Missing Moments

Girls vs Boys (3x08)

Girls vs. Boys

3x08 – Children of the Dark

"We find delight in the beauty and happiness of children that makes the heart too big for the body. "- Ralph Waldo Emerson

It was about 5:00pm and it had been a long and tiring day but the BAU had finally caught their UnSub – this time, both of them. However, while the rest of the team was relieved, Emily was fuming with anger. Rarely had she been so furious with the politics of her job before. She hated that through protocol in the name of justice, the lives of children were forgotten. Derek had just informed her that the children they were looking after had to go back to their foster home – if one could even call it a home. Emily knew it was a miserable place unfit for children.

She looked longingly into the Government Issue SUV at the young boy and girl she had become so attached to in such a short amount of time. They were sitting contentedly in the back, both unaware that they would have to go back to the place they could never really call home; a place they despised. She would do anything to see that these kids didn't have to go back to such a horrible environment. She was lost in thought when she felt a gentle hand touch the back of her shoulder and a familiar voice call her name softly.

"Emily," Derek repeated. "You know we are going to have to take them back eventually." He said as she turned to meet his gaze. He could see the trace of tears welling in her eyes, a rare occurrence that almost startled him – Prentiss was rarely one to be affected by their job. But like him, she always had a special connection to the children they interacted with on cases like these. He didn't know the reason, but it was one of the things he loved most about his partner.

"It's not fair Morgan. You should have seen that woman! She had a padlock on the fridge and carried the key around on her neck. The woman wouldn't even let Tyler have a glass of milk unless it was mealtime! She and her husband don't care about these kids – they only care about the money they get from it. To them it's just a job." Emily had to stop and take a breath from her angry tirade. Morgan took this opportunity to try to calm her. He was just as upset as she was but he knew they had to follow protocol no matter how much it pained him.

"I know Em but Social Services is going to do an investigation. And we'll make sure they do it as fast as possible. You know I don't want them to go back as much as you do. But we just don't have a choice Princess" Derek told her in a soft and comforting tone as he brought his hand up to rest on her shoulder.

"I know." Emily began sadly but smiling half-heartedly, thankful that Morgan always tried to comfort her in times like these. "Come on then. Let's do what we have to" Emily finished dejectedly. She turned to get into the car but Morgan was too quick for her and opened the passenger door himself for her to climb in. He rarely did things like this because she was so independent but he knew how much the little things could always make a person feel better, so he was going to make every effort to make her happy despite the situation. She gave him another weak but thankful smile and he made his way to the driver's side.

"Agent Emily, do we have to go back there?" little Anna questioned apprehensively from the backseat. She had sensed something was off when the two agents who had taken such good care of her and her brother so cheerfully got in the car so quietly.

Derek and Emily shared a sad and knowing glance before Emily turned to face the children. "Social Services is going to begin an investigation into your foster home" she began, instantly recognizing the disappointment on Anna and Tyler's once hopeful faces. "But for now, I'm afraid we have to take you back."

"But we have to make one quick stop first if that's okay with the both of you" Derek abruptly stated.

"Okay," Anna exclaimed, certainly not eager to go back anytime soon. She missed the warmth and love of her parents when they were still alive but had resigned to her new life, however different and somber it was.

Emily looked at Derek with wide and questioning eyes. He simply looked back at her with a smile and a look that simply said, "Trust me." And for Emily, despite her confusion amidst her sadness, that was enough.

They drove for about 10 minutes but it seemed like only seconds as the whole car talked excitedly and with ease about everything they could think of while trying to forget where they eventually had to go. Derek told the kids stories of when he was their age and about how much trouble he would get into. They both smiled and laughed at his stories while Emily rolled her eyes, not at all surprised at Derek's crazy stories – adding playfully that they should take a lesson from Derek's stories about how not to behave in school.

Emily in turn told them about all of the places she had travelled and lived as a little girl because of her mother's job, eliciting a strong desire in Anna to become an Ambassador one day so she too could travel all she wanted and leave the foster system forever.

Morgan and Prentiss thought that perhaps they had gotten the kids' minds off of the fact that they had to go home, but they noticed Tyler would still glance out the window at the moving cars with a distant and gloomy look that reminded them they couldn't mask the truth for long.

A debate about mystery books was occurring, in which Derek and Tyler swore the Hardy Boys were the best but Anna and Emily were determined to change their minds by expressing their opinion that no one was better than Nancy Drew, when Morgan pulled into a parking lot off the main road. Emily and the children looked out the front window to see a large building with a sign indicating they were in fact at a pizza arcade.

"Is this where we're going?" Anna asked hopefully as she looked at Derek. Emily too looked at Derek with curious eyes, completely oblivious to his secret plans.

"Well you know I was just so hungry after all the craziness that's happened today that I thought it might be okay if we all grabbed a pizza for dinner together before we had to take you back. I mean… that is if you are hungry too?" Derek said as he turned to face Tyler and Anna.

"But… we don't have any money," Tyler began in a defeated tone.

Derek cut him off with a schoolboy grin, "Nonsense! It's my treat! Now Emily might be able to eat a whole pizza by herself but I sure can't! I've got to have someone to share it with!"

"Hey!" Emily said as she playfully slapped Derek on the arm as she caught onto his comment causing the children to lose their nervousness and laugh along with the agents.

Anna and Tyler's faces had instantly lit up with joy at such a special treat. They had parked and when they saw the two agents begin descending out of the SUV, they bounced out of the car as fast as they could. Anna couldn't contain her joy as she reached for Emily's hand to walk across the parking lot and into the restaurant. "We never go out to dinner. We don't evenget pizza!"

Emily couldn't help but smile at the young girl's excitement but she was beaming when she looked up at Derek. He never ceased to surprise her with his goodness towards her and towards others. But especially towards children – he had such a way with them that Emily couldn't help but feel proud that he was her partner. She couldn't wait to thank him for making the effort to make this easier on the kids but even more so, easier on her.

The group of four made their way inside and Derek instantly picked the booth closest to all of the arcade games. Emily slid in first with Anna by her side while Derek and Tyler sat opposite the girls. They again debated over the best kind of pizza, girls claiming one kind while the boys claimed another. But they finally decided to get both so everyone would be happy – and to settle the debate through a taste-testing contest.

Soon after, a sweet-looking elderly woman came over to their table to take their order. "Well what would this nice looking family like to have to eat today?" She queried with a smile.

Thought the kids were too caught up in their excitement, Derek and Emily both immediately noticed the family comment but decided to ignore it; not wanting to draw any further attention to the children's sad circumstances. Emily answered by ordering their drinks and pizzas with a cordial smile and the waitress went on her way to the kitchen after stating it would take about 20 minutes to have their order ready.

The table was about to begin talking excitedly but Emily reached for her wallet in her purse, "20 minutes should be just enough time to spend this wouldn't you say?" Emily asked as she handed Tyler and Anna equal amounts of money for the arcade.

The children's eyes went wide with shock at such generous and special treatment. Derek just smiled broadly at Emily, always amazed at her generosity. The children were hesitant to take the money at first but after much prodding from both agents, they finally went off to take a rare chance to simply act as normal kids in the arcade area.

Emily and Derek looked on, both not unaware of how they resembled parents at the moment. But they didn't seem to notice in their pride that even through their work of horror and bloodshed; they were still able to put smiles on these young faces. But both were dreading the necessary task that was approaching far too quickly for their liking. Emily was the first to break the silence, "What's going to happen to them?"

"I really don't know Em." Derek answered truthfully. "All we can do is hope that Social Services does their job and puts these kids with a real family who actually cares about them. But even if we have to go back to D.C. that doesn't mean we can't still be a part of these kids lives." Emily looked at Derek expectantly; still unsure of where he was going with his statement but she allowed him to continue. "We can always keep in touch. Just because they don't get attention in that home doesn't mean we can give it to them. We can call them, write them or email them and find out how they are from time to time. We're not going to let them just walk out of our lives when we take them back to that awful place. After all, you're going to need to write Anna's reference letter when she applies to be an Ambassador" Derek added with a wink but serious smile.

Emily smiled at this, now more hopeful than she had been at the prospect that Anna and Tyler's lives might turn out all right. After all, now they had she and Derek to help ensure that happened. "I don't usually get so attached, it's unprofessional" Emily began, surprised at herself for only a second until the image of an adorable, blond-haired boy flashed into her memory, causing her to smile. She quickly pulled herself out of her thoughts to continue but Derek noticed her far off look.

"I do." Derek was quick to answer. "It's because you always want to fix the wrong done, because you're compassionate, because you love. You hate to see injustice in the world and that's why you're so good at what you do. It's why you're going to make a great mom one day." Emily scoffed at this but Derek looked at her with supportive eyes. "It's okay to care once in a while Em. It's okay to be human."

Emily didn't know what to say – everything Derek was telling her was what she had always hoped for herself but still felt she could never attain. But he saw straight through her detached demeanor into her true self. She was always astounded at how well Derek Morgan knew her, sometimes even better than she knew herself. "Well I don't know about me but I know that everything you just described could be said about you. You have a way with kids, with all people. You make the ones around you feel good, and that is a very special gift."

The partners shared a look, words unspoken but plenty of meaning conveyed, as if they had been doing this for decades. Emily was the first to speak again as she reached to touch Derek's hand as it rested on the table, "Thank you for this, really. Thank you for making these kids feel better… for making me feel better" she stated meaningfully as she looked Derek in the eyes.

"Always" Derek stated, and he meant it with all of his heart.

Soon Anna and Tyler returned to the table full of smiles and laughter. The pizza arrived not very long after and they all devoured their food in between more girls versus boys debates and unending thank-yous from the kids for all the FBI agents had done for them. But when the food was gone and all the games had been played, they all knew what had to come next. Derek paid the bill and the mood of the makeshift, temporary family instantly changed from one of joy and delight to one of solemnity.

They all made their way to the car. Derek and Emily tried to lighten the mood with more stories but this time the children's smiles were hollow – each wishing they could have a family like this all the time and feeling a happy day like this might never come again.

Derek drove as slow as he dared, taking back roads all the way. But eventually he had to go to the house all his passengers despised, himself included. He cringed with anger as he saw the woman standing on the porch, looking more like a prison warden than a mother as the refrigerator key dangled about her neck just as Emily had said.

She was waiting for Tyler and Anna because Emily had reluctantly called her to tell her they were on their way, not at all surprised the woman had responded with no compassion or interest at all in the children's well being.

They parked and each agent shared a moment with the children before they grudgingly took them inside. Morgan and Prentiss returned to their car defeated and depressed. But as the sounds of gunshots rang out, a whirlwind of events occurred in a matter of tense and fearful seconds. But through it all, Emily, Derek, Tyler and Anna's prayers were answered.

After their interviews Derek sat with Tyler and Emily who held a still shaken Anna under the tree on the lawn. They all wanted to be as far away from the house as possible while they waited for Social Services to finish their investigation. A Social Services worker came up to them as the sun was finally setting behind the house and informed the children that charges would not be pressed and they would be moved to another home, together. Derek and Emily spoke concernedly with the woman, expressing their opinions that they would hear if Tyler or Anna were treated poorly in this new environment. But the woman assured them that she would personally see to it that they were placed in the best foster home in the system.

Goodbyes were then said once more, but this time, a dark cloud had been lifted off of the children and the agents. They each promised to keep contact with one another as they moved on to a new and better foster home. And after hugs and a few tears from all of them, they all went their separate ways.

Derek drove a now content Emily back to the police station. He was formulating what he would say to Hotch about their lateness when he looked over at his partner who was lost in deep thought with a smile on her face. She had taken a child in before, and she knew she had the means to do it again. Emily finally noticed Derek's stare and opened up to let him know that she was pondering a plan of her own for the young girl still left homeless because of this case.

Though Morgan was unsure Hotch would go for the idea, he told Emily that he supported her decision no matter what. "I think you'd be great for her Em, I really do. She'd be lucky to have someone like you. You have to do what you feel is right for you and you know I'll support you every step of the way. Always."

Emily thanked Derek, so grateful for someone like him that she could always count on – who knew her inside and out. So even when Hotch denied her request to adopt Carrie later that night, Emily had Derek's shoulders to lean on when they landed in D.C. So he took her back to her place and they watched movies together while making plans to visit Tyler and Anna someday soon... together.

Then, they may have just been close friends and partners but they both meant the world to the other one, creating a deep and special connection only these two BAU team members shared – only they didn't know it yet. But in time, they would understand just how deeply emotional their connection was and then, nothing would ever be the same.

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