AN: A description of Rossi's transition into the team.


Working as a team is not something David Rossi is accustomed to. He says as much to Hotch right after that first case. Hotch is right – Rossi blew it. But it's how he would have handled it if he were working alone, and Hotch accepts the closest thing to an apology he's going to get out of the older agent. Having someone else to bounce ideas off of is a novel concept, but Rossi tries. He struggles with this idea of 'team'.

Having said team in his head all the time isn't helping. He only wishes that were metaphorical, but nothing he does can block the constant background murmur of the six of them in the back of his mind. He's used to mental solitude, but that may never be his again. No one has said if this thing is reversible, and Rossi doesn't broach the subject with anyone. It's obvious they've never thought to ask.

Reid is the other reason he never asks. The kid sits in the back of his mind, like the others, but unlike the others he occasionally reaches out. It's nothing major – a brush against his mind, like he's touching the man's coat, but it makes Rossi react like he's been punched. Every time he reacts, Reid backs away for a couple of days. Then he reaches out again.

Each time, Rossi reacts a little less. Finally, one day, Reid reaches out, and Rossi hesitantly reaches back. The younger man's elation washes over him like a tidal wave, almost overwhelming in its intensity, and he's glad he's sitting down in the jet with everyone else asleep. Otherwise he might fall under the weight. Reid senses this, and backs away, but not as far as he usually goes.

After that first case, Rossi knows he's going to have to earn the team's trust again. They were willing at first, and his stubbornness almost blew it. Reid's the only one who seems mostly unaffected. It's clear to Rossi the young man doesn't like that his team is distressed, but he doesn't seem to take it as personally as Hotch. Then again, Reid's not the team leader, and therefore not responsible for keeping everyone safe.

It takes a small incident in between cases for Rossi to see that, while that may be objectively true, it's not how Reid sees it. Okay, so small is putting it mildly. Rossi has never seen Hotchner so furious. Reid calls it a small incident, the way a young man in a college he was guest lecturing in brought a gun into his classroom. The boy drew the gun, but never opened fire; Reid calmly pulled the boy aside and explained the ramifications of what he was about to do. Ultimately, the boy gave Reid the gun, and the police were called.

If it were anyone else, Rossi would suspect some kind of hypnotism or whatever. But he's seen inside Reid's mind, and he knows the kid doesn't have it in him. That doesn't stop Hotchner from ripping him a new one for not calling the team. Rossi almost agrees with him until he hears Reid's calm response.

If I brought the team in, do you realize how fast that would have escalated?

Do you realize that he could have killed you anyway? Dammit, Reid –

He could have killed you, Hotch, all of you. Rossi can almost see Reid shuffling as he does when he's nervous. I can't let that happen; you know that. You know I'd do anything to protect you.

There's a long pause. Rossi can feel something break inside of Hotch. The senior agent's next words almost sound hopeless.

Will you stop proving it?

Reid smiles. Not anytime soon.

Dammit. Rossi tries to tune out, but he's too new to this – he can see how each close call, no matter how small, cuts Hotch just a little. He can see Reid's determination to take every chance, because this is the closest thing he has to a family, and he won't lose it.

The kid earns his respect for that.

So Rossi decides to stick close to the kid. This turns out to be one of his better ideas. Reid knows how to control this thing; he begins teaching Rossi how to tune down the others, how to reach out and latch on, how to talk without ever making a sound. In turn, Rossi teaches him what he knows about profiling, testing what his former mentor already taught him, what he'd picked up himself, and adding on to that information with his own experience. The kid soaks up everything he says like a sponge.

Rossi finds himself growing fond of the kid.

The rest of the team grows on him too. Hotch is already a good friend, if not one of his closest friends; Garcia is definitely different, but she's refreshing too; Morgan, JJ, and Prentiss are sharp as whips and always amusing with their antics.

As for Reid, Rossi finds himself understanding the team's almost pathological need to protect him. As he reaches out, as the team becomes less of a team to him and more of a family, he understands why they will not allow anything to happen to their youngest. Reid brought them all together.

So if he becomes more protective of the kid as well, no one really says anything.

It really doesn't take long at all for Rossi to become a true part of the team. He doesn't really have a say in it at all. They've adopted him, and he wouldn't have it any other way.