Fandom: Criminal Minds
Prompt for 30_sweets: #25 Can I? Can I?
Rating: M for some graphic scenes related to the case
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 14/? of the ‘No more sweets’-series.Warnings: see above
AN: I tried not to describe the torture scenes in too much detail, but still I’m rather sure this is no longer suitable for children or teenagers. So, if you know you’re troubled by such scenes, you should skip the first few paragraphs. For those who want to read the chapter, but don’t want to read what exactly the UNSUB did to his victims, skip until the little smiley indicating that it’s okay to read on afterwards. :)
I’m sorry if some of your reviews you so loyally sent for earlier chapters remained unanswered. I experienced some trouble with the reply link on FFN and couldn’t PM all of you. Be sure that all of your reviews are always very much welcome and appreciated.
Now, I hope you can enjoy this chapter, despite the fact that it’s pretty dark.
When they arrived at the station, all Derek really wanted to do was gather Penelope in his arms and promise her that she would never have to look at the awful video again. They should surely bring another technical analyst in.
Hotch gave their computer genius a worried look. She was pale – incredibly pale – and her hands were shaking as she hit the play button.
“When I tried to restore the data from the crashed system, this is what I found,” she said, her voice husky. “It was the file that inserted the virus into the system. How that happened, I’m not sure, and I can’t trace that back. Someone must have opened the file, though, to start the installation of the virus. I’m not sure if said someone saw the content of the file, or not.”
None of the present agents missed how she was keeping her back turned to the screen while talking and showing them the content of the video.
“I’m sorry, but I can’t watch this again. I did three times already before you got here, trying to find anything in the background. But there’s nothing but screaming and whimpering – except for the nasty sounds his… tools make when he uses them,” Penelope told them.
“The woman is Amanda Connor, his third victim,” she told her colleagues. “And before you ask, yes, the video is real. Everything you see in it actually happened to that woman.”
Emily drew in a sharp breath as she watched the UNSUB moving what appeared to be a razor blade over Amanda’s inner thighs. The woman cried out in pain, and then whimpered.
“For those of you who asked themselves whether he rapes his victims before he… literally rips them apart, here’s the answer,” Penelope said, her voice barely above a whisper.
“Oh, my God,” Emily exclaimed, choking.
“I don’t believe this.” It slipped out Derek’s mouth, the taste of bad eggs spreading over his tongue.
“This is a pear,” Penelope told them, trying her best to ignore the ear-shattering screams coming from Amanda in her agony. “It’s an ancient instrument of torture for women, used especially in medieval times.”
“This is… horrible,” Emily whispered, as she desperately tried to keep her breakfast from coming up.
“It’s not even the worst part,” Penelope told her, choking up, even though she didn’t look at the video. She knew well enough what was going on there.
“How is it even possible that she’s still alive?” Emily wanted to know.
“The damage caused by this instrument isn’t fatal,” Reid explained. “They were produced to cause pain, not death.”
“Oh, God, he isn’t going to…” Emily stopped, staring at the screen in disbelief as she watched the UNSUB rape the mutilated woman. “Why… Why didn’t she at least pass out?” She felt her stomach turn as she watched.
“According to the autopsy report, she had so much adrenaline running through her veins that it certainly kept her from passing out,” Reid replied.
“The UNSUB gave her adrenalin to keep her awake during this… torture?” Derek exclaimed.
“Seems like,” Reid answered, nodding.
“A sexual sadist,” Hotch added for the profile, “even though this goes far beyond any sadism I’ve ever experienced.”
“Wait… is that?” Emily gasped.
“He makes them drink their own blood,” Penelope replied.
“Switch it off,” Hotch commanded, his voice unusually soft.
Penelope swallowed, before responding, “It’s going to get worse. When there’s not enough blood coming from the wound anymore, he starts cutting them open, and…”
“That’s enough for today,” Hotch interrupted her. “We can look at the rest later. We’ll work on the profile, and you get some rest.”
“Sir, I assure you, I can…” Penelope started to object.
Hotch silenced her with just one look. “That was an order,” he told her. “Get some rest.”
“Okay,” she finally agreed. She didn’t want to admit it. She didn’t want to be treated differently than anyone else. But she was grateful for the break.
Flashing Derek the most honest smile she could manage, Penelope slowly walked out of the room. She felt sick. She’d thrown up at least five times while watching the video, and she was sure there was nothing left in her stomach, but she still felt sick.
Derek sighed and ran a hand over his face. He should have been there. He should be able to be there for her now.
Hotch frowned at the other agent. Everyone could see how much the video had affected Garcia – and they needed her to track the UNSUB down, if he was as good with computers as he seemed to be. Besides, it was one of Hotch’s duty to take care of his team, especially during cases like this.
“Go,” he simply said, nodding to his agent. Garcia shouldn’t be alone right now – and Morgan wouldn’t be of any help if he was worrying more about their technical analyst than about the case.
Derek immediately jumped up and followed Penelope out of the room. He caught up with her at the exit of the police station. “Hey, Baby Girl, wait for me!”
She turned to him, her face even paler than a minute ago. “Do you need me to run another background check or something?”
There was no bantering, no teasing, not the slightest hint of humor in her voice, and Derek’s worry grew. “No,” he said, his voice soft, and put an arm around her. “Hotch gave both of us the rest of the day off, so I thought we can spend it together – if you want to, that is. There’s something I wanted to talk to you about.”
“Oh,” was her only reaction to that. She wanted to sleep for as long as possible, even though she knew she would only wake up from the scenes she’d had to witness and from the screams of the tortured woman.
She wanted to cry, but didn’t want the rest of the team to think that she was vulnerable, that she couldn’t handle this. But the truth was that she couldn’t, and she didn’t want to have to handle things like this.
“So, what would you like to do?” Derek asked, trying not to show her how worried he really was about her.
“I… don’t know,” she replied weakly.
Oh, she did know. She wanted to curl up – preferably in Derek’s arms – and try to hide from the whole rest of the world until they caught this… monster. She knew that was a cliché, but she couldn’t think of this man otherwise. She refused to believe that a human being was capable of doing something so horribly cruel.
“How about lunch?” Derek suggested. He knew that Penelope needed to eat something.
Penelope just shrugged. “I’m not really hungry.” As a matter of fact, she had puked up more than she’d eaten in about three days.
“Do you think some tiramisu could change your mind?” he tried again.
“I really don’t want to eat anything,” Penelope admitted. “I’m sorry, but I can’t. Not after having watched that video.”
Derek just nodded, gently pulling her into his arms. “How about we just go back to the hotel, and you try and get some rest,” he whispered.
He felt her nod against his chest, and led her out of the police station to his SUV. The drive was silent. Penelope stared out of the window on the passenger side and seemed to be a thousand miles away – and from the look on her face, Derek could tell that it wasn’t a good place.
They checked in at the hotel, telling the receptionist that they were with the FBI and had booked seven rooms.
“There’re two rooms joined through a shared bathroom in the middle,” the woman told Derek. “Who’ll take these rooms?”
Derek thought about it for a moment, before he replied, “We’ll take them.” This way, he could be as close to his Baby Girl as possible, without drawing too much attention to their still-developing relationship.
Nodding, the woman handed him two keycards and described the way to their rooms.
Derek took his and Penelope’s luggage, and then led her to the elevator. Their rooms were on the fifth floor, with a nice view over the city.
He opened her door, carried their bags inside, and watched as she sank onto the bed. “Do you… want me to leave you alone?” he asked carefully.
Penelope looked up at him for a second, before she whispered, “I don’t know. I’m tired, but… I’m afraid that if I close my eyes, all I’ll see is that woman and what that monster did to her. I can’t forget… her screams.”
Sitting down next to her, Derek put his arm around her. “Maybe I can… chase the nightmares away,” he whispered.
Penelope leaned her head against his shoulder and closed her eyes for a moment. She wasn’t sure why, but she felt incredibly tired. How Derek would be able to chase away her nightmares, she didn’t question. There was no room in her head to worry about her insecurities now. She just wanted to forget.
“Come on,” Derek said softly, tugging at her sleeve. “Let me hold you. I promise, I won’t let any of this get to you.”
She raised her head to look into his eyes, and suddenly, she wasn’t able to hold back the tears any longer. “I’ve never seen anything… so horrible before.”
“Me, either,” Derek assured her. “And I’m sorry I wasn’t there when you had to watch it. I’m sorry you had to watch it at all. But I promise we’ll catch this guy – so that all of us can sleep peacefully again.”
“I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to sleep peacefully again,” she whispered. “I’m just… not trained for this.”
“Trust me, you can’t be,” Derek replied. “Nothing and no one can ever prepare you for something like this.”
“How can you… not let this affect you?” she asked.
Derek breathed deeply, before he answered. “It affects all of us – even Hotch. No one can watch something so horrible, and then move on as if nothing ever happened – except for a really sick mind like that of our UNSUB.
“But we’ve learned to deal with it. We’ve learned to concentrate on things like the background noises, and not the screams of the victim. We concentrate on… reflections in reflective surfaces, or the movements of lights and shadows, instead of what the UNSUB does to the victim.”
“And you never call the victim by her name,” she added. Everyone always told her not to personalize with the victims. But no one ever really told her how not to.
“It helps to put some daylight between yourself and the case,” Derek said, nodding.
“How can a human being do something like this to another?” she whispered, burying her face in his chest.
Derek carefully made both of them lay down on the bed, pulling her close against him. “I don’t know,” he replied honestly. “I only know that there is a lot of evil in the world, and we can’t do more than our best to put people like this UNSUB behind bars.”She just nodded in his arms, mumbled a thank you, and closed her eyes in an attempt to finally find some much needed rest.