Morgan stretched and grunted as he and Emily slowly worked their way downstairs. Both changed, showered, and feeling a great deal less pain thanks to modern medicine. He was actually really hungry and instantly thankful to his funky friend for being his personal nursemaid and chef. He smelled eggs, and…bacon. Oh god, he smelled bacon. The trip down the stairs was well worth it for bacon.
"Bacon," Emily murmured.
"Babygirl knows just what I love." He grinned and wiggled his eyebrows at her. Prentiss rolled her eyes, but the corners of her lips turned up in a smile.
"Hi!" Garcia greeted them jovially. She waved Emily toward her urgently. "Come see what I brought you!"
Emily slowly made her way over as Garcia bent over and picked up a small cat carrier, which she sat on the coffee table.
"Sergio," Emily said, her whole face seeming to light up. She walked over and stuck a finger inside the cage. He meowed at her. "Hey Buddy, I've missed you."
"I figured you did. I didn't want to let him out without asking Derek first though." She turned toward him, as did Emily. The brunette wore a big smile and the most hopeful expression on her face, Morgan couldn't say no.
He smiled. "Go for it."
The instant joy on Emily's face was well worth the extra pet fur on his furniture.
Seconds out of the carrier, Sergio was rubbing his head against Emily's hands and purring like a motorboat. Morgan watched with great amusement as his partner began speaking Italian at him. Sergio occasionally meowed and sought out her hands for continued affection.
"Does he actually understand Italian?" He asked.
Emily shrugged. "He seems to prefer it. I think he must have had Italian owners before he ended up at the shelter, that's why I named him Sergio."
Garcia put a hand on his bicep. "You should have seen it when Emily came to pick him up after she came back to D.C. Sergio was all cautious until she spoke Italian and then he ran right to her."
"Yet he comes to you when you speak English," Emily said.
Morgan chuckled. "It figures you'd have a bilingual cat. And one with good taste in women." He scratched the cat's head.
Emily smiled and turned to Garcia. "He's been okay for you?"
"We had words the other day when he decided to take a nap in my clean laundry, but otherwise, he's been a doll as always."
"Was it fresh from the dryer?" She asked. The tech nodded. Emily sighed. "Warm laundry is his favorite thing." She turned to the cat. "Maybe I should get you a heated blanket, save us both the trouble of trying to get fur off our clothing."
Garcia smiled. "Well, brunch is ready, so you too should eat before it gets cold. Sergio will be here for a while, and you need to finish before Reid gets here."
"Reid's coming over?" He asked.
"Yep. Boy genius is going to hang out with Emily while you and I go to a movie. I figured you guys might need a break from each other."
Morgan wanted to argue against that, but considering they woke up in the same bed this morning, a little distance would probably be good for them. Especially considering the conversation they'd had last night, and the conclusion that he was so protective of her that being partners may no longer be good for them. He wished he could say that he could control himself, but he knew the minute her life was threatened again, he'd do anything and everything, no matter how illogical or insane to save her.
Yep, distance was good.
Garcia leaned close to Morgan as they exited the theatre, the smell of butter-soaked popcorn quickly replaced with that of the cooling autumn air. She loved autumn, when the trees turned a kaleidoscope of colors and the school buses began to run again. It always felt like new beginnings to her, and more importantly, it meant that Christmas was on its way, and Penelope Garcia loved Christmas. A holiday filled with sweets and gifts, and good cheer and merry-making was made for her.
"Hang a left," She instructed Derek.
He shot her a look full of raised and curious eyebrows, but did as she asked. With a gentle tug, Garcia directed him further down the block, slowing as they came to a small bakery.
"You want sweets?" He asked.
"They have gourmet cocoa, and I'm in the mood." She did not mention the fact that he clearly needed to talk, which was really her impetus for coming.
He'd been quiet since they left for the movie. Not silent, but quieter than usual, and at first Garcia was ready to chalk it up to the meds, but he'd stayed awake though the whole movie though it wasn't his usual fair. Something else was clearly going on.
Derek grabbed a menu, and held it open for her to read, and he angled head so he could read too. After a minute, he gave a little snort. "You weren't kidding about the gourmet part."
She smiled. "It's delicious, trust me."
"I always do, mama." He grinned.
Garcia approached the counter. "Hello, I would like a Red Velvet Hot Cocoa, and my friend here will have a…"
Derek cleared his throat. "Uh, can I get a Mexican Hot Cocoa, the dark chocolate kind?"
The cashier took their money, and smiled. "Please have a seat."
Garcia waited for him to settle in his seat. "So hot stuff, what's on your mind?"
"Sorry?" He said, face showing only surprise.
"You're being too quiet, Derek. I know you, what's going on?"
He shrugged. "Just tired I guess."
She let it go as they're cocoa arrived, and watched him as he studied the bowl-sized cup. "You know the first time Emily came here with me, that's the kind she ordered."
"Oh yeah," he said absently. He was holding the mug, turning it around as if trying to locate the best place to drink from.
"Uh huh. The look on her face when she first tasted it, I thought she was going to orgasm right there on the spot." Garcia took a sip just as Morgan began to choke on his first sip.
He swallowed and wiped himself off carefully, before focusing on her. "What?"
"She liked it, a lot."
"Yeah, I got that."
Penelope sighed. "You guys didn't fight, did you?"
"What?" He gaped. "No, of course not."
"Then what's going on, Derek?"
He shifted in his seat and focused on his cocoa. Garcia was about to ask again, but he inhaled sharply. "I guess I'm just realizing some things is all…and they aren't things I particularly want to realize, or think about, or talk about."
"Does what you're realizing have anything to do with you and Emily waking up in the same bed this morning?"
He glanced at her, but didn't question her knowledge of that. "Kind of, but not really. We fell asleep watching Gremlins, that's it."
"Okay, I'll stop prying. Just Derek," she rested her hand on top of his, "whatever you're feeling right now, let yourself feel it. Feelings like that don't come around very often."
He nodded, but didn't respond, so Garcia made a point to fill the remainder of their time with light chatter. After finishing their cocoas they headed back to Derek's, which was good, because he was pretty beat. Toward the end of the drive she saw him rest his head on the window out of the corner of her eye, and patted his leg. "How are your muscles feeling?"
"They've been better, but the doctor said that light exercise was good, so this was perfect." He smiled, reassuring her.
She pulled "How about you lay down for a bit when we get inside?"
Inside they found Reid flipping through a book, and Emily knocked out on the sofa, her legs stretched out, and Sergio curled up on her belly.
"Is she okay?" Derek asked.
"Her leg started to bother her thirty-four minutes ago. She took a pill and laid down, and fell asleep twenty-seven minutes ago."
"Oh well, thank you for being uber-specific as always, Dr. Reid," she said, the she turned to Derek. "Go lay down, hot stuff. I'll get started on dinner, and check on you before I go, okay?"
He pulled his eyes off Emily, and nodded at her. "Thanks, babygirl," he said, kissing her head, and then headed for the stairs, but his eyes kept drifting back to Emily.
"Alright, boy wonder, come help me in the kitchen."
Reid did as told, marking his place in the book, and following after her. Once inside the kitchen, Garcia turned and figuratively pounced on him. "What did Emily say while we were gone?"
Reid leaned back, hands up defensively. "About what?"
"About Derek, of course."
The genius frowned deeply. "We didn't really talk about Morgan."
"Then what did you talk about?" She demanded, hands on her hips. They spent the afternoon playing chess, they had to have talked during that time.
"Chess obviously. And mostly our last case. And uh, Batman."
"Yes, Batman is a fascinating character, psychologically speaking. His entire being is shaped around the murder of his parents when he was a child, and – "
"Oh god, Spence, please don't ruin Batman for me," she pled holding up a hand.
He frowned again. "Why would that ruin Batman?"
Emily woke-up to the sound of a silent house. She glanced at the chair to find Reid gone, and then looked at her watch. She'd slept for almost four hours. God, no wonder she felt hungry. The profiler yawned and grabbed her cane, clunking her way into the kitchen. There was a note from Garcia on the oven. It was written on her homemade purple butterfly notepad, directing them on how to properly cook the Mexican casserole she'd left them. The dish was already in the oven, so Emily cranked the oven to the instructed heat setting, and set the timer.
She lowered herself into one of the chairs at the kitchen table, and picked up the magazine that had come in Morgan's mail. It was a wildlife magazine with a pair of elephants on the cover. They were an endangered species and the two on the cover were part of a colony that was being protected by zoologists in Africa.
"Hey." She started and turned abruptly to the voice.
"Hi," she said.
Morgan slid into a chair. "What are you reading?"
"Something about elephants." She showed him the cover.
"I gave them money a few months ago, so now they send me magazines I don't have the time to read."
She smirked. "Derek Morgan, hero to all of elephant-kind."
He chuckled. "What did Garcia leave us for dinner?"
"Some sort of Mexican casserole."
He nodded. "I hope it's extra spicy."
"Me too." She smiled. "I went on an assignment with Clyde once in…well, it was somewhere in Europe where you wouldn't think to find a Mexican restaurant. But there was one there, and we got lunch there one day, and it was burn-your-mouth-off spicy, but really, really good."
"You and Clyde, how long were you partners?"
Emily bit her lip. The team hadn't asked her much about her CIA or Interpol time, and she'd been very grateful for that. She was so used hiding her past and pretending it didn't exist, it was hard to switch tracks. She swallowed. "I was CIA for five years, all as a NOC, before they pulled me into Interpol. That was in uh…1999 I think, and Clyde and I were partnered until I left in 2006, so not quite seven years."
"Longer than us." His eyes drifted toward the ground, but only for seconds. "You were close?"
"Yeah, we were very close. We found our way in and out of a lot of nasty situations, and saved each others lives more than once." Emily had dozens of stories about times when they'd almost died. The team had no idea that the BAU was practically partial retirement for her. She preferred to keep it that way, but she knew eventually one of them would ask, and she wouldn't lie. She couldn't afford anymore lies.
"You never mentioned him. In five years, you never mentioned Easter, your Interpol team or the CIA. Why was that?"
She inhaled. "I was really messed up after finishing my last assignment. I told Clyde and Sean that I was done, that I was getting out, and going to try to work for the BAU at the FBI. They didn't argue. A week later, Clyde called and offered me a fabricated FBI history, and a way in through an AD that owed him a favor. I jumped on it. I wanted to forget all of it, and start fresh. I wanted to be someone else for a while, someone without all my crap." Emily pressed her lips together. "And it was easy. It was so easy to be the girl next door that had never been in the field."
"Would you have ever told us, you know if Doyle hadn't escaped?"
"Honestly? No, not if I could help it."
Morgan inhaled deeply and took her hand in both of his. "I will call the Bureau shrink tomorrow and get a referral for a private therapist." He sighed. "But, I'm also going to ask Hotch to partner me with JJ when I get back into the field."
Emily frowned and yanked her hand back. "What, because I would have chosen not to tell you about my past?"
"Actually, one has nothing to do with the other. Quizzing you on you past just gave me a chance to wrap my tongue around what I need to say."
"That we were being unrealistic. That we can never go back to where we were before you died. That I will never be able to act rational when you're in danger."
Her heart was thudding and her palms were sweating, but Emily brushed it all off. "Right, like you wouldn't be protective of JJ too?"
He nodded. "I would be protective of anyone on the team, but not like I am of you. I don't…I don't love them the way I love you."
When she shook her head, it was slow, but slightly disorienting going against the percussion of her pulse inside her ears. "Don't do this, Derek."
"It needs to be done, Em. One of us needs to say what's been hanging in the air between us since you got back, what we've been tap dancing around for years." He said it flatly, like he didn't have a single doubt that she felt the same way. Part of her was relieved.
She didn't have to deny it.
She didn't have to try to convince him that she didn't love him. So, she didn't.
"This isn't a good idea," she said instead.
He chuckled. "I think it would be a worse one to continue to ignore it."
"So, we just trade our partnership and friendship for a romance that may or may not work?"
"Do you want this to work?"
She was slightly taken aback, but not for long. Emily took his hand in hers, and met his eyes. "Yes, of course I do."
"Okay. Then we'll make it work."
"I would love to have your confidence." She sighed. "So we start with getting new partners…and telling Hotch."
"We may as well just tell the whole team. They'll want to know why we're switching partners."
She nodded. "We should start without secrets."
"So…text Garcia and have her rope everyone into coming over tomorrow for dinner?"
"Yes, but tell her that we'll handle dinner, or she'll try to cook for all of us." It was insane, to believe they wouldn't screw it up, to believe after everything that it could actually work, and to risk everything they had together. But Emily couldn't bring herself to say no to him.
When the oven timer dinged, alerting them that their dinner was done, he jumped slightly. So did Emily, and they broke hand contact quickly, as if afraid they'd be caught in the midst of PDA. After shaking it off, Derek waved Emily back into her seat, and turned off the oven. He grabbed the oven mitts he didn't know he owned, and opened the door, his stomach growling at the sizzling of the cheese.
"Oh god, that smells good," Emily said.
Morgan grinned as he carefully removed it from the oven, and set the glass casserole dish on the pot holders that had been set out. "Should probably let it cool."
"Yeah…I'll set the table."
He watched her hobble through his kitchen with her cane, gathering plates first with one hand and setting them on the table, and then backtracking for forks and napkins. He grabbed glasses and filled them with more cherry juice, per Garcia's explicit instructions, before setting them on the table. When Emily finished with the settings, she turned to him, and Morgan froze. They were mere inches apart, and there was only one thing on his mind.
He cupped her head, sliding his fingers through her hair, and moved closer to her. Emily looked up, her mouth sliding open wordlessly, and her eyes speeding around searching his. Derek leaned toward her, pressing his lips feather-light against hers. When she increased the pressure ever so slightly, he took the invitation and wrapped his free arm around her waist, pulling her flush against his body.
Her lips slid soft against his, her taste settling in his mouth, and it was intoxicating. His eyes fluttered shut, and the sounds and smells of the world began to fade to white noise. It wasn't a demanding kiss, rather it was almost nervous. But it still took his breath away, and taxed his body of strength. When they pulled away from each other, Emily's eyes were still shut, but fluttering open.
"I'm going to chalk it up to your skill, and not my current sorry state that one kiss leaves me exhausted even after a four hour nap," she said.
"I'm going to pretend that's true, and that I'm not exhausted too."
Emily grinned at him, and slid into one of the chairs at the kitchen table. "I say we eat and then go upstairs and collapse in front of more 80's sci-fi."
"Sounds good. I haven't seen Batteries Not Included in a while." The patter of little feet drew his attention to the floor.
Sergio looked up at them and meowed.
"You work on dinner, and I'll try and find his food," Emily said.
Morgan nodded and grabbed a rubber spatula and a plate, and spooned food out. He could hearing Sergio meowing and following Emily around as she got his dinner ready. It felt incredibly domestic, and he didn't dislike it.
"Where's Clooney's food?" she asked.
"Cabinet next to the sink." He turned from the food to make sure she found the Tupperware of dog food, and then went back to his task. He smiled at the sound of the backdoor opening and an enthusiastic Clooney bounding inside and heading straight for his dish.
He was filling the second dish with casserole when arms suddenly slid around his waist, and Emily pressed her body up against his. He smiled until her hand slid up his t-shirt, then his mouth fell slightly open and he abruptly stopped what he was doing. Her hand settled along his abs, her fingers tracing his six pack.
"Damn…" She said.
He swallowed. "Find something you like, princess?"
Her warm breath tickled his ear as she got very close. "I've wanted to do this since the first time I saw you with your shirt off. And you did not disappoint, Derek."
"Glad to hear it." He couldn't even remember when the first time was that he'd been shirtless in front of her. Not that he made a habit of it or anything.
Emily pulled away and Derek was both disappointed and grateful. They were in no shape for anything more than heavy petting right now, and if she'd kept that up, he'd have said to hell with their injuries and had sex right there on his sofa in front of the cat and dog.
She cleared her throat. "This is going to be a long couple weeks until we're both healed."
He snorted. "Oh yeah."
The next night they waited nervously for the team to arrive. A smorgasbord of Chinese food was laid out on the table with paper plates and chopsticks (forks for Reid and Will) waiting to be devoured. They'd both timed their meds so they were on the last few hours of them, and would be able to stay awake and as alert as possible while the team was around. Hopefully the pills would last long enough to get through dinner and discussion, and then they could kick everyone out and swallow more pills.
Emily was almost glad for PT tomorrow. It tended to add to her pain, but it relieved some for Morgan and she could tell he was feeling sore all over.
A key in the lock told them that Garcia was first, undoubtedly with Kevin in tow. They shared a last quick peck before the door flew open.
"Hello my darlings! Oh, I smell Kung Pao Chicken." The tech's head jutted back and forth following the scent.
"Do you really think I'd forget your favorite Baby girl?"
"My dark knight? Never." She smiled. "Are we first?"
"Yep." As soon as that one word was out of Morgan's mouth, there was a knock at the door.
Emily began to hobble toward it, but Kevin gestured her to sit with a hand, and went to answer it himself. She gave him a smile of thanks. Rossi came in smiling and greeting them in Italian. Emily responded in the same, to the annoyance of their friends.
After that, the others came quickly, all greeting Emily and Derek enthusiastically, happy that they were healing well. They dished up food and sat around Morgan's living room, taking turns swatting at Clooney and Sergio when they tried begging for food.
"Sergio, come here. Don't bother JJ," Emily admonished the cat in Italian and waved him to join her on the love seat. Derek had Clooney sitting in front of him, looking up at him with sad, pathetic eyes.
Sergio was not so easily corralled. Though he did come when he saw that she had food on her plate. He rubbed against her legs, purring loudly, and jumped up on an arm rest. Emily tried her best to offer him a pointed look and speak sternly, still in Italian. "If you sit there and behave I'll give you a piece of sweet and sour chicken, okay?"
Sergio cocked his head and swished his tail, eyes parked firmly on her plate. Emily sighed.
"So, the cat and dog get along okay?" JJ asked.
"Clooney is afraid of the cat…chickenshit," Morgan muttered, glancing at the dog.
"So, did you guys have a purpose for gathering us for dinner, or are you already missing all of us?" Rossi asked, seeing right through them.
Emily glanced at Derek and shot him a small smile before turning to Rossi. "Actually, we've spent the last couple days discussing our plans for when we return to work and the field, and we thought you should all know." She swallowed. "Hotch, when we get back to work, we'll both be requesting new partners."
The room plunged into a cold silence as their friends shot alarmed looks at one another. Emily fought the urge to squirm and could feel Morgan tense up beside her.
Hotch broke the silence. "May I ask what brought you two to this decision?"
Morgan cleared his throat. "In Pennsylvania, when Prentiss got hurt…I couldn't think clearly. She very nearly bled to death, because I couldn't leave her and run to town for help." He stopped and turned away from the group. Emily could see the moisture in his eyes.
She inhaled. "With recent events, and slightly less recent events, we can't go back to where we were before the last year and some happened. We can't be partners like we were, so we've decided it would be best for everyone if we were no longer partners."
"That decision led to another one," Morgan added. Emily watched him frown and try to think of a way to explain it.
She jumped in. "We're tired of tap dancing."
"But you guys don't tap dance," Reid said, face twisted in confusion.
"Figurative tap dancing, kid," Morgan said.
"Yeah, we can no longer be effective together as partners, because we no longer have the relationship of partners or even friends."
"For being tired of tap dancing, you still do an awful lot of it," Hotch told her.
"We care about each other too much to just be friends." Morgan released a breath and his shoulders relaxed as if a huge burden had just come off his shoulders.
Emily bit her lip. "And we realize that this puts you in an awkward position, Hotch, and the rest of you as well. We know at some point one of us will have to transfer out of the team, but uh, this is all very new, and we're not really ready to think about that yet."
Garcia was pressing her lips together and glancing at Hotch as if waiting for him to give his blessing so she could go ahead and burst. He sat quietly for the longest two minutes of Emily's life, his hands still holding his forgotten bowl of food. When he opened his mouth, the air in the room seemed to change, the tension thickening.
"As your friend, I'm very happy for both of you." He paused. "However, as Unit Chief of the BAU, this does put me in a difficult position. While Bureau policy is vague on these matters, it makes clear that it frowns on and discourages them. That said, as long as the rest of the team is comfortable with the situation, I'm willing to try it your way for now." He turned, and looked toward the rest of the team with a question in his eyes.
Rossi spoke first, shrugging his shoulders and smirking. "I'm the last person that should be uncomfortable with this." He raised empty hands. "L'amore domina senza regole."
"That another quote from Dante?" JJ asked, smirking.
"No," he said, pointedly. He turned and gestured to Emily.
"Love rules without rules," she translated. "Proverb, right?"
"Yeah, and an old one."
Hotch cleared his throat. "And the rest of you?"
"Hells yeah," Garcia said. "I'm thrilled."
JJ and Reid both settled for nodding in agreement. Hotch turned to them again. "In that case, Morgan, you'll be partnered with JJ, and Prentiss, you'll be partnered with Rossi the bulk of the time."
She nodded releasing a breath, and reaching out and allowing her hand to intertwine with Morgan's. Hotch offered them a pointed look. "But, I do encourage you both to get comfortable with the idea of one of you transferring."
Emily nodded again, not happy with the thought, but knowing realistically that he was right.
"Are we all done with the serious stuff then?" Garcia asked, glancing around. When no one responded, she squealed, ringing her hands. "I'm so happy for you guys!"
That night after they'd shooed the team out, and assured Garcia that they had ample leftovers for tomorrow (so she was free to go to work), Morgan and Prentiss headed back upstairs to his bedroom. He stopped to dig into his movie collection, and switched out the DVDs in the player, before joining her on the bed.
"That could have gone much worse," she said.
He nodded. "Yeah, we lucked out with the team, and even Hotch. I thought for sure that he'd kill us."
Emily shook her head. "He knew what was coming, I could see it in his eyes. He's been expecting it."
"You could see it in his eyes? Please tell me you're not buying into all the Hollywood hype about profilers, Prentiss."
"You couldn't? There was no sign of surprise registering on his face – "
"It's Hotch, nothing registers on his face."
She cocked her head to the side. "Funny. As I was saying, his eyes remained flat, not a single wrinkle appeared on his forehead or the sides of his mouth, he didn't hesitate when he spoke, his tone when speaking remained even, and his blink rate was steady. Those are the signs of a man who knew what he was getting into."
Morgan chuckled and held up his hands. "I stand corrected, princess."
"Damn right, you do." She paused. "And new system. We use last names when on the job, and first names when off."
"That makes sense." He paused. "So this whole mess, isn't wasn't such a bad thing then."
Emily chuckled. "Well, I guess it did give us a kick in the ass."
"I would have preferred to get that kick in a less dire way."
"Well, we're both okay now, or at least on our way to being as good as new, as they say."
He glanced down, too uncomfortable to meet her eyes. "I'm going to miss you though, you know…"
"What? In the field?" She asked. Morgan nodded. Emily sighed. "Yeah, I know. I love Rossi, but it won't be the same."
"Yeah, JJ's great," he agreed, "But you and me together, we're something else."
"It's better this way though, we can be more objective with Rossi and JJ than we can with each other."
Derek smiled. He knew she was right, but that didn't stop him from wanting her as his partner in the BAU and in life. He knew he was a lucky man to have her as just one, but he hated having to pick. He sighed and picked up her hand, bringing it to her lips.
Emily squeezed his hand. "So what are we watching?"
"Flight of the Navigator. But I think we're going to run out soon, I don't have many left."
She shrugged. "I have some at my apartment, we can take a drive over there tomorrow."
"Sounds good. Let's get this movie started then." He shimmied closer to her, so their hips were pressed together, and threaded his fingers through hers as the credits of the movie began to roll.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Emily's lips turn-up in a soft smile.
And that's the second half. Thank you all very, very much for the reviews on the first chapter. My next story may not be posted for a bit, so hopefully this will hold you all for a while. :)