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Into the Woods
David Rossi had stared into a lot of angry eyes in his life.
Unsubs, book editors… hell, he'd even survived three bitter and vindictive ex-wives.
But nothing had ever quite but him on alert like this particular familiar set of dark brown orbs.
"You pwomised," his current nemesis said, his voice deceptively soft as he crossed his arms over his Spiderman pajama top as he tapped his sneaker clad foot against the damp grass surrounding them.
Hanging his head in defeat, Rossi sighed. He would have to have an audience for this little skirmish, his various team members staring at the pair of them in barely concealed amusement. "Jack," Dave said slowly, hoping to appeal to the child's better angels, "it's not exactly my fault that God chose to send a gullywasher tonight," he defended himself, gesturing toward the still dark storm clouds hovering above their heads, the fresh smell of rain hanging heavily from the tree branches around them. "And I," he said with a withering look at Aaron Hotchner, "did not forget the marshmallows!"
"It was an honest mistake," Hotch offered lamely, his lips twitching from his position between Garcia and JJ. They'd protect him, wouldn't they? Of course, as Dave and his son turned their remarkably similar furious gazes on him, he could swear he felt them both scoot a couple of inches away from him.
"I want my s'mores, Papa!" Jack informed the older man in a tone that meant serious five year old business.
Running a hand over his face as Derek Morgan's deep laughter broke the taut silence, Dave sighed, offering the entertained profiler a quelling look. Was that son of a bitch tossing back popcorn? "Jack, I'm not sure what I can do here. I don't want to sleep on a half full air mattress tonight, either," he said, pointing inside the open tent behind them, "but I'm gonna have to since your daddy can't seem to work an air hose," he reasoned with a pointed look at the failing team members all around him.
"Hey, filling the mattresses was my job," Spencer Reid announced indignantly from behind them. "I thought I did a pretty good considering that air pump you gave me was from the Kennedy years!"
"The air pump was fine, Peaches," Penelope soothed, patting her hand against the genius' arm.
"Yeah, the problem was he couldn't find the hole with two hands and a flashlight," Morgan chuckled, ignoring Reid's heated glare. "And in case anybody is wondering, I meant that literally."
"Oh, it is ON," Reid growled under his breath, wrinkling his forehead. "I'm not the one that screamed like a girl when the raccoon wandered too close to our tent!"
"Down, Killer," Emily murmured, reaching out a hand to rub Reid's other arm.
"Hey," Morgan yelped, bouncing on his heels. "That sucker had crazy eyes! You saw him, Jayje!" Morgan remarked, looking to his blond colleague for back-up.
"First of all, it was a skunk," JJ sighed, shaking her head as she crossed her arms over her chest. "Second of all, you're both lucky it didn't spray you...and this camp. Seriously, have you two EVER been camping before?"
"No," the two men remarked loudly.
"Hey!" Jack shouted indignantly above his two uncles, waving his arms in the air. "S'mores! It's not a camp out unless there's s'mores," the little boy insisted vehemently. "You said so," he said as he narrowed his eyes, pointing his finger at Dave.
"That was before your daddy forgot the grocery bag with the marshmallows," Dave reasoned, more than willing to throw the elder Hotchner under the proverbial bus if it meant that Jack would quit looking at him like he'd killed the kid's puppy.
"...and the beer," Morgan added morosely, adding his own accusatory voice to the melee.
"You forgot the beer?" Dave gaped, turning affronted eyes toward the man now shifting uncomfortably under the weight of seven sets of matching glares.
"Wait a sec," Morgan complained, rubbing the back of his neck. "You expect us to bond without beer?" he asked Hotch resentfully, his dark stare condemning the older man. "I think you might have overestimated our good nature," he grumbled.
"An open, honest exchange of dialogue without the assistance of alcoholic influence can be..." Hotch began calmly.
"Dangerous," Emily supplied grimly.
"Stupid," JJ added bleakly, pulling Jack against her as the young boy wrinkled his nose.
"A big ole whoppin' catastrophe," Penelope wailed, shaking her head frantically.
"I believe the consensus indicates you screwed up," Reid offered dourly. "Sir," he added belatedly, kicking against the leaf covered ground.
Reaching over and clapping his hands over Jack's little ears to muffle his voice, Dave hissed, "What everybody is trying to say is that you SUCK!"
"Big time," Jack added, Dave's hands useless as Hotch's little boy pressed his own lips together in an imitation of his father's.
"Eight went into the woods and only seven came back," JJ sang softly, leaning toward Hotch.
"All right, people," Hotch offered, holding up his hands in supplication. "There might have been a small oversight on my part this evening."
"Might?" Eight voices said in unison.
"Alright! I forgot a bag. I'm sorry," Hotch groaned, looking around the group, searching for someone with an inkling of compassion. "It could be worse, guys."
"How?" Dave grunted, crossing his arms over his chest.
"I could have invited Strauss," Hotch returned evenly.
"The Dragon Lady," Jack breathed, his eyes widening and his mouth forming a perfect circle.
"Jack!" Hotch admonished sharply, shaking his head as he glared down at his son.
"That's what he calls her!" Jack stated defensively, pointing at Dave as he backed toward JJ once again.
Dave shrugged easily. "The kid's right. That is what I call her," he continued dutifully, resting a supportive hand on Jack's dark head.
"And on that note," Hotch stated, offering Dave a look that promised retribution as he stood. "Say goodnight, Jack."
"Night, guys," Jack sighed as he stuck out his lower lip, waving at the group. "Night, Papa," he said, tugging at Dave jeans as the older man bent and pressed a kiss to Jack's forehead.
"Night, munchkin. We'll do s'mores tomorrow night," he whispered against the little boy's ear.
Nodding readily, Jack took his father's hand and let himself be led to the tent behind them.
Waiting until Hotch and Jack disappeared into the tent, Morgan grinned widely. "So, Papa," he chuckled, "How long has this been going on?"
Looking around at the members of his team, each face recognizing the new normal in David Rossi's life, he sighed. "See, this is why I always come prepared," Dave muttered under his breath, pulling a flask from the inside of his jacket pocket. "Unlike Aaron, I actually paid attention in Boy Scouts."
"Huh?" Reid said blankly, looking around at the faces of his colleagues, each obviously aware of something he wasn't. "I don't get it."
"He's not really a genius. He just plays one during cases," JJ sighed, reaching across Garcia's lap and patting Reid's leg sympathetically.
Rolling his eyes, Dave took a quick swig from the silver flask before tossing it to Morgan. "You guys can enlighten him if you want. I'm going to bed," he informed them dryly, refusing to refute or confirm their suspicions. He'd leave that to Aaron.
Team bonding had been his brilliant idea, after all.
And whistling a happy tune, David Rossi smiled as he disappeared into his tent, content in the knowledge that Aaron Hotchner had some 'splainin' to do.