Fandom: Criminal Minds
Prompt for 30_sweets: #3 Are you done yet?
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 19/? of the ‘No more sweets’-series.
“Come on, what’s this about?” Sheriff Daniels asked again, obviously annoyed by the fact that he was still being kept in one of the interrogation rooms.
“I’m sorry, sir, but the order was to keep you here until this is over,” his deputy replied.
“You really think I might have something to do with it?” he yelled.
Penelope carefully opened the door and stepped in. “You know the rules, Sheriff,” she said calmly. “You’re involved in the case because your brother is the main suspect. Conflict of interest. You’re not allowed to go with my team whether you have anything to do with the case or not.”
“I’m the one who called you in, for God’s sake,” he yelled at her.
Penelope tiredly wiped her eyes. “I know. We all do. And no one is suspecting you of anything. But still, we can’t let you be there when we arrest your brother for murder.”
“I haven’t seen him in years.” Sheriff Daniels dropped to the chair. “Do you really believe I’d warn him or let him get away?”
Sighing, Penelope sat down opposite the Sheriff. “To be absolutely honest, after the past days, I have no idea what to believe and what not to believe. And it doesn’t matter. The rules say you have to stay behind.”
“Oh, and you always obey to the rules?!” he mocked, looking at Penelope’s outfit.
Snorting slightly, Penelope got up from her seat. “You know, why don’t you call Agent Hotchner and complain to him? I don’t have time for this.”
That being said, Penelope left the room again. She’d come here to give the Sheriff some company while they were waiting. But she really wasn’t in the mood for his anger.
But sitting around waiting for her team to return and tell her whether they had been able to arrest Daniels and save his victims wasn’t any better than letting the Sheriff yell at her.
What if she’d been wrong? What if it wasn’t Daniels? What if they were heading for the wrong place? What if they were losing time? Time the women didn’t have…
Falling down onto the sofa in the middle of what had been their meeting room for months now, she rubbed her eyes and sighed again. She couldn’t change anything right now, and she knew that. As much as she hated it, all she could do right now was wait.
She didn’t even notice she was falling asleep. She didn’t want to sleep – and she’d never thought she’d be able to sleep at all…
She jumped when suddenly someone touched her arm. Much to her surprise, it wasn’t Derek. It was Hotch.
“Sir, I didn’t mean to…”
“It’s okay,” he softly interrupted her. “I know you ignored my order yesterday, so you need to rest now – even though you should go back to the hotel to do so.”
Much to her surprise, he gently covered Penelope’s hands with his. “I’m just here to tell you that we found five women with Daniels. They’re all alive and well – as much as they can be, given the circumstances – thanks to you. I just wanted to tell you that we’re all proud of you.”
She blushed and looked down.
But Hotch made her look at him again. “I’m proud of you, because despite how hard this case was for you, you never gave up. You watched that video over and over again, and you finally found the lead that helped us solve the case. You saved five lives today. You should think of that when the pictures from the video haunt you again.”
“Thank you,” she said with a sniffle, wondering if he had any idea how much she had needed a speech like that. Knowing Hotch, he probably knew exactly how much.
“You should go to the hotel now,” Hotch replied with a soft smile.
“No offense, but I’d rather wait for Derek,” she mumbled sleepily.
Hotch sighed. “I know, but Penelope, he’s questioning Daniels right now. It could take hours before he’s ready to go.”
“I really don’t care,” she insisted. “I’ll wait.”
Hotch opened his mouth to argue with her, but he knew as well as anyone else that it was useless. She wanted to wait for Derek before going back to the hotel – and no one could force her to go alone.
“Okay,” he mumbled, squeezing her hands once more. He knew he couldn’t quicken this anyhow. Taking Derek out of the interrogation and replacing him by someone else wouldn’t do any good. They’d have to start all over again. Not to mention that Derek was the best man for this. He could make nearly anyone talk.
But maybe Hotch could send JJ to look after Penelope. If he was lucky, she would even manage to make their technical analyst eat something. She needed to eat as much as she needed to rest – she looked like hell at the moment.
“Did he say anything?” Hotch asked as he stepped next to JJ.
“Did you expect him to?” she asked in return.
He sighed. “You can go. I’ll take it from here.”
JJ turned a little to raise an eyebrow at her boss.
“Maybe you could try and order a pizza or something and make Penelope eat,” he mumbled.
Nodding, JJ left the room. She had to admit, she wasn’t too fond of staying there and listening to whatever Daniels might have to say – if he talked at all.
So she did as Hotch had told her – but instead of ordering pizza, she ordered Pen’s favorite kind of pasta.
“Hey,” she greeted when she entered the meeting room, two plastic boxes in her hands. “See what I got us? Spaghetti all arrabiata.”
Penelope gave her best friend a weak smile. “Don’t get me wrong, JJ, that’s really sweet, but I’m not hungry.”
“Oh, no, you’re not gonna pull that thing on me,” JJ scolded her. She sat down next to Penelope on the couch and spread out the ordered meal in front of them. “It might work with Derek, but it’s definitely not gonna work with me. You’ll eat now, basta.”
“Which part of don’t argue with me didn’t you get?” the younger woman quickly interrupted her. “I can make a two-year-old finish his evening meal. You really don’t wanna mess with me.”
Penelope couldn’t help but smile at that. “Okay,” she whispered, finally giving in. If she were honest, she really felt a little hungry.
“So, tell me,” JJ said, grinning through a mouthful of pasta.
Penelope frowned. “Tell you what?”
“Well, how is it going with you and Agent Hot?” she asked, waggling her eyebrows at Penelope.
Penelope’s face darkened. “I don’t know.”
“Uh oh,” JJ said, appalled. “What’s wrong?”
“Well, I mean, it’s not like we’ve had a lot of time for each other lately,” she mumbled, looking down at her hands.
“And now you think that what happened between you and Derek before this case might be forgotten?” JJ guessed.
Penelope just shrugged.
JJ bit her lip. Then she gently nudged her friend’s shoulder. “Oh, come on, Derek is still completely at your feet.”
“He doesn’t even kiss me anymore,” Penelope mumbled. “I mean, I understand that he was…cautious because of the case, but… During the past month, he’s behaved much more like my brother than like…anything else.”
“Have you asked him about it?” JJ wanted to know, handing her some of the dessert.
Penelope shook her head, taking the panna cotta from JJ and biting her lip. She knew she shouldn’t eat this. But she could really use some sweets right now.
Sighing, JJ placed a comforting hand on Penelope’s shoulder. “You know, you really should talk to him before you jump to any conclusions. He knows how hard you were taking the case. Maybe that’s the reason he withdrew.”
“Maybe,” Penelope mumbled.
“No maybe about it. The case is over, Daniels will be put behind bars whether he starts talking or not – and by the end of tomorrow, we’ll be heading home, back to our old lives.” JJ tried to encourage her. “I’m sure once we’re back home, everything will return to normal.”
“Yeah, I’m sure you’re right,” Penelope replied, picking at the dessert.
“Come on,” JJ said, gently nudging Penelope’s knee. “Let’s get you back to the hotel where you can get some sleep. You’ll see… Tomorrow, the world will look much brighter.”
“I don’t know.” She struggled to repress a yawn. “I should wait for Derek.”
“It could take hours before he’s done,” JJ argued, tugging at Penelope’s sleeve. “Let’s get some sleep.”
She was too tired to really argue with JJ. Besides, she knew her friend wouldn’t let it go, so she agreed and followed JJ to her SUV.
“Maybe we should grab a drink at the bar before we go to bed,” JJ suggested. “Just so we can sleep better,” she added, winking at her friend.
Penelope had known it was a bad idea right from the start. But once again, she’d been too tired or maybe too exhausted to really argue.
It was during their second drink that she saw him. He looked just as exhausted as she felt, and normally, Penelope would have been glad to finally see him go to sleep.
The problem was that he was anything but alone. There was a woman – beautiful, tall, exotic, brunette…exactly Derek’s type. She was chatting with him and following him into the elevator.
“I’m sure that doesn’t mean anything,” JJ offered after the doors had closed.
“Yeah,” Penelope whispered, struggling to hold back the tears that wanted to stream down her cheeks. “You know, I’ve really had enough.” She jumped up from her seat and hurried toward the elevators herself. “Thanks for the drinks. I… I should go to bed.”
Sighing, JJ finished her drink and paid. She waited for the rest of the team to return before she went upstairs as well. When she passed the door to Derek’s room, she heard the distinct sounds of love-making.
How could he do this to Penelope?! Especially when she was sleeping right next door? JJ could understand that after this case, he needed a…distraction. But this was just plain rude. She would have a serious talk with Derek first thing in the morning.