Well dear readers, we have come to the end. I wasn't sure how to approach this chapter, so I let Dave and Emily take the reins and say what I couldn't. Bear with me if this chapter seems weak, but there was no other way to write this than from their point of view. Thank you for all your reviews, and more than anything, thank you for taking the time to read these stories. It means more than I can ever express in words. You guys are the best!


Despertar

The snow was falling outside the cabin while inside, Dave added another log to the crackling fire. Stepping back, he replaced the grate and took a seat on the couch. It was new---along with most of the stuff that decorated the house. He had gotten rid of every bad reminder and replaced it with new items--items that someday would create and hold good memories.

And there was another reason for his desire to redecorate: Emily Prentiss.

Dave knew how Emily was fueled by emotion, and although not completely superstitious, she would never have walked back into the cabin if it looked like it had on the last trip. He wanted a do-over and make it up to her. The cabin was the first step.

The second had been to establish a memorial fund for future law enforcement officers in James's name.

The third was being with her during her physical therapy. Although Dave had been shot and beat half to death, Emily's gunshot wound had nearly destroyed her joint capsule. Three surgeries and 3 long months of therapy passed before she could finally come back to work at full duty.

It was during all of this that he found himself falling for her harder and deeper than he had with any other woman. Of course, no other woman had talked to him the way she had, nor risked their life for him by jumping in front of a bullet. Not a night since they were rescued had Dave gone to bed without feeling Emily's arms around him, and the softness of her body pulled tightly against his. But in the morning, he always woke by himself.

At the weirdest moments, he could remember the feel of her lips against his, and he cursed himself for pushing her away. But he'd had to; he was right when he told her that he didn't do pity sex. He made love. Long, slow, thorough love to any woman who occupied his bed. That was just the kind of guy he is. Or was. There was only one woman he wanted to make love to---only one woman he wanted to surrender himself heart, soul, and body completely. Only one woman he wanted to occupy his bed.

He could still remember seeing her leaning over him and calling his name. He had heard the sobs and felt the tears that ran from her eyes to drop on his face. He had wanted so much to reach up and touch her, but he couldn't move. Even when Mudgie licked him, he had only whispered a greeting.

Fevers are peculiar things. He had faded in and out of consciousness so many times after that he had trouble remembering what was real and what wasn't. He knew that the memory of telling Reid that Emily was a "good shot" was real, and the feeling of sleeping on the cot with her was real, but the memory of Emily lying on cool sheets with him was a hallucination.

And somewhere in his hallucinations, he'd told her that he loved her. He had been racking his brain for weeks to remember, but things were still fuzzy. Sometimes he wondered if he would ever be able to separate fantasy and reality from that weekend. One memory that wasn't a fantasy was waking up and seeing Emily sitting beside his hospital bed. Her arm was in a sling, and she was still pretty grimy, but she had to see him and thank him.

Later that day, Hotch had stopped by to check on him and in the way only he could, Hotch bluntly asked Dave what had happened that weekend. And he didn't mean crossing paths with escaped convicts. To the best of his ability, Dave confessed that he loved Emily. And then Hotch was quiet for a very long time.

Once upon a time David Rossi had counseled a young Aaron Hotchner about personal and professional lives and how to keep them separated. Now the shoe was on the other foot. Eventually, Hotch only nodded and told Dave that if he ever hurt Emily he would wish the bullet had gotten him instead of her.

But Dave never got around to telling her how he felt. So many times he had come close, but chickened out. He was unsure how to go about it since it was possible that he had already told her and he didn't want to repeat the declaration twice. But so what? He loved her more than any other woman before in his life. And tonight, he was going to tell her how he felt.

Watching her patter across the hardwood floor in her bare feet (God he loved her feet!), carrying two glasses of his favourite Italian wine, he felt the desire rise. Taking the glass from her, his heart melted at her smile. Yes, tonight was the night.


Emily poured the wine, set the bottle down, and took a deep breath. Standing in the kitchen alone, while Dave started a fire, gave her a few minutes to gather her wits and try to calm down.

It had been five months since that disastrous hunting trip that changed everything that had meant something to Emily Prentiss. The little things she worried about had been sorted, filed, and packed away---maybe someday to be taken out and examined; or maybe not. The big things had been categorized and filed, and one by one she got to them. Although one got to her first.

She would never forget waking up from her first surgery and finding her parents standing by her bed. It had been so long since she remembered her mother holding her hand and saying everything was going to be alright. Never in her wildest dreams would Emily have imagined her father standing beside her bed, holding her hand, and crying.

Emily wasn't sure if it had been the anesthetic or the fact that she had survived that made her finally mend fences with her family. In a way, she had Dave to thank for that. That weekend, although terrible and haunting, had opened her eyes to so many things. Especially her love for him.

It was no secret that Emily was madly, totally, head over heels, completely in love with David Rossi. She had tried to hide it, but Reid had figured it out while she was lying on the stretcher, refusing to leave until they told her Dave's condition. Dave's remark about her being a 'good shot' was the last thing she remembered before losing consciousness.

At the hospital, Emily had demanded that she be helped out of her bed to be by his bedside. Although the bullet had not seriously injured Dave, the fever that ravaged his body for two days had worried the doctors. Disregarding her health, Emily had made sure she was there to hold his hand. When he woke up once the fever broke, she thanked him.

Totally out of character for Emily Prentiss. The old Emily Prentiss, she amended; she was starting over and this trip back to the cabin was only the beginning.

But there was still that little part of her who was worried that Dave didn't feel the same toward her. Yes he had 'confessed' his love during their escape, but he was delirious with fever. Then there were the times he helped her to her physical therapy appointments and when she had had to have two more surgeries. Each time she woke up, her room was filled with dozens of flowers. She remembered blushing when one of the older nurses remarked that Emily was pretty lucky to have a man who loved her that much.

Emily didn't know how to respond because she wasn't sure herself. So many times in her life she had given her heart freely only to have it broken or flung back in her face. So, when Dave told her 'I love you' she hadn't gotten her hopes up, but it didn't stop her heart from wishing.

Although she had fallen in love with the woods, in all honesty, Emily had no desire to ever go hunting again. Nor to step foot in the cabin. Until Dave announced that he had bought a new truck and asked that she come back with him to see the new improvements he had made to his place.

Emily's first reaction had been to say no. Then Dave decided to use his "ace in the hole" and told her that Mudgie was feeling lonely and wanted to see his friend. Emily couldn't say no to Mudgie.

Now as she stood in the doorway of the kitchen and watched Dave stir the fire and then sit on the couch, her heart began to beat fast at the thought that tonight she was going to tell him how she felt.


"Here you go," Emily said, as she handed the wine glass to Dave. Her breath caught at the way his eyes darkened as he took a sip.

Sitting on the other end of the couch, Emily made herself comfortable. Slowly she sipped her drink and stared off into the fire as she tried to get her thoughts together.

"What's on your mind?" Dave asked softly.

Emily took a deep breath, held it, and let it out slowly. A hundred things, she thought to herself. I want to know how you feel---about me, but I'm too afraid to ask. I want to know if that weekend together completely changed us in a good way. But if it changed us in a bad way, can we ever go back? But more than anything, I want--no, I need to know why you brought me out here again. I want to hear you say those three words to me again---without a fever making you delusional.

Instead, she replied: "Nothing."

Dave leaned forward and placed his glass on the coffee table. "I think I know you well enough to translate that 'nothing' as meaning 'too much that I don't know where to start'." Emily looked at him in surprise. He gave her his famous crooked smile and raised an eyebrow. "I'm a profiler, remember?"

"As if I could forget." She placed her glass on the coffee table beside Dave's and leaned back. "Honestly, you want to know?"

"Yes."

"I'm trying to figure all of this out. So much happened last time and I am still trying to come to grips with it. I still have so many feelings to work thru--I don't know if coming out here again was a good idea."

"I know."

Emily looked around at the room. "I like the changes you made."

"I did it for you," Dave replied matter of fact. Emily looked at him sharply.

"You did? Why?"

Dave reached out and took her hand. "Because I knew that you would never have come out here if it looked the same. You don't handle bad memories very well, and I wanted to make it easier for you to walk in and have one less thing on your mind."

"Dave…that must have cost you a fortune."

He shrugged. "I can't take it with me. And if I don't use it, my ex wives will find a way to claim it, so I might as well spend it on some one who would and could really appreciate it." He watched her face change from sad to confusion to apprehensive. "That some one is you, Emily."

"I don't understand."

"Which part? Bringing you out here? Or fixing the place up? Because I thought I made my feelings clear more than a few times."

"I-"

"Why did I bring you out here? Because I like you and I wanted to get to know you better. We are two of a kind---we care too much, we think too much, and we tend to cut ourselves off if there is a chance we can get hurt."

"Dave-"

He put his finger against her lips to silence her response. "Let me speak. I know the fever probably twisted my thoughts and made me incoherent on occasion, but I am quite sure that I made my feelings clear. More than once. You risked your life for me; no other woman has ever made that sacrifice. But you are not just any other woman--you are an incredibly beautiful, strong, and loyal woman and friend. I don't think I could have gotten thru that weekend without you. I can never thank you enough."

"You're welcome," Emily whispered.

Dave sighed. "I know that I am not making any sense. It's the downside of being a writer. If I were putting this on paper, I could say everything and have it be clear. Right now, with you here, even though I've practiced it a hundred times…"

"David Rossi is tripping over his words?"

"Very funny." Dave pulled back and leaned over to reach for the box sitting on the far end of the coffee table. Lifting it, he paused for a moment, then turned back to Emily. "I made this for you. I know it's not the same as sharing a candy bar or taking a bullet, but I hope it helps you understand what I'm trying to say."

Not sure what to expect, Emily took the box and slowly lifted the lid. Carefully she pulled aside the tissue paper to reveal a dust jacket. "A book?" Pulling it out, she turned it over in her hands. "What is this?"

"Open it."

Emily turned the pages to the dedication section. Twice, three times she read the words before they made sense. "To Emily, my inspiration and my reason for writing--Without you, this story would have had a completely different ending." As her eyes filled with tears, Emily looked at him. "What--I don't understand. You wrote a book about that weekend?"

"Why not? Writers are known for getting inspiration from the smallest and craziest things. Although it was a horrible weekend why should that stop me from making something positive out of it?"

"You're crazy."

Dave nodded. "I've heard that before. I think all of my wives called me that more than once." He watched as she continued reading.

"You also dedicated this to James."

"I had to. In fact, all of the proceeds of this book are going to his memorial fund. I figured it was the least I could do."

Emily couldn't stop the tears if she had tried. "David Rossi, you are something else." By the light of the fire, she looked at the title. "Despertar?"

"It's Spanish for--"

"Awakening; I know," Emily finished.

"It's a perfect title. That weekend was an eye opener for me. I almost lost everything that was important to me." Reaching out he touched her hair and slowly caressed her cheek. "It woke me up to what was missing. Or rather, who was missing." With his thumb he brushed away a tear. "Oh, there is one more thing in the box." Emily reached in and came up with a Butterfinger. Completely flummoxed, she looked at it and then at Dave. "I owed you one."

Moving closer, Dave closed the space between them. Putting the book and candy bar aside, he took her chin between his thumb and forefinger, and looked into her eyes. "Plus this." Covering her mouth with his, he felt her sigh and then lean in. Slowly he moved his lips against hers as his tongue outlined and requested permission for further access. With a small groan, Emily opened up and let him in.

Her head swimming from ecstasy and overwhelmed by knowing Dave was kissing her, Emily tried to make sense of it all. In the end, she gave up trying to think and weaved her fingers thru his hair to pull him closer. For so long she had dreamed of this moment---fantasized about being in his arms. How many nights had she gone to bed thinking of all the women who had shared David Rossi's bed; jealous that they were the lucky ones. Now she was the lucky one, sitting on his couch, in his arms, and taking in the way he slowly seduced her with his tongue and hands.

Dave wanted to go slowly. But the moment he kissed her, he realized that slow was impossible. For five months he had dreamt about that kiss and how unfair it had been that he had to pull away. But not now. As he felt her fingers in his hair to pull him closer, Dave knew slow was no longer in his vocabulary. Deepening the kiss, he tried to get closer to her, to touch her soul, to be one with her. Slowly he reached under her blouse and cupped her breast. Her response was a low moan as her nipple hardened against his palm and her body arched against his. Moving his lips from hers, he nuzzled a path down across her chin to the rapid pulse in the dip between her neck and shoulder.

As his lips moved across her skin, he stopped when he came to her scar. Slowly, and with effort, Dave pulled away. "Em, there is something I need to tell you."

Dazed from ecstasy and pure unadulterated pleasure, it took a moment for Emily to realize that Dave had stopped his love making. "What's wrong?" she stammered.

Dave gently touched the angry red scar. "This."

"It's only a scar Dave. Go ahead; touch it." She held her breath as Dave laid his palm across it. The heat from his hand filled her and left her wanting more.

"No woman has ever done for me what you did." He looked up at her; his eyes twinkled from unshed tears. "You were willing to sacrifice your life for mine."

Emily met his gaze. "Yes."

"Why?"

Emily bit her lip and swallowed hard before replying. "Because I love you." Pulling him close, she covered his mouth with hers as she melded her body to his. She felt his tears mix with hers, and tasted their saltiness on her tongue. She didn't have to hear the words to know how he felt. For David Rossi to break down in her arms and show emotion was his way of telling her all she would ever have to know without saying a word.

Pulling away, Em held him close. "Dave?"

"Yes?"

"Out of curiosity, did you get a new bed too?"

"Yes."

"Then why are we breaking in the couch?" Her eyes shone with love. Without a word, Dave stood up and swung Emily into his arms. Heading toward the stairs he started up and then stopped.

"Thank you."

Emily laughed softly. "Actually, I would rather you show me, okay?"

Tightening his grip about her, Dave sprinted up the stairs to his room. And he showed her with actions all the words in his heart.

Forever.