"Can we see him?"
JJ had been the first to speak after the doctor had given them the news about Morgan.
"Sure. Maybe you can convince him to stop giving the nurses such a hard time."
"Welcome to our world."
The others laughed at Hotch's rarely seen funny side.
"Well, he's a lucky man; one more centimeter to the left and we'd be having another conversation."
"When can he go home?" JJ asked.
"I want to keep him over night just to make sure there's no infection and if not, he can be discharged in the morning."
"Thank you doctor."
The elderly man smiled and nodded as he turned and left the group. Hotch, JJ, and Rossi sighed in unison.
"That was too close." Rossi began. "We better call Reid I'm sure Garcia is threatening him with bodily harm by now."
JJ made the call as she followed them toward Morgan's room. They could hear a commotion from the hallway as they picked up their pace.
"Mr. Morgan, please! You have to stay in bed our you'll hurt yourself!"
He was twice the young woman's size and she was clearly in over her head. He was so determined to get up that he didn't see his friends come through the door.
"Hotch I'm fine! I need to see Garcia! She's going to be worried sick…"
"She's fine. Reid is with her and we've already told them that you're going to be okay."
That seemed to satisfy him for the time being as he relaxed on to the bed.
"What were you trying to do buy yourself a few more days in the hospital?" JJ scolded.
"I'm fine! I need to be with Garcia."
"She's fine, Morgan. Besides, she has us to take care of her."
It was quiet for a moment as they waited for the obvious question.
"Tara. Is she…?"
"She's dead." Hotch answered.
"Gordinski saved my life, it just keeps getting better."
They all chuckled as he shifted on the bed. As if on cue there was a knock on the door and Gordinski stepped into the room. Awkward silence fell over the place as Morgan and the others watched the man stop at the foot of his bed.
"I think we'll let you two have some privacy."
Without any objection Hotch and Rossi followed her out.
"I turned Tara's body over to the Coroner and they'll send a copy of their report to Chicago. She was a sick young lady, I didn't see it I guess I'm getting too old for this game."
"You couldn't have seen it she was ten the last time you saw her, right?"
"Yeah when Carl and his wife divorced Sheila moved herself and Tara to Evanston and I didn't see her much after that."
"You don't need to thank me, Derek. I owe you an apology for all…"
"No. You've apologized enough now it's time for me to accept your apology. I don't understand it and I don't think I'll ever understand it but my mother loved you and I know she'd be very upset with me if I didn't."
"And I loved her. She changed my life and I know I didn't deserve her after everything I did to you."
"Let's just try and put the past behind us and move on."
"Without Fran, I'm not sure I can move on."
Late Evening –
The team had finally left and Penelope found herself struggling to stay awake desperately wanting to see Morgan. The doctors had assured her that he was fine and that his injury was minor but she needed to see for herself. She was hooked up to monitors and IV's which made it darn near impossible to leave her bed without the beeps and buzzers sounding and giving her away. So, she let her body relax and drift into a restful slumber.
He ignored the doctor and nurses' and eased himself out of bed and down the hall toward her room. He smiled as he pushed open the door and saw her sleeping. Wincing from the pain, he pulled a chair next to her bed and sat quietly watching her breathe. He needed to touch her to confirm that Tara had not taken her away from him too so he gently placed her hand in his kissing it lightly.
"Derek Morgan, you are in so much trouble."
He looked up with his a brilliant smile and looked into her sleepy brown eyes.
"I had to see you Baby Girl."
"You're supposed to be in bed."
"Move over and I will be."
"You are so bad." She said as she moved to make room for him.
He wrapped her in his arms the best he could without hurting her or himself.
"I heard the gunshots…I thought I'd lost you."
"Shhhh…I'm right here with you and that's where I'm staying."
…And that's where the nurse found them two hours later when she came to make rounds. She didn't know them but she had a feeling that it would take an act of war to separate the two of them. She saw the looks of peace on their faces and realized that they were right where they belonged.
Home of Derek Morgan – Two weeks later –
Penelope had been home for a week and a half and Morgan had nearly driven her crazy being over-protective and barely allowing her to lift a finger without his help. His injury had completely healed with just a faint scar left as a reminder. She had another month off of work but she had come a long way in her recovery.
The house was quiet and she hadn't seen or heard a word from Derek in the last several minutes. Perhaps he'd decided to take Clooney out in the yard. She decided to join them.
She found him sitting on the back steps his back to her and Clooney lying next to him. He didn't hear her open the sliding glass door. He was deep in thought as he held something in his hand that looked like a greeting card; she assumed he'd finally decided to read the mountain of condolences that had been overflowing the mailbox for the last several weeks.
He smiled keeping his focus on the card in his hand. It was beautiful and she noticed it was blank inside.
"Sunday is Mother's Day. I bought this card two weeks before she was killed."
"Baby, I'm sorry."
"I didn't even get to fill it out. She loved Mother's Day."
She wrapped her arm around his shoulders and pulled him in to her. She didn't say another word she just waited for him to speak if he and when he wanted to.
"I miss her, Penelope. She didn't deserve to die like that." His voice cracked.
"I know I miss her too. She was an amazing woman."
"I almost lost you too. Losing my mother like that I can't even begin to know how I'm going to deal with this but if I had lost you too, I'd been done. Carl would have won."
"No! No matter what happens you can't let that monster or his evil spawn win, Derek!"
He felt the tears fall and he had no words at that moment to express how grateful he was that she was still there with him. He closed the card and slid it in in its envelope.
"I have a surprise for you, Baby Boy."
"Garcia, I'm not really in the mood for surprises."
"Wait until you hear what it is before you decide you don't want it."
He looked into her eyes and he knew she was up to something. He watched as she pulled something out of her pant pocket.
"What are you up to, Baby Girl?"
"See for yourself."
He took the folded paper from her and read it then looking at her in confusion.
"This is a travel itinerary to Chicago, but I don't understand."
"It seems like you have a Mother's Day card and flowers to deliver."
"Just because she's no longer here, doesn't mean you can't honor her memory, Derek. You bought that card for a reason and I'm sure she'd like to hear what you had to say in that card."
A smile spread across his face as he read the details of their trip. He couldn't believe he had been so blessed to have someone like her in his life.
"What am I going to do with you? I can't imagine my life without you."
"Then don't. I love you Derek Morgan and I'm here for you."
"Thank you. I love you too, Penelope Garcia and I always will."
He kissed her gently wrapping his arm around her waist. They found comfort in the silence and in each other's arms. She was his world and he was hers and life had often been cruel and now they shared the loss of their beloved mothers in common. She knew the pain all too well and it wasn't anything that she'd ever wish on anyone.
Chicago – May 10, 2015
Two days later Morgan and Garcia found themselves in Chicago at the gravesite of Fran Morgan. Derek had been extremely quiet during the flight and she understood. She simply held onto him letting him know that she was there for him. He was the strongest person she knew; the things he'd gone through any one of them would have destroyed most men. But here he was still standing beaten and battle worn but refusing to surrender.
He still hadn't spoken to his sisters since his mother's funeral and Garcia knew that that would have broken his mother's heart. She hadn't pressured him to keep in contact he was stubborn and in time she knew he'd come around. In the meantime, she'd made it a point to call Sarah and Des at least once a week to check on them and to let them know how their brother was doing.
Tears were rare for Derek Morgan but as he walked toward her she knew that he had shed tears for his mother she also knew that he'd deny it if asked about them. So she pretended not to see the tracks still shining on his face and intertwined her fingers with his as they headed toward the car.
Before opening the door for her, he pulled her into his arms in a tight embrace burying his face in her shoulder. She felt his tears on her blouse as his body shook. She placed her hand around his neck and pulled him closer holding him for dear life waiting patiently giving him the time he needed.
"I love you, Derek Morgan."
He shook his head never moving it from her shoulder. He knew she loved him she'd shown him everyday; that's how he was able to endure the pain and sorrow. She was his lifeline, his solace and for that he was grateful and speechless.
Finally, he lifted his head and with red puffy eyes looked into hers, which were moist with her own unshed tears.
"Thank you, Baby Girl."
"Derek, you don't have to thank me."
"I never would have made…"
She placed her index finger on his lips silencing him.
"Shh…that's what love does."
Again, he shook his head…because he had no words…
"Love is quiet, never boisterous or demanding. It sits and waits until it's called upon to act then it softly stands and takes its place. Love is wise knowing that it is the most powerful force in the world and even though it could, it never takes the heart by force." -Cynthia Carlisle Fields