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31 December 2012 @ 11:51 am
Fic Post: Comfort and Joy, Part 3/3  
Title: Comfort and Joy
Author: Montiese
Category: AU/Drama/Family/Holiday/Humor/Romance
Characters: Ashley Seaver, Erin Strauss, David Rossi, Spencer Reid, Penelope Garcia, Olivia Hopkins, OMC, OFC
Pairings: Rossi/Strauss, Ashley Seaver/Olivia Hopkins
Rating: MATURE
Summary: But he always wanted her to know if there was no other safe place in the world, this big old house with all of its strange inhabitants and visitors would be the one place that Ashley could be Ashley.

(Part 1)
(Part 2)


“Don’t be alarmed, it’s just your husband.”

“Mmm, that’s impossible.” Erin whispered as Dave spooned behind her. She let out a content sigh as her body molded to his. She smiled when he slipped his arms around her, kissing her shoulder. “My husband was supposed to be in bed hours ago and not working in his study until the wee hours of the morning. My husband is supposed to be taking some time off.”

“OK, then I'm not your husband.”

“I'm going to lock your study door and throw away the key.”

“I’d probably just take it off the hinges.” Dave replied.

“You're unbearable.”

“I think that’s part of the reason you're so madly in love with me.”

“At least 60% of it.” Erin said.

“Is Ashley alright?” Dave asked.

He knew about the argument she and Spencer had earlier. He didn’t know all of the details, as he heard it third-hand, but he knew it was about Diana. That was one of the places he felt he seriously failed as a parent. Instead of encouraging Ashley to have a proper relationship with her mother, he gave her Erin. While their children surely weren't the only reason they were together, he was so glad to be able to put a positive female influence in Ashley’s life.

But Diana was a wonderful woman and he should've showed her daughter that as well. She had two PhDs; she was just as much of a genius as her son. She was cultured and well-read and had been all over the world. It was just in the last 20 or so years that her schizophrenia became too difficult to control.

Dave felt it was the dissolution of her marriage along with the mystery surrounding Ashley’s paternity that caused his cousin to have a serious break from reality. But in the Potomac Ridge Behavioral Health Center she was getting the help she needed. Diana would probably never get out but that didn’t mean she couldn’t be a loving and supporting mother. They both deserved to have that chance to know each other. Dave just hoped it wasn’t too late.

“I'm not sure. She’s going to be but I think with every bad discussion they have about this, it put hairline fractures in Ashley and Spencer’s relationship. That could eventually lead to an unfixable crack.”

“Blood is thicker than everything.” He said.

“Yeah, sometimes it’s so thick you can't rise to the surface and you drown.”

“That’s an unpleasant thought.”

“I'm a realist, David.” Erin turned in his arms.

“Well tomorrow is Christmas Eve and maybe I'm hoping for a miracle. I’ll talk to her in the morning.”

“You cannot push her.”

“I won't.” Dave shook his head and kissed his wife’s lips. “But maybe I've made some mistakes along the way and can fix them. Diana and Ashley shouldn’t have to suffer for my inexperience.”

“You weren't alone for so much of it.” she said.

“I know, and I'm appreciative of that. I really want Ashley to have some kind of relationship with her mother.”

“So do I. We can't make that decision for her though.”

“No, but she also can't make it completely uninformed. I really hope she goes to the brunch tomorrow.”

“I hope she follows her heart and her gut.” Erin replied.

“Speaking of her heart…”

“She’s in love…and doing a completely lousy job of hiding it.”

“She gets that from her mother.” Dave kissed her again. “So she told you?”

“No, I told her that whatever she did and whomever she loved that we would always be her family. She's going to get love and support no matter what. I think that eased her mind some.”

“She's carrying a lot on her shoulders.”

“They all are, in some form or fashion. We have overachieving kids who push too hard sometimes. I can't fault them as I'm not much different. I just want them to really use this time as a break. It’s not always easy to let go of all of that stress.”

“I have the perfect antidote for your stress, Mrs. Rossi.” Dave leaned to kiss her neck and collarbone.”

“I'm sorry but only my husband can touch me there. Ooh, and there too. You’re being such a bad boy.”

“Be a bad girl for me tonight.” Dave whispered in her ear.

Erin laughed, running her fingers through his hair. While she was so glad to have her children home and her mother there for the holidays, she was really happy she and Dave were taking time off. It was hard to drag him away from Quantico. She worked a lot as well and understood but he was a serious workaholic. He had been that way since she met him.

Erin didn't want to change him. She wanted him to want to be home more. But David Rossi was slaying demons. They were his as well as the monsters that hid under other people’s beds. It was more than a full-time job.

The couple had this moment and Erin wanted to make sure she made the best of it. It wasn’t just about sex, something they had been good at since their very first encounter. Tomorrow was Christmas Eve and her wish was to spend the day in quiet bliss with her husband. Erin learned years ago that Dave’s undivided attention was a precious commodity.

“You can have all of me right now.” she said, moving onto her back and taking him with her. “I want all of you tomorrow.”

“I'm yours, Erin. I pretty much always have been.”

***


“I'm driving.” Ashley said as Spencer walked out of the house. She was leaning on her Mustang, swinging the keys on her finger.

“I'm actually going to take the train.” He came down the front steps.

“It’s over an hour to Rockville on the train.”

“I don’t find sitting in quiet contemplation for an hour to be a problem.” Spencer said.

“Is that a crack that I talk too much?” his little sister asked.

“No.” Spencer smiled as he shook his head.

“The train station is half a mile away.”

“I was going to take a walk. I like walking.”

“Just get in the car, Spencer.” Ashley nodded toward the passenger seat with her head.

“Are you just dropping me off?” he asked as he walked over to the car.

“I'm honestly not sure. It’s hard to contemplate walking away from omelets when I get so close. And it has been a long time since I've seen Diana. I got her a present. You'd probably be mad if I asked you to give it to her.”

“I’d do it if you want me to.” he shrugged and got into the car.

Ashley climbed in as well and put the key in the ignition. The Cure came blasting out of the speakers. She turned the music down but not off. She would need something to prepare her for walking into something she had no idea about.

“Spencer, I would never ask you to choose between your mom and me.”

“She's your mom too.” he said.

“No, she's not. She gave birth to me; no one is going to debate that. But you were with her until you were almost six years old. She read you stories, sang you songs, and tucked you into bed.

“You remember a life with her and your father. I know how grateful you are for that even when it hurts. The moment I was born I was put in Dad’s arms. Diana didn’t even want to hold me.”

“Where do you get all of these bad stories from?” Spencer asked. “How do you know she didn’t hold you? How do you know that she didn’t want you more than anything but just couldn’t take care of you? Why do you assume that she hates you?”

“I'm 20 years old and she hasn't once tried to reach out to me. I'm not hard to find; I never have been. That’s not the point. My point is you cannot take my relationship with Diana, or lack thereof, as a reflection on you. I live my life the best way I can and you’ve got to respect that.

“I don’t want this to be a point of contention with us for the rest of our lives.” Ashley sighed. “The truth is that Diana and I may never be close. I'm going today, I'm going to try, but can't make any promises. That’s my decision. You’ve made yours and I have to make mine.”

“She's a wonderful human being.” He felt the need to defend his mother.

Despite her schizophrenia there were so many people who loved and respected her. He couldn’t imagine having anyone more wonderful as a parent. Erin had been great, and so was Dave, but being Diana’s son defined Spencer. For better or for worse he was his mother’s son.

“Well she raised you so I definitely love her for that.”

They didn’t talk for a while after that. The music played and they just rode. Ashley was already shaking; she just wasn’t sure if this was going to work. It was Christmas Eve; the last thing she wanted was to feel rejected.

She could be at home with her family right now, and Liv, getting all the love in the world. Doing this instead was going to smooth things over with Spencer. At least Ashley hoped it did. And maybe she would get to know Diana better.

She would never be her mother but she was still blood; family. For that Ashley could try. It was also hard to say no to omelets. That was going to be the main event at the luncheon.

“I'm sorry that I got so angry at you yesterday.” Spencer said. He mumbled it mostly but was sure that she understood it.

“I'm letting it go. It’s probably best that way. We’re going to have arguments, we’re siblings. It’s OK.”

“Is it really OK or is this something that will fester until we’re in our 30s and then you explode and kill me?”

“What?” Ashley glanced at him with a raised eyebrow.

“I'm just asking.” Spencer said.

“I'm letting it go, Spencer. No festering, no killing; cross my heart.”

“Yeah, OK.”

There were a million conflicting feelings in Spencer’s belly right now. Even though she was about 25 miles away from him at any given time, he didn’t see his mother much. Spencer was always in school and even though he hadn't told anyone, he’d be joining the FBI Academy after graduation in May. There was guilt attached to not being there for her as a son should.

Diana surely never made him feel that way and Spencer was grateful. Maybe some of the reason he wanted Ashley to be closer to their mother was because he couldn’t always be there. Dave visited her when he could but her children should look after her. When Spencer couldn’t Ashley could.

It didn’t seem as if that was ever going to happen. The notion of a happy family was just a fantasy. It was a fantasy that kicked Spencer in his gut whenever he thought about it. He had Dave and Erin, Ted, Nora, and Noah, but never quite felt as if he belonged. He belonged somewhere right?

“Tell me something about her Spencer.” Ashley said.

“About Mom?” he asked.

“Yeah.”

“Well one of my first memories is the difference she did in the voices of Peter Pan and Captain Hook when she read me the story out loud. We read everything out loud when I was little…”

***


“Do you like it buddy?” Ted asked, clapping as he laughed. “This might just be my favorite present and not just because I bought it mind you. C'mon, gimme a high five.”

Mudgie barked, holding up his paw and giving Ted a high five. He’d bought the dog a Johns Hopkins University Lacrosse hoodie. He was a junior there, studying political science. He was also a star on the lacrosse team.

Like every other child in the family he was an overachiever. There didn't seem to be enough hours in the day for all Ted wanted to do and experience. He’d already told his mother and stepfather that when he graduated he planned to take a year off just to breathe. He probably hadn't done that since middle school.

“You bought the dog a hoodie?” Dave raised an eyebrow as he handed Ted a big mug of cocoa.

“He's got Hopkins pride. Don’t hate the player, Dave; hate the game.”

“Oh, OK.” He laughed, sitting down next to his wife on the couch.

Christmas Eve was a big and busy day for the blended Strauss-Rossi family. It started with a big breakfast in the morning. Then afternoon was for Spencer and Ashley to see Diana; Dave would drive them when they were younger. Other family scattered for everything from naps to last minute shopping to visiting friends to exchange gifts.

At sundown, the family piled into a car, this year it was Dave’s Suburban, to drive around and look at Christmas lights. The “adults”, Dave, Erin, and Joanna, stayed home this year. They ordered dinner and got things ready for when the kids came home. The evening was all about Chinese food, S’Mores, music, and family too. It wouldn’t have mattered if there were a million presents under the tree or just one. For the past 14 years, through many ups and downs, this had always been a happy night.

“I guess since Mudgie got one of his, we can all open a gift now.” Ashley said.

“Just one.” Erin held up a finger. If she let them the kids would have a free for all in the middle of the living room. It never mattered how old they got; they were all seven again on Christmas.

“Me first!” Ted and Ashley shouted in unison. They both dove for the seven and a half foot tall Manitoba blue spruce.

“Actually, I’d like to go first if I may.” Deacon said. He was there with Nora for the second year in a row.

“Oh, I guess that’s cool.” Ted grabbed a gift anyway.

“Thanks.” The PhD student smiled. He pulled a box from his pocket, which made Nora gasp. Then she covered her mouth. She didn’t want to assume this was something that it wasn’t and embarrass herself in front of her family. “Nora, this is for you.”

“What is it?” she reached for the box with trembling fingers.

“Open it darling.” Joanna said. “We’re as curious as you are.”

She smiled and opened the box. Now she could really gasp. It was a diamond ring on a white gold band. Nora didn’t know nor care much about carats except she knew a rock when she saw one. Deacon wasn’t a rich man but it was so lovely and probably at least a carat.

“Oh my God, Deacon…”

“Nora, will you marry me?” he asked.

“Yes. Yes, of course I will.” She threw her arms around him.

“I'm thinking there's no way my gift can top this.” Spencer said.

Everyone laughed as Nora bounded up from her chair and over to her parents. Erin wrapped her arms around her daughter, pulling her into a hug.

“Look Mom, it’s the most beautiful thing ever.” Nora held out her hand and showed off the ring.

“It’s just lovely.” Erin smiled as she agreed.

“You did good, Deacon.” Dave said.

“Thank you so much, sir. I think I mostly know what Nora likes.”

“Well I more than like this.” She said. “I love it; it’s amazing. It’s so amazing.”

“I don’t want to take away anyone else’s thunder.” Deacon said. He held out his hand and Nora joined him again on the loveseat. “So we should probably start opening the gifts now.”

“I'm going to email my dad before I go to sleep tonight.”

“I'm not sure you'll be able to sleep tonight.” Joanna said.

“You might be right Nan.”

“Go ahead and open your gift Ted.” Erin laughed. “You look about ready to explode.”

“It’s from Nan so I know its going to be awesome.” Ted said. “20th year in a row…we have to keep the streak going.”

“I'm sure we have.” Joanna replied.

“Hey, mine is from Nan too.” Ashley said. “We should open them together.”

“OK, let’s do it on a three count. One, two, three; go!”

Paper started flying as they tore at the gifts. Ted let out a squeal and Ashley actually whooped for joy. It was a good thing Joanna was sitting down because they both rushed to hug her.

“Best gift ever, Nan!” Ted exclaimed.

“I love it!” Ashley hugged her tighter.

This year Ted received the first edition hardcover boxed set of all seven Harry Potter books. He was a huge Potter fan and anyone who talked to him for longer than 15 minutes knew that. Ashley’s gifts were books as well. They were all first editions of Ira Levin’s seven novels. She’d loved his writing ever since she was 10 years old and stole a copy of The Boys from Brazil that Spencer had checked out of the library.

“You're both very welcome.” Joanna kissed their cheeks.

“I'm next!”

Spencer put on his most enthusiastic voice as he too dove under the Christmas tree. He was happy though Christmas wasn’t his favorite holiday; that was Halloween. It was always tough after seeing his mom. Brunch had been wonderful. There was a gift exchange and they caught up on what was happening in each other’s lives.

Diana even spoke some with Ashley. She seemed surprised that her daughter was now a college junior and doing so well. She wasn’t as smart as Spencer of course but Diana seemed happy with Ashley’s successes. Now it was time for the traditions with his other family. The box he chose was thin and not too long; it was from Dave.

“This is wrapped quite nicely. Did you have it professionally done?”

“Busted.” Ashley mumbled as everyone laughed.

“Just open it, would you.” Dave said grinning.

Spencer tore the paper off and lifted the box top. Now his entire face was beaming. He pulled it out of the box, looking at Dave with fascination in his brown eyes.

“Oh wow, Uncle Dave; this is awesome!”

“I felt pretty good for knowing exactly what you wanted.”

“What is it, Spencer?” Nora asked.

“It’s a sonic screwdriver.” He held it up for everyone to see.

“Oh wow, now that’s a great gift.” Olivia smiled.

“I don’t get it.” Deacon said. “I didn’t know you liked tools, Spencer.”

“No, it’s…you don’t watch Doctor Who?” Spencer asked.

“I've heard of it but no, I don’t watch it.” Deacon shook his head.

“And I'm going to do my absolute best not to hold that against you. Thanks so much Uncle Dave.”

“You're welcome kid.” Dave was happy when Spencer came over to hug him. It wasn’t always easy, never really, to find good gifts for his nephew. Spencer had a variety of interests and he usually surrounded himself with the things he enjoyed. It wasn’t easy to add something to the mix. “By the way, that’s not exactly a toy. I have a friend, he's a genius too, and he made it.”

“What does it do?” Spencer asked.

“I think I’ll let you figure that out.”

“This is going to be a very fun week.” Spencer grinned.

“I guess I’ll go next.” Erin got up from the couch and went over to the tree. “I'm not sure anything for me under here can top what we’ve already seen.”

“Oh c'mon baby,” Dave said. “You never know.”

000


“I really like your family.” Olivia said as she and Ashley relaxed on the couch. It was nearly midnight and the living room was quiet. “I cannot believe that your parents got me gifts. That was so sweet of them; they don’t even know me.”

“Well they like you because I do. I can admit I didn’t know they were going to get you gifts.”

“This scarf is the best thing ever.” Olivia stroked it.

“You haven’t taken it off since you opened it.”

“I'm a total Ravenclaw. I know you're the one who told your parents that but it’s so awesome that they bought me this.”

“You're really adorable when you're gleeful.” Ashley kissed her.

“I am gleeful right now. How do you feel?”

“I feel OK.”

“Just OK?” Olivia looked at her.

“No, I feel good. I'm so glad to be home. I'm so glad you're here with me and that my family likes you. I'm super happy that Nan got me books for Christmas. I just want to take this next week and breathe. School was stressful this semester; I'm glad it’s over. See…do you see how much gladness I'm experiencing right now. It must be a record or something.”

“What about brunch with Diana? You haven’t talked about that much. And its totally OK if you don’t want to.”

“I don’t really.” Ashley shook her head. “She acknowledged my existence, remembered my name, and seemed to like the gift I bought for her. Other than that it was sitting for a couple of hours and listening to her and Spencer dissect Le Guin’s Lavinia. I’d describe it as my Intro to Literature class, with omelets. I'm no less traumatized than I was walking into it.”

“Do you want to talk some more about how awesome my scarf and your books are?” Olivia asked.

“Yes, lets.”

Ashley put her arm around her and they just relaxed on the couch. They would go to bed soon, waking up to a surely crazy Christmas. These moments all alone, in the quiet, were nice. It was why she came home in the first place. You couldn’t get this kind of peace anywhere else.

***


Dave crawled across the California king-sized bed wearing a tired smile when his wife opened her arms for him. Erin held him, kissing his forehead.

“All the gifts are under the tree. The alarms are set and the kids are snug in their beds. I tripled checked on Noah and he’s really asleep this time.”

“This is so much better than the year he insisted on sleeping with us.” Erin said.

“Amen to that. We’re gonna have a lot of fun putting together that Death Star.”

“Do I hear you actually contemplating time off?”

“I might make some changes for 2011. We both could probably stand to do that.”

“I don’t know what you're talking about because I'm perfect.”

Dave looked up at her as she laughed. Then he kissed her laughter. He liked it so much he did it twice. Erin caressed his face.

“You do have a few perfect tendencies.”

“Did Deacon ask you if he could propose to Nora?” Erin asked.

“He did.” Dave nodded. “I felt slightly uncomfortable. I'm not her father and Eli’s still around so…”

“Eli is never around.”

“I think you know what I mean. I approved; he's a good kid. I think he’ll make a good husband.”

“I can't believe Nora is engaged. I can't believe I didn’t do the really ugly cry.”

“Erin you don’t have an ugly cry.”

“I have a slightly ugly one that’s reserved mostly for sad parts in books and movies.” She replied.

“I think you're delirious from lack of sleep.” Dave said. “It’s been a long week.”

“And tomorrow will be like getting so high you can't breathe and then crashing to the ground.”

“There are more things I probably need to learn about you.”

“Oh haha.” She kissed him. “I think I know the perfect way to spend Sunday. We’ll curl up in bed with all five seasons of McMillan and Wife. That was one of the greatest gifts ever, by the way.”

“Do you think we could occupy every member of our family?” Dave asked.

“With the after Christmas sales at the Chevy Chase Mall, museums opening back up in the District, and a neverending pancake or French toast plate somewhere, the answer to that is yes.”

“So we’ll put the do not disturb sign up and sleep in. Then we’ll make love and I’ll make you brunch. After that we’ll have a hot bath before coming back to bed with Rock Hudson. Does that sound good?”

“That sounds perfect.” Erin smiled. “It’s after midnight now. Merry Christmas, David.”

“Merry Christmas love of mine. Lets get some sleep...morning is practically here. I can hear the pitter patter of Noah’s feet right now.”

“No gifts until 9am.”

“If that happens I’ll be surprised.”

“I can be hardcore; not to be crossed.”

“I do know that from experience.” Dave nodded. He kissed her nose and then held Erin close.

They got under the covers; Erin reached to turn out the lamp. It felt so good in Dave’s arms. Life had just been so busy lately. They worked too much and time moved so fast. Taking this time, slowing down some; that felt really good.

Erin wasn’t sure she would be able to do much of this in the coming New Year. The only way to make change was to just jump in. She always gave her all to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. That was never an issue; Erin had been moving up the ranks since the day she graduated from the Academy.

But she’d missed crucial things in her children’s lives and even her own. There had to be a way to juggle both. For years she thought she had been. The truth was that she wasn’t quite.

Noah was her second chance to be the mother she knew she could be. Not that her children would ever complain about the woman who raised them. Wife, mother, FBI Agent; Erin wasn’t the only one who pulled it off everyday. She just wanted to do a little bit more…do a little better.

“If you need to fall I'm here to hold you.” Dave whispered.

“I'm OK. Are you OK?”

“I've got some thinking to do over the next couple of days.”

“What are you thinking about?” Erin asked.

“I'm going to write the novel. I just don’t know if I can write a novel, be an FBI Agent and a father all at the same time. One has been sacrificing more than the other two lately.”

“Well tomorrow you're going to be everyone’s favorite dad.”

“You make me into that person everyday, Erin. I love you.”

“I love you too. Go to sleep.”

“Yes ma'am.”

“Don’t call me ma'am.” She laughed, kissing her husband one more time and closing her eyes. The worries could have her back on Monday, maybe; she had some kickass plans for the weekend.

***

 
 
Where am I?: the dining room
Feelings: okayokay
Background Noise: Pretty Bad Girls on ID
 
 
 
( 4 had thoughts — Thoughts? )
hx_chickhx_chick on January 1st, 2013 12:19 am (UTC)
I loved, loved, LOVED this series! The dynamics between all of them were great and their caring came through. I also liked how everything wasn't always sunshine and lollipops within the family, it made it more real. I really hope you keep writing this 'verse!
SSA McGeek: Erin....smilemcgarrygirl78 on January 1st, 2013 01:06 am (UTC)
Its not quite a series, just one big story I had to break up in parts because of the LJ word limit. Not sure I'll be writing in it again but I am sure glad you loved it. It'll be interesting to see if these characters will speak to me again. At the end of the day this is about family, which I think a lot of my stories are, and this family is really interesting. Learning more about them could be awesome.
purplediamond87purplediamond87 on January 3rd, 2013 07:23 pm (UTC)
well, LiveJournal has been a giant douche for days and this is the first time ive been on it since New Years Eve, when I started reading this but realised I was entirely too tipsy for it to really sink in! Therefore after having re-read it, I can say I thoroughly enjoyed!
The family dynamic was, as always, pretty awesome!
so I'll be looking forward to more, in any universe whatsoever! ;)

p.s. Happy New Year to one and all!!! xx
SSA McGeek: Erin and Dave...gentlemen prefer blondesmcgarrygirl78 on January 3rd, 2013 08:35 pm (UTC)
Happy New Year!

Yeah, LJ has been a mess, sometimes I get it and sometimes I dont. I've had such a problem posting stories for like 2 weeks.

Glad you read and enjoyed the story, I liked writing it because it was a little something different. I love the characters but I really love when they give me something that they havent before. And Rossi and Strauss as the parents of a blended brood was awesome for me.

Dont know if there will be more in this universe but this story was fun.
( 4 had thoughts — Thoughts? )