Title: For better or worse – part 10
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’s stalker seems to be always one step ahead, but they have a plan how to decoy him.
Please read and review!
AN: Okay, this is a chapter to relax a little before the final showdown! :) Thanks so much for all the wonderful reviews! And sorry to everyone who freaked out due to the cliffhanger. There’ll be one more (hehe) but not at the end of this chapter!
Happy Holidays to everyone!!! And I promise I’ll post a little Christmas gift on the 25th!
She wasn’t able to move. This couldn’t be happening, not to her, not again. For the second time in her life she’d lost her family. Why was this happening to her? Why wasn’t she allowed to be happy? The nurse said Derek needed to park the car somewhere else, the explosion. It was him, that sleaze had arranged all of it. And now? Derek had certainly been in the car and started the engine and then… Penelope started to gasp for air. This simply couldn’t be happening. He had killed Derek, the only man she’d truly, madly and deeply loved in a very long time. Everything had just been perfect and now she’d lost almost everything. They weren’t even sure that Eliana would survive. She couldn’t live without either of them. She wouldn’t survive losing Eliana or Derek…
Hotch opened the door and realized that Penelope was hyperventilating. He rushed towards her and grabbed her arms, slightly shaking her. “Garcia!” he yelled at her. “Garcia, calm down. Derek is okay! He’s alive. Do you hear me?”
The words slowly penetrated her brain. He was alive, still with her. Puzzled she raised her head and looked into her boss’s eyes.
“He wasn’t in the car.” Hotch said. “The blast threw him against the entrance door and he has an ugly bruise on his forehead but that’s it. He’s fine.”
Tears ran down her face as she asked. “Where is he?”
“Right here, mama.” Derek replied standing in the doorway.
She jumped out of her seat, threw herself into his arms and started sobbing.
“It’s okay, baby girl.” Derek softly said and caught her in his arms. “Nothing happened, I’m fine. But you can’t say that about the guy who wanted to steal my car when I left the keys inside.”
She raised her head and looked at him with tear-filled eyes. “Why…?”
“My gut told me something was wrong.” he explained. “I thought maybe he was in the hospital trying to kill Eliana again. I know it was needless to freak out like that because of all the agents around here but… the longer I thought about it… I was so worried that I jumped out of the car, ran back to the hospital and left the keys in the ignition. That poor guy probably thought this was the luckiest day of his life.”
“I’m glad you freaked.” Penelope whispered.
Derek smirked a little and wanted to say something but the sudden rush of worry on Penelope’s face kept him from doing so. He turned around to see the nurses rushing towards the NICU. Derek and Penelope stepped into the corridor and tried to follow them into the room but one of the nurses held them back. “I’m sorry, but you’ll have to wait outside.” she explained while she led Fran out of the room.
“What’s wrong?” Penelope asked in concern and tried to take a look at Eliana but the nurse blocked her.
“I’m sorry but we have to do our job now.” the nurse replied and shut the door.
Running a hand through her blonde hair Penelope started pacing in front of the NICU. Through the glass she could see the nurses working but she couldn’t see the incubator. What was wrong? Something had surely happened, something that worried the nurses, something bad.
“Honey, calm down.” Derek softly said and tried to block her way.
“Don’t tell me what to do or what to feel.” she almost yelled at him. “He almost killed our baby and now he almost killed you!”
Fran gave her son a querying look but he put her off with an expression that told her he would explain everything later.
“And the nurses refuse to tell us what’s wrong.” Penelope continued. “What if…”
“Eliana has breathing problems.” Fran interrupted her. “The nurses will take care of that.”
“What does that mean?” Penelope asked almost in shock.
“It happens from time to time that preemies can’t breathe properly. But the nurses can handle this.” Fran assured her. “They know what to do.”
“But I don’t.” Penelope whispered and ran a hand over her face. “I can’t handle this any longer. We should be home now and Eliana should still be…” she gently stroked her stomach and started sobbing again. “I can’t stand to see her like this fearing that every second she’s going to die. I… I need to be sure that she’ll be alright and that HE won’t succeed.”
“He won’t.” Derek assured her and once again caught her in his arms. “We won’t let him, I promise. And in less than two months we’ll take our little girl home.”
The nurses exited the room and the eldest smiled at Penelope and Derek. “I’m sorry you needed to wait outside but you would’ve hindered us. Preemies sometimes have respiratory problems and they need a fast treatment. But we stabilized her. You can go back in now.”
Penelope closed her eyes for a moment and then nodded.
Spencer watched his friends and Derek’s mother return to the NICU. They’d taken care of Derek when they’d left the hospital and seen him lying on the sidewalk with a laceration on his forehead. When Hotch had gone back to Garcia they’d stayed with Derek. But he’d refused to let the nurses check him out. He’d just wanted to see Penelope knowing she must be freaking out. When Spencer looked at the blonde to his left he was surprised to see a tear running down her cheek. “Um… JJ… are you okay?” he asked.
“No, I’m not.” she replied and wiped the tear away. “Don’t you know what day is today?”
Spencer opened his mouth to say it was the 21st of June. But he shut it again and just nodded. It should have been Penelope’s and Derek’s wedding day.
“In less than four hours they would have exchanged their vows.” she added.
Spencer wasn’t sure what to say. He could assure JJ that the wedding was just delayed and that once they caught the guy… but that was the exact problem. He was getting more and more reckless and therefore more and more dangerous.
“Pen is right.” JJ’s voice was barely more than a whisper. “They should be at home, happily getting ready for their wedding in a few hours and then the birth of their baby. But instead they’re here fearing for their little girl’s life. He has destroyed everything and I want him to pay for what he did to my best friends. We need to catch this guy.”
Spencer thought for a moment. What would Derek do in a situation like that? Taking a deep breath he took a step towards her and gently put an arm around her shoulder. “We will.” he simply replied. Not exactly the most eloquent thing he had ever said.
But JJ smiled anyway and nodded in agreement. Sighing she put an arm around his waist and leaned her head against his shoulder. “I just can’t watch Pen and Derek go through this unable to help them.”
His heart skipped a beat before it started pounding like mad as she almost embraced him. Almost? Her head is resting on your shoulder, her arm is around your waist. You could call that an embrace, couldn’t you? Okay, calm down! You need to say something! “We can catch the unsub. That would help.” he finally managed to reply without squeaking. He felt her nod.
“Spence, will you promise me something?” JJ asked after a while.
He cleared his throat and tried to sound relaxed. “Sure.” he said, his voice at least one octave higher than usual.
JJ raised her head to look at him. “When we catch this guy and he tries to fight us, let ME kill him!”
She’d pictured this day so much differently. With Derek in a nice suit and herself in a white dress. JJ and Emily as her bridesmaids and Spencer as their best man. Derek’s mother and sisters sitting in the first row at the church. Her brothers wouldn’t have shown up. She wasn’t even sure where they were nor had she bothered to invite them. But that didn’t really matter to her. She’d found a new family. They would all have been with her on this day. But the team except for Derek was at the Bureau trying to find a stalker who kept trying to ruin her life. Derek’s sisters had shown up a few days ago but had to go back to work so that they could take their vacations once all this was over and Pen and Derek were finally going to get married. But if things went on like this Penelope feared that they maybe never would. Fran was staying in a nearby motel so that she could be with them in the hospital as often as possible. She’d sent Penelope and Derek to her room to take a shower and get some rest.
And there she was. Standing under a shower trying to calm down. But she couldn’t. She shouldn’t be here feeling helpless and exhausted. She should be in that church with Derek now exchanging their wedding vows. And their little girl should still be growing in her belly. This should have been the happiest day of her life and this sleaze had taken all that away from them, he’d almost managed to take their little girl and the man Penelope loved more than her own life away from her.
“Hey.” Derek whispered as he stepped into the shower. Seeing the tears running down her cheeks he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her close to him.
Penelope closed her eyes and leaned her head back against Derek’s shoulder. Feeling his strong arms around her and his muscular body against hers assured her that he was still with her and the knowledge of that soothed her at least to some extent.
“How are you feeling?” he softly asked although he was sure he already knew the answer. She probably didn’t feel much better than he did.
“Not good.” she whispered, her voice filled with tears.
Derek gently kissed her neck and asked quietly: “Can I do something to change that?”
Nodding slightly she replied: “Just hold me!”
He wrapped his arms tighter around her and buried his face in her hair. For a long time they just stood under the shower, holding each other and letting the warm water run over their bodies. For a few moments they just enjoyed the other’s touch and the warmth it sent through their bodies. Eventually Penelope’s quiet sobs subsided.
“Derek, I can’t stand this any longer.” she finally whispered.
“I know, baby girl, and I promise we’ll find out who did this to us. We’ll catch him.”
“No” her voice was a little more certain now. “He is not going to stop until he reaches his goal or we make him stop.”
“What are you up to?” he asked a little concerned.
“This plan might work.” she replied.
“I can’t let you do this.” Derek said. “I can’t let you be the decoy for that sleaze. We have no idea what he’ll do once he gets a hold of you. I’m not willing to take that risk. Besides as long as we don’t know who he is all this will probably be for naught.”
“He wants me.” Penelope reminded him. “So I’m sure he won’t kill me.”
“That’s not all he could do to you.” Derek whispered.
“You’ll all be there to protect
“I know.” Derek whispered. “I know.”
“And I think I could find out who he is.” she finally stated.
Derek’s eyes widened: “How?”
“I… um...” Penelope stuttered and cleared her throat. “He sent me the… text messages via an internet provider. I’m not sure whether he used a computer in the Bureau but considering the time he sent them... Maybe I can track him down. I hadn’t thought of it before now because… I couldn’t really think of anything else then... everything he did to us. But I don’t want to be his helpless victim anymore.”
Derek simply nodded.
For a long time neither of them said anything. Finally Derek turned Penelope around to face him and locked eyes with her. “Darling, I love you just the way you are. I wouldn’t want you to be any different. In fact, I guess if you were I might not have fallen for you.”
“I know.” she whispered. “And I’m sorry I ever doubted that. You made every effort to show me how much I mean to you.”
“But still you can’t believe it?” he studied her as if he tried to find the answer to this question in her beautiful face.
“I think a part of me will always have these worries.” she replied. “It’s just my stupid lack of self-esteem. But I know that you love me. I really do know it.”
“And that’s why I don’t want you to…”
“Derek, I have to do this.” she cut him off knowing exactly what he was about to say. “A few hours ago I almost lost you. I thought you were dead and it almost killed me and then a few seconds later I thought Eliana was going to die. I can’t handle this fear any longer. I need… to be sure that at least you are safe. We should be allowed to… be there for our little girl and… I’ve had enough, Derek, I’ve simply had enough. I want that guys head on a stick as soon as possible. I asked JJ to get me my laptop from my place.”
“Baby girl, you should be careful.” Derek almost begged her.“Once I found out who he is I can delete his whole existence with one keystroke.” Penelope declared. “I’ll make him pay for what he did to us!”