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Title: Nightmares and other after effects – part 8

Pairing: Morgan/Garcia romance

Rating: PG-13 – just to be sure

Disclaimer: All BAU characters belong to CBS, the rest came out of my own freaky mind

Summary: Sequel to Twelve hours: Some unexpected love advice. :)

warnings: none this time

Please read and review!

“Hey” JJ smiled and leaned against his desk. “we’re hitting the town, wanna join us?”

Derek looked up from the file in his hands and sighed: “No, thanks.”

JJ raised her brows: “No? You don’t want to go out and have some drinks with Spencer, Emily and me? What’s wrong with you? You never rejected this before.”

“I know.” he ran his hand over his face and closed his eyes. “I’m just… not in the mood.”

“Not in the mood?!” JJ almost screamed these words. “Okay, who are you and what have you done to Derek Morgan?”

Derek sighed again. “Why can’t I just once in my life be not in the mood to go out?”

“Well, because this is you.” the smile had disappeared from her face and given way to obvious concern. “What’s wrong with you, Derek? You look as if you haven’t slept for a week or so. Is there a new girlfriend keeping you up all night?”

He didn’t answer.

“Oh, my goodness.” JJ whispered. “I’m sorry, I… I didn’t mean to… She split up, right?”

Derek looked down and nodded.

JJ frowned. “But that wasn’t the first time, right?”

“No.” he replied in a low voice. “I spoiled it sooner or later every time.”

“So, what’s different this time?” she wanted to know.

“Can I ask you something… um personal?” Derek changed the topic

“Sure.” she shrugged.

“Have you ever had a relationship with someone who was… well… black?”

JJ gave him an utterly perplexed glance and then stumbled: “Um… no… why… do you ask?”

He didn’t answer her question but asked: “Why didn’t you?”

“I don’t know.” she frowned. “It just somehow didn’t come along.”

“I see.” he nodded.

“No, I don’t think so.” her voice was a little more angry this time. “You think I don’t want to have a relation with black guys. That’s simply not true. I had a crush on an Afro-American when I was at high school but he… well, didn’t want me. I don’t care about the color of somebody’s skin. You should know me well enough to know that.”

“I’m sorry.” he replied sheepishly.

JJ studied his face and asked: “Is that the problem? That she’s white? I mean, did she split up because of that?”

“No.” he answered. “But it was the reason I kept this relationship secret.”

“Hell, I understand that she didn’t want to put up with that any longer.” JJ bashed him on the shoulder. “What’s wrong with you? Your mother is white. Did that ever affect your parents’ marriage?”

“No” he replied. “That never was an issue.”

“Then why should it affect your relationship?” she frowned. “Did she ever raise that issue?”

Derek shook his head.

“Then what?” JJ almost shouted at him. “Why do you think that could be a problem. Do you think we wouldn’t approve that your girlfriend is white?”

“Of course not.” he sighed. “You and the team are not the problem. I know that you don’t care about that because you know me.”

“Do you really care that much about what other people think?” JJ raised her eyebrows.

“No, but…” Derek sighed and shook his head. “You don’t know how hard that can get.”

“And you thought she wouldn’t be able to deal with that.” she concluded. “Well, maybe you should have let her make that decision on her own.”

“Thanks” he smiled sadly. “but it’s a little too late for your good advice.”

“So what.” she shrugged. “Almost all women on this planet have a crush on you. That’s why you hardly ever had a relationship. So, what should be different this time? One girl’s gone, so what? You can replace her by the next one like you always do.”

“No one could ever replace her.” Derek shook his head to emphasize his words.

“Wow, you’ve really fallen for her.” JJ’s voice reflected her obvious surprise about that. “Weren’t you the one saying you could have any woman?” JJ reminded him.

This time he didn’t answer.

“She’s gone.” JJ studied his face and patted his shoulder deciding it was better to leave him alone. “And it seems she’s taken you with her. If she really means that much to you then maybe you should try and talk to her.”

“She doesn’t even answer the phone when it’s me.” he replied.

JJ sighed and shook her head: “Man, first Penelope and now you.”

“What do you mean?” he asked puzzled.

“Didn’t she tell you?” JJ raised her eyebrows. She thought Penelope would tell Derek almost everything. But maybe her love life was something different.

“Tell me what?” he wanted to know.

“When she reported sick two weeks ago I decided to see her after we’d returned from that case. She’d just split up with her boyfriend and was badly off, I can tell you. I wonder why she didn’t talk to you about it.”

&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&

Hotch rushed towards the elevators. Again it had gotten really late and tomorrow was Jack’s birthday so he didn’t want to be late. He stopped when he heard the familiar typing through the door. For a moment he thought about ignoring it. But given the fact that it was already past two a.m. he simply couldn’t. So he knocked and opened the door.

“Sir” Penelope almost jumped out of her seat. “I thought everyone had already gone home. Why are you still here?”

“I could ask you the same.” he replied.

“Well” she shrugged. “I still have to fix my babies, have some work to do… just… well, the usual stuff.”

Hotch frowned. He could have sworn he’d seen her minimizing a backgammon and a poker game when he’d stepped in. “Go home, Garcia!” he commanded. “You’ve been up for four nights now. Even you can’t get along without sleep forever. You’re not helping anyone when you collapse due to sleep deprivation.”

“I really need just a few more minutes.” she stated.

Sighing he pulled a chair to her and sat down. “What’s wrong?” he softly asked.

Penelope turned to him and stared at him almost in shock. He’d hardly ever entered her inner sanctum but he had never ever sat down to talk to her unless it was work-related – and even then he’d only talked to her during the briefings or on the phone.

“Is it about you and Derek?” he asked when she didn’t answer.

Her eyes widened. How could he know? She’d been sure no one had recognized it.

“I’ve known from the moment you answered Derek’s phone.” he smiled. “Although I wasn’t sure until I saw the two of you in my office. You’ve been so nervous that it was clear what had happened. But something is wrong now, am I right?”

Penelope shrugged and turned back to her computers. “There is no Derek and me anymore.”

Hotch raised both his eyebrows: “You split up?”

“Is it really that surprising?” she answered hardly able to keep the sadness out of her voice.

“Yes, it is.” he nodded. “Everything seemed quite well between the two of you so… what happened? Did he betray you?”

“No, it just didn’t work.” she replied looking down, avoiding his eyes. “We don’t have very much in common, so it was just… It simply wasn’t enough to make it work.”

“You and Derek have a lot in common.” Hotch objected. “You have the same taste in music, a very weird one though, but the same. You both love karaoke bars not forgetting your inclination for bantering and flirting not only with each other. You are both very intelligent and there is a lot you can talk about or go in for together. He’s still impressed you solved the problem he had with putting this bomb together and I figure he’s the only one of us who at least has a clue what you’re doing here with your computers.”

Penelope quickly wiped off the tear that ran down her face.

Hotch grabbed the armrest of her chair and forced her to turn to him. But she kept avoiding his eyes. “So what actually is the problem?”

She shrugged but didn’t answer his question. She simply didn’t know what to say.

Hesitantly he took a deep breath. This was going to be really embarrassing for both of them for he normally never discussed such things with his agents. But he had to do something. He simply couldn’t watch Derek and Penelope suffer from the fact that they’d split up. He knew too well what that felt like. “You think your relationship was just” he cleared his throat uncomfortably shifting in the seat. Damn it, Aaron, just say it! “just about sex.”

Penelope’s eyes widened and she stared at him not knowing what to reply.

“Why do you think so?” he softly asked.

“I… We didn’t make it public. Well, he… he refused to tell somebody. He… kept saying that… he couldn’t find the right moment or the right words… So I figured he didn’t want anyone else to know. And then JJ asked me if it was just sex and that was why I didn’t tell her about him and… Well, I started thinking about that and about how often we had…” she stopped, blushed deeply and looked down. Once more in her life she’d spoken without thinking beforehand.

Hotch smiled: “You know, this is just normal. I mean, if you are newly in love that’s pretty usual. During our first year Haley and I could hardly keep our hands off of each other.”

Penelope frowned and gave him an understanding look. “I’m sorry that she left.”

“I know.” he smiled. “But this is not about me and Haley now, it’s about you and Derek. So the main reason that made you think your relationship over and conclude that it maybe was just about sex was JJ’s comment?”

“Stupid, I know.” she whispered. “But I… I don’t know. I was so afraid that she was right that I… started to believe that myself and I… I thought I wouldn’t survive if he’d ever dumped me. So I considered it the best if I… just ended this before I could get too much involved.” the tears were unstoppably running down her cheeks now.

“But you already were too much involved.” he answered calmly and handed her a handkerchief.

Penelope simply nodded and dried her tears.

“You thought it would be easier to bear the pain of pushing him away than to handle it if it really hadn’t worked.” Hotch’s words made her look at him again and he gave her an encouraging smile. “But what if it worked? You’ll never find out if you run away. So maybe you should give it another try. You could miss the chance to be happy if you don’t.”

“I know.” she whispered and then started sobbing again. Although she tried hard she couldn’t calm down so she covered her face with her hands. “I’m sorry.” she sobbed.

“You don’t need to be.” Hotch replied softly and did something he hardly ever did with anyone but Haley: he carefully embraced Penelope.

“I… I regretted that I split up the moment I’d done it.” she sobbed. “But… I was… so afraid. I mean, how can someone like him really love someone… like me?”

“You are a very smart, beautiful and good hearted woman.” Hotch replied and gently petted her back. “He’d have to be a real dimwit to miss that.”

“Thank you.” she smiled finally calming down and blushed again.

Hotch let go of her and asked: “So are you going to talk to him?”

“The first thing I’ll do tomorrow… um… I mean, today.” she nodded.

“Good.” he smiled and stood up. “And now shut your computers down and go home! I’ll walk you to your car.”

“Yes, Sir.” she smiled pressing a few keys and watching her babies go to sleep. “Done.” she announced, grabbed her purse and jumped up. But suddenly she felt very dizzy and her knees started to shake.

“What’s wrong?” Hotch asked in concern when he saw the blood disappear from her face.

Penelope opened her mouth to assure him she was fine. But her legs quit their service and everything around her gave way to a black nothing.

Hotch rushed over to her to keep her from falling.