Title: For better or worse – part 7
Disclaimer: nothing’s mine, it all belongs to CBS and so on
Summary: Sequel-sequel to Twelve hours and Nightmares and other after effects. Penelope and Derek have to face a rough time when their baby’s born much too early.
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“How is she?” JJ asked in a low voice when Derek returned to the waiting room.
“Motionless.” he sighed. “She’s sitting on the bed staring at the covers all the time. She didn’t even blink when I talked to her or touched her. It’s like she doesn’t even recognize me.”
After a few minutes of silence Derek added: “I made them check her blood and it seems she took something that induced labor.”
His four co-workers looked at him in complete shock and disbelief.
Derek frowned and stated. “I don’t think she took it on purpose.”
“You mean someone drugged her coffee or something?” JJ gasped. Who would be twisted enough to do something so nasty?!
Derek stared at her and gasped: “The coffee!”
“What are you talking about?” Hotch wanted to know.
“When I entered her office this morning she was drinking coffee.” he replied. “I took it away from her and poured it into the basin in the men’s rest room. The cup is probably still in the trashcan. We need to check it!”
“You’ll stay here with your family.” Hotch kept him from leaving the room. “I’ll go back to the Bureau, search for the cup and send it to the laboratory.”
Derek nodded and turned to Reid, JJ and Emily. “I called my mother. She’ll be here in about half an hour. I… I’ll go and see our daughter.”
“We’ll be here.” Emily assured him.
He nodded again and left. One of the nurses led him to the small incubator in the NICU. He couldn’t quite believe that this little something in the plastic box was a human being let alone his daughter. Her skin was translucent and so fragile looking. Derek could see her veins through the sheer skin. She didn’t have any hair or lashes yet, her eyes looked swollen and very weird. She wore a tiny diaper that still was much too big for her and there were so many tubes and other equipment attached to her body providing her with oxygen and nutrients that she was almost invisible.
“I’m sorry but you can’t touch her yet.” the nurse told him. “We can’t take the risk of infections at this time. But she’ll certainly recognize your presence if you talk to her.”
Derek took a deep breath and stepped closer. He carefully put his hand on top of the incubator. The baby inside looked so fragile that Derek hadn’t thought of touching her anyway. He’d pictured the moment he would first see his child so much differently. Moreover Penelope should be here with him. She should see their little daughter as well. And they should be allowed to touch her and to hold her. Thinking about that Derek realized that they hadn’t even thought about a name for the baby yet.
A soft knock on the door kept him from wondering about that any longer and he turned around to look into his mother’s face. He was relieved that she was there.
“Hey.” she greeted in a low voice.
“Hey.” Derek failed to give her a smile and hugged her in a way he hadn’t done for at least twenty years. “Thank you for coming.”
“You know I’m always here for you.” Fran softly replied. Then she looked across the room and asked. “Where’s Penelope? Is she okay?”
“No.” he sighed. “She’s catatonic. The doctor said it is due to the emotional trauma. They treat her with barbiturates but no one knows if she’ll ever come back.”
“What about the baby?” she wanted to know.
“They can’t tell very much either.” he replied. “The chances that she survives are… only about forty to fifty per cent. The doctor said her chances would have been better if she’d weighed more. But she barely weighs 600 grams. She can’t even breathe properly on her own and there’s the risk of quite a few illnesses she could get and possible long-term effects.”
Fran took a step closer to the incubator and gently stroked the plastic box. “She’ll make it.” she stated.
“How can you be so sure about that?” Derek asked in a low voice.
“She has both of your fighting spirits, yours and Penelope’s.” Fran smiled. “There’s no possible way she won’t make it.”
Derek simply nodded wishing he could be half as confident as his mother was.
“Maybe you should bring Penelope here.” Fran suggested. “It might help her.”
He took a deep breath and replied: “I don’t think I can convince her.”
“Then force her.” she shrugged. “She needs to be here.”
“I hope that helps.” he sighed. “I’m not sure I could handle it if I were to lose one of them. But I know that I won’t be able to handle losing them both.”
“I know.” Fran replied and gave him an encouraging smile.
Derek had to force his legs to move forward. He’d taken one of the wheel chairs from the emergency room and headed for Penelope’s room now. She was still sitting on the bed, not moving, not even blinking, just staring at a fixed point – the sight of that broke his heart. “Come on, baby girl.” he said as he lifted her off the bed and settled her into the wheel chair. “I want you to see our little girl.”
Fran hugged Penelope when Derek moved the wheel chair into the room. She told her son to treat her as normal as possible and left. Derek kept talking to Penelope and stroking the back of her hand with his thumb while he kept watching their precious little girl. When Derek ran out of ideas about what to say he looked at the motionless blonde and sighed. For the first time in his life he really wished he could be a little more like Reid. Then he could at least spill out some random facts now.
Derek studied her face. He didn’t like profiling his friends let alone his fiancée, but he thought that was probably the only way he could help her. He was one of the best profilers and he felt the only thing he could do was to make use of his skills now. Although he didn’t really need to be a profiler to know what was going on. When the doctors had told Penelope she’d gone into labor she’d completely freaked out – just like he had. She’d been so afraid of losing the baby. Penelope had blamed him often for being too much of a worry-wart. Now she was certainly blaming herself for not having been more careful. Did the doctors tell her what had caused the premature labor?
He knelt down in front of Penelope’s wheel chair so that her eyes met his – although they were looking more through him than at him. Derek took both her hands and softly said: “Penelope, I want you to listen to me! What happened isn’t your fault. You did nothing wrong! Someone gave you labor inducing agents without your knowledge. You remember the coffee? You said it tasted strange. Someone probably drugged it. Hotch is searching for the cup to have it tested.”
She didn’t react.
“Baby girl, I know that you think if you’d been more careful, paid more attention that it wouldn’t have happened. But that’s simply wrong!” Derek continued. He wasn’t even sure if she could hear him – and if she could was she listening at all? “This sleaze – whoever he is – can’t stand the fact that we are happy together and becoming a family. So he tried to take it away from us. He drugged your coffee with something so that you would lose our baby. But we didn’t lose her, she’s still here, alive! And I know she’s going to make it because she has to.”
Derek sighed and ran a hand over his face. “I love you, baby girl.” he softly said. “And I need you now more than ever. We can handle this if we just stick together! We can’t let him win! And if you want to blame someone for all this, blame him! But, please, sweetness, don’t blame yourself!” Derek reached out to stroke her cheek but still he couldn’t see any sign of life in her face.
Sighing again he stood up and turned around to look at his daughter. “Hey, little kid.” he softly said. “You need a name, do you know that?” he tried to think about that instead of the fact that his whole life was falling apart and he was about to lose everything. “How about Mary? Naw, that doesn’t fit. You’re not a Mary… Maybe Eve…” he looked at her and snorted a little. “Doesn’t fit either. I’m not good at picking names, you know. I had to ask my sister for a name for my dog.”
“What about Eliana?” a low voice behind him said.
Slowly he turned around to face her. She was still staring at a point somewhere on the floor but the voice he’d just heard sounded like Penelope’s.
“It’s from the Greeks and means ‘daughter of the sun’.” she added.
“Yeah, I like that.” Derek smiled at her.
“I’m so sorry.” she whispered and closed her eyes, tears rolling down her cheeks. “If I hadn’t drunk that stupid coffee…”
“He would have drugged your tea or something else.” Derek cut her off and once again knelt down in front of her. He was relieved that this time she met his eyes. “This is not your fault! It’s his, and I swear he’ll pay for it!”
Slowly Penelope stood up and walked over to the incubator. The tears running uncontrollably down her cheeks as she put a hand on top of it wishing she was allowed to touch Eliana. “She’s so small.” she sobbed.
Derek stepped next to her and put his arm around her shoulder. “I know.” he nodded. “But in the blink of an eye she’ll be taller than you.”
Penelope leaned her head against his shoulder and closed her eyes. “Maybe we should…” she started but she didn’t know how to finish that sentence without hurting him even more than they both already were. “You know… it’s not that I… don’t want to… but… I don’t think I can marry you while our daughter’s in the hospital fighting for her life.”
“I know.” Derek softly replied and kissed her temple. “I can’t do that either. I already delayed the date for the wedding. We’ll get married as soon as Eliana’s released from hospital.”
She nodded and turned a little so that they both held each other and her head was resting on his shoulder. She knew that if Eliana didn’t make it they would never get married.He frowned when he glanced through the windows in the door and saw them holding each other. All this was planned to turn out differently. It was meant to tear them apart instead of bringing them closer to each other. The baby should be dead now and this oh-so-handsome-looking Derek Morgan was supposed to be angry at her and dump her! He sighed. If it didn’t work that way he’d have to come up with something else. Grinning he left the hospital heading back to his office. He knew exactly what to do now.