Title: What keeps me here
Disclaimer: Neither the show nor the characters belong to me, they belong to CBS. Nonetheless, I love to borrow them from time to time. No copyright infringement intended. The idea for the story and the story itself - including all possible sequels and prequels - are mine.
Summary: Written for choc_fic. The prompt was near death experience - I could have lost you.
Derek’s in hospital in a coma and Penelope refuses to leave his side.
warnings: angst and some fluff
AN: Thanks to Gretchen for the beta-reading.
“Hey.” Penelope greeted in a low voice and took Derek’s hand. A tear ran down her cheek as she continued: “The doctors said you probably can’t hear me but… well, you know me. I can’t stand the silence very long so I guess I’m just going to talk to you.”
‘I can hear you, baby girl.’ Derek tried to answer. But he was rather sure that he failed. What had happened? Where was he? It was hard to collect his thoughts and the memory returned only fragmentarily.
Penelope searched his face waiting for a response, but he didn’t react. The fact that he still didn’t move only caused more tears to dwell in her eyes. After a long period of silence Penelope whispered: “You know that what you did was stupid, right?”
‘Maybe, but I’d do it again if necessary.’
She waited for him to object or agree – just react. But there was nothing. Sighing she squeezed his hand and leaned back in the chair. It had only been a day since she had woken up in that hospital desperately begging the doctors to tell her where Derek was. Fran hadn’t arrived yet and they told her that only family was allowed to see him but they at least had informed her about his condition. Nonetheless she’d gone to search for him. Finding him and entering his room without being noticed by one of the staff had been much easier than Penelope had thought.
As much as she tried she couldn’t keep her eyes open. She felt weak and tired. And soon she drifted back to the events of two days ago.
“What was that?” Penelope gasped in shock when she heard the loud noise above them and the building started to shake.
“I guess we found his last target.” Derek murmured.
Giving Derek a terrified look Penelope shrieked: “But this building is safe, isn’t it? It’s not going to collapse.”
“I don’t know.” Derek’s worried look didn’t help to ease her fear.
She screamed and jumped out of her chair when a small part of the ceiling crumbled and landed on the desk in front of her. What happened within the next few seconds appeared like a film to her in retrospect. She didn’t even notice the beam breaking through the ceiling.
“Watch out!” she heard him call and a second later she felt a shove to her back that threw her to the ground. When she got up and looked around she saw Derek jammed under the beam. She rushed over to him, tears dwelling in her eyes, and checked his breathing. He was alive. But she could see the blood on the floor coming from a wound in his abdomen where the beam had hit him – a lot of blood.
Penelope was awoken by a hand on her shoulder. She jumped a little and turned to face the warm smile of a beautiful woman around the age of fifty.
“You must be Penelope Garcia. The whole hospital is looking for you, do you know that?” the woman smiled at her.
“I expected something like that.” Penelope mumbled. “You’re Derek’s mother?”
Nodding she took a seat on the other side of Derek’s bed and gave her son a concerned look. “Fran Morgan. His sisters will be here as soon as possible. They’re living a little farther away from here.”
Penelope shifted in her chair. “I’d better go.”
“You can stay, if you like.” Fran softly said. “I know the two of you are quite close.”
She simply nodded unsure of what to say in return.
“They told me you were in a building that exploded. He was hit by a beam and lost a lot of blood. He’s in a coma.” Fran explained.
“It… It’s my fault.” she whispered. “That beam should have hit me.”
Fran just gave her a small smile and added: “The doctors also told me that you probably saved his life.”
Penelope didn’t answer. She fought against new tears dwelling in her eyes. She didn’t want to cry in front of Derek’s mother. It must be so much harder for her to see her son like that.
“What do you think you’re doing here?” the doctor scolded leaning in the doorway. “You’ll go back to your own room and put yourself into bed, now!”
“Can’t she stay here?” Fran asked and smiled at him.
The doctor frowned, then sighed and replied: “She’s your responsibility!”
“Thank you.” Fran smiled at him.
The two women kept chatting the whole night through. Fran telling stories of Derek’s childhood and Penelope telling Derek’s mother more about their work and what a hero her son was.
“We should go to the cafeteria and have some breakfast.” Fran stated when she realized that it was already past eight.
“I’m not really hungry.” Penelope replied.
“Then I’ll get you something.” Fran said and stood up. “You’d better eat because you have to be fit when Derek wakes up. Otherwise he’d blame me for not taking good care of you.”
Penelope waited until she was sure Fran couldn’t hear her before she took Derek’s hand and said: “Your mother is really nice. She’s a lot like you – or well, I guess it’s more adequate to say you’re a lot like her. She’s just as caring and kind as you are and it’s so much fun talking to her. I always knew I’d like your mother because… well, she raised you.”
‘I’m sure she likes you too.’ Why could he hear her but not answer? He felt weird. As if he was in a soundproof room yelling at the people outside.
“Where are you Derek?” she whispered, new tears running down her cheek. She wanted to be strong for him but every time she saw him motionless in this bed she couldn’t stop the tears.
‘I’m right here with you, goddess. At least I think I am. It’s so dark, I can’t see a thing.’ He felt himself drifting away as if an invisible power was tugging at him – but he fought against it and Penelope’s voice kept him where he was. He couldn’t leave her yet. There were just too many things left unsaid and undone. What had happened in that basement had changed their relationship forever and Derek wanted to find out where this would take them.
Penelope reached into her pocket for a handkerchief and felt the bottle of nail polish. Frowning she took it out and stared at it. “JJ brought me this.” she informed Derek. “Blue nail polish. She knows I hate going about with unpolished nails. I guess the nurses removed it when I was brought here – although I have no idea why. Maybe it was ruined.”
Smiling to herself she remembered the day her nails where painted the last time. Derek had entered her office just as she was swearing about the polish that refused to go on her nails without messing up.
He had grinned at her, taken the bottle and her hand and painted her nails flawlessly. She’d teased him about this ‘feminine side’ as she’d called it.
“You know, you do the painting so much better than
‘I’ll gladly paint them for you.’ Derek tried to smile but failed again. Why couldn’t he move? This was getting really annoying. He wanted to talk to her, hold her and tell her everything was going to be okay.
When she couldn’t stand the sight of him unresponsive anymore Penelope placed her head on his chest. She could hear his heart beating and feel his chest rhythmically rising and falling, the only signs that he was still with her.
“You should go.” Derek said in a husky, quivering voice. “It’s getting cold in here.”
“They’ll find us.” Penelope assured him still pressing on the wound in his stomach.
“How long have we already been here?” he wanted to know.
Glancing at her watch Penelope replied: “A little more than four hours.” The temperature was decreasing fast and it had obviously started to snow outside. A few flakes made their way through the damaged ceiling above them and landed on Derek’s chest.
“It’s cold, baby girl. You have to go.” Derek whispered.
Penelope wrapped their jackets a little tighter around him and then snuggled up against him. “They’ll find us.” she repeated. “They know that we’re here.”
“I’m so tired.” his voice was almost inaudible.
“It’s okay.” Penelope replied in barely more than a whisper. “We can sleep now.” They wouldn’t make it in time, this was the day she’d die. But to her own surprise she was much more concerned that Derek would die with her.
“I love you.” he said huskily.
Penelope raised her head to look at him. “I love you too.” she whispered and leaned down to kiss him deeply before she placed her head back on his shoulder and closed her eyes.
Fran couldn’t help but smile at the sight that greeted her when she returned from the cafeteria. Carefully Fran stepped closer and woke Penelope gently. She handed her a sandwich and a cup of coffee.
“Thanks.” Penelope smiled. “How much do I owe you?”
“At least six hours of rest.” Fran replied. “The rest is on me!”
“No, I can’t accept this. I mean…”
“You’ve known Derek for quite a while now, right?” Fran frowned at her. “You should know better than to argue with a member of the Morgan family!”
Penelope simply nodded and mumbled another thanks.
They ate in silence and had just finished when Derek’s sisters arrived. Penelope wasn’t surprised that they were just as kind as their mother and brother. She felt incredibly comfortable among them.
The weeks past and Penelope’s concern grew. The longer Derek stayed in a coma the less likely the chance that he would wake up.
Fran, Sarah and Desiree took turns staying with Derek and trying to convince Penelope to get some rest. But the more days passed the more she refused to leave his side. From the third week onwards she stayed with him, slept only occasionally in the chair, her head resting on his chest most of the time. Fran provided her with food and drinks.
When Fran returned to the hospital room with two pots of coffee one morning the sight that greeted her caused the tears to spring into her eyes. Derek was awake and had sat up on the bed. He held one of Penelope’s hands and was painting her nails. They were smiling at each other, chatting like nothing ever happened and laughing in between. But from the expressions on both their faces Fran could tell that something was different.
She backed off. As much as she wanted to hug her son and tell him how glad she was that he was back and how much she loved him, this moment belonged to the two of them. So she decided to call Des and Sarah and wait for them to arrive before she entered the room.
“What you did was stupid.” Derek stated. “You shouldn’t have stayed with me.”
“How can that be stupid?” Penelope shrugged. “You’re alive.”
“You know what I mean.” he frowned. “You should have left. You almost froze to death!”
She looked at her freshly painted fingernails and replied: “If I had left, you would have frozen to death. I… I could have lost you. I couldn’t let that happen.”
Derek reached out to stroke her cheek.
She raised her head again and locked eyes with him.
“Penelope, what happened in the basement…”
“I’m sorry.” she whispered and looked down. “I shouldn’t have…”
Derek cupped her chin with his hand and made her look back into his eyes. “I don’t regret anything. And I don’t want you to regret it either.”
“I don’t.” Penelope assured and smiled impishly.
For a few moments they sat in silence looking into each others eyes. Until they both leaned forward and met in a soft and tender kiss.
When they broke apart Derek leaned his forehead against hers and whispered: “You know, it was your voice that kept me here with you and the fact that I wanted to have a second chance. Thanks for saving my life, baby girl.”
“Anytime, hot stuff.” Penelope answered and captured his lips with hers again glad to not only have the chance but also the right to kiss him again.
The kiss quickly became passionate and demanding and Derek pulled her closer until she was sitting on his bed, almost on his lap.They were startled by a soft clearing of a throat and Penelope jumped off the bed. Fran, Des and Sarah leaned in the doorway. “Seems you’re feeling better.” Fran grinned.