Monday, September 30, 2013
When Strauss sends Morgan on a suicide mission, the team must race the clock to save his life.
BAU Headquarters, Quantico, VA - Day
Derek had been waiting for the other shoe to drop ever since he’d uncovered Strauss’ secret. Hotch had known but had decided not to share the information with anyone. Instead he partnered her with him on a very delicate case that could have been blown had he not figured things out in time.
Strauss was a raging alcoholic and she had been fully engaged in a secret love affair with the bottle for years. Her family had suffered and her relationships with staff and the BAU team had been damaged almost beyond repair. Morgan had no tolerance for weak links when it came to his job and solving cases and he was infuriated that Hotch would pair him with someone that could blow everything and even put his life in danger.
Strauss was now back from a stint in rehab and Derek was afraid she’d want payback. He had watched her go after Hotch, determined to remove him from the BAU even if it meant ruining his life and career. So he could only imagine what she had planned for him.
Shortly after arriving in the office, Derek got his answer. His usual routine was to grab a cup of coffee and head to his office but today he was summoned to Hotch’s office.
“Close the door.”
Hotch looked more strained than usual and Morgan understood as he saw Strauss sitting in front of his desk.
“Good morning agent Morgan.”
“Have a seat, Morgan.”
Hotch fought hard to hide his anger at the position he was now in.
This wasn’t good and Morgan braced himself for what was to come next. What did Strauss have in store for him; he was soon to find out.
“We need…rather Director Strauss needs your help on a special assignment.”
“It will require your experience in undercover work…deep cover.”
Strauss took over the conversation as she explained her plans for him. It was clear to Morgan that this mission was dangerous and he had no choice but to accept. Hotch had no say either which is why he appeared to be angry as Strauss explained everything.
The case involved a human trafficking ring that was operating out of Fredericksburg. The FBI had been trying to find a way to destroy it and bring the leadership to justice but in five years they had been unsuccessful. They had lost three agents and now Strauss was sending Morgan in to do what no one else had been able to do—cut off the head of the serpent and throw it into the fiery pit of hell.
“You leave immediately. Assistant Director Simmons will brief you. He’s expecting you now.”
“I just need to stop by my office and…”
“No, agent, you won’t. You must leave immediately. No stops. No goodbyes. No conversations with your team. Nothing.” Strauss stood signaling that the meeting was over.
Morgan was stunned as he left the office without looking back, closing the door behind him.
“Strauss you have a dozen agents you could have sent on this assignment. Why Morgan?”
“Because he’s the best and because I can. And Aaron…don’t question me again.”
Strauss glared deep into Hotch for a few seconds and then left Hotch’s office.
2 Days Later…
BAU Headquarters –
By now the team was consumed with the need to know where Morgan was. Hotch hadn’t briefed them and even Rossi who seemed to have a crazy information pipeline hadn’t mentioned anything about his whereabouts. Garcia was distraught; she knew Morgan would never leave without telling her. He was her best friend and maybe even more, so she knew something or someone had prevented him from letting her know that he was going away. The team had last seen him in a closed door meeting with Strauss two days ago but he seemed to have disappeared without being seen. Now, Strauss was in Hotch’s office again and things looked a little heated between the two. The team watched from the bullpen but even from that distance it was obvious that something was wrong. Garcia’s stomach was in knots and she tried again for the hundredth time to reach Morgan on his cell phone.
Suddenly, Hotch’s door jerked open and he appeared, leaning over the railing and peering into the bullpen with Strauss standing nervously behind him.
Verdana Manor Outskirts of D.C.
Morgan had easily managed to find a way into Miguel Verdana’s organization, maybe it was too easy but nonetheless he was inside and had access to the entire estate. The grounds were massive and he didn’t realize that anything like this even existed in D.C. The house was ornate and possessed literally dozens of hidden passages and tunnels that hid the real goings on within. He was responsible for keeping an eye on the new shipment of young girls that were brought in at least twice a week. A new group had arrived yesterday and it made him sick not to be able to rescue them immediately but he was outnumbered. It was nearly impossible for him to move around without being discovered. Even though he had been hired by Verdana, he by no means had been elevated to a position of trust. He had been forced to stay on the property with no gun and no cell phone, which meant he had missed his last three check-ins with his handler. It was evident why this man had not been caught and why three agents before him had lost their lives trying to do the near impossible. He couldn’t help but wonder why Strauss sent him and not someone else or found another way to close the case on Verdana. Either way, he had to find a way to contact his handler or he’d meet the same fate as his predecessors.
The cries of the girls haunted him and he couldn’t sleep. They were so young, at least thirteen between the ages of 15 and 24, all headed for a life of unimaginable pain, torture and horror. He had to do something but for the life of him he didn’t know what. He tried to clear his head but he couldn’t. He wondered what his team thought about his sudden disappearance, especially Garcia. She was no doubt going crazy not knowing. These girls were being shipped out in less than 24 hours and he had to find a way to stop Verdana from stealing their lives and his.
The team sat in shock around the conference table. Garcia tried unsuccessfully to stop the tears streaming down her face. Strauss sat in silence as Hotch briefed them on Morgan’s secret assignment. Rossi shot a sharp glare at her. He couldn’t believe this was the same woman he’d shared his bed with for the last eighteen months. She hadn’t breathed a word to him as she lay next to him, night after night.
Garcia could barely keep up with what Hotch was saying, her best friend was in danger, three others had died before him trying to do the same thing. How could Strauss put him in danger like this? She’d gone out of her way to pull him from the team for this. Of all of the agent’s in the Bureau, why Morgan? He had told her about the drinking and how he’d discovered alcohol on her breath during a rare case in which she had insisted on being in the field with them. She was furious with him but Garcia never dreamed she’d try anything like this that could cost him his life. She regretted never telling him how she felt about him and allowing fear to keep her silent and settling for a relationship with Kevin instead. She prayed for a second chance to say what she should have said years ago, that she loved him and she didn’t care if he loved her back and she didn’t care if he laughed or thought she had lost her mind.
“Please God, keep him safe. I can’t live without him.” She whispered to herself.
After the meeting was over, Rossi waited for the room to empty and closed the door trapping Strauss in the room with him. She was startled at the fire in his eyes and she tried to maintain her professional superiority over him, but it didn’t work. Rossi never cared what her title was, never had any fear of her and didn’t give a crap about losing his job.
“What the hell were you thinking, Erin! Are you trying to get Morgan killed?” Rossi yelled at the top of his lungs.
“Dave, watch your tone…”
“I don’t give a rat’s ass about my tone, Erin! What were you thinking sending Morgan in on this case that’s been a nightmare for the Bureau since day one!”
“I-I-I thought with his experience with going deep cover he could handle this assignment…why am I explaining myself to you?”
“It’s me you’re talking to. I know why you did it. Payback because he
outted you about your drinking…is that it?”
“Of course not. That’s silly!”
“Of course it is!”
“Let me make you a promise. If anything happens to Morgan…anything, I’ll make sure your career is finished in the Bureau! Oh, and in case you were wondering…we’re through!”
Rossi left the room without looking back and joined the rest of the team in the bullpen.
“What are we going to do to help Morgan”? Garcia asked still in tears.
“We have no leads, no last location…nothing!” Reid added.
“Hotch is on the phone now. I’m sure we’ll have something any time now.” Rossi tried to hide his doubt.
“Strauss is one evil Bitch!”
JJ had never cared for Strauss especially since the time she’d checked her and put her in her place several years ago.
Morgan had to get a message to his team; he decided to write a note and hold onto it until an opportunity presented itself to get it in the hands of someone, anyone leaving the compound. He knew it was a long shot and the likelihood of anyone actually reading the message once it was beyond the walls was remote but he had to try.
Suddenly, one of Verdana’s men, Jorge, burst into his room. He looked at Morgan strangely as he was pulling his hands out of his pockets. He wasn’t sure if the man suspected anything but he had to remain calm.
“We’re leaving in an hour, get the girls ready, now!”
Morgan followed him out of the room down through one of the secret passages to the dark underbelly of the house. The man, armed with a sidearm and rifle, watched Morgan as he began assisting the girls in gathering themselves to leave. He had to get the man out of the room even if for only a few seconds.
“I can handle this if you have something to do.”
The man continued to watch Morgan and the women in silence. Suddenly, he caught an unexpected break when the man’s phone rang. A heated argument forced him to move to the far end of the room to continue his conversation. Morgan quickly turned to face one of the girls and made his move.
“Listen to me. I’m here to help you, understand?”
The brunette stared in disbelief watching him in frozen silence.
“We don’t have much time. Take this and hide it on your body.”
He quickly shoved the note into her shaky hand. Seeing a slim chance at freedom she quickly snatched the note and shoved it down her shirt into her bra.
“I don’t know how yet but I’ll try to create a diversion and whatever it is be ready to move and take as many of the girls with you as you can, understand?”
She shook her head as she nervously looked around the room.
“Hey! What are you doing?” The man moved toward Morgan and the girl.
“Nothing just trying to get ready to go, that’s all.”
Morgan’s heart began to beat feverishly. The man played with his rifle staring at Morgan and the girl and Morgan hoped he bought his story.
“I don’t trust you…something about you isn’t quite right.”
“C’mon man, we’ve got a job to do here. We don’t have to like each other. You want to keep talking or do you want to get the girls loaded in the van?”
“Just know…I’m watching you. You make a wrong move and it will be my pleasure to put a bullet in your head.”
The team was now focused on finding Morgan. Strauss knew better than to object. Hotch had found Morgan’s handler, Agent Merk Matthews, who now had joined them as they hunted and explored every minute angle and lead. They were racing the clock and no one wanted to mention the danger their friend was in. Garcia pushed past her personal feelings for Morgan and kept her focus on the computer screens in front of her.
They traced Morgan’s steps but lost him when he didn’t check in with his handler two nights ago. He had paid a visit to a local dive bar and according to Matthews, Morgan had been contacted by one of Verdana’s men less than an hour after visiting the bar. Morgan had left clues at the apartment where he was staying while undercover. Verdana’s name had been found written on a piece of paper when Rossi and Reid had searched earlier. Garcia had found enough information on Verdana to be able to locate several businesses he owned but those leads turned up empty.
Morgan and the others had been travelling in the van for over an hour. The girls were all piled in the back like cattle, crying and holding on to each other for dear life. The one that Morgan had given the note to sat alone staring intently into space. He realized that he didn’t even know her name or anything about her and maybe that was for the best; he couldn’t afford to get attached or personally involved. He needed to get all of them to safety but he still hadn’t figured out how.
The van pulled into a roadside rest for a short bathroom break. Morgan was ordered to get out and let the girls out to use the facilities. He hoped this was the break he needed but one of the other men followed him to the back door. Jorge the one in charge hopped out of the van and walked to the back of the van as well still watching Morgan.
“You all have ten minutes to handle your business and then we’re leaving.”
Jorge pulled a cell phone from his pocket as the girls filed out of the van. Turning his attention to the other armed man he issued more orders.
“Keep your eyes open, Jaime. I don’t want any problems. I’ve got to call Verdana and check in.”
Jaime stood straight and followed Morgan and the girls to the restrooms.
Jorge walked away out of earshot and began making his call. Jaime began to wiggle and walk in place uncomfortably.
“Hey you look like you need to hit the head. I’ll keep an eye open if you want.”
“I don’t know. Jorge is a mean son-of-a-bitch…”
“Look man, we’re all on the same team. I got your back. Now go on.”
The man smiled and agreed. “Okay, thanks, man!”
The women began coming out of the bathroom. As the brunette came out Morgan quickly pushed her back in. Their eyes locked and they both knew that this was their only chance. She quickly backed into the restroom. Morgan quickly began walking the other women back to the van. As half of them were loaded, Jaime exited the restroom and ran over to the van so as not to be seen by Jorge.
“Thanks, amigo!” He smiled and watched the last of the girls board the van.
“No problem, amigo! All present and accounted for.”
Jorge returned to the van and quickly jumped behind the wheel; Jaime joined him in the front seat while Morgan rode in the seat behind them.
“Are we set, Jaime?”
“Yes Boss, all present and accounted for.” Shooting a glance at Morgan.
Jorge started the engine and the group continued down the road. Morgan knew that they were not out of the woods. Jorge was a smart, cunning man and it would be quite an accomplishment to fool him. He didn’t trust anyone and he was sure that’s what had kept him alive in this business for so long. Morgan noticed that he kept looking back through his rearview mirror and then at Morgan and Jaime.
Jorge pulled the van over to the side of the road and stared at Morgan through the mirror.
“Where is she?!”
Garcia screamed at the top her lungs. She had a woman on the phone who may know where Derek was.
“Put her on speaker Garcia!”
“Hello, this SSA Hotchner with the FBI, who am I speaking to?”
“My name is Sarah Martin. I was kidnapped. I was given this number by a guy that was working with the men that took me.”
The team looked around at each other, questions flooding their minds.
“Do you know his name?” JJ jumped in first.
“No. He was a black guy, bald…He’s new. I saw him for the first time a few days ago.”
“That’s Morgan!” Reid added.
The team continued to grill the woman and promised to have someone pick her up and take her to a safe place. They were able to get enough information to be able to find where the women had been held. Time was running short and it wouldn’t be long before Morgan’s true identity would be discovered.
Rossi convinced them that the kidnappers would not be able to deliver the girls if one was missing. They’d need to return to their original location and regroup.
Rossi was correct. Jorge and the group had returned to the Estate. Verdana and two other men were there to meet them. Both Morgan and Jaime were brought before Verdana who was fuming at the betrayal of one of the two men. Verdana knew that Jaime wasn’t bright enough to plan such a clever escape so without warning he pulled a gun and shot Jaime right between the eyes.
Morgan tried to keep his composure as Jaime, wide-eyed, fell dead next to him. Morgan stood facing Verdana, waiting to receive the same fate. Verdana began walking circles around Morgan, biding his time.
“Who are you?”
Morgan continued to stare straight-ahead waiting for the inevitable. Suddenly he was blindsided by Jorge’s large fist as it landed on the side of his face. His knees buckled and he strained to stay on his feet. Then he felt a blow to his mid-section that knocked the wind from his body. He dropped to his knees struggling to catch his breath.
“Who are you?”
More blows came faster and faster landing hard and forcing him to the ground. His mouth filled with blood and he began coughing as he began choking. The pain from each blow made him wish that Verdana or Jorge would just shoot him and end it all. Verdana walked away while Morgan laid on the ground writhing in pain. Looking out of the window he seemed to take great pleasure in once again foiling the plan of the government to capture him.
“I told you amigo, what I would do if I found you out, remember?”
Jorge pulled his gun and pushed the barrel against Morgan’s temple. Morgan closed his eyes and waited for the shot.
“Take him downstairs. I don’t want anymore of his blood on my Persian rug.”
Verdana continued to stare out of the window as Jorge and two other men dragged Morgan’s body out of the office.
Hotch, Rossi and the rest of the team along with SWAT and local police arrived just out of sight near the Verdana Estate. They had to find a way in without alerting Verdana and his men. If Morgan was still alive they needed to make sure they could get to him safely.
Verdana had been in this situation before. He knew the police and the feds would be there soon. He quickly went to his safe and removed several piles of cash and his passport and threw it all in a large duffle bag. As his men were preoccupied with Morgan, he slipped through a hidden exit within the walls of his office that led to a tunnel, which would take him to safety well outside the walls of his estate and beyond the authorities reach once again.
Just as Jorge and the two other men were about to have a bit more fun at Morgan’s expense, they heard noises in the tunnels; they knew it was Verdana escaping, leaving them to clean up after him. The two other men ran out of the room leaving Jorge and Morgan alone. They were not as stupid or loyal to Verdana as he’d assumed and so they too began to make their escape. Jorge was distracted as he yelled at the others to stay. Morgan ignoring the pain raging through his body jumped and overpowered Jorge. The two fought, knocking the gun in Jorge’s hand to the ground. After a few minutes of struggle, Morgan grabbed the gun and without hesitation shot Jorge dead. The sound led the team straight to his location.
Morgan wasn’t satisfied with killing Jorge he quickly got up and headed toward the tunnels. It didn’t take him long to catch up with Verdana who was arguing with the two other men who had their boss cornered insisting on their cut and aid in getting away. Morgan caught up with the three and catching them by surprise ending their lives just like Jorge just a few minutes before.
Morgan watched as the three fell in a hail of gunfire. It wasn’t until the rest of the team had caught up with him that he realized he had been shot.
D.C. General Hospital – Evening
The team had all gathered in the small hospital room where Derek was just waking up. They were a noisy bunch and had already been threatened by the nursing staff to keep it down or else. They were happy that Derek was alive and that his bullet wound wasn’t life threatening. Since he’d had surgery to remove the bullet in his arm he was being forced to spend the night in the hospital much to his dismay. He hated hospitals, especially since Garcia had been shot a few years ago.
Garcia stood as close to him as possible, holding his hand for dear life. She smiled when he opened his eyes, still groggy from the anesthetic. He looked in her eyes, saw the tears and he smiled back at her and for a moment he didn’t realize that the others were in the room.
“Hey Baby Girl.”
“Hey Handsome. How are you feeling?”
“Happy that I’m alive to look into your big beautiful eyes.”
Hotch cleared his throat and the others snickered and giggled in the background.
“You did it. We found the other girls and they are all fine thanks to you.”
Morgan closed his eyes for a moment remembering the looks of sheer terror on their young faces.
“I didn’t think any of us would make it out alive. I can’t believe Strauss sent me in. It was a suicide mission.”
“Well you won’t have to worry about Strauss any more, she’s history.”
A sad expression crossed Rossi’s face knowing that his statement had more than one meaning.
The nurse came in and shooed the unruly bunch out. Morgan began feeling the weight of the mission and surgery hitting him. As Garcia turned to leave he grabbed her hand holding her in place.
“Penelope, can you stay for a minute?”
Her heart leaped with excitement. She wanted to laugh and cry all at once to see that he was alive and safe.
“I wanted to make sure you were okay.”
Morgan searched her face for the truth knowing she’d pretend that she was okay even though he knew this was hard on her. Her eyes filled with tears and it was hard to find the strength or the words. He released her hand and reached to wipe away the tears.
“Baby Girl, I’m fine, really. The doctors say I can leave tomorrow.”
“I thought I’d lost you, Derek. Strauss sent you away and we didn’t know…I didn’t know where you were…”
“I’m sorry, baby. I know this was hard on you. I wanted to tell you before I left but Strauss wouldn’t let me.”
“Why did she do that? She had to know how dangerous it was.”
“I don’t know…I’m just glad it’s over. I know one thing though.”
“I missed you, Baby Girl.”
She so wanted to kiss him. He looked so adorable laying there, bruises and all. He had no clue how she felt about him, how her life would have ended if he had died. It broke her heart to think that she hadn’t had a chance to tell him how she felt.
Derek caressed her face wiping the tears that continued to fall. He wished he could tell her how he felt, that he loved her with all of his heart but he knew she would never see him as anything but her friend. Still, her face kept coming to him while he fought to find a way back home to her. She was his world, his God-given solace. He had to come back if for no other reason but for her.
Penelope watched him as he slowly lost the battle to stay awake. He looked so peaceful lying there. She carefully leaned down and planted a kiss on his forehead and then gently wiping the lipstick away. Penelope slowly walked toward the door and then turned for one more look at him and just before stepping out of the room she said to him while he slept what she wished she had the courage to say while he was awake.
“I love you Derek Morgan.”
“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”