"Minimal Loss" – 4x03
"Millions and millions of years would still not give me half enough time to describe that tiny instant of all eternity when you put your arms around me and I put my arms around you. "
She hadn't hugged him after the explosion… even though she desperately wanted to. But she knew that if she did, she might never let him go.
So she waited until they were alone to hold him, to apologize, to thank him for saving her, as he always did and as he always would –
and now, she didn't mind one bit.
Everything had been going extremely well. Derek picked Emily up early and they got their morning coffee, as they usually did two or three times a week, and they went on their way to the FBI building to train before they went on to work. Both of the agents had to finish some paperwork before they were scheduled to go to Colorado together on a case.
So they trained hard as they did every week. They talked, joked and laughed – simply enjoying the presence of the other. But during hand-to-hand combat practice, the tides turned unexpectedly. Prentiss became very frustrated with Morgan when she felt he was being too easy on her. At first he insisted that he wasn't but the harder she pushed, the more honest he became. Their disagreement escalated when Prentiss insinuated that Morgan didn't think she was as prepared for the field as he was and insisted he treat her equally. But Morgan only backfired with the argument that she needed protection and that was what he was going to do as her partner. She exploded with the thought he didn't trust her and demanded that she was perfectly capable of taking care of herself. At that, Prentiss stormed off the training mat and Morgan could only call after her – but she wouldn't answer.
The morning passed with tension so thick everyone in the bullpen recognized that the two agents, who were usually the closest of them all, could barely even stand to look at one another. They sat as far away as they could in the round table room, intentionally waited for the other to leave the kitchen just to refill their coffee, and would consult with other agents on their case files rather than one another. Derek wasn't used to fighting with Prentiss - Reid, sometimes… Hotch, always… but neverPrentiss. Yet she was independent and he was a protector – a combination that would always create a battleground in their relationship.
He wanted to fix it, to make his world go back to normal but Emily wouldn't even look at him. So Derek went to the woman he always knew could help him straighten out an issue: Penelope Garcia. She welcomed her "Chocolate Thunder Divine" into her lair and he poured his heart out to her. Garcia listened intently, holding her tongue with her opinion that her two favorite agents should settle their love spat the old-fashioned way: by kissing and making up; and rather, told Derek what he already knew but always needed to be reminded of. She explained that Emily was about as stubborn and independent as they come, and her trust level was about as low as they come. So he needed to acknowledge Emily's abilities by showing that he did trust her in the field and she would trust him in return – but there was nothing wrong with protecting her.
Morgan left his "Baby Girl" on a mission to apologize to Emily, with the hope that they could start again in time for their case to Colorado. But as he approached the bullpen, he saw that Emily was coming down from Hotch's office with Reid in-tow. She approached him and began to speak, "Hey, I know things have been difficult this morning. Maybe we just need some time, you know?"
Derek was about to protest but Emily continued. "Even Hotch noticed our… well, unpleasantness this morning and he's decided it would be better if Reid and I take the trip to Colorado instead."
Derek stood looking at his partner completely dumb-founded. He had come with the sole purpose of making things right but here she came with just another glitch in the plan. "Emily, we can't keep doing this. We've got to work this out. You're my partner, we're going to disagree but you're also my friend and I hate the thought of us fighting. It's like the world is spinning backwards or something. I just need us to be okay. Just tell me what to do," Derek pleaded.
"Hey, it happens. Like I said, maybe we just need some time and it will all work itself out when it's supposed to." Emily replied in a professional manner even though it killed her.
She hated fighting with Morgan more than anything. But his treatment of her this morning had thrown her over the edge. There were still days when she felt she had to prove herself as a member of the team and if Morgan always had to be there to protect her, as much as she relished in the thought that he cared that much, she felt inadequate; and her stubborn pride got in the way of her common sense.
Completely defeated, Derek simply nodded and mumbled an almost incoherent "Okay."
"We'll be back before you know it, and maybe we can talk or something." Emily replied, and with that she walked towards her desk to grab her things.
The rest of the morning, Derek simply moped at his desk. He was trying to figure out how he would make things right when Emily returned but all he could do was think of how it could go wrong. He was lost in thoughts of his raven-haired partner when JJ rushed to turn his attention to the TV on the wall. As he finally understood the dire situation unfolding in Colorado, his heart dropped as his first thought was losing Prentiss, and never being able to make things right between them again. His fear, anger and most of all his guilt boiled over as he yelled for Hotch to take a look at the TV screen.
Within less than 5 minutes the team was on their way to Colorado to save their agents. Derek had been in a whirlwind rush to get out to the jet in time. But not before Penelope Garcia had pranced out to his desk in her teal blue pumps:
"Derek Morgan," she began in an authoritative voice to attempt to calm him down. "You listen to me. They are going to be just fine because you and the rest of my beautiful agents are going to bring them home safely. And you and my-lady Miss Prentiss will never even remember what you were fighting about this morning. Okay, my sweet Hershey's kiss?"
Though Derek wasn't so sure it would go that smoothly, he promised Garcia he would bring the whole team home and kissed her on the cheek as he dashed off to catch the plane.
The team arrived and the hours passed as the situation heightened. Derek could barely contain his joy when he found out Emily was still alive in the compound. At that, he swore to himself he would bring her out of there alive so he could apologize profusely.
But his heart crumbled when he thought he might never get that chance as he heard Prentiss tell Cyrus her true identity and his heart began pounding as he thought of what might happen to her. Each of the screams and moans that came from her as Cyrus beat her were like a knife straight to his heart. It should have been him in there. He would never have let this happen if everything had gone as planned with this case and he was in there to protect her.
Derek was livid with Hotch for not letting them go in right then and there. He listened as long as his heart could take it, but he had to stop before it killed him. Because he knew, had they not fought – had he not said what he said – it would be he and Emily in there. And he would have taken that beating ten times over if it meant she could stay safe.
So he had volunteered to try to make contact. He just wanted to hear her voice, to know she was still alive, to know he still had a chance to mend their partnership. When saw her foot in the window and heard her voice in his ear, he felt like his heart finally started beating again – he had another chance. So he willed her to hold on – for him – so he could make things right.
Derek had never felt so anxious in his life. They were finally going in to rescue their team and the families still trapped – but for Derek, it meant Emily would finally be safe again. He barreled through the doors of the compound, focused on the task at hand but visions of Emily still floated in the back of his mind.
And as he turned the corner, suddenly he could barely breathe. He saw her coming down the steps – bruised, beaten but above all, breathing. He rushed forward as he reached out to touch her, to ensure he wasn't hallucinating. But he felt her as he called her name to ask if she was all right. She responded by telling him about the explosives still in the building. He knew they had no time to waste as the women and children followed her to the exit but he didn't leave her side. He insisted she get out for her own safety but always stubborn and selfish, she wanted to get Reid out too.
Derek looked into her pleading eyes and promised her he would do just that, but he would not let her die in this place. He touched her once more as he looked at Rossi to take care of her and then glanced at his partner one more time. But screaming from behind him cut him off and he and Prentiss, always in sync, rushed into action. Derek yelled at Rossi to get the woman out of the building – but it was Prentiss he really meant for Rossi to keep safe.
He ran up to the chapel to find Reid and take care of the situation but as he saw the young girl's eyes and the box she held in her hands, he saw his life flash before his eyes. He rushed for cover, praying to see another day… praying to see Emily again.
As the smoke cleared, Emily looked frantically at the sight, willing Morgan and Reid to be alive as she called their names. Suddenly, two figures emerged from the rubble, and her heart caught in her throat. She rushed to hug Reid in an effort to reassure herself they had indeed made it out alive. And Emily looked over his shoulder to see her partner, her protector and her savior from this nightmare.
But she didn't hug Derek after the explosion… even though she desperately wanted to. But she knew that if she did, she might never let him go. So she chose to wait until they were alone to hold him, to apologize, to thank him for saving her, as he always did and as he always would – and now, she didn't mind one bit.
Derek went with Reid and Emily to the hospital, making sure they were both all right – more so Emily than anyone. Reid was one of his closest friends and of course he cared about him, but he knew what Prentiss had gone through. He had heard Cyrus beat her with absolutely no mercy and he couldn't do anything to stop her whimpers through it all, even if she was trying to protect others. Sometimes he hated that about her because it was what always got her injured, but her selflessness was also one of the things Derek Morgan loved most about his partner, and he was just thankful he had her here alive.
The team arrived at the airport a short while later, all ready to get some much-needed rest after this case. Derek attempted to stay with Emily the entire time, tending to her every need, but he realized she needed some time with Reid because of what they had gone through together. So he sat as close as he could, guilt brewing in his mind for what had passed between them the last time they were together – and he knew he wouldn't sleep until he made it right.
The plane landed and everyone made his or her way to exit. Derek followed close behind Emily, grabbing her bag for her. She stopped to look at him, "Derek, I'm fine. I can carry it."
"Prentiss you're injured and I'm not letting you hurt yourself anymore. Don't you think you've been through enough?" Derek countered. Emily couldn't argue with that and offered a small smile of thanks. "Look, next time I'm injured, you can carry my bag," he laughed. "Come on," he continued. "I'm your ride home."
Then Prentiss remembered he had driven her to the BAU and nerves began welling up in her stomach. They walked towards the car and Derek opened her door for her before setting their things in the back.
They drove in silence to Prentiss' place, both looking for the right words to say to fix whatever it was they shared. They arrived and Emily didn't argue as Derek brought her things upstairs. She let them both in and Morgan moved to set her things in the living room while Emily shut the door.
It was now or never, he thought. "Emily…" he began as he turned around to face her. But as he did, he saw her bounding towards him as she met his gaze with pleading eyes. She threw her arms around him and nuzzled her face into his neck, inhaling his familiar and comforting scent.
"Derek," she started through soft sniffs. His neck was wet from her tears. "I didn't mean for us to fight. I was wrong and stupid and stubborn and I wasn't fair to you at all. I'm so sorry."
His arms had wrapped around her and he only squeezed them tighter as she spoke, thanking Heaven she was alive. "Oh Emily no. I was wrong. Look I trust you… probably more than anyone. I trust you with my life. But I just want to keep you safe. It's my job - you're my partner – I can't lose you." He pulled back just enough to look into her eyes. "When I heard Cyrus hurting you…" his voice broke as he continued. "Emily I couldn't stand it. I didn't know what I'd do if I lost you… especially before I could apologize."
"You don't need to apologize. I overreacted."
She smiled as she cut him off. "Look, we were both wrong. We'll work on it, but we won't let it affect our work again. Deal?"
"Deal." Derek responded with a smile. They both moved on, because their fight the previous morning seemed trivial in comparison to the fear of losing one another. It was then the two agents realized how long they had been holding one another, and simultaneously allowed their hands to drop and took a quick step back in a moment of awkwardness and embarrassment. Nevertheless, they immediately longed for the warmth of the other they had both shared – but they pushed those thoughts out of their mind, trying to convince themselves that friends were all they could ever be – and that was true, for now.
So afternoon turned into night but Derek and Emily remained together, as the closest of friends – both merely thankful for the other while their silly dispute was long forgotten. So they played nerdy board games, cooked dinner together, watched movies and finally, fell asleep. Derek stayed on Emily's couch to make sure her wounds were healing, even driving her to the doctor for her follow-up appointment the next day. But she didn't argue – she secretly didn't want him to leave at all. Though she was still independent, she had finally come to understand just how lucky she was to have Derek Morgan there to have her back no matter what. And he knew he was just lucky to have her at all.