Thank you so so much for the reviews for the last three chapters! They were some of the most thoughtful and considerate and detailed ones I have ever received and I'm really thankful for that!
Wow, it's really taken me a month and a half to update. Looks like the silence treatment was a lot longer than I expected... I'm really sorry it took so long!
This is the last chapter of "Of Funerals and Goldfish" and I hope I'm doing it justice. I'm not entirely sure about how this turned out but I'm satisfied nonetheless.
And I really hope that you like it, too :)
Emily slammed the door shut, her keys on the kitchen counter and her purse right next to it. She didn't even bother turning on the lights yet, the skyline of downtown DC would suffice for now. As her gaze swept the dark room, however, she realized that it was indeed pitchblack in her appartment. Because there was one significant thing missing: the light from Mr. Bubbles' tank. And her companion. He was missing, too, and had been for the better part of the week.
The better part of the week. And there had been no changes whatsoever.
There had been times during the last days when Emily had doubted her right to be so incredibly furious with Derek. Deep down she knew that what he had done hadn't been done on purpose.
When he had started his story about the incident in Garcia's office she had expected everything. Burst pipes, a break in, a flooded appartment. Everything. But she had not been prepared for the true reason behind his stammering and not-so-subtle rambling.
And ever since that moment it had taken all the self-control she could muster to not lash out at him at every moment possible.
In fact, the silent treatment she had promised him before she had stormed towards the elevator and out of the building was still in service. Full force.
She wasn't used to being mad at Derek or anyone on the team for that matter. Never before had they had a disagreement that had let to what they had now. A non-existent friendship that steered clear of talking and even looking at each other. Of course, that was all on her side. He had made subtle and not so subtle efforts of trying to mend bridges but she wouldn't have any of it.
Right now, she didn't know what was carrying the bigger responsibility of breaking her heart. The way things were between them or the event that had led them to this point in the first place. All she knew was that she couldn't go on like this.
But she had her pride and even in a case like this, as heavily emotional and crazy as it was, she held on to it for dear life. And that meant that she would be damned making the first step in the right direction. She knew that she had let him suffer. Hell, everybody else had seen it. And although they did understand her side of the story, they still felt sorry for their other friend. Derek had seemed like a lost five-year-old ever since that fateful day and the situation had affected the whole team. Banter in the bullpen had died down and nobody even dared to look at Emily or Derek during briefings. They all cared for their lives very much so trying to mediate wasn't an option either. Emily was grateful for their caution.
And yet, she was lost. She couldn't figure out how to move on. She desperately wished for Derek to make the first move. But he already had made several of them and Emily still couldn't grant him a moment of her time to listen to his apologies. She was well aware that she was agonizing him but she couldn't figure out what it would take for her to turn the other way and let their friendship be what it used to be again.
After wallowing in self-pity next to the kitchen counter she finally decided to let at least the darkness surrounding her go and bent over to switch on the kitchen and living room lights. When she turned back around she immediately noticed something where the empty space left behind by Mr. Bubbles' fish tank had been. As she moved closer a candle and a picture frame came into focus. She reached out for the photo and found the picture she kept on her desk at work.
It took her close to ten seconds to realize what it meant. She had never asked Derek for her key back. He had one anyways but on one of her nightly rants to the emptyness of her bedroom she had made the resolution to ask him to return it to her so that she could give it to someone else on the team. Although she had obviously forgotten about it. Or, deep down in her subcounscious, just wanted him to keep it.
The gesture was nice but didn't make things alright again. But still, Derek had come to her place at some point during the day when she hadn't even noticed him gone and set up an altar for her deceased friend. She appreciated the thought and action and had to admit that it was sweet.
Although it didn't help her pondering about how things should go on from here.
She set the picture back down and let her hand come across it to brush against another frame. One that held a fond memory of herself and her grandfather. And when she smiled this time it was with a tear in her eye.
She sighed as she made her way back over to the kitchen.
And saw something rush across the floor. It had fur. And it was followed by a tinkling sound.
Her first reaction was to jump and somewhat scream. She didn't have furry objects in her appartment, no matter which kind.
And rodents didn't wear bells.
After debating grabbing a broom to start a chase around the appartment she thought better of it and instead went with option number two: check what it is before flipping out and only then - maybe - get a broom to start the wild goose chase.
She stayed still for a few seconds to follow the noise but it didn't take her long to find two small but bright blue eyes staring back at her. She bent down to reach underneath the kitchen counter and picked up a grey and white furball. As she stood and held it to her chest the little blue tabby immediately latched on to her finger and buried its face in the collar of her shirt.
While Emily stared down at the little pet she had a million questions running through her head, most of them she already knew the answer to: Derek. That was the only explanation.
And as she found the rolled up piece of paper tied to the cats collar she knew that it would confirm her suspicions.
She carefully pulled it out of its string, unrolled it and started reading, all the while balancing the purring feline on her left arm.
first off, I know this is a cheap shot. I have no intention of replacing Mr. Bubbles and I also know that getting you a cat isn't just going to make the last days disappear in ancient history. But I'm helpless and in all honesty do not know what else to do. I know I should have apologized in person and I tried a million times. But to say that I blame you for not listening to me would be a lie. Because I would have been the same if it was the other way around. What I did, even though it wasn't intentional, was the worst I could have done to you in that moment. And even if your grandpa hadn't just died, it still would have been just as bad. I don't know if I should have been more persistent but I think we've been close friends long enough for me to know when it's best to leave you alone.
I had no idea that Mr. Bubbles meant so much to you. I I know that's no excuse. I should have paid more attention. I shouldn't have picked up the aquarium in the first place and gone against your instructions by doing so. I had no right to do what I did, especially since I know nothing about fish, aqariums, and cleaning them. I should have just fed him and left your appartment right away. Just like you had asked me to. My plan to help you out and make you fell better while you were coping with the loss of your grandfather failed. I only made things so much worse for you. For that and all the trouble I've caused you I am truly and deeply sorry.
I know I can't bring Mr. Bubbles back and believe me, I would do anything. I knew that getting you a new gold fish would have been wrong. It would have been as if I had tried to replace him which I would never try to do.
This is Fido. I got him from a shelter and we've already been to the vet and the pet store. He now has all his shots, food, and toys and knows his way to the litter pan in your laundry room. He's all set to become a constant partner and friend for you.
I talked to JJ before I took off to the shelter because I wanted to make sure not to mess up a second time and make you hate me even more. Even though her loyalty is with you on all of this her and everybody else's mind is set on making you feel better, she said you've been wanting to get a cat for quite a while now but had no idea what to do with it when we're on a case. I spoke to your neighbor, Mrs. Jackson, before I got him and she said that she would be more than thrilled to take care of him the way she used to take care of Mr. Bubbles.
Since I don't know how much longer it'll be until you talk to me again and I can just hope that you're still reading this and haven't abandoned Fido in the hallway yet there's something else I want you to know.
You are one of the most important people in my life. The last days have been nothing short of painful and a complete nightmare and almost killed me. I cannot lose you and I cannot go on living like this much longer. Coming to work in the morning eaten up with guilt only to see the pain and disappointment still evident in your eyes. I will do whatever it takes to save our friendship. I will never forgive myself if I can't do that because I would lose one of the best friends and soulmates I have ever had.
I thought you should know that.
It had taken Emily a good ten minutes to stop crying and then another half hour to comprehend the extent this situation had reached. All the while she had kept stroking the cats fur, its head softly nestled against her chest.
But it had only taken her about seven minutes and fourty-two seconds to put the sleeping feline down on her couch, grab her keys, get in her car, and drive the four and a half miles to Derek's place.
The last twelve minutes had found her standing in front of his appartment door, her car abandoned outside in the parking lot. She had tried knocking twice but always stopped herself right before her closed fist hit the wooden entrance.
She knew it was irrational. He had always been her partner in crime and her shoulder to cry on. Not that she had taken him up on that a lot in the past but she knew that if it had been anyone else responsible for her grief he would have been the one she'd turn to.
So she knocked and waited.
And knocked again.
When the door opened a pale and tired looking Derek came into view. He reminded her of the face that had been staring back at her every time she had looked in the mirror for the last week.
But she also saw a hint of surprise and a bunch of hesitant hope in his eyes, face and posture.
And decided that she couldn't go on living like this any longer either.
He was her go-to-guy. He was her counscience at times and her safe haven of optimism after every bad case.
He was her best friend.
So, as she felt the first tears rolling down her cheeks she slumped forward and held on to his shoulders for dear life.
"I miss my grandpa so much..."
I hope you enjoyed the last chapter! I had lots of fun writing the story (well, apart from the case of writer's block over the last month).
Drop me a line if you like, I really appreciate hearing from you!
Have a great weekend :)