she'd revealed her pregnancy to Rossi, he had insisted on turning one of his spare rooms into a nursery, despite the fact that he had still been on antibiotics at the time, and was in no condition to be involved in any DIY.

Now, the room is stripped of all furniture, but they haven't gotten around to painting the walls, or putting a crib together. Privately, she thinks they should get Morgan in, their resident renovator, but she knows that Dave wouldn't take well to letting another Alpha-male take over the proceedings. She thinks it's a good sign – that he'll take a proactive stance in bringing up his child.

He'd taken the news better than she'd expecting, especially considering the outcome of their last case. Eric Briscoe had weighed heavily on their souls, but on his most of all.

They're lying on the sofa in his living room, positioned in such a way that their still-healing wounds are exacerbated as little as possible. His hand palms her stomach.

'Alfonso?' he suggests. She knows he's joking, but takes the bait anyway.

'Maybe something a little less Italian,' she says, leaning into him. 'How about Rodriguez?' She rolls her R's appropriately, eliciting a chuckle from him. 'Or,' she adds, with a tone that makes it clear she's still joking, 'We could name it after one of the team. Spencer…Penelope.'

'Erin,' he cuts in. After she's finished laughing, he adds, a little more seriously, 'I think we've got a while to figure it out. In the meantime, though…' He lets his hand slide a little further up her abdomen.

She grins.

'David Rossi.' She turns in his arms, ignoring the tiny sparks of pain that should through her shoulder. 'I like the way you think.'