Title: Family, Leader of the Army
Challenge: The Great Alphabet Meme 2
Prompt by ghfan_98
Author: Kuria Dalmatia
Rating/Warnings: R/FRM (profanity, offensive language). Future fic.
Characters/Pairing: Reid/Rossi, established relationship. William Reid.
Summary: When Diana Reid dies, Dave finds himself in charge of funeral arrangements.
TIMELINE: Future fic but no specific season.
ARCHIVING: my LJ and FFNet account... anyone else? Please ask first.
COMMENTS: Unbetaed. February 2011. This isn't favorable to William Reid or the "Reid" side of the family. Warning: I wouldn't call this a cute or fluffy fic because it involves parental death. This was also written post-op so I was taking "the good drugs" which may explain some of the weirdness than ensues. Characters may be quite right, but hey. Funerals do weird things to people.
The quote regarding "Watson" is from .com/od/surname_
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 the call came in at 2:16 EST, Dave was returning to his office with his post-lunch coffee. He glanced down to the bullpen out of habit. "Counting chicks," his mama would call it. Making sure everyone was where they were supposed to be. His gaze automatically went to Reid first. It always did, even before they became lovers.
Today, he stopped.
Because Reid was this unearthly shade of pale. He was staring at the phone, his hand still on the receiver.
Dave immediately changed course, worry washing over him. There were only a few reasons Reid would look like that. He hoped that his initial conclusion was wrong, but as he got closer to Reid, he knew he had guessed correctly.
Carefully, he placed a hand on Reid's shoulder. "Reid?"
The younger man glanced up, a frown settling across his features. His voice was distant as he said, "She's dead."
No clarification was needed.
They knew it was coming. Diana Reid's health had been in steady decline since the whole Riley Jenkin's mess. Reid never wanted to talk about it; Dave respected it. He wasn't too keen on discussing his parents' mortality either.
"When's the next flight out?" he asked instead.
"Both United and Continental have a five o'clock direct."
"I'll have Garcia grab seats," Dave said as he placed his hand carefully over Reid's, which still held the phone. He brushed his thumb across his lover's hand, the only show of affection he allowed himself in the office. He wasn't sure if it even registered with Reid. "Do you want me to tell Hotch?"
"No," Reid stuttered as he got to his feet. "No. It's something I need to do."
Dave watched as the younger man stumbled slightly towards Hotch's office. He watched as Reid opened the door, took two steps in, and closed it. He watched as Hotch rocketed to his feet and immediately went over to the door.
Dave sighed. He picked up the phone.
God, this sucked.
Visitations and funeral masses were a funny thing. Dave often thought that people attended and paid their respects so that the Grim Reaper wouldn't come knocking on their door anytime soon.
Being from a large family, funerals were simply part of growing up. Dave knew the drill. He understood the emotions and he knew how to prepare for the outbursts. He knew that the Abruzzi family was never seated at the same pew or table as the Zeppamiti's. He knew that if a LaRussa was being buried, no alcohol was to be served, and never ever let Uncle Alfonso give a eulogy.
There were no such rules, spoken or unspoken, for Spencer. Diana was the only family he had, really. Oh, there were cousins and aunts and uncles on the "Reid" side of the family, but according to Spencer, the "Reid" side of the family never approved of Diana. The Reid side of the family felt justified when she was finally placed in a sanitarium, saying things like, "See? William really did marry a crazy person." And Dave knew Spencer wasn't the type to slant a story to his favor, wasn't the type to vilify a person or persons so that his own view would be seen in a better light. Spencer just stated the facts in a disinterested tone.
So Dave prepared himself for any of the Reids who decided to show up. He even asked Spencer how he should act toward them, which earned a curious stare.
"As far as we know, they're only gonna be there for the food," which was a stupid explanation, but Dave couldn't bring himself to say, They may use it as an excuse to further insult you and your mother. Because not only had William abandoned Spencer, the Reid side of the family had as well.
Because for all the problems the Rossi clan had—and hell, there were shitloads—they never transferred the sins of one family member to another. Never. Cousin Marlon may have supposedly molested a neighbor's kid and "disappeared" sixteen years ago, but Marlon's family was never punished for the man's actions.
And while Dave's brothers Phillip and Tony made it quite clear that they didn't approve of Dave and Spencer, the men and their wives came out to Vegas, because Spencer's mom died and Spencer was family. Dave's sisters-in-law even insisted on checking into a hotel that had a kitchen, because, by God, Spencer would have homemade baked ziti because the entire Rossi clan knew that it was his favorite and a grieving man needed comfort food.
Finally, Spencer said, "You can treat them however you want."
Which was typical Spencer, so Dave asked, "What about you?"
"I don't know."
The morning of Diana's visitation, Spencer stated quietly, "I think your brothers are treating this as a run through for when Mama Rossi dies."
"Aw, Jesus, Spence."
"I'm not offended," his lover continued with a small nod of his head. "I'm flattered that they would do this, given that they pray for our souls daily and believe I've led you down the path to Hell. Although…" Spencer's lips tipped up in a half smile, "I think Phillip and Tony like having me as a brother-in-law now. We went down to one of the casinos last night. I won enough to cover their plane tickets, car rental and hotel."
It took a few seconds for what Spencer said to sink in. "You paid off my family for coming down here?" Dave asked incredulously.
Spencer shook his head. "It was the only way I knew how to thank them."
"You're family, you jackass!" he exclaimed as he grabbed Spencer's shoulders. "You don't have to…to…Jesus fucking Christ!"
"I'm a grieving son," Spencer interrupted. "And apparently that's carte blanche for a lot of things." He looked away. "Let me do this. We spent three hours together and I didn't have to hear them misquote Leviticus once. It's not a handout. It's not a payoff. Please?"
And because Spencer's voice wavered on that last word, Dave gave in.
Spencer was right.
Grieving men did have carte blanche for a lot of things.
The funeral home was small and modest, and like most, family-owned and operated. The visitation was only scheduled for three hours, which had been Dave's decision. It wasn't because he wanted to short-change Spencer on those who wanted to express their condolences. It was because over the years he's learned that three hours was generally enough time for the people who felt they needed to be there to be there, and for those who couldn't make it to send a card instead.
Diana's maiden name was Watson. It was really all he knew about Diana's side of the family, except that she, like Spencer, had been an only child and her parents died before Spencer was born. There were no first or second cousins. No great-aunts or great-uncles.
So, who showed up at the funeral home was clearly divided between, "those there for Spencer" and "those there for William." And there was a really petty part of Dave that decided if Spencer wasn't going to cross the invisible line to speak with the Reid portion of the family, neither was he.
What truly surprised him is that no one on Spencer's side made the effort, even though there was some unspoken etiquette about trying to bury old grievances with the dead. Those there for Spencer stayed firmly on "their side" of the aisle.
Dave wondered if Spencer even noticed.
The visitation included a short service at eight-thirty for people to stand in front of the room and give their respects. It was a Rossi tradition, of course, and when Dave had asked Spencer about it, Spencer had only shrugged and said, "Sure."
As it approached eight, Dave pulled Spencer aside and asked, "Do you want to say anything tonight?"
Spencer shook his head. He pulled a letter from his jacket pocket. "All I want to say is here."
The envelope was sealed.
"If you don't want to do this…"
"They need to," Spencer interrupted. "It's part of the ritual, right?"
"It doesn't feel right for me, you know?" He looked at him. "Does that make me a bad son?"
"Absolutely not," Dave said fiercely. He pulled Spencer into a hard embrace, his lips against his ear. "She was proud of you. You know that." They stayed like that for a few moments and then Spencer wriggled a little. Dave let him go.
Spencer stared at the doors leading to the main room. "I wonder what my father will say."
"Phil's taking bets on how many times he'll say 'courageous' but Morgan thinks 'strong' will be the word de jour." It was inappropriate to joke, but it earned a grim smile from Spencer.
"Actually, he'll use this as a way to publicly apologize to me," Spencer replied quietly. "You know. Confess his sins to the public, come halfway across the bridge to forgiveness, throw himself at the mercy of the congregation and believing…actually knowing that if I don't forgive him, the sympathy will sway to his favor…"
"It's what he'll do." He slid the letter back into his pocket and then fished out a poker chip. He handed it to Dave. It was a thousand-dollar chip. "Place my bet with Phil." And then, he walked away.
Dave rubbed his forehead and turned, surprised to find Hotch standing at the door to the men's room, glowering. He went to say something, but found that he couldn't. He wanted to sic his brothers on William, because that would be one way of guaranteeing William wouldn't use this as a podium, but his brothers were never ones for quiet tack. For a long moment, he and Aaron just stared at each other.
"I'll make sure he loses the bet," was all Aaron said and then walked briskly into main room.
At eight twenty-eight, Spencer grabbed Dave's wrist, whispered "I can't do this" and fled the room. Dave got up to followed, but Phil yanked him down to his seat.
"Jesus, Davey, let the man have some space."
"Yeah," Tony hissed and whacked him on the back of the head. "Stop holding his hand. Christ. And don't give me any of that 'supporting my partner' shit, either. Maria, Gina and what's her name…"
"Bimbolina," Phil offered, but before Dave could correct him, Tony continued.
"—Barbara, geez, she was a piece of work." His brother paused. "Anyway, if you coddled them half as much as you do Spencer over something like this, they'd have your junk in the casket in a heartbeat."
The exchange earned a few snickers from those around them (mainly the BAU), Hotch covering his mouth with his hand to stifle a laugh.
"I don't coddle him," Dave fired back, keeping his voice low.
The coughs around him sounded suspiciously like laughs.
"Yeah, you do, Davey," Phil said. "And God love him," he made the sign of the Cross, "Spencer puts up with it."
William Reid's statement was short—"Rest in peace, Diana,"—and he scurried off the platform. Whatever Hotch said to him—hell, it might have simply been Hotch glaring at the man, who knew?—had the intended affect. William did not plea for his son's forgiveness, offer an apology for abandoning the family the way he did, or anything else.
The next eight people were all on William Reid's side. Their condolences were shallow and rehearsed. Actually, they sounded recycled, as if these people gave the same lines at all the funerals they attended.
Christ, no wonder Spencer didn't want to sit through it.
So when Dave got up there, he didn't bother glancing at William the Bastard or the assholes who left Spencer to fend on his own. Instead, he counted the number on each side of the aisle and realized that Spencer's crew outnumbered William's three-to-one. He recognized about half on Spencer's side, and noted that they would all rather sit on top of each other than be comfortable on William's side of the room.
It was inappropriately funny and downright childish. He wondered if William noticed. He certainly hoped so.
Usually, at these types of things, the mourners told their favorite stories about the deceased. Dave had none. Diana was a force of nature. He met her twice: once as Spencer's colleague and once as Spencer's lover.
"This is your future, David Rossi," Diana told him, a hard glint in her eyes and a defiant set to her chin.
"Yes, ma'am, I know," he replied.
"Are you telling me you're not afraid?"
"I am afraid, Mrs. Reid. Make no mistake. But also know that no one's forcing me into this. I'll give up whatever I have to because I love Spencer and I believe in what we have…I believe in him."
"You don't have all that much to lose, Mister Rossi."
"My family was raised strict Catholic. Homosexuality is a sin. Period. What I have to lose, Mrs. Reid, can't be measured in fame and fortune. It can only be measured in family. And that? I have plenty to lose."
"If they walk away because of this," Diana Reid said gravely, "then they're not family at all."
Dave swallowed once and then said the first thing that came to his mind. "Diana's maiden name was Watson. It's a patronymic surname meaning 'son of Watt.' The popular Middle English given names Wat or Watt were pet forms of the name Walter, meaning 'ruler of the army.' From the elements wald, meaning rule, and heri, meaning army.*"
William Reid's contingent looked utterly confused. Spencer's crowd exchanged smiled and a few laughs. Dave's vision blurred a little, because it wasn't what he wanted to say but it was the only thing he really could say.
"And, believe me, the one thing that woman could do was rule an army."
Then Dave felt someone touch his elbow. He glanced over and found Spencer standing there, eyes wet and nose red. Spencer's voice, however, was strong. Teasing. "You stole my lines."
The silence in the room was painful.
"Hey, Davey! Didn't Max Ryan say the same thing about your first book?" Tony asked loud enough for everyone to hear.
Spencer's side, made up mostly of LEOs and the BAU, immediately got the joke and began laughing. Hotch's was the loudest, that ha-ha he only made when he thought something was truly, honest-to-God funny.
And because of this, Dave shot back, "What's this? Because it's Vegas you two—" he pointed to Spencer and Tony "—thing you can turn this thing into a comedy routine? The Strip is three miles away!"
"Actually, it's four point seven," Spencer corrected.
"Google says five point three," Phil called out and held up his iPhone.
Spencer grinned, "I know the shortcuts."
William's side, of course, was horrified.
Spencer then cleared his throat, grabbed Dave's hand, and then addressed the crowd. All Dave remembered was that Spencer was eloquent yet passionate, and there wasn't a dry eye in the place when he was done.
All Dave knew was that Diana would be proud, William Reid was a fucking idiot, and if he never stepped foot in Vegas again, he would be okay with that.