Title: We're Grabowskis
Author: Kuria Dalmatia
Rating/Warnings: FRM/R (profanity, because it is Rossi after all, and some racist comments).
Summary: Because no good deed goes unpunished, especially when it involves football.
Characters/Pairing: Rossi, Gideon circa January 1986
Word Count: ~3,600
ARCHIVING: my LJ and my FFNet account... anyone else? Please ask first.
Feedback always welcome.
DISCLAIMER: The Mark Gordon Company, ABC Studios and CBS Paramount Network Television own Criminal Minds. Salut! I just took them out to play and I promise put them back when I'm done. I'm not making any profit just trying to get these images out of my head.
VERSION: November 2009
COMMENTS/TIMELINES/SPOILERS: Inspired by a conversation with Pabzi. It was supposed to be a light and cracky!fic, but like most of my efforts, it decided to take a left turn down Drama Lane. Any mistakes left are mine.
The early days of the BAU. My timeline may be a little off, but hey... Ever tried to figure out Hotch's canonical history? I've also taken some liberties with the rules for airline ticket exchanges (not that anyone would care except for me) and named Dave's first wife, since I don't think she's been given one in the series. Smoking on domestic commercial flights was not banned until the early 1990's and the rules for carry-ons, liquids/aerosols/gels and lighters were much different in the mid-1980's than they are today.
Thanks to the wonderful people at LJ's Little_details for information on just which teams a guy from Commack, New York born around 1956 was likely to cheer for.
"There are teams that are fair-haired, and those that aren't so fair-haired. Some teams are named Smith, some Grabowski. We're Grabowskis."
—Coach Mike Ditka
/***/ Fredericksburg, Virginia: Saturday, January 4, 1986 /***/
It started with a screamed, "Don't 'sweetheart' me, David!"
It continued with his packed duffle bag being shoved out the bedroom window of the apartment and landing on the sidewalk below.
It ended with his pager being thrown at his head.
Dave sighed, picked up his bag and pager before glancing at his watch. He'd been arguing with his wife for almost two hours; their flight to Chicago was in seven. He knew that there was no way Gina was going to go with him, no matter how many times he apologized. He also knew better than to leverage how much the weekend had set them back financially as a reason either.
A loyal, rational man who was dedicated to his marriage would have stayed at home and tried to work out the problems.
Dave was loyal; no matter what Gina thought, he had never once strayed from their marital bed despite the rumors that had somehow found their way to her. Sure, there were the offers as he traveled the country on behalf of the Bureau, but he had never... no.
Dave was also rational, so these past few years of intensely analyzing behavior on a daily (hourly) basis... hell, it didn't take any special skills to recognize the increasing number of "irreconcilable differences" plaguing their marriage.
He also knew that, no matter what he did, he was going to be crucified for it.
Which was probably why he thought, To hell with it, as he marched to his car.
It was Giants football—playoff football for God's sake!—and he was sure someone at the Bureau would want to go.
/***/ FBI Headquarters: Quantico, Virginia /***/
Dave nonchalantly strolled in to the BAU bunker and over to the cluster of four desks with files piled high. There were one or two people milling about. Sure, it was a Saturday but sometimes, the weekend was the best time to get caught up.
He wasn't too surprised to find Gideon hunched over crime scene photos, squinting at some detail. Suck up, was the automatic (cruel) thought that entered Dave's mind, but it was quickly countered by the acknowledgement that the holidays always translated into a heavier caseload thanks to UnSubs with fixations on special dates.
Hence, part of the reason Gina had started in on him this morning.
Still, Dave couldn't help commenting, "You could go blind doing that," before reaching into his own desk drawer and pulling out a magnifying glass. "Here."
Gideon looked up, a bit of confusion in his eyes before he accepted the item and went back to studying the photo. "I thought you and your wife were on your way to Chicago."
"Were," Dave repeated sourly as he sat down in his chair. "Apparently, my wife would rather be in the Sixth Circle of Hell, in a flaming tomb for all eternity, rather than spend the weekend with me. Although... why she chose 'Heresy' is beyond me."
The other man snorted but didn't look up. "Epicurus and his followers were in the Sixth Circle. He taught ataraxia—peace and freedom from fear—and aponia—the absence of pain. He was damned to the circle for materialism and, wrongly, for hedonism."
Dave blinked, still unused to the little academic details that the newest member of the BAU liked to throw out. Fucking showoff, he thought. Still, he laughed, "And somehow, tickets to a playoff game and a weekend in Chicago qualify for that."
"Apparently, you don't know a rhetorical question when you hear one." He rubbed his eyes, knowing that the retort was unfair, but he and Gideon never just had polite conversations. They were littered with a little digs here and there, insults that were usually lost on everyone except for themselves and Ryan. The only reason, Dave supposed, that their SAC put up with it was because Dave and Gideon's rivalry translated to an impressive case-resolution rate, which also meant an increasing credibility for their department.
Gideon simply harrumphed, never once glancing up from the photo.
Dave sat there for a few minutes, as the same debate that he'd had with himself on the drive to Quantico echoed in his mind: Why in God's name was he even considering taking Gideon to the damn game?
After all, Dave could sell the extra ticket for a tidy profit and then buy something expensive for Gina from a store on the Magnificent Mile. That would win him some points upon returning home. She might even allow him to sleep in their bed instead of on the couch.
But this was football.
Playoff football no less.
And the newest member of the BAU just happened to be from Chicago.
And if the proverbial shoe was on the other foot, there would be no way that Gideon would even consider asking Dave, "Hey, you got plans the rest of the weekend?" Because Gideon was an arrogant elitist who had a tendency to talk down to people, including Ryan and (especially) Dave. The little generosity that Dave had seen was reserved solely for victims, which was admirable of course, but it never extended to colleagues.
Dave looked over, surprised at the wariness the man was looking at him with. Gideon set down the magnifying glass. "Why?"
He was certain his mouth dropped open, which was probably the reaction that Gideon was hoping for. Bastard. Dave rolled his eyes. "Because my wife would rather be in the Sixth Circle of Dante's Hell, remember?" When the other man still didn't respond, Dave let out a frustrated breath. "I have an extra ticket to a sold-out playoff game in Chicago. You're from Chicago. Jesus Christ, Gideon, how plainly do I have to spell it out? You're a goddamn profiler!"
There was that little twitch to Gideon's lips, the one that meant he was savoring some little victory.
Dave's temper flared. "Screw this. I'll ask Hill. He hates the Bears and the Giants, but at least—"
"Trouble, boys?" Ryan asked as he approached.
"I would go, Rossi, but..." Gideon interrupted but then trailed off as he gestured to the stacks of files on his desk.
Dave glared at Gideon for a second before meeting Ryan's amused gaze. "Your genius protégé is a goddamn idiot. I have a spare ticket to the game this weekend and offered it to Mister White Sox over here, and he's bitching about paperwork." When Ryan dared to smile a bit, Dave growled, "And I'm sure Travel can change the name on the airline ticket as well so it's not like that can be an excuse."
"You really shouldn't be here on the weekend, Jason, especially during the playoffs," Ryan declared magnanimously then his smile turned mischievous. "And there's nothing like a good rivalry. So…. Whoever's team loses? Wins the other's paperwork for the week."
"Well, when you put it that way," Gideon said brightly as he clapped and rubbed his hands together, "how can I turn it down?"
"Jesus motherfucking Christ," Dave muttered. Then, he quickly prayed forgiveness for taking the Lord's name in vain and promised he'd go to Mass regularly again and increase his weekly tithes if the Giants put Refrigerator Perry in the repair shop and the Bears choked in the playoffs like every other Chicago sports franchise had done in the past few years.
/***/ O'Hare Airport, Chicago /***/
"Which hotel are we staying at?"
The question almost caused Dave to stumble as he boarded the Blue Line towards Forest Park. "We?" he echoed. "There is no 'we' at the hotel. You have family here in town."
"Had," Gideon corrected. "My parents died years ago. My cousins? Most moved away. Those who are left? Well, it would be rude just to show up at their doorstep and expect them to accommodate me on such short notice." He gave that blasé little shrug of his, the one that tended to annoy the hell out of Dave. "Plus, you and I have shared a room plenty of times."
"On cases," Dave retorted. "Because we have to."
"How else am I supposed to report to Gina about your virtuous behavior here in Chicago?" asked with such concern that it was clearly an insult.
"I didn't invite you to be my damn chaperone," he muttered. "Not like I need one, damn it."
"You should think of me as your credible witness," Gideon said, barely containing his smug grin.
"I think of you as an ungrateful pain in my ass."
/***/ Best Western Grant Park Hotel, Chicago: January 5, 1986 /***/
It was goddamn freezing.
No. Freezing would be warmer than a negative thirteen wind-chill factor.
But Dave didn't care. He and his Giants were just as tough as Gideon and the Bears, just as used to dealing with brutal winter weather.
He was bundled up thoroughly because the last thing he was going to do was get a damn cold. Still, Dave was disappointed that his heavy pea coat covered the team jersey bearing Simms' number and he wore the thick wool hat with ear flaps instead of the knit cap with the Giants' logo embroidered on it.
"What? No blue wig?" Gideon asked as they exited the hotel and started walking towards Soldier Field. "No blue face paint?"
"I was saving those for you," Dave shot back and then pulled out the Giants cap from his coat pocket. "Here. You'll need this after LT sacks that punk McMahon and Carson returns the fumble for a touchdown. You know, so you can show those around you that you know who the real winning team is. And if you're good, I'll even buy you a Giants puffy hand to keep your mitts warm."
"Somehow I doubt they sell Giants things at Soldier Field."
"It's the playoffs, Gideon. They sell everything."
/***/ First Quarter of NFC Divisional Playoffs, Soldier Field, Chicago /***/
In Dave's twenty-nine years of watching football (because Papa Rossi insisted that, even as newborn, Little Davey could, in fact, understand the game because he was a Rossi), he had never seen anything like that.
Landeta punting from the goal line.
Landeta whiffing the kick.
The ball landing on the five-yard line.
The Bears picking it up and running it in for a touchdown.
The cheers around them were deafening.
Gideon even whistled obnoxiously.
Still, Dave kept his hopes up because that one play was an aberration. It was just one play, and it was only the first quarter. Phil Simms was a hell of a quarterback. LT and Carson were the best linebackers in the NFL.
There was a lot of football left to be played.
/***/ Halftime of NFC Divisional Playoffs, Soldier Field, Chicago /***/
"Would you like some doughnuts?" Gideon asked as they approached one of the concession stands. "I think one of the stalls may even sell goose eggs."
"Your attempts at humor are damn-ass pathetic," Dave informed him as he flexed his fingers to try to bring the circulation back. "It's only halftime. And let's not forget the tradition of Chicago teams in the playoffs this decade…" He made a choking sound and grinned.
Suddenly, a meaty hand grabbed Dave's shoulder and yanked him around hard. "The Bears ain't gonna…" came the drunken slur from Dave's would-be attacker, but he didn't get to finish his sentence. Dave's military and FBI training—oh, and the hyper-vigilance left over from two months ago when an UnSub had the bright idea to attempt to garrote him—kicked in. The guy was facedown on the ground, one arm yanked behind him and Dave's knee firmly in his back.
"Hey!" someone shouted sharply. Dave let the guy go and held up his hands once he saw the cop rush up to them, hand resting not-so-casually on his gun.
The drunk stumbled to his feet, glaring at Dave and looking ready to start a fight.
Gideon immediately stepped forward. "We're all just friends here, caught up in the excitement of the game. My colleague here…"
"Must be a Giants fan," someone yelled and the onlookers, all decked out in full Bears regalia, laughed raucously and a bit menacingly.
"I'm sorry there, pal," Dave told the man he'd unceremoniously dumped on the ground, quickly taking in the rest of the guy's appearance. Working class mechanic judging from the grease under his fingernails, and a heavy -smoker probably from tobacco stains on his hands. Tattooed knuckles, which probably meant military service. Married with a newborn based on the wedding ring and dried milk stain on the jacket shoulder. Dave extended his hand in an offer of peace, carefully tilting his hand so that his USMC ring gleamed in the light as he said, "Last time someone did that to me, he had a towel on his head and said it was for Allah."
"Marine Corps," the drunk nodded as his hostility drained away. He pointed thumb at himself. "Me, too. Third Battalion 9th."
"Ah, the Striking Ninth."
There were murmurs through the crowd. The Striking Ninth guy suddenly grinned, obviously pleased that Dave knew his unit's nickname.
Dave quickly calculated how much cash he had and how many bystanders there. "Tell you what, Striking Ninth," because he knew that was much better than any name the guy had. Dave jerked his head towards the ten guys standing around, who three minutes ago, were ready to make Dave a permanent fixture of Soldier Field. "You guys are all Grabowskis, right? I'm no Smith, but how about I'll buy you round?"
"Bears are gonna kick your ass!" came the shouts.
Dave gave a toothy grin. "All's fair in football and beer."
/***/ Middle of the Fourth Quarter, NFC Divisional Playoffs, Soldier Field, Chicago /***/
The score: Twenty-one to zero. Bears.
Dave was figuratively and literally frozen in his seat.
At the beginning of the fourth quarter, Gideon had announced to those around them that Dave was from New York. A beer had been "accidentally" spilled on him when the Bears had scored again.
His Giants knit cap, which "somehow" had slipped out of his coat pocket, was now dangling from the jaws of a plastic bear head that the guy two seats over was wearing. It even had ketchup to simulate blood.
Thank God it wasn't his good Giants cap, or he'd be pissed.
"Don't worry, Rossi." Gideon patted his knee, like a father would console his son. "I'll buy you something before we leave to cheer you up."
/***/ In-air United flight, between Chicago and DC: January 5, 1986 /***/
Dave had never really had the deep down urge to set something on fire.
All he would have to do was borrow the Zippo from the chain-smoking guy in the seat behind him, and voila! No more Chicago Bears puffy hand.
If Gideon got his lap burnt in the process? Well. He fucking deserved it.
Then Dave's mind conveniently reminded him of what Gideon would probably ask—"Did you wet your bed or hurt small animals as a child?"—because Gideon could be a snide ass about things like that.
Still, Dave was tempted.
Especially since the only times Gideon wasn't humming "The Super Bowl Shuffle" was when he engaged in a cheerful conversation with the stewardesses or the other passengers about the stunning shutout of the New York Giants. And if one more person offered their condolences (thanks to Gideon's announcing Dave's team allegiance), Dave knew he was going to take said Puffy Hand and shove it down the person's throat.
That would certainly solve Gina's complaints about him working for the FBI. He could imagine the press now, how they would call him the Puffy Hand Killer and what Gideon's testimony on the stand would be: "I bought the puffy hand for my son… and the defendant took it from my possession…"
"There's always next year," Gideon told him with a placating tone, as if he was soothing Dave's feelings.
/***/ BAU Bunker, Quantico: January 6, 1986 /***/
"Hell of a game," Max said as he handed Dave a stack of folders. "Never seen anything like it."
"Don't remind me," he muttered as he added them to the growing pile. Dave's files. Gideon's files. The new ones Max had give him.
At least Dave had enough work to keep him in the bunker long past when everyone else went home. The couch in the cracker box of a conference room was lumpy and the CDC would probably declare it a biohazard, but at least it was someplace to stay. His mother-in-law and two sisters-in-law had answered the door to his and Gina's apartment last night. Virginia, after all, was only a three-hour train ride from New York.
They had been "kind" enough to pack him a suitcase and deliver the message that he wasn't welcome home.
Gina had refused to speak to him, her mother and one sister blocking the door while the other sister had threatened to call the police for breaking and entering, spousal battery, and assault. He'd backed down, because the last thing he wanted to play was some stupid game with the locals who tended to hate federal agents.
Plus, he couldn't have something like that haunting his records, even thought it was totally bogus. He also knew Gina had been counting on him being protective of his career, which annoyed him even more.
Max plopped himself on the edge of Dave's desk; it was almost eight in the morning, and Gideon hadn't arrived just yet. The older man's voice was pitched low, his head tilted forward. "I was joking about the paperwork, Dave. You don't have to do the rookie's."
He clenched his fist briefly before pressing the button that switched the blue ink barrel to green. "It was part of the deal."
"But you spending the night on BAU couch wasn't."
"Max? I respect you as my boss. I respect you as a colleague. I respect you as a friend." He delivered a hard direct stare. "So respectfully? Fuck off."
There was a long, tense pause, but Max didn't drop his gaze. Instead, he said, "Paulie Salvatore."
Max offered a grim smile. "Divorce lawyer. Practices in Virginia, DC and Maryland. Stunning record on minimizing alimony. The guys in the ATF swear by him."
The matter-of-fact statement sent chills down his spine. It took a few seconds before Dave tossed his pen down. "There should be a rule," he snapped as he crossed his arms and leaned back in his chair. "No inter-BAU profiling."
The other man shrugged once before reaching into his pocket and pulling out a single key. He set it on the desk. Either Dave understood or he didn't, and it was really damn annoying that he knew exactly what was being offered.
"You're just tired of bachelor grilled cheese," Dave groused, trying to rally a smart ass comment but knowing Max wasn't buying one second of it. Still. He had to try. "My brother Georgie can cook better than you, and he burns water."
Max snorted as he stood up. "It was a really nice thing of you to do, you know. Taking Gideon to that game."
Dave stared at the key for a few moments before picking it up and sliding it into his pocket. "Thanks, dad."
"Good morning!" Gideon cheerfully called out as he charged into the bunker, full of smiles and energy, but Dave didn't miss the quick, assessing gaze that Gideon favored him with. He carried copies of the Chicago Tribune and New York Daily News, which he delivered one of each to Dave.
At least it wasn't the damn puffy hand.
Gideon then looked around his desk before turning to Max. "Where are my case files from Saturday?"
"Rossi's got'em," May replied as he stuffed his hands into his pockets, whistling softly as he walked away.
Gideon reached towards the stack, but Dave slapped his hand down on them. "Go down to the firing range or something."
"Loser does the winner's paperwork, or did you forget?" Dave bared his teeth a little. It wasn't a friendly smile by any stretch of the imagination. "No matter what you've heard, I do honor all my promises," because Gideon's dig about his virtue while in Chicago still irritated him.
Gideon narrowed his eyes slightly before retreating back to his desk. His tone was a little cautious as he observed, "Looks like Ryan added to the pile."
"Congratulations, you can count."
Gideon paused as if to say something, then shook his head and made that little gesture of surrender that Dave hated. He then sat down, steepled his fingers, and did the one thing almost guaranteed to make Dave lose his temper. He stared.
Dave picked up his discarded pen and grabbed one of the newer files. "Don't play some stupid game with me, Gideon. Just say it."
There was a pause and then he heard Gideon's distinctive tenor: "I didn't come here looking for trouble."
Christ. At least he wasn't belting it out at the top of his lungs. Dave would go to his grave before admitting that his coworker had a decent singing voice. Still, he rolled his eyes as the rest of "The Super Bowl Shuffle" immediately played in his head. He made a note on the file before looking back up. Gideon was watching him with bird-bright interest.
Dave cocked an eyebrow at him. "I'll make a deal with you then. Next year? When the Giants win the Super Bowl Twenty-One? You can have my paperwork for the week afterward."
"You think the Giants are going to the Super Bowl next year."
"And if they don't win? I'll do your paperwork for two weeks."
There was an even longer pause than before Gideon smirked. "Two weeks."
"Ab-so-fucking-lutely." Dave stretched out his hand.
Gideon shook his head a little but eventually reached forward and clasped Dave's hand. "Deal."
/***/ Finis /***/
Author's note: The Bears won Super Bowl XX (1985 season) and the following year, the New York Giants won.