Title: Never Too Late

Summary: "Because even if I'm dead, you're still going to jail and you're ultimate destination will be Hell."

Rating: FRM (for violence and mild torture)

Disclaimer: Since you don't see stuff like this on TV, suffice it to say that they aren't mine.

Spoilers: minor for 2x05 "Aftermath"

A/N: This was originally written for a community over at LJ where my claim is Criminal Minds- Derek Morgan and the prompt is Sensory loss/impairment. Not beta'd, so all mistakes are mine.

"Time is an illusion." - The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Reid would've been proud, Derek thought just after quoting Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

The room was dank, dark and windowless. He had a metal cuff on his left ankle, which was attached to a heavy chain, which was finally attached to the solid cement wall. He couldn't see anything through the inky blackness, nor could he make out any sounds other than his own breathing and heartbeat and the occasional scrape of the chain against the cement floor.

Although he could neither hear nor see anything useful, he could definitely feel. And there wasn't a thing he felt that he liked. He felt the heavy, humid, stale air surrounding him, he felt the cuff chafing his skin raw, he felt warm and cold at various times, he always felt hungry and dehydrated…

He felt the cuts on his back from being carved alive with a butcher's knife. He felt exhausted since he hadn't been able to get any proper sleep since his abduction. He felt confused, helpless and alone. He felt his hope in his rescue and his belief in his friends slipping every time he exhaled.

As time went by, Morgan started hearing things. Whispers, laughter, voices…all of people familiar to him. Of friends, family, teammates. At first he'd call out for help until his parched throat was raw, but no one ever answered him. And then he figured out what was wrong.

He was hallucinating. He was hearing things because there was almost nothing real to hear. So he sat in the darkness, leaning against the wall, and tried to force himself to listen to his own heartbeat. He closed his eyes and pictured the faces of his loved ones and the ones he cared for. There was no way to tell how long he'd been like that when a door slowly opened and booted footsteps came toward him.

"Are you ready to talk?" the unsub asked, having found Derek in the dark.

"I'll never be ready," Derek croaked out, his throat raw from screaming and the lack of water.

"Why don't you just give up?" was the unsub's next question.

"My friends are still out there, and they will never stop looking for me. You attacked one of their own, and now they're looking for you. And they will come."

"It'll be too late," the male unsub sneered, and Derek didn't need to see the unsub's face to imagine the look on it.

"It will never be too late. Because even if I'm dead, you're still going to jail and your ultimate destination will be Hell."

"And you're already there."

Derek heard movement, but couldn't guess to what it was. And then he heard a snap against the floor, and his body stiffened with realization. He knew what was coming. And he felt it an instant later as leather met bare flesh with exquisite pain. Again and again, Derek felt the whip cut into his skin, and he felt the warm blood ooze from the cuts and down his flushed skin. He grunted with each cut, and he recognized the familiar metallic taste of blood on his tongue.

Finally, he was left alone as the booted feet walked away from him. And all he could do in the darkness was concentrate on what he knew was real- and the most real thing to Derek Morgan was the physical pain of being whipped. Finally, when the exhaustion, dehydration, malnourishment and loss of blood got to be too much for his body to bear, he lied on the cement floor, pillowing his head in his arms, and allowed himself to slip into unconsciousness.


Derek's return to consciousness wasn't pleasant at all. He was first aware of muffled sounds filtering in, mumbled voices and jumbled noises. He didn't dare open his eyes, not wanting to see the darkness with open eyes. He soon noticed he felt different- he was sweating. As he became more aware, he realized there was something on his face, and the familiar feel of a needle in his arm. He felt something covering the lower half of his body, and he knew there was light where he was since the darkness behind his eyelids wasn't pitch black. Amidst the mumbled voices, only one sounded familiar. Derek strained to listen, strained to place the voice, strained to prove to himself that it was real.

"Come on, Morgan. Just a little bit longer…" the voice said, and it was a voice familiar…a voice that invoked a sense of safety.

But he still wouldn't open his eyes, just in case it was a horrible illusion. So he listened to the warm voice encourage him as he lied there. He was soon moving, and the sensation of being jarred was enough for him to know he wasn't imagining things. Once he was still again, and he heard the same voice say his name, among other things, he dared to open his eyes. It was a cautious venture, done slowly so as not to overwhelm him. Through barely open eyes, he saw that he was in a hospital and that the majority of the unidentified mumbled voices were rescue workers and hospital staff. Then he felt someone squeeze his hand, holding on with another hand on his wrist.

"Derek?" the warm voice asked, the tone a little more upbeat. "Derek? Can you hear me?"

"Gideon?" Derek croaked, his throat still so very raw.

"I'm here, Derek. We got you. You're safe now, and you're going to be fine," Gideon answered after sighing audibly.


"Mercy Grove Hospital," Gideon answered. "You were unconscious when we found you. It looks like the IV of fluids is starting to work its wonders."


"We got him too. Hotch had to shoot him, though. But he'll pull through to stand trial for what he's done."

"Don't leave…"

"I'm not going anywhere, Derek. I promise."


He was set up in a private room once he was finished in the ER. And true to his word, Gideon was with him every step of the way. Because of the slashes and cuts on his back, Derek was sleeping on his side, curled into himself as Gideon stood guard. Gideon's hand never left Derek's wrist, lest the younger man wake and think he was alone. Gideon didn't have all the details of what happened to Derek, but he knew it was more than just the physical marks that marred the man's skin. Derek never let anyone see him weak, never asked anyone to stay when he was sick or injured. Gideon only hoped that Derek was strong enough to get past his ordeal and not go down the same dark and lonely road that Elle had.

Derek was still asleep when the rest of the team came by. Gideon didn't dare move, though he did quietly greet everyone when they entered the room. Hotch stood at the foot of the bed while Reid stood by Gideon with JJ next to him.

"How is he?" Hotch asked.

"Doctor wants to keep him here for a couple days. From what he could tell, Morgan hasn't had anything to eat or drink since he was abducted, plus there are the numerous cuts to his back that needed to be properly cleaned and bandaged. He has no broken bones or any signs of a concussion. We'll just have to wait for Morgan to tell us exactly what happened."

"I brought him some magazines…" Reid began, stopping in mid-sentence when Derek stirred.

Gideon squeezed Derek's wrist gently, enough for the sleeping man to know he wasn't alone. But instead of falling back into a restful sleep, Derek's eyes fluttered open, first focusing on Gideon's face.

"Everything alright?" Gideon asked.

Derek nodded slightly, and then looked over to see Reid and JJ. "Hey guys," came out little more than a hoarse whisper.

A chorus of "Hey" came from the other three.

"We just wanted to see how you were doing, and let you know that we're here," Hotch added.

"I brought some magazines. I wasn't quite sure which ones you'd like…so I asked JJ," Reid said.

"And I had to call Garcia. I figured if anyone knew which magazines you read, it'd be her," JJ added.

"She does," Derek replied.

"You sound like a little water would help," Gideon noted, and he received a grateful nod from Derek in response.

Derek shifted so that he was leaning upright, propping himself up on his elbow while he slowly took a few sips of room temperature water through the straw. Gideon put the cup back onto the table, then leaned back in his chair. Hotch, Reid and JJ did most of the talking while Gideon only piped in a few times and Derek stayed quiet. The others thought he was quiet due to exhaustion and the physical toll of his ordeal. But that was only half true. He was also quiet because he was concentrating on what was real- his teammates…his friends…had come for him. He was taking comfort in their presence, and that would mean more to him than they would ever know.