Spoilers: Oh, let's say everything through the current season. Except the last 2 weeks. Forget you saw those.
Author's Notes: I am grateful to smittywing for cheerleading and talking me over some hard parts, listening to me vent and telling me what was missing. Many, many thanks to smacky30 for the beta. And the cheerleading. And the general awesomeness. I really suck without both of them.



Cuts and contusions.

A third degree burn just above her left breast, roughly in the shape of a cross.

All in all, the doctors say she got out lucky. Another few hours could have told a different story.

They give her a CAT scan, treat the cuts and bruises, do what they can for the burn, and hook her to an IV.

It's after two Monday morning by the time she's settled in her hospital room.

Andrea Benton died in surgery, but he hasn't told Emily yet, though she's smart enough to figure it out.

The team all laid eyes on her, hugged her and kissed her cheek with promises to be back tomorrow. Emily's mother, looking every bit her age plus twenty, was ordered home by both Emily and her doctor. She left reluctantly, but, Dave supposes, the greatest part of diplomacy is knowing when to give in and the Ambassador is a master diplomat.

Hell, he's looked in a mirror and knows he looks worse than the Ambassador. He's grateful he's been allowed to stay.

When they're finally alone, Emily looks at him as if he's lost his mind when he starts to settle in the chair beside the bed.


She quirks an eyebrow at him and pats the bed beside her.

He is both charmed and alarmed. "Prentiss, that is a hospital bed. It's very narrow." He makes a gesture indicating a small space with his hands. "Besides, I'm pretty sure that's against the rules."

"Your sofa is even narrower." She makes the same gesture, only smaller, and he's confident she's mocking him. "And we've shared that before. Oh, and by the way, when did you start caring about rules?" She looks at him expectantly.

His reaction time is severely hampered by exhaustion and the ebb of adrenaline; most surprising of all, he finds he doesn't reallywant to argue. "I'm afraid I'll hurt you." His words are stark and a little raw.

"David Rossi, get in this bed or I will hurt you." It's an act, he knows, the sass and bravado, but there's part of him that is intensely grateful she's capable of acting when he isn't.

He smiles. "You would wouldn't you?"

"Doubt me and see," she says haughtily. She's clearly exhausted, and she has to be in some pain. But she's still Emily, so the show of bravado isn't really a surprise.

He sheds his jacket and toes off his shoes. When she seems to be satisfied he's following orders, Emily rolls onto her side away from him, close to the edge of the bed, and Dave, careful of the IV, climbs in behind her, gathering her close and curling around her. Their fingers intertwine over her abdomen, and he closes his eyes and breathes her in.

They're silent for a while, and he's almost convinced himself she's gone to sleep when she starts talking. Her voice is quiet, but her tone is matter-of-fact. "When she showed up Friday night, she said she wanted to apologize for being so harsh after Matthew died, and she wanted to talk to me about my friendship with him." She pauses for a moment, and he feels her shake her head. "She seemed nervous, but I thought it was just...you know...awkward. She asked for a glass of water. I turned around, and she hit me with a stun gun."

He can't help the way his arm tightens around her as she continues, "I was going to fight then I saw the gun, the .38, and I knew she'd had some sort of mental break."

"You're being kind." He kisses her hair. "She was crazy."

Emily gives a small snort and squeezes his fingers and allows the silence to stretch out between them. He waits, somehow knowing she's struggling with what she's going to tell him next. While he waits, he absorbs the warmth of her back against his front, the touch of her fingers against his, the feel of her hair against his cheek. ("Your poor hair," her mother had cried...well, her mother had just cried).

"She knew about Italy and the abortion. She thought Matthew was the father."

He places a gentle kiss against her shoulder. "She wanted to think the worst of you."

"Most of what she thought was true." Her voice is flat, with a trace of sad acceptance.

That makes rage bloom inside his chest faster than he'd thought possible; it takes every bit of self-control he has to remember they're in a hospital, in the middle of the night, and she's had a helluva few days. He does manage not to yell, but even he will acknowledge his voice is little more than a controlled growl. "Would you please stop blaming yourself because someone helped you out when you were a kid? If Matthew had the kind of doubt that surfaced after what happened in Italy, it could just as easily have surfaced over something else." He feels her tense against him, and he's not sure if it's because she can feel that he really is angry or she wants to tell him he's wrong. "I met both of his parents, Emily. I saw the way they treated you, I listened to how they talked about their son when he had just died. Trust me, Matthew would have come to a crisis and rebellion at some point; you just happened to be there when it first started."

He feels her wilt a little against him. She tucks her face against his arm, and it's not long before he feels moisture soaking through his sleeve. When he realizes she's crying, all of his anger drains away, collapsing as suddenly as it had risen inside him.

"You didn't kill Matthew; you didn't set him on that road." He kisses her temple. "You're a good person." He swallows thickly. "One of the best."

They lay there, Emily silently crying against him. His hold is gentle, and he soothes her with soft kisses and softer words. It takes a while, but the storm passes, leaving them melted against each other.

Tears are natural, he knows. If it were anyone but Emily there would have been non-stop tears since they found her. Of course, anybody but Emily might not have lived through the ordeal. The thought makes him a little queasy and a lot grateful. "Oh, and by the way," he says apropos of nothing, "you will not be leaving my sight for a very long time." Weak as it is, it earns him a small chuckle, and he smiles against her hair.

"I want to have a baby."

Well, okay, talk about apropos of nothing.

"Don't say anything," she says urgently, as if she regrets blurting it out like that. But if she could see his face she'd probably be able to tell he wasn't really capable of speech at the moment. Emily, however, seems to be having trouble not talking. Her words come out in a rush that makes him wonder, with the part of his brain still capable of thought, where she got the energy to talk that fast. "I mean, not this...it doesn't have to be right away. And it's not because of this. I mean, yes, it is because experiences like this do tend to make you sort of look at your life and think about what you might like to accomplish. But it's not because of Matthew or what happened in Italy. I just..." She squeezes his forearm. "I want to have a baby, and I think I need to be honest with you about that. I didn't want to spring it on you, though, yeah, okay, I guess I did spring it on you. But we've never talked about whether this is temporary or..." She clears her throat, and his arm tightens around her. "But, at least for right now, things I decide impact you, they impact us, and I know we need to talk to...to...to define some things, figure out where we're going. Figure out if we're going anywhere. So I didn't want to blindside you." She gives a small, nervous laugh. "There's no way to not spring that on someone. I'm sorry."

"Emily." He doesn't know what he wants to say, he just knows she needs to know he's heard her. "We'll talk. Soon. Whenever you're ready." The thought terrifies him a little, though not in the same way the thoughts of her being hurt or dead or dying had over the past few days. That, he thinks, is something.

"Okay," she agrees and relaxes back against him.

"Okay." He kisses her shoulder, and she squeezes his arm again. Not long after, he hears her breathing even out and knows that she's finally asleep. Normally, his brain would be flying over the past few days or the possibilities of the future, but he's exhausted and relieved, and he's not really capable of thought anymore. So he counts her breaths and allows himself to follow her down.

The morning nurse that comes in to check Emily's vital signs kicks him out of bed; she is less than impressed when Emily grins at her, unrepentant. She does, however, manage to find Dave a cup of coffee when Emily's breakfast tray is brought in, and Emily feeds him half of her eggs and all of her bacon. He's still tired and feels a bit like he's just crawled out from under a collapsed building, but he's so happy to see her face, to hear her voice, he doesn't much care how he feels. When he gets her home though, they're going to bed and sleep for a week.

The morning is a bustle of nurses and doctors, with the final pronouncement being she can go home after she's received another bag of IV fluids, probably sometime in the afternoon. It's late morning when the Ambassador shows up with several shopping bags and a cadre of minions; including a lanky man in his forties, dressed all in black with two black bags, one across each shoulder. From what Dave is able to gather, he is both an old friend and a hair stylist. He begins talking as soon as he's kissed Emily's cheek.

"Who could do this to that gorgeous mane of yours?" He lifts several of the longest of the scraggles and lets them fall. "Only a monster. But, you know what? It's just hair. It grows back." He cups her chin with what Dave can tell even from a distance is a gentle touch. "In the meantime, I'm thinking something Audrey Hepburn? You certainly have the neck for it. What do you say?"

Emily, smiling, gestures to Dave. "Steven Rogers, Dave Rossi."

Steven's handshake is firm, and his look is frankly assessing, though his words are friendly. "It's nice to meet you. I've heard so much about you." He holds up a hand. "Most of it good."

Emily's cheeks are pink, and the Ambassador has an eyebrow cocked towards Steven. "Which means, Steven, you have been withholding from me."

"Elizabeth." He meets her gaze with a raised eyebrow of his own. "Stylist-client confidentiality is more sacred than doctor-patient confidentiality." He removes both of the bags and sets them on the floor near the bathroom.

She gives a haughty sniff, but Dave can tell it's playful. "Well, now that I know where your loyalty truly rests, this changes everything."

"If everything has changed, then I guess I can tell Emily all of your deep, dark secrets?" Stephen asks as he directs one of the women who accompanied them toward the bathroom and another to the chair on the other side of the hospital bed.

"Oh!" Emily says as her mother guides her legs out of the bed. "I'll pay."

"You'll do nothing of the kind." The Ambassador looks at Dave. "David? Where do you fall on this issue?"

Dave holds his hands up. "I fall wherever I can get another cup of coffee."

Emily and her mother both laugh as Steven says, "Smart man." He makes a gesture that encompasses the room, Emily and the others. "Take your time. We're going to pamper our girl for the next hour or so."

Making good on his retreat, Dave heads down to the cafeteria; he gets a cup of coffee and an egg salad sandwich. He drinks the coffee, but just picks at the sandwich, pulling the crusts off and idly shredding the lettuce as he listens to his voice messages.

"Dave, it's Aaron. I just wanted to check on Emily and see if either of you need anything. Call when you get a chance."

"Hey Rossi, man, Reid and I were wondering if we should swing by the hospital to see Prentiss, or if they were letting her go today. Let me know."

"Garcia here, sir. Checking in to see if there's any contraband I can smuggle in to you and your lady love... Oh! I say that with all due respect, sir."

"Agent Rossi. It's Erin Strauss. We need to meet. I'll give you a few days to let things settle. Call my assistant and book something for the end of the week."

Dave makes a moue of distaste. No need to return that call today. He's well aware of where it's going to go. Instead, he calls Aaron, but gets his voicemail. Garcia answers her phone, and he lets her know Emily will likely be going home in the afternoon, telling her to spread the word. He doesn't specify home is his house, but after the past few days if they can't figure that out, they don't need to be working on this team.

He finishes his coffee and tosses the poor, mutilated sandwich into the trash. He walks across the lobby into the gift shop looking for some ibuprofen and maybe some flowers for Emily. The painkillers are near the register, and he snags a couple of the single dose packets on his way to the cooler. The flower arrangements are surprisingly less expensive than he imagined a hospital gift shop would be. Not that Emily isn't worth every flower in the case and more.

"I like the yellow ones," a small voice offers.

Looking down, Rossi sees a curly haired girl of no more than five with her nose pressed against the glass of the cooler.

"Oh, you do?" He smiles.

"My mommy's gots flowers in her room, but they're mostly blue 'cause I gots a brother."

Rossi, a little amused, addresses his companion. "Well, that's pretty nice; you get to be a big sister."

She looks up at him with large blue eyes, in what he imagines is a look of disdain for the kindergarten set. "Boys are dumb."

He clamps down hard on the urge to laugh. "Well, you're his sister, maybe you can teach him not to be a typical boy."

"I s'pose," she sighs. "Nana did say we could have cake since today was his birthday."

Dave nods sagely. "There you go. Look on the bright side."

"Jenna!" A rather harried looking silver-haired woman swoops over from the opposite side of the register. "You scared me to death! Haven't I told you not to wander off?" She gives him a nervous smile. "Sorry if she was bothering you."

"It's all right. We were just discussing flowers."

The woman he assumes is Nana holds out her hand. "Let's go back up to the room, sweetie."

From the look on Jenna's face Nana is not ranking much higher than boys at the moment. But she says, "Okay," and takes her grandmother's hand. She looks back over her shoulder at him. "Bye."

He raises a hand. "Bye."

Shaking his head a little, he reaches into the cooler and pulls out the large bouquet of bright yellow sunflowers. Taking them to the register, he smiles. Not all boys are dumb, Jenna.

Emily looks as though she feels much better when he returns. She's dressed in red silk pajamas with a mandarin collar; her hair is now cut in a short, sleek style, the ravages of Andrea Benton's scissors covered under an expert hand. Steven and the other women that came in with him are gone, but the Ambassador is still there.

Receiving the flowers with an almost shy smile, Emily touches his hand. "Thank you."

The Ambassador actually makes a "tsk" noise. "For goodness sake, Emily." The Ambassador sighs. "I will not run screaming from the room if you thank him properly."

Flushing brightly, Emily nevertheless tugs on his hand, and he laughs a little as he kisses her. The Ambassador is smiling indulgently when he looks at her and she actually winks at him.

He's pretty sure he's never been winked at by a high ranking official from the State Department.

"Emily says she'll likely be released later today?"

He pulls a chair a little closer to the bed. "The doctor said once she got another bag of fluids they'd let her go."

She sits a little straighter in her chair. "I'm assuming you were planning on taking her home?" Dave nods, and the Ambassador continues. "Good. The press is outside the hospital and, unfortunately, outside my home as well. I thought I would leave by the back entrance but make sure they see the car when I go by. Hopefully, that will distract them enough for you to get her to your car and away before anyone realizes she is not with me."

It's a decent plan, but has a couple of flaws. Primarily, the fact that his car isn't here and secondarily, while he's not as recognizable as the Ambassador, he's had his fair share of press and most local reporters are going to know him and know he works with Emily. The former is easily cured by Garcia retrieving his keys and driving the Jag to the hospital in Leesburg, with Hotch following to give her a ride back.

"If you ever need someone to watch after your car while you're out of town, I am more than happy to volunteer," Garcia burbles, happily smacking kisses onto Emily's cheeks. "Oh, look at the new 'do! That is so chic! I actually think I like it better like this."

The Ambassador is beaming at her gratefully as Hotch comes through the door to Emily's room. He's dressed casually, which, for a Monday is a bit of a surprise. "We're on stand down; two weeks," he says when both Emily and Rossi look questioningly at his wardrobe. Rossi starts to ask why, but between the run of cases and the kidnapping of a team member, it's obvious why the higher ups have decided it might be best for the team's morale and overall mental health to have some downtime. No one, at this point, is going to complain.

Hotch talks to security, who are more than willing to help. They've been holding the reporters at bay since early this morning when word broke that Ambassador Prentiss's daughter had been found and taken to the hospital. While the Ambassador did release a short statement expressing gratitude to everyone who helped find Emily and thanking everyone for their thoughts and prayers, details of the case were not being released yet which made the press all that much more voracious. So, hospital security gladly offers to see the Ambassador out a side entrance, but with enough fanfare to distract the reporters from the ambulance entrance, where Dave will be allowed to pick up Emily.

It's a little bit cloak and dagger, but Dave is sure the last thing Emily wants is her bruised face all over the news.

Hotch decides to follow, just to be on the safe side, which is how he and Garcia end up at Dave's, followed shortly by Reid and Morgan. Kevin comes to pick up Penelope, and Dave finds himself hosting an impromptu party with Emily tucked up on the sofa. They call for pizza, and Garcia calls JJ, who makes a beer run on her way over. Hotch sips some of Dave's finer Scotch while Reid explains the method of perfectly aging Scotch. He rambles on about how the type of cask used for aging the whiskey impacts the color. "In order to be legally called Scotch it has to age in the cask at least three years, though the most common aging is a minimum of eight years in the cask. Of course, once it's bottled it stops aging."

Garcia, arguably the best at managing Reid in social situations, hooks her arm through his and says, "Come on, Boy Wonder, come have a beer and tell Kevin about the difference between beer and lager."

"Well, actually, lager is beer. But not all beer is lager, because beer can be either ale or lager." The facts tumble out, but he's moving along with her. "The differences are really about how they're brewed. The type of yeast used in the brew and the temperature at which fermentation takes place determine whether it's a lager or an ale. Top-fermenting yeast which allows for rapid fermentation at warmer temperatures is used to brew ales. Lagers are brewed with bottom-fermenting yeast; they ferment more slowly and at colder temperatures." His voice fades as they move away and Hotch and Dave grin at each other. Hotch looks over at Emily on the sofa. Her feet are in JJ's lap and Morgan is grinning at her from Dave's armchair, then he says something that makes both her and JJ laugh.

Hotch tips his glass first towards Emily, then Dave. "Glad she's back safe." There's a smile on his face, relief in his expression, but there's an echo there of sadness for other times, times when things hadn't turned out so well.

It hits Dave then, like a bucket of water to the face, how goddamn fortunate he is. He remembers the day Haley died, listening to the shots over the radio. He remembers the team gathering around Hotch in the days after her death, wanting desperately to do something and knowing there was nothing to do. His chest tightens at the thought, his heart squeezes until it's a little hard to breathe. He looks at Emily, looks at her laughing, watches as she reaches out and pops Morgan on the leg. Thank you, God, he thinks, but he says aloud, fervently, "Me, too."

Monday night, it turns out, is a pretty good night for an impromptu party. Emily isn't taking any medication, so she's sipping beer with the rest of them. But everyone keeps a watchful eye on her, makingher drink water between beers, reminding her she's just been treated for dehydration. She grumbles good-naturedly about being molly-coddled, but drinks the water anyway. They eat pizza and wings, and Garcia and Kevin manage to whip up a fairly decent pan of brownies with only what they find in the kitchen.

Dave ends up calling a few cabs and is grateful he doesn't have to be anywhere too early tomorrow, since his driveway is blocked by a number of cars. He spares a wince of sympathy for JJ, the only one who has to work in the morning. Morgan is planning to go to Chicago, and Reid is heading to Las Vegas. while Hotch is planning on some quality time with Jack. Dave doesn't want to know what Garcia is up to. He loves her as much as he loves the rest of the team, but he thinks it's wise not to know too much about what she does with her free time.

It's heaven to be in their bed, holding each other. And though this bed is far larger than the one they'd shared last night, they still curl up just as close together to sleep.

They sleep past noon and wake to find all the stray cars out of the drive-way. There are several notes on the front porch, along with a bouquet of flowers from Morgan, a stack of sci-fi novels from Garcia and a bottle of wine from Hotch. He takes her to a late afternoon appointment with a plastic surgeon, who specializes in burn treatment, for an evaluation of the brand on her chest, then over to her mother's house for dinner. Photos of a senator's son smoking a bong broke overnight; thankfully, the press appears to have given up on Ambassador Prentiss, and is stalking the senator instead.

He's looking forward to a pleasant evening with Emily and her mother, but what he gets is a front row seat to an icy argument between the two women when Emily states, unequivocally, that she intends to attend Andrea Benton's funeral on Thursday. To say the Ambassador doesn't support the idea is putting it mildly, but Emily digs in. Dave doesn't support the idea either, but he also knows when Emily is hell bent there's nothing to be said that will change her mind. That is how he ends up by Emily's side in a half empty chapel two days later, listening to Mass being said for the soul of Andrea Benton. Despite her feelings on the matter of Emily's attendance, Elizabeth is on the other side of her daughter, rosary in hand, mouth tight.

It's starting to rain, and he's grateful when Emily says she doesn't want to go to the graveside ceremony.

Elizabeth kisses Dave's cheek with a heartfelt, "Thank you, David," when he opens her car door for her, keeping her sheltered under his umbrella. She turns to Emily and cups her cheek. "She hurt you. No matter what her reasons, no matter that she was...unbalanced, it is difficult, as a mother, to forgive the person that hurts your child." Leaning forward, she places a kiss on Emily's cheek. "I realized last night that I may not have been the best mother, but I am a successful one, since my child is now a better person than I am."

He sees the tears well up in Emily's eyes and then she and the Ambassador are embracing warmly, and he's having a hell of a time keeping them both dry, though he doesn't think either of them notice.

Emily is quiet on the way home, and he doesn't press her. It's going to take her a while to process everything. If she needs something from him he's relatively certain she'll ask for it. The Bureau is going to insist on a psych eval before they let her back out in the field. He knows that if someone tells her she needs outside help, or she feels she needs it, she'll get it.

She slips off her shoes and curls up on the sofa with a book when they get home. He leaves her alone for a while, he's probably (definitely) been hovering and is sure she could use a little space.

It's difficult to focus, but he does his best. He does a little research and answers a few e-mails. When he decides she's had enough time alone, he grabs a bag from the drugstore where he'd gotten Emily's prescription filled and heads back to the den.

He studies her face from the doorway. The bruises are already fading, helped along, no doubt, by the facial one of the women with Steven had given her Monday and some special lotion the plastic surgeon prescribed that cost more than his first divorce. Her expression has a lingering touch of sadness, but she appears mainly serene.

Taking one step into the room, he tosses the box in his hand on the coffee table. Emily starts, and then looks at him, annoyed, before looking down at the table. Her eyebrows climb. "Rossi, why are you throwing a box of-" She leans forward and the eyebrows go higher. "-Ultra Thin Lubricated condoms at me?"

"I wasn't throwing them at you, Prentiss, I was throwing them to you." He smirks as he rounds the coffee table and sits on the sofa beside her.

"Okay." She shifts to face him, her tone exaggeratedly patient. "Why are you throwing a box of condoms to me?"

"I've been reading, and most doctors recommend using some sort of barrier method of birth control for the first month after you go off the pill, before you start actively trying to conceive."

She blinks, and her face goes completely blank, the way it does when she doesn't get something and she's racing to catch up before anyone figures out she doesn't know. Then her expression shifts to something disbelieving and incredulous. "What?" She looks as if she might need to be reminded to breathe. "Just like that?"

"Just like what?" He asks, still smirking.

"No discussion...no argument...no...no nothing?" She's dangerously close to sputtering, and when she gets herself together, he is never letting her live this down. "Just...okay?"

"Okay," he nods seriously.

"Really?" Emily still does not look convinced or, for that matter, happy.


She shakes her head as if to clear it. "I can't...wow...I didn't expect it to go this smoothly."

He captures her hand. "A week ago, it might not have."

A shadow crosses her face, and she shakes her head again. "Don't. Don't do something you don't really want to do in reaction to...to...last weekend, okay?"

"I'm not." He squeezes her hand. "What was it you said in the hospital? That things like that make you realize what you want to do with your life. They also make you realize what you don't want to do with your life. And I don't want to be without you."

Emily pushes her hair back from her face. "You can't go from not wanting a child at all to suddenly agreeing to have a baby with me and not expect me to think this is reaction."

"You are the only woman I know who would argue about getting something she wants." Sighing a little, he shakes his head. "I've always known you want a family. And, yeah, maybe a few weeks ago it might have taken a few more conversations."

She snorts. "You mean fights."

Giving her a severe look, he sits back. "Discussions. But I would have gotten here eventually." He tugs her a little closer, grateful when she comes willingly. "If you're going to have a kid, I want it to be my kid, our kid." He kisses her temple. "I'm not going to say I want a baby as much as you do, but I do know I'll love any kid we have." Smiling, he rests his cheek against her hair. "I'm old and I'm fussy and I'll probably screw up a hundred times the first week, but I want to try."

Her voice, when she speaks, is small and a little breathy. "You're sure? Don't say this...unless you're really, really sure."

He remembers telling Hotch once that the only people he'd ever made happy were divorce lawyers, but that maybe he would have tried harder if he'd ever had a kid. He supposes the previous failures should keep him from making plans, but this is Emily, and baby or no baby, she's his future. He knows he'll have to work at it, but there is a still a sense of the inevitable when he thinks about the two of them together. "I'm really, really sure." Dave laughs a little. "I'm really, really terrified, but I'm sure."

She laughs with him then moves so she can look into his eyes. "Thank you." Her eyes are dark, and her smile is soft. He leans forward, watching as her eyes slowly drift closed and touches his lips to hers. The kiss is soft, lips against lips, and his own eyes close as he absorbs the taste and feel of her mouth against his, his hands gently cupping her jaw. He feels her hands flutter against his neck, one settling there, the other scratching through the short hairs at the back of his head.

It's a quiet moment there between them, the silence stretching out, elongating, wrapping them up in the moment, the here and now, away from everything but each other. This, he thinks, this is everything.

The kiss is gentle, chaste almost, until Emily tries to straddle him, and he finds himself clutching her shoulders to stop her, to slow things down again. "I don't want…we don't have to do this right now."

"I'm not hurting, and I'm not going to break," she says firmly, pulling his head toward hers. "I want this. I want you."

Her mouth opens easily under his, and he dips in to taste her. She's warm and alive, she's Emily and she's here. He breaks the kiss, leaning his forehead against hers, breathing past the sudden thickness in his throat. "Em," he chokes out. That isn't how he wants this to go, but she starts placing tiny kisses against his face, the corner of his mouth, nipping at his lip, kissing his earlobe, giving him time to get himself together, to breathe through it, until he can speak without his voice cracking or wobbling. "I love you."

That, he decides, is all the talking they need to do. He pulls her completely into his lap and kisses her hungrily, mouths open , teeth and tongue. Wrapping his arms around her back, he brings her as close as he can. It's an intense onslaught of sensation, Emily on his mouth, Emily in his arms, Emily pressing against his chest and against his cock. He can smell her perfume and the faint citrus of the cream for her face. Through her clothes, he feels the shift of her muscles. Then he hears the little sounds she makes in the back of her throat when she's starting to get turned on, and sees the aroused flush on her skin as he slips open the buttons of her blouse.

She arches when his lips find her neck and his thumb grazes over a nipple, and he can't get her blouse off of her fast enough. When she shrugs out of it, he sees the thin layer of gauze covering the burn above her breast and his heart clenches.

"Hey," she says, fingers pushing through his hair, eyes on his face. "It's okay."

He shakes his head, but she leans down and kisses him. "It's okay." She kisses him again, hands on his shoulders, tongue stroking against his. Then she rolls her hips against him once, twice, three times, and she has him believing even if it's not okay, it will be very soon.

Skin. He wants her skin against his skin, and that needs to happen right now. His gaze is greedy as he watches her unsnap her bra and pull it off. She's trying to push his shirt off but he wraps an arm across her back and takes her nipple into his mouth.

"Jesus, Dave." She arches like an electric current is moving through her body, but that only gives him better access. By the time he moves to her other breast she's practically grinding against him, and he can smell how turned on she is. He slips a hand down and opens the clasp on her pants. Pushing the zipper down, he glides his fingers into her panties. He groans when he feels just how wet she is, and that makes Emily arch harder.

"Fuck." Her voice is raspy and a little bit desperate. "Fuck, Dave. Please." He slides two fingers in and she groans, he touches her clit with his thumb and she cries out. "Oh, god, yes." She rides his fingers for a minute then she pulls off, panting. "No." She shudders. "I want you. Inside me. Now."

Dave is just fine with that. He's pretty sure he's never gotten his pants off so fast, but Emily is already naked, laid out on the sofa, struggling to open the condom box. He hovers over her, drinking her in; skin and shadow, curves and hollows, breasts high and firm, the flush on her chest and her long, long legs. "You're beautiful," he rasps. "So damn beautiful."

He bows over her, kissing her with both tenderness and hunger, and she meets and matches him with a gratifying eagerness, all while struggling with the damn box. There's the sound of ripping cardboard then the condoms burst between them in a geyser of foil wrapped latex, Emily squawks in surprise, and he's laughing against her neck. She huffs in frustration, mock growling, "Rossi. I want you. Now."

It sounds more like an order than a statement of seduction, so he gives her a falsely demure, "Yes, ma'am," and plucks a condom from between the back of the sofa and the warm skin of her hip, stopping for just a second to run his thumb over the ridge of bone there.

"Slow," she complains snagging the condom and ripping the foil. He doesn't really mind, just keeps stroking her hip, enjoying the contrast of his tan fingers against her fair skin, the feel of her under his hand. When she rolls the condom on, he groans; when she strokes him, he can't think about anything else but getting closer to her. She shifts, and he's cradled between her thighs; he pushes in, and she lifts to him. It's been more than a year since he's worn a condom, but he's actually grateful for the way it dulls the sensation, because he wants her so much, he's so crazy for her, he's in danger of going off like a teenager, and he doesn't want that. He wants to savor this, wants to be here fully in this moment.

He doesn't move, just holds there, breathing and breathing her in. He came so close to losing her, but she's here, she's right here with him, soft and warm, vibrant and alive, and he's never been so grateful for anything in his entire fucking life. His heart is full, and his throat is thick, and he wants to tell her how much she means to him, but he just doesn't have the kind of words he needs. Emily looks at him, her eyes wide and dark, full of want and so much more. She lifts a gentle hand to his face, her thumb stroking across his cheek, and he realizes she's wiping away a tear. "I love you." It still sounds choked, so he says it again, moving slightly against her. "I love you."

Moving with him, she whispers, "I love you, too."

He withdraws, and she follows; he thrusts, and she meets him. "I love you," he repeats, bending to kiss her. They're moving together; it's slow and it's sweet and it's inevitable. They are inevitable.

Every movement sends a shiver through him, want and need and pleasure all rolled up together, climbing up his spine, coiling in his belly, crawling over his nerve endings like electric current. She moves with him, and he's having trouble distinguishing who is gasping and who is moaning. It's animal and intense, pleasure and passion and love. God, so much love. Like he could somehow move the way he feels for her through his body and into hers so she can feel it, feel it the way he feels it, feel it the way it feels in his chest and his head and his hands and his mouth. Like she could somehow know what it feels like when he holds her hand or sees her smile or hears her laugh. Like she could feel his love from simply having his skin against her skin, his hips against hers, his mouth against hers. He's desperate for her to know, but all he has are his words. They're just words, though, and they're not enough. Still, he says them anyway, over and over. "I love you, Emily, I love you."

He's rocking into her, and she meets every move of his body, drawing him closer, deeper. She's clutching at him; her hands are skimming over his back, grasping his ass, clutching his biceps. Her legs are wrapped around him, opening her body wider, and he moves against her, moves in to her, but he just can't get close enough, can't get deep enough. Her body is clutching him, she's so warm and tight and it's all too much. "So good," he breathes against her mouth, sliding a hand against her thigh, feeling the smoothness of her skin, running his fingers over her hip, sliding between them, slipping his thumb against her clit.

"Dave," she cries. "Dave."

Her body is clinging to him, muscles shifting and tightening. Her breathing is getting a little faster, her chest rising and falling with each breathy little gasp, hard nipples brushing against his chest as her eyes get wider, as she arches higher. "Come on, Em." He rubs a little faster; he's just not sure how much longer he can hold on. "I need you so much. I need to feel you."`

"Yes," she gasps. "Yes, yes. Now. Yes. Dave."

Even through the condom he feels her, feels her muscles flutter, feels them begin to ripple and clench, and he finally stops trying to hold on and just lets himself go, lets her pull him in to her orgasm, like it's one orgasm, slicing through and shattering both of them at once. She's all around him, her skin, her scent, the noises she's making, and he just keeps falling, falling apart and falling into her.

When higher brain function returns (though that description might be stretching the way he feels, it's more like he's regained consciousness without ever having passed out) he sort of feels like he's been turned inside out. He's completely relaxed, languid, boneless, content. He withdraws carefully, despite Emily's whimper of protest and tosses the condom into the wastebasket at the end of the sofa, making a mental note to deal with that later. Then he turns back to Emily, and they arrange themselves much as they had in the small hospital bed early in the week. He wraps his arms around her, placing soft grateful kisses against her neck. "I love you," he whispers against her skin.

"I heard," she whispers back. "I love you, too."

"Good." He kisses her hair.

"It'll grow back," she says.

It takes him a minute to catch up. He'd almost forgotten that a week ago her hair had been long. "I know," he agrees. "But I'm kind of enjoying this." He nips playfully at the line of her neck, smiling when she squirms against him. "There's a lot to be said for easy access." Wrapping his arms tightly around her, he rubs his beard against her neck, and she squeals, which is a sound he's never heard from her, and it makes him laugh.

Emily turns in his arms, nearly knocking his ass onto the floor, and that just makes him laugh harder as he scrabbles for purchase. They end up with him on his back, still on the sofa, though it had been a near thing for a minute or two. Emily is half on the sofa, half draped over him. He pulls the blanket from the back of the sofa down and over them, still smiling, still content. Happy, he thinks and realizes the truth of it.

His life is about to change, but life changes every single day; just most times the changes don't get noticed until later. Five years ago he would never have predicted he'd land back at the BAU or solve the Galen case. Two years ago he would have been able to say he was attracted to Emily Prentiss, but he wouldn't have predicted she'd take him to bed or that he'd fall completely in love with her or agree to have a baby with her. He's fifty-five years old, and his life suddenly feels like it's just beginning.

Looking down, he sees Emily has fallen asleep on him. They haven't had dinner, and he's not up for spending the whole night on the couch, but she's still recovering and a little nap won't hurt. He's not sure he's caught up on his rest yet, either; he lets himself relax, lets himself drift, and sleeps.