Fandom: Criminal Minds
Rating: The rate that says there's some swear words and growed-up themes.
Warnings: Some talk of abuse and the emotional fallout of those issues.
Spoilers: 2.12 Profiler, Profiled; 4.03 Minimal Loss; 4.17 Demonology; 5.10 The Slave of Duty (if you squint); 5.19 A Rite of Passage and that deleted scene in 2.16 Fear and Loathing.
Word Count: 3K according to Word.
Summary: Set directly after A Rite of Passage, an explanation (read: fangirl conjecture) as to Prentiss' moodiness.
AN: Don't be kind. Feedback is more than welcome. I like it when people tell me I've screwed up. Thanks to njborba for the beta and cheering.
From Raw Material
They were two words never spoken to him directly. He supposed if he had any resemblance of a personal life they may be words that would hit his ear a little more often. He’d like to think not but his mother always told him charm was dangerous and Derek Morgan was a charmer. However, his career choice had redirected that particular trait into getting suspects to talk or to calm a shaken victim. The job had probably saved him from himself in more ways than one.
Before they headed back to the jet he had taken Emily to get her cleared for flight. It was the beginning of his apology. He planned to get her lunch or something when they got back but she had been giving him the cold shoulder since Boyd’s place. He attempted to get her talking by harassing Reid on his latest failed magic trick but she excused herself to the back of the plane, in all probability to the restroom. This needed to be played more directly.
While Rossi slept, Reid had his nose in a book and both JJ and Hotch were on respective phone calls to their kids, he got up to follow Emily under the guise of fetching a drink. If he timed it right she would be coming out of the lavatory as he made it far enough past the last row of seats to risk being overheard. She almost plowed into him as she exited. The look on her face was less than welcoming.
‘So,’ he began as he pulled out two bottles of water from the fridge. ‘You wanna tell me what’s going on with you.’
Her body quivered vaguely with a noiseless sigh as she focused on a spot just over his shoulder. Avoidance. Then her problem was deeper than him shooting an M5 in close quarters.
‘No,’ she tersely answered.
‘Come on, something’s been bugging you the entire time we were in Texas.’
Almost unconsciously she let go another sigh. He set the bottles down. He could wait her out, something he supposed was not an option a lot of people gave her. Forcing her into anything she didn’t want to talk about never crossed his mind but she wasn’t making any moves to break away from him. The last thing he wanted to do was cause her retreat into a carefully guarded emotional stronghold from which she’d never emerge. Off his look of acceptance her defences began to collapse. She sucked in a breath like she was getting ready to dive into the deep.
‘I’m late,’ she quietly stated. She began that anxious habit of picking her nails. After those two words her behavior started to fit. She was moody, distracted and highly sympathetic to the victim and her son.
‘Do you need me to...’ were the first words that fell from of his mouth before he could stop. ‘Em, that’s not... How late...’
All that charm failed him. Anything he said right now would do nothing to allay her obvious worry. Her voice from a few years ago came rushing back to him.
When a woman tells a man about her problems, she doesn’t want him to fix her. She wants him to shut up and listen.
‘I will be here for you, no matter what.’ As if to solidify his declaration he stepped into her space and lingered for her response.
Displays of a personal sort on federal property were not expressly written as forbidden in the fraternisation rules, although, they were rewriting half the book here. Still, they had decided not to tip their hand at all costs.
‘Thank you,’ was all she could manage.
Derek had to fight with the insistent need to wrap her up and ease her mind with whispers of comfort. He could see her wrestling through it as well.
‘Come over tonight,’ she said in a hushed tone as she whisked past him. The back of her hand grazed his.
She didn’t need to see him nod his assent to know he would be there.
~ * ~
In the few short years Emily had known him, Derek Morgan had never let her down. Sure he pissed her off sometimes, but he never truly disappointed her. Any time she needed someone in her corner and every time she needed someone to level her out, he was there. Those few times when she was too caught up in whatever headspace she found herself in, he always let his presence be known. He was a constant in her peripheral, never invading, never abandoning. He let her work it out at her own pace always prepared to wipe her tears away or to hand over a sledgehammer, whichever was apropos when she emerged from the other side.
She didn’t know what to do with that.
Majority of her memories had been composed entirely of disappointment. Her father left because her mother’s job was more of a spouse than he could ever be. Then the all too recurring excuse that Ambassador Prentiss was tied up in negotiations, so she would send an aide to attend her daughter’s recital in her stead. During her mother’s tenure in the Ukraine there was Andrij, the little red headed boy who stole a kiss from her. But it wasn’t because he liked her, it was on some schoolyard dare to see if the gangly Amerykanskyy̆ girl had a razor for a nose.
Somewhere between Italy and London she met Yalda, the daughter of her mother’s Syrian liaison. The older girl befriended her immediately on a summer retreat only to as quickly reject her when school started. At Yale, her roommate Gina Torresani seduced her first serious boyfriend with those heaving breasts that popped out of her naughty librarian blouse. Emily gave up emulating the bride of Robert Smith after that.
During her academy training Brad, her magnetic live-in boyfriend, slowly turned into a domineering abuser who alternately used passive neglect and active bullying. He threw in a dash of Münchausen syndrome for good measure. Unwittingly she allowed herself to be trapped. Honestly, she should have been aware of the signs, more aware to her situation. She was a successful confident woman on a very determined path. But what else would a twenty-four year old woman with abandonment and trust issues do? She couldn’t very well leave the only person in her life that showered her with attention and what she perceived to be love.
She threw his ass in prison after he beat and assaulted her.
As a consequence, she learned to be her own best friend. Better to know the enemy within than to be blindsided from the one without. But for all that she had done to remove herself from the world of mistrust and paranoia she couldn’t escape the monsters that ran unbridled about her carefully segmented emotional map. She could be distant after a really horrific case. She could let her irrational need to jump head first into a shallow pool compel her actions. Emily was pretty sure there would be an opportunity for her to screw up big time and it would have Derek pulling away from her. That possibility of rejection and being discarded haunted her. The longing for a soft place to land never left either. Some fears could not be buried deep enough to make them disappear completely.
So when Emily answered her door to an almost sheepish looking Derek and a wall of grocery bags, she couldn’t help the quirk in her lips that gave her a smile halfway between relief and skepticism.
As they silently made their way back to her kitchen he caught her attempt at covering the awkward grin on her face. He knew her to be strong, confident and rarely shaken. This new crack in her veneer was, to some extent, startling. He knew it didn’t have anything to do with him but someone had done a number on her faith in people. Derek understood that all too well.
He chuckled when he saw she had as many bags littered across her counter. The only difference being their contents. He had gotten honest-to-goodness groceries where she had bought every test she could find in a six mile radius of her apartment. Her expression flushed a little.
‘Nothing like being prepared,’ he observed.
It was a soft opening to a heavy subject neither was sure how to broach. Though he wanted to immediately draw up a plan of action and break down every possible scenario, he knew they would have to take this at her speed. Not being able to control the process of their situation drove him nearly insane. It’s why he bought so many groceries. It’s why she bought so many tests. They were both exhibiting signs of compensation.
After the hush of their acknowledgement, he extended his hand letting her decide if she wanted the contact she was denied earlier that evening. It was only after she folded herself into his embrace and he rested his chin atop her head did her body lose some of its tension.
‘How do you wanna do this,’ he asked hoping his gentle nudge would serve as a catalyst for her to act.
‘I don’t,’ was her muffled response. She knew the anticipation must have been hard on him too.
Treading on familiar ground allowed her to slip back into being fifteen and scared shitless. Really, she should be past that but there was always a little overflow. Although this time with Derek was different and at this moment, she needed him to know how she felt. Obviously he was concerned and taking cues from her up until now, but she could tell he was anxious to be doing something. There was a reason he often took part in first entry teams. His willingness to follow instead of lead in their situation compelled her to want to bare it all to him.
While she didn’t want to be kept in uncertainty any longer than she needed to be, all the damn boxes indicated that morning was the best time for the test... something about hormone levels. Emily disentangled herself out of his calming hold and guided him by the hand deeper into her apartment. She settled them on her couch.
Then she began.
~ * ~
The new day tread softly across her sleeping form as if it knew the previous nights wounds needed to heal. Opening aged scars was demanding and she’d fallen asleep from the exhaustion of it. His sleep didn’t come so easily. His mind raced through questions and emotions most of the night. When did she decide that trusting him went beyond watching each others back in the field or occasionally working off some frustration? Did it matter?
For all the horrible things they had seen and dealt with it never crossed his mind that he didn’t always have to ward off the evil others did, that through him something truly good could happen to the world. He worked off the nervous energy in her familiar kitchen by putting away the excessive groceries he had bought. When fatigue caught up with him he debated on whether to put Emily to bed except the prospect of climbing her stairs was daunting. He decided to leave her as she lay and that he could rough it on her living room floor until the morning came. They would have to wait for sunrise to find out if they were becoming parents anyway. He had read all the boxes too.
Whenever he had the chance, he relished meeting the morning’s light. He appreciated the tranquil way colours were brought to their full glory. The slow and steady rhythm of the waking world cleared his head. He’d often seen a new day bring new horrors, but some days it opened a world of possibility. He marveled at the thought of becoming a father. A tiny life entrusted to his hands, their hands.
Once, he told Reid a woman like Emily Prentiss, a woman who knew the world and what she wanted from it, would never look twice at a guy like him who wasn’t ready for change. Reid countered with quoting his mother’s adage of the right kind of girl knowing when a man was ready to straighten out even before the man did. So maybe he wasn’t that guy anymore. Maybe he was the guy that needed to be still, consistent and solid. A family could do that for him. He’d be willing.
~ * ~
She perched herself atop the counter in her bathroom to wait out the most agonising minutes of her life.
Part of her needed the test to be negative. She never charted her life to include a family of her own. Believing that chance flew past her eons ago and in true Prentiss style never mourned for the ‘what if’, only strived for the ‘what next’. She focused on the new thing to be conquered. Somewhere along the way she began to think she owed the ones that were already here. To bring closure and maybe a sliver of light in to an otherwise dark place for the ones left behind. Besides, she would never willingly subject an innocent life to the world she lived in.
Yet, another part of her wanted the test to read positive. Some small part of her wanted to feel that unconditional love, just once. Love without expectation. A love from someone without a preconceived notion of who she was, where she had been or what she had done. It made her sick to think that after a lifetime of proving herself to anyone who bothered to look further than her bloodline, a piece of her still yearned for validation. Eventually she needed to make peace with that.
‘What do you want it to say,’ Derek took a break from wearing a groove into her bathroom floor. He saw the contemplation racing across her features. If the worrying of her cuticles was any indication, she was going through the kind of thinking better served if it was bounced off a sounding board. ‘Hey,’ he stepped between her knees and took her face into his hands. He kissed her lightly and brought their foreheads together. ‘Come on,’ he urged as gently as his kiss. ‘Let me in Emily. Please.’
How could she deny him following that sincere request? ‘I don’t know,’ she answered openly. She took a deep calming breath. ‘I do know that either way this goes down, we need to seriously evaluate what it is we’re doing here.’
Shortly after Colorado he stopped by to check up on her during the mandatory week’s leave all agents got after being injured in the line of duty. He had every intention of taking her out to get a meal and maybe catch a movie if she was up for it. Most people who got into law enforcement stemmed from type A personalities and she was definitely not one to sit back and not do anything for seven days. It was nothing more than Derek being himself and doing the same as he would have for any member of his team. It was easier to fend off demons when you had a partner.
More than that, from what they truly knew of each other on the team, she was the one who surprised him constantly. Each time he thought he got a clearer picture of who she was, he realised he hadn’t even begun to understand the depth of this woman. She intrigued him. It took the very real possibility that any future opportunities to know Emily better would not happen if the team couldn’t get her and Reid out of Cyrus’ compound alive. Only then did he find the guts to know her outside of chasing down serial killers.
They both understood what began as a coping mechanism quickly turned into a support system which then grew into something resembling a relationship. Before either noticed, it had been a little over a year since they started. Right now though, he knew she needed something solid to grasp onto. Despite her asking, she wasn’t in the exact frame of mind to really form a coherent assessment of their relationship, so he decided to go first.
‘Woman, you are the best thing to happen in my life in a long time. You astonish me. You always challenge me and I know that as long as you’ll have me, I’m yours. I want to be with you and whether or not we’re about to have a kid, I know I’m not going anywhere.’
That hopeful yet disbelieving smile took over her features again. Until his declaration she never knew why he always came back to her. He was Derek Morgan. He could walk into anywhere, have anyone he wanted and he wanted her. She was loved, for real this time. If she found the courage to admit it to herself the only time she ever felt truly secure was in his company. Deep down some part of her knew he became that soft place to land at the end of a hard day. With that she didn’t need to know what the test said.
Her cheeseburger kitchen timer interrupted their spontaneous make out session.
‘Shit,’ she bit out the word. She had almost forgotten the reason they were here. Emily reached out to pick up the stick.
‘What does it say,’ he asked breathlessly.
Laughter bubbled up from her. It was a natural response for some people under stress. ‘It’s negative.’
Derek didn’t know what to say, didn’t know what to feel. She watched him as something akin to disappointment overcame his countenance.
‘Hey,’ she brushed the side of his face. ‘You wanted it to be positive?’
He shrugged uncomfortably under her scrutiny. ‘I guess,’ he cleared his throat. ‘I don’t know. I can see it, you and a baby. That’s my future.’