This is the first in what I'm going to refer to as the Grief series, which I know is terribly original, but whatever, it's the theme. I'm considering 'Let Me Go' as separate, because that's just how it feels to me, and these are all shorter and less in depth. So for this one, I'm operating the assumption that they had to fake an autopsy for Prentiss. I'm pretty sure that it's a law that they'd have to do one, and if they didn't it would probably make the team suspicious. So, thanks for reading, and please review!
This one is Garcia, I think Rossi or Reid will be next.
It was her job to compile all the evidence, reports and documentation into a nice cohesive virtual file after the team finished a case. It wasn't the most fun part of her job, but it didn't take the same emotional toll as much of her work either. At least, it didn't usually. There were times it was harder than others, usually when one of her babies got hurt, or there was a particularly troubling victim pool, like children.
The team's medical reports from case-related injuries were also added to the virtual files, including a diagram of where Hotch's stab wounds had been, a laundry list of the damage Henkle had inflicted on Reid (the drugs, his poor feet, etc), and a lovely narrative of Emily's bruises and cuts from Cyrus, among other things. Less than ten minutes ago, she'd also discovered that autopsy reports for agents were included.
Garcia could hardly breathe.
There weren't any photos, which was unusual, but then she wasn't a victim in a file. She was killed in the line of duty. It was only the doctor's report on the autopsy, a neat, organized report on what she'd suffered before she died.
It had been in an email of files from the forensic sciences department, files she'd carefully checked over, renamed, and added to the case file. Toxicology results on Doyle's earlier victims, analysis of trace evidence, DNA that had just come back, those sort of things. And, one file that made her freeze in her tracks, and sent her eyes pricking with tears.
Garcia had felt sick as she opened it, and sicker still as she read through it. The tears had built in her eyes as she scanned the pages, eventually pouring down her cheeks. It had only been a week since they buried her, just once measly week, but it felt like a year. It was hard enough to say goodbye, but to read what her friend had suffered through before she died, that was near impossible.
The door to her office opened, and she heard footsteps coming up behind her. He stopped beside her. "Penelope?"
She turned to face Morgan, who was looking at her with concern, probably due to the tears. "You told me she was stabbed."
His mouth opened and he looked at the screen. Then his face fell. "Yeah."
"No, Derek, you told me she was stabbed. That isn't stabbed," she said, voice grown loud, upset as she pointed at the screen. "You left out that she was branded, beaten to hell, and that the bastard ran a piece of wood through her stomach!"
"I didn't think it would do any good for you to know the details." His voice was soft, and he tried to reach for her hand, but she snatched it away. He sighed, running his hands over his face. "Is it really better now that you know?"
"Of course not," she said.
"Then why are you angry with me, Garcia?"
She didn't answer, but instead, got up and began to pace in her office. She walked from one wall to the next, conscious that Morgan was watching her, getting more furious with every moment she had to think. Morgan grabbed her arm after a few minutes, and forced her to stop. "Talk to me," he said.
Tears still pouring out of her eyes, she looked at him. "She held out through all of that, and we still couldn't get it together quick enough to save her. Doyle had time to burn a four-leaf clover into her chest, and beat a map of bruises into her, and we couldn't find her in time. We've had dozens of close calls over the years, and we still manage to save people. But when it really matters, when it's someone in our family in trouble, we're too slow. And, what's worse, we let him get away." A sob erupted from her throat. "He killed her, and we let him get away!"
He tried to reach for her again to comfort her, but Garcia refused again. "No! I'm so angry right now, Derek! I'm so mad at us! We all knew something was going on with her, and we didn't do anything about it! We should have locked her in an interrogation room or something until she told us what was going on! And, I'm so, so, so livid with her! How could she think she could just walk away, and deal with Doyle on her own? Why wouldn't she let us help her! Did she really think if she died facing Doyle, we'd just accept it? Like, oh, what the hell, shit happens! Why didn't she tell us! Why didn't she let us help her! I wish she was alive just so I could grab her and shake her and tell her what a stupid, self-sacrificing idiot she is!"
She was breathing heavy deep breaths in and out, and her whole body was hot and shaking with pent up fury.
"She couldn't have known she was going to die, babygirl."
Garcia shook her head violently back and forth. "No, she did. She said goodbye to me. I didn't realize it at the time, but after everything happened...that's exactly what she was doing. She knew she wouldn't survive, Derek, and she went anyway. How could she do that? How could she just leave us?"
He cautiously held a hand out again, and this time she accepted the comfort he offered, practically collapsing into his arms. Garcia held him tightly, the sobs practically overwhelming her as she gave into her grief. "I miss her so much."
"Me too," he said. He kissed the side of her face, and held her while she cried a river into his nice shirt. He moved an arm at one point, and she thought she heard him doing something with his phone, but chose to ignore it.
She realized what he did when the door to her office opened again, and Morgan spoke again. "Kevin is going to take you home."
She backed up quickly and looked between the men. "No, that's alright, I'm okay."
"Do you really think you're ready to be back here?" With all the memories good and bad, didn't need to be spoken.
Garcia thought about that. Was she ready? She came back because everyone else was back, and being with family was a luxury she hadn't had when her parents died. She wanted that comfort desperately, but maybe she did need a little more time. Maybe she needed to go and yell angrily at a headstone until she wasn't angry anymore.
Finally, she nodded. "No, I'm not...I need to tell Hotch."
"I'll clear it with Hotch. Don't worry."
"Thank you." She leaned up and kissed his cheek, then turned to Kevin. "Your boss didn't give you a hard time?"
"Family emergency," he said, then offered a hand. She shut down her computers, grabbed her bag, and let Kevin lead her from the building. Instead of driving her home, she asked him to take her to Arlington.
Garcia stood in front of the standard FBI headstone, frowning at how impersonal it seemed. Her name, date of birth, date of death, and the FBI motto, but nothing to really mark that she meant something to other human beings. She wiped at her red eyes, and suddenly realized she had no more anger left to spew. It was all just hurt. A death hadn't hit her this hard since she buried her parents. She supposed that made sense, Emily had been like a sister to her. Sniffling, she sighed, and finally began to release the thoughts that had been plaguing her since Emily had run off.
"I know you probably hated yourself a little bit for what you did with Doyle, but we didn't, Em. And, I know you figured he was your cross to bear, and yours alone, but that's not true. When you have family, your problems become their problems, because they love you. I could strangle your parents right now for not teaching you that..." Garcia breathed past the emotions stuck in her throat, and wiped at the tears on her cheeks. "I know you were trying to protect us, and I admire that and love you for it, but you forgot something important when you ran off, Emily." Her foice cracked. "You're important too."