Keeping the Nightmares Away by FlashForeward

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Chapter Notes: post ep for "Penelope"
Keeping the Nightmares Away

There were a very limited number of people she let call her Penelope. Even Derek Morgan, the man she had fallen in and out of love with over a very excruciating period of time, used her last name if he used her name. She had been Garcia for so long she had given up hope of finding someone she could be Penelope with.

And when she was lying in that hospital bed after being shot or wandering aimlessly through her house with Morgan trailing behind her, she had decided it was better that way. It was better to be Garcia, to leave intimacy and love to her dreams; the real world wasn’t ready for her to be Penelope.

Even after meeting Kevin Lynch. Even after that brief rush of excitement at seeing the man she’d battled with over cyberspace, with her heart beating in her chest and the boyish grin on his face matched by a girlish one on hers, she wanted to retreat into Garcia.

So, she took his number but she did not give him hers. She walked out of those offices with hope and fear intermingling in her mind, sending butterflies to play in her stomach. She let Morgan drive her home, his insistence almost cute to her preoccupied mind, but assured him that he did not need to remain there with her.

He said he’d call. She thanked him, and he left.

She walked slowly up the sidewalk, her hand over her stomach to keep from moving her shoulder too much. She stopped at the door and looked down at the steps where she had fallen. The bloodstain was almost gone. She felt a shudder go through her, but she shook it off as a chill from the night air and quickly unlocked her door and stepped inside her house.

She immediately shut the door behind her and locked it, leaning against it and taking gulping breaths of air. She regretted sending Morgan home, but the feeling lasted only a moment and she quickly pushed any thoughts of calling the man out of her head. She had to do this. It was, after all, her home.

She walked slowly through her living room and turned on the television, letting the sounds of infomercials play over her, calming her down. As she listened, she made a stop in her kitchen, gathering supplies for a typical night of moping: ice cream, hot chocolate, cookies, the works; all the while making sure she could still hear the reassuring sound of a man selling knives that could cut through cowhide.

The phone was ringing by the time she was done, and she hurried with her supplies to the living room. She set her snacks on the coffee table and quickly grabbed the receiver from its cradle, interrupting its shrill sound.

“Garcia,” she said.

“Hiya, Baby Girl,” Morgan’s voice reached her and a smile grew on her face. “How you doin’?”

“I’m fine,” she replied, settling on the couch and pulling a bag of chips towards her and pulling it open, the phone cradled between her ear and her shoulder.

“You sure?” he asked. “What’re you up to?”

“Just watchin’ some movies,” Garcia replied, popping a chip in her mouth. She grabbed the remote from the pillows beside her and flipped from infomercial to prime-time soap to some cheesy made-for-TV movie.

“You sure you don’t want me to come by?” he queried. Garcia sighed and grabbed another handful of chips.

“I’m fine,” she said. “Don’t you have some clubs to go to? Women to woo?” Morgan’s laugh came over the line, breaking up slightly for a moment, and Garcia’s smile grew.

“All right, darling’,” Morgan said, Garcia could hear the worry breaking through the amusement in his voice. “If you’re sure…”

“I’m sure,” she assured him. “Bye, Derek.”

“Bye, Garcia.”

She set the phone lightly on the receiver and set about arranging the snacks and drinks she’d brought out with her. She then settled back on the couch, eating chips and ice cream and drinking Hot Chocolate while half-watching the movie on her television.

Reverting to Garcia. Letting Penelope sink back into the back of her consciousness.

She hardly realized that her eyelids were drooping, that her breathing was slowing, that she was drifting off to sleep. She didn’t even notice when reality turned into dreams. When images played havoc on her mind. Standing on her doorstep, looking back at the man who had taken her out for a nice date. The gun in his hand. The shot.

The fall.

She jerked awake. A slight twinge of pain passed through her shoulder as she sat up. Her breathing was heavy and labored. She quickly pushed the bag of chips from her lap and stood, grabbing for the phone. She was half-way through Morgan’s number before she stopped, deepened her breaths, and returned the receiver to its cradle.

It was only a nightmare, there was no sense in bothering Morgan. She glanced at the clock. It was late. He was probably out anyway, she decided, and she set to work cleaning up the pile of food and wrappers on her coffee table. All the while, she left the television on, letting her mind dwell on the sound but never on the words.

When her task was done, she retreated to her bedroom, shutting off the television in the living room only to turn on the radio in her room when she got there. She slowly changed into her pajamas and got ready for bed, careful of her shoulder after the bit of pain she’d felt earlier.

She climbed into bed and pulled the covers up, grabbing a book from the bedside table and flipping through it. But she found she could not concentrate on the words and soon tossed the volume back to the table. She rolled onto her side, her back to the light and her face to the door, and closed her eyes, waiting for sleep.

It wouldn’t come. Every time she closed her eyes, a wave of fear would rush over her and she would open them again, not wanting to see her memories played out over and over in her dreams. She sat up and pushed away her sheets, swinging her legs over the side of the bed.

She stared ahead of her for a moment before traipsing to her laundry hamper and pulling out the pants she’d worn that day. She dug through the pockets, coming up with a small slip of paper. The name Kevil Lynch was scrawled across it and just below that was a phone number. Garcia returned to her bed and picked up the phone. She dialed and lifted the phone to her ear, counting the rings.

“Hello?” came Lynch’s groggy voice.

“Kevin? It’s Gar-Penelope,” she responded.

“Hey, how are you?” he asked, sounding much more awake than before, she smiled.

“I’m fine.”

“What’s up? It’s like…midnight,” he said, concern edging into the smile she’d heard moments before. “Is everything okay?” She laughed lightly at his worry. It struck her as cute. Even cuter than Derek.

“Yeah, everything’s fine. I just. I was wondering if we could just…talk for little awhile?”

“Sure, yeah, of course.”

And as they chatted about hacking and software and computers, Garcia felt Penelope slip back into place. Comfortable exactly where she was, and ready for a second chance at taking on the world.
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