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666 Mockingbird Lane
Dropping his head down on his hand, Dave Rossi sighed and rubbed his fingers against his aching temples as he squinted against the sun rays invading his office. If he was lucky, he might just manage to find a few minutes that morning to catch a quick nap. His schedule was clear…no cases, no reports, no interviews. Forty winks and he'd be a brand new man. Well, maybe not, fresh off the show floor new, but certainly closer to new as seen on some respectable used car lot somewhere.
But luck had not been on his side up this point, so he seriously doubted that he would be afforded that particular luxury. It was obvious the fates had been conspiring against him and that they didn't have any intention of changing their game plan any time soon. Whatever deity currently overseeing universal cosmic law obviously disliked him intently.
Seriously, whatever he had done to piss God off this time, he was more than willing to apologize profusely. Hell, he'd even throw in a few Hail Marys and a donation to the diocese if he thought it would help.
Wincing as he heard the sound of a fist falling against this office door, Dave turned slowly as he called out gruffly, "What?" Wincing at the sound of his own voice, he grabbed his head again, the throbbing almost unbearable.
"I take it this is not exactly a good time to discuss the budget?" Aaron Hotchner asked as he stepped into his Senior Agent's office, barely containing a grin as he took in the man seated behind the desk.
Although he had known Dave for more years than either one of them cared to count, Aaron had to admit that he'd very rarely seen Dave appear so fatigued. And that was a serious observation, considering he'd been an eye witness to Dave's full-fledged attempt in the eighties to date every single woman (and some married) on the Bureau payroll in less than six months. But even then, Rossi'd made haggard look good. This….this rumpled, askew Rossi was…different. And not in that good way, either.
Not even bothering to glance up at the unwelcome intruder, Dave growled, "What do you think, Aaron? Do I look like I'm in the mood to crunch numbers and haggle over monetary expenditures?"
"What I think is that marriage to JJ is….how do I put this delicately…kicking your ass, old man," Hotch replied baldly, grinning widely as he made himself at home in the seat across from Dave's desk. While Aaron hadn't exactly been on board at the beginning with the May to December romance, given Dave's well-publicized marital history and JJ's wariness concerning the male species in general, he found himself pleasantly surprised when the couple had actually successfully navigated the pitfalls that had plagued both of them with their previous relationships. And when Dave had slipped a ring on the finger of a very happy JJ, the entire Bureau stood behind them….literally and figuratively.
But obviously by the look on Rossi's face, this marriage was a bit more than he had bargained for.
Narrowing his eyes as he deigned to raise his gaze, Rossi snorted, regretting the effort as his headache worsened. "I'll thank you to keep your snide comments to yourself, jackass. My marriage is not the problem."
"Then you want to share why you look like you went 9 rounds with Frazier and lost?"
Reaching for his coffee mug that had been his most favored possession since he'd arrived at the Bureau that morning, Rossi drained the delicious caffeinated beverage. Dropping the empty cup to his desk, he let out a deep sigh. "That damned house that JJ just had to have is gonna be the death of me. And I mean that literally, man."
While Hotch had been expecting many different answers, that was not at the top of his list. "Dave, you've got more money than God himself. Why aren't you hiring someone to do the renovations? Surely JJ doesn't expect you to…."
Shaking his head wildly, Dave held up a hand. "I've got a contractor for all that crap, Hotch. I'm smart enough to stay away from wiring or plumbing in century old houses. But I have a feeling there's no professional that can help me with what JJ is convinced is really wrong with her dream house."
"Okay, Dave," Hotch said evenly, settling into the chair and crossing his legs. "What's wrong now?"
"JJ's convinced that we moved into a haunted house," Dave growled, dropping his head back on his outstretched hand. "And after last night's shenanigans, I'm beginning to believe she's right!"
Both dark eyebrows rose as he heard Dave's all-too serious words. His summary of his relatively new wife's fear did not sound like the levelheaded woman he'd worked with for years. "Are you sure you've correctly understood JJ's concerns, Dave?" Aaron questioned carefully.
"The alternative is that my wife is cuckoo for cocoa puffs, Hotch. Or demonically possessed. That one crossed my mind. I was damn tempted to call Father Jimmy about two in the morning," he muttered underneath his breath. "Which alternative would you prefer to have me believe?" he asked sarcastically, glaring at his oldest friend while reminding himself to tread carefully. After all, he needed all the allies he could find at the moment.
"I….I'm almost afraid to ask, but what sparked this belief in the supernatural for your perfectly sane wife?" Hotch asked uncertainly.
Shoulders sagging, Dave leaned his head back against his chair. "Pick something. The flickering lights….the strange noises in the attic and basement….the cold drafts…"
"She does realize that you purchased a rundown Victorian mansion, doesn't she?"
"You'd think so," Dave snorted, pressing his fingertips to his aching temples. "God knows, I reminded her enough when we were house hunting. But she kept coming back to that one. She said it had "character", he said, using air quotes. "Now, that character she found so endearing is driving me to drink," he grunted unhappily.
"There are perfectly logical explanations, Dave. JJ is a reasonable woman. I'm sure if you just calmly pointed out…"
"The faulty wiring? The old pipes? The lack of insulation?" Dave said caustically, cracking open one eyelid to glare at his less than helpful friend. "Do I look like I fell off the crazy train, Aaron? I tried the rational approach. Multiple frickin' times."
"But, nothing, Aaron. NO-THING. Hell, by three am this morning, I was convinced that the spirits were doing the Macarena across the house. Do you know how many trips I made back and forth between the basement and the attic?"
"How many?" Hotch choked, trying to quell his laugh.
"I don't know! I lost count! But that Sally Struthers chick was on to something with the StairMaster. I ought to have buns of steel by now!" Frowning as the phone on his desk rang, Dave leaned forward and snatched it off the hook. "What?" he barked, unconcerned about who waited on the other end of the line. "Fine," he said, hanging up. "Garcia wants us in the war room. Evidently, she's found the answer to my prayers."