Title: Bills to pay
Fandom: Criminal Minds
Prompt for 10_hurt_comfort: #4 Drunk
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 pre- and sequels - belong to me.
Summary: Sometimes you just need to get drunk.warnings: hurt/comfort
It had taken him exactly three hours and questioning people in twelve crowded bars to find her. And when he did, it already seemed to be too late. She could barely sit upright on the stool and downed in one go what probably was her hundredth Whiskey.
And there was a guy on the stool next to her with his hands where they definitely shouldn’t be! Derek was breathing fire when he grabbed the guy’s jacket and rudely pulled him off the stool.
The guy wanted to object but obviously considered it a bad idea when he looked into Derek’s stern face and quickly stumbled out of the bar.
Without saying a word he sat down next to her.
“Look who’s there.” she had to hiccup and giggled. “The most gorgeous man in the world and he sat down next to me. I’ll drink a toast to that!” she raised her refilled glass again.
“No, you’ve had enough, baby girl.” Derek said and took the glass away from her.
“Hey, I don’t need no watchdog.” she slurred. “Leave me alone and let me have my drink!”
“No, that was enough, girl.” he frowned. “What’s wrong with you.”
“Nothing, sweetness.” she purred and giggled once more. “In fact, I’ve never been better. Oh, well, maybe I would feel better if you hadn’t chased away the nice guy who was sitting next to me.”
“You really think he was a nice guy?” Derek snorted. “I didn’t know it was so bad.”
“It’s not bad.” she shrugged, lengthening the adjective. “I was just in the mood for a few drinks and meeting some nice people. And now you deprived me of both.”
“I can’t believe you really wanted to spend the rest of the night with him.” he silently told the bar tender not to refill her glass again.
“I don’t think that’s your business.” Penelope replied and tried to grab the glass from him. She snorted when he emptied the glass by himself. Then she sighed and explained: “This is my life, Derek.”
“Yeah, and you’re about to end it by going along with some potential serial killer or rapist.” he grumbled.
“Oh, and you think I need a big bad profiler to protect me ‘cause I’m such a powerless little girl.” she snorted. “I should never have taken that job!”
Raising an eyebrow at her Derek asked: “What?”
“Well, if I’d known about the nightmares and the resulting insomnia…” she sighed. “Maybe I should take one of the other jobs that are constantly offered to me.
He didn’t know what to say in return to that.
“You’re lucky, you know that?” Penelope said and tried to convince the bar tender to refill her glass. Unfortunately, he obviously considered Derek more threatening than her.
“What do you mean?” he frowned again, this time out of confusion.
Penelope shrugged again. “You’re good at your job, you can handle everything you see every day. And every girl in the world wants to be with you. If you need a girl to take your mind off things, you can just pick one of the hundred who’re at your feet.”
“You’re the best at your job, otherwise you wouldn’t be on our team.” he objected.
“Oh, yeah, and now you’re going to tell me that I can have any man I want when I want.” she snarled. “I really should quit, you can get another tech.”
“That’s not true.” Derek quickly objected. “You love your job and we need you to be a part of our team. We can’t do our best without you.”
She didn’t answer.
Derek frowned. “You really wanted to go with that guy, right?” he softly asked, anger and concern obvious in his voice. “But I wonder why, that’s not like you. You need someone who understands what this job is doing to you at times and who will just hold you the whole night through if you need it.”
“Yeah, but where do I find someone like that?” she whispered. “What if I can’t do better than that guy?”
“Of course, you can.” Derek gently stroked her cheek. “You can do so much better.”
Penelope gave him a sad smile: “Why don’t you let me have another drink?”
“Because you already had enough drinks for at least two weeks.” he replied. “And I think you should call it a night now.” Derek tried to pull her away from the counter and out of the bar. Normally, Penelope didn’t drink so much.
She still refused to go with him. Apart from being a little uncoordinated she was still pretty strong and Derek didn’t want to have to fight with her.
“Have you never been in the mood to just… get mindlessly drunk and forget about everything?” she sighed. “Damn, I can articulate meaningful sentences – and I can actually pronounce a word like ‘articulate’. I’m not yet drunk enough!”
“Sure, I know that urge.” he said seriously. “And I know the need of some human contact – no matter whose. But I also know the morning after. Trust me, it’s not going to be any fun – and it’ll only get worse with every other drink you have.”
“I should have gone with that guy hours ago.” she snarled.
“Do you really want to wake up next to a stranger tomorrow with the worst hangover you ever had and regret that you went to that bar at all?” he quietly asked. “Sorry, sweetness, I can’t let that happen and I won’t. If you need human contact you’ll have to be content with mine!”
Penelope looked into his eyes and just swallowed at his words. What was that supposed to mean?! Certainly not what it sounded like!
Derek could beyond question understand that sometimes you just wanted to forget everything that happened. And drinking was one of the easier ways to do so. Nonetheless, Penelope was on her way to alcohol intoxication not to mention that if he left her alone she would surely hook it up with the next guy that started to grope her – and he simply couldn’t let this happen.
“Come on, baby girl, let me take you home!” he softly commanded and once again tried to pull her with him.
“Let go of me!” she yelled and punched him clumsily.
“I’ll take you home and make sure you neither drink anymore nor get laid by the next best guy around.” he grumbled without loosening his grip on her. “Now, come on! Don’t make me carry you out of here!”
The drive was challenging with Penelope yelling at him, railing at him and constantly trying to grasp the steering wheel.
Getting her up the stairs and into her apartment was even harder. And then she only just made it into her bathroom before the whole Whiskey, Vodka and whatever else she’d drunk this evening wanted to get back out.
Derek decided it was better to stay with her. And the rest of the night proved that his decision had been right. Penelope spent the first half of the night over the toilet and Derek kept stroking her back and handing her kleenex and water in between.
And for the last part of the night Penelope crawled under her blanket and struggled to find some sleep. Derek stayed up to watch over her. Maybe she’d just needed to let go for a while or maybe something was really wrong with her. As a matter of fact, he’d never seen her getting so terribly drunk.
He kept an eye on her to make sure it wouldn’t get worse. He stayed with her for the rest of the night to make sure she was okay. When she’d finally fallen asleep, he went to an overnight drugstore to get some aspirin and something to calm down her stomach so she would at least be able to last the next day. Luckily, it was Sunday so she could stay at home.
When he came back he used his keys to get into her apartment. No need to wake her up if she was asleep – or to make her stand up if she wasn’t. He found her in bed and had to duck the pillow she threw at him.
“Get the hell outta here and leave me alone!” she groaned and buried her head under the blanket.
“Baby girl, you can’t stay in this bed forever.” he softly said. “You have to get up and eat to make it better.”
“I’ve had hangovers before.” he heard her muffled voice.
Derek raised an eyebrow. “I’ve never seen you drink so much before though.”
Finally she let the blanket down and looked at him, her face pale and her eyes bloodshot. “You don’t need to take care of
He smirked: “I’ve seen much worse!”
“Very funny.” Penelope grimaced. “I’m serious, Derek! It was nice of you to take me home and… stay with me through all that. But you’ve already seen me further down than I’ve ever been before and…”
“There’s always another step down you can take.” he softly interrupted her. “Trust me, I know that. And now let me get you something to eat!”
It was hard to eat anything but with the meds Derek had bought it was at least possible. And by the time it was evening again Penelope felt both her head and her stomach get better.
“So, why did you get so drunk?” Derek finally asked as he sat down next to her on the bed.
Penelope just shrugged. “Did you never just… want to forget about everything?” she whispered.
Derek gave her an understanding smile: “And drinking helps.”
“Yeah, that or… not being alone, you know.” Penelope mumbled.
Frowning Derek thought about her words. Then he carefully climbed under the blanket and caught her in his arms. “Just promise me something, baby girl.” he whispered and softly kissed the top of her head. “Next time you feel like that don’t go to a bar to get drunk and go along with the next best guy. Come to me!”Penelope nodded, slightly because still every movement of her head meant pain, and buried her face in the crook of his neck. At least she knew that tonight she would be able to sleep because she had Derek around to chase her nightmares away.