Title: Carry On
Rating: PG-13
Fandom:
Criminal Minds
Characters/Pairing:
Rossi/Prentiss
Genre: Romance/Drama
Summary:
Dave confesses his feelings, in one way or another. Emily might have been a little more clued up about it if she hadn't been jacked up on morphine at the time.
Author's Note: Written for saturn92103 for her winning bid on my help_pakistan fic. The prompt was "first time fic with lots of built up tension." I was working on one that fit the prompt more directly, but I was having a lot of trouble with it, so this is the result. All things going to plan, I'll finish and post the other one anyway, but I think we all know that my promises don't amount to much these days.

"Shots fired," is probably one of the worst phrases an FBI agent can hear. They like their raids to go smoothly – get in, and take down the unsub, without loss of life. It doesn't always go that way. It's definitely bad when the shots that are fired don't come from an FBI issue weapon.

It's then that you sometimes hear what David Rossi objectively knows is the worst phrase: "Agent down" only he's right there when it happens, so he doesn't just hear it, he's the one saying it. His voice feels strange, almost disconnected from his body. It feels like there's someone else kneeling down, up to their wrists in Emily Prentiss' blood.

Maybe it's a little less dramatic than that: it's a through and through to the shoulder, and there's a fair bit of blood, but Emily is lucid, giving a long, drawn out, 'Fuuuck,' and biting her lip.

'Stay with me,' Rossi says, and Emily laughs.

'Where do you think I'm gonna go, Rossi?' Her voice is a little slurred, but determined.

He doesn't answer, because there are so many bad answers to that question. Like, maybe the bullet had done a lot more damage than either of them realize, and she's about to go into shock and die. Like, maybe she decides that she's not cut out for field work after all and leaves the FBI to become of those old spinsters with six hundred cats. Like, maybe she's going to pass out from blood loss and he's going to have to explain to Hotch just how their unsub managed to get the drop on them.

Rossi is embarrassed to say that he doesn't know the answer to that question. Emily had been in front of him, and then all that's left in his memory is a haze of bullets.

In true Prentiss fashion, she complains about having to get in an ambulance, and going to hospital, and really can't you just take the bullet out and stitch me up here? After a look from Hotch, though, she complies. Hotch gives Rossi a look then, as if to say, "Go with her so she doesn't end up murdering the paramedics" which, knowing a cranky Prentiss, is very much a possibility.

He steps into the ambulance, and Emily gives him a look. She's very, very good at "looks," which he guesses comes from being the daughter of an Ambassador. That's probably also where she gets the ability to say something like "sir" or "ma'am" and really mean "fuck you." They're two qualities that he finds particularly endearing, and he knows that if not for their working relationship, he probably would have already made a move.

Of course, twenty years ago, that wouldn't have stopped him, but things have changed. He's changed for one thing, but really, he respects her far too much to go and do something stupid.

It's not exactly the kind of thing to be debating in the back of an ambulance, though.

'Everything okay?' Emily asks, and Rossi realizes that he's been staring into space.

He gives her a tired smile. 'Funny. Feels like I should be asking you that.'

'It's just a scratch,' she tells him, in a voice that sounds as though she's trying hard not to protest. She grimaces as the paramedic cuts off her shirt. It's definitely a lot more than a scratch, but then, he already knew that.

Blood trickles down, staining her white bra, and he knows he's staring – at the blood – because it's such a painful contrast against the paleness of her skin. Her good hand clambers for purchase on something as the wound is examined. The only thing graspable within reach is the paramedic's thigh, and that probably wouldn't end well, so Rossi takes her hand and squeezes. That's the moment she passes out – maybe from shock, maybe from blood loss – but the paramedics don't seem overly worried.

He doesn't let go of her hand.

When Emily wakes up, she's in a hospital bed, and both her mind and her body are completely numb. She puts a hand to her shoulder, feeling the bandage underneath the hospital gown, but not much else. There's an IV stand, so she assumes that she's being pumped full of something.

Wonderful.

Note to self, Emily, she reminds herself. Next time you get shot, try not to pass out.

If she'd stayed conscious, then there's a chance she could have gotten out of there afterwards. Now, it seems, she will at least have to spend the night. There's no escape from a hospital bed – she'll have to just lie there, and take the concerned looks, and the "you scared the hell out of us, Prentiss" comments that are sure to follow.

She – very briefly – considers the possibility of getting out of bed and signing herself out AMA before just catching a cab home. There's something to be said about local cases and their proximity to a warm comfortable bed. The only thing that's stopping her is the complete dressing down she knows she'd get from Hotch, and the fact that she can hear low voices in the hallway.

Hotch, Rossi and…is that Morgan? Probably. The battering rams of the BAU.

She pulls herself into a seated position, letting her still frazzled mind take stock of events. There was an unsub, and then there was a gunshot, and then…then there was Rossi. Holding her hand, and saying "Stay with me," but not at the same time, and not in that order, either. She knows that he'd have done the same for anyone, but her face still flushes bright red when he enters the room.

'Hey,' she says with a smile. Rossi isn't smiling.

'You scared the crap out of me, Emily,' he says, and she might have rolled her eyes, only it's somehow different when he says it. It's not that she wouldn't believe the rest of them. It's that for some reason, she cares more about what he thinks.

Maybe it's because, after Matthew's death, he'd been there for her in a big way. Even after she'd told him her biggest secret – her darkest secret. She'd respected him before that, but his companionship had turned him into her biggest confidant.

'Well,' she says, giving a half shrug. 'If you being scared is the only bad thing that comes out of this, then I guess that's okay.'

He raises an eyebrow at that. 'I think that bullet in your arm begs to differ.'

She grins. 'Funny, I thought they took that bullet out.'

He lets himself sink into the chair by her bed, and sighs. 'You might joke about it, Prentiss, but you could have died out there.'

'How is that in any way new?' she asks him, hyperaware of the fact that his hand is just inches away from her thigh. 'Every single time we go out in the field, there's a chance that not everyone will be coming back.'

'Because this time it was you,' he says, so softly that at first she isn't quite sure that she hadn't misheard him. Maybe the morphine is really starting to kick in, and the purple elephants with umbrellas and top hats will start dancing through the hallway. Maybe he really said something else entirely, and she's only hearing what she wants to hear. It's a nice thought, but at the same time, she knows that there's nothing wrong with her hearing, or her mind.

The one thing that is wrong, is that for Rossi, those words are practically a confession of his undying love. But that can't be right. He couldn't…He wouldn't…

'Rossi…' Fortunately, the awkward moment is spared when the rest of the team make their appearance.

Morgan gives her a grin and says, 'We're gonna have to keep an eye on you, Prentiss. You're almost as bad as Reid,' and the genius in question gives a nervous, almost flustered smile. Rossi takes the opportunity to slip out of the room quietly, but Emily wants nothing more than to drag him back and beg him to stay.

Emily is discharged early the next morning, a fact for which she is extremely grateful. Hospital breakfast had been a fruit cup with cereal, and even though that's what she usually has anyway, there's just something about a near death experience that makes her crave something a little greasier.

She's thinking about bacon, eggs and hash browns, and signing off the last of the paperwork when Rossi shows up.

'Ready to go?' he asks, in a tone that's almost nonchalant. "Almost" being the key word. After yesterday's conversation, Emily's pretty sure she'll be looking at him in a whole new light.

After all, she never imagined that her feelings might be reciprocated.

'Yeah,' she nods. 'I'm ready.' Evidently the lie shows in her voice, because Rossi gives her a look, and for a split second, they share a moment of awkwardness. A moment of "I know how I feel, and I'm really not quite sure what you feel, but I think there's a connection and we should just hit the nearest supply closet already."

It doesn't last.

They stop off at the BAU on the way back – a necessary evil – to sort out paperwork. Hotch gives strict orders for Emily to stay out of the office until the next week, at least, which she thinks is a little hypocritical, but then, she's far too tired to argue. The painkillers are starting to wear off, and she's hungry, and tired, and home is far, far too far away.

'Do you want some real food?' Dave asks, as they pull out of the Bureau parking garage, and Emily could just about kiss him, awkwardness aside. She'd almost accuse him of being a mind-reader, but then, he's so much more than that – he's a profiler.

'Absolutely.'

They stop by a diner on the way back into D.C. It has booth seats and vinyl tablecloths, and the waitress doesn't bat an eyelid when Emily places an order that's probably big enough to feed an army.

Dave slides over the tiny bottle of painkillers, giving her a raised eyebrow. 'You left these in the car.'

Emily doesn't rise to the insinuation, instead, mirroring his expression, with an added eye roll for good measure. 'You know you're acting like a border collie, right?'

'Well, someone has to do it while you're on sick leave.'

Their breakfast comes relatively quickly, and Emily makes no delays in wolfing down what feels like her recommended fat intake for the entire week. Still, the food has its desired effect, and afterwards, she feels like she's in a much more agreeable mood.

It's why, when he walks her to her door, she feels so much more comfortable in saying, 'Do you want to come in?'

There's a long silence.

If there ever going to have The Talk, it's now, away from the team, away from the job, away from any other distractions.

'Sure,' he says, finally, and Emily lets out the breath she didn't realize she'd been holding.

It's still early in the day, so alcohol is out of the question, even without taking painkillers into consideration. There are a couple of cans of soda though, but not much in the way of food. She makes a mental note to schedule some grocery shopping.

'Coke alright?'

'Sure.'

They sit at the breakfast counter, and Emily swivels her stool around to face him. One way or the other, she has to know.

'Last night…at the hospital,' she starts, hoping like hell that Rossi is just going to take pity on her and avoid any awkwardness. He doesn't. 'When you said, "This time it was you," what did you mean by that?'

He gives her a look, as though she's insane, and for a moment Emily's so freaking sure that she's made a fool of herself.

'You know what I meant by it, Prentiss…' His voice is that same soft tone he'd used last night, and she knows that if she'd heard any other man say it to any other woman, she'd know what he was trying to say, but here…

It's pathetic, that her life is so screwed up that she can't even comprehend the fact that someone like David Rossi might be interested in someone like her.

'How long?'

'A while now.' She nods, biting her lip. Dave continues. 'I hope this doesn't change things between us. I don't want you to be uncomfortable.'

Emily's heart damn near stops. He's the world's greatest profiler, and he doesn't know.

She shakes her head. 'Rossi, if that's the way it's gonna work then I'm pretty sure we both just have to live with being uncomfortable.'

Rossi doesn't go out of his way to hide what he feels, and yet this wide-eyed, surprised look is one that she has never seen before. Her first urge is laughter, but that's not exactly appropriate, so Emily does the one thing that's been pushing on her mind for months now – years, even. She leans forward, and kisses him.

It's not a long, passionate kiss – she manages to press her bandaged shoulder up against his chest, which is kind of painful, and the kiss turns into a gasp. Rossi pulls away suddenly, a look of concern on his face.

'Are you okay?'

Emily smiles. 'I'm fine. Better than fine.'

'You sure?'

'Well,' she says, feigning uncertainty. 'I think you might need to kiss me again.'

David Rossi does not disappoint.