Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Present Tense

Carl Buford has a daughter…and she’s out for revenge!

“Agent Morgan! Agent Morgan can you hear me?”

The voices seemed so far away. He felt as if he were fighting to open his eyes.

“Agent Morgan! Hang in there we’re going to get you out of there, okay! Just hang on…”

Potomac General Hospital – Early Morning
The team sat quietly in the Emergency Waiting Room. The noise and constant busyness seemed to go unnoticed as they waited for news about Morgan’s condition. It had taken the rescue workers over an hour to free him from the wreckage of his truck and they had been forced to wait on the road above until he was finally lifted out of the pit where his truck had landed. Garcia and JJ had waited holding their breaths and each other at the BAU headquarters. Neither of them wanted to think about what the workers would find when they finally reached him. Luckily, he was still alive, barely, but it gave them what they so desperately needed at that moment…hope.

Garcia and JJ had met them at the hospital once they’d received word that he had been rescued. Time seemed to stand still and the waiting left them all numb so when the doors sprung open they all jumped to their feet. A tired looking young doctor dressed in faded green scrubs entered the waiting room.

“Hello. My name is Dr. Mason. Are you all here for Agent Morgan?” The young man asked.

“Yes.” Garcia spoke up anxiously. “How is he?” She asked.

“Well initially we had a difficult time getting him stabilized but now that we have we are taking him to surgery.” He began.

Even though he was young he immediately saw the looks of concern in their faces and he felt the need to encourage them.

Garcia gripped JJ’s arm for dear life. She couldn’t think or speak and none of what was going on and none of what the doctor was saying seemed to sink in.

“Agent Morgan is in one of the best hospitals as I’m sure you know.  We’re going to do our best to save his life.”

He wanted to kick himself he knew his words wouldn’t make them feel any better. He hated this part of his job; talking to families without taking away their hope and without misleading them.

“What are his chances, doctor?”  Reid asked.

“It’s still early. We’ll know once we get him to surgery and get a better look at what we’re dealing with.”

“Can you tell us how long he will be in surgery?” Rossi asked.

“I would say at least five hours. You may want to go home and get some rest. We also have a surgical waiting room that’s a lot more comfortable than here if you like.” The young doctor offered.

“Thanks doctor.” Hotch said.

Dr. Mason nodded and headed to the door. The others stood in silence momentarily trying to take everything in. It was hard to believe that they were here waiting on news on whether or not their friend would live. Even though none of them had mentioned it they were going to have to notify Morgan’s family, which was going to be a difficult task for any of them.

“I-I need to call Derek’s mom.” Garcia’s shaky voice broke the silence.

Everyone looked at her not knowing how to respond. JJ squeezed her hand and gave her a sympathetic look as she stood to move to the opposite side of the room. She counted the rings trying to calm her nerves. Fran picked up on the fifth ring.

“Hey Baby! How are you?” Fran’s cheery voice broke her heart.

“Hi Fran…” She couldn’t go on.

“Penelope? What’s wrong?”

JJ crossed the room to her friend and placed a hand of comfort on her shoulder.

“It’s Derek.” Penelope struggled through her tears to continue.

“Penelope, is he…”

“Fran, Derek was in an accident. He’s in surgery now…the doctors…they’re not sure…”

“I’m on my way.” Fran ended the call.


No one had gone home. They had moved to the surgical waiting room and luckily they were the only ones occupying the room.  Empty coffee cups littered the room and the six of them were nodding, pacing and fidgeting trying to find a comfortable place and position.  Fran had called Garcia back and given her the details on her arrival.

Surgical Waiting Room – Morning
A distraught and frazzled Fran Morgan entered followed by a man that was no stranger to the team. Det. Stan Gordinski had insisted on coming to Virginia with Derek’s mother. Hotch, Rossi and the others were surprised and puzzled to see him. Neither Derek nor Penelope had mentioned his new status in Morgan’s mother’s life.  Fran immediately embraced Penelope who seemed to collapse in the older woman’s arms. Stan awkwardly followed behind Fran noticing the surprised looks on the other’s faces.

“Oh Baby.” Fran said teary.

“We still haven’t heard anything.” Penelope said wearily.

“Detective?” Hotch began puzzled.


“This is a surprise. What are you doing here, detective?” Hotch inquired.

“Fran and I are...well, I didn’t think she should travel alone.”

The proverbial pin dropped and it was indeed heard as silence covered the room and inquiring minds focused on the large uncomfortable man. Fran moved to his side and placed her arm in his.

“Derek’s sisters aren’t able to get a flight until later today.”

Hotch rubbed his temple in exhaustion. “Please tell me Morgan knows about this.”

“Yes agent, he knows.” Fran half smiled as she looked at Agent Hotchner.

“Well. Good.” Hotch shook his head and moved towards the opposite side of the room.

Moments later two men dressed in scrubs entered the room. One was the young Dr. Mason. The other and older white haired gentleman did most of the talking.

“Good morning. I’m Dr. Rausch, the surgeon on Agent Morgan’s case.”

“How is he doctor?” Fran spoke up anxiously.

“He made it through surgery. There was damage to his spleen, which we were able to repair. Also, his left lung collapsed due to several broken ribs that punctured it.” He began.

Fran gripped Stan’s arm and leaned her head against his arm. He pulled her close to him and waited for the rest of the news from Dr. Rausch.

“Agent Morgan also had a lot of bruising to his spine and legs which we hope will heal on their own but he will have to undergo several weeks of physical therapy.”

“Will he be okay, doctor?” Penelope asked.

“We’re optimistic but a lot depends on when he wakes up.”

“What do you mean?” Reid asked.

“He was unconscious when he was brought in and we won’t be able to assess any further damage until he wakes up. The sooner he wakes up the better.” Dr. Mason added.

“I need to see my son.” Fran said wearily.

“I’m sorry, ma’am but he’ll be in recovery for the next several hours. After he’s moved to ICU, then you can see him.” Said Dr. Rausch.

“You all should really consider going home and getting some rest. He’s stable and we don’t expect any problems. If anything happens we can call you.” Dr. Mason suggested.

The two doctors turned and left the team in the waiting room. No one spoke for the next few minutes not sure what to do yet thankful that Derek had made it through surgery and he was stable enough for the doctors to be comfortable to send them home.

“I’m staying.” Penelope said firmly.

They all knew that look and that tone of her voice. She wasn’t going to be talked out of her decision. Penelope quickly turned and found a seat in the far corner crossing her arms and making herself as comfortable as possible.

Surgical Waiting Room – Afternoon
Penelope had managed to doze off for a few hours with her head leaning against the wall; the television played at a low hum in the background. The small framed nurse lightly tapped her shoulder startling her awake. Her heart was pounding out of control and she was sure the woman had come to share some bad news about Derek.

“Miss Garcia?” The woman said timidly.

“Y-Yes!” Garcia said slightly disoriented.

“My name is Sarah. I’m the nurse assigned to Agent Morgan…sorry to startle you…”

“No-no…it’s okay.” Penelope interrupted. “Is he okay?” She knew she sounded desperate.

“I just wanted to let you know that he’s been moved to ICU.” He’s still stable and that’s a good sign.” The nurse continued.

“Is he awake?”

Sarah wished that she could give her the answer she wanted but unfortunately she couldn’t.

“I’m sorry he hasn’t regained consciousness yet.”

Penelope felt her heart sink. She knew what it meant and she fought to hang on to the fact that he was stable and had made it through the last several hours.

“Can I see him?”

“Of course. Follow me.”

Penelope followed the woman through the doors and down the hall towards the elevators. The ride up two floors felt like an eternity as she leaned her head against the wall and closed her eyes silently praying for a miracle.

Room 412- Derek’s Room
If it weren’t for the bruising and scratches from the glass and the fact that he was hooked up to IV’s, chest tubes, and too many monitors to figure out, she would have thought he’d just fallen asleep. In a way, that’s what he had done. His mind and body had worked together, conspired was a better word, to shut his mind down so that it could figure out what had happened and find a way to fix it all. At least that’s what her own mind was telling her. It was the only way she could stand next to his bed and look at him lying silent, broken and somewhere too far for her to reach him.

She hadn’t realized that she had touched his hand and she hadn’t realized that her tears had already begun to fall on the white sheets that covered him. Hospitals had been too commonplace for the two of them lately and she yearned for peace and normalcy. What would it take for them to just have a moment to feel like their lives weren’t always spinning out of control? She lightly ran her hand up his arm careful not to touch the IV line that had been placed just above the inside of his wrist. He hated needles and had he been awake he would have surely given them hell for even attempting to stick him with one. A faint half smile crossed her face as she remembered trying to convince him to donate blood at the last FBI blood drive. He was the first one to stare down an armed UNSUB, or kick in the door of a serial killer but he wouldn’t willingly come within a thousand yards of a needle.

“Wake up, Handsome.” She whispered as she continued to caress his hand. “It’s time for you to wake up and come back to me.” Her voice broke as the tears flooded making it impossible to say another word.

She didn’t hear her friend enter and jumped when JJ placed her small hand on her shoulder.

“Sorry. It’s just me.” JJ said softly.  “How is he?”

“He still hasn’t woke up, JJ.” She said without looking away from Derek.

“S-h-h…he will.”

“But what if he doesn’t?”

“Don’t give up on him just yet, Garcia. This is Derek, remember?”

Penelope briefly looked at JJ and then back again to the man who possessed her heart as he lay motionless before them.

“I’m not sure if I could go on if I lost him, Jayje…”

“You can’t talk that way, Pen. Give him time. You know him, he’s trying with all of his might to fight his way back to you but you have to stay strong!”

“She’s beautiful, D!”

“I know.”

“How’d you get so lucky?” His father giggled as he looked into his son’s serious face.

“I ask myself that all the time.”

“Yeah, I hear you. I used to ask the same question whenever I thought about your mother.”

Derek closed his eyes and took in the feeling of the cool air as it gently blew through the room. The white curtains that hung from the ceiling seemed to dance effortlessly as the breeze touched them on it’s pass through. Derek noticed that the flowers outside had changed colors. They were now bright red and orange he so wanted to touch them and to pick a few for her but he remembered the last time he’d wanted to follow his father out to the garden.

“You still can’t go, D.”

“When did his father become able to read his mind?” He thought to himself.

“What’s wrong, son?” Noticing the troubled look on his son’s face.

“Did I do something wrong?”

“Wrong? What do you mean?”

“How did I get here?”

“That’s a question for another time. There’s another question you should be asking.” His father prompted.

“Another question? What?”


Derek was even more puzzled. He wanted to go home to hold her and tell her that he loved her but he couldn’t figure out how to get back to her. He suddenly realized that his father was again heading toward the garden outside.

“Dad! Wait!” Derek shouted.

His father kept walking and not responding to his son’s pleas for answers.

“Dad! Don’t go! Not yet! Please.”

Holiday Inn – Fredricksburg, VA
Aaliyah Buford had made it a point to sleep in today. It had been a while since she’d given herself permission to sleep past 7 a.m. but today was different. It was a new beginning for her and she felt like celebrating. The first thing on her list was to check out of this cheap hotel and head toward D.C. for a little sightseeing. As she looked around her modest accommodations she shook her head in disappointment at what little seventy bucks bought these days. No matter, she was certain things were about to get a whole lot better for her for when she returned to Chicago there would be an insurance check in the mail from her dearly departed father and she’d have the satisfaction in knowing that Derek Morgan was dead.  Putting the last few items in her luggage and grabbing the hotel shampoo, soap and lotion from the bathroom counter, she headed out of the door into the sunshine of what she hoped would be her brand new life.

“He’s alive!” The man’s voice seemed panicked and out of breath.

Aaliyah closed the door of her rental car with one hand pulling the phone away from her ear with the other and looking at it in disbelief.

“What! I told you…No screw-ups!” She yelled pounding her hand against the steering wheel.

“I don’t know how he could have survived, I’m telling you boss! No way!”

“Then how do you explain it?” She said still yelling.

“I-I don’t know! That truck was like a damn pretzel! I saw it myself, boss!”

“And yet he still lives!”

“I’m sorry, boss…I’ll fix it. I know what hospital he’s in…”

“Never mind! This is what happens when you sleep with the help! I’ll take care of it myself!”

BAU Headquarters – Quantico, VA
Hotch, Rossi, Alex, Reid, and JJ were seated quietly around the conference table. Their minds and hearts where at the hospital but they had been ordered back to work and had been reminded that their jobs didn’t stop because an agent was down. They didn’t like it and they didn’t like the new director who had spoken such blasphemy. It was true but now wasn’t the time to be reminded of such. So far they had been successful in covering for Garcia’s absence. Hotch had used a convenient case of the flu to explain her not being there with the rest of the them. 

Section Chief Cruz appeared in the doorway much to the surprise of the team. He glanced at each of them and noticed that each looked as if the world had suddenly come to an end. The file in his hand would give them something to occupy their minds.

“I’m glad you were all able to make it in today under the circumstances.”

“Did we have a choice.” Asked Rossi who still didn’t give a rat’s behind about who held the title of Section Chief.

“I thought you’d be interested in the accident report from last night.”

“Of course.” Hotch spoke up taking the file from Cruz.

“What’s it say?” JJ asked.

“Not much.”  Hotch handed the file to Rossi.

“Hmm…” Rossi said studying the photos inside the folder.

“What?” Said Hotch.

“The only skid marks are from Morgan’s truck.”

“So?” Hotch asked.

“So, that means the truck that hit him never tried to stop!”

“Well, it was a hit and run. The truck kept going.” JJ concluded.

“Normally, in a hit and run the other car or truck in this case at least tries to avoid the accident.”

“If it was truly an accident, there should be signs that the truck tried to avoid hitting Morgan…skid marks!” Reid added.

“Wait.  Are you saying it was intentional?” Alex asked.

“That stretch of road is rarely travelled at night, especially by large trucks because of the curves and the fact the road is narrow and it’s dark.” Hotch deduced.

“If that’s true then whoever hit him had to know that Morgan was going to be on that road.” Reid added.

“Which means they had to have been watching him for a while to learn his travel habits.” Said Rossi.

“So he must take that road all the time. Wait to Garcia finds out. She hates him driving on that road!” JJ said.

“Who would go through this much trouble to kill Morgan?” Hotch said.

“That’s a long list. For any of us.” Rossi guessed.

“Well, we better find out who it is this time before they find out they failed.” Hotch added.

Potomac General Hospital- Derek’s Room – Evening
Fran sat quietly at her son’s bedside. She’d convinced Penelope to go home to sleep and take a shower. She dreaded this day and it was her worst nightmare come true. His line of work made the risk of injury and death high and the fact that she had lost her husband in the line of duty made her anxiety even higher when it came to Derek. He always took chances, running into danger without considering the consequences to himself. To think that someone would target him for harm was disturbing to say the least.

Stan Gordinski had decided to wait in the waiting room with the rest of Derek’s family; the entire team had arrived shortly after three and Stan had volunteered to pick up Derek’s sisters, Sarah and Des from the airport earlier. He’d gotten to know the girls over the last two months since Fran decided to finally reveal their relationship to her children. He knew Derek would not be happy to see him but he came nonetheless. He would not allow Fran to go through this alone and he could tell that she appreciated him being there.

She cursed to herself at the sight of the waiting room full of his family and friends. Aaliyah knew she would have to be extra careful when she noticed Stan Gordinski sitting with Derek’s sisters. “What the hell was he doing here?” She thought to herself. Gordinski and her father had been close so it struck her odd that he was sitting in the midst of her enemy’s camp. No matter it wouldn’t stop her from doing what her inept lover failed to do last night. She slowly walked past the group, all of them anxious, some fighting back tears, “Save some for the funeral.” She chuckled to herself as she continued down the hallway toward room 412.

Fran had been in deep thought as she stared into space. Her thoughts were focused on the night she’d gotten the news that her husband had been shot to death trying to stop a robbery. He and Derek had gone to the store for her to get milk and bread for lunches the next day. That was something a ten year old should never have to witness. It was a miracle that the gunman didn’t kill her son that night. He was covered with his father’s blood and eerily quiet when she got to him at the hospital. She still remembered his eyes red and filled with unshed tears. Then the flood came as she grabbed him up in her arms. His little body shaking in her embrace and he held onto her for dear life for what seemed like hours. After that night she could count the times she ever saw her son shed a tear; it changed him forever and pained her to find out later that that night was only the beginning of his torment and pain.

The faint squeeze of her hand pulled her from her thoughts. She looked up and saw her son’s eyes trained on her. She jumped to her feet reaching for the call button.

“Baby!” She whispered.

“Mom?” He said confusion spread across his face.

“Take it easy, the nurses are coming.”

She gently stroked his face and planted a kiss on his forehead.

“Welcome back. We missed you.”

Without answering he looked around the room trying to make sense of his circumstance.


“I sent her home to get some rest. She’ll be back soon.”

Aaliyah watched across the hall as the nurses rushed into the room followed by a blonde bespectacled woman. Anxious she waited hoping that Mother Nature would complete her task.

Morgan tried unsuccessfully to move to a sitting position when he saw Penelope rushing in behind the nurses.

“Penelope?” He said again.

“Take it easy Agent. We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves.” Said the nurse that Penelope had met earlier.

“I’m here, Handsome! You’re awake!” she said teary-eyed.

Morgan continued to move but his weakened state kept him glued to the bed which judging by his expression irritated the heck out of him.

“He’s back!” Fran said smiling at her stubborn son.

“I’m going to have to ask you ladies to leave for a while so that the doctors can examine him.” Said the nurse.

Reluctantly, Fran and Penelope backed out of the room and headed to the waiting room to share the good news with the rest of the family.  Meanwhile Aaliyah Buford looked on hidden amid the normal hospital hustle and bustle.

Waiting Room –
“He’s awake!” Penelope shouted bursting into the room.

The mood immediately shifted to high excitement as everyone surrounded Garcia and Fran anxious for details.

“The nurses kicked us out of the room so he can be examined but he’s awake!” Fran announced.

Everyone hugged each other joyfully and even Stan Gordinksi was included in the celebration. The mood wasn’t dampened by the arrival of Drs. Mason and Rausch as they too seemed happy.

“Well, I guess you’ve heard. Agent Morgan is awake.” Dr. Rausch began.

“How is he, Doctor?” Penelope asked nervously.

“He’s doing remarkably well considering what he’s been through.” Dr. Rausch answered.

“So what’s next?” Fran asked.

“He’s very weak which is understandable but he’s showing no signs of brain damage and all of his vitals are good.” Dr. Mason added.

“Don’t be mistaken, he has a ways to go before he’s 100 percent but all in all, we couldn’t be more pleased at his progress.” Dr. Rausch interjected.

There was a collective sigh through the group as the doctors continued to explain the next steps in Morgan’s treatment. Penelope, Fran, Sarah and Des, clung to each other as they listened.

“If he continues to progress, we’ll remove the chest tube tomorrow and then begin some light physical therapy to strengthen his back and leg muscles.” Dr. Mason informed them.

“Can we see him?” Garcia asked.

“Of course but please don’t tire him out. I can already tell that he’s going to be a difficult patient.” Dr. Rausch instructed.

“You found that out already did you?” Hotch chimed in with a slight chuckle.

The two doctors looked affirmatively at each other and smiled back at the group.

They all headed down the hallway towards Morgan’s room with Garcia leading the way and Fran close on her heels smiling with satisfaction at the woman who loved her son.

Meanwhile, Aaliyah watched the parade from her hiding place in plain sight. Timing was everything and now was not the time to act in haste. She’d waited this long to see him dead and she was willing to wait a little longer to exact her revenge on the man responsible for her father’s death.

Stan felt awkward and even though his relationship with Fran was no longer a secret in no way had he fooled himself into believing that he had earned a spot in the Morgan family, not by a long shot and if Derek had his way, he would be floating face down in the Chicago sewer system. Purposely, he entered the room last and as he did he noticed a familiar face lingering around the nurses station. It couldn’t be who he thought it was; it had been more than twenty years but… maybe it was just a coincidence. Besides they say everyone has a twin; surely that was the case.

Penelope rushed to his side kissing him lightly on the lips not caring that the rest of the team’s jaws were hanging in surprise. She didn’t care she had come too close to losing him to care what anyone thought and she would deal with any fallout or teasing later but right now, she needed to be near him and he needed to be near her. So, she sat in the vacant chair next to him and gently placed her hand in his.

The others watched trying to pretend that everything was normal. Even though the couple had not made an official announcement, no one was surprised that they had finally made it official. The running joke was that they had always been a couple and that everyone had gotten the memo except the two lovebirds. The rumor was that Rossi had started an office pool and judging by the grin on his face as he watched Derek and Penelope escape into their own world, he was winning hands down.

“The Highway Patrol didn’t believe it was an accident.” Hotch said after clearing his throat.

“I know.” Derek said quietly keeping his eyes on Garcia. “It was like he was waiting for me. I didn’t even see him until he was right on top of me.”

Fran glanced at her daughters as she placed a hand over her mouth. Sarah and Des grabbed each other as they struggled to hear his account of the night before.

“Can you tell us what happened?” JJ asked.

He looked in Penelope’s eyes he knew she’d be upset with him. She hated that road and had pleaded with him before not to take it especially at night.

“I’m sorry, Baby Girl.”

“You know how I feel about that road…”

“I know but I was running late and I thought…”

“Derek, don’t… I already know that you travel that road all the time!” Her voice was quivering now.

“Okay, stop both of you. We need to find out who’s behind this!” Fran interrupted.

Penelope knew she was right and she was embarrassed at her behavior in front of Derek’s family but she was overcome by the thought of how this whole thing could have turned out.

“I’m sorry. You’re right…I just…”

Suddenly, Garcia stands and bolts out of the room down the hallway and out of sight. Fran shoots a look at her daughters who quickly follow after her.  If Derek could have gotten out of the bed he would have kicked himself for causing her pain. Seeing her so upset made him forget his own physical pain. He had broken his promise to not do anything that would make her worry.

“Derek, we need to know everything that happened.” Hotch said regaining control.

“I don’t know, Hotch. Can somebody just go get Penelope?”

“She’s fine. Your sisters are looking after her. Listen to your boss.” Ordered Fran.

Alex, Reid, Rossi and JJ looked at each desperately trying not to burst into laughter and vowing silently to never let him live this down.

Morgan glared at his mother as he tried in vain to shift to a more comfortable position.

Sarah and Desiree found Garcia sitting at the fountain across the street from the Emergency Room.  As she heard them approaching she began wiping the tears from her face. She felt so foolish and selfish for throwing a temper tantrum for all the world to see. What must Derek’s family think of her?

“He’s stubborn, you know.” Sarah said as she approached Garcia and sat next to her.

“And hard headed.” Des chimed in taking the seat on the other side.

“You all must think I’m a real baby.”

“No actually, we think you’re a magician!” Des said lightheartedly.

“A magician?”

“Anybody who can tame our brother must have some magical powers.” Sarah added.

“He’s always sworn he’d never fall in love, never have kids, never settle down…” Des began.

“…And now look at him.  He’s ridiculously in love! Derek has never brought a girl home! We never even knew their names!” Sarah added.


“Really!” Sarah and Des said together.

“I love your brother more than life itself but he makes me so mad sometimes! He runs into danger like…like it’s a play date! I just want to ring his neck!”

Sarah and Des gently pulled Penelope into a sisterly embrace and for the next few minutes the three women sat in silence.

“You know you can’t change him right?” Sarah broke the silence.

“Yeah. I know.”

“He is a hard headed, stubborn man who loves you like he’s never loved anyone in his life, but you knew what you were getting yourself into. Don’t act like you didn’t know, Baby Girl! Sarah added.

Penelope looked over at Sarah and realized that she may have met her match. Sarah’s brutal honesty forced her back to reality.

“Ouch! Is that your version of tough love?” Garcia asked.

“Listen, I’m not saying that you should let my brother off the hook. In fact, I think you should kick his ass. It’s just, now isn’t the time. He needs you. He almost died and even though he’d never admit it, it scared the crap out of him.” Des added.

Penelope was silent for a moment. She knew Des and Sarah were right. Derek was who he was and she couldn’t change him. As a matter of fact she didn’t want to change him. The very things that infuriated her about him is what made her fall in love with him more and more each day.

“We better get back. He’s probably raising hell right now trying to get out of bed and telling the nurses to just put a band-aid on it and let him go!” Penelope smiled getting to her feet.

The three headed back to the hospital entrance arm in arm. As the automatic doors opened a woman rushed past them nearly bumping into Garcia.

“Boy, she’s in a hurry.” Said Sarah looking after the rude woman.

Penelope tried to not let anything else upset her but Desiree thought it odd that she would see a familiar face so far away from home. She’d seen her before it had been a while but her face and mannerisms were disturbingly familiar. She knew it would bug her until she remembered who that woman was.

Aaliyah headed toward the exit. The last thing she needed was to run into her father’s old friend Stan Gordinski. What was he doing here anyway? She knew all about the trouble that Derek had been in with the law while he was growing up and she knew Gordinski was always the one hauling Derek in for any trouble that went down in the neighborhood. Things seemed to have changed and Stan and Derek’s mother seemed awfully close. Aaliyah had waited too long to get revenge and she wasn’t about to get distracted by strange love connections and carelessness; if Stan Gordinski wanted to sleep with the enemy that was his business.  As she headed quickly out the door, she nearly ran into an old classmate from junior high school. That’s all she needed was to be seen by Desiree Morgan! One thing for certain she was going to have to conclude her business here quickly before she was discovered and before Derek was well enough to defend himself.

Derek’s Room
“Mom! Really? Are you trying to kill me too? What’s he doing here?” Derek growled angrily shooting a glare at Stan.

Stan rolled his eyes as Fran placed a loving hand on his arm.

“Son, don’t start!” Fran said sternly. “I’m grateful for having him here. He didn’t want me to go through this alone. Besides, none of us knew what we’d find when we arrived.”

“Listen, Derek. I know mine is the last face you wanted to see when you woke up but I’m here to support your mother, period.”

“I think I’m going to be sick for real!”

“Okay, okay. We’ve got work to do if we’re going to catch this guy. I think we all need to head back to Quantico.” Ordered Hotch as he glanced at his team.

Reluctantly the BAU team said their goodbyes and headed out of Derek’s room leaving only his mother. As a second thought, Stan followed Hotch and the others out.

“Agent Hotchner.” Stan began.

“What is it Detective?”

“This might not be anything but when we were all headed to Derek’s room I could have sworn I saw Carl Buford’s daughter.”

“What? I didn’t know Buford had a daughter.” Hotch answered.

Hearing this, the rest of the team turned and joined the conversation.

“Not many people know. Carl had a daughter by another woman other than his wife. Caused quite a problem in their marriage as you can imagine.”

“I’m sure that’s an understatement.” Rossi interjected.

“Yeah, well, Carl kept it sort of a secret but occasionally he would bring her around to the youth center but it wasn’t until she got older that he started spending more time with her and introducing her as his daughter.”

“You think she’s here to kill Morgan? Reid asked.

“I doubt it’s a coincidence.” Hotch answered.

“I didn’t want to say anything in the room it was already a little tense as it was, besides it may not be her.” Gordinski added.

“We can’t afford to take any chances. Thanks Detective.” Hotch said.

“Stan. Please, call me Stan.”

“What’s going on? Everybody looks so serious? “ Penelope asked.

None of them had seen the three return and were somewhat startled by their arrival.

“Stan here thinks he may have seen Carl Buford’s daughter.” Alex answered.

“Daughter? You mean that scumbag procreated?” Penelope stated.

“That was her!” Des shouted.

“What you saw her too?” JJ asked.

“Just now as we were coming in.” Des looked at her sister and Penelope. “She’s the one that nearly ran into you Penelope!”

“This is some ballsy chick! She’s been hanging around all day waiting for the right time to try again!” Rossi said.

“We better make sure she doesn’t get that chance.” Hotch added.

As the group headed back to Morgan’s room Hotch’s phone rings. As he stops to answer it, Rossi notices a sudden frown cross his face and as the others proceed into the room he lags back with Hotch.

“What’s up, Hotch”

“We just got a case.” Hotch answered pocketing his phone.

“We’ve got a case here!”

“Not according to the bureau.”

“Oklahoma City needs us ASAP and the director has already informed them that we are on our way.”

“That’s crap Aaron and you know it!”

“I know but we don’t have a choice.”

“How do we protect Morgan?”

“We’ll have to put an agent on him and pray that helps.”

“Good luck getting Garcia to leave his side.” Rossi said as the two joined the others.

Garcia had resumed her spot next to Morgan and they were already discussing Buford’s daughter. Even though they hadn’t had a chance to talk in private it was apparent that the two were just fine.

“We just brought Morgan up to speed.” Said Reid.

“We have a case.” Hotch informed the others.

“Where?” JJ asked surprised.

“Oklahoma City. Three murders in three days and the locals are asking for our help.”

“No! You guys can’t go! Not when this psycho is still out to get Morgan!” Garcia pleaded.

“The director wants you with us too, Garcia. I did talk him into letting you stay in Quantico but you’ll have to be actively working this case.”

“No way! I can’t leave… I need to be here with… no!”

“Baby Girl, listen. I’ll be fine. You have to help the team. It’s your job.” Morgan insisted.

Fran and her daughters couldn’t believe their ears. It sounded as if Derek would be alone and defenseless against a crazy woman out to kill him.

“What is your plan to protect my son, Agent Hotchner?”

“Mom, I’ll be fine.” Morgan reassured her.

“The director has assured me that he’s sending agents over now to keep an eye out.”

“What about my family?”

“I think it would be a good idea to put your family in protective custody until this is over.” Hotch added.

“Thanks Hotch.” Morgan said.

“I can work from here. I’m not leaving this room!” Penelope insisted.

“Baby, listen to me. I don’t want you in the line of fire…”

“Line of fire? Morgan!”

“No, Garcia. I want you back in Quantico at headquarters where I know your safe! End of discussion!”

Garcia surrendered, she knew that look on his face and he wasn’t taking any resistance from her. She couldn’t imagine leaving but she knew that not only did the team have a case in which they were going to need her, but Derek wasn’t going to put her in danger.

Everyone said their goodbyes and headed out, the team first and then his family. Just as Stan headed out behind Fran and his sisters, Morgan stopped him.

“Gordinski, can you hold up a minute?”

“Sure.” Stan gave Fran and the girls a puzzled look as they waited in the hallway.

“I need you to make sure my family is safe.”

“Of course. I love your mother and I won’t let anything happen to her our your sisters.”


Derek felt a sudden pain in his gut and he wasn’t sure if it was from his injuries or from having to ask Stan Gordinski for help. Either way he didn’t like the feeling not one bit.

Hotch had relied on the director to assign agents to Morgan’s room. That was his first mistake. He thought a seasoned FBI agent would honor his word and do everything that was humanly possible to protect one of his own. But he, like so many who didn’t fully understand what the BAU stood for and what they had accomplished over the years took his time fulfilling his promise to Hotch. Later, the director would blame his busy schedule and heavy obligations for his delay in sending the agents to Potomac General Hospital but it wouldn’t change the fact that Agent Derek Morgan was alone, seriously injured and unarmed. It didn’t change the fact that the agents would arrive much too late to stop the intentions of one Aaliyah Buford who had made it her life’s mission to kill Derek Morgan even if it meant her own death. Later, after all was said and done about the events of the next twenty-four hours, no one would ever be able to criticize him about his trust issues either and if they did, he’d remind them of the importance of a back up plan, just in case the Calvary didn’t arrive in time.

Four Seasons – Washington, D.C. – Later that evening
Aaliyah Buford had checked into the Four Seasons a few hours ago and had decided to indulge in a restful night before completing her mission the next day. Her room in the ritzy five-star hotel was a vast improvement from her earlier dive. After all, you only live once, right?  She ordered room service and jumped in the shower while she devised a plan that would change her life forever.

Home of Derek Morgan – Day
Okay, so this was really weird, Stan Gordinski thought as he sat on the edge of the bed in one of the guest rooms in Derek’s home. The young man who he’d spent countless hours harassing and arresting and blaming for the trouble in their neighborhood so many years ago, now had been his unwitting host for the evening.

Life was filled with unexpected twists and turns as he stepped out of the shower and headed toward the smells of food in the kitchen. Before he entered he thought he’d make a call to the hospital to speak to the agents assigned to watch over Derek.  

The meal was delicious and he still wondered how she was able to make nothing taste so incredibly good; a talent she surely had to sharpen raising three children for so many years alone on meager means. He admired the woman who sat across from him and he was puzzled at the notion that they had found each other and he knew for a fact that he didn’t deserve her especially after all the pain and misery he had caused her family, especially, Derek.

After breakfast, Stan volunteered to help Fran clean up while the girls relaxed, his excuse for spending time alone with his lady.

Something was bothering him, she could tell as he washed and she dried.

“What’s going on in that head of yours, Stan?” She demanded.

“I don’t feel comfortable leaving Derek alone at the hospital.”

“What do you mean?”

“I called a few minutes ago and the agents hadn’t arrived.”

“Oh my, God! You mean he’s alone?”

“I’m going back.”


“No “Buts.” If they’re there when I get there, I’ll come back.”

Stan dried his hands and headed to the bedroom to grab his jacket and gun. Fran met him at the front door and he pulled her into a warm embrace before saying goodbye and heading back to the hospital.

Potomac General Hospital –
Aaliyah cautiously walked the hallway careful not to run into Stan Gordinski or Desiree Morgan. Yesterday had been too close and she had been extremely lucky. As she approached the waiting room she was surprised that it wasn’t occupied by Morgan’s family and friends. Surely they were in his room if so she’d have to be patient a little while longer before she got her chance.

Much to her surprise his room was also empty. There he was lying asleep alone. She almost thought that this was a trap yet she quietly entered the room, closing the door behind her.  He was gorgeous even with the healing scratches and bruises on his face and arms. She remembered having a crush on her classmate’s older brother but he didn’t even know she existed. He began to move and awaken drawing her from her thoughts.

“Who are you?” He asked sleepily.

“Aaliyah. Do you remember me?”

Derek knew exactly who she was and his mind began plotting a way out of his situation.  Normally, this would have been the time he’d reach for a weapon but unfortunately he found himself with nothing but a nearby IV pole and monitors; none of which were within reach.

“I remember you.” He tried to sit up.

“Then you know why I’m here.”

He wanted to keep her talking in hopes that someone would come before she grew tired of explaining why she had come to pay him a visit.

“Aaliyah, I’m sorry about your father.”

“Are you?  Really?  Your lies put him in prison and your little speech at that press conference got him killed! Sorry?”

“I didn’t know he’d get killed…”

“Come on Derek! You know what convicts do to child molesters in prison! They did your dirty work for you! So who’s the real murderer? Huh?”

“Your father was exactly where he belonged, behind bars!”

“My father was a good man! He cared about the kids in our neighborhood. He helped a lot of them get out and make something of themselves…even you!”

“Your father was a pedophile who hurt a lot of boys and he hurt me too!”

Stan was disturbed when he saw no signs of Federal agents. He picked up his pace toward Derek’s room and stopped cold at the sight before him. Quickly, he pulled out his phone and placed a call to the FBI and to local police requesting emergency assistance. He carefully inched closer to the nurses’ station and informed the head nurse of the situation.

“You took away the only person that really loved me! My mother was too busy chasing her career to care about me. But my dad, he loved me and he never hurt me!”

“He didn’t hurt you because you weren’t his type!” Morgan watched as she reached into her pocket.

“If you really believe that your father was a good man then leave this room and don’t look back. Don’t do something that you’ll regret.”

Aaliyah pulled a gun from her pocket and aimed it at Morgan. Instinctively he felt his body tense and pull away.

“Don’t do this! You won’t get away with it!”

“You were supposed to die in that truck the other night. I really need to be more careful who I hire to do work for me.” She chuckled as she steadied her hand.

Morgan saw a familiar figure just beyond the woman, standing outside of his room. He never thought the day would come when he would be happy at the sight of this particular person; their eyes met as Derek tried to remain calm.

“Aaliyah, think about what you’re doing. It’s not too late to stop this.”

“Shut up! Shut up! I’m not one of your criminals that you can get inside of their head and talk some “sense” into! Shut up!! I know what I’m doing and I know what I want to do!”



“Do you want to die today?” He asked her in an eerie sounding voice.


“You heard me. Do you want to die today?” He repeated as he looked toward Stan.

Noticing him looking at something outside of his window she made the biggest mistake since she’d arrived in Fredricksburg, she turned her head to follow his line of vision and as she did she came face to face with the hot metal slamming into her skull as Detective Stan Gordinski, Chicago PD fired ending her life.

2 days later…

The case in Oklahoma had ended in time for the team to get back for Derek’s discharge from the hospital. Penelope had been by his side every second after the showdown with Aaliyah Buford. Hotch was furious to learn that the agents assigned to protect Derek arrived after the coroner’s team had bagged the body. The team hadn’t seen him that mad in quite a while.

Derek’s room was packed with his family fussing over him and driving him crazy to put it mildly. Fran was happy that her son had even allowed Stan in the room without throwing a fit. Of course, he now owed him his life, which in itself didn’t sit well with Derek.  As Garcia watched the attention being lavished on her man she couldn’t help but snicker at how the Morgan family seemed to be growing daily. What a mix of characters she thought as she placed the final item in his bag as he slowly settled into the wheelchair, under protest of course.

His Chicago bound family would be leaving the next day and that included the man who had 48 hours ago saved his life. He didn’t know what to do with that it just didn’t seem real that the man who wanted so desperately to take his freedom away only a few years ago and who had made it his mission to make his childhood miserable, now was a part of his family. This man had managed to move into the place in his mother’s life that had been vacant for so many years; left void by the death of his father. His stomach still jumped at the thought of his mother and Stan Gordinski sharing the same bed and perhaps making things permanent between them, but he couldn’t deny the glow in his mother’s eyes and the way she held onto him and leaned on the big hunk of a man. Stan looked at his mother the same way he looked at Garcia, as if there was nothing and no one better in the world than this woman. He wanted so much to hate him still, but he had saved his life, and he loved his mother not in just words but in his actions by doing what a man who loves a woman is supposed to do, defending her and accepting her the all of her which meant her family even if did include a stubborn hard headed son. It was true, you couldn’t choose your family; Aaliyah couldn’t choose who her father was. As much as he hated to admit it, he couldn’t choose who his mother fell in love with and so with that he resolved that he would probably be seeing a lot more of Stan Gordinski.

“Revenge... is like a rolling stone, which, when a man hath forced up a hill, will return upon him with a greater violence, and break those bones whose sinews gave it motion.” – Jeremy Taylor