Fandom: Criminal Minds
Prompt for 10_dates: #6 Phone
Disclaimer: Neither the show nor the characters belong to me, they belong to CBS. Nonetheless, I love to borrow them from time to time.
Summary: Part 5/? of the ‘Long way’ series. Garcia has some trouble dealing with a case.
Penelope stopped the video, took off her glasses, and rubbed the bridge of her nose. She simply couldn’t watch this any longer. It wasn’t that she hadn’t seen something like that before. In fact, she had seen much worse over the years, and sometimes it was only hard medication that let her sleep at night.
But why did her first case back at work have to be a serial rapist?! Why did this guy have to attack his victims in a dark alley much like the one she had used that fateful night?! The guy had left evidence, lots of it, but nothing had led them anywhere so far. Neither his fingerprints nor his DNA were in the database.
So the hottest scent they had was a video from the last rape. For hours, Penelope had watched the young woman being attacked, overpowered, and humiliated by this guy. Her screams were burned into Penelope’s memory, and the longer Penelope watched the video, the more she felt like Derek hadn’t been there in time to rescue her.
She felt sick, she felt dirty, and she didn’t feel safe, not even in this building. She knew she was doing pretty good with her lessons in self defense, and there were numerous guards, as well as security cameras almost everywhere. There was no safer place than her bunker, but at the moment, there certainly was no place in the world where she would have felt safe.
Penelope took her phone and was about to hit speed dial. Sighing, she put it away. Of course, she’d have felt much better if Derek had told her she was safe here. She would believe him. The sound of his voice alone made her feel better, safer, but he was busy working a case she was absolutely no help in solving.
The ringing of her phone made her jump slightly. She looked at the caller ID and was sure Derek was able to read her mind, as if they were connected in some supernatural way. Smiling at the idea, she answered the call. “Speak, mere mortal!”
“Hey, goddess.” She could hear the grin on his face. “Will you do me a favor, or do I have to kiss your feet first?”
“Hm, nice image,” she purred, “but I think I’m gonna grant you one wish today – for free.”
“Then I wish for you to go out with me,” he told her frankly. “I’m tired of settling for dates over the phone.”
“I told you before you can’t consider this a real date,” she said, rolling her eyes.
“That’s why I’m asking for a real one,” he replied. “Dinner, as soon as this case is over.”
“Wish granted,” Penelope smiled. “Sounds like a plan to me, but that wasn’t why you called me, was it?” Penelope knew the answer, but she was more than grateful for the diversion.
“I need you to run a background check on a Tiffany Melrose,” he told her, his voice serious again.
Penelope started to type the name, and then stopped. “New victim?”
Derek sighed. “I’m afraid so.”
“Please, tell me there’s no new security footage.” Penelope was unable to keep the disgust and the hurt out of her voice.
“Are you okay, honey?” Derek asked worriedly.
She sighed and considered lying to him, but then decided against it. “No.”
Derek swore silently. He could hear the pain in her voice. They should have told Hotch. She shouldn’t be working this case and having to watch the video. He ran a hand over his face. “Baby, if you need a break…”
“I’ll be fine,” she quickly interrupted him, knowing he would tell Hotch if he had any suspicion she couldn’t deal with this. “I just… I don’t know.”
He waited a few seconds for her to finish her thoughts, but soon realized she didn’t dare. “You just what?” he pressed her.
“It’s stupid, I know.” Penelope sighed and hesitated again before she told him, “I don’t feel safe anymore, not even here.”
Derek frowned. She’d felt safe with him, safer after every lesson he had taught her. “Would you rather work from home?”
“No,” she sighed again. “This building is safer, right?”
He could practically hear her shiver, and that was when he made his decision.
“Is that Garcia on the phone?” Penelope heard Hotch’s voice in the background.
“I’ll call you back when I have the information on Tiffany,” she quickly told Derek and hung up. She so didn’t want her boss to notice how much this case was bothering her, and she knew he would.
She worked as long on the background check of Tiffany Melrose as she could, basically to avoid having to continue working with the footage. She knew she identified too much with the victims – but considering what had happened to her, she had no idea how not to.
It was already half past two in the morning when Penelope finally shut her computers down. Tiredly, she wiped her eyes. This would be just another sleepless night. Sure, her pills helped her fall asleep, but they couldn’t keep the nightmares away.
Sighing, Penelope closed the door to her office and walked through the empty hallway. She’d been sleeping on the couch in Hotch’s office for almost a week now. Luckily, she always had her ready back in Esther’s trunk in case she needed to leave with the team, and there were showers in the ladies restroom.
Hotch would kill her if he knew she was spending her nights at the bureau. Not because he’d be angry she’d used his couch, but because he’d be angry she hadn’t slept in a real bed. But she simply couldn’t go home. She barely found some sleep here, in one of the safest buildings in the world.
Penelope opened the book she’d brought with her to take her mind off things a little before she tried to sleep. Not that it helped a lot, but it was still better than going to bed right after she’d watched a woman being raped.
When she finally closed her eyes, the sun was already rising outside.
She saw the girl being attacked in the alley. Only this time, it wasn’t in the footage on her computer screen. She was there, in the alley, watching the scene. Then suddenly, the guy was above her, and…
“Penelope…” She heard the man’s voice call her name, and felt his hands grabbing her shoulders.
“No!” she begged him. “Please, don’t!”
“Penelope!” the voice was louder now, and it sounded familiar. Somebody shook her.
When she opened her eyes, she looked right into Derek’s worried face. “Hey,” she greeted sleepily and sat up. Then she stared at him, a little puzzled, as her mind started to work clearly again. “You’re back already? Did you catch the guy?”
“No, Sweetness, the others are still in
“Then… what are you doing here?”
Derek shrugged. “They can handle the rest of the case without me, but maybe I can help you with the footage.”
“You didn’t come back early because of me, did you?” Penelope frowned at him.
Reaching out to put a strand of hair behind her ear, Derek replied, “No, Baby Girl, it’s all about work, sorry.”
She leaned into the soft touch of his hand and immediately felt better. For a moment, she allowed herself to enjoy the warmth radiating from his palm that softly cupped her cheek. Then Penelope opened her eyes again. “Well, then, let’s boot up the computers and get to work.”
“Easy, Princess!” Derek told her, and kept her from standing up. “First, we’re gonna go and have a nice breakfast together. Then I’ll take you home, where you will get some much needed sleep. Don’t even think about arguing with me!”
“But…” she tried to protest.
“Ah!” Derek put a finger over her mouth to interrupt her. “What did I tell you about the arguing part?! You do as I say now, period.”
“Okay, okay.” she rolled her eyes. Of course, she’d never admit she was glad to be away from the footage for a few more hours.
“Good girl.” He smiled at her, and then leaned up to softly peck her lips. “Now, come on, we have a date.”
She was unable to say anything, when Derek pulled her to her feet and towards the elevators. Her lips were prickling from the feeling of his. Of course, it hadn’t been a real kiss…
Oh, but she wanted a real kiss. She needed a real kiss! After everything she’d had to watch during the past few days, after all the nightmares, she needed some warmth, some caress, some human touch to make her feel better. Maybe she could sneak away later, get drunk, and just try and hook it up with someone.
Sure, she usually didn’t do that kind of thing; but did that mean that she wasn’t allowed to feel like doing it from time to time? Did it make her any less of a person that she sometimes couldn’t stand what she had to face every day? That it made her start to doubt that despite all the evil, there also was good in the world?
“Are you okay, baby?” he asked while they were waiting for the elevator.
“You know, sometimes I really wonder why I took this job.” she replied, and a tear escaped the corner of her eyes.
Derek reached out to cup her cheek and brushed the tear away with his thumb. “Maybe you should run another background check on the victims tomorrow and let me worry about the footage.”
Penelope smiled weakly. “You really think Hotch would approve?”
“Who cares?” Derek shrugged. “As long as it makes you feel better.”
Instead of answering, Penelope closed her eyes and leaned into the touch of his hand. The fact that he was here, that he flew all the way back to
“Hey,” Derek softly said, regaining her attention, “I’d do anything for you, you know that, right?”
“Yeah,” she assured.But I doubt you’d do what I really need right now.