His hand grabbed the lock and slid the key in and turned. The door sprung open and the stale air hit him in the face. The room was dimly lit enough to see that it had seen very little visitors over the years. Those that had ventured here did not care enough to clear away the cobwebs hanging from the boxes, furniture and the pipes over head. The woman was obviously familiar with the room as she pressed the gun against his back urging him along toward the voices on the far side of the room.
Her pleas for freedom pulled him faster across the room and her tears evident in the quiver of her voice increased his anger as he thought of what she'd already gone through. This was his fault he'd promised her that he'd keep her safe now his words had morphed into lies. She wasn't supposed to be here not her. She wasn't trained to protect herself even though he'd tried countless times to teach her some basic things. Still she refused to believe that she'd ever need them.
She called him her hero, her knight-in-shining-armor but he was no hero, and his armor lay at her feet tarnished and broken. Then she screamed…loud…begging…louder…calling his name to hurry before it was too late…
He could see her now…crying black mascara-tear stains streaking down her pale skin. Her voice was hoarse now barely understandable…The man's hands were on her touching her and she couldn't move and couldn't stop him…still his name rang in his ears as he met her gaze…her pleading gaze asking why. Why hadn't he come sooner? Where had he been when she needed him the most? Then he saw the blood…so much blood…gasping for breath and those eyes on him…she'd loved him but it hadn't been enough to save her life…even though he'd promised…
Home of Derek Morgan – Two weeks after the case in Savannah – Morning –
"He's still having the nightmares, JJ!"
"Give it time, Garcia. He almost lost you it's going to take a while for him to forget that."
"I know, I know but he blames himself. No matter what I tell him, that I don't blame him, he still won't believe it."
"Where is he now?"
"He's upstairs asleep. That damn nightmare woke us both up around one this morning and he finally fell back to sleep about an hour ago."
"So how are you two doing otherwise?"
"We're doing great, JJ. I never thought we'd be together, you know? But now that we are it's been amazing! But…"
"He's perfect…almost too perfect…he's holding something back. He's trying so hard to do and say everything right but I know he's not talking to me…really talking about what happened and when I ask him he says he's fine."
"Well if he's still having the nightmares, he's definitely not fine."
"What do I do?"
"You do what you always do; you wait until he's ready to talk."
Suddenly she felt his strong arms snaking around her waist as he planted a warm soft kiss on the back of her neck. She smiled and leaned against his body.
"Uh JJ…it looks like someone's awake…I better go."
"Okay, Garcia…see you tomorrow."
Garcia ended the call placing the phone on the counter and turning around in his arms to face him. He looked exhausted and the faint dark circles under his eyes didn't go unnoticed.
"Baby, you look so tired. What are you doing awake?"
"I missed you. You know how I like waking up with you next to me."
She smiled as he planted a kiss on her lips while he held her tightly against him. She felt his desire pressing against her and her moan made him smile against her mouth.
"Is that for me, Handsome?"
"Only for you, Baby Girl."
"Well, I think we need to take care of that right away."
They'd missed breakfast and now the lunch hour was passing both of their stomachs growling with hunger and demanding attention but it felt good to be in his arms where despite what had happened she still felt safe. She loved the rhythm of his heartbeat and the light sound of snoring coming from him. He was the man of her dreams the one she wanted to spend eternity loving and yet she felt helpless to protect him from the demons that haunted him every moment of the day and night. He didn't deserve the weight of all that he insisted on carrying on his shoulders.
Once again she slid out of bed leaving him alone to sleep. She was starving and she knew he would be too once he woke up. She had been downstairs for about ten minutes when she heard it; a blood-curdling scream like none other she'd ever heard before. It was Derek in the throws of another nightmare but this time it was worse than ever. She rushed up the stairs to find him sitting up in bed wide-eyed struggling to catch his breath. Their eyes met she saw the horror on his face…and the shame.
"I'm fine…I'm fine…"
He waved her away as she slowly approached him.
"Baby, you're not fine! You haven't been fine since we got back from Savannah!"
"Just…just…I'm fine…it was just a bad dream that's all."
He wanted to escape or disappear. He didn't want her to see him like this…struggling and weak and out of control.
"Talk to me."
"No, I don't want to talk, Penelope!"
She took another step toward him and he flinched withdrawing further away from her.
"Talk to me…whatever it is, I won't judge you or…"
"NO! I don't want to talk, Garcia!"
He only called her Garcia on rare occasions now. Since they'd been an official couple he only used her last name at work or when he was upset with her.
"Oh, so it's Garcia now? Derek…"
She wasn't going to let this rest and he knew it. She'd been patient pretending not to hear him fighting in his sleep, tossing and turning and keeping them both awake. He knew it was only a matter of time that he'd have to face what was going on with him. He was a wreck no matter how hard he'd tried to hide the fact that he was falling apart, he was a wreck…and he was losing her.
"I'm sorry…I didn't mean to take this out on you. I'd understand if you didn't want to deal with this anymore…"
"This? What, this, Derek?"
"You didn't sign on for, this, this! I'm not who you think I am, Penelope. I let you down and I almost got you killed! You were lying right next to me and I…I let someone come in to the room and take you away! I can't protect you! I promised to keep you safe…and I didn't…I can't…!"
"Derek! Stop it! Listen to me!"
She sat next to him and reached for him but he quickly pulled away and jumped off of the bed. He began pacing back and forth refusing to look at her trying to find a way to tell her that she was free to go.
"Derek, please, you've got to talk to me or someone who can help you! You can't go on like this, it's killing you!"
"I just need to be alone and clear my head, okay, please."
As she watched him tormented and withdrawn she saw their future dying before her eyes. This is why he had been alone all of his life and why no one ever stayed around long enough to become permanent in his life. He was everyone's champion willing to go through fire for his family, friends and the innocents they saved everyday. But he was utterly alone during those times when he needed a champion. It would be so easy to leave him to sink and drown in the blackness that held him tight but she loved him too much to let him drown and even if it meant she drowned too he would not be alone in the abyss.
"So, you don't trust me with your heart."
"You don't trust me with your heart, Derek Morgan."
"Yes, of course I trust you…"
"Then talk to me, let me in. I love you, Derek and I need you; the real you…all of you!"
"You don't know what you're asking for. I'm not what you think…"
She closed the gap between them gently taking his hands in hers looking deeply into his face waiting patiently for him to look at her.
"I know exactly who you are; you're the man I fell in love with eleven years ago and the man who I've never stopped loving. I trust you with my heart, my life and I want a future with you and I'm not going to take no for an answer."
"I didn't keep my promise…"
"But you did! Don't you see? You came for me, even when you knew it meant you might die in the process. You didn't rest until you found me, and that's why you're my hero! I can count on you, always and forever!"
"But, nothing! You were drugged, I was drugged no one could have prevented that! I trust you with my life, Derek but I need you to trust me with yours!"
"I need you to trust my love for you; that I'll never judge you or think less of you or demand that you be perfect! You're all that I need or ever want."
Derek pulled her close tightly against his chest and rested his chin on the top of her head. She was his lifeline and his solace and now she'd become his hero. With all that he'd been through in his life he never dreamed that he'd have someone like her to save him from the storms of life. The silence between them was comforting as he held her letting her words sink into his spirit.
As time passed so did the nightmares and the memories of their time in Savannah. Their life together was filled with challenges and joys and moments that only novels were made of but nothing kept them from loving each other more and more each day. He loved her with every breath, protected and provided for her with all that he had and all that he was. Her love for him was without question the purest thing God had ever created and he relished in it and for once in his life he felt peace in knowing that her love for him was unconditional.
They both learned that love had nothing to do with being worthy but everything to do with wanting it bad enough to fight for it and hold on to it as if their life depended on it because in the end it did. Nothing was more precious, more necessary than love.
Love is a symbol of eternity. It wipes out all sense of time, destroying all memory of a beginning and all fear of an end. ~Author Unknown