Title: O is for Observation

Prompt by bc_girl

Author: Kuria Dalmatia

Rating/Warnings: PG-13 (profanity because it's Rossi), S6, post-"JJ"

Characters/Pairing: Rossi/Reid, established relationship

Summary: "I know I'm likely to outlive him, but…do you think it's weird? I mean, our age difference?"

ARCHIVING: my LJ... anyone else? Please ask first.

COMMENTS: Part of the a The Great A-Z Multifandom Drabbling Meme, but it isn't a drabble. Unbetaed.

Yes, I really did have that fortune cookie message when I was writing this installment. Yes, I took some liberties with the 9-1-1 system and how ERs are run. Hey! I'm on a hospital kick.

Obligator PSA because my paternal grandmother had a devastating stroke and my father has never fully recovered from his mini-stroke, a stroke can happen to anyone, regardless of age.

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.

/***/

When he was fourteen, Reid received a fortune cookie with the message: "Bravery is the capacity to perform properly even when scared half to death." That kind of bravery (which Reid seemed to have in spades) saved his life on more than a few occasions. It seemed that he was going to be tested right now, in the SUV that Rossi was driving, because suddenly the vehicle swerved to the left and Rossi pitched forward over the steering wheel. They were going at least eighty miles an hour—Rossi had this belief that speeding limits were only 'suggestions' not the law—but at least the traffic wasn't heavy.

Reid called out the man's name as he grabbed the steering wheel, hit the emergency blinkers, and pushed Rossi back in his seat and his hands to his sides. A quick glance showed a fine sheen of sweat on Rossi's brow and pure confusion in the man's eyes as they darted around. Rossi was trying to say something, but his words were slurry.

Shit.

"Take your foot off the gas!" Reid ordered before realizing Rossi had the thing on cruise control. One hit of the button and the SUV immediately began slowing down. He kept the vehicle in the right lane, calculated how long it would take to fully decelerate, and decided fuck it. He shifted so that he could slip one of his legs over the center console and then between Rossi's. He used his foot to push Rossi's feet away from the pedals and then finally was able to depress the brake.

His bad knee let him know that it didn't appreciate his acrobatics, but he was able to maneuver himself so that he could better steer and brake the vehicle. All told, it took about seven-seven seconds to get the SUV pulled over, stopped on the median, and in park. Reid then quickly checked Rossi's vitals and knew things weren't good. Rossi still gurgled out a few nonsensical phrases, sounding drunk. Scary.

Reid recalled the locations of the nearest hospitals, their rankings in treating emergency cases, and the average EMT response times for the area.

It was better for him to drive Rossi directly to the ER than wait for the paramedics.

So, Reid somehow managed to get Rossi in the passenger's seat (even with his eidetic memory, some things still got lost) and buckled in. He then settled into the driver's seat, plunked his phone on the dash holder, hit the sirens and the lights, and pulled out onto the highway. He dialed 9-1-1. When his call was answered, he related the basics before ordering the operating, "Patch me through direct to Baptist East's ER because that's where we're headed."

Once connected, Reid stated that he was a doctor, which always made things much easier in a medical emergency, and relayed Rossi's vitals and medications he was taking. He did this while driving at one-hundred ten miles per hour, and it took a full minute before he realized he had blown past Hotch and Morgan on the highway. Once glance in the rearview mirror showed that Hotch had decided to join in with the sirens and the speeding; Reid's phone then blinked with an incoming call from Morgan, and when he didn't answer, Rossi's phone started ringing.

"Sir, what is your ETA?"

"Three minutes," Reid replied.

"What is your relation to the patient?"

For a moment, his mind went blank. His mouth moved but no words came out. His phone indicated that Morgan was trying him again. Reid blinked.

He tried to say, 'partner', because that was the honest truth. Partner on the Job. Partner at Home. He knew that a wedding ring was looming somewhere in his future because David Rossi was a marrying kind of man. The word stuck in his throat. Finally, finally he was able to get out, "I'm his doctor."

He could feel his eyes beginning to burn, because throughout their long and complicated courtship, Rossi always got a kick out introducing Reid as "my doctor" with that cheeky grin of his.

Rossi's phone began ringing again, just as the exit for the hospital came up. Once Reid put his turn signal on for the ramp, Rossi's phone immediately stopped. He had to slow it down as he came up on the intersection, and he was thankful that the SUV was equipped with the sensor that when the sirens were activated, it changed the lights to his favor.

Tearing down residential streets at an unreasonable pace (sixty-three in a twenty-five was three points on one's license and a two-hundred fifty dollar fine), Reid finally came up to the hospital. He told the operator he was hanging up as he pulled into the ER and barely heard the, "Good luck, sir" from the dispatcher as he flipped his phone closed.

The trauma team was waiting for them and they yanked open the passenger's door. Reid turned off the sirens and lights before grabbing Rossi's gun and cell phone before Rossi was removed from the SUV. Reid got out and dashed over to the gurney.

"What happened?" Hotch demanded as he sprinted up, Morgan behind him.

Reid ignored him, instead focusing on the lead physician who was checking Rossi's vitals. He rattled off more information, medications and dosages that Rossi took plus time elapsed since the onset of symptoms. "No known allergies," Reid continued, "and he's never been administered tPA."

They charged into the ER, doors swinging open as Reid easily kept pace with the staff surrounding Rossi. He kept his hand on Rossi's shoulder, gave a reassuring squeeze, and tried his best not to compare the vacant look in Rossi's eyes to the way his mother looked during the worst of her episodes.

It became another blur after that. He vaguely heard Hotch and Morgan getting kicked out because, "Federal agent doesn't mean all access." It wasn't until someone tapped him on the shoulder and said, "We need to take Mister Rossi down to for scans" that Reid snapped out of his stupor.

"Ah. Yeah." Reid scrubbed his face. "Tests."

The nurse patted his upper arm gently. "This your first?"

"First?"

"First time you brought a patient in like that?"

Reid looked at her confused. "No. It's my seventy-forth. Although it's usually Hotch, Morgan or Prentiss who ride along with them."

"Family member then?" she queried as she turned him and began escorting him to the waiting room. "Father? Uncle?"

He swallowed hard. If Rossi had heard her, it would have lit his temper. The age difference was the only thing that truly got to the older profiler, and the Team learned early on that teasing about it was strictly off-limits.

"Something like that," he murmured, because he knew the social game even if people seemed to think he didn't.

Once out in the waiting room, Hotch immediately approached him.

"What happened?" Hotch asked, but his tone was softer and he didn't cross his arms over his chest or set his shoulders to 'interrogation mode'.

Reid focused on the crucifix on the wall to Hotch's right. "Heart attack, stroke, or diabetic shock. I don't think it was the latter; his blood sugar levels were within normal parameters." From there, he listed the reasons for and against heart attack and stroke, including survival rates. He was expecting Hotch to tell him to shut the hell up—someone usually did when he hit the two minute mark in a lecture they didn't ask for—but Hotch let him go on until he paused for a breath, looked over to the admissions desk, and blurted, "Paperwork!"

"Already taken care of," the other agent assured him.

"But I'm—"

"His doctor," Hotch interrupted gently, softly. "We know."

Up until that moment, Reid was doing just fine and dandy separating Rossi and Reid from David and Spencer. But Hotch's unconditional acceptance and understanding shattered the wall between those two sets of personas.

Spencer could feel the blood draining from his face. "I almost lost him."

"You didn't." Hotch guided them over to a set of chairs that he'd obviously staked out. Spencer's messenger bag and Hotch's briefcase were on the seats. Hotch moved them to the floor and Spencer sunk down in the vacated chair. "Whatever happened, his chances of coming out of it are substantially increased because—"

"I do my best work under extreme terror."

The other man chuckled and shook his head as he sat down next to Spencer. "Yeah. That."

"The nurse thought he was my father. Or uncle."

"I take it we're thankful Dave was out of earshot for that line?"

"You know how pissed he gets." Spencer paused and looked down at his hands. "I know I'm likely to outlive him, but…do you think it's weird? I mean, our age difference?"

"It doesn't matter what I think."

"It does to me, Hotch. You're his best friend. You're my friend."

There was a long pause before Hotch said, "Yes, it can be a bit awkward. Yes, I never thought Dave would be open about being in a same-sex relationship. Yes, I was surprised by your relationship, and yes, it does concern me, fraternization rules aside. Being in the same unit, on the same team…it's a recipe for disaster. You said it yourself. Many times. Sober and drunk." Hotch clasped his shoulder briefly and then released him. "But you're happy. You're both happy. You have something that people work their whole lives for. How can that be weird?"

Spencer sighed and then flung himself back in the chair, pinching the bridge of his nose. With anyone else, he might have said, You have no idea how terrified I was, driving while my lover was probably dying. But this was Hotch, who drove to his own home and heard his ex-wife being executed on the way there. So Hotch knew, with that horrifyingly intimate knowledge that Spencer wished upon no one, how it felt.

"They'll have to keep him overnight for observation," Spencer stated quietly.

"I'll have your go bags brought over."

"The case isn't going to solve itself, Hotch."

"Which is why Prentiss and Morgan are back at the station," the other agent replied quietly. "And it's the reason I'll be heading over as well. We'll keep you in the loop, but we need someone here to make sure that Dave doesn't decide to sign his own release papers against doctor's orders."

"Like no one on this team has ever done that before," Spencer shot back wryly.

"It's the reason why you're staying here. We'll keep you updated, I promise," Hotch assured him.

"But he's going to be pissed—"

"He's going to be terrified and angry at himself. If Dave was fully aware of everything that was going on…" Hotch shrugged, allowing the silence to drive home his point.

Spencer snapped his mouth shut.

"Doctor Reid?" someone called out.

Immediately, Spencer and Hotch were on their feet and walking over to where a woman in scrubs was standing. The woman looked at both of them and then began addressing Hotch. Hotch held up his hand and then pointed to Spencer. "This is Agent Rossi's doctor."

She looked momentarily confused but then turned and began explaining how Dave had a transient ischemic attack. "Now this is what's called a warning—"

"I'm familiar with it," Spencer cut her off and then peered down. He vaguely heard Hotch call his name using the 'be nice' tone that he often used with Dave. He ignored him and said, "I'd like to see Agent Rossi now."

"You're carrying a gun."

Spencer blinked and looked down. "I'm a federal agent."

"You said you were a doctor."

"He's both," Hotch interrupted. "Trust me, you're going to want Doctor Reid in there if you want to keep Agent Rossi here overnight."

"You're his doctor," the woman said dubiously.

"Yeah, I am."

/***/

Of the things Spencer was expecting, the silent treatment wasn't one of them. Dave was awake and alert, but when Spencer walked in, the older man looked anywhere in the room but at him. No bitching about being stuck in a hospital gown with no pants. No grousing about the IVs or that he was going to be stuck in a hospital over night. No snapping that he didn't like being on display.

Dave was angry, humiliated, and silent.

And, just as Hotch predicted, underneath it all, Dave was terrified.

So Spencer walked right up to the side of the bed, grabbed the hand that didn't have IVs sticking out of it, and squeezed hard. Dave still didn't look at him nor did he return the squeeze. "You need to say something to me, even if it is to fuck off," Spencer told him quietly. "I need to hear for myself that your speech wasn't affected."

That earned a sneer followed by, "I can talk just fine, goddamn it."

"Will you squeeze my hand?"

"Jesus fucking Christ."

"Did you just break one of the commandments?"

Dave squeezed his hand and then saluted him with his middle finger with the other. "Satisfied?"

"Yes." Spencer let out a breath, thrilled to hear the concise if slightly exaggerated enunciation and the strength in the grip. "You had a transient ischemic attack," he explained. "It's also referred to as a warning—"

"They explained that shit already, Reid. I don't need to hear it from you."

The invocation of his last name, the purposeful distance, was frustrating. "Here and now?" he asked and grabbed Dave's chin to force him to look at him. "I'm Spencer." Dave still didn't meet his gaze. "And I'm here for better and for worse. In sickness and in health…"

"Don't you goddamn dare," Dave warned.

"I'm practicing for when you propose to me," Spencer fired back. That earned him a look. "You're the one who says you need to make an honest man out of me. Which I never quite understood, since…well…it implies I'm dishonest. I mean, I guess I am to a point. We do keep our relationship quiet, dodging questions and insinuations. Hmmm…when put in that context, I guess marrying me would make me honest because I'll officially be your spouse in a union that can only be granted in five states, one federal district and one Indian tribe, but is recognized by three additional states."

Dave blinked as the anger visibly drained out of him. "Indian tribe?"

"The Coquille Indian Tribe in Oregon," Spencer replied with a small grin.

"You've been fucking researching that shit?"

"What don't I research, Dave?"

His lover looked away and then down at the IVs stuck in the back of his hand. His eyes were wet. He squeezed Spencer's hand hard and then bounced it a little, the way he did when he was scared about something but wasn't going to admit it, much less make idle conversation. Spencer was tempted to run his hand through Dave's hair, to brush his thumb along his lover's cheekbone, to wipe away the tears that were threatening to fall, but he didn't.

"You have to stay here overnight."

"Like hell I am. Some motherfucking bastard is—"

"Doing what motherfucking bastards do," Spencer interrupted.

Dave hitched eyebrow. "You kiss you mother with that mouth?"

"I kiss my lover that mouth."

There was a long moment of silence before Dave whispered, "I hate this shit."

"For the record? So do I," Spencer said as he rested his forehead against Dave's. "I love you, David Rossi."

Dave closed his eyes and gripped Spencer's hand tighter. His voice was strained. "You're my doctor."

"Yes, I am."

/***/