DISCLAIMER: Don't own anything associated with the show… I just like playing with the characters in it from time to time. Dance Monkeys! Dance!
RATING: T for Teen
SPOILERS: Post S07E01: It Takes a Village
WORD COUNT: 1616
PAIRING: Rossi/Prentiss
SUMMARY: What happens when you come back from the dead.

A/N: Written for the LJ Comm cmrossiprentiss and the Fall Classic in order to assuage the guilt of Smacky30 and Mingsmommy. And also because the story was begging me to be written. I sort of cheated, because there has to be a part two, but I really don't think Microgirl8225 will mind...too much.

REVIEWS: Reviews are the way I know if people are enjoying the work or not. So, if you leave one, THANKS! And if not, I hope you found at least a little something to brighten your day, and thanks for taking the time to read.


Getting the news from Strauss was a huge weight lifted off her shoulders, but her real delight was in watching Rossi pull her picture off the memorial wall. Being dead was her least favorite thing in the world, but being alive and not being able to tell anyone that she was being forced to play dead was utter torture. However, it was a necessary evil, and she knew it was not only to protect her, but also the team. If Doyle had even the slightest hint she was alive, none of them would be safe while he hunted for his son.

Tom was back in the States before Declan could even be discharged from the hospital. Knowing the two were together was the last piece to the puzzle for her return. The boy was safe with Tom, and she knew they were as close as any father and son she had ever known. Everything was as it should be, and she was home.

Well, she was back, and her team was back together, and that was where her heart belonged.

Riding down the long winding roads from Quantico, Emily sat in the passenger seat of Rossi's truck. As everyone was checking out for the day, he was the one to offer her a ride. Garcia had her cat, but other than that, Emily really had no idea where things stood after seven months. When the car turned left instead of right into Georgetown, she knew something was up.

"Where are we going?" she asked Rossi.

"Well, it's been seven months, and we were under the impression that you were not coming back…" He was trying his best to make light of the situation, but she knew there was bad news at the end of his joke. "Your mother wasn't sure what to do with your place, so… She figured with the lousy real estate market, she'd lease it out."

Emily rolled her eyes and shook her head. Only her mother could boil something so devastating down to market values and revenue. "Let me guess, furnished?" Rossi's silence told her the truth. Her mother hadn't even bothered to pack up her things; she had just rented her life out like it was nothing more valuable than a used car.

It took her several minutes, and Rossi turning into his driveway to realize where they were going. "What are we doing here?" She looked around to see sprawling farms on all sides of his place, with sun baked corn stalks, the remnants of a tobacco harvest and an enormous pumpkin patch, the pumpkins just starting to turn orange as the harvest season approached.

Rossi shrugged as he slowly made his way up the drive to his garage, "Hotch has been in Pakistan for a while, so he's not even set up for himself. Morgan obviously needs a little more time to come to terms with everything. Reid is…well, he'd drive you insane with Red Dwarf marathons, or some such nonsense." They both got a chuckle from his joke as he keyed the garage door remote. "J.J. has her own stuff going on, and you don't need that right now. And Garcia has Kevin and two cats in that little apartment."

She nodded her understanding.

Putting the truck in park, Rossi turned and gave her one of those sideways looks of his. "It was either my place, or the dorms at Quantico. And my cooking is a lot better than the swill in that sorry excuse for a cafeteria they have."

Emily knew the answer, but she had to ask anyway, "And my mother?"

"She's, ah, on assignment, I believe. Strauss wasn't able to get through to her when they brought you back, so she doesn't actually know yet." Rossi, to his credit, tried to play it off, but Emily knew the truth.

"Do you mean she was, 'Unavailable for telephone calls at this time due to the nature of her work. Is there a message I could pass along in the next diplomatic communiqué?' I know the company line better than anyone, Dave, but thanks for trying." Emily removed her seat belt and stepped out of the truck.

Rossi met her at the front of the vehicle and put a hand on her arm. "She was devastated when we gave her the news, Emily."

Emily nodded, trying not to let her anger show through, but her mother always made that difficult. "Yeah, but I'm sure that wasn't until after the funeral." When Dave lifted his hand from her arm, she knew she was right. Duty above all else was her mother's prime directive, and she never failed it.

Her words must have shaken Dave, because he stayed quiet through most of the evening, speaking only to the dog dutifully keeping near his master's feet at all times. There was no small talk at dinner, but true to his word, his cooking was infinitely better than the cafeteria back at Quantico.

The jet lag and the long hours and the impromptu hearing had finally caught up to her just as they finished eating and she let out a tremendous yawn. Without missing a beat, Dave immediately started to yawn as well. It really had been a grueling couple of days since her return to the land of the living, and they were both the worse for wear because of it.

"Yeah, so if we're gonna look at those files Strauss is handing off to Hotch in the morning, we better catch some shut-eye." He got up from the table, carrying both their plates.

"Here, let me help you with that." Emily instantly grabbed the glasses and followed him into the kitchen.

Dave set the dishes down in the sink and turned to take the glasses from Emily. "Don't worry about this stuff. My housekeeper will get them in the morning. I just can't leave anything on the table or Mudgie will lose his manners, and possibly his mind trying to get every speck of food from them." Dave scratched behind the ears of the Labrador at his feet. "Won't you, boy?"

"As well behaved as he is, I find that hard to believe." Emily was trying to make the effort, and wanted Dave to know she wasn't mad at him.

"Ah, but no one can resist my baked ziti. Not even you, Miss Two Helpings." The devilish glint was back in his eyes and it made her smile.

"Well, you were right. You are an incredible cook, and thank you. It was wonderful. I can only imagine how unbelievably good it is when it's not warmed up leftovers." She was good at playing to a man's ego. It was one of the few skills she was willing to attribute to learning from her mother.

"Yeah, but I wasn't expecting company. Especially company of the living dead variety, so I wasn't exactly prepared. Next time, I'll be sure to keep some brains on ice, just in case." That got a chortle of laughter from her, and Emily shook her head as she rolled her eyes at his horrible joke.

"Let's just hope there's never a next time."

"I'll second that." He tossed the dish towel onto the counter and then turned her around by the shoulders, before gently pushing her towards the door. "Let's get you squared away for the night, and we'll figure the rest of this mess out tomorrow, maybe."

They moved through the kitchen and down the hallway. Stopping at the first door on the left, he reached around her to turn the handle and swung open the door. "This is the guest room. My housekeeper always makes sure it's ready for unexpected visitors. There's a bathroom behind this door, with fresh towels and various toiletries for tonight. Make me a list and I'll have Olivia pick up whatever you need tomorrow."

Emily entered the modestly decorated room and surveyed her surroundings. Comfortable, but not so comfortable to make you want to stay forever, completely non-descript, and totally gender neutral. She dropped her overnight bag onto the bed and said, "This is great, Dave, really, but I'll figure something else out tomorrow. It shouldn't be too hard to find a sublet or something, and I can always rent a car for now."

"Don't be silly." Dave reached into his pocket and tossed her a set of keys. "It's in the shed out back."

She looked down at the keys in her hand and was surprised to find that she recognized the key chain. Emily ran her fingers over the titanium infinity symbol her dear friend Matthew had given her many years ago, as she understood that these were her keys. "These are my keys."

With barely a notice, he simply agreed. "Yeah." He started to walk out of the room and then waved for her to follow him. "There's no time tonight, but…" He stopped in front of the second door and turned the knob. "If you need anything else, start here." Dave pushed open the door and she saw stacks of boxes in the plain room.

She stepped into the room while shaking her head, "What is all of this?"

As he started to speak, she noticed, stacked in the corner, the pieces of her bed. "Well, the people who leased your place didn't want the bedroom stuff, and your mother was out of the country, so the real estate agent called me to have it cleaned out. Garcia and Kevin packed it all up, and I had the space, so…"

Completely surrounded by all of her things safely hiding away at Rossi's house, her car keys in hand, Emily was overwhelmed. "Dave?"

To be continued…