This is my first Criminal Minds so I hope it satisfies!
It started one way and developed into this. I like it, even if it could be considered a little dark.
If there was one thing Penelope Garcia loved to watch above all else it was the parade. And not just any parade, but the victory parade her team did whenever they returned from a case. It was consistent, always the same pattern, even if the time of day or the exhaustion levels changed.
Hotch was always first, always stoic, never staying longer than he absolutely had to. He had a wife and son and with the horrors they saw on the job, his push to get out of the office was no where near surprising. Yet, he inevitably left with an armload of paperwork, his way of displaying that the job, his team, the victims, were never that far from his mind.
Emily was next, her bags dropped unceremoniously on top of whatever paperwork was spread over her desk. She was one of the ones grinning, simply happy they'd put away another cruel heartless bastard or severely disturbed individual. But there was that little cloud in the corner of her eyes that spoke of her own demons and haunted dreams.
Reid and JJ always entered almost simultaneously, Reid sprouting some random fact, his eyes glimmering at JJ as his hands moved animatedly, his messenger bag joined by his overnight slung over his shoulder. JJ's gaze was inevitably fixed on the young genius, not really bothering to head to her own office and the requests that were sure to be piled there. Instead, she stayed in the bullpen, leaning on the divider between Reid and Emily's desks, needing the companionship to ground her.
Then came Garcia's absolute favourite part of the return parade: Derek Morgan. He always sauntered in last, his bag swing over his shoulder until he reached his desk. But even before that, his eyes inevitably sought out hers, a reminder that he truly was home and that the case, the work, was done. Even if it was only for the time being.
Garcia was not a profiler, but she'd spent enough time around them to have a preliminary understanding of how her boy had taken their case and what level of Penelope was going to be necessary to bring him back.
This one had been a little tough on all of them, that much Garcia could see. Each of them looked a little bit more exhausted than their usual case, each of them likely sleep deprived and stressed. Emily's smile was just that little bit forced, Reid's voice just a little less enthusiastic, JJ's usually rapt attention wavering faster than usual. Mogan didn't even smile as he dropped his bag on his desk and Garcia held herself back from charging up to him and wrapping him tightly in her arms.
But Morgan wasn't as worried about the kind of image they presented He was aware of the bullpen around him, but his focus was on the woman currently spinning in Emily's chair. He pulled her up, spinning her under his arm once with a small smile before pulling her tightly to him.
"Hey Gorgeous," she said softly, wrapping her arms around him and squeezing him as hard as he squeezed her.
"Bad case, Mama," he whispered, just loud enough for her to hear.
Garcia tried not to shiver as his breath cascaded over her ear. "Mmhmm," she agreed, knowing from her own intense involvement exactly what he was talking about.
They'd lost a victim, a victim they knew was a target. It was those ones that ragged on them almost as bad as child cases. She was young, just past twenty, in the prime of her life and they'd lost her. Garcia knew Morgan had promised not only himself, but the young woman she'd be safe. It hurt them all to think of the family, of the girl.
Morgan ignored the eyes he could feel on both of them, even as he tried to pull Garcia even closer. He'd been the one to actually promise that girl, he'dbeen the one on duty when she went missing,he'd been the one to find her. The guilt was gnawing at his spine and grating on his nerves.
And that didn't touch the images that still flashed across the back of his eyelids when he closed his eyes. Garcia was going to have her work cut out for her if he was going to get any kind of sleep tonight.
Finally, he let her go, stepping back, his arm subconsciously staying wrapped around her waist. Garcia didn't mention anything, knowing that the contact was worth any of the questions she'd get later. He needed to feel grounded, she needed to know he was still with her.
The room cleared out fast, characteristic of a bad case. No one cared what kind of message they were sending – JJ and Reid left together without caring about the rumours, Hotch and Emily left at the same time, though for different places. Morgan and Garcia headed out too, neither of them having to communicate where they were going. When there were bad cases, they ended up at her house, her happy little trinkets helping both of them remember there was happiness and humour somewhere in the world.
Garcia enjoyed being the corner stone for a man like Morgan. It gave her a sense of pride, a sense of belonging because he trusted her so much, trusted her enough to, when he was ready, spill his heart. And it had started long, long ago, after Chicago, just after everything else had started to fall apart. Now, a year later, with a new teammate, new cases, new criminals and a new-found strength in himself, Garcia found the moments he confided in her just that little bit more special.
Later that night they sat on the couch, take-out in front of them, neither of them saying much of anything. A mindless sitcom played while they ate, but both were lost in their own thoughts. Garcia knew he was going over the case in his mind, trying to figure out what he could have done differently that would have spared their last victim. She also knew he would come up with a million things and it would be useless now.
But she didn't say anything. She knew how he worked, knew that the fact that her thigh was pressed up against his and her shoulder was brushing against him was enough for now. He would talk when he was ready and until then, pushing would be fruitless. Plus, the way he'd slowed down his eating, the way it was less mechanical, was a tell tale sign of it all coming to the bursting point.
"She didn't deserve to die," he finally said after a few more moments.
"No one deserves to die, Derek," she responded softly.
"We were supposed to protect her." I was supposed to protect her.
Garcia closed her eyes. She hated this part of the support job. She was on his side, completely in agreement on the fact that a young woman should not have died. But that wasn't what he needed. What he needed was a shred of realism, knowledge that what happened couldn't be stopped, that it really wasn't all his fault.
"You did your best."
Morgan set his food down forcefully, standing and beginning to pace. "Our best wasn't good enough. We. Killed. Her."
Morgan's head shot up at the forceful response. Garcia wasn't passive, that much was true, but she was a quiet assertive until you got between her and her babies.
"You didn't ask for that son of a bitch to track her. You didn't force him to kill her. You didn't put him in a situation where killing her was psychologically necessary. He was sadistic, Derek; twisted, cruel and heartless and that's whose fault that girl's death is. Not yours."
Morgan blinked at her, at the determination and fire in her eyes. The happy-go-lucky blond he was so used to was replaced by a fireball, a fireball he only saw on rare occasions. He crossed the distance between them in three steps pulling her up and close to his body, catching her lips with his.
Garcia gasped. For all of their closeness they hadn't once crossed that line between extremely close friends to any sort of romantic touching. Sure, they'd fallen asleep in the same bed for the sole purpose of chasing off nightmares, but this was a first.
And it had been a long time coming.
Finally he broke away. "I don't know what I'd do without you, Pen," he said, honesty shining in her eyes.
Garcia's knees were still weak from such a kiss, her mind still whirling, trying to grasp what had just occurred. However, she managed a response. "The feeling's mutual, Gorgeous."
Morgan cupped her face in his hands. "I mean it, Hot Stuff." The name inserted just that little bit of levity to the serious and deep moment. "You are my rock."
She reached up to his mouth, her kiss much softer than his had been but no less emotion-filled. "I'm glad to be."
And when they went to bed that night, his t-shirt balled in her hand, his just under the pyjama top she wore, there were no demons, no cases, no psychopaths, killers, child molesters or kidnappers. There was Penelope and Derek and their world together spread in front of them.