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Set Fire To the Rain

Chapter Two

"Maybe I learned that facing the pain was a whole lot easier than running away from it," he shrugged, his face sad as he stuffed his hands in his pockets. "Maybe I wanted to make amends."

Closing her eyes as she tried to ignore the sudden roiling in her stomach, Erin grimaced. "I never wanted you to do that. You never forced me to do anything I didn't want to do. It was my choice that night...I just chose...wrong," she added faintly.

Releasing a heavy breath, Dave carefully moved toward her, kneeling in front of her chair. "I never said I was sorry," he admitted heavily, pressing his hands on the arms of her chair as he stared into her eyes, choosing to ignore the pain in his knees. "I held you. I tried to comfort you. But I never said I was sorry. But I was...I am. Karina was much too young to have been taken from you and if I could give her back to you, I would. But I've never been sorry that we were together. We were good when we were together. I've never forgotten that. You and I could set fire to the rain when we were together, cara," he reminisced softly, lifting his hand to stroke his thumb down her pale cheek.

Leaning against his hand, memories she had thought long gone slipping through her mind, Erin nodded. "Yes, we could," she acknowledged, her voice breaking.

"Erin, I'm too old and too tired to pretend anymore," Dave sighed. "We've punished ourselves and each other for years now. Don't you think it's time for us to just stop?"

"And do what?" Erin asked with a broken laugh that ended on a sob.

Leaning forward, Dave lips grazed hers. "Strike a match and let it burn again."

Eyes fluttering as his lips slowly captured hers, Erin sighed into his mouth as he rekindled memories of better times in happier days. "David," she breathed against his lips as he pulled slowly away, her hand cupping his whispered jaw.

Lifting his lips in a rueful half-smile, Dave met her eyes. "I haven't heard you say my name like that in a very long time," he murmured, turning his head to press a kiss to the inside of her wrist, his hand gently cradling it in his palm. "I missed it. I don't think I realized how much until now."

Blinking rapidly as she tried to think of something witty to say, Erin gave up and went with honesty instead. "I don't know what you want from me," she said hesitantly.

"It's always been complicated between us, Erin. I realize that. But all I really want from you is an honest chance to be the man I should have been fifteen years ago," Dave conceded. "After...what happened...I should have fought harder for us. I shouldn't have walked away. I shouldn't have hid behind a shield of sarcasm and cynicism. I shouldn't have done a lot of things."

Erin smiled sadly. "And you think we can go back and fix it now?"

Tightening his fingers around her hand when she would have dropped it from his face, Dave shook his head. "I'm not an idiot. I know the past can't be changed. But, I also know the future...and whatever it brings...that's up to us."

"Really?" Erin asked, arching an eyebrow, her blue eyes surprised.

"Yeah, really," Dave said meaningfully. "After what feels like a lifetime of pessimism, I thought I'd give the optimistic crap a whirl. Sue me."

Lips twitching, Erin slowly nodded. "I see," she said softly. "Well, your enthusiasm needs work."

"I'll hang out with Garcia more." Dave shrugged, winking at her.

Laughing at his grandiose offer, Erin leaned forward, resting her forehead against his. "You really are serious if you're offering to do that," she allowed. She knew full well what such dynamic and vivacious people did to David Rossi's nerves. He'd rather be locked in a cage full of rattlesnakes than be locked in a room with the spirited Penelope Garcia.

"There's not a lot that I wouldn't be willing to do for a second chance, Erin," Dave replied seriously. "You know me better than three ex-wives combined. You realize that...humbling isn't something I particularly enjoy. But I've been waiting a long time to find the right moment to do this. It's here," he whispered, holding her gaze. "So mark this moment down in your journal. I'm ready to beg you to think about giving you and I another chance," he pled hoarsely, gripping her hand tightly.

"David," Erin whispered as his fingers contracted around hers, his solemn eyes boring into her face with an intensity she'd never seen from him before. "Do you honestly think you and I can make a fresh start after everything that's flowed between us?"

"I think that we're who we are, Erin. There's not much that we can'tdo if we put our minds to it. Add in our hearts and we're unstoppable."

Smiling faintly at his confidence, Erin tilted her head. "Hopefulness looks oddly endearing on you...albeit a little disarming."

"I wouldn't be me if I didn't keep you on your toes," Dave reminded her gently.

"Very true," Erin agreed. Licking her lips, she felt her mouth go dry as she got a little lost in his eyes. It was easy to do, and she really couldn't be blamed, could she? She hadn't allowed herself the luxury of doing something so whimsical in years. "Don't you think we're both a little old for new beginnings?"

"Think of it as the next chapter in a continuing saga," Dave advised easily, watching her face carefully for some sign of surrender...some flicker of hope.

Nodding slowly, Erin whispered, "I think I could do that."

Exhaling the breath he'd been holding, Dave smiled. "You won't be sorry, Erin. Not this time."

And as she allowed him to enfold her in his embrace, Erin rested her head against his neck and wondered if this was what redemption felt like.