Author's Note: I've wanted to write this ever since I heard the news that there was a chance that Paget wouldn't come back. Then I watched 'Lauren' (and cried for too many hours to count) and I had to write something in commemoration of my favorite character in the whole world. Ever since then - and now that I know that Paget signed (!) - I told myself, You need to get going on that story idea before it's too late! So, since I always listen to myself (yeah, right), I put my pen to paper and had this first chapter torn out of my soul. Basically what it is, is each team member's reactions to Emily's "death." Each chapter will be named after what Emily is to them. The first ("Partner") is for Mr. Derek Morgan, Spencer ("Protector") will be next, and...well, so on and so forth. This story is like my baby, so please...please leave me a review or two. They mean so incredibly much. Thanks in advance, and please - enjoy.

Disclaimer: I do not own Criminal Minds. (But let's just pretend I do, shall we?)

To say that he was angry was a major understatement.

He had known something was wrong when she had started coming to work late. Emily Prentiss was never late. And he wasn't the only person who noticed, either. No, every member of the team saw it in the tightly strung set of her shoulders, the way she spun around at the slightest of noises, the nervous look in her beautiful brown eyes…

But when he had confronted her about it, she had brushed him carelessly away.

"You profile me again, you'll wish you hadn't." She had managed a smile then, and he forced himself to believe that she was telling him the truth. That nothing was wrong, that she would be okay…and that most of all, she trusted him.

She hadn't.

No, she ran away to play hero instead, not caring that she had outright lied to his face. Not caring about who she had to leave, who she had to hurt.

Not caring about their friendship.

Running a hand over his face, Derek Morgan closed his eyes and let his mind take him back to the better days. The days of her incessant teasing and her bright laughter, her sharp, dry humor and her consoling smiles.

The days when she was still alive.

Against his own will, Derek remembered the gruesome weight of his heart when he first saw her there, lying on the dirty floor, her breathing heavy and her clothes bloodstained. Then, the stake in her side…

He saw himself, in his mind's eye, dropping to his knees beside her and taking her cold, clammy hands in his, willing her all the strength – both emotional and physical – he could muster.

But still, she had looked up at him with such a dark hopelessness in her eyes…and she had begged him.

"Let me go."

The three words haunted him every night. Sometimes, when his room was completely silent, he could hear her voice, barely above a whisper, calling out to him. Reaching, screaming, crying…


For her life or for her death, he never knew.

And he never would.

Blinking back the tears he knew would come eventually, Derek forced himself to be strong – for Emily, if for nothing and no one else. He owed her that much.

God, he missed her so much!

Looking at his murky reflection on the polished marble grey surface, he felt himself going down a dangerous path.

Why her?

Why not me?

Because even though the sheer mention of her name made him angry, even though he hated her and her absolute stupidity and inability to trust…he found his heart aching for her. Aching for the woman who never failed to take blows at his ego, and loved doing do, who could intimidate the fiercest of unsubs with just one glare, who could bring any man to his knees with her heart-stopping smile.

His heart ached for his best friend.

His partner.

But, placing his rose on her coffin slowly, heavily, Derek knew that his heartache would only get worse.

Because Emily – their Emily – was gone.