The next few cases passed without incident. Aubrey began going to a therapist to deal with her specialized PTSD, and Derek could see the improvement his three words and some professional help had caused. He understood it would probably be a while before Aubrey was back to being completely herself, but he was ready to wait for her to be ready herself.
After closing a case of a bank robber turned killer, Derek cornered his girlfriend as she prepared to leave for the night, a rare one where they had the following day off as well.
"Hey, what are your plans tonight?" Derek asked, leaning over the edge of Aubrey's cubicle.
"It's funny you should ask, because I'm actually babysitting Jack tonight," Aubrey said. Derek groaned and Aubrey looked over at him, laughing. "What's got you all upset?"
"I was going to take you out on a night on the town to the beach," Derek said seductively, sitting on Aubrey's desk now as she looked at him, entertained. "Just you, me, the stars, some sand, and a blanket, baby. Clothing optional."
"Well, as romantic as that sounds, that'll have to wait. Hotchner is off today and spent the day with his family and wants to do something special for Haley, so I promised I'd step in and be interim mother for the night." Aubrey looked over at Derek with a mischievous smile on her face, and suddenly said, "You should come, too."
"What?" Derek said, officially sent into panic mode. Aubrey moved toward him, and he tried to back away. "Oh, no, no, no, you ain't playin' house with me."
"Why the Ebonic accent all of a sudden? Worried your woman be trying to tie you down? Because if so, you're right," Aubrey said, standing up and placing her hands on Derek's thighs. He sighed and put his hands on her waist as she grinned at him. "Come on, Der, it'll be fun to play house."
"Can't we just go home and play a different kind of game?" Derek asked suggestively. Aubrey snorted and sat back down at her desk, ignoring him. Derek sighed and got up from the desk, placing his hands on her shoulders as he massaged the knots that any person with hands could feel. He could see her eyes shut in the reflection of her monitor screen, and he smiled, knowing he had the upper hand. "Come on, baby."
"No, I promised Hotch," Aubrey said, shrugging off Derek's hands. "If you wanna be with me tonight, show up at Hotch's at 7, okay? If not, then whatever, I really don't care, but I will be at Hotch's."
Derek sighed, knowing there was no point in arguing with Aubrey any further. He kissed her forehead and told her, "I'll see you later."
She nodded, then walked out to her car and set off to Hotch's house immediately to relieve Haley and Hotch of their parental duties. She greeted Haley with a kiss on the cheek, then traded her bag of food she had brought to prepare for dinner for Jack, who immediately tangled his fingers in her hair. Haley laughed helplessly, her smile complimenting her motherly glow as she told Aubrey, "I probably should've warned you to put your hair up. He has a tendency to latch on."
Aubrey returned Haley's easy smile with one of her own. "He's not the first baby I've met to do so. It must be my luxurious locks or something."
Appearing at the arch leading into the kitchen, Hotchner was donning a polo, some khakis, and a light coat for the fall weather. Taking in Haley's outfit, Aubrey tried to take a guess at where the two of them could be headed on their one night off together. "Movie date?"
"Actually, we're headed to mini golf. It was one of our first dates," Haley said, shooting a loving look toward Hotch, who looked a little embarrassed to be revealing so much of his personal life to one of his team members. Haley, noticing this, laughed as she leant up and kissed her husband on the cheek. "I guess we better leave before I give away too much. Bruce Wayne here likes to keep a certain veil between himself and his Batman alter ego at the office."
Seeming reassured by the idea of soon leaving, Hotch spoke up. "The emergency phone numbers, as well as his allergies and what foods he's allowed to eat are on the fridge. If you need anything..."
"We won't," Aubrey said reassuringly, walking away from them to the kitchen and balancing Jack on her hip. "Have a good time!"
With that, they were gone. Aubrey played with Jack for a few hours before making dinner. Although Jack was still on a diet for his age group, Aubrey had intended to make extra dinner in case Derek decided to come over and for leftovers for the Hotchners. She could only guess how hectic their lives were, with Hotch's crazy hours and Haley spending many days taking care of Jack on her own.
The doorbell rang and Aubrey grabbed Jack, holding him on her hip as he played with her hair. She quietly advanced toward the door, looking through the peep hole warily and relaxing only when she saw it was Derek. She opened the door and found him with his hands behind his back. He grinned at her confidently and said, "Didn't think I'd come, did you?"
"I really wasn't sure if you would. But dear God, please call next time. I had multiple scenarios running through my head as I walked up to that door," Aubrey said, bouncing Jack as he giggled. She walked away from the door, her back to Derek as she told him, "I'm in the middle of cooking dinner, so if you want to finish off, that'd be fantastic. I don't know how Haley manages to cook and feed herself and this little devil."
Jack squealed, as if knowing that Aubrey was talking about him. She placed him in the playpen, and turned around to see Derek holding a beautiful bouquet of flowers. She grinned and grabbed them from him, leaning up to kiss him as she asked, "Why?"
"Because I think what you're doing- sacrificing your free time for Hotchner's well being- is an admirable sacrifice for the team," Derek said seriously as Aubrey laughed, knowing that wasn't the real reason why. Derek smiled softly and said, "I know we didn't really get into a fight earlier, but it felt like we did, and I want you to know that I was being a selfish jerk."
"Not really. That beach night did sound wonderful, but I had already promised Hotch I'd watch Jack." Aubrey leant up to kiss Derek again, telling him, "Seriously, Der. The flowers are beautiful."
"I love you," Derek told her. Aubrey grinned.
"And I'll never get tired of hearing that," she said to him, laughing. The oven beeped as Aubrey walked toward the kitchen, telling Derek, "Hey, can you get Jack into his high chair and get his bib on him? Dinner will be out in about ten minutes. Lucky for you, I made extras."
She disappeared around the corner, and Derek looked over to Jack, picking him up with ease. He squealed with happiness, causing Derek to smile in response as he carried Jack into the kitchen, placing him in his high chair as Aubrey had requested. She was pulling a lasagna out of the oven, and the scent filled the kitchen as Derek's stomach rumbled.
They ate the delicious dinner, then packed away the leftovers and put Jack to bed. Aubrey crashed on the couch in the family room, Derek sliding his lap under her head like a pillow as he turned on the TV. They watched some movie in comfortable silence until the alarm beeped, signaling someone entering the home. Derek could feel Aubrey tense before she sat up, only relaxing when she saw Haley's bright smile come bouncing into the family room.
After the typical exchange of babysitter-parent conversation and Hotch reminding Aubrey and Derek to enjoy their night and the next day, they went to make their exit. Despite her declining numerous times to payment, Hotchner deftly slipped some cash into her bag as she walked away. When they made it to the door, Derek saw Aubrey toss the bills to their living room table before they made it back out into the night.
Derek could sense how tired Aubrey was. The happy pills they had her on tended to make her candle wick a bit shorter than it used to be, and she burned out at a faster rate. He had no doubt that playing with Jack for a few hours and preparing a huge dinner had almost shorted her circuits.
He took her back to his place, which no longer stank of cologne and good cooking like it had in Derek's bachelors. Now it smelled like fresh laundry and flowery perfume, the scent that he associated with Aubrey. It made him smile when it hit his nose, every time he walked in the door.
They quickly shed their clothes and changed into their pajamas before climbing into bed. Derek couldn't have counted to sixty before Aubrey's breath deepened, signaling she was already dead asleep. He looked at her, dressed in one of his t-shirts and a pair of her pajama shorts. They had bought a night stand to put at her side of the bed, which had a glass of water perched on a coaster, the newest mystery novel she had picked up, a lamp, and her charging phone.
Derek blinked, realizing he was no longer Derek Morgan, the playboy profiler. He quickly profiled himself, profiled his relationship with Aubrey as he looked into his closet and found it split into two: his dark clothes on one side, Aubrey's generally brighter wardrobe on the other. The nightlight they left on in the bathroom illuminated two toothbrushes, one shared bottle of mouthwash. Moonlight seeped in through the large window in the living room, which he could see from his position in the bedroom, and he could see Aubrey's jacket tossed over the back of the couch, covered by his own.
He concluded that he had become someone else entirely with Aubrey in his life. He had become Derek Morgan, the devoted boyfriend. Derek Morgan, the dedicated lover. Derek Morgan, the domesticate.
And that was also when he realized he had no intention of ever becoming someone else.