"The worst dream of the night, when you are parted from someone you love and you do not know exactly where he is, but you know that he is in the presence of danger. You are tormented by a desire to keep the one you love safe."
- Whitney Otto, How to Make an American Quilt -
"Hey babygirl," Derek answered the phone with a smile. Emily looked over at him while struggling to get Carter and Maggie out of their wet, snowy clothes. All they really wanted to do was dance and jump about gleefully to the Christmas music playing in the background. She assumed the tech was just checking in on the undercover operation as usual, but she shivered as she suddenly saw his smile drop and his eyes grow wide. "Someone's here," Derek whispered in her direction. She could read him better than anyone. Prentiss finally realized this was it; this is what they had been sent here to do. Her adrenaline immediately began pumping but she tried to remain calm.
"Okay Garcia calm down. Is the team on their way?" But before his question could be answered, the line went dead. The tech's voice was only replaced by a flat beeping. "Garcia? Garcia?" he asked again before throwing the phone to the ground.
"They cut the lines." Derek began again as he turned to face his partner; his calm manner was quickly erased as he frantically grabbed for the two older children while Emily reached for the baby. As they started to stand, the lights above flickered and the music skipped. It happened once more until the house became deathly quiet and frightfully dark as the sun set outside the windows, allowing only a glimmer of light to Emily's eyes immediately found his in the midst of the rambunctious children, all still unaware of the changing atmosphere.
The makeshift family hastily made their way across the master bedroom to the large walk-in closet that enclosed the hidden panic room. They could only hope they weren't too late.
"Sir, I have lost all contact with Morgan and Prentiss," Garcia exclaimed frantically from her lair into her microphone.
"We're on our way," Hotch said in a tone much less monotone than usual, his worry over his two agents betraying him. "Keep me posted."
"Yes sir," she responded, the tears now streaming down her face. "Just get them out of there."
"We will Garcia," he replied with a firm kindness. "I won't let this team be broken apart again," Hotch added to assure the technical analyst but also himself as he drove along with the rest of the team across the city.
Meanwhile, back at the house, Derek rushed his partner and the children into the doors within the closet and into the safe room. "Emily, no matter what happens, you stay here and keep the children safe," Derek commented as he bent down to place the kids on the floor and moved to look into her wide eyes.
"No Derek, I am your partner, we are in this together. I am coming with you!" she fought back instantly.
"These kids have lost enough already," he whispered quickly. "We have to keep them safe."
"But Derek I can help," Emily protested, her independence kicking into full gear.
"Emily I have already lost you once, I will not let it happen again!" Derek said with a fear in his eyes that his partner instantly recognized as the same look he had on his face a night long ago in a dark warehouse where their lives had changed forever. "Stay here until the rest of the team arrives. Do not come out until you see one of them or I come get you," he added hastily as the lights flickered once more and finally went off all together.
"Be careful," she whispered as she reached for his arm; her face only inches away from his own.
"Always," he answered without hesitation.
Emily stepped closer to him, the sudden urge for him to hold her the way he had before overwhelmed her when she thought she might never see him again if the team didn't show up in time.
Every part of Derek's heart and body longed to stay with Emily. He couldn't bear to let her out of his sight the way he had all those months before. But more than anything, he knew he had to protect her. So his brain took over his senses and he placed a hand on her cheek. "I'll be back," he muttered with a determined sigh. And with that, he was gone. She watched as he made his way out the door, giving her and the children he had grown to care so much about one last look.
Emily sat in the dark safe room. The door was closed. The baby squirmed and squealed in her arms as she held him tightly, but she refused to let him go. She whispered comforting sounds to quiet the little boy while she reached for Maggie's small and quivering hand that was still cold from the snow. "Is Derek going to be okay?" she asked in a timid voice.
"Of course he is sweetie. We're all going to be okay soon," Emily whispered reassuringly even though her heart was doing flips in her chest. She snuggled closer to the little girl to comfort her all the while attempting to calm her fluttering heartbeat as she prayed for the team to have received their last message and arrive soon.
But her heart dropped when she heard the crashing of glass followed by gunshot and a loud thud from the floor below. Derek's words were instantly forgotten the moment her worry for him rushed into her. She had had enough. She placed the baby in the carrier on the floor in the room and quickly instructed Maggie to watch her younger brother. "Don't open the door for anyone but me or Derek," she told the frightened young girl.
Emily rushed out both doors and quickly closed them behind her. She reached for her gun in the bedside table and made her way to the large stairwell, gun trained before her. She finally descended the stairs, eyes and ears taking in every single sound as her adrenaline pumped wildly. She couldn't stop her mind from wandering to the fact that this was certainly the most interesting Christmas she had ever had.
The foyer was empty and she trained her attention on the family room to the right. She had only lived there a week but she couldn't help the sadness that overcame her as she saw the evidence of how the struggle had ruined the Christmas tree they had all put up together. Emily looked around and followed the signs of the struggle with her eyes. She suddenly rushed over to the corner of the room where she saw the French doors had come off of their hinges and were both lying amongst shattered glass and broken decorations on the hardwood floors. However, it was the two bodies that were lying lifelessly on top of them and the blood spattered all around them, that made her breath catch in her throat.
"Morgan!" Emily breathed out. But before she could make her way over to the still forms, a searing pain hit her back and she was flung to the ground. Her head hit the cold wooden boards with a thud and the last thing she saw was her partner's lifeless form on the floor of the room only feet from her as she thought of the helpless children she had left upstairs alone.