DISCLAIMER: Don't own anything associated with the show… I just like playing with the characters in it from time to time. Dance Monkeys! Dance!
RATING: T - Teen
SPOILERS: Post Ep for S03XE11 Birthright & the DVD Deleted Scenes.
WORD COUNT: 3551
SUMMARY: Dave is haunted by many things from his past and one just keeps coming back.
A/N: This started out as a crack-fic to bribe my beta to work on something, but somehow it turned into a bit of an angst monster.
REVIEWS: Reviews are the way I know if people are enjoying the work or not. So, if you leave one, THANKS! And if not, I hope you found at least a little something to brighten your day, and thanks for taking the time to read.
Running into one of his ex-wives was bad enough all by itself, but running into Janeane was bad on a scale similar to the hurricane rating system. Running into her after his third bourbon and branch rated somewhere in the neighborhood of nuclear winter.
He was already wound tight from his slip with Prentiss, and then his conversation with Sheriff Caufield really messed with his head. He went to the King George Tavern in Falls Church just to get away from his own thoughts for a little while. The rich mahogany paneling, the leather booths, the antique handcrafted bar and matching stools with the velvet cushions was comforting to him. It was very old school, just like him.
Not that long ago, it was one of the most exclusive taverns in Old Virginia. But times change, and now the King George was like every other tavern in the area. The only way they kept up their reputation was with their pricing. The "Average Joe" was not about to drop ten bucks on a beer. Besides, the King George had never sullied their stock with a Bud or a Miller High-Life in its entire history.
Normally, he was a Scotch man, but something about being in an old Southern tavern told him he needed to drink bourbon and branch. It was Maker's Mark Kentucky Straight Bourbon, and the King George even stocked real branch water from the distiller, so as not to cause any contrast with the liquor. It went down smooth and easy, and it warmed him in a way that helped to wash away the troubles of the day. And the warm glow of the liquor made it easier to ignore the ghosts threatening to come forth in his mind. Tonight, he just wanted it all to melt away like the ice in his glass, blending with the liquor and helping him to forget.
He just wanted one night where the screams and cries of those ghosts were put to rest. If he could get that one night, then maybe everything else would look better in the morning. First thing he needed to do in the morning was apologize to Prentiss for crossing the line. He never should have snapped at her like that; calling her out when she was just trying to apologize if something she said had upset him before. And he definitely should not have done it in the car, on a case, with Morgan a few feet away. Not when she could have seen it as a reprimand, instead of a friendly suggestion. That was, if he meant it as a friendly suggestion. Her analysis of him in his new office had hit a little too close to home, and he had to wonder if his chastising of her was not a case of retribution.
The truth was he just was not used to dealing with the team dynamic yet, and he was feeling a little exposed around so many keen observers. Not to mention, he had very limited experience handling female agents as equals. And with Prentiss it was even worse. She was a born profiler. Her background in politics sealed her fate before she could even dream of joining the FBI. With her he really had to watch his step, because she seemed able to read him better than the rest of the team. He still had a lot to learn about this incarnation of the unit he had worked to create. The whole thing had become far more of a learning experience than he ever imagined it could be.
A lot of things were different about the BAU. It was no longer a lone wolf boys' club. The Johnny Walker therapy so many of those early agents subscribed to was a thing of the past, replaced with exit briefings and mandatory psych evaluations. But there he was after another rough case ordering up his fourth drink when a woman sat down beside him and called to the bartender. "Make that two, would ya? And make them both doubles."
His eyes immediately slammed shut and he felt his entire body clench up. He would know that voice anywhere. Trapped, he just waited for the inevitable. "So, it's either a bad case, or you've screwed it up with the…third...Mrs. Rossi? Or wait, maybe it's four now."
"Nice to see you, too, Janeane." He pushed the empty glass forward on the bar and sighed. "And there's no 'Mrs. Rossi' at the moment, thank you very much."
"Wow, you must be slipping in your old age, David." Her words dripped with sarcasm and Dave wished she would just disappear.
The bartender took away his empty and left them to their conversation with two highball glasses in front of them. She waited for him to take his glass and when he sat still, Janeane made a disgusted noise as she reached for hers. "To the good old days…instead of our old age."
Dave chuffed at her toast, and reaching for his glass he spat out, "Speak for yourself." In one smooth movement, he took a solid slug from the glass and prayed the liquor would numb the pain of Janeane's company.
Before she had a chance to say anything else, Dave asked, "So, am I just cursed with lousy luck where you're concerned, or were you specifically looking for me this time?" As he finished, he got up from the stool and moved to one of the booths. If she was here to kick him while he was down, he at least wanted a little privacy for the abuse.
Sliding in on the other side of the booth, Janeane shook her head and clucked. "Fine way to greet an old friend, David, with suspicion and disdain."
"Janeane…we haven't been friends since before we got married, and we sure as hell haven't been friends since the divorce. The way I figure it, you either want something from me, or you're just here to amuse yourself in my misfortune. So, which is it this time?"
"Well, if you're gonna be that way…" She took a very unladylike slug from her drink. Janeane always could match him drink for drink. "I heard through the grapevine you were back in action and I wanted to make sure you hadn't lost your mind."
"The grapevine?" It unnerved him to think there might be some network of people in his life, both past and present, keeping tabs on him. Especially if that network included Janeane.
"Oh please, you can untwist your shorts, David." She took another drink and explained, "There's no great conspiracy at work here…I saw an article in the Post."
He stayed quiet after that. It bothered him that Janeane seemed to still know him well enough to figure him out. After several minutes of silence as he stared into his glass, Janeane huffed and waved to the bartender. "Fine… If you won't talk willingly, we'll do this the hard way." The man from the bar came to their booth and she asked him, "Can you bring us a bottle of single malt Scotch and two glasses, please?"
That was pretty much his last clear memory as he was roused from under the blanket of inebriated unconsciousness by the stark ray of sunshine stabbing him in the right eye. He never realized how powerful and sharp the sun could be until it tried to actually burn his eye straight out of the socket.
He tried to turn his head away from the solar flares aimed at it, but that proved to be harder than he ever remembered it being before. The moment he tried to pick it up to move it felt like the Marine Corps Band was tuning up and they were using his head. He tried to groan, but was stopped by the large, fur bearing creature which appeared to have taken up residence in his mouth.
The pain and agony he felt at that moment was enough to make him swear off bourbon for the rest of his natural life. Just as soon as that bass drummer stops pounding the beat of "From the Halls of Montezuma" inside my head.
What he thought was a groan came out like a distraught whimper from a wounded animal and his head began to throb even harder. Gathering up all of his strength, while in the grips of the most horrifying hangover of his adult life, Dave was about to roll off the end of the bed he was flung over when it happened; an arm flopped onto his apparently bare back with a thud.
Dave was not alone.
Frozen with fear, he desperately tried to crank the gears of his mind into action. What had he been doing the night before?
They had gotten back from Fredericksburg a little early and instead of heading home, he decided to get a little liquid anesthetic first. He went to the King George Tavern and that was where…
"If you puke on my floor…you're a dead man."
The physical pain of the hangover was nothing compared to the mental anguish Dave was feeling at the sudden realization about where he was and who he was with…while naked. It was totally unbelievable. How could this have happened…again?!
That was probably why he despised Janeane more than any of his other exes; his inability to turn off his libido around her. Even when he was pissed as hell with her, they could still go at it like animals. And that was exactly what it was all about; his baser animal instincts. There was absolutely no higher functioning brain activity when it came to him and Janeane.
He tried to groan again, only it came out like a growl. It was how he felt, like a wounded snarling beast. Dave was furious with himself for letting it happen again.
She patted her hand against the bare skin on his back. "I know the feeling… Never thought we'd get too old for this, huh?" The bed rumbled as she rolled out of it and then slapped her feet across the hardwood floors to what he assumed was the bathroom. They must have ended up at her place in Arlington.
He tried to roll over onto his back, but his head was hanging off the end of the bed, and his legs were knotted up in the sheets. All he could do was groan again, sounding less like a growl now, but still very wounded. If only he could clear the throbbing fury in his skull long enough to remember what happened.
When he felt Janeane drop back onto the bed beside him, Dave realized he must have drifted back off to sleep. From the sickening scent of English Lavender turning his stomach, he could tell she had showered and it told him he had been asleep for a while. He tried to move again, but there was just no use. His head felt like it weighed about fifty pounds and was probably cemented to the end of that damn bed.
Janeane nudged him and he opened an eye to find her outstretched hand holding a couple of white things he had to assume were aspirin. Somehow he managed to command his arm to work and clumsily he grasped at the pills and shoved them in his mouth. He was about to swallow them dry when a bottle of water appeared in his limited vision.
"Drink the whole thing… Maybe then you can do more than grunt and groan." She laughed at him. She actually laughed at him. His anger really kicked in at that point and he roared.
That was what he needed. That roar finally pushed away the effects of way too much alcohol and let the anger of regret takeover his senses. "This is not funny, Janeane. Not the least little bit. How the fuck did we let this happen…again!?"
He turned his head to look up at her and she gave a non-committal shrug. "I don't know… Neither of us has ever been very good letting it all out without a damn bottle in front of us. And when we team up, it gets even worse."
She got up from the bed and crossed the room to a dressing table where she sat down. "It's just what we do, David. Hell, it's how we started out in the first place."
"You don't have to remind me." His tone left no room for confusion about his feelings.
"Ouch." Janeane turned around at the dressing table and started combing out her hair.
"You know what I meant." He struggled again to untangle himself from the sheets.
"Doesn't mean I have to like it." She slapped the brush down and spun around. "It wasn't all bad, David. We had some good times, too."
"If it was all bad we wouldn't have stayed married for eight years. But it wasn't all good either, or we wouldn't have gotten divorced." He was in a fight for his life against his arch nemesis; Egyptian cotton.
As he wrangled with the sheets, Janeane came over to help him. "You know everyone still thinks it was because you were cheating that we split up, right?"
He hated it. It was where his insidious reputation began. But, it was easier to let people believe that than to explain the truth. "Yeah, I know."
She reached down to free his feet from the evil foe and then asked, "Why didn't you just tell the truth?'
"Because it was easier for people to accept me as the bastard." A sad state of affairs, but it was true. People accepted that a man was going to cheat, and they simply moved on. It was never the same for a woman. She was marked for life. At least, that was how it worked back when they were together.
But the more he thought about that time in his life, he also knew that he carried a lot of guilt about their inevitable breakup. The only time he ever opened up to her was at the bottom of a bottle, and it was his shutting her out that ultimately drove Janeane to find comfort in someone else's bed. "Besides…I wasn't completely without blame in our divorce."
Janeane only nodded and continued to help him get out of the bed. By that point he just wanted to get up, take a quick shower and call a cab. But apparently there was more to be said between them. "Sometimes…" Her voice sounded so distant, even though she was standing right there with him. "Sometimes I think we only stayed together as long as we did, because we were paying penance for our sins. Me for not loving you enough to be faithful and you for not loving me at all."
David sat straight up in the bed at her words. He took one of her hands and said, "That was never true, Janeane."
"It's a little true… We had a marriage of convenience, David. We got drunk together, we had sex together, we got comfortable together, and we got married. Love never really entered into the equation until it was too late to change course." She squeezed his hand between hers and smiled sadly, "It wasn't until I lost you that I realized how much we'd both come to care about each other."
He nodded, placing his other hand over hers. "Yeah, that's probably why our divorce got as ugly as it did. There was actually something to fight over by then. But no matter how I tried to work through it in my mind-"
"You just couldn't live with the betrayal once you knew." She bowed her head. "Yeah, I know. It's the one thing you could never forgive. And I don't know, maybe that's why I did it. Maybe it was the only way I knew I could get you to let go of that promise."
A thought entered his head with her confession and it scared him to death. "You think that's why we keep ending up like this?"
"Like what?" At first he thought maybe she was just playing coy, but looking into her eyes, he could see the confusion there.
He gestured at his current location and said, "In bed together after another drunken stupor…that's what."
Janeane laughed at him again. He hated when she laughed at him, because it made his blood start to boil. "Oh, you really were hammered, loverboy." Her increased laughter angered and confused him.
And then, with a wail of laughter, she ripped off the sheet.
He looked down to find his trousers bunched up around his legs, one sock on and one sock sticking out of his pants pocket, his shirt was off and yet still tucked into his pants. For all intents and purposes, he was still fully dressed. He looked back at her in complete disbelief.
"Oh, I'm sure our intentions were to get naked and go at it again…for old time sakes. But the reality is far more depressing than that." Janeane pulled a chair over to the bed to explain. "We were going pretty hot and heavy in the cab on the way over."
Dave buried his face in his hand and leaned back on the bed with the other one. "I don't remember any of it."
"Yeah, well, there wasn't much to remember. We polished off a whole bottle of Scotch between us, bitching and whining about our pathetic lives." He could believe that much. Nothing loosened his tongue like a good bottle of single malt. "And neither of us was in any shape to drive. You were going to find a hotel for the night, given that the price of a cab ride out to your place would even put you in hock, but you wanted to make sure I got home in one piece first."
There was a faint glimmer of memory in his mind as she explained the events of their night. "Halfway here, you took my hand, and in no time flat we were all over each other in the cab. Just like back in the day. It reminds me why I don't drink with strangers anymore." It was true enough, since that was what had caused their breakup in the first place. "Anyway, by the time we got here, you just paid the cabbie and came up with me."
"But we didn't-"
"No…we didn't." She gave him the most serious expression he could ever remember seeing when she said, "I have a strict rule about who I have sex with… If they can't remember my name when we're tearing our clothes off, they don't get any farther."
Dave's eyes bugged out of his head at her admission. What in the hell had he done?
"Anyway, I tried to sleep on the couch after you collapsed on the bed, but it was no use, so I crawled into the side you weren't sprawled on and passed out myself." The corner of her mouth quirked up and she finished with, "And the next thing I heard was your growling in pain."
He sat there for several minutes trying to conjure up memories from the night before. After a while, Janeane stood up and squeezed his shoulder. "Why don't you go take a shower and toss your clothes out of the bathroom? I'll press them so you don't have worry about running home before the office."
Dave nodded and considered his predicament for a few more minutes before he finally got up and went to the bathroom.
He felt much better after the shower, and he was pleasantly surprised to find his pants and shirt hanging off the bathroom door after stepping out of the stall. The fog was starting to clear and he vaguely recalled leaving the King George the night before, even though everything else was a total mystery to him.
Janeane handed him a cup of coffee and a muffin she had gotten from the café on the corner and saw him to the door. He turned to thank her and she held up her hand to stop him. "Please, it was just a little drunken camaraderie between old friends. I think we owed each other at least that."
"Either way…thank you. Thank you for not letting me make a complete ass out of myself, anyway." Dave really smiled for the first time that morning.
"Yeah, anytime, old friend." Dave turned and walked to the elevator.
As he pressed the down button Janeane called, "Hey, David?"
The elevator door opened and he held it as he stepped inside. "Yeah?"
"Do me a favor…" She seemed to chew on the idea of her request before she finally said, "Make sure that girl knows just how much you care about her."
"What girl?" If Dave had been confused before, now he was totally dumbfounded.
"The one you kept calling me last night." His eyes grew wide with shock. "Anyone that can make you that tied up has to be pretty special."
He searched his mind for an answer. "Anyway, have good life, David." Dave nodded and let go of the door. Just as it was about to close he heard Janeane say, "And that Emily's a lucky girl to get you."