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A/N 2: This is a post-ep for Cold Comfort written many months ago.
Small Comforts in a Cold World
David Rossi would never forget the day he finally met his match. For years, he'd taken those around him for granted, having determined that he didn't need anything beyond his own self. His will was shorn in iron and most that knew anything about him lived in fear of angering a man that could buy and sell them at will. People cowered under the force of his cool gaze...trembled at the possibility of engaging what could often be a caustic tongue.
And he liked it that way. Very much.
"When did you become so cynical, Agent Rossi?" she asked him, her tone inquisitive and just the slightest bit accusatory.
"I'm a realist, JJ. Not cynical. There's a difference. I choose to see things as they are rather than how I want them to be. I've found it's easier that way," David Rossi replied unapologetically, unwilling to bow to any pressure, even from someone he had grown to respect over the years.
"You annihilated that mother's hope, Rossi," JJ replied, her voice tinged with sadness. "And for what," she whispered, tilting her blonde head to the side as she kept her gaze pinned on him. "So you could be right? What the hell purpose did it serve?"
"Jen," Dave said with a sigh, taking a moment to measure his words, "I'm glad we found that woman's daughter alive, and I'm sorry if you think I was less than subtle, but..."
"Less than subtle," JJ sneered, narrowing her eyes as she threw her shoulders back. "A bull set loose in a china shop would have been subtle, Rossi. You were cruel. Intentionally cruel."
"I don't believe in giving victim's families false hope. That woman needed to know that the odds weren't running in her daughter's favor, JJ," Dave countered, shaking his head as he stared calmly across the table of the dimly lit hotel bar they sat in. He hadn't expected to have this exact conversation tonight, but he wasn't one to back down from a challenge either.
"You don't get to make the decision on when a mother stops hoping, Rossi," she spat, her tone implying far more than his insufficiency in this one area. "You aren't God, and contrary to this belief you seem to have, you aren't all knowing."
"Why do I sense this is more personal to you? Why do you identify so much with Ms. Lambordini, JJ?" Dave queried, raising a brow as he reached for his half-empty glass of Scotch.
"Don't you dare try and psychoanalyze me, Rossi," JJ countered sharply, pressing her palm to the polished table. "Look, the bottom line is that your job isn't to offer the victim's families anything. That's my job description. But for the record, I'll fill you in on why I "identify"," JJ snarled, using air quotes. Leaning forward, she waited until he had taken a sip of the liquor before continuing. "I'm a mother, Rossi. And let me let you in on a little secret that you don't seem to have learned in half a century on this earth. A mother will never give up on her child. She'll never stop searching, working, and praying for a safe return. She won't give up - even when sanctimonious all-knowing so-called legends tell her she should. A mother will exhaust every avenue available to her to find her child. Even a psychic."
"He was a fraud," Dave ground out, tightening his hand around the cut glass in his hand, refusing to allow the most important factor to be lost in the sway of emotions.
"He was something for her to hang onto. He was keeping that woman sane. Right or wrong, he was doing it. He was doing what you couldn't."
"I'm sorry you feel that way, JJ," Dave said softly, deliberately softening his tone, his natural inclination to cut quickly tempered slightly. "But I won't apologize for doing my job."
"Except you weren't doing your job, were you, Dave? You were trying to do mine. Very, very poorly," JJ stated, leaning forward in her chair to glare at him.
"You weren't preparing that woman for what should have been inevitable."
"Now, you're telling me how to do my job? You've got balls, I'll give you that," she snorted, lifting her half empty glass of wine in silent toast before she drained the glass.
"That isn't what I meant," Dave back pedaled, recognizing a dangerous woman when he saw one.
"You said exactly what you meant." JJ nodded, no warmth in her smile as she gazed at him, not unlike a scientist examining a particularly virulent strain of bacteria. "And now so will I." Taking a deep breath, she said clearly, "There is no doubt to anyone on this team that you are a walking, talking legend in the arena of profiling. We all bow before the great David Rossi."
"I sense a but in there," Dave replied slowly, wondering, not for the first time, if he should have worn protective gear to this little tete-a-tete.
"Bet your ass, you do," JJ agreed almost pleasantly before continuing her evaluation. "In my ever so humble opinion, however, you suck at being a human being. You're callous. You're unnecessarily brutal in your assessments. And you have zero tact. And while those are great skills in a profiler, they fail you in the real world. Just stay the hell away from the victim's families, Rossi. Evidently, you aren't equipped with the beating heart it takes to deal with them," she ordered, her voice hard and unyielding as she rose from the table, dropping her glass back to the surface with an audible click.
And as he watched her stride away, her spine straight and determine chin held high, David Rossi smiled in spite of himself. And he knew damned well that if she had seen him do it, she would have decapitated him on sight.
But he couldn't help it. He'd just fallen in respect with a beautiful woman.
And he was intrigued.