"I don't like digging through his past this way Jayje?"
"I know, but this is to help him Pen,"
"But he'll hate it."
"He will, but he'll have to live with it unless he wants to be thrown into jail for a crime he didn't commit. He'll understand, in time he will Pen."
JJ said trying to soothe her friend who was in obvious conflict of interest. Begrudgingly Penelope sighed and began to search through Morgan's past, his sealed records and other transcripts, feeling the pit of her stomach turning uncontrollably knowing she had overstepped a boundary. Morgan was her friend, and though they were close, there were things that were off limits, and she knew his past was one of them. It never bothered her before, in a lot of ways they were all like that. They trusted each other, but everyone had a skeleton in their closet that they never wanted to release, especially in the presence of those whom you hold such high respect for. After Penelope had uncovered the key that they needed to free Morgan from charges, it wasn't long till the team were headed back. They had all stayed behind to be there for Morgan as they buried the young boy he was accused of killing. She had called him after he was cleared, and he was distant and non committal, unwilling to engage in any form of conversation. Hurt, Penelope hung up the phone and headed home. She considered waiting around for them at the BAU and decided against it. They were all exhausted, and she knew they could all use the time out. Instead Penelope headed to Derek's and cooked him dinner, fed Clooney as she always did when Derek was away.
Derek arrived to find dinner on the table and his dog missing. He knew that Penelope had taken him out for his walk. He inwardly groaned. The last thing he wanted was to see Penelope. Though he understood it was necessary, there were some things he wanted to keep private, and somehow that was gone. He didn't blame her, he was grateful that he was freed from the wrongful allegations, but it made him uncomfortable knowing that they all knew what had happened to him as a young boy. He was embarrassed and somehow he felt violated all over again.
"Oh hey, I didn't realise you'd be back so soon. I just wanted to make sure you had something to eat and when you got in, and take Clooney out for his walk." Penelope said surprised as she walked through the door and found him sitting at the dining table obviously awaiting her return. She walked over to him and gave him a hug. Penelope tried to not feel hurt that he had stiffened at her touch.
"You didn't have to go through all the trouble. Thank you." He replied somewhat robotically. He pretended not to see that his coldness was affecting her.
"No problems. I'll leave you to it. Call if you need anything. Or if you just want to talk. I'm here."
"That won't be necessary. I'm fine." He replied somewhat harshly that she flinched.
"Ugh sure. I'll let myself out."
"Hey hon, you home?" Emily asked as she sank into the chair of her SUV and waited for her Bluetooth to kick in so she could talk to Penelope hands free.
"Almost, I'm about five minutes away. Where are you off to?" Pen asked trying to shake away her feelings from Derek's reception of her.
"Yours if you're up for it. It's been a crap week and I just want to chill, I figured for you too." Emily sensed from the lack of pep in her friend's voice.
"Sounds good, I've got lasagne in the over. I'll see you soon."
"I can't wait. See you soon."
Just as Penelope hung up from Emily, JJ's call came through which peaked her suspicions,
"Are you two tag teaming me?" she asked more touched than annoyed.
"No, we just want to hang out with our friend, is that so hard to believe?" JJ answered with a laugh.
"I'll see you soon Jayje, lasagne is in the oven."
"You're the best!"
"So you keep telling me. Drive safe."
Within twenty minutes they were sitting on Pen's couch side by side, in front of the TV, plate filled with food.
"This is sooo what I needed." Emily sighed in content after taking her first bite.
JJ and Pen exchanged a knowing smile. It had been a hard week for all of them, seeing one of their own in such a position, and having to rifle through his past the way they did to get him absolved all of the charges. Em and JJ knew Pen took it the worst as it put her friendship with Derek in an awkward position. As a team, they were close knit, but there were distinct relationships within the team, in particular Derek and Penelope who were known for their seemingly boundary-less existence. Constantly on the phone to each other, always within physical touching distance, unconditionally there for each other. The three girls were fairly close, and were friends outside the Bureau and more often than not, spent their down time together. Shopping, Movie nights, Pamper days, whatever little time allowed them, they put to good use. Being in the same field of work helped bond them together, at the end of a hard day, they were there for each other.
To say that things were tense when they returned to work was an understatement. Morgan had them all at arms length and though he tried to pass as though things were okay, it clearly wasn't.
"Are we going to address this?" Gideon asked as they watched Morgan from Hotch's office.
"I had hoped by giving him some space and time, he'd snap out of it. What happened all those years ago is in no reflection of who he is today."
"Aaron, as a profiler you know better than that."
"Okay, it does but it doesn't change how we see him."
"No, but it changes how he sees himself. He's denied his childhood for so long that he's forgotten it. He's now not only been forced to deal with it, but the people he works so closely around were the ones who opened the door to Pandora's box."
"What do you think we should do? I don't want to haul him into an office and tell him to see someone. I want him to come to that conclusion himself."
"I guess we wait, in the mean time maybe keep a close eye on the team. This is hard for them too." Aaron looked at Gideon and cracked a small smile,
"You're getting soft Jason."
Penelope was running a few scans for JJ who was deciding between two cases and had asked her help for some background on both while she sipped her cup of tea. She watched the monitor, but not really paying much attention, completely lost in her thoughts. A light knock on the door startled her out of her trance,
"Come in," she called out. Jason popped his head in,
"Sir, how can I help you?" she asked in surprise. He certainly was not a frequent visitor of her bunker. Jason on the other hand was just as surprised that there was no quip in her invitation to enter, expecting a, "Enter, the oracle is in" at the very least. He had noticed since their return that she no longer lingered in the bullpen. She was out the door immediately after briefings. Her phone manner had become short, concise and disturbingly professional. He knew that the girls lunched daily if schedules permitted it, and he had seen Reid come down to the bunker to talk to their tech analyst, for reasons other than work related. He had long since observed how intricate her relationship was with each and every person on the team. He knew her value, loyalty and dedication and it bothered him that she was evidently suffering as a result of Morgan's new behaviour.
"I can't work this thing." He said holding up his laptop bringing a smile to Penelope's face, not quite reaching her eyes.
"Hand it over,"
"Ugh Sir, it helps if you turn it on." She said delicately, clearly confused.
"Oh, that explains a lot." He replied sheepishly,
"You didn't really come down here for this did you?" Penelope stated with a raised eyebrow,
"I have no idea what you're talking about."
"Well thank you. I'm fine." She reassured him,
"We just miss you in the bull pen that's all." He said getting up from where he leaned on her desk and patted her shoulder before exiting with his lap top.
"Thank you." Penelope called out after him as he held his hand up in recognition without turning back. She picked up her mug of tea and resumed her task, the smile remaining on her face.