Title: Ab Epistulis
Original Challenge: The Great Alphabet Meme 2: T is for Tobias
Prompt by pumpkin_pix
Author: Kuria Dalmatia
Rating/Warnings: FRM/R (profanity)
Characters/Pairing: Rossi/Reid, Hotch
Summary: Spencer finds Dave's writings about those most intimate cases affecting the team—James Colby Baylor, George Foyet, and Tobias Hankel.
Word Count: ~3,300
ARCHIVING: my LJ and FFNet account... anyone else? Please ask first.
March 2011. June 2011. August 2011
COMMENTS: I've always loved the fact that Dave Rossi is a successful, published author but also feels the guilt over 'taking serial killers public' (although he was far from the first). In Season 6, it was established that he still works on books in his down time, so it's only natural for him to use writing as a catharsis. The idea behind this story was that Dave actually writes about the cases he works as a way to really sort through all that he's seen. Some cases just don't make sense, but the idea of putting them on paper to try to work through it is just something I can see Rossi doing.
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.
"How could you?"
Dave looked up from the newspaper, stunned to see a thoroughly enraged Spencer Reid holding up a black, inch-thick binder. It was the same type Dave used for his chapter drafts: handwritten pages of thoughts, outlines, carefully preserved news articles, the occasional photo and lists of contacts. He had dozens of binders like that in his home office upstairs, the spines labeled with his own cryptic reference system.
From the way Spencer was holding it, Dave couldn't tell which one is was, but obviously the subject matter had infuriated the man he considered his husband, the man he exchanged rings with. Dave put down the paper and took off his glasses. "Spence …"
"They trusted you," Spencer spat and he marched forward until he was at the other end of the table. "I trusted you. And … and … this!" He shook the binder like a firebrand preacher giving a sermon and then he slammed it down on the table.
"What the hell?" Dave demanded, because this type of emotionalism just didn't happen between them. Sure, they had fights, but never in their two years together had it ever started out with an accusation like this.
Deliberately, Spencer spun the binder until its unmarked spine faced Dave. Dave's blood ran cold as he realized just what Spencer had stumbled upon. The lone unmarked binder in the bunch, the one carefully placed in the back part of the bookshelf. The one in which he kept the most personal of case notes. He guessed it could be called his diary, because it was one place where he just poured the souls of the cases down onto paper so he could make greater sense of them, so that he could reconcile them in his mind so he wouldn't be so haunted.
Spencer crossed his arms. His glare was lethal. He tilted his head slightly like he did when was about to quote something. And then he spoke, his tone frosty and flat. "While the analyst's actions were well-intended, her flagging homicides cases within the greater-DC system brought her to the attention of James Colby Baylor …" He paused. "Taking on the Vatican is no easy task…" His eyebrow lifted. "After Shaunessy's death, Foyet turned his attention to an even greater prize: the lead FBI agent on the case ten years ago."
"Spencer," he began as he stood up, anger flaring.
"In the case of Tobias Hankel, the captured agent …" his lover's voice cracked on the last word. He took a step back. He shook with fury that Dave had never witnessed before. Spencer forcibly yanked the platinum wedding band from his finger and hurled it at Dave. It struck him in the chest and bounced onto the table. "You son of a bitch," Spencer hissed, turned on heel and headed towards the door.
"Now wait one goddamn second!" Dave shouted as he grabbed the ring. "Wait one goddamn second!"
But Spencer already had the door open, his messenger bag slung over his shoulder, and his car keys in hand. What he did next stunned Dave even more. He called for the dog and Mudgie bounded from wherever he was in the house up to Spencer. Spencer grabbed the leash off the wall and said, "Mudgie, we're going for a ride."
The dog obediently trotted outside and up to Spencer's car, which for some reason they hadn't put in the garage last night. Dave shouted after them, but knew from the set of Spencer's shoulders that whatever he said, Spencer wouldn't listen to. He watched as his husband piled into the car with the dog and drove off with the squeal of tires of the truly pissed off.
For the first time in his life, Dave's anger at the invasion of his privacy and the indignation that went along with it—there were some boundaries that should never be crossed regardless of relationship status—simply died. He felt lightheaded.
He wanted to puke.
Dave slumped against the front door.
It went like this: when Dave and Spencer had a blow out argument that wasn't going to get resolved immediately, Dave called Aaron and Spencer inevitably went to Morgan. But this? This … Dave stared at the binder.
Spencer and Mudgie had been gone for five hours. Spencer hadn't returned any of his calls. Paranoia made Dave call Morgan. Morgan answered with a terse, "He's here with the dog."
Dave wondered just how much Spencer had told him. He didn't get a chance to ask because Morgan hung up on him.
So Dave set his cell phone on the table, held Spencer's wedding ring tightly in his hand, and debated which stupid thing to do first: get drunk or call Aaron.
The temptation of the bottle was a bit too much, so he went up to his personal safe, dialed the combination, and pulled out the sealed envelope. He went back downstairs, picked up the binder, slid Spencer's ring on his pinky where it wobbled, put his phone in his pocket, and then headed out. He knew he should call Aaron first because it was a Saturday and Aaron might be out of with Jack somewhere. But it was approaching eight-thirty, Jack's bedtime was eight, so … so … so Dave drove.
He kept driving. He circled around until nine-thirty, glancing at his phone that he had placed on the dashboard holder. He knew that if Spencer returned home, he would text to find out where Dave was. The longest argument they had lasted twelve hours, and that had been all about Dave proposing to him. Finally, Dave pulled up to Aaron's apartment building, let out a long sigh, and then found a parking spot.
It took another fifteen minutes to work up the balls to get out of the car and up to Aaron's door. He hoped to God that Aaron would understand. Dave knocked and took a step back. A shadow flickered across the peephole. There was a long pause. Then finally, the locks tumbled and the chain rattled. The door opened, Aaron staring at him with a mix of worry and annoyance.
"I know it's late," Dave told him as he dropped his gaze to his friend's feet.
Aaron stepped aside and gestured him inside. Dave entered, the edges of the binder biting his palm. Usually, he would come tearing in here and giving his side of the story before Aaron had a chance to ask. Usually. But this … this …
"Have a seat," Aaron offered, his tone a little warmer than he was expecting; hell, maybe Morgan had given Aaron a heads up that there had been a blow-out at the Reid-Rossi homestead. So Dave made his way to the couch, and saw the DVDs littered across the coffee table and the half-eaten bowl of popcorn. One sniff and Dave knew it was the kettle corn style that Jack adored. Popcorn was one of the few things that Spencer was an absolute purist on: butter and salt. No seasonings. No caramel. Just old fashioned popcorn.
"Movie night?" Dave asked.
"How to Train Your Dragon," his friend replied. "Jack asked me to google lessons for his stuffed animal and was very upset that there were none to be found. He wanted me to call Aunt Penny, because apparently I wasn't googling right."
Dave tried to laugh, but it came out as a cough. He sat down, focusing on the glowing numbers of the cable box and ignoring the sting in his palm from where he gripped the binder so tightly. He could hear Aaron rustling around behind him, the distinct clink of crystal and the slosh of two drinks being poured. Aaron then walked back over, plunked a glass in front of Dave and sat down on the couch.
"You're wearing his ring," Aaron stated.
"He threw it at me," Dave replied. "Of all the goddamn things …" He itched to pick up the bourbon but didn't. "Did he call you?"
Dave heaved out a sigh. He scowled. "Some things are just … personal. Christ."
"What's in the binder, Dave?"
"Yes," came the dry response.
"Well, I write to make sense of things."
"And, well, Spence found …" Dave grimaced and then thrust the binder at Aaron. "He found this. My personal one. The one that's not supposed to see the light of day. The one that my executor knows to burn upon my death."
"Spencer's not your executor?" Aaron sounded surprised, but didn't take the offered item.
"He doesn't want the responsibility."
He forced his gaze to meet Aaron's guarded one. "The binder has chapters on those cases that really hit home. The ones that changed us, changed me. They made me think about what this job does to us. How we survive. If we survive," he explained. "So yeah. The ones that you're not supposed to talk about. You know. Baylor. Father Silvano ... Foyet."
Aaron jaw worked. The anger flashed in his eyes. "Foyet."
"I had to, Aaron," he fired back. "It was the only way I could make sense of it. For God's sake, I wasn't going to fucking publish it. Jesus Christ! I'm not that much of bastard."
"Keep your voice down."
Dave clamped his mouth shut. He looked away. He set the binder between them. "Go ahead. Read it."
"I'm not your priest."
"Then stop being so goddamn pious."
"What I meant was, confessing to me is not going to solve …"
"There's a chapter on Hankel."
Aaron didn't miss a beat. "Like I said, confessing to me …"
Dave rocketed off the couch, anger surging through him as he began pacing. His friend didn't finish his sentence, just watched as Dave walked back and forth. Finally, Dave stopped and pulled the envelope from his breast pocket. He tossed it on top of the binder. He didn't have to explain what it was. They both knew.
It was a promise that Dave made when it became clear that his relationship with Spencer turned serious. Dave would willingly retire again if anything he did was a detriment to the Team.
Aaron glanced down at the letter. He settled back on the couch and cocked an eyebrow at Dave. "They're right."
"Your three ex-wives. You said that they all called you dramatic."
"This is not goddamn funny, Aaron."
Aaron let out a long sigh. "Dave, you had a fight."
"He took the damn dog with him!"
"Because Spencer knows how to put the unholy terror in you," Aaron retorted. "You've told stories about how Marie flung her engagement ring out the window of a moving car and how you spent three days with a metal detector. Then there's the time you came home one morning after that case in Poughkeepsie and Gina had left, taking Mister Jangles with her."
"Christ," Dave sputtered and then flopped on the couch. He grabbed his drink and took a long sip. The liquor burned. He definitely needed to stock Aaron's booze cabinet with stuff that didn't tasted like paint thinner. "Who the hell names a German Shepherd Mister Jangles?"
Aaron snorted a little but didn't comment further.
After a few moments, Dave said quietly, "It wasn't meant to hurt him … you … anyone …"
"You should have kept it someplace more private."
"Where? Like the safe?"
Aaron shrugged. "That would be a good place."
"We keep the sex toys in the safe, Aaron."
His friend grimaced, grabbed his drink and took a gulp. "I didn't need to know that."
"It's damn inconvenient, if you ask me."
"Dave …" Aaron warned.
Dave waved his hand and took another long drink. "I don't want to screw this up."
Silence hung in the room for several moments. "How much detail?"
"Everything he told me."
Aaron let out a loud, slow breath. "Everything?"
"I was trying to make sense out of it," Dave snapped. "And it wasn't like the damn thing was in the middle of my desk. My personal office, bookcase behind my desk, lowest shelf, behind another row of binders." And that was also what was galling. Spencer had to dig to find it, which made him wonder what the hell Spencer was doing in his office in the first place. Before the younger man moved in, Dave had converted one of the guest bedrooms into an office specifically for Spencer, so it wasn't like the man didn't have a place for all his books.
His friend picked up the binder and slid the envelope inside of it. He set it on the coffee table. "He's with Morgan?"
"Where else would he be?"
"Go home, Dave. Wait for him. When he comes in, tell him exactly what you told me." Aaron leaned back, stretching his legs out and folding his hands over his belly, as if what he suggested was the simplest thing in the world.
"Like he's going to …"
"He allows Morgan to be angry for him," his friend said with a shrug. "Morgan voices all the reasons you shouldn't be together, lists all of your faults, and threatens to make you pay for whatever you did. Spencer, in turn, argues why you're good for each other, lists all your good qualities, and threatens revenge on Morgan if he lays a hand on you."
Dave blinked. "Good Christ."
Aaron hitched an eyebrow. "Yes, you're both predictable."
Embarrassed he began, "But this …" he couldn't finish the sentence.
"Did you write about Buford?"
"Carl Buford," Aaron clarified. "Did Reid ever mention him?"
Dave searched his memory for the name, but it didn't come readily. "No."
"Hmmm," his friend murmured and then sat up.
"Something I should …?"
"You do not want to know about Carl Buford," Aaron warned flatly, meeting his eyes with a serious look of his own. They stared at each other for a few moments before Aaron stood up. "Go home, Dave. Wait for him."
"It's not that …"
"Easy?" Aaron asked, cutting him off. "It's not supposed to be. But I think once Spencer calms down, he'll understand." He paused. "And don't bring up the fact that he writes his mother."
Dave stared at the binder. "I'm not that much of an asshole."
"Just making sure," his friend said as he walked toward the door. "It's late."
It took two tries for Dave to get up from the couch. He picked up the binder. He was tempted to leave his resignation with Aaron, just so if the argument got really nasty …
He never played those kinds of games before. He certainly wasn't going to do it now.
He trudged towards the door. "God help me, Aaron."
"You love him," his friend said simply.
"And he loves you. Let's hope that there isn't a case before you get all this settled. Good night."
Two hours later, Dave found himself driving to Quantico and thinking, Aaron jinxed me.
Spencer still hadn't come home and, thankfully, Dave had opted not to drown his sorrows in booze. He knew it was going to be a bad case because the recall orders instructed him to go directly to the airstrip and that they would be briefed on the jet.
It was the first time in his relationship with Spencer that they were starting a case before they resolved an argument. It was an unspoken promise between them, that no matter what, they would never go into the field at odds with one another. They'd both been around too long and seen too much. Anything could happen.
Dave wondered if Hotch would allow him to have a few moments alone with Reid before they boarded the jet. Just enough time to apologize, give Reid his ring back, and promise to do whatever he needed to make up for what had happened. Not that Dave believed was in the wrong on this one. No. Spencer had violated his privacy. However, Dave had been in the relationship game long enough to know capitulation was sometimes the easiest way.
When he pulled into the parking spaces, he was relieved to see Spencer's beat up Volvo and Spencer leaning against it with his arms crossed. Morgan's truck and JJ's sedan were parked a few spots down. Those two vehicles were empty and the stairs to the jet were down, so it was likely they were already aboard.
Dave let out a breath as he shut the car off. Quickly, he grabbed each of their go bags; he wasn't that much of an ass that he would make Spencer drive back for it and he knew that Spencer knew that he'd bring it. Plus anytime they went directly to the jet for the briefing meant that time was a huge issue. He got out of the car and approached. Spencer looked over at him and then down to the bags in Dave's hand; his arms dropped to his sides and he briefly looked away. Spencer then pushed off from the car and met him halfway.
Dave held the suitcase out. "Look, Spence …"
"I'm sorry," Spencer interrupted. "I … just … I'm sorry."
Unaccustomed to an apology from a spouse—Dave couldn't remember if his any of his ex-wives ever admitted wrong-doing—he automatically countered with, "You have every right to be pissed."
That earned a snort. "I don't, David. Not about this." He shook his head and then ran a hand through his short hair. "I write to my mom all the time. I tell her things about you and the team … and …" Spencer continued to stare at the jet. "It's just reading it … so … clinical. So detached …"
"I would never publish that, you know."
"You gonna look at me or are you watching some gremlin crawl up the side of the plane?"
For a few moments, Spencer didn't say anything. Then, he finally met his gaze. "You're being way too forgiving."
"We're about to leave on a case," he said. "We made a promise." Dave let out a sigh. "Am I pissed that you read it? Sure. It was personal and you reacted without giving me a chance to explain. Do I want to know how you found it? Hell, yes. It wasn't like it was out where anyone could find it."
"I was …" A flash of headlights made Spencer pause.
Dave glanced over his shoulder and saw the lights from two vehicles. "We can do the details later."
"Derek's neighbor is taking care of Mudgie." And, God, the embarrassment in Spencer's tone made Dave take a step closer. "He'll be spoiled rotten. Clooney has his own bedroom, you know."
The comment made Dave laugh. "His own room?"
"And couch," his lover added.
"Then no more shit about me making dog treats from scratch?" Dave ventured teasingly.
"I already said that making them from scratch was far more healthy for Mudgie than the store-bought kind."
And when there was no cutting remark to the effect of, 'gonna write about that, too?', Dave allowed himself to breathe. "We're good?"
"But …" Spence held out his left hand, angled so that his ring finger was most prominent. "I'm really sorry."
Dave wanted to say, The next time you pull that stunt, you're not getting it back.
Instead, he slid the wedding band on Spencer. "I would never betray you."
Spencer met his gaze. His eyes were wet. "That's what Derek said." He glanced away as another car pulled into the lot. "We have a case."
"We have a case," Dave repeated, knowing those words meant I love you.