Title: Are You Now or Have You Ever Been
Fandom: Criminal Minds
Characters/Pairing: Emily Prentiss, David Rossi
Summary: After leaving her apartment, Emily finds herself on David Rossi's doorstep. Post
6x14, Sense Memory.
Emily set Sergio down in the passenger's seat, before checking the car over for anything that Doyle might have planted. It wasn't likely, considering whenever the flower had arrived, her car would have been at work. In her haste to leave the apartment, she'd forgotten to grab the cat carrier, and returning there now was about the most unappealing thing in the world.
After everything that had happened, he knew where she was. He knew her address, and, if the blank message on her answering machine was anything to go by, he knew her phone number, too. It wasn't unsurprising – Doyle had a lot of contacts after all. Emily would've been fooling herself if she thought she was going to get out of this without him initiating some kind of contact.
After all, she'd spent almost two years undercover with him, feeding information back to Interpol. It wasn't as though she was someone who had stayed on the sidelines. If there was one single person that Ian Doyle was going to come after, it was her.
'What are we going to do, Serge?' Emily asked of the cat, who was startled by his new surroundings. Sergio was a curious cat, who paid her little attention as he explored the car. There was no way she could drive with him on the loose, and yet she didn't have anything to house him in.
'I guess we could just take a cab,' she said finally, with a sigh. It wasn't the perfect solution, but her car did have GPS that could be tracked, and being tracked was the last thing she wanted right now. After the case they'd just worked, though, cabs were potentially about to go on her list.
Out on the street, it was raining again. Emily felt a little awkward – she was probably drawing stares from people that thought it strange for someone to be carrying a cat around – and Sergio wasn't particularly happy about being subjected to the rain. His claws dug into her shoulder as she hailed a cab.
'No animals,' the cabbie grunted.
'There's a hundred dollar tip in it for you,' she offered, and the cabbie grunted again.
'Get in,' he said finally. 'Double, if he makes a mess.'
'Whatever,' Emily said, a little distant. The money wasn't an issue – her savings account wasn't exactly empty, but the truth was, she couldn't be sure that she'd ever be coming back to this life.
Not until Doyle was dead, at least. Even then, he wasn't without his "business associates."
'You got an address?' the cabbie asked, and Emily paused. What was she doing? Was she running? Was she going to a team member for help?
They might have been like family, but this wasn't something that any of them knew about. As far as they knew, she'd been with the FBI for the last fifteen years, not caught up in international espionage. In addition to that, if they were involved, then they could get hurt, and that was something that Emily most definitely did not want on her conscience.
This was the past that she had tried so hard to keep behind her. The past that she didn't want anyone else to know about.
'Meter's running,' the driver reminded her. Emily bit her lip. A motel was the obvious choice. There was a fake identity in the envelope that she could check in under if it came down to it, but there were probably a few places shady enough to take cash, in addition to being willing to let Sergio stay too. The problem though, was that no matter how long she stayed hidden, she'd have to come out eventually. When that happened, she couldn't do the whole "fight for her life" thing with a cat in tow.
Whether she liked it or not, she was going to need to ask for help.
Hotch and JJ were out – they had family, and Emily absolutely did not want to put any kids in harm's way. Garcia was out – if it came down to it, Emily wanted to be with someone who was willing to use a gun. Reid was no doubt on his way to see Solaris already, and Emily didn't want to be spending the night out in D.C. with a cat under her arm.
That left Morgan and Rossi, both of whom had dogs. Ultimately, though, she expected that Rossi would probably be a little more accepting of her showing up on his doorstep and dumping her past onto him – after all, she'd already done it once before.
She gave the cabbie – Bill, according to the license on the dash – Rossi's address. 'Take a roundabout route,' she added, checking behind her shoulder as they pulled away from the curb. It was dark, which meant it was going to be harder to see if someone was following them. 'But stay in well lit areas.' Sergio clawed her shoulder, meowing in distress. She smoothed the fur on his back. 'It's okay, buddy.'
Bill looked sideways at her. 'You some kinda spy?'
'No,' Emily said automatically, but really, she wasn't exactly sure what answer she was supposed to give. 'I'm just…having some trouble.'
'In a way.'
'Well good for you – don't take shit from anyone. Especially someone who says they love you.'
Emily raised an eyebrow.
'You got that look, is all I'm saying,' Bill said with a shrug. 'See plenty of women running away from guys that beat 'em up. Takes a lot of courage to do something about it.'
'It's not like that,' Emily told him. 'It's just…complicated.'
'Sounds like "complicated" needs a kick up the ass.'
More like a bullet to the head, Emily thought privately. She kept an eye over her shoulder for the majority of the ride, the tour of backstreets Virginia meaning that it took almost an hour and a half to make what was usually a forty-five minute trip.
They pulled to a stop, and Emily looked around to make sure that there were no mysterious cars conveniently coming to the same place.
You know, if he can get into Bureau records, then it doesn't matter whose house you go to. She pushed the thought away, handing over a wad of notes to Bill. 'Thanks.'
'You stay safe, okay? Don't hesitate to bring someone in to kick his ass.'
'I'll keep that in mind.'
She watched as the cab drove off, rain falling lightly around her. Another time, she might have stood still, let the water cleanse her mind and her body, but the streets of Virginia were about as unsafe as D.C. As unsafe as the rest of the damn world.
Thankfully, Rossi was quick to open the door, even if the look on his face was one of utter confusion. After all, it wasn't often that a colleague showed up on your doorstep with a cat, a bag full of clothes, and an aura of intense fear.
'Prentiss?' The dog at Rossi's heels gave a short bark and a whimper; Emily felt Sergio's claws dig into her shoulder once more. 'Mudgie – outside!' The dog whimpered again, and ran off.
Obedient, Emily thought. 'Can I come in?' she said.
'Sure.' He stepped back to let her inside. 'Is everything okay?'
'Yeah.' He gave her a look. The kind of look that said, you turn up in the middle of the night without calling, and expect me to believe that? 'No. It's a long story.'
'Have you eaten?' he asked, leading her into the kitchen area. 'I was just about to put something together, if you were hungry.'
'That…that sounds good,' Emily agreed. Sergio shifted in her grip. 'Where can I…?'
'Mudgie'll stay out of his way, if you just put him down – it is a he?'
'Yeah,' Emily nodded, lowering Sergio to the ground. He jumped out of her arms, and went about immediately exploring. 'Sergio.'
'I didn't know you had a cat.'
'I got him a couple of weeks ago,' Emily said, finding herself staring over at the window – for the glint of a gun, or a rustling of bushes.
Emily shook her head. 'Sorry about this. I'm a little jumpy.'
'Emily,' Rossi said, with that stern voice that conveyed his utter seriousness for situations like this. 'You are a colleague and a friend, and if you need help, then you are fully expected to come and ask for it. It's not problem.'
'Yeah, it kinda is a problem,' she admitted, holding up a hand before he could argue. 'Just…hear me out.'
'Is this the kind of thing I need to be drinking for?' Rossi asked, turning towards the fridge. 'I've got beer, wine and spirits.'
Emily shook her head. 'No – thanks.' She wanted to keep her mind clear, in case anything went down tonight. She didn't expect it to – the fact that Doyle had left the flower by the door instead of waiting inside to kill her probably meant that he had other plans, but she wasn't going to take chances.
Not on this.
He poured her a glass of water instead, to which Emily raised an eyebrow.
'No offence,' he said. 'But you look like crap.'
'I kinda feel like crap, too,' Emily admitted. 'It's just…some stuff from the past being dug up when I really, really didn't need it.'
Rossi's brow immediately furrowed. 'Is John Cooley stirring up trouble for you?'
Emily stared at him, half incredulous.
'Come on, Prentiss – even an old codger like me can put two and two together.'
Emily shook her head. 'No,' she said firmly. 'No, it's nothing like that. God…I wish it was that.' She bit her lip. 'What it is, though...What it is, I can't actually tell you about.'
The words sounded way stupider coming out of her mouth than they had in her head.
Rossi frowned. He was no doubt processing the words in his mind, trying to come up with some explanation for what she'd just said.
'The thing is,' she continued. 'And this will probably give you some idea as to what is going on – it's classified.'
There was a long, almost uncomfortable silence. Rossi more than anyone, she felt, would understand her reasons for lying to the team. Anyone else would have felt betrayed.
'CIA?' he asked, eventually.
'Interpol.' That much, at least, she could tell him.
Rossi nodded. 'Good fit,' he said. 'I did wonder why a polyglot of your skill would be working for the FBI instead of something a little more exotic.'
Emily stared at him. 'That's it? That's all you're going to say?'
'Would you prefer I bitch you out?'
She shook her head. 'No, I just…thank-you.'
'So this is why you've been acting weird the last few days?'
'I guess everyone's noticed then, huh?'
'We're not as oblivious to the goings on in each other's life as we'd all like to think.'
You can say that again.
'So are you thinking of going underground?'
Emily stared at him.
'Come on, Prentiss. You think I don't know that look in your eyes? We both know for a fact that if you ask the team for help, they will jump off a moving train to make sure that happens.'
'That's what I'm afraid of,' she murmured, staring down at Rossi's kitchen floor.
'Worse.' She paused, not quite sure how much she could actually reveal. 'He left…something by my front door. Something that has a connection to our past. He wants me to know that he's coming after me.'
She jumped at the sound of meowing by her feet. Sergio pawed at her leg.
'Hey, buddy.' She lifted the cat into her arms, pulling him close to her neck. With any luck, Rossi wouldn't see the tears that were starting to form at the corner of her eyes. 'Are you hungry, are you? Mommy forgot to pack the cat food. Is there a store nearby, Dave?'
'I have some canned tuna,' he provided. 'I'd say you probably want to stay indoors.' He wasn't just talking about the weather.
'So what do you feel like?' he asked, assessing the contents of his fridge. They decided on spaghetti, Emily dicing onions while Rossi pulled out the various ingredients for the sauce. He didn't ask questions.
That was what she loved about him – that was what she loved about all of the team. They were themselves.
Rossi wouldn't ask questions. He would offer his ear, and he would just wait. No pressure, no nagging. 'You're going to have to give me this spaghetti sauce recipe,' Emily said, as she shoveled in the last few mouthfuls. Maybe it was the stress of hearing about Doyle's escape, but she couldn't remember the last time she'd had a decent meal.
'You'll have to fight the entire Rossi clan to the death for this recipe,' he said with a grin. 'Either that, or somehow become a Rossi yourself.'
'That an offer?' Emily stared him down until he started laughing.
'I'm kidding, Prentiss. It's just tinned tomatoes and herbs.'
'Sorry,' Emily said. 'I'm just nervous.'
'Stop apologizing,' he ordered. 'You're entitled to be jumpy. Now I think there's some Cookies 'n Cream in the freezer from the last time my niece was here, if you want ice-cream?'
After the week she'd been having, ice-cream would be fantastic, and she told Rossi as much. They sat on the couch, eating ice-cream and watching late night TV. It was kinda surreal.
'Are you scared?' he asked eventually, and Emily wasn't entirely sure how to answer.
'He's…not a nice person,' she settled on. 'Last time around, he killed a lot of people.'
'We'll catch him,' Rossi assured her. 'Tomorrow morning, you want to talk to Hotch about this – I have your back.'
'It's not that simple.'
'Because of the "classified" thing?' he snorted. 'Come on, Emily – Penelope Garcia could hack the Pentagon, if she wanted. JJ's contact list is a mile long, and the name Aaron Hotchner carries a lot of respect in the law enforcement world. You think we can't get around something like "classified"?'
'JJ's with the DOD now, you realize?'
'And you think she wouldn't drop everything to come help one of her best friends?'
Sergio jumped into Emily's lap, and rubbed his head against her arm. 'It's getting late,' Rossi noted, and Emily wondered if that was his way of saying that she should get some sleep. She hadn't gone to any great lengths to hide the bags under her eyes, or the excessive coffee consumption. Hell, maybe she'd wanted someone to noticed. 'I'll get you some sheets for the spare bed, plus there are towels in the cupboard under the sink in the main bathroom.'
'Thanks again,' Emily told him, giving a grateful smile. 'I don't know what I'd do without you.'
She hoped that she didn't ever have to find that out.