Rating: PG-13 for some angst
Disclaimer: Neiter the show nor the characters belong to me, they belong to CBS. I only love to borrow them every once in a while. No copyright infringement is intended. The idea for the story and the story itself - as well as all possible sequels or prequels - belong to me.
Summary: What are you willing to sacrifice for a friend’s life?
warnings: Well, the description of some feelings is maybe a little too detailed.
Please read and review!
AN: Although I had the idea of that story carried around with me for a while, that was what the song from the preview for Penelope made me come up with. It’s a little long for a oneshot, I know, but it somehow didn’t fit into two chapters.
“That is not at issue!” Hotch almost shouted at her.
Penelope winced a little. “Sir, he said…”
“I said no.” Hotch interrupted her. “And that’s my last word. I won’t let you do this!”
“But we can’t…” she started but the expression on the face of her boss silenced her. “What… what are we going to do instead?” she whispered. This wasn’t real, it couldn’t be. Not only that this guy was chasing after her…
“Okay, let’s sift through the profile once more.” Hotch sighed and sat back down at the table. “Prentiss, what do we know about the victomology?”
“All twenty-two victims were between twenty-eight and fourty-three.” Prentiss replied flipping through some files. “They had brown eyes and blonde curls. And we know that once he chose a victim he tries everything to get her.” she darted a glance at the technical analyst who seemed employed with the laptop in front of her.
“They got anonymous emails and letters for at least one week before he abducted them.” Spencer added.
“I wasn’t able to track the sender of these mails down.” Penelope sighed.
“Two days after the abduction all members in their address list got an email with a video showing how he tortures the women.” JJ continued and pressed the button in her hand so that the screen showed some shots Penelope had taken from the videos. “The first thing he did was branding them with a sign consisting of the Greek letter Psi and a snake that winds around it.” the picture on the screen changed into a photograph of that sign. “After that he tortured them in many different ways including cutting them with a scalpel or a razor blade, beating them with a whip, burning them and make them drink the blood of his former victims. He eventually kills them by strangling them with a rope.”
Penelope kept staring at the screen of her laptop unwilling to look at the screen showing pictures of the tortures. She’d seen all that before when she was trying to sift out the background noises. She couldn’t stand the sight of the tortures anymore. The pictures were still all too present in her mind.
“He’d killed more than twenty women around D.C. and he’s left a hell of a lot of evidence.” Hotch didn’t even try to keep the anger out of his voice. “And still we don’t have a single clue who he is. He is a male white between twenty-five and thirty-five without attracting much attention. He is successful, probably in a leading position. Although he likes to torture his victims he never looses control, which means he’s very self-controlled. There is nothing special about him, nothing that would make the people around him assume that he’s a perverted serial killer.”
“That means about thirty percent of
“He is very confident.” Spencer continued. “He sends an email to all the relatives and friends of a victim as well as to the nearest police station telling them where they’ll find the body. He left bloody finger prints all over her body and he didn’t use any protection when he raped them. So he probably knows that neither his finger prints nor his DNA are in the database”
“Well, he has every reason to be confident, right?” Penelope said in a sad voice. How did this all happen? She’d thought she was safe. Her team had made every effort to protect her after she’d received the first email. They knew too well that they had to take threats like that serious. But they hadn’t known that this was about to come. Suddenly the screen of her laptop turned black and the next second a message popped up in front of Penelope’s eyes. It was short but crystal clear.
The bus stop at the corner of your street, tonight at 3 a.m. Come alone and don’t tell anyone or he’s dead!
The words flickered across the screen for a few seconds than they gave way to a picture that made her blood run cold. Derek was tied to a chair, obviously unconscious, his head hanging loosely. She could see the blood covering his grey shirt. For a moment Penelope remained motionless. Then the picture disappeared. She started typing like mad but again she was unable to track him down. It was frustrating. She’d felt helpless before when she was unable to do something to help the team find the victims in time. But it hadn’t felt like that since Reid had been abducted and they’d all had to watch him being beaten. Back then she’d also been unable to find this guy. But this time she could do something. She wouldn’t abandon her best friend. He’d do the same for her.
It’s a dark road
And a dark way that leads to my house
And the word says
You’re never gonna find me there, oh no
I’ve got an open door
It didn’t get there by itself.
The words of that song had burned into her brain while she was listening. She’d listened to the songs on her way to the bus stop before she’d dropped the iPod in one of the plant pots in front of her house hoping the team would find it there. They surely wouldn’t have noticed it if she’d left it somewhere in her house. Now that they were on their way down the dark stairs of his house into the basement she wished she’d never switched that iPod on. The song fit this situation way too well. Penelope loved Annie Lennox and the song had been one of her favorites so far. Now she feared she would never be able to listen to those lyrics again – even if she should survive this.
“Look who’s there.” the unsub smiled when he entered the room. His voice was even more confident than usual, almost triumphing.
Derek raised his buzzing head to look at him and his heart stopped beating. This couldn’t be true. Why the hell had she done this? She knew what he’d do to her. She’d watched it on the videos for hours until she simply wasn’t able to stand these images anymore. Derek had seen her pale face when she was about to throw up after the first video. She hadn’t been able to eat for the rest of that day. And now she was here to let him do the same to her. And he was tied at a chair unable to help her. “Baby girl, please don’t…”
“It’s okay.” she whispered and smiled at him unsuccessfully trying to keep the fear out of her face. She was glad that he at least seemed to be alright. Well, as much as possible under the given circumstances.
“Now, isn’t that cute.” the unsub grinned. “What she’s willing to do for you. What she’s willing to endure to safe your pathetic life?”
Derek writhed on the chair desperately trying to break the handcuffs on his wrists and hissed: “I swear if you harm a single hair on her head…”
“You’ll do what?” the unsub interrupted him and pulled Penelope a little closer. “You can’t do anything. And we are going to have a lot of fun!” he laughed and kissed her on the cheek. “But first of all I have bigger fish to fry. We must let your team know that I have what I wanted. And I guess the two of you have tons to catch up on.” laughing he tied Penelope to a chair next to Derek, switched off the light and locked the door behind him.
“Why did you do this?” Derek whispered. “You shouldn’t have come here.”
“I couldn’t let you down.” she replied in an equally toneless voice. “I needed to do something. He’d killed you otherwise.”
“Not this.” he sighed. “You know what he’s going to do to you. Now he’ll kill both of us.”
“Don’t worry about that.” Penelope tried to put as much confidence in her voice as possible. “Do you really think delivered myself up without a little backup plan?” I only hope the team will be able to figure it out she added in her thoughts.
“I hoped so.” he smiled. Still he couldn’t believe she’d done this. It was obvious she came here without Hotch’s permission, most certainly even against Hotch’s strict order. As much as he was concerned that this guy might dare to do her harm he felt honored for the fact Penelope was willing to go through this for him. It was selfish but he was relieved to have her with him. He could feel the warmth of her body next to him, could smell her perfume and a whiff of coffee. He wished he could tell her what it meant to him that she did this. But he was afraid the unsub might here it. This guy already knew too much about all of them. He’d known how to make Penelope let him abduct her. Despite all concern and relief he also was angry that she’d given that guy the chance to make her his victim. He couldn’t let this happen.
“Penelope?” Derek asked after a long silence.
Her voice was soothing even in a situation like that. “Yes?”
“I won’t let him hurt you.”
There’s a feeling
But you’re not feeling it at all.
There’s a meaning
But you’re not listening anymore.
I look at that open road,
I’m gonna walk there by myself.
Hotch frowned and switched the iPod off. “It is proved that this is hers?” he asked.
“Definitely” Spencer nodded. “it was covered by her finger prints and JJ identified it.”
“Did she leave any note?” JJ asked. She still couldn’t believe her best friend had put herself into danger like that. On the other hand she would probably do almost anything to save Derek’s life.
“No” Emily sighed. “at least we didn’t find something in her house.” When Garcia hadn’t shown up at work this morning JJ had gone to check on her. She was the only one except Derek who had a key to her house so she’d entered to find it empty.
“What made her go and meet him?” JJ sighed.
Spencer frowned and replied: “Maybe she got another email, one we haven’t found yet or maybe weren’t supposed to find.”
“Her laptop.” Emily almost jumped out of her seat which made her co-workers give her querying looks. “At the briefing yesterday she stared at her laptop almost the whole time. I thought she just refused to look at those pictures again. But she seemed different afterwards. I bet she got a message from him during that briefing.”
“We’ve already checked her laptop.” JJ added. “There are no emails from that guy other than those she got about a month ago. There’s also no hint that might have been left there for us to find her or at least find out where and when they met.”
“The question is why did she put the iPod into the plant pot?” Hotch stated.
“Maybe… he threw it away when he abducted her?” JJ suggested.
Hotch frowned: “It was visibly lying in that plant pot.”
“You think the iPod is a hint.” it was more a statement Emily gave than a question.
“I’m sure it is.” he nodded. “Reid, you checked the data, was there something… remarkable, something unusual about it? Where there any files that weren’t music that could tell us anything? Or what about the songs themselves?”
“Well, the order of the songs on it is very… weird even for Garcia. I mean, they don’t have a particular order at all not concerning their genre or the interprets.”
“What kind of songs?” Hotch asked.
Spencer frowned a little recalling the songs in his mind. “They were saved in five different folders. In the first one the songs were ‘Dark Road’ by Annie Lennox, ‘We will meet again’ by Bosson, ‘Wild boys’ by Duran Duran, ‘A whiter shade of pale’ again Annie Lennox, ‘Ordinary world’ by Duran Duran, ‘Bus stop’ by Sesame street, ‘White lines’ again Duran Duran, ‘Heaven’ by Annie Lennox, ‘The corner’ by Common, ‘Ghost in the machine’ Annie Lennox once again, then ‘Too much information’ by Duran Duran, ‘My street’ by Kurt Nilsen, ‘Falling down’ by Duran Duran, ‘Three a.m.’ by Bill Anderson, ‘Precious’ by Annie Lennox and ‘Come undone’ again Duran Duran. In the second…”
“It’s a hint.” Hotch interrupted him. “Garcia may have acted out of her gut but she surely has a back-up plan. The songs are quite clear. She met him at the bus stop at the corner of her street at three a.m.”
“Um… couldn’t that be a… coincidence, the songs I mean?” Spencer asked.
“I don’t think so.” Hotch objected.
“But how do the Annie Lennox and the Duran Duran songs fit into it?” JJ wanted to know.
“Except five songs all songs are either by Annie Lennox or by Duran Duran so the other songs don’t seem to fit.” Hotch explained. “Emily, get a technician here who can check the nearest observation cameras! We will question every driver that past these cameras between two thirty and three thirty this morning!”
Emily nodded and rushed out of the room. This would be much easier if Garcia had been here. It would probably have taken her less than an hour to find all possible cars together with the drivers and their addresses. She only wished that there was at least one technician in the bureau with her computer skills.
And if you catch me I might try to run away
You know I can’t be here too long.
And if you let me I might try to make you stay
Seems you never realize a good thing till it’s gone.
“Don’t touch her!” Derek snorted and once again tried to loosen the rope tied around his legs and the chair.
“What do you intend to do to keep me from doing it?” he laughed and forced Penelope to lean over the table. When she was trying to bury her face in the crook of her arm he gripped her hair and pulled her head up. Bringing his mouth to her ear he hissed: “I want you to look at him while I do this!” Then he forced her head back on the table holding it so that her face was turned toward Derek.
When the hand of this bastard moved up her thigh pushing up her skirt Derek’s rage was enough to break the rope around his legs. He jumped to his feet and his hands still handcuffed behind his back Derek ran him down forcing him to let go of Penelope.
The unsub was thrown to the ground and Derek landed on him. He tried to get up which wasn’t easy without any support from his hands. When he was on his knees he suddenly felt the cool metal on his temple.
“Don’t do that again!” he hissed. “I should kill you right now.”
“No” Penelope screamed. “please… please, don’t!”
Without taking the gun from Derek’s head the unsub turned towards her and smirked: “What are you willing to do to keep me from shooting him?”
“Don’t, Penelope!” Derek almost begged her.
The unsub pulled the trigger of the gun just a millimeter.
“Don’t” Penelope quickly stopped him. “I’d do anything!”
Smiling he pulled Derek up and led him to the wall where he tied the remains of the rope around Derek’s arm and a heating pipe so tight that Derek could feel his pulse racing through his upper arm. Then the unsub turned back to Penelope and commanded: “Strip!”
“No, baby girl, don’t!” Derek unsuccessfully tried to loosen the rope again.
The unsub once more pulled the trigger just slightly. “Strip or he’s dead!”
She swallowed the tears that wanted to spring to her eyes and let her hand drop to the top of her blouse. Slowly she started to unbutton it.
He grinned at her, placed the gun on the table and stepped in front of her so close that she could feel his breath.
Penelope closed her eyes when she felt his hands on her body. She didn’t want to look at him nor at Derek while he did this. When the doorbell rang Penelope hoped he would stop to answer it but he didn’t. His hands wandered over her body leaving a feeling of dirt and disgust on her skin.
Taking another step closer to her he crossed the tiny distance between them and started to kiss her neck. He smiled when he heard her repress a sob.
Suddenly the door to the basement burst open and the puzzled unsub faced the muzzles of three guns. The vests clearly identified the two men and the woman as FBI agents.
“Put your hands up!” the dark-haired man commanded his face frowned with anger.
The woman put her gun back into the holster and hurried to cut Derek loose. She offered him support when he was swaying, but he rejected and rushed across the room.
Penelope watched the scene unable to move, her hands clasped into her blouse to hold it closed. She stared at the unsub, at her three co-workers, at the floor. She avoided to look at Derek. When he stopped in front of her trying to catch her eyes she finally raised her head to look at him. Her lower lip trembled slightly and the next second she threw her hands around his neck holding him tight as if her life depended on it.
He caught her in his arms and gently swayed her back and forth. “It’s over, baby girl.” he whispered. Although he knew too well it wasn’t true.
Maybe I’m still searching but I don’t know what it means,
All the fires of destruction are still burning in my dreams.
There’s no water that can wash away this longing to come clean.
Why wasn’t she able to get that stupid song out of her head?! She rubbed her upper arms without even noticing she did when they entered his flat. He’d insisted that she didn’t spend the night alone. Penelope was relieved that they hadn’t forced one of them to stay overnight at the hospital. They’d cleaned and bandaged the burn on her shoulder. His torture hadn’t left other severe wounds than that.
“Are you cold?” Derek softly asked when he noticed her shiver.
Penelope almost jumped at his words and looked at him for a moment. Then she let her hands drop and shook her head. She hadn’t said a single word so far and Derek didn’t want to force her to do so. But he was concerned that she seemed very calm, almost apathetic.
“Do you want to shower?” he already knew the answer. There was certainly hardly anything at the moment she’d rather do than that.
She simply nodded and followed him to his bathroom. She watched him put out some towels and then a shirt.
“I think that’ll sit well on you.” he smiled pointing at the shirt. He looked at her in concern when she didn’t even react just stared at the shirt. When the longing to clasp her in his arms became almost unbearable he left the bathroom explaining that he needed to fix the bed. She’d rejected his touch after the long embrace in that basement.
Penelope undressed still staring at the shirt on the locker. Before stepping into the shower she let her hand run over the soft material. Following a sudden impetus she took the shirt and buried her face in it breathing in the smell of the detergent, of the freshness and still a lingering smell of Derek. Warmth and comfort ran through her body and for a short moment the fear and the pain were gone.
She put the shirt back and stepped into the shower. The hot water running over her body she scrubbed every inch of her body but it didn’t help. She could still feel his hands on her, his lips. She could feel him, smell him, even hear his breathing. Penelope scrubbed her skin again but the feeling remained – the feeling of dirt, disgust… the feeling of HIM. Whatever she did she couldn’t get rid of it. A nightmarish feeling raised inside her chest and made her heart cramp. She’d tried to be strong. She’d tried to hide her feelings from Derek although she knew that he knew too well – her as well as the feelings. Derek! A sudden yearning came over her. She didn’t want to be strong anymore, she didn’t want to hide. She just wanted Derek to be here and hold her.
This feeling was so intense and painful that her legs gave way and she slid to the ground. The pain and emptiness… she thought she’d loose her mind. She wanted to scream but her voice was barely more than a whisper of his name. She wrapped her arms around her knees and buried her face in the crook of her arm. She couldn’t stop the sobs nor the shaking. She rubbed her arms but it didn’t soothe her.
“Penelope?” she suddenly heard the familiar voice outside the door. “Is everything alright?”
No, nothing’s alright. Nothing!
When he didn’t get an answer Derek slowly opened the door. He could hear her crying behind the shower curtain. Slowly he stepped closer and reached out to open the curtain but he hesitated. He didn’t want to invade her privacy like that. Another sob made his heart cramp. He took in a deep breath and pushed the curtain aside.
Penelope was huddled against the wall her skin red from the hot water. Although the steam filled the shower she was shivering. Derek turned off the water and wrapped her in a towel. He pulled her to her feet and then picked her up carrying her to his bedroom. Carefully Derek laid her down on the bed, wrapped her into the blanket and laid down next to her clasping her into his arms. She didn’t even try to fight him anymore.
The moment Derek caught her in his arms she felt an unutterable ease. She gave way to all the emotions she’d hidden from him and cried for what seemed an eternity.
I can’t find the joy within my soul
It’s just sadness taking hold.
I wanna come in from the cold
And make myself renewed again.
It takes strength to live this way
The same old madness everyday.
I wanna kick these blues away,
I wanna learn to live again.
“Feeling any better?” Derek whispered when he felt her move in his arms.
“Very much.” she sighed without opening her eyes. “Thank you.”
He opened his mouth to reply that he was actually the one who needed to be grateful. But he still didn’t find the words to express what that meant to him. Finally he said in a very low voice: “I can’t believe you did this.”
“I’d do anything for you, you know that.” Penelope answered before even thinking about it. She cast up her eyes in shock but didn’t dare to move both because she was afraid to meet his eyes after that statement and because she didn’t want to loose his warm, comforting embrace.
“Yes, I know.” he smiled. “But still I can’t believe it. What did I do to deserve that… to deserve you.” Then he frowned and added in a whisper: “I’m so sorry I couldn’t keep my promise to keep him from hurting you.”
“It’s okay.” she assured. “I knew what I was going to get involved with when I made my decision.” And I’d do the same again if necessary she added in her thoughts.
“No one ever did what you’ve done for me.” Derek stated. He needed to let her know how much he appreciated that.
“Everyone else would have done the same.” she replied.
“That’s not true and you know that.” he objected and gently stroked her arm. “I never deserved that you went through all this just to save my life.”
Penelope finally raised her head to look into his eyes and whispered: “I hadn’t done this if I thought you wouldn’t deserve it.”
Derek couldn’t answer but just nodded. It was hard not to stare at her given the fact that she’d bared more cleavage to him than he was probably supposed to see by leaning up like this. He swallowed when he noted the querying expression on her face and tried to smile.
Penelope frowned. She could tell from the look on his face that something wasn’t the way it was supposed to be. When she shifted to bring herself into a more comforting position the towel shifted with her and she suddenly realized that she was still naked. Of course, she’d cried herself into sleep in his arms – and when he’d carried her to his bed he’d just wrapped her in that towel. She blushed deeply and stumbled: “I… um… I’m… sorry… I didn’t think of the fact that I… I mean, I should get dressed.”
“Relax, baby girl.” he sat up to grab her arm and she turned to face him. They stared at one another for a long moment, then Derek reached out to stroke her cheek with the back of his hand and let his fingers play with a strand of her blonde hair. “I’m sorry.”
“As I said, it’s okay.” Penelope reassured him feeling more and more uncomfortable from his soft touch and the fact that she was practically naked on his bed.
“That was not what I meant.” Derek smiled and studied her eyes. “I’m sorry that I never realized how much I mean to you.” Leaning closer to her he whispered: “And I want you to know that you mean just as much to me. I’d gladly go through hell for you.”
She smiled and tears sprung to her eyes. For the first time in days these were no tears of fear or pain but tears of joy.
“I love you, baby girl.” Derek smiled back at her and wiped the small threats of tears off her cheeks. Then he covered the small distance between them to capture her soft lips with his.
It’s a dark road
And a dark way that leads to my house
And the word says
You’re never gonna find me there, oh no
I’ve got an open door
It didn’t get there by itself.
“Derek?” she whispered against his chest.
“Yeah?” he smiled and gently pushed a wet strand out of her face.
Penelope raised her head to look at him. “I love you, too. Thank you.”
“You know, it’s not that I didn’t enjoy the last hours.” he grinned. “And besides I’m still the one who needs to be thankful. So for what do you thank me?”
“For making me feel alive again.” she whispered. “For making me forget the last days, for making me forget that this sleaze even exists. And for making me forget that stupid song.”