AN: I was writing a story inspired by George Straights' "Check yes or no" but the story got away from me and ended up into something I think I like more than the story I originally had in mind.

Coward

"Penelope Garcia, my baby girl, will you marry me?" Garcia was speechless. Flabbergasted, so much so that her brain had gone blank and mouth was flapping like a fish. Then tears came to her eyes and she ran, kicking off the heels that impeded her in her flight. Reaching her office, she slammed the door and locked it before sinking to the grown with sobs tearing from her throat.

Derek Morgan was frozen in place. His hands began to shake in their position holding the little golden ring. Everyone around him was shocked. He could hear JJ and Reid's whispers. "Morgan!" Derek jerked suddenly and the ring fell to the ground with a soft, ping! The tears began a silent trek down his face. Suddenly Aaron Hotchner was before him silently picking up the ring. He examined it, eyes soft and contemplative, before abruptly pinning Derek to the ground with an iron stare. "Morgan you have to get up. This does not end here." Derek jumped to his feet; anger suddenly all he could feel.

"Of course it ends here! She said no! My baby girl…" the scream turned to sobs. "My baby girl doesn't want to be my wife. My everything just left me like I'm nothing!" Aaron regarded the other man with regret.

"Then you do not deserve her." The words were a punch to the gut, leaving him breathless.

"I know." Aaron started.

"You son of a bitch, I can't believe you just did that. You feel unworthy so you invite her to leave you by putting her on the spot in the middle of the office when you knew she would run!" Aaron was red in the face and his fists were clenched. Derek could feel the burn of all eyes on him. "No agent of mine could be that cowardly." Derek nodded before turning.

"Derek!" He turned again, startled, and his eyes locked onto the one woman he would always love. She had tears in her eyes. "I will never forgive you." His heart broke.

"Baby Girl…" But she shook her head with tears still flowing.

"Don't, I hate you, you fucking coward." The words were a blow to the face. Whatever they'd had before was gone now.

That day Derek Morgan walked out of their lives forever. He abandoned his family and the love of his life.

Ten years would pass before he would begin to forgive himself. The news of her marriage both hurt and healed, it was like the cauterization of a wound. At least he hadn't caused irreparable damage to her heart. Maybe to his own, but he was disposable in comparison.

They called him a coward, but sometimes that's what courage looks like.