Sorry for the long wait between stories. Sometimes life just comes at you and you have to step back and reprioritize things. *sigh* Well, Dave started speaking to me the other night and I decided to write it all down. But his thoughts were jumbled and my hands are cold from the snow and frostbite so I am going to warn you that this isn't my best story.
Now for the synopsis: Just a quick drabble one-shot about Dave. As he says good-bye to one woman of his heart, he finds himself saying hello to another.
Song prompt: "Where Have You Been?" by Kathy Mattea (warning, don't listen without a box of tissues!)
I don't own Criminal Minds.
Where Have You Been?
Dave put the car in park and turned off the engine. Looking at the white building, he buried his face in his hands and tried to gather up his courage. Of all the places he could be right now, this was not one of them. She wouldn't even know he was there. But he owed it to his father.
He loved his mother more than anything in the world. There was nothing he wouldn't do for her. After his father had passed away decades earlier, he made a vow that no matter what, she would always come first.
When his three marriages failed, she was one of the few people who didn't condemn him to hell. She shook her head and sighed that there went her chances for grandchildren, but she never held it against him.
She was the one who stood behind him when he decided to join the Marines. And she had his back when he went into the FBI. Every award and accolade he received was another reason for her to boast how wonderful her son was. She never doubted him. Not once. Not ever.
When his father passed unexpectedly, Dave had taken it harder than his mother. Between the tears, he had asked her how she could be so strong. She replied that she still had him; he was her reason for living.
But he knew it was deeper than that: his mother was a one in a million woman.
The daughter of immigrants, Maria Isabella Napolitano was the fourth child and only daughter. Her life had been difficult and poor, but she had faith. It was the root of her being. She had prepared her life to serve God when she met and married Anton Joseph Rossi. The grandson of immigrants, he was second generation American and knew what it took to achieve the American dream. And he wanted to share it with her.
They were determined that their children would have nothing but the best. But God had decided to bless them with only one child: a son. Their heart. And they made sure David Anthony Rossi knew that nothing was out of his reach. His life had been more than blessed and he wouldn't trade one minute of it. He did everything he could to make them proud.
He often wondered if it had been his love for his mother that had ruined his marriages. He had always wanted a woman with her determination, independence, and strength. He always came close but never succeeded in getting all three. After the third failure, he resigned himself to being by himself and taking care of Mama Rossi.
He never could put his finger on what it was that set off the alarm bells, but slowly little things added up and he couldn't avoid that something was wrong. Maybe it was that she forgot the days of his visits, or that she was writing letters to her parents who had passed years earlier. Or the fact that she called him "Anton".
So, he took her to the doctor who proclaimed her fit as a horse and that everyone had an occasional lapse in memory. Dave wanted to agree since he had had a thought for a story and when he sat down to write it, it went totally out of his head. Besides, Mama Rossi was seventy eight years old and it was normal for her to lapse.
Things moved slowly, but a near death experience with pneumonia caused everything to go down hill. She survived but nothing was the same. After that, he tried everything to keep her in the present - phone calls, presents, and visits.
When he received the phone call that Mama Rossi was found wandering the block in her dust robe, he dropped everything to run to Commack. He told Hotch that he might have to take a few days. Hotch replied that the team could survive without him.
Another doctor's visit and a dozen tests later revealed the bad news: Alzheimer's. The doctor gave a list of care facilities that specialized in making the last years comfortable.
Picking one outside of Philadelphia, Dave had tried to keep her close but well cared for. He tried to see her as much as he could, but each visit became more difficult. She confused him with his father and her short term memory was faulty at best.
As crime increased, his visits decreased. As he walked in the room, he had expected her to be angry, but she didn't know him - her own son, her flesh and blood, and she had no idea who he was. Only after he had been there for a while did she begin to remember. Until he went to fill her water pitcher.
Stepping back inside, she looked at Dave and asked how she could help him. His heart breaking in two, he finished out his visit and headed back to Quantico. Before he had looked forward to visiting her, but now he dreaded them more than chasing UNSUBs.
What hurt most was that there was no one he could talk to. Hotch was going thru his own grief and personal problems, JJ was gone, and Morgan and Reid had their own lives. Besides, he was never one to offload his problems on someone else- that was why he wrote. But not this time. There was no way to spin this. No twist to make it right and give it a happy ending. It was so unfair.
To compound matters, Mama Rossi thought her beloved Anton had come back to her, and as far as she was concerned, life was good again. Her face brightened and she was more cooperative. And as much as it hurt his heart to live a lie, he couldn't help but thank the ironic thing called life that had brought his mother back.
But even that wasn't to last.
Out of the blue, Mama Rossi decided to stop talking. No medical reason could be given other than sometimes that was the way the disease worked. Another obstacle had been placed in his path and he had no choice but to go around or over it. Thank God he had his work to lose himself in.
Until that night Emily Prentiss came knocking on his door. She wasn't angry, she was concerned that he wasn't part of the team any longer. Though he was there physically, she could tell that his mind was somewhere else. It wasn't so much what he said but what he didn't. He always had a remark about something, but the last time they went out to LA for a case, instead of sarcastic quips about Tinsletown's superior hospitality, he was mum. She wanted to know what was happening and she wasn't leaving until he came clean with her.
He sighed and told her that nothing was wrong. His latest book was causing writer's block and with the deadline approaching he wasn't sure if he could do it. It was as good an excuse as any and it sounded plausible to his ears, besides, he didn't owe her an explanation.
But he should have known better than trying to bullshit a profiler…especially one who had honed her technique under him.
Walking to the wet bar, Emily poured herself a stiff drink and sat down. She called him out and vowed that even if she had to call Strauss, she wasn't leaving. End of story.
Pouring another drink, she thrust it at him and told him to start talking. Sipping the fiery liquid, Dave took a deep breath and began to confess where his life was at that moment. He had expected her to interrupt, but she listened until he was done.
In the quiet of the study, he waited for the generic sympathy that usually followed. But it didn't. She replied that she had suspected it had something to do with his mother, but she hadn't wanted to butt in; it wasn't her place.
That brought a cynical smile to his face. That was just like Prentiss: subtle and to the point.
Finishing her drink, she walked to the front door but before she left, she let him know that the next time he visited Mama Rossi- and if he needed a friend -she would like to go to lend support.
He nodded unable to find the words as she left and closed the door quietly behind her.
Taking Emily up on her offer arrived sooner than he thought when the doctor called to inform him that his mother had stopped eating. Dave dropped everything to rush out to be by her bedside and give what comfort he could.
Her eyes had brightened to see him walk thru the door while Emily had hung back in the distance and just observed everything. She watched as Dave comforted his mother and didn't correct her when he was called "Anton". And with each minute she stood and watched, her admiration for David Rossi just increased. And somehow he convinced his mother to start eating again.
It was a quiet drive back to Quantico with neither person saying anything. The radio provided the only noise in the otherwise silent car.
As Dave pulled up to Emily's brownstone, she offered coffee if he wanted to come in but he waved her off. He was tired and he needed to think. As she stepped out of the car, he called her name. Turning around, she looked at him. "Thank you" was his simple reply. Then he put the vehicle in drive and went home.
The weeks went by slowly as Mama Rossi's condition slowly began to worsen. Dave kept in contact with the doctors every day, but it was evident that nothing else could be done.
One day, without warning, she slipped into a coma.
It shouldn't have come as a surprise since every ring of the phone put Dave on guard. But it was hitting home that the end was near. He was losing his mother, the one person responsible for his being on earth. Nestled down in his oversized couch, the lights out, with a bottle of aged scotch, and deafening silence through out the two story house, Dave got lost in memories of when he was a child. He lost himself in yesteryear when life was good and fun.
A knock brought him out of his reverie. Opening the door, he was surprised to find Emily on the porch. She seemed flustered and confessed that Hotch had called her. She didn't accuse him, but her eyes searched his for answers.
Dave held on to the door and replied he didn't need anything and that he was alright. Emily nodded. Reaching out, she touched his arm and told him that he could call her anytime.
Her hand on his arm was all it took to break down his defenses. Maybe it was the stress, the grief, or the drink…or all three combined, but whatever it was, he felt his defenses crumble. He hated showing weakness in front of anyone - that was just who he was - but even he couldn't keep hiding.
Guiding him to the couch, Emily helped him sit down. Before she could comprehend the moment, she was surprised when Dave's arms went around her. Briefly she struggled until she realized that the strong, arrogant David Rossi was breaking down on her shoulder. Holding him tight, she never said a word as he let go of his grief.
As the storm dissipated, she continued to hold him close. Eventually his breathing evened out and she realized that he had fallen asleep. Moving him away, she gently laid him on the couch. Removing his shoes, she covered him with the throw. Taking a look, she turned out the lamps and locked the door before quietly leaving.
After that, things slowly changed between them. A working relationship developed into a friendship. And neither seemed to notice nor care.
Now he sat parked outside the building unwilling and unable to go inside. He had been so strong for so long; he didn't have any more strength to complete the last bit of the journey. Nor did he want to.
Closing his eyes, he leaned his head back against the head rest and tried to clear his head. A gentle touch brought him back.
"You need to go in and be with her," Emily told him, her soft voice cutting thru the silence.
"She needs you."
"She doesn't know me anymore." Dave squinted tightly to keep the tears back.
"Yes she does."
Dave grasped the steering wheel for support. "Do you know what she told me the last time we spoke?" he asked rhetorically. "She thought I was my dad and confessed that she worried about me. Her exact words were: 'Anton, I don't think David is ever going to settle down. I know I shouldn't worry but he's my son and I'm his mother and that is what I do. I want him to be happy with a family of his own. I want him to find love like what we had. Is that too much to ask?'"
A heavy silence filled the car.
"I'll go with you if you want," Emily offered.
Dave turned his head to look at her. "You would do that?"
Her hand grasped his tightly. "Yes."
Nodding, Dave blinked quickly. "Okay." Opening the car door, he stepped out into the brisk, cold air.
"As we return the body of Maria Isabella Napolitano Rossi to the earth from which she came, we ask you throw open the gates of heaven and welcome our beloved sister, friend, and mother into the comfort of your bosom. I say this in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen." Crossing himself, the priest closed his Bible.
Stepping over to Dave, he voiced some words of comfort. Shaking his hand, the priest moved on to the other mourners. Patiently, Dave shook the hands of the crowd as they came up to him and offered their condolences.
Eventually the crowd left. Standing under the shade of a tree, Dave tried to gather his emotions as his brain struggled to process the moment.
"Your mother would have been proud of you," Emily comforted.
Casting a mournful glance at the mahogany casket, Dave studied the flower arrangements. He had spared no expense to make sure his mother got her favourite flowers.
"She opened her eyes before she passed. She knew who I was."
Emily laid a hand on his arm. "A mother never forgets her son. You were good to her Dave. You made sure she had everything she needed and you were there for her when it mattered most. I think she knew that."
"I know." He struggled to find the right words to say. "You didn't have to stay."
Emily smiled gently. "Yes, I did. A promise is a promise."
"Thank you." It was simple, but it said everything.
"Come on," she offered. "The guests are going to be arriving and we need to be there."
Dave was lost in thought as his mother's words came back: I want him to be happy with a family of his own. I want him to find love like what we had. Is that too much to ask that he take a risk one more time?
His gaze remained fixed on the casket. Slowly a weight lifted from his heart.
Looking at the dark haired woman who was his partner and friend, Dave knew that everything he could have ever wanted was right beside him. And if her eyes could be trusted, she would always be there for him.
Yes, he was leaving a part of him behind, but something new was waiting for him. All he had to do was reach out and touch it. Take a chance.
Grasping her hand in his, Dave held on. "Yes, we do," he replied.
And he meant it.