Title: What is and What Should Never Be
Fandom: Criminal Minds
Universe: Remembrance of Things Past (Part 2)
Characters/Pairing: David Rossi, Emily Prentiss – gen (with some slight UST)
Summary: Emily finds the courage to ask for help.Sequel to Are You Now or Have You Ever Been.
Emily had to hand it to Rossi – he lived in style. The guest bathroom was extravagant, with a bath that looked almost twice the size of Emily's own. To sink into a hot, relaxing bubble bath was a nice thought, but so too was sleep.
Sergio jumped onto the counter, and began fervently scratching himself beneath the chin. The black cat had followed her into the bathroom, and Emily didn't quite have the heart to kick him out. He comforted her in times of stress like this one – he didn't know jack about serial killers or escaped sociopaths from Russian prisons. It was almost like having someone to come home to.
'What am I going to do, Serge?' Emily asked, staring herself in the mirror. The face that stared back was objectively frightful. Dark circles around her eyes, and hair that she'd been running her fingers through all night. She had to tell the team about this, but that was a can of worms that was going to have some serious repercussions. Sergio made no sound, engrossed in his own activities.
Emily sighed, and shed her clothes, tossing them into a pile in the corner of the room. Her gun she set on the counter, safety on, because Sergio's paws could not be trusted. Half the clothes in her go bag were dirty, so she'd have to ask Rossi about using his washing machine.
In the morning.
She had clothes to sleep in, as well as work outfits for at least two days. Tonight, she didn't want to stay up any longer than she had to. The towels were, as Rossi had said, in the cupboard underneath the sink. She wondered how long it had been since anyone had used the guest bathroom.
The water burned against Emily's skin, but she made no effort to lower the temperature. In her mind, the pain was her punishment. Penance for her sins.
A depressing thought.
Normally, she slept in panties and a tank top, but there was a big difference between accepting someone's hospitality and walking around half naked, so she added a pair of sweatpants to the mix that usually served as her workout pants, if she happened to hit the gym mid-case. It was a surprisingly common occurrence – some of their unsubs were so seedy that the only way to avoid beating the crap out of them during arrest was to take the anger out on a punching bag instead.
Somewhere along the line, she'd forgotten how to lock it all away. Maybe that came from empathizing with victims and families. Maybe she was just growing up.
Emily found Rossi in the guest room, straightening the top sheet so that it was parallel to the headboard, as though she wasn't about to climb underneath the covers. The sheets were a navy color that contrasted nicely against the pale blue walls. She was willing to bet that they were expensive as hell, because while David Rossi did not flaunt his wealth, he sure as hell appreciated it.
'There are extra pillows and blankets in the cupboard,' he told her, gesturing towards the inbuilt closet. 'I figure you might want to do some laundry tomorrow, but if you'd prefer, I could take you back to your apartment.'
Emily paused. She didn't think that Doyle would be any less likely to attack two FBI agents than just one. No, she wouldn't be going back to that place with anything less than a full SWAT team until Doyle was dead or behind bars.
'It's okay if you don't want to,' Rossi assured her, with that easy smile of his. 'I just thought maybe you might like to pick up a few things.'
'I might go to the mall instead,' Emily conceded. 'I don't want to take any chances.'
'Tomorrow after work?' he asked, and Emily stared at him, half incredulous.
'Rossi, you don't have to come with me to the mall. Even D…even he's not dumb enough to attack someone in broad daylight with hundreds of people around.' Plus, she added to herself, It's not his style.
He plays with his food.
'I assumed that the reason for showing up on my doorstep was that you wanted protection.'
Emily bit her lip. 'Rossi, I can't thank you enough for letting me stay with you tonight, but…You really don't have to come to the mall with me.'
He gave her a look. 'We'll talk about this tomorrow,' he said, and Emily almost snorted. He sounded like a teacher that was disappointed in her performance. 'You know where my room is if you need me,' he continued, as though there had been no disagreement between them. 'Mudgie'll bark at anyone snooping around, and the alarm system will take care of the rest. Sleep tight.'
And then he was gone.
Emily left the door open – just in case – and set her gun on the nightstand. She was half tempted to pull out the yellow envelope and go over the files once more, but that would only serve to make her more restless, so she left it on the top of her go bag.
Sleep did not come easily.
She was exhausted, of course, but after everything that had happened, Emily was not particularly comfortable with turning her back on the waking world, lest she wake up to a gun in her face.
When sleep did come, it was punctuated by dreams – memories, really – of the past. The thing about being undercover is that you were another person entirely; your name, your past, your desires…the real world might as well have been fiction. That wasn't the worst of it – the worst was letting that evil love her, touch her. Consume her.
It was early when her phone rang.
At this time of morning, it was always JJ – now Hotch – calling with a new case, and, still half-asleep, Emily didn't even look up when she swiped her thumb across the screen to answer.
'Did you like my gift?'
Emily shot up, free hand automatically going to her gun. Any words – anything she could have possibly said – were caught in her throat.
Composure, Emily. Don't let him hear the waver in your voice.
'What do you want?'
It was a stupid question, but it was the only one that she had. Ian Doyle, the biggest mystery that she'd ever encountered – the Irishman who grew up in Russia, who had seduced her in the South of France.
'You know what I want, Emily,' he said, a laugh in his voice. 'I want you.'
A shiver ran down her spine, as though someone had tipped a bucket of ice-cold water down her back. Sometimes, that's what talking to Ian felt like. He had this calm demeanor that was so much more terrifying than outright aggression.
Emily said nothing, and Ian took it as a sign to keep talking. 'It's a beautiful name – it suits you so much more than the other one.'
'Come anywhere near me, and I swear to God…'
'Are you at a hotel, Emily? Hiding away like a terrified child? Are you staying with a friend – do they know who you are?'
Emily hung up abruptly, letting the phone fall to the floor. A sob wracked her body, and half a second later, before she could stop it, she was crying.
You don't do this Emily – you don't cry.
Only it turns out she did. It turns out she wasn't as strong thought she was.
Emily was vaguely aware of the light in the hallway flicking on, and David Rossi standing by the door, gun in hand. 'Emily, are you…?'
'I'm fine,' she said, wiping away the tears with the back of her hand. Sergio jumped onto her lap, and she petted him absentmindedly.
'Did you have a nightmare?' He sat down on the bed beside her, the mattress sinking under both their weights.
'No. Well, yes, but…' She looked down at the phone on the ground. 'He called. I don't even know how he got this number, but he called, and…'
'Does he know where you are?'
Emily shook her head. 'I don't think so.'
He put his arm around her, and said nothing for a good minute.
'You know what he's doing, don't you?'
'I know,' Emily said, sniffling.
'Leaving things on your doorstep, calling you at odd hours…he's messing with you.'
'Rossi…I know this guy. I know how he works…I know what he's trying to do, and I'm not strong enough to stop him from doing it. I…I need help.'
'You ever hear the stories about the first days of the BAU?' Rossi asked, which was absolutely not the answer Emily had been expecting.
'You mean about your sexual conquests?'
Rossi smiled grimly. 'That's another story altogether. For a long time, agents worked alone, writing up profiles using their own knowledge, maybe with a little consulting as needed. It didn't take long for the higher ups to figure out that it wasn't working.'
'Because they burnt out too easily?'
'Well…that too,' Rossi conceded. 'There was a reason I retired the first time around, and it had jack all to do with the money. But the thing is…sometimes you need to step back, and let someone else take a look at things. Sometimes you're too close, and you just can't figure it out, but there're people there to pick up the slack.'
He let his hand rest atop of hers. 'We care because you do, Emily,' he said, and Emily remembered the cold case that had brought him back to the Bureau in the first place.
'Now come on,' Rossi said, standing. 'I'll make you breakfast, and then we'll call bring the team in – we'll take that bastard down.'
He stood up to leave, and Emily was relieved to realize that she had stopped shaking. The tears had slowed down to a few wayward drops, and for the first time in days she felt like there was maybe light at the end of the tunnel after all.