"Come on, just relax! You'll get used to it."
He wanted to run but there was nowhere to run. No way out of the cabin. He'd looked forward to the weekend in the woods far away from the crowded streets of Chicago. He felt special. Carl had picked him amongst dozens of other boys. There were promises…there was a price.
"Take a sip…more…that's it...see…you like it don't you? Don't worry it will be our secret…I love you Derek…just relax…"
Derek jerked awake, breathing hard his heart pounding out of control. He jumped out of bed and ran to the bathroom turning on the shower running the water until it was scalding hot. Stripping out of his shorts and t-shirt he stepped under the harsh stream of water. It hurt…burned…he needed to feel the heat, the unbearable pain…he could barely breath through the steam but he didn't care. He felt filthy…skin scrubbed raw…still he was dirty even though his skin was now red from scrubbing…he felt…dirty.
BAU Headquarters- Quantico, VA – Morning –
She was the first to notice how bad he looked. She also noticed that he avoided her stare as he took his usual seat next to her. He hadn't shaved and the dark circles under his eyes told her he hadn't slept either. She was worried.
"Denver is asking for our help in a serial murder case." Hotch began.
"I didn't get anything…" Penelope started.
"The lead detective called me directly. We both went through the academy together and he started out in counter terrorism until Denver made him an offer he couldn't refuse."
Morgan opened the case file in front of him. He was startled at the picture of a young woman. She had been raped and beaten and left like garbage on the side of the road. Her killer didn't care if she was found, there was no remorse and her eyes stare wide open accusingly at Morgan. It rocked him and he blinked. He never blinked but this time…this time this woman, dead, and cold…seemed to bore a hole into him. Her eyes shouted accusations that he couldn't ignore.
"This unsub is mocking us."
"How do you know?"
Reid picked up the picture to examine it closer for a clue to Morgan's statement.
"Look at her. She's lying on her back, she's spread eagle and she's close to the road where she'd be easy to find. This unsub doesn't care if we find her…he wants us to find her."
The room was silent after that. JJ traded looks with Garcia then Rossi and Reid. Hotch pretended not to notice. His agent was spot on in his assessment but something was still off. He seemed preoccupied and had barely acknowledged anyone in the room. Hotch made a mental note to keep an eye on him.
"There's a lot of rage here." Rossi chimed in.
"He took his time with her…" JJ noted.
"He enjoyed it."
Again the team looked at Morgan. He seemed intent on staring back at the woman in the picture. Garcia placed her hand on his knee. He jumped then caught himself and shot her a half smile that never reached his eyes.
"Our first victim…" Hotch began.
"Her name is Victoria Benson."
Hotch fixed his glare on Morgan who still had not looked up. It was uncomfortably silent in the room now.
"Our first victim…Victoria Benson is twenty-two years old and a graduate student at Colorado State. She was reported missing by her boyfriend on Friday morning when she didn't come home after a step class on campus Thursday night."
"The locals thought it was just some domestic issue and blew it off." Reid added.
"Figures." Morgan chimed in.
Hotch had had enough the others knew that at any moment he'd react.
Slowly Morgan lifted his head.
"Yeah? What's wrong?"
"Maybe you should sit this one out."
"No way, Hotch! I'm working this case!"
"If you're having some problems, I'd be more than happy to let you stay behind."
"No. I'm fine. I just don't want these victims treated like their numbers. They're people and we need to remember that."
"And we will."
Morgan resumed his study of the case file as if the exchange had never happened. Garcia quietly leaned in to get his attention.
"Derek?" She whispered.
"Not now, Garcia." He interrupted.
"Our second victim is Amber Watts, nineteen, also a student at Colorado State. Her body was found a mile from our first vic…Victoria Benson."
"Same M.O. This unsub doesn't have much of a cooling off period." Said JJ. "The women were found a day apart."
"We need to make sure we stop him before another body is found. Wheels up in thirty."
Everyone rushed to their feet and gathered their things and headed out of the conference room. None of them wanted to witness the impending showdown between Hotch and Morgan.
"Morgan I need to speak with you."
Garcia shot her friend a sympathetic look and hurried from the room behind the others. Morgan stood defiantly facing Hotch waiting for what he knew was coming.
"I'm fine Hotch. I'm sorry I was out of line. I just don't want us to lose sight of the fact that these women were innocent. They did nothing to deserve this."
"Morgan we do this everyday and we never lose sight of that fact. What's really going on? You don't seem yourself. I've been noticing it for the last several days. I didn't say anything because I thought you'd work through it."
"Really Hotch, I'm fine. Just tired that's all."
"If you need to talk…time off…anything…"
"Let's just go get this bastard."
Hotch didn't believe he was alright at all. He nodded dismissing him and he followed him out toward the elevators. Just as Morgan and Hotch reached the elevators Morgan's cell phone rang. He was surprised to see the name flashing across his screen. It had been a while since they'd spoken; not since he'd gone to Chicago to attend his high school graduation three years ago. Morgan waived the team off and stepped back into the hallway for a little privacy.
"James. How's it going, man? Long time…"
"Yeah. Three years."
"Listen man, I should have done better keeping in touch."
Derek began to fidget shifting from one foot to the other.
"No worries. I know you're busy being a big time F.B.I agent." He teased.
"Well, it's good to hear from you."
Suddenly the line went silent and Morgan knew instantly that something was wrong. The elevator, now empty opened and he stepped inside pushing the button for the garage. The line was still silent; James hadn't said another word.
The elevator pinged and Morgan stepped out into the garage. The others were loaded in two SUV's and waiting for him.
"Talk to me man…"
"MORGAN, LET'S GO!" JJ yelled.
He picked up his pace and waved to the others.
"Derek…I need to talk to you about something, man."
"James, what's going on? Is it your mom?"
"No, no it's not my mom. She's fine."
"She's fine too."
"Look, James…I'm headed out now but I'll call you when I land, okay? We'll talk then."
There was a brief pause before James responded.
"Yeah…later…we'll talk later. Goodbye, Derek."
Then the line went dead. Morgan couldn't deny the desperate sound in the young man's voice. He'd always promised that he would be there for James if he ever needed to talk. Now was that time and Morgan wasn't there…not really.
Morgan pocketed his phone and jumped into the SUV with JJ, and Reid. He couldn't help but notice their questioning stares but thankfully they didn't badger him for answers. So without another word, Morgan started the engine and headed out of the garage behind the SUV carrying Hotch and Rossi.
"Come on, just relax! You'll get used to it.
Don't worry it will be our secret…I love you Derek…just relax…
Our secret…our secret…our secret…"