Sunday, October 27, 2013
Morgan tries desperately to heal from the recent tragedies in his life but will the damages be too severe to have a life with Penelope?
Apartment of Penelope Garcia – Wednesday morning
Penelope laid on her side watching him as he slept. She knew that when he showed up at her door a few hours ago he’d wanted to talk and apologize for sending her away. His apology front and center in his eyes yet she would not let him speak. She gently took his hand and pulled him into her apartment and insisted he lie down and rest. Like they had done countless times before she laid with him wrapped tightly in his arms falling asleep at the sound of each other’s breathing. There was so much they needed to say to each other, but it could wait. All that mattered now was that he was there with her.
It was good that Hotch had given the team the rest of the week off. They all were so close that this last week had touched them all deeply. Penelope quietly and gently slipped from Derek’s embrace and headed toward the kitchen to get a pot of coffee going. She had no idea what the day held but she wanted to be awake and alert. As the coffee began to brew, she could here the shower running which prompted her to scrounge through her refrigerator for breakfast fixings.
She was so deep in thought as she briskly whipped the broken eggs that she didn’t here him enter the room and she jumped slightly as he placed his arms around her waist.
“Good morning, Beautiful.” He said planting a kiss near her ear and inhaling her essence.
“Good morning Hot Stuff. How’d you sleep?” She asked now smiling.
“Better than I have in a long time.” He released her and sat at the kitchen table.
Penelope poured him a mug of coffee and set it in front of him.
He quietly took a sip and stared out of the window deep in thought. The silence between them was comfortable. It was like that with them they didn’t feel the need to fill every moment with chatter and noise. She knew he would talk when he was ready. He knew she would not pressure him to talk before he was ready.
Penelope placed two plates on the table and after grabbing her coffee she sat and the two ate. Afterwards, he placed his hand over hers and waited for her to look up.
“I’m sorry, Baby Girl. I shouldn’t have sent you away last night. I didn’t mean to hurt you.”
“Derek…” She knew this was coming.
“I was being stupid, selfish…I wouldn’t blame you if you were mad.”
“I’m not mad. I’m just…”
“Confused, I guess. I thought I had done something wrong, like maybe I was smothering you…”
“No you could never smother me. I-I-…” Derek wasn’t quite sure how to put his feelings into words. “I didn’t want you to suffer because of me.”
There it was. He’d said it and even though he had understood what Rossi was saying last night he still felt that he was bad news for Penelope and anyone else close to him.
Penelope squeezed his hand and took a deep breath as she searched his face. In his eyes she saw the little boy that had been abused by a treacherous predator, she saw the man who fought so hard to prove that he didn’t need anyone, couldn’t trust anyone and who was always waiting for those close to him to hurt him or leave him. This was the man she had fallen in love with, the man who’d move heaven and earth for those he loved even if it cost him his life.
“Derek, honey, I don’t understand. How could I suffer because of you?”
“I’m damaged goods, Baby Girl. I don’t want to disappoint you or hurt you. I’m not sure if I’ll ever be whole or…”
She knew she could no longer keep silent about her feelings for this man. He was struggling drowning in what he thought was his own unworthiness, as if he had caused or deserved all the bad things in his life. She had invested too much time and too much of her heart to let that happen.
“I love you, Derek Morgan.” She said interrupting him.
He looked at her as if he had only thought he’d heard her. How could she love him? He was broken and shattered and he was certain that he’d never find all of the pieces again.
“What did you just say?”
“I said I love you Derek Morgan.” She waited wondering if she’d made a mistake.
“I love you too, Penelope Garcia. But…”
“But nothing. We’ll take it from there. One day, no one moment at a time.”
BAU Headquarters, Quantico, VA – Monday morning
Monday offered the team a real reminder that evil was alive and well. There was no respite or breather or even a truce for good measure. The team had been called in earlier than usual and were gathered around the conference table reviewing graphic pictures of the latest case. Hotch stood giving the details as larger versions of the pictures before them hung illuminated on the board next to him.
“Denver needs our help in a series of murders that have claimed the lives of three young children.” Hotch paused to gauge Morgan’s reaction.
“Tracy Reese 14, Amanda Sparks 13, and Jennifer Torres 15 were all found in shallow graves less than a mile from their homes last night.”
Morgan felt his heart leap and stomach turn. Desperately he tried to hide the emotions welling up inside him. For the first time in his career he began to doubt himself. He wasn’t sure if he would be able to handle a case involving children, especially young girls this close to Ellie’s death. He continued to focus his stare on the file knowing his team, in particular Hotch were focusing on him.
“The girls were all supposed to be at a sleepover at Tracy’s house when they were discovered missing the following morning, their beds had not been slept in.” Hotch continued.
“No signs of forced entry. The girls must have known their abductor.” Reid surmised as he fumbled through the pages.
“No signs of sexual assault or torture.” Rossi added.
“What could have caused these girls to leave without the parents knowing?” JJ asked to no one in particular.
“Well at least the Denver PD thought to call us in quickly.” Morgan chimed in.
Garcia felt a twinge of hope as she listened to Morgan. She shared his concern about being able to handle a case like this so soon, but she’d never let him know. She believed in him and his commitment to his job and the victims. Justice had always trumped anything that he was personally dealing with. However, she wasn’t going to fool herself this wasn’t going to be easy for him.
“Given the fact that they did, let’s get moving. Wheels up in thirty.” Hotch added.
The team gathered their files and headed out. Hotch waited behind to grab Morgan before he left. Penelope hung outside of the conference room to give the two men some privacy.
“Morgan, you don’t have to join us on this case if…” Hotch began.
“I’m going, Hotch. I need to go. I’ll be fine.” Morgan insisted.
“Are you sure? No one will think less of you if you stayed behind.”
“I’m fine. Really. I can do this.”
Hotch nodded and left it at that. He headed out passing Garcia in the hallway. Morgan knew she’d be waiting for him.
“Hey Baby Girl, don’t you worry. I’m fine.” Morgan looked down into her eyes.
Garcia half- smiled and rubbed his arm matching his glance.
“I know. I’m not worried.”
“Yeah, you are.” He replied and his smile broadened.
“Okay, maybe a little, but I believe in you and I know you can do this.”
“Thank you, Mama. I needed that.”
Morgan pulled her into a strong embrace, as he closed his eyes and inhaled as if to gain some extra strength from breathing her in.
“I love you, Baby Girl.” He added releasing her.
“I love you too. Come home safe, my love.”
“That’s the plan.”
Denver, Colorado Police Department - Evening
The team headed to Denver, Colorado and hit the ground running. The lead detective, Stephen Coles, a twenty-year veteran of the Denver PD met them as they came through the precinct doorway. He along with the victims’ families were waiting to talk to the BAU profilers hoping desperately for answers. Hotch sent JJ to reassure the parents that they were going to do all they could to bring the case to a close as soon as possible. The rest of the team set up in a spare conference room near the rear of the building.
About an hour later, Rossi and Reid had completed their interviews with the parents of all three girls. Garcia had come up with more information as she continued to research everyone who had ever been a part of the three young girls’ lives.
The team was now seated around the round conference table, with Detective Coles and with Garcia on speaker.
“What do you have Garcia?” Hotch began.
“All three girls attended the same middle school but I’m sure by now you already know that.”
“Is that it, Baby Girl?” Morgan asked with slight irritation.
“You know me better than that, handsome crime fighter.” Garcia replied.
The team looked around the table with slight smirks on their faces.
“Each girl participated in a summer reading program with a Josiah Martin, 32, who is a resource aide at the middle school the girls attended. So the interesting thing is, Josiah Martin has a prior arrest for looking into the windows of girls in his neighborhood when he was 20 and when he was 21 he was caught breaking into the bedrooms of his neighbors and stealing unmentionables from the little girls.”
“Looks like we may need to pay Mr. Martin a visit.” Rossi added.
“How does a man like this get a job at a middle school?” Morgan asked.
“School districts are required to run extensive background checks on everyone before they hire them. His record should have shown up even in a preliminary search.” Reid said.
“Garcia…” Hotch began.
“I know. I’ve sent his address to your PDA’s” Garcia interrupted.
“You’re the best, Mama.” Morgan said.
“Yes I am.” She shot back.
Hotch sent Rossi and Morgan to Martin’s residence while the others stayed behind to work from the precinct. The two rode in silence for a few minutes as Rossi watched Morgan from the corner of his eye and wondering if it was wise that Hotch had sent Morgan out in the field.
“I know what you’re thinking Rossi.” Morgan kept his eyes on the road as he drove.
“What?” Rossi answered feigning ignorance.
“You’re wondering why Hotch sent me and not someone else.”
“He must know you can handle it.”
“I’m fine. Don’t worry.” Morgan assured the older agent.
“I’m not worried, but if you feel you can’t, I’m here. I got your back, understood?”
Home of Josiah Martin –
Derek parked the SUV in front of the small rundown house. It was dark inside except for a dim light coming from the front room. As the two approached they could hear the sound of the television playing. Rossi knocked on the door. After a few seconds they heard the sound of a lock being twisted and then the door opened slightly. A slight man poked his head through the crack in the door.
“Josiah Martin?” Morgan inquired.
“Yes. Can I help you?” He said innocently.
“Agents Morgan and Rossi with the FBI.”
The two held up their badges.
“What can I do for you gentlemen?”
“We’d like to ask you a few questions.” Morgan added.
“It’s pretty late. Can we do this tomorrow? Josiah asked.
“Well, the sooner we get some answers, the sooner you can finish watching the Flinstone marathon. Morgan said sarcastically.
“Actually, it’s Scooby Doo.” Josiah returned.
“Let’s go.” Morgan responded, running out of patience.
Martin closed the door and walked toward the SUV with Rossi and Morgan. Rossi secured Martin in the back seat and sat up front with Morgan. Rossi looked over at the stone-faced Morgan.
“Flintstones?” Rossi smirked.
Derek shot an almost-smile at Rossi and headed to the Precinct.
Denver, Colorado Police Department – later
The team was still focused on the details of the case when Morgan and Rossi returned with Josiah Martin in tow. Hotch looked at Rossi with an inquisitive look. Rossi nodded that all was well and the three headed to an empty interrogation room. JJ was on the phone with Garcia.
“How’s he doing, JJ?”
“He and Rossi just walked in with Martin and it looks like he’s still in one piece so that’s a good sign at least.”
“I’m so worried about him. You know how he gets when it involves children.”
“Yeah, we all know. He really seems to be holding it together, though.” JJ assured her.
Rossi and Morgan both were interrogating Martin hot and heavy. Rossi kept a close eye on Morgan and only had to pull him back after lunging toward Martin twice and that was pretty good in Rossi’s opinion.
After two hours, both agents determined that Martin was not their UNSUB. His alibi was solid and his M.O. was too different from the murders. Morgan was beyond frustrated as he reluctantly released Martin.
Hotch realized that they had done all they could do for the evening. The team was exhausted and so he ordered everyone to head to the hotel and get some rest.
Hotel - later
Morgan showered and grabbed a small bottle of scotch from the mini bar and poured the contents into a glass filled with ice. He knew that the nightmares were going to haunt him tonight. Already he could see the three victims in his mind. They were front and center along with Ellie, asking him why he hadn’t saved them in time. He opened another bottle and gulped it down straight from the bottle. Then his phone rang.
“Hey, Baby Girl.” Morgan sighed.
“Hello Handsome. You sound exhausted.” Garcia replied.
“I thought we had him. But Martin’s alibi checked out and the M.O.’s don’t match.” Morgan closed his eyes and leaned against the headboard.
“Now we’re at square one again. “ Morgan continued.
“Then we keep looking, okay? We keep looking.”
“I don’t know if I can look in those parents eyes and tell them that we have nothing.”
“We’ll get this guy, we always do. Now you need to get some rest.” Garcia insisted.
“I can’t sleep, Baby Girl. I’m already seeing those little girls and Ellie too. I’m afraid to close my eyes.”
“Tell me what I can do to help, Sweetie.”
“Just talk to me.”
“I don’t care. Just talk.”
Denver – Tuesday Morning
The team was back on the case. Most of them had managed to get a few hours sleep. Morgan had even managed to fight the nightmares after Garcia had talked him to sleep. He felt bad that he’d kept her up but he honestly didn’t know how he would have gotten through the night without her. She was a lifesaver, his God-given solace. He still couldn’t figure out what he had done to deserve her.
“Good Morning My Furry Friends. Last night while we were all sound asleep, I adjusted some of the parameters and re-ran my search on the middle school staff and bingo!”
“What’d you find?” Hotch asked.
“When I looked back ten years instead of five I found something crazy interesting. Joanne McMasters, the school’s librarian had three young daughters ages 3, 4, and 5.”
“Had?” Morgan asked.
“This is where it gets trey-weird. Joanne McMasters and her husband Warren had been having mega marital problems. Warren moved out and two days later, she discovered her daughters missing when she went in to wake them for school. Their bodies were found in shallow graves just outside of town. Warren confessed to the murders and is now serving a life sentence in the state pen.”
“That’s why there were no signs of sexual abuse.” Reid said.
“Or torture.” Hotch added.
“ I don’t get it. This is the second person at the same school that got passed a background check.” Morgan was starting to have a hard time with this one.
“It sucks but Joanne had no history that would have alerted the school of a problem.” Reid added.
“Unfortunately, you’re right boy genius.” Garcia noted. “She graduated with honors from Denver U, she’s active in her church and is a model employee.”
“One other thing, Joanne McMasters spent six weeks in a sanitarium after the murder of her daughters but because she entered voluntarily, she left and according to her records her departure was against doctors recommendations.”
“Why?” JJ asked.
“Her doctor was concerned because she claimed to have visions of killing little girls and burying their bodies in shallow graves.”
“Damn!” Morgan began pacing the floor.
“And as a final and even creepier note, Sunday was the ten year anniversary of her daughters’ murders.” Garcia added.
"They'd be the same age now as our victims were." Said Reid.
“That’s the stressor.” Hotch noted. “Rossi you and Morgan go pick her up.”
Morgan’s adrenaline was pumping as he and Rossi headed out. He wasn’t sure how he would react once he came face to face with this woman. He knew he had to keep his temper in check; they still had to follow proper procedure and make a case. Everyone was still innocent until proven guilty and he wasn’t going to do anything to cause a killer to go free.
Garcia knew that Hotch had sent Morgan out again. She wanted to call and check in with him but she knew better. She trusted him to do his job. He had to prove to himself that he could work through his grief and still be the agent he’d always been. He was the best and nothing was going to change that.
Hotch trusted Morgan and he was confident in him even though Morgan himself had doubts. He knew exactly what he was doing when he kept him in the field. Rossi was there just in case and he wasn’t going to allow Morgan to go off the rails.
Jet – Tuesday Evening
It was late but Derek was glad they were headed home. They had arrested Joanne McMasters and she confessed to the murders shortly after Derek began interrogating her. She seemed relieved that she had been caught. Derek was able to stay calm and convince her to tell the truth so that the victims’ families could have closure in this horrible ordeal. As he wrapped up the paper work for the local PD he couldn’t help think about the waste of three young innocent lives and wondered how the families of the lost would recover. He realized that they would recover the same way he would have to. Time would have to be the great healer, one day at a time. He leaned back and closed his eyes, the fatigue finally catching up with him. His phone rang and he knew it was his Baby Girl. With his eyes still closed he answered.
“Hello Handsome. Good work today.”
“Thanks. We did it.”
“No. You did it.”
“Baby you know I couldn’t have closed this case without you and the whole team.”
“That’s not what I mean.”
“You fought through everything and you worked to help find a killer. Don’t you see, the world needs you and others like you to fight the good fight.”
“I’m glad you believe in me, Baby Girl. It means everything. I just wonder…”
“If in the grand scheme of things if it really matters?”
“Derek, of course it matters. Do you even have to ask?”
“I just wonder sometimes. Maybe I’m just tired.”
“Well. Hurry home, Hot Stuff. I’ll leave a light on.”
Home of Derek Morgan – Much later
Morgan dragged his tired body up the walkway toward his front door. Penelope had promised to leave a light on and she indeed did that. He opened the door slowly and saw his sleeping beauty curled up on the couch covered with a light blanket. She looked so peaceful lying there. No doubt she had tried to stay awake for him but she had to be tired since she kept watch over him last night over the phone. He walked over and planted a light kiss on her forehead and she began to stir slowly waking up.
“Hey Baby Girl. I didn’t mean to wake you.”
“Looking at that gorgeous face is worth waking up for, Handsome.” She said as she sat up and made room for him on the couch. “Welcome home.”
“It’s good to be home.” He replied.
He was tired but he wasn’t quite ready to attempt sleeping. He knew what was waiting for him in the dream realm and he wasn’t up for it just now. The two sat silently, comfortably for several minutes until Derek’s phone sounded. Shooting Garcia a puzzled look, he answered.
“Speaking. Who’s this?”
“It’s Jeremy. Jeremy Parker.” The young man hesitated.
“Jeremy. What’s going on, man?”
Morgan shot a glance at Garcia again. He had given Jeremy his card at the services but he hadn’t expected to hear from him.
“I’m sorry to call so late. I forgot about the time difference.”
“No worries. What’s going on?”
Penelope quietly excused herself to give Derek some privacy. He tried grabbing her hand for her to stay but she mouthed that it was okay, kissed him lightly on the cheek and headed toward the bedroom.
“I’m not sure. Things are so hard now.”
“Have you thought about seeing a therapist?” Morgan suggested.
“My mom wants me to but…”
“Jeremy, talk to me.”
“I don’t understand why I’m alive and Ellie and her mom are dead. I did that. I killed two people and I get to walk around like nothing ever happened. Like they never existed.”
Derek could hear the remorse in the young man’s voice. He knew he was crying and struggling to keep his composure.
“Jeremy, listen to me. You’re alive because there’s work for you to do. It wasn’t your time, man.”
“I start college in the fall. Did you know that?”
“No I didn’t. Congratulations.”
“Ellie won’t get to go to college. “ Jeremy broke down. “You know why, because of me. I am so sorry!”
Derek was at a loss. He didn’t know if he would have the words or ability to make Jeremy understand or to help him get through this; he was still wondering if he himself would get through it. He felt compassion for the man who had killed Ellie and that was the last thing he expected to feel. As Jeremy cried, he remembered how torn up he had been at the services and Derek’s feelings of anger had melted immediately upon meeting Jeremy and his mom.
“Jeremy. It was an accident, a terrible accident but you can’t let it destroy you. If you do then Ellie and her mom died in vain. You’ve got to turn this around and do something good with it. You have to find a way to give Ellie and her mom’s life meaning.”
“How?” Jeremy began to settle down.
“I don’t have the answer to that but I’m sure you’ll find a way. You said you’re going to college in the fall, right?”
“Then you do your best. Make sure you graduate and do something that makes a difference.”
Penelope stood in the doorway of Derek’s bedroom and listened at the words coming from this amazingly kind man. She knew firsthand what Ellie’s death meant to him. She watched how he ached and mourned and she wondered if he’d be able to come back from this tragedy. Here he was at midnight, talking and encouraging the young man who had accidentally caused the deaths. Her love grew deeper for him and she didn’t think that was possible. She was clueless that what she saw in him he could not see in himself.
Derek and Jeremy continued to talk for several minutes and just before they ended their conversation, she rejoined him on the couch.
“I don’t know why you would take the time to talk to me, Agent Morgan but thank you.”
“No thank you. I think I needed to talk just as much as you did. Call me anytime, you hear me?”
The two said goodbye and Derek hung up and without looking over he pulled Garcia closer to him as he wrapped his arm around her shoulder and settled into the couch.
“You good?” She asked him.
“Yeah, Baby Girl. I’m good.” He answered.
“Now, if you ever wonder again if what you do matters, I think you just got your answer.” She added laying her head on his chest.
“Yeah, I think I just did.” He agreed as he planted a gentle kiss on her head.
“Your purpose in life is to find your purpose and give your whole heart and soul to it” – Gautama Buddha