When he was fourteen, Reid received a fortune cookie with the message: "Bravery is the capacity to perform properly even when scared half to death." That kind of bravery (which Reid seemed to have in spades) saved his life on more than a few occasions. It seemed that he was going to be tested right now, in the SUV that Rossi was driving, because suddenly the vehicle swerved to the left and Rossi pitched forward over the steering wheel. They were going at least eighty miles an hour—Rossi had this belief that speeding limits were only 'suggestions' not the law—but at least the traffic wasn't heavy.
Reid called out the man's name as he grabbed the steering wheel, hit the emergency blinkers, and pushed Rossi back in his seat and his hands to his sides. A quick glance showed a fine sheen of sweat on Rossi's brow and pure confusion in the man's eyes as they darted around. Rossi was trying to say something, but his words were slurry.
"Take your foot off the gas!" Reid ordered before realizing Rossi had the thing on cruise control. One hit of the button and the SUV immediately began slowing down. He kept the vehicle in the right lane, calculated how long it would take to fully decelerate, and decided fuck it. He shifted so that he could slip one of his legs over the center console and then between Rossi's. He used his foot to push Rossi's feet away from the pedals and then finally depress the brake.
His bad knee let him know that it didn't appreciate his acrobatics, but he was able to maneuver himself so that he could better steer and brake the vehicle. All told, it took about seventy-seven seconds to get the SUV pulled over, stopped on the median, and in park. Reid then quickly checked Rossi's vitals and knew things weren't good. Rossi gurgled out a few nonsensical phrases, sounding drunk. Scary.
Reid recalled the locations of the nearest hospitals, their rankings in treating emergency cases, and the average EMT response times for the area.
It was better for him to drive Rossi directly to the ER than wait for the paramedics.
So, Reid somehow managed to get Rossi in the passenger's seat (even with his eidetic memory, some things still got lost) and buckled in. He then settled into the driver's seat, plunked his phone on the dash holder, hit the sirens and the lights, and pulled out onto the highway. He dialed 9-1-1. When his call was answered, he related the basics before ordering the operating, "Patch me through direct to Baptist East's ER because that's where we're headed."
Once connected, Reid stated that he was a doctor, which always made things much easier in a medical emergency, and relayed Rossi's vitals and medications he was taking. He did this while driving at one-hundred ten miles per hour, and it took a full minute before he realized he had blown past Hotch and Morgan on the highway. Once glance in the rearview mirror showed that Hotch had decided to join in with the sirens and the speeding; Reid's phone then blinked with an incoming call from Morgan, and when he didn't answer, Rossi's phone started ringing.
"Sir, what is your ETA?"
"Eight minutes," Reid replied.
"What is your relation to the patient?"
For a moment, his mind went blank. His mouth moved but no words came out. His phone indicated that Morgan was trying him again. Reid blinked.
He tried to say, 'partner', because that was the honest truth. Partner on the Job. Partner at Home. He knew that a wedding ring was looming somewhere in his future because David Rossi was a marrying kind of man. The word stuck in his throat. Finally, finally he was able to get out, "I'm his doctor."
He could feel his eyes beginning to burn, because throughout their long and complicated courtship, Rossi always got a kick out introducing Reid as "my doctor" with that cheeky grin of his.
Rossi's phone began ringing again, just as the exit for the hospital came up. Once Reid put his turn signal on for the ramp, Rossi's phone immediately stopped. Reid had to slow down as he came up on the intersection, and he was thankful that the SUV was equipped with the sensor that when the sirens were activated, it changed the lights to his favor.
Tearing down residential streets at an unreasonable pace (sixty-three in a twenty-five was three points on one's license and a two-hundred fifty dollar fine), Reid finally came up to the hospital. He told the operator he was hanging up as he pulled into the ER and barely heard the, "Good luck, sir" from the dispatcher as he flipped his phone closed.
The trauma team was waiting for them and they yanked open the passenger's door. Reid turned off the sirens and lights before grabbing Rossi's gun and cell phone before Rossi was removed from the SUV. Reid got out and dashed over to the gurney.
"What happened?" Hotch demanded as he sprinted up, Morgan behind him.
Reid ignored him, instead focusing on the lead physician who was checking Rossi's vitals. He rattled off more information, medications and dosages that Rossi took plus time elapsed since the onset of symptoms. "No known allergies," Reid continued, "and he's never been administered tPA."
They charged into the ER, doors swinging open as Reid easily kept pace with the staff surrounding Rossi. He kept his hand on Rossi's shoulder, gave a reassuring squeeze, and tried his best not to compare the vacant look in Rossi's eyes to the way his mother looked during the worst of her episodes.
It became another blur after that. He vaguely heard Hotch and Morgan getting kicked out because, "Federal agent doesn't mean all access." It wasn't until someone tapped him on the shoulder and said, "We need to take Mister Rossi down to for scans" that Reid snapped out of his stupor.
"Ah. Yeah." Reid scrubbed his face. "Tests."
The nurse patted his upper arm gently. "This your first?"
"First time you brought a patient in like that?"
Reid looked at her confused. "No. It's my seventy-forth. Although it's usually Hotch, Morgan or Prentiss who ride along with them."
"Family member then?" she queried as she turned him and began escorting him to the waiting room. "Father? Uncle?"
He swallowed hard. If Rossi had heard her, it would have lit his temper. The age difference was the only thing that truly got to the older profiler, and the Team learned early on that teasing about it was strictly off-limits.
"Something like that," he murmured, because he knew the social game even if people seemed to think he didn't.
Once out in the waiting room, Hotch immediately approached him.
"What happened?" Hotch asked, but his tone was softer and he didn't cross his arms over his chest or set his shoulders to 'interrogation mode.'
Reid focused on the crucifix on the wall to Hotch's right. "Heart attack, stroke, or diabetic shock. I don't think it was the latter; his blood sugar levels were within normal parameters." From there, he listed the reasons for and against heart attack and stroke, including survival rates. He was expecting Hotch to tell him to shut the hell up—someone usually did when he hit the two minute mark in a lecture they didn't ask for—but Hotch let him go on until he paused for a breath, looked over to the admissions desk, and blurted, "Paperwork!"
"Already taken care of," the other agent assured him.
"His doctor," Hotch interrupted gently, softly. "We know."
Up until that moment, Reid was doing just fine and dandy separating Rossi and Reid from David and Spencer. But Hotch's unconditional acceptance and understanding shattered the wall between those two sets of personas.
Spencer could feel the blood draining from his face. "I almost lost him."
"You didn't." Hotch guided them over to a set of chairs that he'd obviously staked out. Spencer's messenger bag and Hotch's briefcase were on the seats. Hotch moved them to the floor and Spencer sunk down in the vacated chair. "Whatever happened, his chances of coming out of it are substantially increased because—"
"I do my best work under extreme terror."
The other man chuckled and shook his head as he sat down next to Spencer. "Yeah. That."
"The nurse thought he was my father. Or uncle."
"I take it we're thankful Dave was out of earshot for that line?"
"You know how pissed he gets." Spencer paused and looked down at his hands. "I know I'm likely to outlive him, but…do you think it's weird? I mean, our age difference?"
"It doesn't matter what I think."
"It does to me, Hotch. You're his best friend. You're my friend."
There was a long pause before Hotch said, "Yes, it can be a bit awkward. Yes, I never thought Dave would be open about being in a same-sex relationship. Yes, I was surprised by your relationship, and yes, it does concern me, fraternization rules aside. Being in the same unit, on the same team…it's a recipe for disaster. You said it yourself. Many times. Sober and drunk." Hotch clasped his shoulder briefly and then released him. "But you're happy. You're both happy. You have something that people work their whole lives for. How can that be weird?"
Spencer sighed and then flung himself back in the chair, pinching the bridge of his nose. With anyone else, he might have said, You have no idea how terrified I was, driving while my lover was probably dying. But this was Hotch, who drove to his own home and heard his ex-wife being executed on the way there. So Hotch knew, with that horrifyingly intimate knowledge that Spencer wished upon no one, how it felt.
"They'll have to keep him overnight for observation," Spencer stated quietly.
"I'll have your go bags brought over."
"The case isn't going to solve itself, Hotch."
"Which is why Prentiss and Morgan are back at the station," the other agent replied quietly. "And it's the reason I'll be heading over as well. We'll keep you in the loop, but we need someone here to make sure that Dave doesn't decide to sign his own release papers against doctor's orders."
"Like no one on this team has ever done that before," Spencer shot back wryly.
"It's the reason why you're staying here. We'll keep you updated, I promise," Hotch assured him.
"But he's going to be pissed—"
"He's going to be terrified and angry at himself. If Dave was fully aware of everything that was going on…" Hotch shrugged, allowing the silence to drive home his point.
Spencer snapped his mouth shut.
"Doctor Reid?" someone called out.
Immediately, Spencer and Hotch were on their feet and walking over to where a woman in scrubs was standing. The woman looked at both of them and then began addressing Hotch. Hotch held up his hand and then pointed to Spencer. "This is Agent Rossi's doctor."
She looked momentarily confused but then turned and began explaining how Dave had a transient ischemic attack. "Now this is what's called a warning—"
"I'm familiar with it," Spencer cut her off and then peered down. He vaguely heard Hotch call his name using the 'be nice' tone that he often used with Dave. He ignored him and said, "I'd like to see Agent Rossi now."
"You're carrying a gun."
Spencer blinked and looked down. "I'm a federal agent."
"You said you were a doctor."
"He's both," Hotch interrupted. "Trust me, you're going to want Doctor Reid in there if you want to keep Agent Rossi here overnight."
"You're his doctor," the woman said dubiously.
"Yeah, I am."
Of the things Spencer was expecting, the silent treatment wasn't one of them. Dave was awake and alert, but when Spencer walked in, the older man looked anywhere in the room but at him. No bitching about being stuck in a hospital gown with no pants. No grousing about the IVs or that he was going to be forced to stay in a hospital over night. No snapping that he didn't like being on display.
Dave was angry, humiliated, and silent.
And, just as Hotch predicted, underneath it all, Dave was terrified.
So Spencer walked right up to the side of the bed, grabbed the hand that didn't have IVs sticking out of it, and squeezed hard. Dave still didn't look at him nor did he return the squeeze. "You need to say something to me, even if it is to fuck off," Spencer told him quietly. "I need to hear for myself that your speech wasn't affected."
That earned a sneer followed by, "I can talk just fine, goddamn it."
"Will you squeeze my hand?"
"Jesus fucking Christ."
"Did you just break one of the commandments?"
Dave squeezed his hand and then saluted him with his middle finger with the other. "Satisfied?"
"Yes." Spencer let out a breath, thrilled to hear the concise if slightly exaggerated enunciation and the strength in the grip. "You had a transient ischemic attack," he explained. "It's also referred to as a warning—"
"They explained that shit already, Reid. I don't need to hear it from you."
The invocation of his last name, the purposeful distance, was frustrating. "Here and now?" he asked and grabbed Dave's chin to force him to look at him. "I'm Spencer." Dave still didn't meet his gaze. "And I'm here for better and for worse. In sickness and in health…"
"Don't you goddamn dare," Dave warned.
"I'm practicing for when you propose to me," Spencer fired back. That earned him a look. "You're the one who says you need to make an honest man out of me. Which I never quite understood, since … well … it implies I'm dishonest. I mean, I guess I am to a point. We do keep our relationship quiet, dodging questions and insinuations. Hmmm … when put in that context, I guess marrying me would make me honest because I'll officially be your spouse in a union that can only be granted in five states, one federal district and one Indian tribe, but is recognized by three additional states."
Dave blinked as the anger visibly drained out of him. "Indian tribe?"
"The Coquille Indian Tribe in Oregon," Spencer replied with a small grin.
"You've been fucking researching that shit?"
"What don't I research, Dave?"
His lover looked away and then down at the IVs stuck in the back of his hand. His eyes were wet. He squeezed Spencer's hand hard and then bounced it a little, the way he did when he was scared about something but wasn't going to admit it, much less make idle conversation. Spencer was tempted to run his hand through Dave's hair, to brush his thumb along his lover's cheekbone, to wipe away the tears that were threatening to fall, but he didn't.
"You have to stay here overnight."
"Like hell I am. Some motherfucking bastard is—"
"Doing what motherfucking bastards do," Spencer interrupted.
Dave hitched eyebrow. "You kiss you mother with that mouth?"
"I kiss my lover that mouth."
There was a long moment of silence before Dave whispered, "I hate this shit."
"For the record? So do I," Spencer said as he rested his forehead against Dave's. "I love you, David Rossi."
Dave closed his eyes and gripped Spencer's hand tighter. His voice was strained. "You're my doctor."
"Yes, I am."
Chapter 2: The view from other SUV
Watching a black SUV with lights and sirens going racing up to them on the highway was nothing new. However, Reid behind at the wheel and zipping past them going at least ninety miles per hour? Unheard of.
When I originally posted "O is for Observation," I was asked for a follow up. Here it is.
Since the Team agreed that their UnSub's recent behavior likely signaled the beginning of spree killings—Type 4 assassins were like that—Hotch had decided to split the team up that morning to review the first three crime scenes again. Reid and Rossi hit the first, Prentiss and the lead detective to the second, and him and Morgan to the third. The goal was to review with fresh eyes to see what was missing and what wasn't. They hadn't come up with much, so they all agreed to head back to the station and work on Reid's suggestion of a modified geographical profile.
Currently, Morgan was on speakerphone with Garcia as they tried to find something that connected the first three victims besides the small caliber handgun used to kill them and that their bodies were ditched in semi-remote locations. Hotch listened as he drove, providing the occasional comment as he went over the evidence in his mind yet again.
Glancing to the rearview mirror, Hotch noticed that a black Suburban with police lights blazing was coming up fast behind them. He knew his own mobile, which was on the dash's holder, hadn't rung and nothing had come across the scanner. Yet, whoever was driving that SUV—either Prentiss or Rossi—clearly was in rush to get somewhere. He frowned a little before glancing over to Morgan. "Did a call come in on your line?"
Morgan paused. "What? No. Why? What's going on?"
Hotch jutted his chin towards the mirror and Morgan turned around is seat. The SUV, in the high speed lane, approached at an alarming fast pace. Rossi was known for his tendency to ignore the speed limit, but this? This was the Holy shit, we need to get there fast! type driving. Hotch knew what he was about to say was quite stupid and obvious, but he still said it. "Something happened."
"Baby girl, you got anything?"
"Nothing, sugar. I'll let you go and will call back if I find anything."
"Thanks," Morgan said as he hung up the phone, still focused behind them. "Bat out of Hell … Like the damn thing has turbo boost." He laughed a little before he exclaimed, "Holy shit! Reid's driving." The distinct wail of the sirens was now audible.
Hotch glanced in the rear and side mirrors. Yes, Reid was driving and … talking ... while Rossi reclined in the passenger's seat, as if sleeping. Normally, Morgan would crack a joke about Reid's lectures causing Rossi to pass out, but with sirens, lights and speeding … Hotch gripped the wheel tighter.
"Fuck," Morgan muttered and flipped open his cell.
"He's not going to answer," Hotch told him as Reid's SUV blew past them. He flipped on the lights and sirens for their own vehicle and hit the gas. That little glimpse of Reid's expression he got as they passed made his belly twinge. Hotch had only seen that look a few times, when Reid had dug his heels in and downright determined about something.
Then, he realized just how fast Reid was going. Shit.
"It's going to straight to voicemail. I'm trying Rossi next," Morgan announced.
"Rossi's unconscious," Hotch stated, hating how clinical and flat his voice sounded. He heard the phone beeps which meant Morgan was ignoring him.
Morgan chanted, "Pick up. Pick up!"
Hotch kept focused on the road. He wasn't necessarily uncomfortable driving this fast; he'd been in a number of high-speed chases where speeds were in excess of one hundred miles per hour. But this was Reid. Reid, whose partner of over two years was passed out in the passenger side of the vehicle. His partner who was twenty-plus years older than him. His partner who had high blood pressure and acid reflux which were never openly acknowledged but the change in diet gave away.
Aaron's silent prayer was automatic, one borne from too many years of being in life-and-death situations. He added, Please, Lord Jesus, be merciful and kind to these two men who have done so much good and deserve the happiness they have together, because … because it's Dave and Spencer.
Despite the team's best efforts, no one really knew when the actual relationship started. Aaron picked up on the more-than-platonic affection Dave had for Spencer about six months after Dave had rejoined the BAU only because Aaron had the advantage of working with Dave for years. Dave was also less guarded around him, which Aaron believed was Dave's tacit way of asking for permission.
All Aaron had said was, "It's not Morgan or Garcia who you'll have to worry about. It will be me." Yes, he was overly protective of Spencer, but it was out of sheer admiration for the man's strength and ability to survive when so many wouldn't.
The team usually pointed to those harrowing nights in that dim Georgia cabin where they realized just how strong Spencer was; Aaron had known years earlier, during that initial interview with the young man that Gideon hadn't stopped talking about since his recruiting lecture at Cal Tech. Spencer explained his childhood, his chin lifted and gaze unwavering, and tacked on at the end, "…but then, you know this already from the background check. The BAU requires full psychological workups before a candidate is even considered."
Aaron's conclusion had been: the only thing that would crush Spencer Reid would be the betrayal by a lover. Hence, the warning to Dave.
No matter what the rumors were, Dave Rossi was a ferociously loyal man. He took his vows seriously. The implosion of his marriages were from a variety of things, but never because Dave cheated on his spouse. Yes, Dave looked but in all fairness, men did. Even Aaron. Dave and Aaron just knew never to look while the wives were around. So when Dave committed to Spencer, Aaron knew that the man would never stray, especially when Dave decided to tell his family about the new love of his life.
Coming out at fifty-five to a staunch Italian-American Catholic family at Christmas no less. Dave always had a flair for the dramatic.
As weird as it was, Dave and Spencer seemed to balance each other. It was a relationship that had no business working but it did. Aaron didn't even try to comprehend why.
And Aaron knew better than to allow the two men to continue to work on the same team, knew better than to partner them up because decisions during times of crisis should not be complicated by a personal relationship. Hell, Dave knew it as well, going so far as to offer up a compromise: Dave would stay behind at Quantico to work consults that didn't require the entire team and Anderson would be promoted to the "the Big Leagues," i.e., the team Aaron led.
Then, the whole mess with JJ left the team a bit more shaken than they'd like to admit, so the plan for Desk Duty Dave was shelved.
"C'mon, man, answer!" Morgan snarled at his phone. "Answer your goddamn cell!"
"Morgan," Hotch said and tilted his head ahead of them, where Reid had put on the turn signal for the next exit just as they passed the distinct white "H" with blue background sign.
He heard the man close his phone. "Shit! Do not tell me we're going to a damn hospital."
So Hotch didn't. He just kept pace with Reid, who had slowed down to a mere sixty-five miles per hour, and he sealed up his emotions the best he could.
He didn't say, Everything's gonna be okay, because it was pointless. Morgan didn't need his hand held and there was no way of knowing if indeed things were going to be okay. All Hotch could say was, "He has Reid."
"Thank fucking God."