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When Words Aren't Enough
"Doyle wasn't just killing the operatives that were involved in his initial takedown, Derek," Emily reminded him softly, the mere fact of even discussing those memories harder than she had expected. "He was erasing their entire family. Men...women...children...it didn't matter to him. He was going to make as many people pay as possible. If he'd realized that you and I were lovers...who do you think his number one target would have been?"
Shaking his head quickly as he attempted to comprehend what he had just heard, Derek held up a hand. "You should have allowed me to make a choice, Emily."
"Maybe," Emily said weakly, grimacing as she lifted a hand to rub her forehead nervously. "I don't know. At the time, I was trying to keep everyone safe, Derek. Especially you. I knew I'd brought this on our team...and after Foyet...I didn't want to watch any of you suffer again."
"So you thought dying was the way to accomplish that?" he gaped, doubt coloring his words.
"It was a way to make sure everyone stayed alive until we could work a solid plan to capture Doyle," Emily replied truthfully, willing him with every fiber of her being to understand her reasoning.
"But you told Hotch...and JJ," Derek accused bitterly, his eyes boring into hers. And for a bare moment, he remembered staring into that beautiful gaze at another time…when they had both truly felt that they didn't have a care in the world. But that seemed like light years ago.
"JJ is the one that worked the deal with State," Emily murmured. "And she made the decision to read in Hotch."
"But you could have included me, Emily," Derek said softly. "I would have..."
"What, Derek?" Emily asked desperately, her hands clutched in her lap. "You would have allowed your sisters to think you were dead? Your mother? Garcia? Your family would have actually given a damn! Mine," she laughed a little hysterically, "didn't even bother to show up to my alleged funeral!"
"I..." Derek floundered, her words hitting their intended target, his own heart telling him that she was speaking the truth.
"It was bad enough that I was having to make that call. I didn't want you to have to face that decision, too. So I made a choice and prayed that one day you'd forgive me for it," she continued quickly, gaining steam, her breaths coming as rapidly as her words. "As you stated dozens of times, the team barely withstood the loss of one team member. How do you think they would have handled this happening to two of us? Believe me or not, I was trying to protect as many people as I could. It was by no means a perfect plan, but it was the best I could do."
"Jesus, Emily," Derek groaned, scrubbing a hand over his worn face as he finally faced the side of this he hadn't wanted to see. Nothing was black and white here, no pun intended. Her arguments defined the murky grey that his life had been consumed by for months.
Those shadows…they were real. And they blurred every defined line he had ever counted on in his life.
"Derek, if the situation had been reversed," Emily asked quietly, her eyes beseeching him to at least try to understand, "what would you have done?"
Staring at her for several tension fraught moments, he finally said truthfully, "I would have done whatever I had to do to keep you safe...even if you hated me for it."
"So here we are," Emily whispered, biting her lower lip as he slowly exhaled a long breath on the other side of the desk. She waited for him to speak...to say something...anything...to fill the silence. But he remained silent, staring into space as the clock on his desk quietly ticked off the seconds. "I wouldn't have had the strength to do anything I did if I hadn't loved you, Derek," Emily offered almost inaudibly.
Watching as he squeezed his eyes shut, Emily choked back a sob. Her admission hadn't changed anything, she thought sadly. Pulling in a deep breath, she gripped the arms of her chair and forced her body to move. "I've said everything I can," she whispered before turning toward the closed door. "I'll go."
He could have sworn he heard her heart break as she choked out those last words. Bolting out of his chair as her hand reached for the brass door knob, he knew he couldn't let her leave...not like this. "Emily, wait!" he said with an explosion of breath.
Quickly wiping the tears on her cheek before she turned, Emily shook her head wearily. "I get it, Derek. Words aren't enough. What counted were my actions. I just had to try to make you see my side of things."
"Did you mean what you said?" he asked hoarsely, his hands clenching and unclenching at her side.
"That you loved me," Derek clarified, never taking his eyes off of hers.
"Yes," Emily whispered, her heart shining in her eyes. "That's the one thing I can tell you without reservation, Derek."
Blowing out a long breath as he stared into her soft brown eyes, Derek swallowed. "You're right," he said with a slow nod. "Words aren't enough, Emily. But your actions...they were noble. Stupid and shitty, but noble."
"Okay," Emily replied nervously, trying to remain still under the intensity of his focused eyes. "Does that mean you forgive me?" she asked faintly, hope warring with reality as she waited.
Taking a step toward her, Derek looked down into her hopeful eyes. "It means that I love you, too," he returned. "Forgiveness will come in time."
"I can wait," Emily whispered as a tear rolled down her cheek, tracking against her pale skin. "All I want is another chance, Derek."
"I think that's what we all want, Emily," Derek sighed, wrapping his arms around her and pulling her into his embrace. "One more chance to get things right," he murmured, resting his chin against her head as he tightened his arms around her, tucking her as close as he could manage. "Somebody once told me that forgiving is not forgetting. It's letting go of the hurt. I think I can do that now, Emily," Morgan whispered against her silky hair.
"Thank you," Emily breathed, burying her face against his neck, her words lost against his skin as she felt his hand bury in her hair.
And for them, no other words needed to be said. Their hearts had finally spoken.