Fandom: Criminal Minds
Prompt for 10_dates: #4 Feelings
Rating: T for content (just to be sure)
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 6/10 of ‘The long way’-series.
AN: Hey there, I know many of you are waiting for an update of another story, but I’m kinda stuck with it. :/ Besides, my life just sucks big time at the moment. But that’s a different story. Maybe next time I’ll insert a suspect who kills people who really pissed her off – and, of course, gets away with it. LOL
Anyway, thank you to Jenny for beta-reading faster than I can write. Thank you to everyone who reviewed, or put this story on any alert/favorite list. I’m glad many people seem to be enjoying this story. I can’t tell you what this means to me.
Of course, writing is a lot of fun and I really enjoy it. But sometimes I wonder if I shouldn’t use my energy for different things – and sometimes my muse just wants to run from my stupid life and leaves me alone. These are the times your reviews remind me that I’m not only writing for myself and that there are people who would really miss my stories. That makes me feel useful, in a way – and my muse usually returns remorsefully. :) So, thank you, and enjoy!
Penelope sighed as she followed Derek into the small diner. He was so sweet and caring. If only she could find a guy like him for tonight. The last thing she needed was some selfish idiot. Maybe she should have stayed with Kevin. Sure, he wasn’t the best boyfriend she could think of. In fact, he could be really annoying, but he was a good guy.
“Are you okay?” Derek’s worried voice interrupted her thoughts.
Penelope looked at him and tried to give him a smile. “Sure.”
Not knowing what to say to really comfort her, Derek reached over the table and took her hands in his. His action was rewarded with a smile, which only let Derek’s worry grow. It was the saddest smile he’d ever seen. What she’d had to watch all over again these past few days had left marks, and Derek could see them, even though she was trying her best to hide them.
This had all gone so wrong. The drinks he’d planned on having with her had been them trying to forget the events of the evening. Now, their supposed to be first date was having breakfast together, trying to forget about a case that was about to tear Penelope apart.
Why did everything have to go wrong? Why was he unable to get it right with her? He’d never had any problem with women. But after he’d realized that he was in love with her, all his efforts to woo her had gone completely wrong.
“You know I… I’m having nightmares,” Penelope admitted. She wasn’t even sure why she was telling him this. “I keep dreaming about… that guy. In my dreams, I’m in the alley. Sometimes I just watch what he does to the girls, but most of the time… I’m the victim.”
Derek squeezed her hands, but didn’t say anything in return.
“I know I shouldn’t identify with the victims, but… I can’t help it. I am a victim, after all, aren’t I?” she whispered.
“No, you’re not,” Derek objected. “The guy who attacked you has nothing to do with the case we’re working. The guy who attacked you is behind bars. He could be connected to seven cases of rape in D.C. You’ve learned how to defend yourself, and I’ll do my best to be there and protect you.”
“I know.” She smiled and took a deep breath. She was shivering again, and she wasn’t even sure why. It wasn’t remarkably cold in here.
It didn’t escape Derek’s notice that this was already the third time Penelope rubbed her upper arms. He’d known it was bad, but… He knew she needed a day off, and he would make sure she got it.
“How long have you been sleeping at the office?” Derek wanted to know.
Penelope shrugged. “A couple of days.”
“Since we started working the case?” He didn’t really have to ask, because he already knew the answer.
“I… I just didn’t feel safe going home on my own,” she admitted. “I know it’s stupid, and I’m sure it’s gonna get better once this case is over.”
“You should take it easy, sweetness.” Derek knew exactly how she was feeling, and he knew cases like the one they were currently working weren’t going to make it any better. “Maybe you should take a few days off.”
“I can’t, and you know that.” Penelope sighed, and tiredly rubbed the bridge of her nose. “I just had three days off, and we’re stuck with the case. I know this case is asking a lot from all of us, maybe especially from me this time, considering what happened. Still, I need to help catch the guy to feel safe again.”
“I know,” Derek nodded, “but one day off will certainly do you good. You need to put some daylight between you and this case.”
“I can’t,” Penelope sighed again. “Hotch would never approve that.”
“He will.” Derek would make him approve it, anyway. “You need a day off, you get it. That’s how we make sure cases aren’t tearing us apart.”
They ate their breakfast mostly in silence, but Derek watched Penelope rubbing her upper arms every now and then. He could tell that her nerves were raw.
At his apartment, he called Hotch while Penelope was in the shower. Their boss already knew Penelope was taking this case really hard, otherwise he’d never have let Derek fly back to
“Anything else you want to tell me?” Hotch asked after listening to Morgan explain how hard Garcia was taking the case.
“No,” he sighed, “I just thought… if Penelope could have one day off, she might be able to look at the footage more clearly and be a bigger help.”
“I agree.” Hotch’s voice was unusually soft. “Take care of her, Morgan.”
“I will,” he promised and hung up. If only she lets me.
“How’s the case going?” Penelope wanted to know as she came back from the bathroom.
“We won’t worry about that for a while,” Derek replied. “We have tomorrow off.”
“I’d much rather try and find a connection between the victims, or something to help us catch this dirtbag.”
“No way, Baby Girl,” Derek grinned at her. “I’m gonna take you out to dinner tonight, then lunch tomorrow, and a movie afterwards, but first of all, we’ll get you to sleep.”
“I don’t feel like sleeping,” she lied. It wasn’t hard to tell from her appearance that she hadn’t slept much in a couple of days.
“Rubbish.” Derek put her off, grabbed her hand, and pulled her towards his guest room. “You’ll sleep tonight. That’s an order!”
“Derek…” she tried, but knew it was pointless. She really needed to sleep, but she knew the nightmares were going to return.
He pushed the blanket back and made her lay down. “I can tell you a story if you like,” he quipped as he tucked her in.
“I… I can’t sleep,” she finally told him.
“Because of the nightmares?” Derek softly asked.
She just nodded and looked down at her hands.
Derek bit his lip as he thought about her words. He knew a way to chase the nightmares away, but he wasn’t sure she’d let him hold her.
“Don’t worry about them,” he finally said, and crawled underneath the blanket next to her, gently pulling her into his arms. “I’m gonna keep them away, I promise.”
Penelope snuggled up close against him. She needed the closeness, the human contact. Resting her head on his chest, she closed her eyes – and for the first time, she didn’t see the picture of this alley and the victims in front of her.
“Why did you come back from
Smiling, Derek kissed the top of her head. “Because I missed you, sweetness. Isn’t that reason enough?”
“Liar,” she mumbled. “Thank you.”
“I’m here, baby,” he whispered. “Whenever you need me.”“I know,” she smiled, and gave in to a peaceful and dreamless sleep.