Title: Torpor – Part 2
Fandom: Criminal Minds
Prompt for 30_forbidden: #1 Bitter
Rating: T (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 16/? of the “Love and prejudice”-series. Penelope's point of view.
warnings: a little angst and sadness towards the end
AN: Hey there, I know you’ve all been waiting patiently for this update. Thanks for hanging in there and not yelling at me for not updating sooner (or maybe some of you did, but not loud enough for me to hear them ;) ).
Anyway, here it is, finally. I was pretty busy and this time, my beta-reader was as well. But she was so wonderful to beta-read this nonetheless, so thanks so much again!
Now, I hope you enjoy this chapter – despite the fact that you already know it’s not going to end well. ;)
After everything that had happened lately, there was only one thing left Penelope felt sure of, and that was her work. So she plunged into it like she’d only done very few times before.
Fortunately, it soon seemed to come to fruition.
She had taken another look at the picture the UNSUB had sent them with the threat, and she had started wondering what software he might have used to take the picture while she’d been working on the computer.
Also, the picture had to have been sent to the UNSUB somehow, because the computer had barely been out of their sights since they’d found it and taken it with them.
She couldn’t really concentrate, though. Her mind kept wandering back to that fateful evening when Derek had confessed to his feelings for her, and she’d been stupid enough to blow him off, out of fear and worry that it might not work – and to avoid hurting Kevin. Or maybe it had just been because she feared the confrontation with him. She wasn’t sure of anything anymore.
And the only reaction from Derek had been to ask for a transfer as far away from her as possible. She still couldn’t believe it. He didn’t want to see her anymore, didn’t want to work with her, or even talk to her anymore, never again. Was it just her, or did that seem a bit… exaggerated?!
Penelope couldn’t help but wonder what that meant. He was hurt, she had seen it, and she understood. But the way he was acting seemed way over the top. He was completely avoiding her. She’d tried at least twenty times to call him, but he wouldn’t pick up – and she hadn’t seen him since he’d walked out of her room.
Was it really only the fact that she’d blown him off? Because no one blew off Derek Morgan? Or did it mean that his feelings were really so profound that she had actually broken his heart?
Was he really serious? Was she more to him than any of his usual flings? Could it really work? Was all that even possible?
Penelope sighed. She’d asked herself these questions about a million times already – but the only answer she had for sure was that none of it really mattered anymore. There was no turning back, no second chance for them.
So Penelope tried to focus on her work, because that was the only thing she had left. She missed hearing his voice, his encouragement whenever she was stuck. She missed seeing his face, his handsome smile. She missed his scent… She just missed him.
Well, she had to encourage herself now. And so she did. She was sure the picture of her had been sent to the UNSUB from his computer. So she went back searching all the transmission protocols of any program she could find. Mostly, these were automatic updates for primary installed programs. Nothing out of the ordinary.
One of the updates, however, caught her attention. At first glance, it merely seemed to be an update for the pre-installed webcam. But Penelope noticed that the amount of submitted data was too much for a simple update – and indeed, after working some magic, she revealed the picture of her the UNSUB had sent as a threat.
“Gotcha,” she mumbled.
All she needed to do now was try to find out where exactly the picture had been sent. And this turned out to be much easier than she’d imagined. Apparently, the UNSUB had invented the program for this webcam himself – and he was making quite some money with it.
“Seems like there’re just too many peepers out there,” she mumbled to herself, just as a driver’s license popped up on her screen.
She froze for a moment, before she gasped, “I got him.”
Quickly dialing the number, Penelope impatiently tapped her pencil on the table.
“Hotchner,” she heard the familiar voice say in answer.
“I got a name and address,” she told him. “Peter Sherman. He owns a small house – more like a hut – a little outside Marana. It’s pretty secluded, in a small forested area. I suppose it’s a perfect place for someone like him. Sending you the coordinates now.”
“Thanks, Garcia. Great job,” Hotch praised her, before hanging up.
He hardly ever did that, so he had to know she’d needed the approval right now.
Penelope took a deep breath. Normally, she felt relieved when a case was over. This time, she was apprehensive. Derek would leave after this case – if she couldn’t convince him to stay, that is. But apparently, he didn’t even want to listen to her.
And there was something else. It was just a feeling inside her gut, a feeling that something was going to go terribly wrong.
Maybe it was this feeling that made her dig farther into the UNSUB’s life. Where did he go most of the time, for dinner, for lunch, for shopping? What did he buy regularly? What was the last thing he’d bought?
Suddenly, her fingers froze in the middle of their movement. Her eyes widened as she read what had been delivered to Mr. Sherman only a few days ago. That couldn’t be true…
Her hands were shaking as she dialed the number, but all she got was a woman’s voice saying that the caller was temporarily unavailable.
Cursing, she dialed Reid’s number and got the same respond. Rossi, Emily… Not even Derek was available. They had to be in a dead zone.
She quickly jumped up and rushed outside to one of the SUVs. She didn’t like driving these vehicles, and usually she didn’t do it. But she had to do what was necessary.
Somehow, Penelope managed to put the emergency lights on the roof and get them working, without the siren, of course. Breaking almost every traffic regulation she could think of, she managed to arrive near the UNSUB’s hut in less than five minutes. Sighing with relief when she saw the team still gathered around their SUVs, she got out.
“Garcia? What are you doing here?” Hotch demanded, his voice stern.
“I’m sorry, sir, but apparently you’re in a dead zone, so I couldn’t reach you,” she hurried to explain. “I found out something really important, and I figured I needed to come here and tell you directly.”
Frowning at her, Hotch asked, “What would that be?”
“Mr. Sherman ordered a special kind of ammo only a few days ago,” she told him. “Rifle ammunition.”
“What’s so special about the ammo?” This time, it was Rossi asking the question.
Penelope took a deep breath. “Armor piercing bullets,” she said. “The bulletproof vests are pretty much useless.”
Hotch clenched his teeth.
Looking around and just seeing another empty SUV, Penelope asked quietly, “Where’s Derek?”
“We don’t know,” Hotch replied through gritted teeth. “When we arrived, we found his car empty. I told him to wait for backup, but apparently, he decided to…”
He was interrupted by two simultaneous gunshots disrupting the silence.
It took a few seconds before Penelope realized what must have happened. Derek didn’t know about the armor piercing bullets, and if the UNSUB had shot at him... Oh, my God! Please, no! She didn’t even realize she’d screamed the words out loud.
She needed to get to him, as fast as she could. But Hotch kept her from running into the forest, towards the UNSUB’s hut. She desperately tried to break free from his grip. She needed to get to Derek.
“Penelope, calm down!” Hotch’s stern voice slowly came through to her.
“Derek,” was all she got out, her voice barely above a whisper.
“I know,” Hotch said, unusually softly. “But we have to be careful.”
Nodding, she followed him, all the way, trying not to forget about any caution and just run to him. He was hurt. She knew he was.
The road was endless. It seemed like an eternity until they finally arrived at the hut. And when they slowly walked to the back of it, Hotch had to keep her from collapsing. Derek was lying on his back, on the ground, not moving. Blood seeped from a wound in his chest.
She wanted to scream, but couldn’t get anything out. Rushing over to Derek, Penelope pressed both her hands on the wound as hard as she could. “Where are the medics?” she sniffled.
He was conscious, or at least he wasn’t entirely unconscious. He was looking at her, obviously not believing what had just happened – or maybe he hadn’t really realized it. She remembered what it had felt like to be shot. Drifting in and out of consciousness…
“Derek, baby?” she whispered. “You have to stay with me, you hear me? Just stay with me, okay?”
He opened his mouth, obviously trying to say something, but nothing came out except for a small amount of blood running over his cheek.
The tears were running uncontrollably over Penelope’s face. This was all her fault. If she hadn’t rejected him, he wouldn’t have tried to avoid her. If he hadn’t tried to avoid her, he wouldn’t have been out here on his own. And if he hadn’t been out here on his own…
“Baby, I’m so sorry,” Penelope whispered, leaning down, closer to Derek, her hands still pressing on the wound on his chest. “I… I lied. What I said wasn’t true. I love you, do you hear me?”
She didn’t get a response. Derek’s eyes rolled back in his head as he lost consciousness.
“No,” Penelope yelled at him. “Don’t leave me! Derek, come on! Stay with me!”
But she didn’t get a response.
Only a second later, she felt two strong arms pulling her away from him. She tried to fight them, didn’t want to let go of Derek, not even for the paramedics.
Eventually, she gave in. Watching the paramedics do their job, hurrying to get Derek into the ambulance, adding IV after IV, trying to compensate the blood loss and stabilize his condition… all she could do was sob.This was all her fault. He was hurt – badly hurt – because of her. Penelope knew that if he didn’t survive, she wouldn’t want to go on living, either.