Written in response the first challenge at the "Chit Chat on Author's Corner" forum. Thanks to all of our fellow authors who have so graciously participated in this challenge and to those who have already signed up for the next challenge!
Thanks to my best friend and beta, ilovetvalot, for proofing this story for me.
Somewhere Over the Rainbow
Post Ep – "Penelope" – Episode 3.09
Can be read as a stand-alone story or as a missing chapter in my multi-chapter story "Change".
Someday I'll wish upon a star…And wake up where the clouds are far behind me.
Penelope Garcia considered herself to be a balanced person, not easily shaken by the idiosyncrasies of life. Well, at least not any more. From the moment her parents had been stolen from her in a violent crash of metal, her only-known stability shattered into infinitesimal pieces, she had learned to create her own reality, to be her own constancy. She had always believed that life was what she made of it, the challenges mixing with the blessings to create the rainbow she so desperately sought in each and every moment of every new day.
That was, until now. Until this wicked world that she kept at arm's distance invaded her beautifully created personal space, demanding inches of precious acreage that she was not willing to grant under any circumstances. That beautiful rainbow seemed to be dimmer now, distant somehow, a haze hiding the vibrant hues that she relied on to color her world.
And now that she had stared at the dead body of the man who had created the clouds in her life, would she ever be able to find that rainbow once again?
David Rossi stood by himself, the shattered glass door of the BAU bullpen now crunching beneath his feet. The quiet hum of the open room seemed a stark contrast to the earlier crash, the bullet barreling through the once pristine and vertical door to silence a madman intent on terrorizing not only one of their team but the entire Bureau. Back in the Bureau for only a few months, and he had found himself facing an assassin in the supposedly hallowed halls that were dedicated to annihilating such men.
It was almost enough to make even a seasoned profiler such as himself doubt the sanity of their current reality. Almost.
He let his eyes circle the room, taking in the small group of bureaucrats gathered around JJ, Hotch standing closely behind lest the questions stray from the topic at hand. Morgan and Reid conferred amongst themselves in the corner, their heads bent together in collusion, their eyes glancing occasionally toward the two other women in the room.
Watching as Emily Prentiss patted the slumped shoulder of their now-dead unsub's last attempted victim, Rossi narrowed his eyes as he caught the downturned lips of Penelope Garcia. Ever since he had returned to the Bureau, he had been alternately intrigued and confused by the vivacious blonde that ruled their technical department with an iron fist. His arcane methods aside, he was well aware that he barely comprehended a percentage of her skills, her talents surpassing anything he had known or experienced.
And yet, he had known from the first moment he met her that Penelope Garcia shielded herself in her own way. And he considered himself a fair judge of such behavior, having perfected that particular skill throughout the years, in his own unique way.
Pushing away from what had once been their doorway, Rossi stepped slowly around the yellow markers littering the floor, competing for space with the evidence that would vindicate their team and their choices. Watching as Emily stepped away, her footsteps leading her across the room, Dave turned back toward the remaining woman just in time to catch a look of overwhelming loss in her normally bright eyes.
His footsteps sure, Rossi stopped beside her as he said, his voice low, "Garcia, you don't need to be here anymore. Let Morgan take you home. Or back to the hospital."
Jerking her eyes up suddenly, Garcia felt her shoulders straighten as she automatically shook her head. "Not yet, sir. I can't. I have to be here for a while longer."
Pausing for a moment, Dave finally nodded. "I understand that sentiment."
"Thank you for what you did, Agent Rossi," she murmured, her arms tightening around her waist, her incision pulling slightly as she felt her chest contract at the mixture of emotion flowing through her body and soul. "Earlier. At my apartment. I didn't think it would help, but if you hadn't forced me to put the pieces together…."
Rossi nodded as her voice trailed off into nothingness, easing down beside her to rest a hip against the edge of the metal desk. "You know this is over for you now."
"This part is," Penelope agreed slowly, swallowing as she shifted slightly, her neck muscles too tense to merely just glance in his direction.
"It can all be over if you want it to be," he countered, raising one thick brow as he met her hazy, worried eyes. "It's your choice. You can let go of all of it at once. You have final closure."
Smiling tightly, Rossi shook his head as he interrupted, "But what? Is your life worth less than his? Did he have the right to attempt to take yours? Did he have the right to take the lives of the three before you? Or the countless that would have assuredly come after you?"
Her shoulders stiffened at the slightly terse tone to his words, and Penelope felt the stares of her self-appointed protector even from the far side of the room. Forcing herself to relax, she murmured, "I don't like to think that the universe places values on life." Drawing in a deep breath, she waved her hands loosely as she added, her eyes clouding again, "And I never wanted JJ to have to bear the weight of taking a life to save mine."
"Jennifer knew the moment she drew her gun that she would be making choices designed to save lives. Now and in the future." Dave paused for a moment, letting his eyes linger on the tiny blonde in the far corner, her arms crossed tightly over her chest as she focused on the group around her. He forced himself to not so blatantly stare at her, knowing that she wouldn't appreciate their extremely perceptive team knowing their personal business, even if he wanted to scream it from the roof top. He settled for merely adding, "She's as dedicated to her job as you are to yours."
Following his line of sight, Garcia nodded, biting her lip as she whispered, still slightly amazed that she was having this conversation with the great David Rossi, "It's not just a job. I don't how to explain it, but I don't know what I'd do if I lost this…this…."
"Family," Dave supplied, letting out a sigh himself as he realized how quickly this motley group had managed to suck him into the quasi-family they had created.
Nodding once, Garcia tugged at the edge of her shirt as she murmured, her foot kicking slightly against the metal drawer, "How did you do this for years, sir, without breaking?"
Shaking his head, Rossi contemplated the melancholic tone he heard in that question. And while he rarely gave anyone a full, unobstructed view into his personal life, his own shields necessary for his survival, he knew the need for reassurance, for comfort. For faith...once again. "Who says I didn't break? There's nothing wrong with a few cracks every now and then. It's what you do with the cracks that matter. Fix them quickly and you'll survive. Let them go untended, and you find that they have widened over time to the point where you're never the same." Smiling slightly before he could stop himself, he added, "And sometimes, Penelope, you're lucky enough to find that there's someone who wants to help you become whole again."
Garcia watched as the normally taciturn man once again glanced across the room, his gaze drawn to their team's communications liaison. And pieces that had been previously out of reach, bouncing beyond her fingertips, suddenly fell soundly into place. Smiling to herself as she suddenly understood the unspoken signals the universe was transmitting, she realized that more than a few things were changing around them. And perhaps, if paradigms were shifting and someone like David Rossi could adjust to them, then now was the time to learn to surf the waves of transformation.
Her rainbow suddenly seemed closer again. And if she wasn't mistaken, she thought she just might see a faint reflection of those beautiful hues glimmering in David Rossi's black eyes.
We now have 53 participants in the Fanfic Challenge 2010 - Round 2 at "Chit Chat on Author's Corner." Tracia and I are excited and honored that so many authors are choosing to be a part of this. If you haven't yet signed up, there's still time….we will be taking sign ups through Wednesday, June 30, 2010.