Disclaimer: I own nothing but the ideas.

Post ep for Series 7 Ep1 'It takes a Village'.

~*~ Profiler's Choice 2011 Fanfic Awards for the Criminal Minds Community ~*~

Hosted by ilovetvalot and tonnie2001969

It is our pleasure to announce the Second Annual Profiler's Choice Fanfic Awards for the Criminal Minds community!

The nomination ballot is now available, and all rules are posted on Chit Chat on Author's Corner forum! Nomination ballots must be received by October 15, 2011 and must be sent to this PM at Profiler's Choice CM Awards. Fics for consideration must have appeared on the CM section of between September 1, 2010 and August 31, 2011 (see rules for full details.)

. . .

The soft mound of dark earth looked grotesque against the beautiful Autumnal setting. The lush green grass, scattered with the first crisp leaves, had been butchered at the very spot he stood. The very spot he had stood a mere seven months before. Then he had bathed in glorious sunshine, the gentle spring heat radiated around the team as they had buried their colleague, their friend, Emily Prentiss.

Today couldn't be further from that dismal day; the day that had ripped through him as he had barely managed to maintain the dignity that she deserved.

Now the slight drizzle dampened his skin and misted the air, smudging the previously clear outlines of his surroundings. Spencer let the sigh escape, his shoulders slumping simultaneously. As he stared at the gaping hole that he had seen to be Emily's final resting place, Spencer struggled to comprehend the truth as it had been explained to him. The woman he believed to be dead; was alive.

"Thought I'd find you here, Kid," the unmistakable baritone voice of Derek Morgan broke through his thoughts, as Spencer turned to face the intruder. Turning back to the disrupted grave, Spencer had nothing to say to his older colleague.

Derek was undeterred. Planting himself beside the younger agent, Derek stood silently; respecting Spencer's need for space, but making it clear he would not back off, just yet.

After what seemed an eternity Spencer stole a glance at Derek. He had expected his colleague to be watching him, but he wasn't, he was staring far beyond the point they were at. Derek seemed to be consumed by his own crazed thoughts.

"She looks well," Derek stated flatly.

Spencer nodded.

"Garcia and JJ seem to have accepted her; they are behaving as if she never left," Derek continued with some bitterness.

"She didn't leave, she died."

Derek huffed, "She didn't die, and she left and let us believe she was dead."

"But she's not dead, Emily Prentiss is alive, and she is coming back to the team."

"Yeah, doesn't make it any easier to understand," Derek turned to face Spencer, "I don't know if I can do what the girls have done. Pen and JJ are so forgiving, but I don't know if I can forgive her. I definitely can't forget what she has done. What they have done!"

Derek tried hard to control the anger he felt building in him, he had hoped the hours he had put in at the gym may have gone some way towards to subsiding it, but obviously not. In the short time that they had known of Emily's survival, Derek had been confused by his emotions, even his reactions were all over the place.

One minute he wanted to distance himself from everyone on the team, then there was the disgust at Hotch's lies, anger was constantly simmering just under the surface, waiting for an excuse to explode. Equally he could smile and carry on until something reminded him that everything wasn't back to normal, it had all changed; they had been lied to, deceived by those they trusted most. How could it ever be the same?

"I still find it hard to believe that she is really alive," Spencer let his head drop, staring at the soft turf below his feet, "It's stupid really, I've held her, touched her. But I had such vivid dreams so many times that she hadn't died, that it had all been a mistake. Is this all just another dream?"

Derek shook his head.

"I can't process what has happened. I can understand the logic, the theory, but I just don't know what I am supposed to do now. What is the correct response?" the innocent pleading look on Spencer's face upset Derek further.

"I have no idea kid, no idea. If I did then maybe I'd have a better handle on my own state of mind."

"I believe I should be happy, like Garcia and JJ, but I'm not," Spencer added, his eyes searching Derek's, "I feel so uncomfortable when she is around."

Derek had no answer to sooth his friend's troubles; he too was struggling in her presence. Even that first 'hug' had been strained, and it hadn't got any better. On a good day he could get swallowed up by Penelope's enthusiasm, and momentarily forget all that had happened, but generally he kept his distance.

"I don't know who I have more difficulty with. How are we ever to trust her or Hotch again?" Derek spat out. He had come here to help Spencer, but was starting to wonder who was helping who.

Spencer shrugged, "I have found it best to remain on a professional level with them both. If I am talking about a case, then I'm fine, but anything more . . ."

"Yeah, I get that," Derek sighed, lifting his head up and staring off at some unacknowledged point in the distance, "What I don't get is how we move forward, as a team, a family. If we don't trust each other, if we know we are capable of lying to each other, no matter under what pretence, then there is always going to be that doubt."

Spencer's foot begun to tap, rapidly, "I want us to be a family, you're the only family I've got."

Derek snapped back to the vulnerability of the young genius, far from helping, he now believed he was hindering. Putting a heavy hand reassuringly onto his shoulder, Derek squeezed lightly.

"Guess we'll have to find a way."

Spencer nodded, swallowing the lump that had risen in his throat.