Monday, June 2, 2014

Resurrection Day Part 2

Now it was time to call Hotch; until now the notes were cryptic mind games played by a coward hiding behind the particulars of a past case. Things had suddenly changed with the mention of a possible murder. He couldn’t live with the blood of innocent people on his hands.  Penelope approached and saw the open box, the note and the eyeglasses.  She watched his face turn to an ice-cold stare as he stood motionless looking at the note and then at her.

Without a word, Morgan unlocked the door to their home and entered, cradling the box under his arm and with his and Penelope’s go-bag in his hands he stepped cautiously inside.  Quickly surveying the room he moved allowing her to enter. He was in FBI agent Profiler mode, tense and setting the bags down he ordered her again to stay in place and without question she did as he asked. Walking through the house room by room clearing and satisfying his mind that there had been no intrusion into their personal sanctuary, he finally rejoined her in the front room.

“Derek? I’m scared, you have to call Hotch.”

Pulling her to him gently and resting his chin on her head he held her close he could feel her trembling and he wasn’t going to allow anyone to make her afraid in her own home. Just then his phone rang alerting him to a new case. Seconds later hers rang with the same message.

BAU Headquarters

“Detective Artie Purchase of the D.C. Police Department is asking for our help in a multiple homicide.” Hotch began.

The team slowly began thumbing through the case files in front of them, pausing momentarily on each of the gruesome pictures and eerie similarities from the past. Hotch watched their reactions trying to remain calm and keep his memories of the case pressed down and under wraps.

The Reaper had terrorized the city of Boston in the mid 90’s during his early years with the BAU and it was his first case as lead profiler he remembered being called in by Detective Tom Shaunessy and then abruptly sent away before even giving a profile on the UnSub responsible for the deaths of twenty people. Shaunessy had secretly made a deal with the Reaper, as he had been nicknamed, and the killings stopped. Hotch left Boston but he didn’t leave the case. On his death bed, Shaunessy confessed to Hotch the reason for sending him home and expressed his fear that the killings would soon begin again.

The killings indeed began again. The deal that had been offered to the Boston detective was made to Hotch, which was turned down flat. George Foyet, the Reaper proved to be one of the most famous killers they’d ever come up against, hitting the team up close and personal; Morgan had been haunted by his run in with him and Hotch had suffered the loss of his wife Haley before finally killing George Foyet in his home with his bare hands. The thought that someone was re-creating his crimes was hitting each one of them too close for comfort.

“Tell him!” Garcia said forcefully staring at Morgan.


“Tell him or I will, Derek!”

The team looked at the two and Hotch turned to face the agent face to face.

“Tell me what?” He asked sternly.

“Someone has been sending me messages…”

“What’s that got to do with this case?”

“The messages are from George Foyet.”

The proverbial pin dropped hitting the floor with a loud resounding clang all eyes opened wide, mouths gapping the silence that blanketed the room seemed to smother them.

“Come on…George Foyet is dead!” Rossi said.

“Morgan, when did this start?” Hotch sounded irritated.

“Yesterday mixed in with my mail was a letter that said, ‘If you stop hunting me, I’ll stop hunting them.’ Then earlier today there was another letter here on my desk and when we got home tonight there was a box on my porch with a note and a pair of eyeglasses.”

“Morgan, why am I just now hearing about this!”

“Hotch, I thought it was a joke.”

“Morgan, the last victim was missing his eyeglasses.”


Morgan felt as if someone had sucker punched him in the gut as he slumped in his chair.

“We need to get all of the notes and the boxes to the lab asap!”



“I got a note when we were in Idaho on this last case…”

Hotch ran his hand through his hair and began pacing the floor. This wasn’t good. Whoever this was had access to case information and knew too much about Derek- where he lived and the cases he and the team had worked.

“Derek, you can’t work this case.” Reid interjected carefully.

“Like hell I can’t!”

“He’s right, Morgan.” Rossi added.

“I’m working this case!”

“No you’re not!”

“Hotch! Come on, this son-of-a-bitch is taunting me! I don’t like being taunted!”

“Morgan, you’re a victim; for some reason this guy is targeting you specifically. Until we find him, you’re going to be under close protection.”

“Hotch, please don’t do this!”

“That’s an order, Morgan. End of discussion?”

Morgan slammed his hand down on the table and then clenched his fist trying to regain control of his emotions. Hotch watched him carefully understanding but needing to maintain control. No one had suffered more than he had at the hands of Foyet and he wondered if he would be able to revisit the dark place that had become a part of his history, his present and surely his future.

Hotch split the team up sending Reid and Alex to the coroner’s office, Rossi and JJ headed to the crime scene and Hotch headed to the precinct to meet with Detective Purchase.

Morgan was more than a little irritated as he stayed behind yanked out of the field for his own protection. He knew department protocol but he didn’t like being anyone’s victim but for now he was stuck waiting while the rest of the team solved the case without him.

“Come on Baby Boy, you can keep Mama company while I hunt down this scum bag.”
Penelope headed toward her lair with her pouting boyfriend trailing behind her. This case had gotten under his skin; if someone knew where he lived, the cases he worked, then they knew about Garcia and the fact that they were a couple. His anxiety level doubled imagining her getting caught in the crossfire or being targeted by this sick monster. He didn’t want to tell her what was on his mind, but he was determined not to let her out of his sight until this case was closed.

Police Department- Downtown, D.C.

Hotch was greeted by an anxious detective Purchase. He was oddly relieved to see another person looking as if he’d just awoken dead center in his worst nightmare. The detective didn’t know half of what the Reaper had done and what he really meant, the damage he’d done to his life, but it seemed that he had grasped the severity of the situation.

Purchase offered the agent his hand and thanked him for responding so soon.

“Agent Hotchner, thank you for coming so quickly.”

“I hope we can help.”

“Where’s the rest of your team?”

“At the coroner’s office and the crime scene.”

“You all don’t waste time. Impressive.”

“We are intimately aware of the Reaper…we need to stop this…soon!”

The two headed toward a conference room that had been set up for the team and began to discuss the case.

“I remember hearing about a case like this in Boston and I know you guys chased this sicko around the country for a while, so I thought I better call you in.”

“Thanks. It seems as though one of my agents have been targeted by this UnSub.”


“He may actually be the intended victim.”

“But…I don’t understand?”

Just as Hotch was about to explain another detective came to the door with a frantic wide-eyed look on his face.

“Sorry for the interruption, boss…”

“What’s up, Hollins?”

“We just found two more bodies.”

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Resurrection Day Part I

Either Morgan is losing his mind…or the Reaper has come back from the grave. When Morgan begins receiving communication from George Foyet and evidence of crimes similar to the Reaper, he begins to question all that he knew as the truth.
Do not be misled by what you see around you, or be influenced by what you see. You live in a world which is a playground of illusion, full of false paths, false values and false ideals. But you are not part of that world. (Sai Baba)

Home of Derek Morgan - Day
"You stop hunting me and I'll stop hunting them."

Morgan froze at the words. He'd opened the envelope without expecting anything more than a letter or a clever marketing scheme. It was handwritten with no return address but it came mixed with his other mail. As usual he'd waited to the end of the week to open his mail and the stack had grown to a nice pile of miscellaneous bills and worthless crap.

Those words had set off a chain of crimes that had haunted Boston and later the BAU for years. George Foyet had made it his mission to become the most famous serial killer that they had ever dealt with. He wanted to prove that he couldn't be caught, that he was smarter, deadlier and invincible. He'd victimized and tortured Hotch, killing his wife and threatening the life of his young son until Hotch had finally killed him with his bare hands.

Morgan himself had been a victim of the Reaper, coming far too close to death and spending too many months trying to shake the terrifying nightmare that still from time to time haunted him. Now he stood in his home being revisited by the ghost of a past that he never wanted to think about again.

"What's up Hot Stuff? You look like you've seen a ghost?" Penelope cheerfully asked.

"I have."

Morgan turned and handed her the letter. She gasped and looked at him. His eyes told her that he was suddenly reliving his moment of hell with the Reaper.

"Derek, what's going on? Is this some kind of joke?"

"It has to be. Foyet is dead…"

"Yes, I know he's dead but what is this about?"

"I don't know Baby Girl. Somebody's idea of a sick joke."

"Well, it's not funny."

Penelope wrapped her arms around him. He was tense and even her body pulled close did not make a difference. She was worried, she saw what his run in with the Reaper had done. He'd never been in such a vulnerable position before; death literally hovering over him and being powerless and unaware of it all. It had unnerved him and for a brief moment it had made him doubt himself. She didn't want to think what being forced to go back to that place would do.

"Call Hotch."


"Why? He needs to know. Call him!"

"No Penelope! He's gone through too much. He doesn't need this. Besides, its just a joke."

"Derek what if it's not a joke? You could be in danger?"

"Baby Girl, don't worry, I'll handle it."

He turned to face her and pulled her tight in his arms. He wished he hadn't shown her the letter. The Reaper was dead and buried…this was nothing more than a sick joke. Or was it?

FBI Headquarters - Quantico, VA
Derek and Penelope road the six floors to the BAU in silence, hand in hand. She knew he was still troubled by what he'd found in his mail. Hotch needed to know but for now she'd honor his wishes not to mention it to their boss. She prayed that it is was just a joke and nothing more.

He couldn't shake the eerie feeling of dread that had shot up his spine when he read the letter. Foyet even in death had haunted him. The nightmares of their first meeting still shook him to his core. Now someone was playing games and he wasn't going to stand for it. He was going to do whatever it took to stop this before it went on any further.

Derek chuckled when the two arrived at her lair. In the corner of her desk sat a vase of drooping red roses which he had given her four days ago. Their pedals had turned from bright crimson to a dull deep burgundy and their leaves had hardened and had begun falling onto her desk.

"Baby Girl, I think it's time to let these go. I don't think they're coming back to life." He grinned.

"No! They're so beautiful and it was so sweet of you to surprise me with them."

Garcia began fingering the dead leaves as he wrapped his arms around her waist and leaned in resting his chin on her shoulder.

"I guess I better send you flowers more often so you don't have to hold on to them so long." He teased.

She leaned back and relaxed against his chest smiling at the man that had rescued her heart and made her a part of his.

"You do just fine, Hot Stuff."

He kissed her gently on the neck and the two lost themselves in a quiet sweet moment.

"Umm…I better leave before I forget that we're here to work."

"Oh…I have lots of work I can give you, Handsome."

"Yeah, I know you can, Baby Girl, but your work requires me to be butt naked and on top of you."

"And the problem?"

"Oh…no problem, no problem at all."

Derek turned her to face him and placed a long hot kiss on her lips and then disappeared into the hallway. When she opened her eyes again he was gone and her knees where having problems holding her up.

Derek was baffled at how Penelope was able to change his mood for the better. He smiled as he stepped into his office. He noticed a white envelope on his desk with his name handwritten on it. The writing looked familiar and he hesitated for a second before opening it. Inside was a single bullet and a note that read, "I didn't forget about you just because I went after him."

There was a soft knock before JJ stuck her head in the door. His back was to her and he didn't notice her enter.

"We've got a case. Hotch wants us in the conference room."

His mind was elsewhere, eyes still studying the letter and the bullet held tightly in his hand.

"Morgan. Morgan?  Are you okay?"

"Uh…yeah…fine…I'll be right there."

He shoved the bullet in his pocket and quickly folded the letter before turning. She looked at him puzzled after all she was a profiler now…just like him and contrary to what he said he was not okay.

The D.C. police were on the scene of a brutal murder. A homeless woman had stumbled upon the bodies of a male and female while on her early morning scavenger hunt. The man had been shot at close range in the face and the woman had been stabbed multiple times in the face and chest. The CSI's noticed a tan line around the woman's wrist… her watch was missing. The detectives on the scene assumed that the woman who had discovered the bodies may have added the watch to her collection of fines to which she vehemently denied and after several minutes of harassing the poor woman they let  her go on her way.

BAU - 
The team was headed to Boise, Idaho to investigate the murder of three young women. Morgan had not mentioned his latest letter to anyone including Garcia; he didn't want her worrying about him, especially since he was leaving on a new case. He knew that she worried enough about him and the rest of the team until they returned safely. He was just going to treat this like a part of whatever sick joke someone was playing.

As the team was leaving Garcia stopped JJ in the hallway and pulled her back to the conference room.

"JJ, I need a favor."

"Sure. What is it?"

"Can you keep an eye out for my man while you're gone?"

"Sure? What's going on?"

"Please, he'll kill me if he finds out I told you but…"

"What is it, Garcia?"

"Derek received a letter from Foyet."

"Garcia, Foyet is dead…"

"I know he's dead, JJ…but I'm telling you, he got a letter! It was mixed in with his mail!"

JJ looked at her friend and saw the fear in her eyes. Even now Foyet had the power to strike terror in her team. He'd done serious irreparable damage and even now his control was undeniable.

"It's got to be a joke…How is this possible?"

"Hell if I know but I'm afraid he's going to be distracted and he can't afford to be distracted in the field when you guys are out there chasing baddies…JJ please I don't want his mind on this when he should be thinking about the…"

"Garcia, Garcia, calm down. I will watch out for him, okay? Besides, we always have each other's backs out there. This will be no different."

"Okay, okay, thanks, JJ." Garcia exhaled.

The two women embraced quickly and JJ rushed off to catch up with the rest of the team.

Boise, Idaho - Evening
Detective Jeremy Cantor greeted the team with a tired smile as they entered the small precinct. After introductions and handshakes he led them to a conference room that had been set up for their use. Each of them took a seat around the large table ready to work.

"What do we have, Dectective?" Hotch began.

"We have three young women who's bodies were discovered in an abandoned warehouse just north of here in our industrial district."

The detective handed them each a brown case file to study. As they reviewed the files, the detective continued.

"Each woman was found with their hands and feet bound with duct tape. Our first victim, Heather Sims, 19 was blindfolded. Our second victim, Michelle Worthy, 20 had her ears stuffed with paper and covered in some sort of plaster type substance. Our last victim, Chrissy Vega, 18 was gagged."

"What was the cause of death?" Rossi asked.

"Each victim's throat was slashed."

"They bled to death." Reid added.

"See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil." Morgan thought out loud. "Our UnSub was definitely sending a message."

"No sign of sexual assault and no signs of any other trauma to the bodies." Alex surmised. "Could we be dealing with a woman?"

"Maybe. She obviously knew them or was not perceived as a threat by these victims." Hotch noted. "Let's get Garcia on this. See if these victims knew each other."

"On it." Morgan answered.

"We need to speak to the families of these women. Maybe they can tell us something that can give us a clue about why these women were killed." Said Hotch.

The team was set to leave and visit the families of the victims when a young police officer approached Morgan and JJ.

"Are you agent Morgan?"

"Yes. I'm Agent Morgan."

"This was delivered for you."

Morgan looked at the white envelope in the officer's hand, the familiar writing, his name written across the front and no postage.

"Agent?" Still holding the envelope looking questioningly at him. "Agent Morgan?"

"Thank you."

JJ looked at Morgan then the envelope and finally the officer. He seemed stunned almost frozen as he slowly took the envelope from her hand.


He turned it over and slid his index finger under the seal and opened the envelope.

"Morgan, what is it?"

He removed the letter carefully unfolding it staring at the message oblivious to the concerned stare of his partner.

"This time you will be awake!"

"Nothing. Let's go."

Morgan crumpled the paper and threw it in the trash on the way out. JJ puzzled glanced at the discarded paper  as she followed him through the door.

Home of Heather Sims
Morgan and JJ were ushered into the den by Heather's father, Harry Sims. He'd been crying it was evident by his blood shot eyes. JJ smelled alcohol on his breath and it was obvious that he'd been drinking for a while.

Heather was all he had left in the world. His wife had passed from cancer three months prior and he hadn't even begun to grieve that loss before suffering another devastating blow.

"Mr. Sims, we're sorry for your loss…" JJ began. "We know these are tough times but we need to ask you a few questions."

"Heather was all I had left. Who would do such a thing? She was just a girl." His voice broke.

"Mr. Sims do you know of anyone who would want to hurt Heather?"

"No. no one. She was a good girl."

"Do the names Michelle Worthy and Chrissy Vega sound familiar?" JJ asked.

"Yes. They were friends of Heather's. They grew up together. Why?"

"Their bodies were found with Heather's. All three of them died in the same way." Morgan said.

Harry Sims closed his eyes trying hard not to cry any more tears; he'd cried enough for a lifetime, there were no more left. None at all.

Police Station - Later
The team had gathered in the conference room to review the case and all of the families stories were consistent. The three victims had been childhood friends and were nearly inseparable.  None of them had any known enemies.  As the team continued to debrief, Garcia called with new information.

"Hello my Dreamy Super Agents!"

"Please tell me you have something, Gorgeous!"

"Would I bother you otherwise, my Chocolate Hunk of Burning Love?"

The team simultaneously rolled their eyes and shook their heads.

"I found something quite interesting. It seems that two years ago when the three where in high school there was an incident on campus where a fellow student, a Wanda Perkins, was caught cheating on her SAT's and lost an early admittance to Yale. When her school found out she was not allowed to participate in graduation and was the target of a lot of teasing and ridicule by her fellow classmates."

"So what does that have to do with the case?" Alex asked.

"Hold on to your seats. I'm bringing it home.  All three of our victims scored in the high 1400's on their SAT's and went on to institutions of higher learning with scholarships to boot."

"You think the four may have been involved in a cheating scam and Wanda was the only one that was caught?" Reid said.

"Where's Wanda now, Garcia?" Hotch waited for a reply.

Garcia began typing furiously while the others waited.


"What Garcia?"

"Wanda Perkins committed suicide two weeks after graduation. Her twelve year-old brother found her hanging from a noose in the family's garage."

"If these girls were involved in something. Why kill them now? Two years is a long time to stew."

"Wanda killed herself on her 18th birthday. Our victims were killed on what would have been her 20th birthday."

"Why didn't any of the families mention this?" JJ asked.

"Apparently none of the victims were implicated. Wanda never mentioned anyone else. School authorities assumed it was just her."

"Well someone knew about the others. The question is, who?" Hotch added.  Morgan you and JJ go talk to the Perkins family. Garcia, keep digging."

"Aye, aye Captain. Garcia out."
"I'm worried about you Derek."

Derek was hoping for a quiet ride to the Perkin's home. No such luck, he knew JJ wasn't easily fooled.

"It's nothing."

"Look Derek, something's is obviously wrong. I'm your partner and I need you on top of your game.  Our lives depend in it."

"JJ, when have I not been on top of my game?"

"Never…but I don't want you starting now. Look, Derek we're more than partners, friends…we're family. If you need to talk, I'm here."

"Yeah. I know you are."

Perkins' Home - 
The interior of the Perkins' home was a shrine to their deceased daughter. Trophies, awards and ribbons covered the walls and fireplace mantle.  The atmosphere was heavy, stagnant and it was as if the family had stopped in time the day Wanda died.

"Mr. and Mrs. Perkins were sorry to bother you. We know it's still a difficult time for you and your family but we have a few questions." Morgan began.

The Perkins sat quietly and sullen before the agents.

"Did your daughter know Heather Sims, Michelle Worthy or Chrissy Vega?" Morgan continued.

At the mention of the three dead girls' names the Perkins showed the first real emotion since Morgan and JJ had arrived. Anger flashed in their eyes and Mr. Perkins jumped from his seat and began pacing clinching his fist in an effort to stay calm enough to speak.

"Those girls ruined my daughter's life!" He answered angrily.

"Ron, please!"

"It's true Marilyn and you know it!"

Ron Perkins still had not come to terms with his daughter's suicide and clearly blamed the dead girls. His wife had taken it upon herself to pull the family along through their grief but it was obvious she was struggling too.

"Agents, my daughter was a very bright girl and she was headed to Yale when…"

"Those girls…those degenerates…talked her into some hair brained scheme to score high on the SAT's!" Ron interrupted.

"Why weren't the other girls punished with Wanda?" JJ asked.

"All the girls took the test at separate locations. Wanda answered every question except one correctly.  It sent up a red flag and the administrators began an investigation." Marilyn said. "The other girls scored high but not high enough that would cause anyone to get suspicious."

"Wanda was a perfectionist. She had to be perfect. She'd never gotten anything lower than an, "A" in her life! When the chance came to ace that SAT she couldn't help herself." Ron added.

"Why didn't she tell on the others?" Morgan asked.

"They were her friends. Our daughter was no snitch, agent!"

"Those girls stood by while our daughter was punished, ridiculed and shamed. They didn't stand up for her or protect her. They stopped calling her and hanging out with her…she lost everything…it destroyed her!" Marilyn said sadly.

"We understand that her body was found by your son, Raymond. How is he handling all of this?" JJ inquired.

"How do you think? He was twelve years old for god's sake! No twelve year old should see anything like that!"

"Mrs. Perkins, did your son know about the other girls cheating?"

"I don't know.  Maybe. He and his sister were awfully close."

"We're going to need to speak to him." Morgan informed them. "Is he home?"

"Yes. He's in his room. He's always in his room."

Marilyn Perkins led the two agents to her son's room. Leaning her head toward the door she knocked lightly.

"Raymond. These agents need to speak with you."

There was no answer. Morgan and JJ exchanged glances.

"Raymond honey, open the door please."

Morgan opened the door. The room was empty but the window was wide open the obvious escape route of a son that was not in the mood for conversation.

A loud heavy thud sounded from the garage side of the home. The four looked at each other had rushed toward the kitchen door that led into the garage. The screams of Mrs. Perkins pierced the silence of the dimly lit room as they were shocked by the sight of the dangling body of Raymond Perkins. Morgan and JJ rushed to the jerking body of the fourteen year old. Morgan quickly grabbed his legs and lifted him relieving the strain around his neck. Ron Perkins grabbed the ladder that was laying on its side beneath his son.  JJ climbed the ladder and cut the rope freeing the boy's limp body as it fell in his father's arms.

Jet - Next Morning
The team had closed the case and were headed home. Young Raymond Perkins had lured the three young women to there deaths and killed them in a symbolic way to punish them for the part he felt they had played in his sister's demise.  The Perkins family had lost another child and it was hard to find the win in the closing of this case.

Morgan was anxious to see Garcia and to enjoy the next few days off. He hadn't thought much about the letters in the last few hours and he hoped that whoever had begun the prank had gotten their laugh and moved on.

As usual Garcia was there to greet the team as they stepped off the elevator. They smiled at each other as he wrapped his arm around her shoulders and walked into the bullpen.  Fatigue written on each of their faces and worn on there bodies they all drug themselves to their desks to drop off files and wrap things up before heading home.

Home of Derek Morgan - later
Derek pulled into their driveway. It was good to be home especially with the next two days off. The two walked up the walkway toward the front door. There was a small box sitting on the porch and Derek placed his hand in front of Penelope stopping her from going further.

"Wait here."


"Just stay here."

She stayed put watching him carefully approach the box. Noticing the familiar writing he assumed that someone still wanted to play games.

"What is it?"

He ignored her question slowly picking up the box and examining it closely for wires. It passed his scrutiny and so he opened the box. Inside was a pair of worn black-rimmed glasses and a note, that read:

"How many of them do I have to kill before you stop me?"


The D.C. Police had been called to the scene of a gruesome murder. The bodies of a middle-aged couple were found at a bus stop. The man had been shot in the chest at close range and the woman had been shot point blank between the eyes and stabbed in the heart. The officers recovered their I.D.'s, Mr. Robert and Sarah Cravitts had been out on a leisurely stroll after dinner at a nearby restaurant. Mr. Cravits was wearing two watches; one was obviously a woman's. His driver's license picture showed him wearing black-rimmed glasses…they were missing. And if that weren't creepy enough the killer had used the victims blood to draw an eye with a line going through it on the ground in front of the dead couple.

Detective Artie Purchase had never seen anything like it; it was the second similar case in as many days. Pulling his phone from his pocket while staring at the grisly scene before him he dialed Aaron Hotchner at the FBI's Behavioral Analyst Unit. He needed help and he needed it now.

To be continued...

Friday, March 28, 2014

No Place Like Home

Derek asks Penelope a very special question…

"Move in with me."

Derek's words still rang in her ears as Garcia sat trying to focus on the latest case.

"Move in here..with me."

She'd dreamt of hearing those words and now that he'd finally spoken them she was speechless. She saw the puzzled look on his face when she didn't jump at the offer. This is what she wanted, right?

BAU Headquarters, Quantico, VA - Morning 
The team sat in the conference room examining files of the case that had required their presence at an ungodly hour. It had been a while since they'd been called in so early and especially for a local case. Their last case had ended less than eight hours ago and each of them seemed drained and exhausted; what little sleep they had only served to tease them of what they craved but could not have. So, deliriously tired they struggled to listen as Hotch outlined the latest nightmare.

"Local PD has found the bodies of three men in an alley in downtown D.C." He began. "There were no signs of sexual assault and no signs of a struggle."

The pictures of the three victims were displayed on the board next to Hotch. Each man was propped against the alley wall with their eyes closed, peaceful as if they had only fallen asleep.

"No signs of robbery, no signs of a struggle…maybe they knew their attacker?" Morgan suggested.

"What were these men doing in this alley?" Rossi added.

"Look at their clothes. They look like they may have been homeless." Reid said.

"There's no stress." Alex noted as she looked closely at the pictures.

"What?" JJ asked.

"They look so…so…peaceful. There's no signs of shock or tension in their body. It just seems as if they fell asleep." Alex explained.

"You're right." Hotch agreed.  "Reid, you and Alex go to the Coroner's office. The bodies should be there by now. Morgan and Rossi, head to the crime scene and JJ come with me, we'll canvass the area around the scene." Hotch ordered.

It struck Morgan odd at how peaceful and normal the streets seemed as they arrived to begin their investigation. People coming and going with no clue that three people had been murdered mere steps from where they now hurried about their business. While on the way to the crime scene, Garcia had learned the identification of the victims; Marc Taylor 45, Irving Johnson 29 and Eduardo Espinoza 53. All the men were homeless veterans who had fallen on hard times.

The crime scene was unremarkable a typical alley. Morgan and Rossi confirmed that indeed there had been no signs of a struggle which meant that the victims knew their attacker or they were killed somewhere else and dumped in the alley or perhaps, both.

"Three veterans, willing to fight for their country, no doubt saw some action and this is all their country can offer them is a dirty alley to die in. Somehow it just doesn't seem right." Rossi muttered to himself sadly.

"I hear you. Nobody should die like this; especially a veteran." Morgan added looking concerned at his friend. " You okay, Rossi?"

"No! Not at all. Not at all." Rossi turned and walked out of the alley toward the SUV.

Hartman McLemore wasn't a wealthy man but what he had he worked hard for. He had a special place in his heart for the homeless citizens of D.C. He knew all too well what it felt like to be homeless. He watched as the needy of the nation's capital were treated as if they were invisible; stepped over and ignored by the people rushing blindly by each day and night as if they didn't see the countless men, women and children huddled in doorways or hiding in the cloak of darkness in the city's alleys and abandoned buildings. Hartman had spent five years on the streets of D.C. shortly after coming back from his third tour of Afghanistan. He was suffering from PTSD and everyone was eager to dismiss him as some worthless drunk who couldn't take care of himself. His family had grown tired of his binges and nightmares and his status as a veteran had not helped him find work. He served his purpose and now he'd been thrown out like the rest of the men he'd seen on the the streets, invisible, disregarded by the good citizens of their nation's capital.

Now, he ran a food bank and on Friday nights he fed over 100 people a hot meal. He'd been able to clean himself up and get a job but he knew he was one of the fortunate ones. His earnings as a butcher at a local market wasn't much but he was willing to give what he had to help those less fortunate. When he heard of the recent murders of the three homeless men he was overcome with grief; they didn't deserve this, not at all…

Hotch and JJ joined Morgan and Rossi at the mouth of the alley where the three bodies were found. Neither of the two groups had found anything that would lead them to a break in the case.

"Nobody saw a thing."  Hotch said.

"Yeah. there's nothing here that seems out of place either." Morgan added.

"Just three dead vets. If that's not out of place then I don't know what is." Rossi added bitterly.

"Come on Rossi. I didn't mean…"

Rossi walked away toward the SUV before Morgan could finish his sentence.

"Is he alright?" Hotch asked concerned.

"You know how he gets when it comes to our vets. He's upset." Morgan answered.

"Who would want to kill three homeless men? What's the motive?" JJ asked to no one in particular.

"We could be dealing with a housecleaner." Morgan piped up.

"Ridding the city of what they believe to be dirty, worthless." Hotch added.  "Let's head back. Reid and Alex should be back from the coroner's by now."

The ride back started quietly, Rossi was still upset by what he saw in the alley. Morgan didn't press him to talk about his feelings.

"Look, Morgan, I'm sorry about what I said back at the crime scene."

"You don't owe me an apology Rossi. I get it." Morgan interrupted.

"I asked Garcia to move in with me last night." Morgan said changing the subject.

"Well, congratulations!" Rossi welcomed the change in subject. "She must have been thrilled."

Morgan kept driving not responding his jaw tightened as he kept his gaze straight ahead.  Rossi sensed something off.

"She was thrilled, right?"

"I don't know."

"What do you mean?"

"She didn't answer me, Rossi! She just jumped up and bolted. I didn't know what to say or think."

"Well, have you talked to her?"

"No. I haven't seen her or talked to her since she left my house around ten last night."

"I know you Derek. Did you call her?"

"Yes, I called her! She wouldn't take the call. It just went to voice mail."

"Give her time. She loves you. You probably caught her off guard she'll come around."

"I don't know. I think she's having second thoughts about us. Things have been kind of crazy these last few months."

"Come on."

"No. I'm serious. She's probably come to her senses, man. I mean really, what woman in her right mind would sign up for all of this?"

"Give her some credit. She knows exactly what she's signed up for and she's not going any where."

The two men rode the last few minutes back in silence. Rossi felt another hair turn gray and swore that Morgan and Garcia were responsible for at least ten of his newest grays. Those two were hopeless and he wanted to wring both of their necks and put himself out of his misery.

BAU Headquarters…Conference Room…

"The Coroner says all three men had high levels of cocaine in their system." Reid began.

"Cocaine? Where would three homeless men get the money to buy cocaine?" Rossi shouted.

"The Coroner says there were no signs of injection and their was no trace around their noses indicating that they had snorted it." Alex added.

"It doesn't make sense. How did it get in their system?" JJ asked.

"The Coroner believes it was given to them in their food." Alex said.

Hotch placed a call to Garcia.

"Garcia. What else have you found on our three victims?"

"I was just about to buzz you my Fearless Leader. It looks like all three men were regulars at the Craven Street Shelter."

"That would make sense. The Coroner said that all three men had the exact same stomach content; remnants of beef, carrots and potatoes." Reid chimed in.

"Remind me not to order the Beef Stew special in the cafeteria." Morgan mumbled under his breath.


"On it."

"Rossi go with him."

The two agents headed to the Craven Street Shelter to question the director. Rossi had seemed a little calmer as they approached the worn building two blocks from the crime scene.  The pair were greeted by a heavy set graying woman of about sixty. Her light gray eyes examined the two suspiciously until she was satisfied that their credentials where in order.

Abigail Witherspoon had been running the shelter for twenty years and was fiercely protective of the people who came through her doors. She was unimpressed by the agents interests in the murders and was reluctant to answer their questions. Why didn't the government send agents to investigate why thousands of people found their homes amongst the garbage and in the doorways of buildings? Why were these unfortunates pushed out of the heavy traffic and tourists areas? It just seemed ludicrous to her now that these men's lives didn't matter until they were dead.

"Yeah, I know them. They were regulars here. Good men! Veterans! Look what they got for it!"

"We're sorry for your loss. You seem quite attached to the folks that come here." Rossi surmised.

"Somebody should care about these people. Most of them served in battle for this ungrateful country!"

Both men became uncomfortable at the woman's rants.

"Um, ma'am…according to our coroner's report all three men had beef stew as their last meal. What was on the menu here last night?" Morgan asked.

"What are you trying to say? That I killed these men? That would make it real easy for you wouldn't it!"

"We're not trying to say anything. We just want to find out what happened to these men." Rossi insisted.

"I was under the weather last night. the guy who runs the kitchen on the weekend can tell you."

"We'll need to talk to him." Rossi said.

"He's not here. He works down at the Third Street Market during the day."

The two agents stood and headed toward the door. Morgan fished a business card from his wallet and handed it to the woman.

"Thank you for your time, Ma'am. If you think of anything else please give us a call."

The woman took the card without responding and watched the two men leave.

Third Street Market -

Hartman McLemore was is in the back wielding a large cleaver, hacking away at a fresh side of beef. He heard voices up front and saw the two men hold up gold badges and I.D. for the store manager's approval.  His heart stopped he knew why they had come and he wasn't going to get caught and he damn sure wasn't going to jail.

"Sure he's in the back working." Said the manager puzzled.

"We need to talk to him. Now." Rossi said impatiently.

Just then the sound of the back door slamming shut was heard that startled the manager and agents.

"Is there another way out besides the front?" Morgan asked.

"Uh, yeah. The side door. There."

The manager pointed toward a door to the left of them about one hundred yards away.

"Rossi, take the back door. I'll go this way."

Morgan headed out the side door where the manager had just indicated and Rossi headed toward the butcher shop behind the counter.  Morgan nearly collided with McLemore rounding the corner of the building like a mad man. Morgan grabbed the man and slung him violently to the ground where he crashed face first.

"FBI! Don't move!" Morgan yelled.

Rossi crashed through the back door and ran up to Morgan just as he was cuffing McLemore who was  laying face down sweating and out of breath on the alley floor.

"Let me guess, you were just coming out to take a break. Am I right?" Rossi asked sarcastically.

"I didn't do nothing! I didn't do nothing!" McLemore yelled frantically.

"Why'd you run?" Morgan huffed pulling the man to his feet.

"Maybe he thought we were food critics." Rossi answered.

Morgan looked at Rossi and shook his head and the three walked out of the alley toward the SUV.

Downtown Police Precinct - A few minutes later...

Since Morgan and Rossi had apprehended McLemore Hotch allowed the two agents to interrogate him. Rossi took the lead as Morgan watched standing behind Rossi near the door. As usual this suspect pleaded his innocence. He didn't see the errors of his ways and was puzzled as to why he had been brought in.

"Hartman McLemore." Rossi began taking a seat across from the nervous suspect. "You served two tours in Iraq it says here." Rossi thumbed through the pages of the file on the table.

"That's right. So what?"

"Seems like you had a bit of trouble adjusting when you got back."

"I did alright."

"I see. Went to the community college learned a trade, got a job as a butcher at the Third Street Market."

"Why am I here?"

"Three men were found dead in an alley not too far from the shelter where you volunteer as a cook."

"Yeah. I heard about it on the news."

"They'd all eaten at the shelter, Hartman! They'd eaten the beef stew that you cooked!"

Rossi was steaming and Derek moved a little closer just in case things got out of hand. Hartman shot a quick glance at Morgan and then to Rossi.

"Look, I don't know what you're trying to say…"

"I'm saying that you killed three innocent men who made the fatal mistake of eating your food!"

Suddenly, McLemore's face turned stone cold and confident. He sat up straight and dignified in the steel rickety chair and looked Rossi dead in his eyes without blinking.

"Do you know how it feels to put your life on the line for your country, agent?"

"Yes, I do. I served in the marines!"

"Then how can you sit there and judge me?  I gave those men something that this country, their country never gave them!"

"And what was that?"

"Dignity! I gave them peace and an end to the the humiliating life that their country gave them. The thanks for their willingness to die or if they were lucky to be maimed so that you all can sit here on your privileged, ungrateful asses and look down on them like they were garbage when they returned!"

Morgan interrupted; he couldn't believe what he was hearing.

"So you think you did these men a favor?" Morgan began pacing the room.

"Yes agent! I lived on those streets! I was one of the lucky ones who got out but I know what it feels like to be thrown out of restaurants just because you want to use the bathroom! I know how it feels to cover yourself with garbage in the winter to keep warm! I know how it feels to knock on doors of your own flesh and blood and they ignore you and watch you from the peep hole refusing to open the door and let you in!"

Rossi stunned and angry stared in silence for a moment and then slammed the file closed. Morgan motioned for the officers on the other side of the glass window. Immediately two uniformed D.C. police officers entered and lead McLemore away. He seemed relieved to have told his story said his peace.  Perhaps no one had given him audience before but finally, he'd been able to purge himself of years of pent up hurt and pain and he felt lighter, jittery with relief. Morgan and Rossi looked at each other in amazement and stood in the small room trying to figure it all out.

"I did them a favor, you know! Really! There at peace now…finally!"

BAU Headquarters - 2 Hours later…

Garcia checked her watch again; the team should have been back by now.  She knew it would take them a little while to finish up the paperwork for the locals so she expected to have heard from at least one of them by now.

On cue there was a knock at her door and she jumped to her feet. She hadn't talked to Morgan all day except for business related calls. They had a lot to talk about.

JJ poked her head in the door and for a second saw disappointment in her friend's eyes.

"Hey, JJ, I-I...your back!"

"Yeah, uh we just got back…you okay? You look a little disappointed."

"No, no, I'm glad you're back, really." 

"Let me guess, you were expecting Morgan."

"No…yes…oh JJ…" Garcia couldn't help but ramble.

"Garcia, what's going on?"

"Morgan asked me to move in with him last night."

"Garcia, congratulations! That's good…right?"

"Yes! I-he…we had just…and then out of the blue…he..."

"Whoa! Slow down! Start from the beginning!"

JJ led Garcia back to her chair and she sat in another nearby ready to listen to her hysterical friend.

"I love Derek. He's my Prince. I never thought we'd be together. Now we are and everyday I keep thinking I'm going to wake up and all of it will have been a dream."

"Penelope, Derek loves you! He's loved you for a long time. You've made him a better man and I'm sure he'd be the first to admit that."

"Thank you. I know he loves me…it still doesn't seem real but I know he loves me. Just hearing him ask me to move in made me panic and I bolted."


"Yeah. I jumped out of bed and ran out of there like a bat. I haven't talked to him since."

JJ shook her head and tried to figure out what to say to her hopeless friend.

"Look Pen, you need to talk to him. He's probably thinking the worse, you know how he is."

"Yeah. I don't know what to say. He's probably so mad at me."

"Just be honest. If you don't want to move in with him then tell him. He'll understand he doesn't want you to do anything that you don't want to do."

"That's just it, JJ I do want to move in; more than anything in the world! I've dreamt of sharing a place with him…I just didn't think it would happen. I panicked and you know what happens when I panic! I do something stupid! I think I really messed up this time!"

"Calm down, just talk to him!"
Morgan had made no attempt to see Garcia when Rossi and he had returned. He struggled to keep his mind on the case report in front of him. He didn't want to think about her reaction when he'd asked her to move in with him. He thought it would make her happy even though he'd asked on impulse he still meant it. He'd been thinking about it every since they'd gotten together but he didn't want to rush her. Now he felt like a fool wanting to take their relationship to the next level, something she obviously did not want. He'd avoided her all day talking to her only when it related to the case. He didn't want to hear her confess that she'd decided that them being together wasn't a good idea.

There was a knock on his door and he looked up just as Garcia poked her head in the door.

"Hey, I didn't know you were back."

"I got back a while ago." He answered going back to his report.

"You didn't tell me you were back…you always tell me when you get back."

"I wanted to get started on these reports."

Garcia walked over to his desk and gently closed the file in front of him.

"Are you mad at me?"

Morgan exhaled and slowly looked up at her.

"No, Garcia, I'm not mad at you…just busy." He said grabbing the report and opening it again.

"Can we talk? She said meekly.

"Not right now. I really need to finish this. Later, okay?"

"Oh, okay…later."

Garcia stared at him as he continued to write and refusing to look at her. She fought the tears threatening to reveal themselves on her face.  No matter how he tried to seem uninterested she could see the hurt in his eyes and in his body language. Without another word she left his office and headed back to her lair.

Home of Derek Morgan - Much later

The smell of pasta sauce greeted Morgan when he opened his front door. There were sounds coming from his kitchen and if it hadn't been for Clooney's calm disposition he would have pulled his service revolver. He leaned down to pet the puppy and nearly tripped over a familiar flower printed suitcase.

"Penelope?" He called out.

"In the kitchen!" She answered cheerfully.

Morgan rounded the corner and stopped in the doorway of the kitchen. Penelope was at the stove hovering over a steaming skillet.

"What's going on?" He said taking a step into the room.

"I thought I'd cook. Pasta okay?"

"Sure. I just wasn't expecting to see you tonight."

"Why not? This is a special occasion."

"Did I miss something? What are we celebrating?"

"Our official first night as roomies!"

Morgan turned and looked toward the door remembering the flowered suitcase.

"Is that why…I thought you didn't…"

Garcia turned and closed the gap between them wrapping her arms around his neck. Smiling she looked longingly into his eyes.

"I'm sorry I freaked out on you last night." She said softly planting a soft kiss on his lips.

He returned the kiss still confused as to the turn of events.

"Are you sure?" He asked pulling her close to him.

"I'm positive. I've always wanted it I just didn't think it would ever happen. I'm sorry for hur…"

He kissed her stopping her rambling apology. It didn't matter why it only mattered that she was here in his kitchen…their kitchen making him dinner and looking like heaven on earth. Only because it was necessary to breathe he pulled away still looking into her eyes with the biggest smile she'd ever seen.

"So, what's for dinner?"

"Spaghetti and homemade meatballs." She said proudly.

"Homemade? Since when?"

"Since I called Rossi and he walked me through it."

"Rossi…so he can keep a secret, well..Okay."



"Good. The meatballs are ready. I just need to cook the pasta. 10 minutes and we'll be ready to eat…"

Again he interrupted her. He wasn't much in the mood for talking. He was starving, true and the smell of homemade meatballs was incredible but he had a taste for something quite different. He kissed her again pulling her even closer to him. 

"Can dinner wait for a while?" He asked her with a mischievous glint in his eyes.

"I thought you were hungry?' She asked curiously.

"I am." 

He planted a kiss on her lips again and for a moment she thought she heard fireworks.

"Welcome home, Baby Girl."


“Happiness doesn't lie in conspicuous consumption and the relentless amassing of useless crap. Happiness lies in the person sitting beside you and your ability to talk to them. Happiness is clear-headed human interaction and empathy. Happiness is home. And home is not a house-home is a mythological conceit. It is a state of mind. A place of communion and unconditional love. It is where, when you cross its threshold, you finally feel at peace.” 
― Dennis Lehane