"Seems like to me the stars don't shine so bright,
Seems like to me the sun has lost its light,
Seems like to me there's nothing going right,
Since you went away."
-Kris Delmhorst, Since You Went Away
"I just… I just miss him. And I hate being so alone."
– Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games
"The silence isn't so bad, till I look at my hands and feel sad. Because the spaces between my fingers are right where yours fit perfectly."
- Owl City, Ocean Eyes
The familiar ring of the cell phone woke Derek out of his slumber early that morning. He groaned as he reached to answer the phone for what he prayed wasn't a case, but he stopped to look at the photo on the screen. It was he and Emily dancing at JJ's wedding and they had never looked so happy. "Hello?" he spoke groggily into the phone.
"Top of the Morning to My Royal Hotness," Garcia squeaked in a British accent with far too much energy for that early in the morning.
"Baby girl… number one, we are back across the pond remember? Number two, please tell me we do not have a case," Derek pleaded.
Garcia giggled as she continued her accent-laden speech, "Hate to break it to you 007 but the BAU needs us. I know we thought we had one more day to recover from the jetlag but King Hotch needs us or it shall be off with our heads!"
"Alright, alright beautiful. I'll pick you up in an hour. Do you still have everyone's gifts?"
"I might have eaten some of Henry's Cadbury chocolate but he'll never know," Penelope said mischievously.
"Baby girl, you're sweet enough already. See you soon."
"Cheerio!" Garcia quipped.
Derek breathed as he rolled over and chose to lay in bed for another minute as he looked at his alarm clock, ticking down the minutes until he'd see her again. It wasn't really that long by today's standards. In the world of modern technology, texting, video chatting, emails and phone calls should have been enough. For most people in long distance relationships, it was. But for him, nothing could stop him from counting down the hours until he could see her face to face in front of him and hold her in his arms.
After all, they had only just begun their relationship when she left. They had more than six years to make up for and, with an ocean between them, that was more than difficult to accomplish.
However, he knew it was the right thing to do. It was he who had encouraged her to take the job in the London in the first place. It pained him but he knew it was what needed to be done. He thought of the old saying, "When you love something, you have to set it free." While part of him wanted to find the person who said that first and hurl them through a window Derek Morgan style, the gentleman in him thought better of it. As he lay in bed, he smiled as he thought back to that day of decision.
He watched her as her head rested on the pillow, her dark hair splayed across the ivory sheets as her eyes sparkled up at him brighter than the morning sun that streamed through the windows. It was in that moment, when he thought about just how beautiful and perfect she looked to him, that he knew he had to do it.
"Em, you have to do it." He suddenly stated with purpose as he propped up on his elbow in the bed.
"Wait, what? Do what?" Emily questioned, imagining a million silly things he could be talking about, never once landing on his true topic.
"Take the job," he said even more seriously.
"Excuse me?" Emily sat up instantly as she processed the shock that her boyfriend actually wanted her to move 5,000 miles away.
"I mean it. You need to take this job." He said with even more assurance.
"Where is this coming from?" Emily asked worriedly. "We're finally together and you suddenly want me to move halfway across the world? Do you think us getting together was a mistake?"
"No, no… Not at all." he started as he moved closer to wrap his reassuring arms around her. "Loving you is the only thing I have ever been more than one-hundred percent sure about in my life. But, listen…"
She looked at him with a smile that replaced her momentary anxiety but still braced for what he could possibly say.
"Emily. Why did you go to Yale?"
"You know why. It was my parents' alma-mater and they got me in. Trust me, with my mother, I was going there the moment I was born."
"Okay, so why did you start working for Interpol?"
"You already know that too," she began with exasperation. "My mother pulled some strings without my knowledge and by graduation, I was told to report to work at Interpol the next week. I couldn't disappoint her. I didn't even know what she had gotten me into. But, you know how she is; well, was. She's better now."
"Hmm-hmmm, whatever you say," Derek smirked before dodging the blow he knew was coming.
"Hey!" Emily exclaimed, mostly joking as she jabbed him on his rock-solid chest eliciting laughter from both of them. "She is getting better. But she has a long way to go."
"A very, very long way to go," Derek couldn't help but add as he pulled Emily back to his chest and leaned against the head of the bed.
"Okay. Next question. Why did you come to the BAU? I mean of course other than to hook up with the FBI's hottest agent you had heard so much about," he winked, unable to resist the urge to continue teasing her.
"In your dreams," she rolled her eyes. "Seriously, again, you know the answer. Declan had to be safe. We moved him here and the government made sure I worked close enough to him if something ever happened."
"Precisely," Derek commented.
"Derek, where are you going with this?" Emily pleaded, frustrated that she didn't understand his line of questioning.
"Hang with me Princess. I'll get to it. Okay, why did you move to Paris?"
"Seriously?" Emily asked in shock as she sat up and turned to face him. "Other than the fact that Doyle had impaled me in his effort to kill me?" Derek winced at the emphasis she put on those words. "I had to leave to keep all of you safe. I had to make sure he didn't hurt our family any more."
"Alright, last question," Derek began but Emily's eyebrows began to raise in protest. He raised his hands in defense, "I promise."
"Fine," she said with a small grin.
"Why wouldn't you take that job? Why would you stay here?"
"For you," Emily breathed instantly, as if it was the most obvious and only answer possible.
"Exactly," Derek responded. "Em, everything you have ever done in your life has been for someone else. And that's one of the things I love most about you. You're completely selfless. Everything you ever do is to help another person. I love that. More people should think like that; but, babe you've never done anything for you. I know how much your face lights up when you think about this opportunity. It has you written all over it! International spies, saving people from the bad guys, not to mention living in a historic city where you can get your nerd on."
Emily couldn't help but widen her grin as Derek continued. However, she couldn't say she was wholeheartedly sure that is what she wanted.
"Derek, I know it's a dream job but you're here. The BAU family is here. Even if I quit the BAU I don't want to leave everyone."
"Because you're staying for them, for us?" Derek asked her pointedly. "Trust me Princess, I am the last person to ever want you more than 5 miles away from me much less 5,000 but you need to think about this."
Emily's confusion only worsened at his words. While the idea of the job was beyond perfect, she couldn't think of leaving everyone again. Derek was right, all of her decisions were based on the feelings and safety of others. She'd focused on everyone else so much that she had forgotten what it was she wanted. The only thing she could really be sure of at this point was Derek. She loved him and he loved her. No matter what jobs they had and what continent they lived on, that was enough.
"I know it's scary," Derek started again, bringing her out of her thoughts, "but you need to give it a try. 6 months? 8 months? 12? We'll see how it works. We'll make a schedule, visit each other as often as we can. When the time is up, if you're happy where you are, I'll come with you for good. Or, you might want to come back and we'll make that work too the way we do now. All I know is, it's you and me, everything else is secondary. We'll figure it out."
"Now who is making decisions for someone else?" Emily challenged.
"I've made decisions for myself my entire life. And that's what I'm doing now. I love you. I want to be with you no matter what. But I want you to be happy. If that means I move to London with you forever, I'd do it in a heartbeat." Emily couldn't hide her smile at his sincerity. She took a deep breath, pondering her options in her head for what felt like an eternity to Derek.
"8 months," Emily nodded. "That's all I can do away from you all the time. No matter what we decide after that, just promise me we will stay together."
"Always," Derek sighed happily as he kissed her with a smile and reassurance. Emily kissed him back eagerly before breaking away with a quick breath.
"No more than a month though," she demanded.
"What?" Derek questioned, hoping to move her back down into the bed where they had been headed.
"We cannot go more than one month without seeing each other in person," Emily clarified.
"Of course," he agreed sweetly, "I wouldn't have it any other way. Hotch might have to get another jet since I'll be using the BAU's quite frequently," he winked before leaning in to kiss her again. But it was a quick one because Emily's mind was racing with lists of things she would need to do for this big move. She hopped up off the bed to Derek's chagrin.
"Whoa Princess," Derek chuckled as he grabbed her arm, knowing he was about to lose her to a morning of excited planning and organization. "There will be plenty of time to plan... after," he smiled seductively.
"After what?" Emily teased him, unable to resist.
"Making up for 8 months away from you," Derek finished as he pulled her back down to the bed eliciting laughter from the both of them.
The rest of the morning passed with a combination of love-making and list-making. Within three weeks, Emily was packed and ready to embark on her new adventure – hers and only hers. While Derek's heart was broken, he knew he was doing the right thing. He wanted Emily to be happier than she had ever known. He knew he had to give this to her.
It was the day of her departure. The day Derek had dreaded since the night of JJ's wedding. He knew he was mostly to blame for this but even that couldn't stifle the pain he felt as the minutes ticked away before he would have to tell her goodbye, even if only for a little while.
Emily came out of the ticket line with her boarding pass as Derek rolled her suitcase near the security checkpoint.
"This is it," Derek started. He tried to sound cheerful but neither one of them were fooled.
"22 days, 7 hours and 15 minutes," Emily stated as her watering eyes threatened to flood over.
"14 minutes," Derek corrected immediately.
"Think you'll be able to stand the wait?" Emily grinned.
"I waited 6 years the first time around. 22 days will be nothing," Derek responded, resisting the urge to add "nothing but torture" since he wanted to give her the moment she deserved. Yet, the more he thought about it, the more he cursed himself for his idea. Chivalry often comes with a price.
"I hope so," Emily sniffed, tears flowing freely now.
"Hey, come here," Derek whispered soothingly as he pulled her into his arms. She buried her head in his chest as her arms reached up and curved their way around his neck. Derek squeezed her tightly as he clung to her with every inch of his being. Nothing could ever come close to the way he felt when he thought he might lose her forever on that warehouse floor, but he knew that this still came dangerously close because now. He could stop her but he told himself he couldn't be selfish. He swallowed his feelings and reached up to look at her.
"It's going to be fine. You're going on an adventure all for you. This is your life, your decision, all for you and I am right behind you every step of the way," he brushed her hair away from her face as they sniffed away their tears in near perfect synchronization. "God, how am I supposed to let you go?" Derek wavered, leaning his forehead against her own.
"Derek," Emily breathed.
"No, Em," he stopped her before she could back out. "You have to do this. I want you to. I know you want it too. We're going to make this work. I promise. Before you know it, I'll be in London for the Olympics, then we'll blink and the 8 months will be up. But in the meantime we'll call, text, email, video chat and you know Garcia will sneak in more than necessary," he laughed as she smiled. "We'll see each other at least once a month and I'll make sure you aren't getting too much of an accent," he joked, trying to smile before their tears overtook them again. "It's a new beginning and it's scary but we'll make it because I love you."
"I love you. Always," Emily said weakly, trying not to cry.
Derek pulled her further into his arms and kissed her for what felt like the thousandth time that day but as they breathlessly pulled apart, it still wasn't enough. He escorted her to the gate, his hand gripping hers as long as they could hold on until the line forced them apart. Derek looked on as she finally made it through security and she turned to see him one more time.
"I love you," she mouthed across the airport.
"I love you, Emily," he whispered back with a wave. And suddenly, she was gone.
Chills ran through his body as he remembered the pain of that day. Derek rolled over with a tear in his eye as he finally pulled out of his daydream only to spring out of bed when he noticed he was already 15 minutes behind schedule. But he found joy in the fact that he was 15 minutes closer to one of his daily calls with Emily and only five and a half more months until they could be on the same continent, whichever one it might be.
This was Derek's first real case without Emily and he dreaded every moment of it. He had intentionally avoided life at the BAU without her as long as possible. It only reminded him of when she was gone before, but that time, he didn't really know she was only a phone call away. He had tried to get over the pain those seven months had brought. Knowing she was back should have been enough. But knowing how life stopped when she left, assuming he would never see her again, only made him realize now how he never wanted to be without her again and how much more he worried about her every day.
Now, it was time to get back to the job he loved. He wasn't sure what to expect he would come back to so he prepared for anything. He had taken the week she left to help her pack then it was time for his Olympic security training. Before he knew it, he was in London with Emily and life seemed right again. Even when he was away working, his heart felt lighter knowing that she was breathing the same air he was… knowing that if anything happened to her, he could save her much faster than if he were on another continent. But now he had to focus on catching the bad guys like he always had.
He made his way to the FBI office and thankfully Garcia was there to help distract him with gift discussions and new agent introductions before he was thrown into the new case. Keeping busy should have helped to keep his mind off of her absence but the case had the opposite effect. He would catch himself looking for her on the plane, in their command station, in the car, or running after a suspect… just expecting her to be running in perfect synchronization beside him. For Derek, these remaining months couldn't go by any more quickly.
But the team lived on, good guys saving the world from the bad guys. They had hired a new agent but the hole Emily left would never truly be filled. After all they went through, after the family they had become, everyone would always miss Emily. Garcia especially missed Emily because she knew just how lost Derek felt, not simply without his girlfriend, but without his partner. He and Emily had been so in sync, worked so seamlessly, and knew the other's move before they knew it themselves sometimes. Garcia knew Derek would be processing all sorts of tough changes but would pretend like it didn't bother him. So she made sure she was ready for him when he came back from his first case without Emily.
After wrapping the case, Derek walked into Hotch's office following his conversation with Agent Blake. Garcia was still talking to the new agent and hoping Derek didn't wander into his office before she could finish her set up.
"I've got those consulting case files Emily sent back with us," Derek began.
"Thanks, Morgan," Hotch responded as he grabbed the files.
"And I'll have this case's brief for you tonight," Derek finished.
"I don't think so," Hotch countered. "Take it from a man who put his family on hold for his job one too many times. Go home. Go call Emily," he said with a smile and a nod of his head. "And that's an order."
Derek couldn't help but smile back before making his way out the door. He was immediately met by Garcia.
"Oh my darling Chocolate Thunder, I need you to come with me," Penelope insisted as she grabbed Derek by the arm but he stopped.
"Baby Girl, I'd love to but I really want to just go home, call Emily and sleep," Derek said exhaustedly.
"Oh my gallant Prince, I am so far ahead of you," Penelope responded, pulling Derek closer to his office. She arrived and looked at his tired face with a knowing smile and an over dramatic wave of her hands as she opened his office door. As the door gave way to a full view, Derek's eyes caught the flickering candles distributed throughout his office and his ears processed soft piano music playing in the background as he inhaled a whiff of Chinese food.
"Garcia," Derek smirked as he flashed his sparkling eyes in her direction. "What did you do?"
"What didn't she do?" a voice arose from the computer speakers on the table.
"Emily?" Derek spoke excitedly as he rushed around the table to see the screen.
"Hi Derek," Emily said softly as her eyes lit up her already beautiful smile. "Gosh, I've missed you."
"It's only been four days," Penelope joked at the lovesick teenagers with a hint of jealousy.
"Oh Derek, are she and Kevin still not speaking?" Emily asked, knowing the reason behind that tone and eliciting a nod from Derek.
"Penelope," Emily began with a sisterly smile. "I think your Romeo might just need some attention. Don't be mad at him forever. You know you love him and I know that scares you but you know Kevin loves you," Prentiss nodded toward Garcia. "Take it from the girl who always ran. Give him a chance, commitment is a good thing when you find a person who loves you that much," she finished with a smile in Derek's direction.
Penelope looked off into the distance, processing what Emily had said. She did miss Kevin and they did love each other. As usual though, her fear of commitment had gotten in the way and caused yet another argument. "Why do you have to be so brilliant?" Penelope smiled toward Emily's image on the computer screen.
"It's not brilliance, Garcia," Emily smiled. "I've just learned from my mistakes and I don't want you to do what I did. Go ahead, go call him."
"Do it, Baby Girl," Derek winked. "Kevin's the only man I'd be okay letting you go to."
"Okay, okay! Since when did it become you two telling me what to do in relationships? I remember trying so hard to push you two together for years," Garcia grinned. "I'm just glad to see it finally worked!"
"Me too, Penelope" Derek smiled, but his eyes were only on Emily.
"Alright, alright. I know my cue to leave. Now for some privacy. Put that brilliance to use and plan to make me some beautiful mocha godbabies already. But only once I leave. No one wants to reenact the great shower peepshow," Penelope shuddered as Derek and Emily acquired matching blushes. "I think those across the pond are still recovering," she quipped as they all remembered Garcia walking in on the two in the shower in Emily's flat. In her defense, Emily was supposed to be helping Derek fix the plumbing but things had quickly escalated. "And on that note, I'll leave you to it," Garcia winked suggestively as she scurried out the door.
"It must be, what? 11 o'clock there already?" Derek asked.
"So? I'm the boss, I make my own hours remember?" Emily smiled reassuringly. "It's just like before, we share dinner, talk about the case… and now it might be even better because you don't steal my food," she winked.
"Hey!" Derek pretended to be offended before turning serious. "I miss this. I miss you."
"I know, I miss you too. But it won't be long before I come visit."
"I'm counting down the days, Princess. So, about that peepshow," Derek began as he raised his eyebrows suggestively at Emily, who only laughed.
Garcia set up video dinner dates at least twice a week for Derek and Emily to ensure Derek's sanity in the remaining months without Emily. She also made sure to always set one up after the team had wrapped a case. At least two phone calls occurred daily along with a multitude of texts. Both Morgan and Prentiss made the most of their new long distance situation. They let their jobs consume them to forget that neither of them were truly fulfilled. By being apart, they could never truly feel complete. To both, the eight month countdown became a greater source of focus as every day went by. They would visit one another, long weekends here and there, but it was never enough. And every departure became that much harder than the last. Yet, in the face of each other, they had to stay strong, no matter how hard it was.
Another case, another killer behind bars. Derek hurried off the plane, favoring his left side where the bullet had grazed him. He had had a hard enough time convincing the team he was fine and calming Garcia down on the phone. But with enough coaxing, he had made her promise not to tell Emily. It was so much later than usual, he was sure Emily was already asleep so they could Skype tomorrow. Now, he just wanted to go home and get some much-needed rest so he could wake up and catch up with Emily.
Before he could even make it through the elevator doors, Garcia accosted him with worry then excitement. "Come with me, my Chocolate Prince," Penelope began. "I have a surprise for you."
"Baby Girl," Derek said with exhaustion. "I just need to drop of these files and go home. And so should you. It's late. Plus, Emily isn't answering her texts, it's too late. She's asleep."
"Just trust me," Penelope grinned as she practically pulled him to his office. She opened the door to reveal lit candles, a tablecloth on the table and two place settings. "Surprise!"
"Baby Girl, this is too much. You don't have to do this all the time," Derek smiled gratefully.
"But I want to," Garcia grinned.
"It's three in the morning for Emily. You can't tell me she's awake?" Derek asked.
"Oh she's awake," Garcia responded with a wink. "She waited up for you."
"Emily?" Derek spoke with bewilderment to his blank computer screen. Emily's voice usually greeted him as he walked into the door.
"Oh I forgot the laptop in the lair," Garcia exclaimed a bit too dramatically. "I'll be right back. You just sit right here and don't move," she said as she pushed Derek down in his chair facing the door.
Garcia moved quickly toward the door and smiled as she backed out of it, closing it upon her exit. Derek was so confused that it took him a few seconds to process what had just been revealed behind the door.
Emily was standing in the corner of his office, her formerly hidden frame now in full view of him from his seat. She wore her red dress, his favorite, and her hair was curled and flowing past her shoulders the way he loved.
"Emily?" Derek began with confusion as he stood up from the table.
"Hi Derek," Emily smiled as she took a step forward.
"What are you doing here?" he asked with excitement as he made his way toward her and placed his hands on her waist.
"I came home," Emily began.
"But I was visiting you in two weeks. We only have three more months. I thought you had all those cases at work. You were so busy."
"I was but that doesn't matter," she said as she placed one hand on his chest and one gently hovered over his left side. She looked up into his eyes to tell him the truth.
"Garcia promised she wouldn't tell you," Derek breathed as looked down with a shake of his head.
"Don't blame her. I pried it out of her. I could tell something was wrong. And since she knew I was planning a surprise already…" Emily trailed off.
"Em," Derek began as he brought his forehead to hers.
"No, Derek. Listen," she stopped him so she could get the words she needed out. "I'm glad you're okay. I was worried sick but it's not the real reason I came." Derek looked at her, sensing something big was coming and he felt his nerves stand up on edge with fear. "You told me that this was about finding myself. And you were right. I finally did. I realized that without you, I can't be myself. I can't sleep without dreaming of you, I can't eat without thinking about what you're having, I can't think about a case without thinking of what you would do. Everything I do, I try but I can't focus on anything but being here, with you. I am my self, my best self, when I'm with you. And I can't live another day apart from you Derek. I was planning to tell you soon but when I heard what happened out there, I knew I couldn't wait any longer. I want to come home, for good," she finished and kissed him before his chivalry and stubbornness could force him to argue with her.
And Emily did come home. Although Derek told her he would move to London immediately, she knew she didn't want to be away from their friends. So she had her things shipped home and she and Derek moved in together after a winter wedding, officiated by Rossi, who pulled double duty by giving Emily away.
Derek continued saving the world from the devious and twisted minds of criminals while Emily saved it in other capacities. She was done with the world of killers and heartbreak. So she continued saving the world by saving the minds of the future generation. She put her experience and love of literature to use to become a professor at Georgetown University. Her tenure was briefly interrupted by the answered prayers of Garcia that happened to be Penelope's god-daughter, Maggie, or Margaret Ellie Morgan. And only shortly after, James Declan Morgan completed the ensemble.
Derek solved cases and fought the bad guys. Emily read Shakespeare and graded papers. They carpooled, packed lunches, had birthday parties, soothed crying eyes in the middle of the night, and bandaged scraped knees. They took morning runs in the park that always turned into races, watch movies snuggled on the couch while sharing Chinese food (Emily frequently dressed in a well-worn and very familiar BAU training shirt), they fell asleep together as they took turns reading Vonnegut books deep into the night, and they destroyed rundown houses on the weekends only to build them back into beautiful homes for those in need. They had Garcia, Kevin, JJ, and Will and the rest of the BAU team over frequently - the children played while the parents fostered their deep friendships over dinner and wine.
Their lives had simply become normal and routine; full of little, mundane yet marvelous and meaningful moments that made up a perfect life together... and that is exactly how they wanted it to be because that's how it all started, really. They had each other, they loved each other, and that was all that mattered; everything else was secondary… Always.
"I've always believed in savoring the moments. In the end, they are the only things we'll have." - Anna Godbersen, The Luxe
"Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory." - Dr. Seuss
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