Penelope's finger hovered over the 'Enter' button for several seconds. The Unsub had sent a message to the email account Hotch had asked her to set up specifically for him. The message had an attachment and Penelope felt her stomach turn at the thought of what might be attached. She pressed the button. A video. The Unsub had attached a video. She swallowed hard, took a deep breath and let it out then pulled up the video. Images began flashing before her eyes. Bright colors, comforting scenic views, and then the gory scene. The first time she saw the image of the mother and child lying in their own blood, she let out a sharp cry and covered her mouth. The second time she saw it, she felt the bile rise in her throat. The third time she reached for the garbage bin under her desk and emptied the contents of her stomach. By the time she'd finished vomiting, the video was over.
Tears welled in her eyes and she took several deep breaths. She had to warn someone to prepare Hotch before he saw this. If it hit her this hard, then she could only imagine how seeing images of a woman and child that looked eerily like Haley and Jack would impact Hotch. She wiped her tears then grimaced at the odor from her garbage bin. "Clean up on aisle nine," she muttered to herself before carrying the container to the hallway and setting it by her door.
She settled back in her seat, took another deep breath and dialed Derek's number.
"What's the news, baby girl?"
"Derek, I'm getting ready to send you the email and attached video from the Unsub. Do me a favor? Make sure Hotch is sitting down when he sees this?"
"Just do it. Please. It's, it's really bad, Derek."
"Are you okay?"
"To put it delicately, the video made me toss cookies, Morgan. There's a reason why I don't like to see those crime scene photos and this video makes most of our crime scene photos seem tame. Plus..." She trailed off and brushed away the tears welling in her eyes again.
"Talk to me, baby girl."
"The mother and child. They look like Haley and Jack," she whispered. Penelope winced at the string of profanity that came through the phone line.
"Okay, now I get it. I'll make sure. Thanks for the heads up, PG."
Taking a deep breath, Garcia hit the send button then closed her eyes. She released her pent-up breath and grimaced. She grabbed her purse and began rummaging for a mint or some gum, anything to get the bad taste out of her mouth.
"Miss Garcia, I hope you are not in the habit of overindulging after work, coming in the following morning hung over then leaving the contents of your stomach that results from such behavior in the hallway."
Garcia stilled, closing her eyes and wishing this person away. She couldn't be near Hotch to comfort him when he saw the video. She'd just puked her guts up after seeing the video. And the last fucking person she needed to deal with was the imperious Unit Director. She turned her head and gazed up at the other woman. "I am not hung over and that..." She pointed in the direction of the hallway. "Is not the result of overindulging."
"Oh, then I guess congratulations are in order."
Penelope blinked. "Congratulations?"
"If you're not hung over, then I can only assume you are expecting and that" – she pointed to the hallway – "is the result of morning sickness."
Garcia set her purse down with a thunk. She rose and turned to face Director Strauss. "Ma'am, I can understand why you might be concerned about a co-worker coming in to work with impaired capabilities. You have every reason to be concerned about that because that could potentially put the team at work." She straightened her spine. "However, you are crossing a line by making the assumption that if I'm not drunk-slash-hung over then I must be pregnant. In case you haven't noticed, this is the BAU and on regular occasions, we are faced with gory, bloody, gruesome images. From time to time, our stomachs may decide they've had enough and revolt."
The Director blinked several times then sighed. "I'm sorry, Miss Garcia. I, I should not have jumped to either erroneous conclusion." She propped on the edge of Garcia's desk. "Are you alright?" she asked, her tone softer and full of concern.
You're damn right, you shouldn't have jumped to those conclusions. "Not really. The Unsub sent a video to the email address Hotch asked me to set up so we could establish some communication. It seems the Unsub grew up on slasher movies and decided to share his artistic vision in that genre." Penelope sat back down.
Director Strauss winced.
Garcia resumed rummaging through her purse for some gum or a mint or anything to get the foul taste out of her mouth. She hoped that would be enough to encourage Erin Strauss to leave her sanctuary. She wouldn't say it out loud to anyone, but Penelope was not a fan of the Unit Director. Especially not after the incidents with Hotch. This was the same woman who'd tried to break up their family and ithat/i put her squarely atop Penelope Garcia's shit list.
"May I see it?"
Penelope paused. "You want to see the video, even after what I just told you?"
"Yes. As Unit Director, there are some things I've been protected from, and I'd like to see what the agents in my unit face on a regular basis."
"Ma'am, please trust me on this one. You really do not want to see this video." She looked at Erin Strauss. "I understand your reasoning but wait for another case, different images."
Director Strauss shook her head. "If I'm going to see what they face, then I should be prepared to see the worst."
Garcia sighed. "Okay." She pulled up the video. "Don't blame me if you lose your lunch," she murmured to herself.
"Just give me a moment, ma'am," Penelope replied. She pushed a button then closed her eyes.
Silence filled the room then "Oh God" followed by a sharp gasp followed by a soft gagging noise then the sound of shoes down the hallway. When she was certain the video was over, Garcia opened her eyes and closed the video player window. "No one needs to see that in 1080p."
She gazed her phone, contemplating making a call. If she did, she hoped Aaron would forgive her this indiscretion. She didn't wish to create a situation or create a false alarm, but she needed to confirm something for herself. She picked up the phone and dialed then waited for someone to pick up at the other end of the line.
Aaron turned his cell phone over and over in his hand. He stared at it, willing it to ring, willing her to call him. In his other hand, he held a framed photo of Jack. The one he kept in his go bag. He ran his thumb over Jack's face and let out a heavy sigh. Thanks to Garcia's quick thinking, he'd been prepared for the video. Well, as prepared as one could be for something like that. His stomach knotted at the memory of the images. "Please call me," he whispered to his phone.
He jumped when the phone began to buzz. A quick glance at the caller ID revealed it was not her. Still a conversation with Jack would help him feel better. "Hello?"
He smiled at the chatter from the other end of the line. "Hey, buddy." Tears trickled down his cheeks. "Aunt Penelope called you at school today?" Hotch brushed the tears away while listening to his son's animated description of his phone call with Garcia. He closed his eyes. If he weren't already falling hard for the tech analyst, this would have sealed the deal.
"I love you, Jack," he said after his son finished talking. He hoped his son didn't hear the catch in his voice or how he barely choked out the words.
His sister-in-law was on the line now, talking about how excited Jack was to have been called at school. "Yes, Jessie, she needed to call him. It's..." He debated how much to tell his sister-in-law and settled for the least amount necessary. No need to traumatize Jessie. "A child who looked like Jack was a victim and Garcia acted on my behalf in calling to be sure Jack was okay."
He nodded at something Jessie said, cast a glance at the bed and the bright pink veil that lay in a pile next to a pair of satiny panties. No matter how many times he'd tried to return her dance veil to her, Garcia seemed to find a way to smuggle it back into his office or his briefcase or even his bag. He smiled, suddenly amused at her ability to keep from taking back her veil. The second time his sister-in-law called his name, he snapped back to the present. "Sorry, Jessie, I'm a little distracted. Thanks for calling." He listened to her, his gaze returning to the veil. "Goodbye."
Hotch rose from the chair and crossed the room to the bed. He lifted the panties, rubbing the soft material between his hands. A little more than a month ago, he'd been kneeling at Penelope's feet, removing the garment. He swallowed hard at the memory. If he closed his eyes, he could still taste her on his lips, smell her, hear her calling his name. He groaned in frustration, crushed the panties in a ball then started to toss them on the bed. The phone in his other hand buzzed and he was momentarily distracted. He smiled. Talk about timing.
"Hey, Penelope." He settled on the edge of the bed, stroked his thumb back and forth over the panties. He'd deliberately used her first name.
"Aaron, are you okay?"
The concern in her voice caused tears to well in his eyes. This time he let them fall. "I'm as good as can be expected, under the circumstances." He reclined on the bed, toeing his shoes off before curling on his side. He rested the hand holding the panties on the veil, needing that physical contact. "I'm better than I would have been thanks to an amazingly brilliant, stunningly beautiful woman who called ahead to warn about the video."
He could almost hear her blush through the phone. "Aaron, there's no need for flattery."
"No flattery there, Penelope. I really am very grateful you called Morgan to warn him. I..." He trailed off as a fresh round of tears started. His voice caught on a sob. "Seeing those images was like a punch to the gut. She looked so much like Haley and the boy looked like Jack. If I'd been standing, my knees would have buckled and dropped me to the floor." The words poured out. "I've seen women who reminded me of Haley and children who made me think of Jack, but this...God, Penelope, their likenesses were so eerie. Almost as if the Unsub knew my history and was toying with me."
"That's why I called Derek and warned him." He heard the soft catch in her voice and that quiet sound started yet another round of tears.
"I owe you for that, Penelope." He wiped tears from his eyes with a shaking hand. "And thank you for calling the school to check on Jack. That's what I wanted to do but didn't have time to."
"How'd you find out?"
"Jessie called me right before you did, and Jack gave me quite an animated description of talking to his Aunt Penelope. Who evidently promised him she'd make cupcakes with him in the near future." He smiled as he recalled his son's excitement. Jack liked all of his father's co-workers, but Uncle Dave and Aunt Penelope were his obvious favorites.
"I hoped you'd forgive my indiscretion and not be too upset," she whispered.
"No, not upset at all." He stared at the fabric under his hand. The most primal part of him wanted to ask her to do something risque, to ... while he listened. Another time, another case, and he would have asked. But tonight, what he needed most was to simply talk to her, to hear her voice.
A short companionable silence hung between them. "Did Morgan mention that I lost my lunch after seeing the video?" she asked softly.
"No, he neglected to tell me that. I hope you're okay now."
"Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, I'd just eaten lunch. It was cheap takeout leftovers so I guess I might be better off for the loss."
Her wry tone elicited a soft chuckle from him. "But you're okay now, Penelope?"
"Yeah, I'm fine now. I'm not so sure about the Director though."
He stiffened at the mention of Erin Strauss. "Why? What happened?" He mentally cursed the Director's interference in his moment with Garcia.
"Well..." She sighed heavily. "Now don't get angry with me for this, but I called her out for making incorrect assumptions about me."
"You called her out?" Aaron pressed his lips together to keep from laughing out loud. In his mind, he imagined the scene of quirky, outspoken Penelope Garcia standing toe to toe with uptight, tight-lipped Erin Strauss.
"Yeah, I hope it wasn't self-sabotage but she pissed me off with what she said."
"Do I want to know?"
"No. Just don't ask and let it die a natural death." She chuckled wryly. "Of course, karma will come back to bite you on the ass if you're not careful, as she found out."
"Garcia, what did you do?" He clenched the veil fabric in his hand. He wasn't sure he wanted to know but he needed to be prepared in case he had to confront Strauss.
She laughed. "So, I mention Director Strauss and suddenly I'm Garcia?"
Hotch chuckled, shook his head. "You're right, Penelope. I was the one who said these conversations should be Penelope and Aaron talking. So, tell me what you did."
"I did exactly what she requested. I showed her the video."
"Oh, God," he muttered. "Penelope."
"Aaron, she essentially demanded to see it, even after I warned her. What was I going to tell her?"
He sighed. "I guess there was nothing else you could do. What happened?"
"Let's just say that within minutes of her hasty exit, I had a new trash can in my office."
Aaron couldn't help himself. He laughed out loud. The visual of Strauss making a mad dash for the bathroom made him laugh. He knew the contents of that video must have been a shock to the system for Strauss, but if she didn't heed Penelope's warning she only had herself to blame.
"You're laughing, which is a good sign. So you're not upset with me?"
"No. You tried to warn her and it sounds like she chose to ignore the warning. I'm sorry you had to deal with that, but I hope that it taught her a lesson."
"Let me see if I can recall how she worded her request. Something about being protected in her office and wanting to see what the agents see on a regular basis. The whole exchange was a bit unusual because she rarely visits my office."
"I suspect she has learned her lesson and won't be making such a request again." He rubbed his palm over the fabric on the bed. "Can we talk about something else? Something more pleasant?"
"Sure. What would you like to talk about?"
Temptation reared its head again as he considered how to reply to her question. "What are you wearing, Penelope?"
He chuckled. "So, I ask you what you're wearing and suddenly I'm Hotch?"
"No, you're not suddenly Hotch. I'm just a little confused and..." Penelope sighed softly. "Is this what I think it is? Has this become a long-distance booty call?"
Aaron swallowed, took a deep breath. "If I say yes, would you do it?"
"Would I do what?" Her soft throaty laugh sent a shiver along his spine. He loved this teasing side of Penelope.
"Make yourself come while I listen." He clenched his fist in the veil, hoping for her assent.
"My fingers. My bullet. Or an insertable vibe?"
"Penelope," he moaned. The image her words conjured in his mind left him hungry and needy. His cock grew hard and he rubbed his hand along the front of his pants.
"You have to tell me what you want, Aaron," she purred. Something about her tone amused him and he decided to play along.
"So, is this what I can expect the first time we fuck?" He smiled, anticipating her response.
"Oh yeah, Aaron, you will have to tell me what you want the first time we fuck. Just like I'm going to tell you what I want."
"You do realize that right now I'm cursing the distance between us while planning when I can make this happen, right?"
Penelope chuckled. "Ever the planner, aren't you?"
He hummed his assent. "The bullet." He heard a rustle of fabric then the faint sound of a sex toy starting up. Eager anticipation filled him. He closed his eyes and waited to hear the first sound she made. Her breath caught and she moaned his name. He rubbed his palm along the underside of his covered cock. Each catch of her breath, each sigh, each moan made him harder. "Tell me what you're thinking about."
She laughed. "You want me to think right now?"
Aaron chuckled. "Poor choice of words. Perhaps it's more what you're fantasizing about while you touch yourself."
"Right now..." She let out a soft moan. "Right now, I'm imagining how it would feel for you to tease my nipples with the backs of your hand. The soft tickle of the hair on the back of your hands against my aroused nipples. Just enough sensation..." She sucked in her breath then let out another moan. "Just the right amount of sensation to make my nipples harder."
"Penelope, you're a tease," he murmured.
"It's only teasing if I have no intention of seeing it through. This isn't teasing." Her breath caught in her throat and she let out a soft whimper. "This feels so good, Aaron, but definitely not as good as your mouth and fingers."
He growled at the image those words conjured in his mind.
"I want that again. I'm going on record and telling you right now..." She gasped. "I want to feel your mouth sucking my clit and your fingers fucking my pussy." She panted softly then he heard her inhale before letting out something that sounded like a moan and a cry. "Are you touching yourself, Aaron? Are you stroking your cock while listening to me?"
He glanced down and realized he had unconsciously unzipped his pants so he could touch himself. He cupped the underside of his cock then eased it out of the confines of his pants and boxers. "I am, Penelope. God, the sounds you make are the best aphrodisiac. I keep remembering the little noises you made when I went down on you. And the way you pulled on my hair, pushing my face against you."
Penelope groaned. "I wish you were here right now. I keep thinking about that night and how it felt, and oh God, Aaron, I'm so close. So very close." She whimpered again then called out his name.
"I wish I was there too." Aaron grasped his cock, began moving his hand up and down. All the noises she made carried over the phone line and made him desperate for release. "I want to fuck you, to thrust in and out of your body until we both come."
She cried out his name and a variety of unintelligible sounds poured through the phone line.
He closed his eyes, the noises she made making him ache with need. He reopened his eyes and glanced at his cock. A tiny drop of precum formed in the tip. The sounds of Penelope's orgasm pushed him closer to his own climax. He stroked faster, sliding his palm up and down the length of his shaft.
Penelope purred, "Come for me, Aaron. Imagine me on my hands and knees in front of you. You're fucking me, thrusting in and out of me. The way your cock fills my pussy feels so good, so damn good. I'm going to come again, Aaron."
He laughed, his hand never slowing down. "You minx! It's not fair that you don't need a recovery period." He let out a moan. "And that mental image?" He took a deep breath, swallowed hard then continued. "You just remember that, because I fully intend to make that fantasy a reality." The sensation built and he held back the final moment for a few seconds before letting out a harsh grunt.
"I want to hear that in person, Aaron Hotchner." She caught her breath then moaned his name.
Aaron stared at the mess he'd made on his hand and hastily brushed the veil and panties away to keep from staining them. He rolled to his back and listened to Penelope coming down from her second orgasm. He imagined what he'd do if he were there in person. The kisses he'd press to her forehead and temple, damp with perspiration from their exertion. The gentle nip of teeth on her nipples, still perky from her climax. Cupping her luscious breasts, suckling her nipples to intensify that remnant of her orgasm. All the things he wanted to do.
"Oh wow," she murmured. "That was…yeah."
He laughed. "It definitely was wow." He ignored the cooling semen on his hand. He didn't care if it spilled on his pants. This moment, the intimacy they'd just shared was more important than a pair of pants.
"I can't wait another month for us to make this a reality," she whispered. "I'll go fucking insane and tackle you in the bullpen."
He laughed out loud. Aaron could only imagine what the team would say about that one. "Dave would pay good money to see that one, but I think I'd be tackled by Morgan the moment I tried to do anything about it."
"If Derek Morgan interrupts another moment, I'll have to, well, let's just say it won't be pleasant for him."
Hotch laughed again. He would not want to be on Garcia's bad side. "If it involves a dull spoon and his testicles, I'll pass on watching."
"Oooh, a dull spoon. That might work." Her giggle made him smile.
"Thank you, Penelope. I hadn't intended for this to turn out this way, but thank you." He let out a sigh.
"It wasn't what I expected but…"
He heard her smile through the line. "It was definitely worth it."
"I'll make it up to you, I promise."
"Aaron Hotchner, I will hold you to that." She sighed. "Promise me something?"
"Be careful. If you don't have to go after the Unsub, don't. I want…"
"I want you to come back to me, uninjured. I don't want this monster to harm you anymore than he already has with that video."
He let out a weary sigh, torn about how to reply to her request. "I, I will do what I can. I can't promise any more than that."
"I know. I'll take what I can get, Aaron."
"Sleep well, beautiful Penelope." He closed his eyes. He felt as if he'd had a weight lifted off his shoulders. Every time he talked with her, he felt this way.
"You too, Aaron. I'll see you when you get back."
He waited until he heard her disconnect before shutting his phone. Hotch rolled off the bed, strode into the bathroom and cleaned himself. He stared at his reflection in the mirror. Stress lines on his face seemed to be fading. He noted a light in his eyes. This new relationship with Penelope had done this. What he shared with Penelope made him smile more, made him happier. He dried himself off then smiled. Tonight, he would sleep better.