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Straitjacket for Two

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David Rossi hates to be disturbed while he's working on the New York Times crossword puzzle. It's been a tradition since he was in college. His Sunday night ritual generally includes relaxing back into his leather wingback chair – the mate of which has recently acquired an occupant of its own – with a neat snifter of forty-year-old single malt Scotch and a fine cigar. Depending on the season, a roaring fire would be in the fireplace. Regardless, Mugsey would be curled up on the rug between the chairs.

Tonight is not a typical Sunday though. Tonight is anything but.

Dave's half-filled puzzle from last week's paper is sitting on the end table, his Montblanc ballpoint pen resting on top of it, nearly forgotten. The fireplace doesn't seem warm and inviting tonight. Instead, it's cold, empty, and a bit ominous. The rug on the floor is empty. Mugsey might not be human, but the old girl can read a person better than any profiler he knows, himself included. Right now, no matter how much she wants to be curled up on the floor in the study, she knows that someone else needs her more. Even if they don't know it yet, themselves.

Standing in front of the Mahogany liquor cabinet, Dave is sure to pour two stiff glasses of his finest Scotch. Tonight the slow burn will remind them that they're still alive, while simultaneously deadening their senses against the grief.

The team has been through rough cases before. Hell, the BAU sees the worst humanity has to offer. It always affects everyone more when it hits close to home. He heard about Morgan, was there for Garcia, and – in a different way – for Emily, but in all his years both with the FBI and away from it; he's never had a case affect him like this one. He hopes to hell they'll never have to live through another one like it.
Picking up the glasses, he turns to head out onto the back porch where Emily wandered off to as soon as they arrived.

He gets as far as the opened French doors and stops.

From behind she holds herself so tightly it almost appears as though someone is holding her in a loving embrace. The tight set of her shoulders says otherwise.

The shimmering reflection of her image in the koi pond is the truly telling bit. The 'loving embrace' now looks more like an invisible straitjacket, and Dave isn't sure her eyes ever looked quite this lost, not even in the abandoned Maryland lot where she confessed to an abortion at fifteen.

There have been times in his life when David Rossi has felt he could never love again. There have been times he felt he could never again be so wrapped up in a woman as to have the look of despair in her eyes totally break his heart. Those times are all prior to Emily Prentiss entering his life.

Dave carefully maneuvers his way onto the porch. Afraid that the slightest creak of the floorboards will send her jumping out of her skin.

The air is cool and still, an interesting parallel to how he feels inside. How he knows she's feeling too.
She's grabbed the afghan off his couch at some point before coming out here and has it wrapped around her shoulders.

Cautiously, he moves to her side. In the same way that he's concerned a sudden noise alerting her to his approach might alarm her, he also doesn't want to suddenly appear before her. He's seen her right hook and vowed never to be on the receiving end of it.

He places the glass on the railing in front of her. Knowing she needs the solace of silence right now. Finding little comfort in it himself.

She doesn't acknowledge his presence for a moment, but then Mugsey wags her tail and lets out a low whimper. The soft noise seems to pull Emily from her reverie.

The deep sigh that she releases seems to sag her shoulders, the tension that she's been holding in for the last weak finally giving way. Rossi steps behind her, his arms wrapping around her waist, as he nuzzles her neck and just inhales her scent.

This case has hit them hard. Not just him and Emily, but the entire team. They're fractured. Things will repair themselves over time, but there will always be that mark, that scar; to show just how bad the trauma was that they experienced. They'll get past it though. They always have. It's part of what makes them a great team, part of what makes them who they are.

Emily hugs herself just a little bit tighter before her hands move to brush against his upper arms. He pulls her closer and the two of them stand there together, looking out over his perfectly manicured landscaping.

Just about anyone he knows would look at the two of them and automatically assume that they're destined for failure. Emily compartmentalizes most things to the point that she often comes off as cold and distant. And as far as he goes, he has no assumptions about the fact that he is more than too damaged and old for her. His string of failed marriages and his previous reputation with the FBI are more than enough evidence of that. But for all their scars, the two of them fit well.

Emily works a kink out of her neck, before leaning back against his shoulder. His arms tightened around her waist while his chin rested on her shoulder, his nose brushing briefly against the lobe of her ear.
If anyone were to look at them from the porch right now, they would look like they were in a single straitjacket for two. He took a deep breath and smiled as his exhale was accompanied but a slight shiver that seemed to move along Emily's spine.

For all their scars and damaged pasts, they worked. They fit together and they would move on. They might look like two people bound together for their clandestine trip to the insane asylum but they'd be making that trip together, and after all they'd both been through and experienced throughout their lives he couldn't think of a place he'd rather be or a person he'd rather make the trip with.