The Last Dance (7x23 & 7x24)
The Last Dance
[7x23/24 – Hit & Run, plus a few more]
"I don't want to hide. I want to slow dance with you again. I want to dance with you forever."
-Sarah Black, Border Roads-
"Love is a lot like dancing; you just surrender to the music."
"Don't give your heart to anyone,
Don't forget who's taking you home
And in whose arms you're going to be
So darling save the last dance for me."
-Michael Buble, Save the Last Dance For Me-
Emily was lost in his arms as they swayed to the beat as one. Derek held her so tightly that if he squeezed any tighter her ribs might break, but he couldn't bear to let her go. Their faces were pressed together, eyes closed as they relished in the feel of the other, not noticing the way every member of the team would sneak their eyes over to them – remembering all they had been through, knowing for the past six years what these two had failed to, if not see, act upon. They were simply lost in each other, holding hands with a death-like grip against his chest. She felt his heartbeat – the same beat that calmed her fears so many nights when Doyle came back for her in her dreams.
They were holding one another so close, so tightly it was if they thought they might lose the other in that very moment. A love song played in the background and it was the last song of the night. In the spirit of the atmosphere of a wedding, it was a romantic song, the most romantic, one only meant for the couples on the dance floor. And finally, of all her dances that night, this dance felt just right… this is where she felt safe, this is where she felt loved, this is where she felt home.
But she wasn't surprised; it was always this way, ever since she had returned, and when she considered it, long before she'd left. She had worked tirelessly to readjust back into her life at the BAU but she felt as lost as when she was alone in Paris. Her friends had forgiven her and they were close, if not closer than they had been before. But her experience had changed her. Yet no matter when or where she was, when she was with Derek, she felt home. And as she felt his comfort, she remembered the first time her heart had ever felt this way.
"Hey," he stopped her with a hand on her arm as they walked towards their cars after the jet landed. "So how's the book Princess?"
"Amazing! You were right, chapter three is definitely where the excitement starts."
"Wait, can I get a recording of that?" he asked.
"Of you telling me I was right," he grinned mischievously.
"In your dreams buddy. It's too rare of an occasion for that," she winked as she joked along.
"Ouch," he mimicked hurt. "Seriously though, I'm glad you're enjoying it. I was going to ask you actually," he paused, looking down awkwardly. Suddenly he felt like he was in high school again, asking a girl to the prom and Reid's words to him about he and Emily echoed in his mind. "I have the movie. Of "Mother Night" that is. Since we talked about it, I didn't know if you'd want to watch it one day?"
"Absolutely! I've never seen it actually. I always wanted to though."
"Good. I know we were going to practice takedowns tomorrow, if it isn't too much…" he began but she cut him off.
"Not at all! I'd love it! We can go to the practice range then make dinner and do the movie at my place. Does that work?"
"That's perfect," he smiled. "I'll pick you up at 1:00 tomorrow. Are you sure that's okay?"
"I couldn't think of anything I'd like better," she grinned up at him.
And so the tradition began. Derek picked her up and they practiced their takedown training. He was amazed a just how close of a match she was for him, their victories on the mat were always even. When she joined the team, he was the one who was supposed to help train her, but he found more and more everyday that it was certainly the other way around.
It was later that night when they started cooking, together, that the truth of Emily's cooking abilities was discovered. But Derek took the lead with a smile, and it was he who taught her.
They sat down to watch the movie together. Emily enjoyed it. What she saw of it of course, because that night, they couldn't stop talking. They felt so at ease as they told each other practically everything about their lives but over the course of six years, they would still never run out of things to discuss, because in reality, it wasn't what they were talking about but whom they were talking about it with.
It wasn't until the early morning hours that the partners realized how late it really was and they still regretted that the night had to come to an end. But it wasn't the end. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship, partnership and eventually something more.
Tonight they were 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 all of it – they would become closer than ever before.
But it hadn't ended there, she thought as she swayed in sync with him. If anything, it had only grown with time. And that is what scared her. It was finally, it was too big for either of them to ignore.
He'd snuck his eyes over to her in the car only the morning before on the way to meet the house inspector. She was trying to hide it, but he knew better. She was nervous, pretty close to being scared to death if not for all she had gone through. So he just reached over, took hold of her hand, and intertwined his fingers between her shaking ones. Suddenly, she felt safe again. Her nerves disappeared and she knew that no matter what, they had each other to lean on. As friends of course, she reminded herself. But it was when the house inspector addressed them as a couple that the nervous feelings returned once again.
But she pushed the thoughts from her mind, as hard as it was, and focused on where she was in that moment. She focused on how even though she was nervous and scared about the decision she was making, with Derek, somehow it all disappeared.
However, she wasn't the only one reminiscing on the past. So was Derek, but as he held her, he was also hoping for the future.
He thought of how she was the only one who could talk any sense into him after he had gone face to face with the Prince of Darkness to save Ellie. She had driven him home as he sulked silently, but she didn't give up on him. She cooked him dinner that night. Insisted she help change his bandages because she knew he wouldn't. And she'd stayed up all night with him as he finally opened up to her. He told her about his father's death and how he did his job everyday to make his father proud. But every night he still had a moment of fear just before falling asleep in case the memory of his father's death plagued his dreams. He shed his tears as she listened. She cared, and that was his cure.
And it was those moments he thought of, those moments he cried over, when she was gone. He would go to her grave and lean against her tombstone, unaware of the truth but only his pain in losing his partner and his friend. He would sit for hours, the way they used to, and just talk. He would tell her about the team, about their cases, about Declan, and sometimes he would read a Vonnegut book. It wasn't healthy he knew, but it's what he used to do with his father's grave. It's what he still did when he went home to Chicago. And for him, it was a way to keep the people he loved with him.
And he remembered with a smile how his smile returned and how his heart began beating again when she walked through that door and taken his breath away. He couldn't believe it at first. His heart wanted to but he was scared of another disappointment. He'd had dreams like this more times than he wanted to admit. But when she put her arms around him, and when he wrapped his arms around her… when he'd felt her again, he knew no dream could ever feel this real, feel this amazing, and fill him with so much warmth.
But then he remembered how only a day earlier and how he thought he might have to face it all over again. Face what he knew his heart could never handle again.
The pain in his body coursed through him and the ringing in his ears persisted but the worry in his heart was the only thing he noticed in that moment. He looked around frantically, his eyes setting on every team member but the one he knew he was really looking for.
His heart felt as if it could do more damage than what the explosion had just done to the building before him with the pain he felt that he might lose her again. He knew he had to find her. JJ pulled him out of his terror as she went running to find Will, causing Derek to do the same… and just like JJ he was running after the person he loved.
Every time he called for her and he heard no answer, more pain filled his heart. It was after his last desperate cry that he heard what felt like heaven in his ears – her voice. It was soft, it was strained, but above all, it was her. And that was all that mattered right then.
He found her quickly, JJ had already made it to her but he knelt down beside her, hearing and seeing she was all right. They didn't have time to waste though. But before he got up to do his job, his hand found hers on the cold floor of the basement. He squeezed her hand and she squeezed back, reassuring him, as she knew exactly the memories that would undoubtedly be running through his head. JJ had noticed, as she always did, but she was too focused on Will to bring it up to Emily. But she knew, she'd known for a while. She just wanted Derek and Emily to come to the realization too.
The day was too eventful for any meaningful words. But that night was a different story.
They waved goodbye to the rest of the team before walking side by side towards Derek's car. The two agents had left directly after the home inspection and had ridden together.
He hugged her tighter than he ever had before, emotions welling deep inside him as he thought of how he had almost lost her again, not once, but twice in just one day.
"Hey, what's this for?" she asked with a grin. But her smile faded as she pulled back and saw his tear-filled face. "Derek…" she whispered, unsure of his sudden change of demeanor. "What is it?"
"I'm sorry Em," he shook his head, trying to blink back the tears. "It's just… I almost lost you again today. Twice."
"But I'm okay," she reassure him. "It's over now."
"This time," he spoke instantly. "I just don't think I could handle that again. Once was more than enough the first time around." The memory of Doyle flashed painfully through their minds. "And then when that bank exploded…" he took a deep breath, trying to fight the pain accosting his heart with the memory. "You're the first person I looked for. When I couldn't find you, I felt like I couldn't breathe. Emily I wasn't sure I could survive if I had found you hurt again… or worse. You almost died twice today, and I… I just… I just had to make sure I hadn't lost you again."
Emily looked at him for only a second, full of sympathy and maybe something else, before she pulled him back into the hug to show him that he had not lost her again… and he never would. She knew that now was not the time to tell him about the possible new job. He would be happy for her to be out of danger but that price would come at being away from the team, away from him. "You haven't lost me," she whispered. "Remember, you're the one who found me that night. You're the reason I'm here at all. And I'm not going anywhere. I'm right here, always," she choked out, trying to forget the job offer across the ocean she'd received just that morning.
He could only smile as the tears subsided at their word. "Come on, Princess. Those unsubs may have ruined most of our plans for today but I am still treating you to dinner and a movie as promised. That is, if you're up for it."
"I couldn't think of anything I'd like better," she grinned up at him, echoing her words from a time long ago.
And there they were again. Dancing with each other the way they figuratively had for so many years… dancing around their true feelings but closer with each other than with anyone else. And now, closer than ever before.
"I can't lose you again Em," he suddenly whispered in her ear, bring them both back to the present, as she felt the tears he shed against her face. His words echoed her thoughts exactly and her tears threatened to give way then. She didn't speak but only looked deep into his eyes for a moment and moved deeper into his arms; her head finding a resting place closer into the crook of his neck and his arms pulled her into him so tightly it was as if he was afraid she would disappear right then and there.
The song played its final beats in the distance but she didn't want to let him go, she couldn't – not again. The couples on the dance floor slowly began to exit one by one, but Morgan and Prentiss remained swaying in the middle.
Finally though, they both pulled away when Strauss announced part of her wedding gift, they all had the day off the next day. After all they had been through they certainly deserved it. But not even that could take the looming worry out of Derek and Emily's minds.
They were still standing side-by-side, hands brushing against one another, sending shockwaves through them both. Derek reached for Emily's hand with fervency and gently led her to the secluded side of the fountain in the garden.
"Derek… What…" she began to ask, but he cut her off.
"Emily, you can't leave. You know I can't lose you again. I don't think I'd survive this time." Derek began, his eyes wet with tears.
"Derek…" she started, hoping to save this conversation for later, but his pleading, tearful eyes broke her already aching and conflicted heart. "I don't want to leave you," Emily said sincerely as she reached her hand up to his face. "I don't want to leave any of you. I want to leave the BAU, but not you."
"But moving to another continent? What are you thinking!?"
"I don't even know if I'll take the job in London. It was just one offer and I only got it yesterday! It just showed me that I have other opportunities out there to do something that doesn't make me think of the job I had when I was with Doyle – that was the worst time in my life other than my seven months alone in Paris. I just can't shake the fear of buying this house. All my life I've moved around for others and now I've finally got to find what I want for a change. But am I being selfish?" Emily asked, frustrated with herself for her nervousness.
"You are never going to get rid of this feeling Em. You're going to just keep on looking but until you realize what it is you're missing… you'll never be happy until you do. You don't want a new job or a new house… You want…" he paused, wanting her to come to her own conclusion to prove to himself he wasn't the only one who felt this way. Their relationship had pushed passed professional long ago, and he wasn't willing to give it up without at least attempting to tell her what he'd felt for so long. "Emily, when are you the most happy?"
"When do you forget about Doyle? When do you feel like you can really just be yourself? Emily, when do you feel at home?"
She thought a moment as she took a long pause and looked down, but she already knew the answer. She could only forget Doyle when she was with him. She could tell him anything, she trusted Morgan with everything. He was the best man she knew. And that's when she finally admitted to herself that she loved him.
Somehow, somewhere deep inside she already knew. In reality, she'd known it all along. Emily couldn't be sure exactly when it had grown to that or when she had finally realized it. Was it a specific moment?
Was it as early was when he was home in Chicago and the team had fought to get him back and she realized she wasn't sure she could work on the team without him, her new partner?
Was it when he'd made her smile over their shared love of Kurt Vonnegut?
Was it when Cyrus was beating her and the only face she prayed she would be able to see again was Derek's?
Was it when he would rush to protect her and stay with her whenever she was hurt?
Was it when Foyet had almost killed him and she had realized just how empty her life would have been if he hadn't been spared?
Was it in the quiet moments they shared on the jet after a hard case, sitting side by side as their arms brushed up against each other? Or in those moments when she would catch herself watching him sleep?
Was it when she saw him holding Henry? What was that fluttering feeling inside her as he smiled at her with the little blue bundle in his arms?
Was it when they fell asleep together after dinner and a movie at her place or his and she would wake up and for only a second dream of a normal life? A life not just near him but with him? Loved and in his arms?
Was it in the nights they would stay up late, working but mostly laughing, as they finished case files in his office together?
Was it when he looked deep into her eyes and uttered the single word "always" and gave her the assurance and feeling of love that no one else could?
Was it when he held her and gave her a reason to live after Doyle had tried to end her life forever?
Was it when her heart had finally started beating again as he held her in his arms after seeing her alive for the first time in seven months?
Was it as he held her while she cried when Doyle haunted her nightmares and he'd rocked her to sleep?
Or perhaps it was a culmination of all of those moments, she reasoned. There were certainly more than enough to justify those feelings. But it was only when she thought she might never see him again that all of those moments kept her heart beating and her lungs breathing so she might experience just a few more. It was then she realized that waking up every morning excited to go to work was all because of him. Her comfort came from knowing that no matter how big her problem was that he was always there to help her through it. She found it in the way he protected her above himself, the way he cared for her so deeply… the way he was always there for her.
But the fear of opening her heart along with her constant cycle of putting others above herself, even at the expense of her own feelings and happiness, had kept her need for him bottled up and hidden away in the depths of her heart for years.
So she told herself that he deserved more that she had to offer; he had dealt with enough of her baggage and he didn't deserve to deal with any more. So she did what she did best: she reverted back into her shell, "I don't know…" she began. "I've never felt home anywhere. Derek coming to the BAU was to be near Declan, to protect him – to try to forget Doyle. Now he's safe and Doyle's gone… I've always had a purpose in my life – a reason I did what I did. But now, Derek I don't know what to do. I don't know why I'm here anymore."
"So do it. Quit the BAU. You know we will all support you Em. I will be with you every step of the way. But don't you dare run away again. I know you're scared but that isn't the answer. You're not being selfish - you're looking for happiness. I get that. But we are your family Em, let us in. Don't make the same mistake twice. I know what you want. I told you, it's not a new job or a new house or new friends… Emily you've always been the one to love, the one to take care of others but now it's you turn. Emily you need someone to love you the way you love. To be there for you when you're scared, when you're afraid, when you're happy – someone to just be there for you… always."
Emily's heart felt as if it could burst at the mention of that word. She was confused, she was scared, but she knew Derek was right. "Oh and what? You are that person?" Emily asked tearfully, still skeptical anyone could ever want her – especially someone as special as Derek Morgan.
"I don't know if I am… But I want to be, more than anything… because you are that person for me. Emily, I can't stop thinking about you. I go to sleep so excited to wake up just to see you every day. All I want to do is be with you, talk with you…. I want to be there to hold you every night Doyle haunts your dreams so you'll wake up and know that I will never let anyone or anything hurt you."
"I don't deserve you." Emily whispered, still shocked at the words coming out of Derek's mouth.
"No, you don't. You deserve the best, the absolute best that I am most definitely not," he was crying now. Pleading and broken at the fear of rejection from the one woman he had put it all on the line for. "But I promise you I will give you my best: all of me, every day, every hour – because you are worthy of that and so much more. I love you so much Emily. I've always loved you."
She broke down then, letting the tears fall at his confession of love. She had told herself that she could never be loved like this, especially by a man as wonderful as Derek Morgan; but here he was, pouring his heart out to her and she finally realized that all she wanted was him – he was right: it wasn't a new job or a new house – she wanted love and that is what she had always felt for him, she had just been too scared to realize it… until now.
She looked up at him with tears in her eyes; unable to argue the lie she'd tried to convince her heart to believe. But it wouldn't listen. And finally she gave in, all of her. She did love him; more than she ever thought was humanly possible. "Derek, I'm so sorry. All I wanted when I was away was to find you, to tell you. But when I came back…" her voice broke. "I was so scared. I don't deserve this. I don't deserve you." She continued speak as she wept but not another word came out
Derek's hands cupped her face and immediately his mouth captured her lips with a kiss that held all the passion and all the love he'd held for her for all these years. And she melted into him. They tasted one another's salty tears as they kissed away the worry and the doubt. They clung to each other. One of his hands was tangled in her hair while the other wrapped around her waist and pulled her close as she reached up around his neck. And they slowly took in this ultimate moment that had built upon so many little ones.
They were still in each other's arms, hearts pounding against one another, lost in the moment they had waited for so long. They stayed like that for what seemed like forever but still not long enough as years of suppressed longing and frustration was released in that one single kiss – a sliver of heaven that made neither one of them want to pull away. Finally Emily had to when she could barely breathe any longer, arms still clinging around him as she gasped for air, eyes still closed as she stilled her dizzying body. She opened them slowly to find Derek's eyes gazing at her with the look of complete love. "Take me home, Derek," she whispered in his ear.
And he did. Goodbyes were quickly exchanged with the rest of the guests before they drove, hands intertwined, refusing to ever let go of one another, making up for lost time. They walked into her apartment, shut the door and resumed their string of kisses to make up for the years they had resisted.
Derek picked Emily up by the waist and she wrapped her legs around him, holding one another as though their very lives depended on it. He began to trail his kisses down her neck as Emily clung to him with every fiber of her being and whispered his name over and over; lost in the moment she knew she had dreamed of for so many years.
They slowly made their way to her bedroom, shedding their clothes piece by piece before falling gently onto the bed. Their lips broke apart just long enough for Derek to gently kiss Emily's scars – one of his favorite features about her – before moving his eyes back above her own.
As they took a moment to just stare into one another's eyes, she finally said the words she had been hiding for so long: "I love you." And he echoed her words as they leaned into one another once more, lips meeting with a not simply a desire, but a need of pure survival. Because they knew tonight was the true test of their relationship – the final chance to act upon the emotions they had been dancing around all these years and to welcome the gift they had been given – and they didn't intend to waste a single second any longer. So the rest of the night was lost in only each other as they made love softly and slowly, taking every moment to love and appreciate the rare, second chance they had been given.
That next morning, the sun crept its way into the bedroom, falling warmly on their faces, bare shoulders, and the sheets that covered their entangled bodies - Emily opened her eyes to find Derek kissing her hair tenderly as he stared down at her with the sweetest of smiles – with love, a love they knew would last always and forever.
She snuggled closer as he pulled her into him even more tightly. And they sleepily whispered those three powerful words once more. She knew she was still going to end her career at the BAU. But in this ending, something even more beautiful and lasting had begun. And finally, she felt it. This was the feeling she had been missing - this was the moment she was waiting for - this is what she had been looking for all along. And for once in her life, she felt home.
"They say every ending is also a beginning,
we just don't know it at the time.
I'd like to believe that's true"
-Emily Prentiss, Criminal Minds-