[7x03 – Dorado Falls]
"All that is left to bring you pain, are the memories. If you face those, you'll be free. You can't spend the rest of your life hiding from yourself; always afraid that your memories will incapacitate you, and they will if you continue to bury them."
- J.D. Stroube, Caged in Darkness -
Emily had gotten up early that morning. It was the first day of her soon to be regular, again, training dates with Morgan. She couldn't sleep at all the night before, partly because she was nervous she would disappoint the one person she couldn't bear to let down again but most of all, because she couldn't remember being this excited about something since she had been back. Emily couldn't wait to see her best friend. They had so much time to make up for and she didn't want to waste a single moment now that she was home.
She rushed her way around the kitchen, attempting to multi-task as she made the coffee, prepped the fruit and remembered she needed to check the muffins in the oven for breakfast. But she was pulling her hair into a ponytail for the workout, and she was interrupted by a knock on her door. Emily slipped to the entryway of her apartment in her socks and proceeded to open the door to find Derek Morgan smiling back at her. "Morning Princess," he offered.
"Hi," she smiled back, reaching up to tighten her ponytail and ensure it was correctly in place because of her rushed manner.
"So, are you ready to train? You better bring it," Morgan asked.
"Oh you should be scared buddy. I just hope you can keep up with me. But then again you never could," Emily winked.
Derek was just about to respond before a strange look appeared on his face. "Emily, what is that smell?"
Emily's smile fell from her faced as she remembered the one thing she had forgotten to do in her rush to get ready. "Oh no," she breathed. "The muffins!" She rushed from the doorway, slipping rather ungracefully to her kitchen. Derek was right behind her, trying not to laugh at his partner's frazzled state.
"Muffins?" He asked as she reached quickly for the oven. "Em, I told you we could pick up breakfast on the way. Are you trying to make me fat?" He was just about to continue but stopped as he saw her reach into the oven and jerk her hand back quickly from the pain of the heat. It was only then Emily remembered she needed to grab the oven mitts. But Derek was way ahead of her.
"Here let me do it," he said as he jumped in and grabbed the pan with the mitts on. He placed the slightly brown muffins on the counter and moved to his partner. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah," she said softly, her burnt finger still in her mouth.
"Come on," Derek responded as he reached up and took her wrist gently in his own hand. He turned on the cold water and placed her finger beneath the running water and moved his face to look into her own. "Better?" he asked.
"Much, thank you" she smiled, but annoyance was still evident on her face. "But now the muffins are ruined. So much for trying to do something nice."
"They aren't ruined. They're just the way I like them," Derek smiled as he popped a muffin in his mouth, earning an appreciative smile from Emily. "But how about next time, you let me do the cooking?"
"Deal," she laughed.
The partners had eaten the slightly toasty muffins and fruit along with their coffee on the way into one of the FBI training gyms. Since it was so early in the morning, this gym was closed. But as one of the head trainers, Derek had a key. Both Morgan and Prentiss were happy they would have the gym to themselves when they got to know each other again.
They started of with a run. Derek insisted they take it slow to begin with so Emily wouldn't hurt herself overdoing it. But she wouldn't hear of it. She set a brisk pace and in their traditional final lap race, she ended up at the finish line far ahead of her partner, laughing all the way.
"Not bad Princess. I went easy on you with that one," he panted to which Emily only gave him a disbelieving look. "But you better believe I'll be tough on the mat."
"Bring it on buddy." Emily countered as they made their way to the training mat to practice hand-to-hand combat.
They took the mat, practicing various defensive moves. It was the way they had worked out together so many times before Doyle had taken Emily away from the team, from him. It was nice for them both to be back together again, they way they had always been.
Emily and Derek took turns as the attacker while the other was the FBI agent. Morgan knew Emily was trying hard, too hard. And she knew it too. She was trying desperately to repair every aspect of their relationship. She knew he might never trust her again, but that didn't stop her from trying. Prentiss had to prove to Morgan that she was still the partner she had always been.
Morgan knew that already though. He knew she would be as prepared as possible; it was her nature. He wasn't as much concerned about her as he was about himself. His need to protect her now was greater than ever before, if that was even possible. Derek inwardly refused to let anything happen to Emily ever again. He had to make sure he was ready to protect her at all costs, because that is what it might take one day, and he wouldn't think twice about it if the time ever came. He had to make sure that he could focus on his job rather than let his worry for Emily take over his good judgment when the time came to save her.
He didn't want to make it too obvious but it already was. It was why Hotch continually paired him with JJ because he knew how greatly Emily's supposed death had affected her partner, her best friend. He knew how much Emily meant to him. So he wanted to make sure that his agent was able to do his job in the field above all else.
Now that they were back together though, the world was slowly but surely setting itself right again. They were so in sync with one another as they trained. Sometimes they knew the other's move before they even thought to make it themselves. But as they were trying to hard to prove themselves to one another, it happened.
It was an accident. He hadn't really meant to move his arm down. His instincts had taken over rational thought in reaction to her maneuver and his heart dropped the moment he realized what happened. Where it had happened. His mind had flashed to that dreadful night in the warehouse, remembering where his hands rested on her stomach, her blood covering them instantly, before he had moved to reach for her own just below the stake in her middle.
She had doubled over and was down on the floor in an instant. The pain was clear on her wincing face. Her arms were clutched tightly around her stomach, exactly where the wound was. The only sounds she made were fast, shallow breaths coupled with tiny whimpers in order to prevent her from crying.
Derek was next to her on the floor faster than a bullet. He rested an arm on her back while the other moved to the hand on her stomach. "Oh Em, I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to. What can I do?"
"Morgan, it's fine," Emily gasped, clearly still in a great deal of pain.
"No, it isn't Emily. How could I have been so stupid?" Derek railed at himself. "Let me do something. Do you need anything? Ice? Medicine? Say the word and I'll do it," he said worriedly.
"Oh Derek, thank you but it's okay. Really. It just hurts sometimes, the doctors say that it is still healing internally." she breathed. The wound still ached but the tears she was fighting back were from the pain in her heart. "It's just…" she began after telling herself that keeping secrets was the reason they were here in the first place. But the words caught in her throat.
"What is it?" he asked with concern.
"What if you were right?" she began as she gathered up the courage to face her fears. "What if I'm not ready? What if I'm never the same as I was? What if I let you down? What if next time I get hurt like this or worse, you get hurt and I freeze because I see him in my mind again? I could never live with that. It's not worth it. I shouldn't even be a part of the team anymore. I've ruined all your trust and I can't let you, any of you, get hurt because of me. Because of what he did to me."
He pulled her into his arms as her tears had finally begun to flow. At first she fought against him, protesting that she was okay as he reached for her and whispered soothingly to her. Emily only felt guilty and completely unworthy of the love her team was showing her despite how despicable she felt because of her lies, even if it hadn't been her choice at all. But he only pulled her tighter to him, knowing she needed this and refusing to let her go. The same way he refused to let her go the night that changed their lives forever. So she finally collapsed against him as the sobs wracked her body out of fear and regret.
"I'm so sorry," she whispered against his neck as she finally had finally allowed herself to cling to him. "I wanted to tell you but I knew what you would do and I just couldn't let you get hurt." She sat up, wiping her eyes. He followed her body with his as she continued to speak. "I'm really sorry," she said, regretting her outburst reverting back into her shell with her closed off demeanor before Doyle had ruined their lives.
"Emily, you know you don't have to be so tough anymore. You don't have to face these feelings alone. I'm your partner. Let me be your partner Em. Let me be there for you. Doyle is gone and it's okay to be human – to feel. You're back where you belong now. Back with your family and we love you…." Derek said.
"How can you all still feel that way after I lied to you?" she asked him, angry with herself. "I let you all think I was dead! This isn't fair to you… You should all hate me but you treat me better than anyone ever has before." she exclaimed in disbelief.
"Emily," Derek said firmly. "Don't think for a single minute that we could ever hate you. Don't you know that we are just happy to have you back with us? I was miserable without you. I hated waking up every morning knowing that I had to come into work but that you wouldn't be there. You know you're not the only one who has nightmares," he prodded as they both remembered the night at his house only days before. "But with you here now, I know that when I wake up it won't feel the way it did before. I won't want to go back into a nightmare just to be able to see you again – now I know that my reality is better than any dream. Because you're back and that's all that matters."
"I am here. I want to be here. It's all I've wanted for the past seven months. But what if I'm not ready?" Emily asked, doubt still filling her mind.
"Don't you realize that by admitting all of this you are ready?" Derek asked. "I was worried about myself being ready because I can't imagine losing you again. But I know there is nothing we wouldn't do to protect each other, no matter what. Sure that was true before you left but now we know what it's like to lose a member of our team, our family. Iwill never let that happen."
"We are never going to let that happen again," she countered as she hugged him once more, finally able to allow herself to open up again. It may still take a while for them to trust again but they were closer than they had ever been before because they were back together again. After all, that was all they really needed: each other.
"Want to call it a day?" Derek asked as he stood and offered a hand to pull her up. "You know that movie I told you about came out this weekend. I think we've done enough training for today. Are you in? I'll even cook you dinner because we all know we can't trust you in the kitchen."
"Oh very funny," she mocked as she playfully hit him on the shoulder as they walked towards the door. "That sounds great though. And I think I do owe you a backrub anyway. You certainly deserve it since I clearly won our training session."
"Now that sounds heavenly. Wait! What?" Derek exclaimed as he stopped in his tracks and finally processed her final statement. "You won? I'm pretty sure I clearly won," he called and ran after her as she merely walked ahead, laughing all the way.
Fine china once broken is twice as strong with the mending.
- Anonymous -