Title: Today
Rating: PG-13
Criminal Minds
Genre: Romance/Angst
David Rossi is having trouble coping. An old friend comes to help him out. Post-Lauren.

The house was so goddamned empty.

Normally, at this time of evening, Emily would be listening to music, or maybe watching TV; that noise alone made the four-bedroom, two bathroom house seem a lot cozier.

Today, it was just Dave and Mudgie.

Dave, Mudgie, and a very nice bottle of bourbon, to be precise.

It was five days since the team had returned from Boston – five days into the mandatory bereavement leave that they had been ordered to take. It might as well have been five seconds, for how badly David Rossi was dealing with the death of the woman he loved.

The rest of the team, no doubt, were reminiscing in the wake of one of the more difficult funerals that Rossi had attended over the years. He'd lost colleagues before, but never a lover. This raw, unfettered pain that tore through his insides – that was new.

Mudgie gave a long whine, and Dave stared down at the dog sympathetically. 'I know, buddy…I know.'

The next day, things hadn't changed a great deal; instead of just being depressed, David Rossi was hungover and depressed, and hanging around the house didn't help one bit.

He missed her touch, her smell. He missed the way she laughed, the way she groaned and pulled the covers over her head when he tried to wake her up on Sunday mornings. He even kind of missed that fur ball of a cat that Reid had volunteered to look after.

The cemetery was quiet, for a Sunday.

There were a couple of families there, but Dave kept his distance. There was an unspoken rule in places like this; keep your grief to yourself. Everyone else is there for the exact same reason.

The flowers from the previous day were still fresh, the headstone already in place. It was simple, and to the point, and yet entirely unsatisfactory. But then, he wasn't there to look at her headstone.

Yesterday, he had set a white rose on her coffin. Today, he set a red one on her grave.

'I don't think…' He frowned, pausing. 'I love you, Emily. More than anyone I've ever known. The fact that I never got to tell you that will weigh on my soul for the rest of my life.' He imagined his lips pressed against hers, her hair against his skin. 'I just wish…I wish that you'd told us what was going on – so that we could have helped. So that I could have been there for you.'

He'd almost said, "so I could have taken care of you," but he knew that that was the kind of chauvinistic statement that Emily would have countered with an indignant, "I don't need taking care of." No matter how much he wanted to be the stereotypical male, Emily Prentiss was an independent woman.

The footsteps he heard were instantly recognizable. The owner of those footsteps had accompanied him through the hell of his youth, through good times and bad. The one person that he trusted to give him guidance, and the one person he had refused to call.

'Who told you I'd be here?'

'Agent Hotchner called me.' Jimmy did not step forward. As a Catholic priest, the man had no doubt officiated his own fair share of funerals. 'He didn't tell me where you were, but he told me enough to be able to find you.'

'I couldn't take care of her,' Dave said. 'No matter how much I wanted to.'

'There are different ways of taking care of people, David. Not all of them need to be palpable. Sometimes it's as simple as making sure she had a shoulder to cry on when she needed to.'

'She might be alive, if I'd been there for her.'

'And pigs might fly,' the priest countered. 'You can't beat yourself up over this, Dave. She wouldn't want that.'

'How the hell would you know what she'd want?' Dave thundered. 'You've never even met her.'

Jimmy was unperturbed by his anger. 'You're right. I haven't. But I've heard enough from you to feel like I do anyway, and the woman you describe isn't someone who would go around laying the blame.'

Rossi let himself relax slightly. Jimmy was right. Jimmy always seemed to be right – half his job seemed to revolve around giving guidance to his parishioners.

'Besides,' Jimmy continued. 'Didn't your mother ever tell you not to yell at a clergyman?'

'I seem to recall my mother telling me that you were a bad influence, and that I should avoid you if I didn't want to find myself on the wrong side of a jail cell. Funny how things turn out.'

After all, when David Rossi had returned to the BAU, he hadn't expected to fall in love – least of all with a colleague.

He shook his head. 'I just miss her so god-damned much, Jimmy. I keep expecting to wake up, and find out this is all some fucked up nightmare – that she's in bed beside me, hogging all the damn blankets.'

'Death is a part of life that we all have to accept.'

'You think I don't know that?' Rossi asked him, half-exasperated. 'I know she isn't coming back. I know I need to deal with that, but I can't…not yet.' There was another long pause. 'I think maybe I need a drink and to talk about this…or not talk about it…I don't know.'

He wasn't used to this kind of self-doubt. After thirty years of experience in the FBI, he was used to having the answers, or at the very least, having the knowledge necessary to formulate the answers.

Today was different.

Today, David Rossi was, for lack of a better word, lost.

Tomorrow…tomorrow was another story.