Chapter 28

The rest of the team had not even gotten to Hotch and JJ through the maze of hallways before the doctor came out. "Agent Morgan is going to be fine," he said, holding his hands up reassuringly. "His blood pressure spiked and his pulse soared for no apparent reason, but we got it back under control and he will be fine."

The grimace on Hotch's face spoke volume. "It was my fault doctor, I allowed him to ride along on a mission that he was particularly involved in; the anxiety must have brought on his symptoms."

"What's done is done." The man responded carefully, "But he should be under strict bed rest for the next three days or so. Is there someone to stay with him?"

"I will." JJ felt the response burble out of her unexpectedly, but as soon as she said it, she knew it was the right response. Hotch looked at her sideways, offering her the opportunity to retract her words. "I'll take some days off of work. Lord knows I have enough vacation time built up."

"Good. I'll give you more instructions in an hour or so when we release him, I just want him resting for a while. I've also given him a new prescription for oxycodone that he should follow to the letter; he let his other meds run out and had never filled the second prescription that he had been given."

"I'll make sure of it." JJ said, taking the sheet of paper that the doctor held out. "Can we see him?"

"Of course. He's alert, and probably in a bit of pain because we're waiting for most of the morphine to metabolize before starting him on the oxycodone, but his room's just down the hallway on the left. Room 517."

Hotch thanked him and walked with JJ down the hallway to Morgan's room. "It feels like we just did this a week ago." He said, watching a small smile sneak onto her face.

"As long as we don't have to do it again next week." She responded lightly. She checked something on her cell phone, ignoring Hotch's probing gaze.

"JJ, are you sure you're okay to stay with Morgan? You have a family of your own. What about them?"

"Garcia or Reid can cover for me at night so I can go home and be with Henry. But Hotch…Morgan's family too. I'm worried about him."

"We all are. This path he's on…I doubt it will have a happy ending."

"At least not the ending Morgan wants." She agreed. "What's going to happen to Paggard?"

"Depends on how much evidence they found at the house. We can probably get him enough consecutive sentences to merit life without parole if the prosecutor can prove that he was involved in all of the cases we find, however fleetingly." As they walked into the room, Morgan was in the process of standing up from his bed, maneuvering the IV stand so he could walk around.

"And what do you think you're doing?" JJ chastised, walking over and giving him a long hug. He still felt so sturdy, despite the fact that she had cradled his head in her arms just over an hour ago. "I thought you were supposed to be in bed."

"Not when there's no one watching." Morgan said cheekily. Upon noticing his boss in the doorway, he grew suitably abashed. "Hotch, I…"

Hotch cut him off. "It was my bad judgment too, Morgan. There won't be any consequences, as long as you continue to follow your doctor's orders. Which right now, means laying down."

"And once you're released, I'm staying with you for a couple of days." It was a statement of fact, and Morgan understood his lack of options in this case.

"You were a good baby-sitter in high school, weren't you?" He teased, climbing back into bed. "But honestly, you guys, I feel fine."

"Fine? The doctor we just spoke to informed us that you would probably be in pain right about now." Hotch's face was stern, as if he had just about had enough of Morgan's antics.

"Nothing noticeable." Morgan amended. "So when do I get out of here?"

"An hour. If you stay in bed." JJ interjected. "Three days if you don't." She laid a hand on his shoulder, idly patting it to take the sting out of her sarcasm. "And even more if Garcia catches you!"

"Catches him doing what?" A voice piped up from the doorway. Garcia bustled into the room as JJ and Hotch stepped aside, letting her beeline for Morgan. She hugged him tightly and buried her head in his shoulder. "You need to stop doing this."

"Garcia, it wasn't my fault."

"That's funny, because I still blame you. Why on earth did you go along on the raid?" Her frustration was real, and now that she knew Morgan would be alright, it was coming out in full force.

"I had to—Garcia, you know I couldn't just sit back and watch this happen. It was just an accident." Suddenly, Morgan's eyes widened, looking over Garcia's shoulder. The team turned to follow his gaze and landed on Sarah Dunn, standing hesitantly in the doorway, arms crossed tightly over her chest. "Sarah, what are you doing here?"

"They gave me some days off from work, so I thought that I would come back and see you…I just…didn't know what else to do." Her face was gaunt, but she did not look as terrible as she had when the team had last seen her. Hotch murmured something and ushered the team out into the hallway, closing the door behind him.

Morgan sat up as straight as he could against the incline of the bed, and Sarah came to him, pulling up a chair. "I'm so glad you came." Morgan said gently. "I went after the guy who sold Helmsley the gun. We got him; he's in custody." The pride in Morgan's voice was evident, but Sarah struggled to make sense of the news.

"You what? Who?"

"Hs name was Paggard. I tracked him down, and the team just arrested him this morning. We found evidence; there were illegal weapons at the house. He's done Sarah. He won't be able to hurt anyone else."

"Derek, I thought you were taking time off of work. That's why I came down here."

"I am now. The Paggard thing…Sarah, I just needed to do something. For Eli, for David. I mean, they were just kids." He took her hand, squeezing it tightly. "I had to do it."

"Derek, I don't blame you."

"I know that." He said heavily. "I'm not blaming myself either. Don't you see? It was Helmsley's fault, and Paggard's, for giving David the gun."

"You're just trying to use him to justify what happened. Don't you see? You're using Paggard as a way to get around your own fault in the matter, but Derek, you don't need to." Tears welled in her soft brown eyes as she entreated him to understand. "Eli's gone, and you're here. You think he would want you to carry this around for the rest of your life?"

"I can't just let what happened go. It's in my head, whether I like it or not."

"But you can let go of the guilt. "You need to trust yourself again. You're one of the bravest, most loyal men that I've ever known, and your team feels that too. But you're so proud that you can't openly admit what's eating at you. I can tell, Derek, that you're not satisfied. You got a guy. Got him off the streets, protected some kids. But you didn't get the guy. Because that guy, the one you're searching for…it's just going to lead you back to yourself." Morgan was mute, but Sarah could tell some part of her words had finally taken root in his mind. "Please, Derek." Her voice was small as she added her last sentence, the words plowing into Morgan's soul. "If you won't do it for yourself, then please…please…do it for Eli."

Alright, so not my best ending, but there it is. Thanks for reading, please check out my other CM stories as well as a couple for leverage and NCIS, and a CM/SVU crossover. I'll be writing another shorter CM story, but I won't post it for a while, so don't hold your breath!

With gratitude,