Profiler, Profiled [2x12]
"The beginning of love is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves, the resolution not to twist them to fit our own image. If in loving them we do not love what they are, but only their potential likeness to ourselves, then we do not love them: we only love the reflection of ourselves we find in them"
He was angry. He was embarrassed. He was defeated. But above all, Derek was exhausted - physically and emotionally. This past case had hit closer to home than ever before. Memories, painful memories that he had never wanted to revisit had been forced out of the dark place he had hidden them and he was finally forced to face them... Them and Carl Buford.
He walked into the bullpen with shoulders drooping, feet dragging and head down as he carried his bag directly from the airport. Morgan knew the team cared about him, but he had always been the tough one – he took care of them, not the other way around. So he told himself to walk in with more determination than ever to prove himself over and over after the case against him. He could have come in after the team was gone, but he knew he would have to face them eventually.
Night was approaching. The bullpen was emptying out with agents waving goodbyes to one another for the weekend. Derek finally looked up and saw his teammates. The pitiful looks on Reid and JJ's faces' and everyone's constant questioning if he was all right embarrassed him even more. But he simply chose to grin, bear it and lie by telling them he was fine – he had been through enough emotional trauma this week and didn't feel like revisiting it anytime soon. Gideon merely patted his back as he moved towards the door. Derek looked around at his team but didn't see Emily even though her things were still at her desk beside his. Hotch was still in his office and was about to go see his team leader but he barely had time to register the thought before being bombarded by his babygirl.
He smiled and indulged Garcia but eventually insisted he needed to go. He just couldn't handle much more. Morgan knew he had a stack of case files awaiting him at his desk that he hoped to bury himself in over the weekend. But every option he held in his head looked more and more depressing. Staying in the office was lonely, boring and held too many memories at the moment of how he felt as though he had let his family down and his team down, his other family. But going home would make him feel exactly the same way. He just felt lost.
Derek finally made his way back to the bullpen to retrieve his files but as he glanced over his desk, he noticed it was unnaturally clean. His baskets, usually piled high with incomplete consultation cases, were empty. Morgan knew he had left a stack before he left and was sure he had received many more in the days he had been gone after the case. Luckily, Hotch was still at his desk and Derek made his way towards the team leader's office.
"Hey Hotch," Derek began.
"Morgan," Hotch responded. "Did you have a good rest of the time with your family?"
"Yes, thank you. Listen, I came by because I know I need to catch up on work this weekend but all of my case files are gone. Do you know where they went?" Morgan asked, distracted with confusion.
"They're right here actually," Hotch replied with a raised eyebrow as he pointed to a pile of manila folders on the corner of his desk.
"What?" Derek exclaimed, confusion thoroughly overwhelming him.
"They are all complete. You can thank Agent Prentiss for that. She came to me with the files just a moment ago. I believe now she's finishing work on her own…"
"But," Derek began to ask why before his boss continued.
"She told me she knew that you would be swamped with work and be exhausted from your vacation as well as… well, along with our past case. Prentiss has worked night and day since we all left Chicago to lighten your workload."
"She didn't have to do that," Derek said softly and full of shocked surprise.
"No, but she obviously wanted to. At least they were on time this week. We both know that would never have happened if you had tried to finish them," Hotch smirked. Derek only chuckled his agreement. He was a great agent, but paperwork had never been his strong suit. "I know as the newest member of the team, she is trying hard to fit in here. But she's already fitting into this family better than she knows." Hotch said.
Derek couldn't agree more. He loved the team but even when Elle was there, he had never had a person who could understand him and whom he could fully rely on. But the more he was spending time with and learning about Emily Prentiss, the more he began to feel a bond growing he had never had with a partner before. And this simple incident was confirmation of those thoughts.
"Thanks Hotch," Derek finally said, looking out of the windows in the office.
"She said something about pulling some old case files from archives for her consultations. I'm sure you'll be able to find her," Hotch spoke, immediately understanding what the agent was looking for.
"Okay. I need to go thank her. Night Hotch," Derek spoke as he walked out the door with a wave.
Morgan rushed down the stairs, looking around to thank his partner. He turned around, but still didn't spot her. He took a step to turn around and ran directly into the woman he was looking for.
"Morgan!" Emily exclaimed with surprise, readjusting the stack of files she held with his help.
"Hey Prentiss," Derek said with one of his only smiles that night that wasn't forced.
"How are you?" she asked with an upbeat manner, not the pitying tone and face he had received from everyone else.
"I'm good actually," he responded, realizing for the first time that day, he actually felt better. Maybe it was being home again, maybe it was leaving all of his memories in Chicago, or maybe it was just her friendly and beautiful smile. "I was actually even better when I realized my case files were all done," he gave her a pointed glance.
"Oh," Emily said with a guilty face.
"You didn't have to do that," he said.
"I know but I was happy to do it. I can't imagine how stressed you've been. It was the least I could do after all this team has already done for me; especially you, I can't thank you enough for all the help you've given me since I've been here."
"It was my pleasure Princess. I might just have to keep you around as my partner," Derek replied.
"You might regret that and never get rid of me," Emily responded with a grin.
"Well I'm beginning to think I'll never want to," Derek winked, causing Emily's face to feel uncharacteristically warm.
She quickly covered up her flattery with sarcasm. "If you think I'll do your cases for you every week, you are sadly mistaken buddy."
"Too bad," Derek feigned disappointment. "So what do you say to a little help with your cases and we order in dinner? My treat."
"Oh you don't have to do that. You must be exhausted and just want to get home."
"Emily, it's the least I can do. And honestly, I am really not excited about going back to my house to be all alone this weekend. And I can't stay here with no files to finish," he explained.
"Morgan, are you sure?"
"Positive," he said genuinely.
"Well," Emily began slowly. "I do love Chinese food and you did promise to show me your favorite restaurant."
"Done," Derek smiled. "It delivers. I'll call it in now."
Hotch waved his goodbyes just as Derek called in the food. The two agents set up in the roundtable room before the food appeared. Their work took them twice as long as it normally would have, intentionally of course. They spent most of the time talking rather than working. Emily was still getting to know the team and they were still getting to know her.
They talked about cases, the food, world news, random things they enjoyed, and eventually, they talked about themselves. "How are your mom and sisters?" Emily asked him.
"They're good - really good actually. Now that everything is behind us. They really enjoyed visiting with the team too," he smiled.
"I had a great time with them. They were wonderful," Emily nodded and they both thought back to that night.
Emily thought back to the delicious dinner Mrs. Morgan had made for them all and how it made her envious of the loving family her partner had, something she had never experienced. Prentiss had insisted on helping Mrs. Morgan clean up, something the woman protested but eventually accepted, enjoying her company and help since the entire ordeal. Then Emily remembered the way they all sat in the living room, talking, laughing and joking along with Derek's sisters at his expense; as well as hearing stories and seeing adorable pictures of Derek as a child, much to his embarrassment.
"So was Derek always as much of a tough guy as he is now?" Emily asked.
"Oh yes," Desiree said. "Even when he wasn't more than five-years-old, he acted as though he could conquer the world."
"And has he always been such a ladies' man?" she asked mischievously, earning a "Hey!" and a poke from her partner.
"Since before he could talk," Mrs. Morgan answered as she laughed along with the team.
"Why doesn't that surprise me?" JJ asked with a chuckle.
"He'll change one day though," his mother continued. "I've always said, when he least expects it, someone will sweep him off his feet and he'll realize he just can't live without her."
Derek only looked at his mother, annoyance abounded but he couldn't hold it against her when he thought of her words. "Just like you and dad?" he smiled.
"Exactly," she responded thoughtfully.
Emily's mind changed about him then. He may pretend to be a ladies' man but she was a profiler and the emotion in his eyes was unmistakable. The woman Derek Morgan would come to love would be a lucky one. Little did she know just how lucky.
Fran Morgan had also insisted she hear all about the team and their own families. Emily had attempted to avoid this part of the conversation, family never being something she could hold onto for very long. And her past was certainly a tricky one; one she wanted to forget and hide forever. But eventually, she couldn't ignore their questions.
She told them of her life as an ambassador's child, the languages she knew and the places she had visited. The Morgans were instantly intrigued, and even the team, who hadn't heard everything about their new agent's experiences.
"So Emily, of all the places you have lived, what is your favorite?" Fran Morgan asked enthusiastically.
Emily thought hard where she sat in between Derek and JJ on the couch. She had been asked this question before, and a clear answer had never come. However on this night, only one place stuck in her mind. With the Morgans and the team all around her, she felt more at ease than she had in a long time, so the truth flowed easily. "This might sound cliché, in fact I know it will. But of all the places I have lived and worked, D.C. is definitely my favorite."
"Really?" JJ turned to her and asked with surprise.
"Yes actually. Living in embassies, traveling nonstop or only working at desks for months at a time just gets lonely. But the first case I worked at the BAU, I realized it is truly a family. And the more time I spend with you all, the more I love being able to be a part of it," Emily answered almost sheepishly.
JJ leaned over to her friend and hugged her tight, "We love you being here too," she said, echoes of agreement filling the room. Emily leaned back against the couch, waiting for the attention to finally move away from her, and it did. But she still caught Morgan's eyes glancing over at her face from beside her. She turned to him, and he smiled at her words. She merely smiled back, thankful for her new family of friends.
When Derek's mind moved to that night, he thought of an event much later in the evening. The team had finally returned to their hotel in order to sleep before their early flight the next morning. Derek stood with his mother in the kitchen as they cleaned up together and talked about the evening. The made it through all of the BAU members until they finally got to Emily.
"Agent Prentiss is just a lovely as you described her on the phone to me the day she started," Fran said with a suggestive smile her son missed.
"Yeah, she's really great. It's nice to have her as a partner."
"I'm sure she feels the same about you. You both seem to get along so well. You know, when you were being held on those charges Derek I thought you might never get out. The team sent she and Dr. Reid to talk to me. Of course, he is just as you've always described. He did his best to help, and he did, in his own way. But Emily helped me understand how much your team really cares about you. She helped me believe you would get out."
"Really?" Derek asked.
"Oh yes. Emily told me how your team wouldn't give up on one of their own, their friend. You're really lucky to have her, to have all of them."
"Yes, I guess I am," Derek agreed, deep in thought.
"And don't forget the poor girl doesn't have much of a family. You have to make sure she still wants to call the BAU home. She's good for you, for all of you. You need a stable partner. Don't let that one slip away," she said pointedly and dripping with a hidden meaning.
"Yes ma'am," Derek chuckled at his mother's enthusiasm, but took her words to heart before she strategically began to practically beg him for grandbabies immediately after their talk about Emily.
A smile remained plastered on Derek's face at the memory as he sat across from the woman in his thoughts. It was that night, that Morgan saw Emily Prentiss as more than another agent, but as a partner and a friend he wanted to spend more time with, a beautiful woman he wanted to know everything about.
"They liked you too," Derek finally responded, pulling them both back to reality.
"Good. So Morgan," she began cautiously. "How are you?" she asked him caringly.
"I'm okay Em, really," he began, but they both could see through his words and he began to open up to her more than anyone else. "Okay, so maybe I'm not exactly okay. I just felt so out of my element. I'm always in control, but not this time. I had to face things I never wanted to think about again," he said.
"I know. But now, because you did, we were able to catch a killer. You proved you were not only a great agent, but also a good man. The team is lucky to have you. You mother and sisters are proud of you. And you know, I think your father would be very proud of who you've become too," Emily said with sincerity.
Derek was caught off guard by her supportive comments and could only offer the most grateful smile in her direction before speaking. "Thanks Em. You just might be the best partner I've ever had."
"Funny, I could say the same about you," Emily grinned. "Seriously though, if you ever need anything, I'm here. We all are."
"I couldn't have gotten through this without the team, all of you. Thank you for that. I want you to know, I'm here for you too. I always will be. And of course I've got to make sure we keep D.C. as your favorite place to call home. What are partners for, right?" Derek said, as he gave a caring smile to the woman beside him.
They continued their deep discussion, sharing stories effortlessly that even other members of the team didn't know. Derek told Emily of his father and then growing up without him. Emily listened intently, and that was all he really needed, someone to be there and not try to fix him but just to listen. And soon, he would do the same for her.
They finished the cases, conversation eventually moving back to other topics, but their deep connection had been formed and would only grow from there. Late that night, when the cleaning crew was locking up and the partners knew they couldn't stay any longer, Derek walked Emily to her car. They said their goodbyes even though inside they were both strangely sad for the night to end. It was Derek's idea to schedule a workout date the next day, an event that would become a tradition for the two agents for years to come.
"Emily?" Derek ventured as he turned and reached for her hand to get her attention.
"Yes?" she grinned expectantly.
"I just wanted to thank you… for tonight. Talking to you, having someone who doesn't just look at me with pity after all this, someone I can really talk to, it means a lot. I just wanted you to know that," he finished, suddenly feeling very self-conscious.
"Derek, I meant what I said, I am here for you. I'll see you tomorrow," Emily said, placing a delicate hand on his shoulder while they both fought a surprising and overwhelming urge to hug one another.
"Great. Have a safe trip home. I'll see you tomorrow at the gym. You better bring it Princess. I won't go easy on you," he smirked.
"Oh I think it's you who should be scared buddy," Emily laughed as she got in her car ad Derek closed the door, both smiling the rest of the night.
From then on, their relationship would only grow closer… stronger. They began to spend a great deal of time together, and the team noticed, even Reid would notice it eventually. They would tell themselves it's what partners did, but deep down, each of them knew that their connection was something extra special.
But for tonight they were just partners learning more about each other; tonight they were friends building the foundations of their connection; but soon… very soon… they would begin to realize just how much they meant to one another as their relationship endured more than any two human being should have to – but through it all – they would become closer than ever before.