A/N: I don't own Criminal Minds.
Charlotte has a stubborn streak. Of course, that was to be expected. She's also cunning, which was to be expected too. Her barbs hit meticulously. She's growing older and has learned what will hurt her parents the worst.
She stands in the living room, her feet planted firmly in the ground, her hands balled on her hips, and her lips pursed tightly.
"Mom," she screams at Emily; Emily flinches at the title.
Derek, Emily, and Spencer are all sitting on the couch. Emily's arms are crossed defiantly across her chest. Derek and Spencer look resigned to the argument.
"It's only homecoming; this is so stupid. There'll be chaperones. Nothing's going to happen," Charlotte whines.
"It doesn't matter Charlotte; we agreed you wouldn't date until you turned sixteen," Emily seethed.
"We didn't agree; you told me."
"Mother," Emily flinches again, and Spencer takes her hand.
"Are you serious right now Papa?" Charlotte demands.
"You did make that agreement with Momma on March…"
"I was twelve."
"You can't go back on your agreement, Charlie," Derek reminds.
"Are you off your rockers?"
"Lottie, honey, I'm sorry but we agreed you'd wait."
"You know what, Mother, it's not my fault you let some boy knock you up when you were my age. I'm not a stupid whore," Charlotte jeers, and it hits her mother exactly where she wants it to. Emily doesn't let it show; she lets out a snort and a shake of her head. Spencer's mouth has popped open and he's looking at Charlotte like she's just sprouted a second head. Derek rubs his forehead.
"Charlotte Diana, room now," Emily says tersely.
The moment the door slams; Emily draws in a deep shaky breath. She walks purposefully up to their room and the door closes with a faint snick of the lock.
"Do you want to do the honors or should I?" Derek asks Spencer; his face in his hands.
"I'll go," Spencer responds softly.
He snags the wicker basket from the closet and treks up the stairs. He raps twice on Charlotte's door.
"What do you want?" She shouts back.
"You know exactly why I'm here."
She throws open the door and flops onto her bed. He gestures for the phone she's furiously tapping away at. She sighs dramatically and hands it over. He lifts her laptop and places it into the basket. He disconnects the AC cord from her television and drops it in. He turns to look at her, and for a moment he does just that. She gets uncomfortable and flops around.
"Let me guess, you're so disappointed in me and you hope that I apologize to my mother," she says; a look of snooty distaste marring her features.
"No, I was going to say I'm sorry we've done such a horrible job raising you. If we'd done a decent job, you'd never have said such things. I'm truly sorry, Charlotte," he says sincerely and exits. He moves back to the living room where Derek is reclined on the couch with eyes shut.
"What did she say?"
"She said what she thought I would say, which was probably going to be what I was going to say."
"So you didn't say that?"
"No, I apologized sincerely for raising her so poorly."
"It's been over a decade since you left the bureau and you've still got the interrogation techniques down pat, Pretty Boy."
"It was like muscle memory."
Derek quirks his lips, but he sobers quickly to ask a question.
"Should we check on Emily?"
"I think she needs time."
"I'll make dinner."
"I need to prepare for next week's lectures."
Dinner is awkward. Charlotte eats as quickly as possible, Emily eats her food viciously, and Derek and Spencer wait for an explosion. It never comes; Charlotte goes back upstairs as soon as she can and doesn't say one word during dinner. Emily clears the table and starts doing the dishes; she doesn't talk either.
"Are you done prepping?"
"Nearly," Spencer responds, running his hands through his hair.
"You go finish; I've got her."
Derek brings in his and Spencer's plates and sets them on the counter next to the sink. He wraps his arms around Emily's waist and kisses her neck softly. She keeps trying to finish the dishes.
"Emily," Derek sighs into her neck, "She's being a teenager, and you have to know that she's being vindictive on purpose."
"She knows us well, and karma's a bitch sometimes," Derek says, and she snorts self-deprecatingly.
"We had reasons to act the way we did when we were teenagers."
"She's a teenager, Em, she doesn't need reasons."
He kisses her neck again and she turns in his arms; she slides her hands under his t-shirt, places them on his back, and buries her face in his chest. Spencer walks in quietly and stands partially in the doorway.
"Come here, Spence," Emily demands.
They enfold him in their hug. They stand in the kitchen for a while arms around each other. Spencer kisses Emily's cheek lightly and a soft smile spreads across his face.
"Why don't you two start a movie? I'm going to go talk to her," Derek says, kissing both their foreheads.
He knocks on her door. There's a grumbled reply, and he enters slowly. She's lying on her bed highlighting a worn copy of Jane Eyre.
"Dad, I'm doing homework."
"I can see that, but we need to talk."
"I don't really want to."
"I don't really care."
"What is it you want to say?" She asks, crossing her arms over her chest.
"I want you to know that Momma did not make the dating decision on her own. Maybe, Papa and I are cowards to have not placed the blame on ourselves too. This was a mutual decision between the three of us, and all of our decisions are that way. So if you're going to blame one of us, you have to blame all of us. Baby girl, you have to understand where we're coming from; we've seen a lot of bad stuff and we don't want it to happen to you. If this boy is worth this fuss, then he'll wait a few more months till you turn sixteen."
"Daddy, it's just that I'm like the weird kid. It's bad enough that I have three parents who sleep together, but they're also all ex-FBI agents who have ridiculous rules for me. It's not fair. Everybody I know gets to go and all of my friends are dating. Before you say anything about bridges and jumping, I know, I know, but you know that high school sucks. You all know that high school sucks. Why are you trying to make high school suck even more?"
"We're not trying to do that, Charlie. We want you to have a good experience, and maybe we could've compromised. But you know now that that is not going to happen, not after the way you treated Momma. We've always listened to your reasoning, we've never thrown your age in your face, and I thought we'd always been reasonable. You did agree to that deal, Charlie, and your behavior was far from okay."
"Okay, Dad," she says and goes back to her book.
"I love you, Charlie."
He slides onto the couch, Spencer's head almost immediately fell into his lap, and Emily's fingers reach across the back of the couch to interlace with his. Halfway through Star Wars: A New Hope, Charlotte comes meekly down the stairs.
"Momma," she says softly, standing in the door of the living room and looking at the ground.
"I'm sorry; I'm really super sorry. What I said was really mean and antagonizing. The only reason I said it was to be mean and because I was angry. I know that's not an excuse, but Momma I know you're not a stupid whore. I was just being mean, because I knew it would hurt you. I know you didn't raise me to be that way," she sobs and covers her face. Spencer sits up during her spiel and the place next to Emily is open.
"Come here, baby," she says, holding out her arms.
Charlotte rushes to her and curls into her side. A little tear slides out of Emily's eye; they haven't cuddled like this since Charlotte was bullied in the sixth grade for her hair. Spencer reaches out and rubs her back calmingly, while Derek places his hand on her head.
"I'm sorry," she sniffles again, "I know I'm the worst daughter."
"You're not the worst, Baby Girl," Derek reassures, "We all make mistakes."
"You guys are the best parents, I hope you know that."
"Thank you, Charlotte," Spencer replies.
"But you're seriously watching this again?" She says trying to be light-hearted and they all laugh.
A/N: I love feedback! Thanks! Thank you to Claissical E. Centric, Alexalovet, Culinary Girl, Cinnamonfa, and jenny crum for reading and reviewing the angsty AU epilogue!