little_profiler (little_profiler) wrote,

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Title: Victim

Fandom: Criminal Minds

Pairing: Morgan/Garcia

Prompt for 30_sweets: #27 Cafe

Rating: M 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 15/? of the ‘No more sweets’-series.
warnings: none

AN: Sorry it took me forever again to post anything. Crazy doesn’t seem to be the right word to describe what my life has been like lately. You remember this quote from the last Criminal Minds episode (At least I guess it was the last one…) “And yet for every bad there is a worse.” That seems to fit for the last two weeks.

I really don’t want to talk about it right now. Maybe later, maybe not at all, I don’t know. It has just been too much for my muse to handle, I guess. So I really wasn’t in the mood for writing. It’s hard to tell when my muse will be back, but I hope it’ll be soon.

Until then, I fear you’ll have to do with what little I’ll be able to post. I really thought I would be able to update regularly for a while. But as usual, life seems to have different plans. Maybe I’ll have to be kept from writing every now and then to be reminded how much it really means to me. Besides, if life is all ease and fun, you’re not really that creative, are you?!

Anyway, I hope you'll enjoy this chapter.

“Hey, Baby Girl,” Derek greeted carefully, as he entered the room she had made her office for the time they were dealing with this case. “Are you ready to go?”

She tiredly wiped her eyes, without turning away from her computers. “Go where?”

“It’s time for lunch,” Derek told her. “I know you desperately want to catch this guy, but you still have to eat something.”

“Trust me, I’m not hungry,” she mumbled.

“I know, but…” Derek tried, but gave up before he even started his plea. He knew it was pointless arguing with her about that issue. She hadn’t eaten much since she’d first watched this video – which had been almost four days ago.

Derek couldn’t help wondering if she was back to not eating anything. He couldn’t even convince her to have a soup for lunch or dinner.

She only crawled into bed at night, tossing and turning the whole night through, and then she crawled out of bed and back to work in the morning. Those nights were the only times when his touch didn’t seem to make her feel uncomfortable. She allowed him to hold her so that she could at least find some rest.

Their relationship had just begun developing, and being allowed to touch her was still new, and therefore exciting for him. He liked the feeling of her soft skin, her body snuggled up close against him – and before they had started working this case, he had been sure that Penelope felt the same.

But whenever he touched her now, she stiffened – and Derek could understand that, after everything she’d had to watch over and over again. She had watched this video way too often.

He was sure she didn’t even realize her recent reaction to his touches – but it made him not dare to touch her, let alone kiss her anymore. This case was tearing her apart, and that was tearing their relationship apart. But he couldn’t, he wouldn’t, let that happen. Not without fighting for her.

He would make her eat, no matter what. He would back off, give her some space if that was what she needed right now, but he wouldn’t give up on her. He wouldn’t let this sicko ruin their relationship before it had even really started.

“You know, there is this nice little café on the way to the hotel,” he said. “What about grabbing some lunch and getting a little break from all this? Maybe they’re selling tiramisu.”

“I can’t,” Penelope whispered, tiredly rubbing her eyes.

“Baby cakes, I know you want to solve this case. We all want that. And we’re all exhausted and frustrated that we can’t find a lead,” he told her. “But you can’t help anyone anymore when you collapse again and end up in the hospital.”

Sighing, Penelope stopped the video and let her head drop. “He won’t stop doing… this to other women. If I don’t find a lead soon…”

“Baby, you can’t risk your own health while trying to stop him. I know you want to see him behind bars – we all do – but…”

“What if I’m the only chance they have?” she interrupted him weakly. “The only lead is this video, and I… I can’t stop trying. If I stop, and he kills another woman…”

Carefully, Derek pulled her to her feet and into his arms. He felt her stiffen the moment he touched her, as she always did lately. Maybe he shouldn’t dare to touch her at all, but he couldn’t see her so distraught.

“Baby Girl, don’t try carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders,” Derek said softly, resisting the urge to lift her chin and kiss her. “You’re not the only one working this case. We’re as stuck with the profile as you are with the video – and if there really is another victim, the only one to blame for that is the UNSUB.”

“I know that,” Penelope assured him. “I just… I want this to be over.”

“We all want to close this case and head home,” Derek told her. “And we will. But believe me, you need to put some daylight between yourself and this case.”

“Please, don’t tell me again that I shouldn’t identify with the victim,” Penelope said, snorting, as she pushed him away. “Her screams will be burnt into my brain for the rest of my life. I would recognize her whimpering out of a million others – not to mention the pictures I never wanted to see, and now won’t ever be able to forget. I honestly don’t know how not to identify with Amanda Connor.”

“All I wanted to say is that after a little break, you will be able to look at all this with fresh eyes; and that might help you to see something new,” he assured her.

“He rapes her after he has literally torn her apart. He makes her drink her own blood, and when the wound isn’t bleeding enough anymore, he starts cutting her open. And when she’s finally about to pass out, he starts chopping her up while she’s still alive.” Her voice was filled with bitterness. “I don’t know what ‘new’ there would be for me to see.”

Derek opened his mouth to argue with her, but a knock on the door kept him from doing so.

“We’re heading for lunch,” Hotch said, sticking his head in. “Are you going to join us?”

“Yes,” Derek agreed, before Penelope was able to reject the offer.

Hotch didn’t need to be a profiler to notice the tension, and Derek’s quick reaction to his offer told him that they had just been arguing about that issue. “Garcia, take a break, and join us for lunch!”

“Sir, I…”

“That was an order,” Hotch interrupted her. “You’ll switch the video off now, take a break from all this, and join us for lunch.”

Reluctantly, she gave in. She had to admit that she could really use something to eat – not to mention a break.

“Sweetness, nobody’s thinking that you can’t do this,” Derek assured her. “We’re just trying to remind you that you have to take care of yourself – and if you don’t, we have to do it.”

“I know,” she whispered. “I just… I don’t know. I wish I could do something. I watch this video again and again, and I keep hoping that I’ll find something, but…”

“Stop right there, momma,” Derek softly interrupted her. “You always find the lead in the end, even if it seems impossible for you to find the connection between the victims or the name of the suspect… In the end, you always find a lead, because you’re the best.”

“What if I’m not?” she whispered. “What if he’s better?”

Carefully, Derek caught her in his arms once more. She stiffened again, but this time, she relaxed a little right afterwards, leaning her head against his chest. “There’s no way he’s better than you, and you know why?”

“No,” she whispered, closing her eyes for a moment, allowing herself to enjoy the warmth of Derek’s embrace.

“Because he’s a mere mortal,” Derek said with a smile.

She raised her head to look up at him. “And what am I?”

“You,” he replied, smiling down at her, “are a goddess, Baby Girl.”

She smiled, something she hadn’t felt like doing for a very long time. “Thank you,” she whispered.

Derek wondered if he should dare and kiss her now. But the decision was made for him when Hotch came back into the room. The expression on his boss’s face told him that their lunch had to wait.

“Another victim?” Penelope asked. Even she was able to read it in Hotch’s face.

“I’m afraid so,” he said. “We’re going to investigate the dumping site. We’ll have lunch afterwards.”

“I’ll go back to searching the police database,” Penelope said. “Maybe he uploaded another video.” She wasn’t sure whether she should hope that he had, or that he hadn’t.

Derek gave her a worried look, but decided to leave her alone. He had tried his best to show her that there wasn’t only evil in the world, that they could get through this case, just as they could get through anything else.

But she was too focused on saving the victims to really listen to him.

“I will make her take a break once we’re back from the dumping site,” Hotch assured his agent when he sensed Derek’s worry as he got into the driver’s seat of their SUV.

Derek just nodded absentmindedly. He could understand that after having watched this video so many times, Penelope didn’t feel like eating at all. But it was dangerous, given her current struggle with self-esteem.

He had noticed how carefully she watched what she ate, how she hesitated before putting a piece of chocolate or another sweet in her mouth. It was dangerous for her to have such a lack of appetite for such a long time.

Besides, the case was keeping them too busy with other things, and it was therefore slowly tearing them apart. He couldn’t be there for her as often as he wanted to. There was no time for him to reassure her that he thought she was beautiful, that he was attracted to her.

She didn’t seem to be able to stand his touch at the moment, so there was no way of showing her how much he wanted her.

“Is there something I should know?” Hotch asked, interrupting his thoughts.

Sighing, Derek shook his head.

“Is something wrong with Garcia?” Hotch pressed him, not willing to drop the matter that easily, not considering their current situation, anyway. “You know, I can take her off the case if she can’t handle it.”

“Do you really think she would let you?” Derek replied.

Frowning slightly, Hotch added sternly, “I can make her.”

“I know,” Derek said, running a hand over his face as he waited for the traffic light to change to green. “And I would love for you to, but I don’t think that’s the best way. She’s the best computer genius we have – and I think she needs to help us solve the case to deal with all this. If she gave up now, or was forced to do so, she would never forgive herself.”

“Good,” was all Hotch replied.

Derek frowned at his boss. Why did he have the impression that Hotch had never actually wanted to take Penelope off the case? Had that just been a test?

“You tend to worry too much about her,” Hotch answered his question.

“Not in this case,” Derek mumbled.

“She’s stronger than you think she is,” Hotch told him.

“I know how strong she can be,” Derek objected.

“But still, she’s not one of us,” Hotch reminded him. When Derek turned to give him a questioning look, he added, “You shouldn’t try reminding her of the coping strategies we learned. She doesn’t know about them, and maybe they don’t work for her.”

“Then what do I do to help her?” he mumbled.

“Maybe you should just have a little faith in her,” Hotch suggested. “I know she’s always taking cases like this one very hard. But I also know that she can handle them – and so do you. So what are you really worried about?”

“Maybe you’re right, and I worry too much,” Derek avoided answering the question. And maybe, instead of trying to tell her how to handle this case all the time, he should just tell her that they all believed in her, that they were sure she could handle this case. That he was sure she could handle this.

Hotch frowned. Something was definitely wrong – something beyond this case. But Derek obviously wasn’t willing to talk about it. Hotch couldn’t help but wonder if this something would eventually keep either of the two from doing their job. If so, they had a serious problem.

Tags: 30_sweets_challenge, morgan/garcia, story_no_more_sweets

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