Emily walked into the law office, noting how the decor screamed money, and seemed designed to intimidate those without it. It wasn't a surprise, that's what corporate law went for, scare the competition enough, and you won't have to beat them in court. She hated lawyers almost as much as she hated politicians, yet somehow, she'd still dated one.
Max was a partner, he got to pick whatever he wanted to handle, and he chose a lot of pro-bono work, allowing the other partners, and young hungry associates to handle the corporate clients. Immigration and tenant rights seemed to be his niche, she'd been touched by that. Enough to give him the benefit of a doubt, and accept an invitation to dinner. It lasted barely eight weeks before she'd had enough, and he reconciled with his wife.
And, now she was coming to his office for the first time, armed with legal papers. This was probably going to suck.
"Excuse, I'm here to see Maxwell Jeffries," she greeted the receptionist.
"Do you have an appointment?"
"No, I don't."
"I'll call his secretary and see if he's available, but you'll probably have to make an appointment and come back." She went to pick up the phone, but Emily stopped her.
"Ask his secretary to tell him that Emily's here."
"Just Emily." That's the thing about being the other woman; he'd come running just to get her out of there quicker.
The receptionist frowned, but did as told. It wasn't a very long conversation before she was put on hold, and that was pretty quick too. She looked slightly flabbergasted at whatever the secretary told her, and a little disapproving when she addressed Emily. "Floor 5, his secretary will be waiting for you at the elevators."
Prentiss nodded her thanks, and headed to the elevator bank. She did in fact find a woman waiting for her, older and even more disapproving than the receptionist. Whatever, she sighed internally; she didn't do a damn thing wrong. The secretary led her to an office, opened the door for her, and closed it once she entered. Max was not happy to see her.
"What's going on, Emily? You shouldn't be here." He came out from behind his desk, frowning deeply.
His chestnut hair was jut a tad on the long side, giving a bit of a boyishness to his handsome features. He wasn't exactly chiseled, but had a look that would last into his sixties. Still, he was too old for boyishness, except in charming much younger, impressionable women. Emily wasn't that much younger, and she wasn't impressionable; she just had terrible taste.
"I figured here was better than your house," she said, pulling open the folio in her hands, and handing him a stack of papers and a pen. "You just need to sign these, and I'll be on my way and out of your hair forever."
"What are they?"
"Termination of custody and parental rights. You'll have no rights and no obligations, monetary or otherwise." Her lawyer had been damn quick drawing them up, one of the many reasons she liked the woman.
"You want me to sign these?" He seemed puzzled.
"Yes. Why is that weird? You don't want her, so..." Emily gestured a 'what' motion.
"I just...figured any other woman would be in here asking for the money she's entitled too."
She clenched her jaw. "I told you already, I don't want your money." When he didn't respond, she sighed. "Just sign the papers, Max."
He stared appraising her. "You're okay though?"
"I'm fine. So is the baby."
He nodded, and sat at the small conference table in his office, reading through the papers. Emily rolled her eyes, and fell into a seat at the table, wishing he could read as fast as a certain genius she knew. When he finally finished reading them, he let the papers fall back into place. "You have a good lawyer."
"Thanks, I'll pass on your regards. Are you going to sign the document now?"
"Yeah, just let me get my secretary, she's a notary." Emily nodded, impatiently, as he went back to his desk and picked up the phone. This should have been quick and painless.
"June, I need you to notarize this, and make a copy for my records." She nodded obediently, and followed him back to the table, where Emily was still sitting. When she saw the title of the document, her eyes shot to Emily, full of surprise. The profiler didn't react.
Max signed by the Xs and June put the appropriate marks to signify a notary's presence. Then she disappeared with the papers.
"What's your rush today? Is something wrong?" He looked genuinely worried and she almost felt bad. Almost.
"Nothing's wrong. I left the baby with a friend, who's working at the moment, and I'm already late, so I'd like to get out of here and pick her up."
"You had a girl?"
She forced herself not to roll her eyes. "I told you that on the phone."
He shifted uncomfortably. "I guess I forgot."
They spent another ten minutes in dead, awkward silence, until June finally arrived back, handing Emily the papers. She stowed them back in the folio and rose quickly, making her way to the door without so much as a goodbye.
Emily fell into the driver's seat of her car, feeling irrationally upset. That it was that easy for him to throw away Addy like she meant nothing, to not ask a single question about his daughter. He didn't even flinch when he signed away all his rights and responsibilities. He didn't care. He really didn't give a shit about the child he helped create. What kind of a man was that? And god, what kind of woman could be attracted to that?
Stupid. She wasn't very young, she wasn't impressionable, she was just stupid.
Addy deserved better than him anyway. Lucky little girl she was, she had better; Derek Morgan was everything Maxwell Jeffries was not. She'd known within the first few weeks she worked in the BAU that he was a good man. He deserved to be Addy's father, he'd more than earned that right in the last two months.
Feeling better knowing that, Emily started the engine and headed toward Quantico.
"I can admit when I'm wrong. You can definitely cook, Prentiss." Morgan said, surprised at how good the simple-seeming dinner actually was. Linguini with shrimp and asparagus in a garlicky herb-olive oil sauce, and homemade garlic bread on the side.
"Just don't ask me to make steak, I'm terrible with red meat," she told him, gathering the dishes. She always either over or under-cooked it. That and baking, she was definitely not a baker.
"So, I get the feeling you asked me over for more than just to feed me." He said, standing beside her as she lowered the dishes into the sink.
She turned to face him. "I did owe you a thank you dinner, but yes, I needed to talk to you."
"Does this have something to do with the lawyer you talked to the other day?"
She nodded. "Come into the living room."
Morgan followed her in, and took a seat on the couch as Emily began to rummage through a drawer. It gave him plenty of time to wonder what this was about, and worry about all the possibilities.
She came to sit beside him with an manila envelope, which she handed to him. He gave her a curious glance, before he starting opening the envelope and pulled out the papers inside. The first thing he noted was that they were legal forms for the District of Columbia, and the second thing he noted had his head whipping toward Emily, his mouth open, eyes searching hers.
Petition of Adoption
"I had my attorney draw up the paperwork; fortunately DC allows second-parent adoptions between unmarried people." She said, slightest traces of nervousness in her voice.
"This is what you were doing the other day, while Garcia was watching Addy?" He was too flabbergasted to address the content of the papers.
"Well, that, and this." She pulled the last two pages out, and set them on top. "He barely blinked when he signed."
Waiver of Parental Rights
Morgan's head was spinning. The sperm donor had given up all his rights to his baby girl, and now Emily wanted to give those rights to him. She wanted to legally make him Addy's father. All those rights, all that responsibility would be his, she would really be his daughter. He would be a father, not biologically, but in every way that mattered. Was he ready for that? Was he ready to really become a father?
"Morgan? Are you okay?" She studied his face with concern. "Please don't faint on me."
That snapped him out of his stupor. "Huh?"
Emily looked instantly relieved. "I didn't mean to freak you out so much."
He looked at her for a long minute. "This is a big deal, Emily. You're asking me to legally become the father of your child."
"You said you wanted to be her father..." she sighed. "You don't need to decide one way or another right now, and you can say no..." She ran her tongue across her top lip. "You still want that right, to be her father?"
Then he got it, understood where this was coming from. "Is that what this is about? You're afraid I'll change my mind? I swore to you I wouldn't abandon her, and I'll promise you again I won't."
"No, that's not it at all. If I didn't trust you, I wouldn't have said yes."
"Okay." He said it slowly, like he wasn't quite sure he believed her.
Emily inhaled, and pressed fingers to her forehead. She'd thought he'd want this, but... "I'm doing this to protect you and Addy."
Morgan frowned. "From what?"
He really didn't get it. "You haven't thought much about what it's going to mean to be her father, have you?"
"What? No, of course I have, I-"
She held up a hand. "That didn't come out how I wanted it to, I just meant..." She shook her head. "Alright Derek, think three years from now, Addy is a little person running around calling you Daddy. I get killed somehow-" She held up her hand again at his widened eyes. "Just listen to me. If something were to happen to me, custody would likely go to my mother. I have you listed in my will, but she'd contest that, and she'd probably win."
"You don't know that." It didn't have as much conviction as he'd hoped.
"Yes, I do. She's Addy's biological grandmother, who has powerful friends and a lot more resources than you, and you are a single man with a dangerous job, and a less than stellar history of commitment. She'd win. And, she'd take Addy wherever her job took her, which aside from being the last thing I want for my daughter, would mean that you'd barely get to see her. That's what I'm trying to protect you both from. If we do this, if you legally become her father, you retain custody even if I die."
Morgan was staring at the stack of legal documents, trying to assimilate everything in his shocked brain. He was still trying to work it out when Addy's cries came over the baby monitor.
Emily immediately looked toward the stairs. "I'll be right back."
He was staring so hard at the adoption papers, he missed his phone going off for two rings. When he finally heard it, he was clumsy trying to get it out of his pocket, and when he saw JJ's name on the display he didn't know if he felt relieved or aggravated.
"We got a case?" He greeted her. Morgan listened as she gave him some preliminary information, and confirmed that he'd head to Quantico immediately. He hung up as Emily was coming downstairs with the baby; he stood up stowing his phone and meeting her at the stairs.
"Yeah, sorry." At least, she'd understand having to leave when the call came in.
"It's okay. I'll see you when you get back." She smiled, but it didn't reach her eyes.
Morgan nodded and kissed Addy, and for the second time, instinctively kissed Emily on the cheek. This time they both successfully masked their reactions, and Morgan made a quick exit.
The jet was quiet; they'd already gone over the case as much as they could, and were scattered around doing...whatever. He was in the back, staring out the window, and ignoring the music in his headphones. Reid was across the aisle, his nose in a book, and JJ, Hotch and Rossi were closer to the front of the plane. Morgan knew he needed to settle his thoughts before they landed, or he'd never be able to focus on the case.
The only thing Morgan really knew about adoptions were that they were usually hard, and long, intense processes. That, and typically it was infertile married couples adopting babies or stepparents adopting their spouse's children. Not a forty year-old bachelor adopting his friend's infant daughter. Would a judge even sign off on that?
Thinking about it now, he understood Emily's reasoning. If she were to, god forbid, die tomorrow, and her mother came and swept Addy off to the far reaches of the globe, well, it would hurt. A lot. He'd end up mourning the loss of both of them. But years down the road, when Addy's walking and talking, and squealing happily when she sees him? It might just destroy him then.
But, would adopting Addy really be the right thing to do. What if Emily met someone and got married someday, and that man wanted to adopt Addy? Now that idea made him very unhappy and uncomfortable, but he couldn't think about that, because frankly that scared him. His feelings regarding Emily were such a convoluted mess in his head that he chose not to really think about them. Adopting Addy, that wasn't just a commitment to the baby, that was a commitment between the two of them as well. And they were already so close that, that frightened him.
Morgan sighed and leaned back in his seat, his hand immediately finding his head. She was right, he really hadn't thought enough about this.
He pulled his credentials from his pocket, stuck a finger under his ID, and drew out a small photograph. Addy at two months. She was in the motor-swing Garcia had picked out, looking at the camera, all chubby cheeks and big brown eyes. She was getting big, well bigger, and already smiling. He had a picture on his phone of the first time he'd seen her smile, at his face, his voice, a smile just for him. He'd been smiling like a goofball for the rest of the day.
He traced the photograph with a finger, and when he inhaled, emotion caught in his throat. Maybe it was time for him to grow up. If he was going to be her father, he owed it to her to make that commitment. To both of them.
"Hey Reid," Morgan called, sliding into the seat across from the younger man.
His eyes flicked rapidly across a couple more pages until he suddenly stopped and looked up. "Are we landing soon?"
Morgan glanced at his watch. "Probably not for another half hour...but, I need to ask you a favor."
The genius looked surprised, but pleased. "Sure."
"You've got to keep it just between you and me, alright?" He didn't feel like another interrogation session with Hotch, or Jordan, or anyone for that matter. They'd find out eventually if it went through, but for now, it was just his and Emily's business.
And, now Reid's.
"Are you in trouble or something?" He looked skeptical.
Morgan rolled his eyes, and offered his friend an 'are you kidding?' look. "Come on, just between us, okay?"
Reid nodded, and motioned him to continue.
"I'm going to try and adopt Addy."
The youngest profiler's mouth fell open, and then his face contorted in a look of complete and utter confusion. "Can you even do that?"
"According to Emily, yes in DC. It's called a second parent adoption."
"Oh, I've heard of that. Most of those laws were actually created for gay couples. Since they can't legally marry in most states, they're precluded from being considered for adoption. It's actually-"
Morgan held up a hand. "You're familiar with the adoption process then?"
"Some aspects," Reid confirmed.
"Alright, good. Then you know I'll need a letter of reference."
He started to nod, but suddenly stopped. "Wait, you want me to write it? Why?"
"Because you've known me a while now, and Emily, and who better to comment on Addy's welfare than her Godfather?"
"You know she wasn't christened, so technically that doesn't really count."
"It does if her mother says it does."
Reid sighed. "I didn't really have the greatest example of what makes a good father, so I'm not sure I could accurately-"
Morgan interrupted him. "You know what makes a bad father, that's a start. Besides, do you think Hotch is a good father?"
He thought about that, and nodded. "Yes, I do."
"Then you have an example." He studied the shifting of Reid's facial features as he debated the request internally. He almost wondered what that process was for a genius, but realized it was probably better he didn't. "So, will you do it?"
Reid studied the table between them, pondering for another minute before looking up. "When do you need it?"
Emily was a mess. A stressed, sleep-deprived, unshowered, tear-drenched mess. The waterworks were still operating a little too efficiently as she continued bouncing Addy, trying to get her to stop screaming. She had an ear infection, common to infants according to the doctor, but painful, and miserable for both child and caregiver. Addy hadn't stopped crying in two days, except for the few moments when she was sleeping. And, even then Addy refused to lay down, so Emily had to hold her, which meant, she didn't get to sleep more than occasionally drifting off.
Yesterday, the pediatrician suggested trying the least intense route first. Ibuprofen and warm vegetable oil in the ears. Her fever dropped to 99, and her crying quieted a little. But, by the evening that wasn't enough, so she walked to the nearest pharmacy and grabbed anesthetic eardrops. That helped, Addy stopped screaming, but she was still unhappy, and it only lasted about an hour before another dose was needed. Emily caved in the morning, and begged the doctor for antibiotics. She'd given them to Addy before lunch, and the only result so far was Addy looking dazed.
Neither of them had gotten much sleep. The team was on a case out of town, and she couldn't leave a sick, crying infant with Garcia, while she was trying to work.
She was pacing back and forth, trying valiantly to hang on to the one thread of sanity she still had when she heard the knocking on her front door. Great, visitors while she looked like a complete train wreck. Wiping the tears off her face, and trying very hard to look like she wasn't crying, Emily trudged to the door. One glance through the peephole and she couldn't get the door open fast enough.
When she did, Morgan got one look, and his tired eyes snapped open, and his eyebrows jerked toward his bald head. "Bad day, princess?"
Emily gestured him inside and shut the door. "She's got an ear infection, and I haven't slept in two days."
"Well, she seems okay now." He studied the baby, trying to find some outward sign of distress.
"I just put some drops in her ears. Give it an hour, she'll be screaming again." At the moment, Addy was curled up against her, red-eyed, red-nosed, and looking rather pathetic. Not unlike Emily herself.
"Why don't you hand me the baby, and go upstairs and shower and take a nap," he said, already easing the baby from her hands.
Emily wiped at her eyes one more time. "I'd kiss you if I wasn't so gross right now."
He chuckled, and shot her a flirty look. "We'll save it for later, princess."
Emily took a minute to try and figure out what it meant, but gave up, her brain too exhausted to figure much of anything out. It was just Morgan being Morgan. She started for the stairs, but he stopped her, calling her name in a tone much more serious than he'd come in with. She turned back to face him.
"When she's better, we'll go and sign those papers." His face left little question that he was sure about his decision.
She nodded and headed up the stairs for a shower and the first real rest she'd get in days.
Two hours later Morgan finished squeezing drops into Addy's ears, and kissed the top of her head as she fussed, speaking softly to her. "I know it hurts, little princess. I'm trying to make that stop, you've just got to give it time to work. Shhh...come on now, you scream you might wake your mama, and I don't know if you saw her but, she could use a little rest."
Addy was apparently exhausted enough that she only blinked her eyes until they drooped closed. Morgan smiled. "That's my girl, you're good for your daddy."
He was just about to move from the window he'd been staring out, to the sofa, but a knock on the door stopped him. He fully expected it to be Garcia or JJ, or one of the guys when he opened the door, but instead he found a man completely unfamiliar to him.
He was nearing fifty if he wasn't there yet, had dark hair in a cut far too young for him, and he dressed to show he had money. And, he looked just as surprised to see Morgan, as Morgan was to see him.
"Can I help you?" He asked, not quite rudely.
He didn't answer at first, his gaze fixed on Addy, studying her with something close to awe. Morgan did not like it. "Uh, I'm looking for Emily."
"She's sleeping, and I'd rather not disturb her unless it's an emergency."
He was still fixed on Addy. "This is her daughter?"
Morgan adjusted the blanket to cover her more. "Yeah. If you give me your name, I'll let Emily know you stopped by."
The man opened his mouth and froze, his tone became condescending. "Who did you say you were?"
"Well friend, I'm that baby's father, and I'd like to hold her."
Morgan's entire body tensed in an instant, and instinctively, he held Addy closer. "If I'm not mistaken, you signed away your rights to her three days ago."
The man glanced down, then back up. "I've been rethinking that, that might have been a mistake."
Morgan all but glared. "Really? Suddenly, you think you want to be her father?"
"I am her father."
"Oh yeah, so what's her name then?"
He shifted uncomfortably, before sighing. "I don't know...can you please wake Emily? She'll sort this out."
The profiler shook his head, holding his little girl protectively against his body. Then he sighed, and allowed the other man to enter. "Wait here," he told him in the living room.
"Can I hold her, while you-"
"No," Morgan cut him off, and marched up the stairs.
He felt bad as he gently shook Emily awake, but he wanted the man downstairs to leave and never come back. Addy was his baby girl, the bastard in the living room had given up that right already.
Emily blinked and pushed herself up. "Is she hungry?"
"No, she's sleeping." He ran a hand over her head affectionately, and looked at Emily without a trace of humor in his eyes. "The sperm donor is downstairs, he wants to see Addy."
That got her awake. "What?" He said nothing, so she just groaned, and put a hand to her head. Her eyes drifted to Addy, affection replacing the sleepiness.
Morgan spoke then. "He never even asked you her name?"
Emily just squeezed his free hand, and started getting out of bed.
She knew she looked like hell as she walked down the stairs, but that really didn't matter. Just how bad she looked became evident when Max practically cringed seeing her.
"Jesus, what happened?" He asked.
"The baby is sick, I was sleeping for the first time in days," she said, unkindly.
He nodded toward the stairs. "What's with the guard dog, Em?"
"His name is Derek."
"So, who is Derek and what's his problem?"
"He's a close friend, and he doesn't like you," she said simply, before sighing. "What do you want Max?"
"I just wanted to come and see my daughter."
He looked confused. "What do you mean, why? She's my kid."
"No, she's not. Not since you put your signature on those papers. And, why do you all the sudden care about her?" Hands on her hips, Emily really didn't have the energy to deal with this right now.
"I've been thinking, Emily...I'm not sure I should have done that. She is my kid, right? I've got a responsibility to her."
"The termination papers absolved you of that responsibility. You don't have to feel guilty, Max."
"It's not guilt, I just-"
Emily cut him off with a hand. "Don't even try, Max. When I called you from the hospital, you didn't ask anything about her, not her name, not what she looked like, or how she was doing, nothing. I told you she was premature, you never even called to see if she survived the first week. In the last two months, you haven't called or stopped by once, or shown any indication you care if she's alive or dead. You don't want her, you don't love her, you just feel guilty because you feel like you should...tell me I'm wrong."
He ran a hand through his ridiculous hair cut, and sighed. "Alright, part of it might be guilt, but-"
"No. You do not need to feel guilty, Max. She's doing fine, and so am I, and you have three other kids that need you."
"Yeah, but a kid needs a father."
Emily nodded. "Derek is going to adopt her."
He gaped. "Wait a minute, you're going to let that muscle-bound Goliath adopt her?"
She couldn't stop the smirk that appeared on her face. "Do I detect a bit of penis envy, Max?"
He glowered, and his tone grew angry. "You got a case of jungle fever, Em?"
She sobered quickly. "Don't be an asshole. He's here for the baby, not me."
"If you aren't sleeping with him, why let him adopt her?"
"Because, he's been there since the minute she was born. Because he loves her and he wants to, and because, frankly, I'd have lost my mind by now without him."
He looked pensive. "It hasn't been that long since I signed, I could contest."
Emily ran her tongue over her bottom lip. "You could. But, if you only ever do one good thing for her, it will be to let the adoption happen."
Max still looked unsure. Emily sighed, barely curbing her frustration. "He'll be a wonderful father to her, you already saw how protective he is of her. Don't take that from her, because you feel guilty for not wanting her."
"You're sure this is a good situation for you and the baby?"
Emily took a deep, calming breath. "He's not some street thug. He's an FBI agent, and we've been friends for years. I trust him, especially with the baby."
He gave her a funny look. "Is he part of that team you're so close to?"
"Yes, he is. The team that delivered Addy in an airplane bathroom, and has been completely supportive since."
"Addy as in Addison?"
"No, as in Adelyn."
He seemed to think about that, and nodded. "Nontraditional, but pretty. It fits..." He trailed off, and then sighed. "Maybe I do feel a little guilty."
"Go home, Max. Go home to your wife."
He offered her a half smile and a nod, then headed toward the door. One hand on the knob, he turned and looked at her. "You take care of yourself, kid."
She simply nodded, and watched him walk out the door, relief flowing through her. She headed up the stairs, and found Morgan sitting on the rocking chair in the nursery. That immense strength evidenced in his muscled arms completely concentrated on cradling a tiny 7-pound baby. When he looked up at her, his face was drawn with tension, and his eyes held something that almost looked like fear.
When he spoke, his voice shook with emotion. "Tell me he's not going to be coming back here, trying to be involved now."
Emily walked over, and rested a hand on his shoulder. "He's not. He was just feeling a little guilty."
He nodded, and she watched the rigidity of his body soften, the tension gone. It was still a little stunning, the first girl to steal Derek Morgan's very guarded heart was two months old, and spent her days drooling, pooping, eating, and sleeping.
"Why don't you go back to bed, you didn't sleep very long," he said.
"I think I will...it's Friday, she should be better after the weekend, we'll go see my lawyer first thing Monday, okay?"
"I'll let Hotch know that I'll be late," he said.
With all that settled, pressed a kiss to Addy's head, and kissed Morgan on the cheek, an imitation of his recent actions. Neither reacted, Emily just walked tiredly back to her bedroom and crawled back into bed, leaving Addy safely in the care of her Daddy.
Sorry it took so long to get this up. The next installment (and likely last) will be posted in December, chaptered, feature some drama, some angst, some cliffhangers, team Christmas fun, and Addy meeting both of her grandmothers. Hence the chaptered part. And I swear, I'll finally have Morgan and Emily get it together. Promise. I don't have a title in mind yet, so I'll throw another chapter up here when I begin posting that one. Thanks for reading and please review!