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With You In Your Dreams (Pairing: JJ/Rossi, Rating: PG13, Warning: Character Death!!!)
If I'm gone when you wake up, please don't cry
And if I'm gone when you wake up it's not goodbye
Don't look back at this time as a time of heartbreak and distress
Remember me, remember me, 'cause I'll be with you in your dreams
The first morning after her death, he woke up by the sunbeams tickling in his face. His eyes hurt and felt heavy, he had a pounding headache and he realized that he must have cried all night. Keeping his eyes closed, he took in a deep breath, and her scent tingled in his nose.
He smiled. For almost a year he was waking up to her unique and wonderful scent now. Turning around, he instinctively reached over to the other side of the bed, where Jennifer was supposed to be lying, only to find it cold and empty.
She was gone, and reality hit in with an immense brutality, throwing him back onto his back. She was gone forever, would never come back to him. He couldn't seem to wrap his mind around this thought, couldn't believe that she had left him. He tried to tell himself that it was all just a dream, a bad dream, but the pain that waved through his entire body proved otherwise.
Slowly, the events of the past day crept back in. One phone call, one little phone call had swept him off his feet, and had ended his life as he knew it. His life that had finally been perfect after so many lonely and wasted years.
"Agent Rossi? I'm calling from George-Washington-Memorial-Hospital. There's been a car accident and a Jennifer Jareau had been admitted." They wouldn't tell him any details over the phone, so he called Hotch, who lived closer to DC, to get to the hospital as fast as possible, and to inform him while he was on his way himself. He didn't get a call from Hotch on the drive, and when he arrived at the hospital, Hotch and Prentiss were already waiting for him. They didn't even have to tell him anymore; he could see it in their faces that Jennifer was gone.
His knees buckled, and he crushed down onto the floor, Hotch and Prentiss immediately at his side, and he started crying and screaming as they held him through the first wave of pain.
Denial set in right afterwards, when the doctor let him through to Jennifer to say goodbye. It took Hotch plus two doctors to tear him away from her as he shook her dead body, willing her to wake up again. After that, everything went by in a blur.
And now he was crying again, weeping into his pillow, not sure if he was ever able to stop again, not sure how his life was supposed to go on without her.
Why? Dave couldn't help but ask the same question over and over again. Why did this happen? Why did life have to be so cruel?
The facts were simple. A drunk driver had his Jennifer's car on the driver's side, and she practically didn't stand a chance. She died about ten minutes after the ambulance had arrived at the hospital. Now there was another little boy who had to grow up without his mother, and for the first time in his life, Dave started questioning his faith.
He'd never had doubts; even after witnessing the most gruesome and horrid crimes, his faith had been solid and strong, his anchor. But losing the love of his life had brought him to his knees and he was sure that he would never be able to get up again.
With Jennifer he was finally making things right. After Hotch had lost Haley, after they had all gotten over the disaster with Foyet, Dave had listened to his heart and to his own words he had said to Hotch months before. He would not let the purest and best thing in his life slip away, not a second time around. It had taken him a while to convince Jennifer that they could be good together, but after a few months, she had given in to the attraction.
Their short time together was the best they'd ever had.
He knew Jennifer would want him to go on with his life, she would want him to be happy again. But for him, it simply wasn't possible. His heart had been ripped out, and everybody knew that without a heart you couldn't live.
Hotch had told him to take a few weeks off, to get himself sorted again, but Dave refused. He went back to work right after her funeral, and for weeks, he barely left the office at all. Going home was impossible for him, because there he was reminded of her by everything. At home, the grief overwhelmed him until he could only lay in bed and cry.
He didn't want to forget her, but at the same time, he couldn't stand thinking of her, because the ache in his heart was too much to bare. Work was his only chance to wrap his mind around other things.
The team kept a close eye on him, they stood behind him like a rock, but they didn't know how to help him. Nobody seemed to be able to get through to him, not even Hotch, who had been his best friend for almost fifteen years.
In the beginning they just let him be, hoping that once he'd overcome the first period of grief, he'd reach out for them again. But when he started taking unnecessary risks on the job, they realized that they had to interfere, or their friend would destroy himself.
They tried to talk to him, took him out for drinks, or simply stayed with him at home. He didn't seem to mind, but he also never opened up to them. It was like he was on auto-pilot, he was there, breathing, talking, sometimes even laughing, but at the same time, his heart and soul were somewhere else.
Deep down, he knew they were right, they only meant well, but he couldn't seem to get out of his misery. Not yet.
After Hotch had forbidden him to stay at the office over night, and had instructed everyone to make sure he went home in the evening, he cried himself to sleep at nights. At the office he could simply work until he fell asleep at his desk, but at home it didn't work. As soon as he was alone in his bedroom, the tears would flow. He never thought it was possible to have that many tears in him, he always assumed that he would be empty at some point. Maybe it was because he had never cried much in his life and all the tears that have accumulated over the years needed to get out now.
Even after weeks, he couldn't bring himself to change the bedsheets, out of fear that he would forget what she smelled like, but at the same time, he wished he wouldn't be reminded of her all over his house, which had just been about to become her house as well. It was like a spiral he couldn't get out of.
No matter what time he went to bed, he would always lay awake for hours, thinking about all the things they had done together, their first real date, their first kiss, the first time they'd made love. It was Garcia who told him that no one would ever be able to take his memories away from him, that the good times would always be deeply engraved in his heart, but that didn't make things any easier. It only hurt more when he thought about them, knowing that he would never be able to have something like that again, never be able to make more good memories with her. When they said that time would heal everything, he never believed them. There was just no way this pain would ever go away.
And it didn't. The pain didn't go away, but it slowly became bearable with time, as he came to see that the world hadn't stopped turning, that life around him went on. It was then that he realized there was one thing, one person rather, who depended on him, and who could make him feel alive again. Jennifer's son Henry had started to ask for his "Papa", and Will, his biological father, couldn't keep him away from Dave anymore.
In the beginning, it had only hurt Dave to see him, to see her eyes through his, and he didn't want to spend time with the boy. But then Will had been standing on his doorstep with Henry, refusing to go away before he and Dave didn't talk.
Dave had been like a second father for Henry ever since Will and Jennifer had separated. The split had been amicable, and she and Will shared custody for their son. When Dave entered the picture Will was jealous at first, seeing that Henry had taken the older man in without a blink, relying on him as much as on his real father. Fearing that Dave would take his son away from him, Will had briefly considered filing for single custody of Henry, but after a long talk with both JJ and Dave, they had come up with an arrangement that was satisfying for all of them, especially for Henry. And for the boy it was simple: Will was his Daddy and Dave was his Papa, and after that it didn't take long for all of them to get used to it.
So Will made sure that he and Henry visited Dave at least once a week, no matter how painful it was for the older man. Will thought that it would help Dave to get better after all.
When it didn't, and when Henry started crying every time he saw Dave's tears-stained face, Will decided to go back to New Orleans. After Jennifer's death, there was nothing that would keep him in the DC area, all of his family was still down in Louisiana, and it also didn't seem to be good for Henry anymore to be around Dave.
Hotch had warned Dave more than once: "You're about to lose it all, if you don't watch out", but it was only when Will announced his departure that he realized what his friend had meant. Dave felt like his heart had been ripped out a second time. This little boy was all he had left of Jennifer, and with him gone as well, he had no reason to live. He begged Will to stay, but he refused at first. "I have to do what's best for Henry," he said. "But you're welcome to visit us whenever you want."
In the end it was a promotion that Will had received at the DCPD that kept him there. He briefly considered to decline the offer, but seeing how important Henry was for Dave, he couldn't. He ranked it as fate, as something Jennifer had sent from heaven to keep them all together, and hoped that he was doing the right thing for his son.
He'd never forget David's relieved and grateful eyes when he told them that they were staying.
From now on, Henry slowly brought him back to life.
Dave started taking part again, even though the nights still wouldn't get better. There was never a second that he didn't miss Jennifer, but when he looked at Henry, it made him happy that part of her had survived in him. And Dave knew he was never going to let go of that part.
Much to everyone's surprise, he announced his second retirement on the first anniversary of Jennifer's death. He wanted to be there for Henry as much as he possible, and had had a long talk with Will, offering to watch the boy while he was at work, and Will had agreed. With time, they had become friends, not as close as Dave was with Hotch, but close enough to make good fathers for their son, even though it was a somewhat bizarre situation.
Two men, both single and most definitely not homosexual, agreeing on raising one little boy together, left curious questions every once in a while.
When Henry started school, the teachers sometimes assumed that Dave and Will were a couple, and not all of them were supportive of this idea, but Dave and Will always smiled patiently while explaining their unique situation.
They weren't living together of course, only on the weekends they spent at Dave's house at Little Creek did they all stay together. Henry was living with his biological father, and Dave had found an apartment not far from them, where the boy had a room as well, and where he stayed after school and sometimes over night, when Will had to work late.
Henry was proud of his two fathers, defending them whenever someone at school would make jokes about them, and would tease him for not having a mother. "I have the best father in the world, and guess what: I have two of them and a mother who is an angel!" None of his friends at school could beat that.
After his retirement, Dave devoted most of his time to Henry. He had gone back to writing to occupy himself with something when Henry was at school, but as soon as the boy was there, he had his full attention. Dave seemed to bloom again, which was something everyone was thankful for, but they also knew that it was primarily because of Henry.
With Hotch as his best friend, and Reid and Garcia as Henry's godparents, they all kept close contact with Dave. It seemed that their work family had grown to be a real family, and between all of them, they made sure that Henry got to know who his mother had been.
Over the years, Will had a few relationships, but none of them lasted long enough for the woman to become some sort of surrogate mother to Henry. They had all tried to get Dave to go out again as well, but had given up after a while. He was never going to love another woman, he had sworn these words to her on countless nights together, and he was going to stick to his word. No one could even come close to what Jennifer had been for him, he knew that much, so there was no reason in trying to find someone else.
It had taken quite a while, but after everything was settled, Dave had also become comfortable in his life as it was now. As comfortable as you could be when the most important part of yourself was missing forever. Jennifer was present in his everyday life, as he couldn't bring himself to throw anything out that had belong to her. He even kept all of her clothes, even though Prentiss and Garcia had suggested more than once to donate them to a homeless shelter, or the salvation army. There was not a single room in his house without a picture of Jennifer somewhere, and despite their hesitant feelings towards Dave's refusal to move on, they all let him alone. He didn't have breakdowns anymore as in the beginning, he didn't cry anymore in front of them, so they figured that all they could do was to be there for him and catch him if he fell.
The more Henry grew up, the more he realized how much his mother had meant to his Papa. Not a day went by that they didn't speak of her, that Dave didn't tell him the most wonderful stories of Jennifer, and made sure that Henry knew how much his mother had loved him, how much she still loved him, and it was Dave's utmost concern to have Henry grow up in a happy environment, and not in a household full of grief.
Therefore, the only days Dave allowed himself to be overwhelmed by his sorrow, were Jennifer's birthday and the anniversary of her death. Everyone left him alone on these days, knowing that he needed it, and knowing that they probably wouldn't manage to get through to him anyway. Dave usually sat at her grave all day long, weeping silently, and talking to her, telling her about Henry, about the team, and what they were all up to these days. It became some kind of tradition then that Will and Henry came by in the afternoon, bringing him something to eat and some coffee, and made sure that he also found his way home again.
In the end, Dave knew what he had to live for. Henry. Seeing the little boy grow up to become a smart and handsome young man, had made his life worth living again. He was grateful for having gotten this chance, and all of the regrets he'd had over the years were overlaid with the simple truth that he'd gotten the most important thing in his life right.
And though my flesh is gone
I'll still be with you at all times
And though my body's gone
I'll be there to comfort you at all times
Dave died the week after Henry's high school graduation. He simply went to bed one night, and didn't wake up the next morning. No one was really surprised that it came this way.
"His heart couldn't take it anymore, I guess," Garcia said as they were all sitting together in Dave's living room, talking about the wonderful man that he had been.
In the end it was as if his duty was done, now that Henry was all grown up and ready to leave for college.
He had become old and tired over the last years, but at Henry's graduation ceremony he stood alive and strong, secretly knowing that this would be the last highlight in his life, and definitely the one he was most proud of.
He'd put all of his affairs in order a long time ago, not knowing how long he would persevere, and the big celebration party they threw for Henry after the ceremony, was also his way to say goodbye to everyone.
When they lowered his coffin into the grave, Henry stood front and center with Will and Hotch by his sides, the rest of their extraordinary family surrounding them.
"Now he's finally together again with Mom, isn't he?" he asked softly. Will and Hotch nodded, and Hotch answered: "Believe me, nothing could stop him from getting to her." They all laughed through their tears.
If there was one thing, Dave Rossi had taught them over the years, it was to believe in true love.