Fandom: Criminal Minds
Prompt for 24_runes: #18 Berkano (family problems and or domestic trouble)
Word count: 1217
Disclaimer: Neither the show nor the characters belong to me, they belong to CBS. Nonetheless, I love to borrow them from time to time. The story itself is all mine, though.
Summary: Penelope and Derek share some memories about a lost friend.
warnings: not really
AN: I know, this is a rather sad story – at least for those of you who have pets. I just had to write this to work up what happened in my life last week.
Last Thursday, Dec. 9th, I had to put one of my cats down. I still can’t believe he’s gone. He was only four years old, after all. He had a heart attack in summer, but he survived and got medicine for it. I really thought he had gotten better. Then on St. Nicholas Day, we went to the follow-up testing and the vet looked really worried. Only three days later we had to put Balou down.
I still miss him, even though it’s been more than a week now. So I wrote this little piece for him, and also for everyone who ever lost a beloved pet and can feel with Derek now.
I’ll also write something more cheerful for Christmas. But life isn’t always cheerful.
I hope you’ll enjoy reading this, nonetheless.
She really hadn’t expected it to be him when she answered her door so late in the evening. At first, she wanted to open the door and shout at whoever was standing in front of it for waking her up. But when she saw him, she immediately knew something terrible had happened.
“Derek,” she exclaimed, suddenly wide awake.
He looked up at her, puzzled at first. Then he seemed to realize that she was wearing her nightgown. “I… I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to… wake you,” he mumbled.
“Come in!” Penelope stepped aside so that he could enter her apartment. Her worry grew when he didn’t say a word, only scuffed towards her couch, where he plunked down.
Carefully, she stepped closer and sat down next to him.
He still refused to talk and wouldn’t even look at her.
“Derek, what happened?” she finally asked.
“Clooney’s dead,” was his simple answer.
“What?” Penelope burst out. She noticed her eyes starting to fill with tears. This couldn’t be true. She’d taken the overgrown puppy for a walk just yesterday while Derek had been on a case with the team, and he’d been just fine; slaphappy, in fact. How could he be dead now?!
“What happened?” she pressed him.
Derek laughed bleakly. “He had a heart attack.”
“Heart attack?” she repeated, sniffling slightly. “I… I didn’t even know he was sick.”
“Me, neither.” Derek sadly shook his head. “Apparently, no one knew. He just… When I came home, he was lying on the side with some foam at his mouth, and he was breathing heavily. I immediately took him to the vet, but apparently, it was too late. The doctor said there was little to no chance for him to recover, so I decided to have him put down. I didn’t want him to suffer.”
“That was a good decision,” Penelope agreed, now crying openly. “I’m so sorry, Hot Stuff.”
He raised his head to look at her. “I… I really loved that dog, you know. Stupid, right?”
“No,” she sniffled, leaning her head against his shoulder. “It’s not stupid. I loved him, too. And I’m pretty sure he loved us.”
“You think he had a good life?” Derek asked. “I… I can’t stop thinking that maybe he wasn’t all that happy. I mean, I was almost never at home, and I… I don’t know. I just feel like I should have done more to make him feel good, you know?”
“He was happy,” Penelope assured him. “Believe me. He was always overly excited to see you when you came home – and I took good care of him when you were away. I guess he always enjoyed being pampered so much.”
“Yeah.” He smiled at her. “You pampered him too much, you know that. Always took me days to make him listen to me again.”
“Nah, I don’t believe that. He was an angel when he was with me,” Penelope assured him.
Derek gave her another smile, but didn’t say anything in return. For a moment, they both wallowed in memories.
“Did you… leave him at the vet’s?” Penelope suddenly asked.
Derek looked at her and then shook his head. “I couldn’t. I didn’t want him to end up… I don’t really want to know what they do with the cadavers. I just thought… But I… He’s still in my trunk.”
Penelope nodded in understanding.
“I wanted to drive home and bury him somewhere in the yard, but… I just couldn’t stand knowing that I’ll come home and there’ll be no one to greet me. The place is so… empty without him.” Derek sighed and let his head sink.
Softly patting his shoulder, Penelope replied, “I understand. I think we should go to bed now. It’s too late and too dark outside. We’ll bury him tomorrow.”
Derek looked at her with a mixture of gratefulness and doubt. Could he really ask that of her?
“Hey, don’t think I don’t want to say goodbye to my favorite puppy.” She sniffled again and leaned her head back against Derek’s shoulder. “I’m so sorry.”
“Me, too,” he whispered.
Again, silence filled her small apartment. Penelope still couldn’t believe that Clooney was gone. It had just come so suddenly. Who would protect her now when the team was out of town?! Who would brighten her day when the case was tough?
Penelope turned to look at Derek and sighed. Who would cheer him up?!
“Do you believe in heaven?” he asked. “I mean, is there also a place for dogs?” He knew she went to church, so she certainly believed in heaven in general.
“I’m sure there is,” Penelope said, nodding. “God loves all creatures – and I’m sure he especially loved Clooney. He was the best puppy I can imagine.” She couldn’t hold back the new tears that were springing to her eyes. “I like to think that he’s happy now, with lots of his favorite food and even more toys to play with. Maybe also some other dogs to romp around with. And he surely has someone who takes care of him, at least until we get there.”
“That sounds good,” Derek agreed. “Clooney would love that.”
“He’s in no more pain now,” she sniffled, wiping the tears from her face. “He’s fine and healthy – and happy. I just know he is.”
Nodding, Derek wrapped his arm around her and kissed the top of her head. As much as he didn’t like to see Penelope cry, it was somehow soothing to know she missed Clooney as much as he did.
“I’m gonna miss him,” he said. “I’m really gonna miss him.”
“Me, too,” Penelope sniffled. “Life’s gonna be so much different without him.”
“Would it be odd to have a gravestone for him?” Derek suddenly whispered.
“No,” Penelope replied, raising her head to look at him again. “I don’t think it’s odd, and Clooney would have loved that. I’ll get you a nice one.”
Derek locked eyes with her, surprise and appreciation obvious on his face.
“I can also get you a priest, if you want one,” she said, smiling.
“No,” Derek chuckled. “That would be odd.”
“But Clooney would have loved the attention,” she giggled.
“Yeah, that much’s for sure.” Derek thankfully leaned his head back against hers. When she’d opened the door, he hadn’t been sure it had been a good idea to come here. He hadn’t wanted anyone to know. He’d wanted to drive to a bar and get drunk until he had forgotten.
But then he’d realized that it wouldn’t help – and that he couldn’t leave his car behind somewhere, knowing that Clooney was still in the trunk. So he’d ended up here, because he hadn’t known where else to go. And Penelope had reminded him why he had come. She could always make him feel better. Always. No matter what.
This was the best place he could have gone. He’d wanted her to know, because he knew she’d understand and be there for him. She could comfort him, because she knew what to say and what not to say. No “just buy a new puppy”. No “life will go on”. Just understanding and some tears for their mutual friend. It had been the only right thing to come here.“Thank you,” Derek whispered. “I knew you’d understand.”