This one is one Rossi, it's set maybe six weeks after Lauren. One left after this, Morgan's and I'm having serious issues with that one, which was unexpected to say the least. Considering how many Morgan/Prentiss stories I right, I kind of figured that one would be easy. Not so much. This all to say, that one might be delayed a bit.
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He broke the ground directly in front of the headstone with little delicacy or flare. The small spade cut through the earth without much fuss, and Rossi transferred the scoop of soil the side of the hole he was trying to make. The soil was still chilled, even in mid-april, but it was soft enough now that he could break through. Shortly after burying her, it had gotten cold and wet again, and he'd had to wait until the ground grew a bit warmer. He'd have had to wait anyway until the plants had at least formed buds.
The cool, damp dirt caked under his fingernails as he dug into the hole, and scooped it into the pile. It didn't need to be a very big hole, just enough to fit the small balls of roots for the small plants. It had been a long time since David Rossi had tried his hand at gardening; green thumb was not really one of his skills. He wasn't sure the plant would survive the climate of Arlington, Virginia, but the gesture was important to him.
He was actually betting the grounds keeper would mow over the poor plant.
It was a native of Northern Italy, and one of the most vividly colored flowers he'd ever laid eyes on. He'd first seen it on a vacation he'd taken with Ex-wife number two, Shelly, when they still got along reasonably well. They'd been on a gentle hike through the countryside when he'd seen the flowers and taken an abrupt detour toward them. The trumpet-shaped blooms faced outward blasting a brilliant royal navy toward anyone passing on the nearby path. He had never seen flowers that blue in nature.
Shelly, who for all her brains was completely lacking in imagination, had nagged him to keep going, unimpressed with the flowers. With an eye roll, he'd picked one, and carried it back to their hotel, where he asked the woman at the front desk for information on it. He'd found a garden center with the gentians back in the states, and planted them near the front of their house. Less than a year later, he had divorced Shelly, and left her the house, but not before digging up his gentians.
They'd unfortunately hadn't handled being transplanted well, and died within a month, and so ended David Rossi's career as a gardener. Until today, when he decided to bring a little piece of Italy to a friend he sorely missed.
He held the edges of the flat group, tipped it upside down, and gently tapped the bottom until the plants released into his hand. A shower of loose potting soil covered his hand and his pants, and he was glad he thought to wear jeans. He set the roots of the plants in the hole, and held it steady as he swept the pile of dirt back into the hole. There were four plants in the flat he'd bought, and their long thin buds barely came up to the bottom of the FBI creed. Genetians were short plants, but the bright color made up for their low position.
Emily had talked about taking a vacation in Italy only a couple of months before she died. Apparently, she hadn't been back since she lived there as a kid, and he could guess why. He also suspected that's part of what made her reluctant to go there while her mother was still there. He imagined the constant pressure from her parents had been part of what led her to the decision she'd made, and Elizabeth being there in the country was bound to make Emily feel like she was still under those demands and expectations.
So, he brought a piece of Italy to her.
Finished with his gardening chore, Rossi patted most of the dirt off his hands, and released a sigh. He had lost friends and colleagues before, even young ones, but with Emily it was different. She was part of the family he'd been inducted into when he came back to the BAU, a very different BAU than the one he'd left. That was part of it, a big part of it. While, he'd never, ever let the words slip past his lips, he did love those people. The team. The only family he'd had in a very long time.
The other part was knowing that she'd died protecting them, and the little boy, Declan. That he'd suddenly found her to be this other person, and yet, exactly who he knew her to be. Dave hadn't seen her walk out of the bullpen that day, none of them had; they hadn't even realized she was gone, not until it was too late. But, if he knew her as well as he thought he did, she knew she was walking into a suicide mission. That hurt.
He could have, should have, done something. He knew something was up with her, they had all noticed it, and yet they just let it be, hoping she'd talk when she was ready. Prentiss talk? Yeah, right. That was like waiting for Hotch to breakout into a musical number. Never going to happen.
But, all the wishing and what if's in the world wouldn't change the image the image that was forever burned into his brain. The moment he and Hotch had caught up to Morgan, who was still holding her hands and joggling alongside the gurney. It wouldn't change how he'd nearly vomited at the sight of that wooden stake protruding from her bleeding belly. Or her closed eyes, and weak breathing. It wouldn't change hearing Morgan begging and pleading with her to hang on, his voice heavy with tears he wouldn't shed.
It wouldn't take away the deep, unrelenting ache in his chest.
And, nothing would change the pain the team was going through now. They were all holding it together, and Dave was proud of them for that, but at what expense? Aaron never said it, but his watchful eye over Morgan and Reid told him that whatever the young men had said in their evaluations with Hotch had the Unit Chief worried.
Frankly, he was worried about Garcia too. Outwardly, she was doing best, but he'd found her in her office late one night with an assemblage of clips from the Bureau security cameras.
All clips of Emily.
They'll get through it, Dave, he told himself. They just need time. It just didn't feel that way right now.
They weren't just mourning, they were all wondering if they ever really knew her.
But that was not one of the things that weighed on his mind. To him, Emily Prentiss was still the same woman she'd always been. A very complicated and troubled woman, prone to sarcasm, wit and martyrdom. A woman determined to protect innocent life quite literally to her last breath, and who took a young woman under her wing to offer her a second chance to prove herself. An enigma in the form of a CIA spy who abhorred lying and politics. If he met her in the afterlife, he was most definitely asking her how the hell that worked.
Most importantly though, she was his friend, and that was all that really mattered anyway.
Dave packed up his tools and the planter tray, and finally stood with another sigh. This one hurt a lot more than any previous FBI funeral he'd attended, and it would be painful for a long time to come. He traced one thick finger over the delicate grooves of her name, breathing deeply into his lungs to keep the emotions at bay. It stuck in his throat, and his eyes began to burn.
"I hope you found some peace, kid. God knows you could use it."
Then he turned and walked away. Just another person he'd said goodbye to over the years.
Except she wasn't.