Jen slid her sunglasses over her eyes as she stepped into the cool air of the late fall in Washington. It had been months since Dave's departure and though she'd returned to her regular routine, she still felt off. She really didn't like leaving things unsettled and though she had been the one to walk away, it hadn't felt like the closure she'd wanted. So, though she had, for all intents and purposes, ended the relationship, it didn't feel as closed as she expected.
She started off down the street her gait purposeful. It was eleven in the morning, the time every day she made the journey to her absolute favourite coffee boutique in Georgetown. It was her daily break from everything. She stuffed her hands into her pockets to ward off the chill. She loved Georgetown in the fall and it was relaxing.
Her steps faltered and she looked away from the gorgeous fall leaves. She hadn't been imagining his voice. In front of the coffee shop with two cups in his hands was none other than David Rossi.
He held one of the cups out to her. "The barista assures me it's your usual."
She took the cup delicately from him, bringing it to her mouth for a sip. Sure enough, it was her daily cup, done to her usual standards. "Thank you."
Dave's eyes were still fixed on her, watching her carefully. They stayed that way for a few moments before Jen let out a sigh.
"What are you doing here?"
He looked down at the cup he was holding then back up at her. He looked actually nervous. "Can we walk?"
"Sure," she agreed after a moment's deliberation.
They started off down the sidewalk, taking their time, wandering down the picturesque Georgetown street.
"I'm moving back to the DC area," he said after a few blocks.
Her step hitched. "To... You're... Why?"
"It's time," he replied with a shrug, reaching out to grasp her elbow to pull her out of the way of a woman gesturing widely on her cell phone.
"What does that mean?" Jen asked shaking her head in disbelief. She could feel the heat of his hand still cupping her elbow. God, she still wanted him. And the idea of him being in the area more often was thrilling and terrifying at the same time. If he was going to be around more often, did that mean that he was going to be around her more often?
"We're both sick of the constant travel," he told her. "I have a home out in Little Creek I never see, a dog that probably doesn't remember who I am..." He shrugged. "It's time for me to stop the nomadic lifestyle."
She couldn't stop herself from rolling her eyes. "You'll get restless," she told him.
Something akin to surprise flittered across his face. "Aaron's FBI unit is down two agents and he wants me to come back. There's still travel, just... not as much."
"That doesn't answer my question," she said when they'd fallen silent. "What does that mean?"
He tugged her off to a small park, guiding her to a nearly bench. He sat her down and slid onto the bench. "It means I'll be in DC more often than once a year. It means that things are going to be more settled and permanent."
Her heart rate picked up, but she was reluctant to let her heart believe anything. "That's good." She sipped her coffee.
"Probably," he agreed. "The FBI thing is all good to go. I start as soon as I say the word."
"So what are you waiting for?" she asked, fiddling with the top of her cup.
"Incentive to put it off a couple of days," he replied.
She shook her head. "You're talking in riddles, Dave," she said. She didn't appreciate the ups and downs her heart rate was doing. He'd just shown up out of the blue and upended her life. She'd assumed she'd never see him again and having Dave show up...
"We both knew that the minute we started learning about each other, we risked... we risked wanting stability, wanting... permanence. But we couldn't... It didn't matter. Now..."
Jen felt her breath catch, felt her hands start to shake.
"I'm done with superficial," he told her, taking one of her hands in his, leaning close. "I'm done with change. I want consistency, stability... I'm sick of different places, of different people, of different girls... I waited seven months to get to Washington DC, Jen. To get to you. I missed you All I could think of once that trip was booked was seeing you."
"And you did," she murmured, unable to stop the blush that she knew stained her cheeks.
"And I did. And I was... happy."
Her heart jumped. Good Lord, he was killing her.
He looked down at his hands. "I want to try something more permanent," he said quietly. "And since you're in Washington and I'll be working out of Quantico and living in the DC area... I'd like to try with you."
The air rushed out of Jen's lungs and her muscles cramped keeping her from breathing in. Eventually, there was a puff of air. And she started breathing again. "What?" she managed to choke out.
"You and me," he said, risking a step towards her. "A real relationship. Real dates, real fights, real making up... The whole thing."
Her eyes widened. That was a leap of faith she'd tried to convince herself he'd never take. His reputation had said he'd never do it, he'd never want anything more than no-strings. Yet here he was, telling her not only did he want strings, did he want something permanent, but he wanted it with her. "Dave..."
"Say yes, Jen," he said, his hand coming up to her cheek. He felt her breath catch in her throat. "Say this is what you want."
"What I want and what's good for me are two different things," she responded quietly.
"Don't," he pleaded. "Don't run. We are good for each other, you know that."
She looked down at her coffee cup. "But I don't know if..." She sighed. "Look, regardless of the changes you make, your past is still there. What happens when you find someone else? What happens when someone comes along?"
Dave was silent for a moment, his hand still on her cheek. Jen fortified herself for his admission that she was right. His thumb slid under her jaw, forcing her head up until she met his eyes. "I could promise you that I'm not going to do that. I could tell you that I would never be able to leave you, that you're it for me, but those are promises I can't make in good faith. Because every fear you have about me, I have about you too."
Jen's eyes narrowed. "I'm not sure I like the implication."
"I'm not saying you sleep around," he said with an amused chuckle, "but you're a beautiful woman, Cara. And you may get sick of me. You may hate being with me, you may hate my job, you may hate the unpredictability of when I'm going to leave... You may find someone better. There's no guarantees. But I know I like you, Jen and I care about you, a lot. I want you in my life. What happens in the future... I can't predict it and I'm not going to pretend that I can."
She searched his face carefully. He was sincere, honest, and as much as it scared her, it thrilled her at the same time. He never had lied to her, kept things with her very open. They were both aware how their relationship worked prior to the night when they broke all of their rules. And if she was seriously honest, there was a part of her that truly appreciated the fact that he wasn't trying to tell her that he was head over heels for her and, without fail, wanted to spend the rest of his life with her. Adam had made her those promises and failed.
She couldn't lie and say it wasn't something she'd thought about. She'd probably thought about it more than she should have. It was what she wanted and she knew that.
"I can't make you any promises either," she whispered finally. "But I can promise you that I want to be with you."
One arm wrapped around her waist, pulling her into his body while his other hand stayed on her cheek while he kissed her. Jen squeaked, but fell quickly and easily into the familiar feel and taste of her Dave.
Now that was something she could get used to.
And there you have it!
After battling with this pain in my bum (this chapter, not the story!) I finally finished it to some sort of satisfaction and thus, have finished this story! Feels like a win to me.
Thanks to all who reviewed and to those who lurk, I hope you too enjoyed.