(Demonology – 4x17)
"Snow was falling,
so much like stars
filling the dark trees
that one could easily imagine
its reason for being was nothing more
As she walked through the snow by the church, Emily felt like she couldn't breathe. The chill of the snow had crept into her fingers, her toes, up her limbs and into her very bones. But the real cold came from deep within her heart, her soul had been so hurt, so damaged – by this case, and by everything in her life that had led up to it.
She stopped before the large stone columns, stopping to look up, to ask why – why had all of this happened – to her friends, to her. Matthew never deserved to die. She hated herself – she had brought this on upon him. It wasn't her fault he was murdered, but she felt it was her fault he had chosen the path he had.
But Emily knew that Matthew loved her – she thought he was the only one who had loved her for her in her entire life - but little did she know, someone else was learning to love her more than Matthew ever could. If she hadn't been a teenager so focused on fitting in, she would have realized that before it was too late. But she knew he died for her. She saw the blood, and remembered the words she had heard earlier on the case. And she smiled as felt cleansed, her faith had been restored, even if she still hated herself – she hated how she couldn't trust people and how she couldn't let them in – she was learning to move on.
She looked up at the picture she was holding, relieved, sad and alone. But she was pulled out of her trance when she heard her name from behind her. She was startled, but turned around after she heard it again. And there he was, Derek Morgan – always her protector, her new Matthew – sitting in the government SUV they always rode in, window down, calling out her name through the snow.
"Morgan?" she asked.
"Emily, you're going to freeze out here. Come on," Derek said. "Let me take you home."
Emily slowly made her way to the car, and stopped in front of the door to look into the window. "How did you find me here?"
"After we wrapped up the scene, I looked around to find you. I wanted to make sure you were all right, but Rossi said you had left but I was your ride. I know how you like to walk when you have deep thinking to do," Emily smiled slightly at how well her partner knew her. "So I put two and two together and I've been driving around trying to find you.
And thank goodness I did because this storm is really picking up. Em you really shouldn't be out in this. Come on get in the car. It's freezing out there. And I really don't want to have to break in a new partner because you turned into a popsicle," Derek joked as he leaned over to open the door for Prentiss.
Emily helped herself into the car, as Derek turned the heat on even higher, trying to warm up a shivering Emily. They rode in silence for the short distance it took to get to Emily's apartment, both trying to find the right words to say after the case that had caused them to argue.
They made their way inside her place, and Derek insisted on making soup and sandwiches to help fight of the cold. Naturally, Prentiss did not complain – his presence comforted her, and she didn't want him to leave until it was absolutely necessary. So they cooked together, putting off the serious conversation they knew was coming.
They finally both sat at the table, eating their dinner and Derek took the plunge into what he knew had to be said eventually. "Emily, I want you to know that I'm sorry for the way I treated you during that interview. I shouldn't have done that…"
"Morgan…" Emily began.
"No, really." He cut her off. "I was just so worried about you, I still am. I knew you were hurting and I wanted to protect you from anymore pain." She looked at him with an understanding look as he continued. "I just remember how it is when these cases are personal…" he said, both of them remembering the case that had exposed his history to the team in Chicago. "I know how much they can hurt, and I didn't want that for you."
"Thank you, Derek. But you were right in what you did. I got too close to this case… I had to much history and I let my emotions get the best of me." She reached for his hand as she made her next statement, "But that's why we're such a great team, right? We know each other; we keep each other in check when we need to. You realized it before anyone else did and you kept me from acting foolishly – you protected me. So, thank you…"
Derek smiled at her from his seat, thankful this case was over, thankful his partner was healing – simply thankful he had her back to her normal self. But he knew something was still bothering her. "Emily," he began cautiously. "Do you want to tell me about it?"
She looked up at him, the battle within her soul raging between the thought of hiding her emotions as she always did, or trusting her best friend. And because of his reassuring gaze on her and the comfort his presence brought to her, trust won out in the end. She nodded her head and they made their way into her living room, finding their usual places on the couch. But this time, with half the distance in between them both.
Derek had turned to face her, giving her his full and undivided attention. And Emily told him the story she had told Rossi. But this time, she told him absolutely everything: about the nonexistent family life she had grown up in, the way her parents barely acknowledged her presence because of their jobs and how alone she felt because of it, the way she and Matthew met and had become best friends – ironically, they had bonded over books – she told him about the jerk she had fallen for once that had resulted in her pregnancy and the fears she experienced before Matthew had taken care of her, holding her hand to comfort her during the whole procedure – and she told him that is how she knew now just how much Matthew had loved her. But then she told him how Matthew had walked away from his former ways and how she had blamed herself everyday since, waiting for God to punish her for what she had done – for causing Matthew to change, the fact that he had (in her mind) died for her and for the baby she still woke up from dreaming about holding just once in her arms.
Of course she couldn't tell him about Declan, but her mind wandered to the little blond boy she had grown so attached to, the boy she had always seen as her second chance with a child because of the one she had never been able to come to know.
At this point, she had tried hard to keep herself together but the tears still fell as they always did. But this time, she wasn't alone. Derek had reached out for her hand sometime during the story when she had to take a moment to compose herself. But now she had finished and looked at him with sad, pleading eyes – looking for the comfort he was always able to provide her.
"Emily," Derek began, voice full of sincerity and comfort. "You have to stop blaming yourself. Yes, Matthew loved you. But that doesn't mean what happened was your fault. You couldn't know what he would do and you know that instance wasn't what brought it on. He was dealing with that long before you. You didn't cause this. But this is not your punishment, Em."
"Are you sure?" Emily asked tearfully. "Because I deserve it."
"Oh Emily," Derek said, he saw she was scared and so he pulled her into the tightest hug he could. "When are you going to see that you deserve so much more? You just have to trust people; you have to let them in. You are not alone Princess. We love you - I love you. The team is your family, we're your friends and we are here for you. I will always be here for you. You're my partner, I'm never going to let anything happen to you."
Emily's tears had finally subsided and they pulled out of their hug but still held tight to one another's hands. She had finally found what she had been looking for since she was that scared fifteen year old. She smiled at all that she did have but hadn't realized just how lucky she was until tonight. She had the team – her family of friends she now knew she couldn't live without. Garcia and JJ were her best girl friends, constantly there for her, Hotch provided the stability and direction she needed – they all needed, Reid was the brother she never had, Rossi was the father figure she had always hoped for, and Morgan… he was her Matthew – her mature, new and even better version of Matthew – he was her best friend, her comforter and her protector. And he loved her, she didn't know yet just how much but she knew they both loved one another as best friends, and they too would die for the other without even a thought.
"Thank you," she finally whispered to Derek.
"Like I told you before," he smiled. "Always."
And she smiled back in return, finally able to lift the burden off of her heart and smile at the wonderful life she had. So they started to talk about their childhoods – the happy and the sad memories they had – late into the night, building each other's trust and the foundation of their relationship even more. Emily had somehow managed to find a resting place for her head on Derek's shoulder, and he had snaked his arm around her back. They told themselves it was because of the cold weather, but in their hearts, they both knew better. When Emily let out a yawn, Derek insisted she get some rest.
"You know that storm hasn't let up all night," she said as she looked out the window. "It wouldn't be safe to drive in. Do you maybe want to stay?" she asked hopefully. "I wouldn't want to have to break in a new partner you know," she said, imitating his earlier words.
"Of course, I do." Derek replied with a laugh, knowing she wanted him to stay not only for his safety but also for the comfort they brought one another. So they made their way to bed – Emily to hers and Derek to the guest bedroom – but before they walked through the doors, they stopped once more. "Thank you for trusting me tonight, Em. I want you to know I meant every word I said."
"So did I," she said thoughtfully. "I don't know what I'd do without you. Thank you for always being here to listen."
"And I always will be," Derek winked and pulled her into one last hug goodnight, running a hand through her hair as she ran one up and down his back. They held each other long and close, finally making their way to their separate beds. But they both fell asleep knowing that no matter what happened, they would always have each other. And for them, it was enough.