Whenever you need me by little_profiler

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Story Note:

Again not beta-read. Sorry.
Pairing: a little Morgan/Garcia but mostly friendship
Rating: FRT for mentioning of child abuse
Disclaimer: Criminal Minds and its characters belong to CBS, I just love to borrow them.

Although it was 2 a.m. she opened the door with a wide smile on her face, but the next moment her face went pale and the smile gave way to a frightened, worried expression. Although he was smiling she could see what was really going on below. He had gone through hell. But nonetheless she felt relief about the fact that he was here.

She had called him at least hundred times, had left a bunch of messages on his answering machine, begging him to call her back. She even had gone to him and knocked at his door for at least an hour.

He shouldn’t have come here to dump all that on her. But he hadn’t known where else he could have gone. Yes, he had known. Every member of the team would have readily been there for him and some of his colleagues lived much nearer than she did. But she was the only person he wanted to see.

After he had rolled back and forth in his bed for hours, after he had tried everything that usually helped him find some sleep, after he had blamed himself for not having had the courage to answer the door or at least her phone calls, he hadn’t been able to bear the loneliness in his apartment a second longer. He needed to see somebody “ no, he needed to see her. He needed her, only her.

And when she opened the door and he felt the smile on his face, he knew why. She was the only person in the world who could bring a smile to his face even after he had had to face the most awful hell.

“Come in!” she grabbed his sleeve and led him into her apartment, closing the door behind him.

“I’m sorry” he murmured. “I shouldn’t have come over. I probably woke you and I should rather…”

“Take a seat” she interrupted him. “I’ll get us a coffee.” Penelope knew that Derek was as much addicted to caffeine as she was, maybe even more. Besides he seemed to need a few minutes to collect his thoughts.

Derek sat down on the sofa and looked around in the living room. It was in a way… typically Penelope and immediately he felt better. Everywhere there were little somethings she had bought herself during a holiday or received as a present. He got up and stepped closer to a small African statue he once had bought for her birthday. It was standing in the middle of a shelf above the TV and in a way it seemed like a place of honor. He smiled at this thought.

“It is great.” Penelope claimed.

Derek jumped a little and looked at her. She was standing in the doorway, holding two cups of coffee in her hands, pointing towards the statue he had just examined.

“Glad you like it.” he answered and forced himself to smile. Then he sat back on the sofa and gratefully took one of the cups from her.

Penelope slowly settled down next to him and silently drank her coffee. Normally she was what most people would call a chatterbox. But Derek didn’t look as if he was in the mood for small talk or their usual bantering. She wasn’t sure if he wanted to talk about it. But she would listen to him if he wanted to “ and if he didn’t want to talk she would just accompany him till the morning if necessary.

Derek sipped at his coffee without looking at her. He enjoyed her presence. She probably was the only person on this planet in whose presence the silence could never get displeasing. Finally he decided that she deserved an explanation. “Did they tell you?” he asked carefully.

“No” she answered in a low voice. “But it is not hard to guess that he… did the same to you.”

He unassertively looked at his hands. He didn’t know if it was good or bad that she knew it.

“You’ve been in that youth center” she explained. “and they arrested him because he… had abused children and killed these boys. And besides… you’re here. You’ve never been to my apartment before.”

“I’m sorry” he told the cup in his hands. “I shouldn’t have…”

“You know that you can always come over here, Derek.” she said and carefully took his hand into hers. “Whenever you need me I’m here.”

She didn’t call him Derek very often, only if the situation was really serious. He took her hand and placed a gentle kiss on the back of it. He still didn’t dare to look at her. He simply couldn’t stand the knowing look in her eyes. “I never wanted anyone to know.” he said slowly. “I thought I could leave that part of my past behind.”

“I guess sooner or later the past catches up with you.” she repeated gently. “No matter how well you hide.”

A smile flitted over his face. Sometimes he forgot over her ever-joking nature how profound she could be “ and how insightfully. He wished he was able to tell her everything.

“Hey” she gently stroked his cheek and as if she had read his mind said: “I am here whenever you want to talk “ and I’m also here if you don’t. If you don’t want to talk then don’t do it. Just let me be here for you.”

He leaned his head into her hand and closed his eyes. For a while he just enjoyed her touch. She probably was the only person in the world for whom it was enough to simply be here for him. She didn’t force him to talk. She didn’t force him to face his demons. She didn’t force him to do anything, she was simply there.

Finally he took a deep breath, opened his eyes again and stared into his now empty cup. “My father died when I was only ten years old and afterwards I… pretty much hit the skids. I hang around with the wrong people and… well you’ve seen my juvenile record. My mother sent me to the youth center. Buford became like a father to me. He taught me to play football, coached me “ I even planned to do that professionally.” he paused for a while and added: “But then… Buford was the reason why I joined the FBI. One day he took me to his cabin in Wisconsin for fishing. I thought it was… nice to have someone who did all those things with me my father couldn’t do anymore but… At first I didn’t even know what he was doing. He… took every opportunity he got to… touch me, accidentally at first. But then he… made me swim… naked and that night… he came into my bed.”

Penelope drew in a sharp breath.

“I swore to myself that I would spend the rest of my life hunting down guys like him. But… so much had to happen before I could speak about it.” he sadly looked down. “Three boys are dead.”

“This is not your fault.” she whispered stroking his cheek once again. “None of it.”

He simply nodded.

Penelope gave him a concerned look. She didn’t believe that her words reached him “ and if they did he probably didn’t believe what she said. “Were you the first boy he… took with him into this cabin?” she asked.

Derek furrowed his brow and answered his cup: “I don’t think so, why do you ask?”

“Why isn’t it their fault?” she wanted to know. “I mean, the boys who went through this before you did. The first boy Buford ever abused. Why don’t you blame them?”

“I can’t blame them.” he returned. “They were just…” he became silent and looked at her.

“Kids” she whispered. “Just like you.”

He looked back down and rubbed his upper arms. He shivered, it was so cold. When did it get that cold in here?

Slowly Penelope placed her cup on the table, took the blanket from the armchair, sat down close to him and put the blanket around his shoulders. She wasn’t sure if he was willing to let her comfort him. Her heart and her stomach cramped when she saw a tear running down his cheek. Carefully she wrapped her arm around his shoulders.

Derek let his head fall against her shoulder. He didn’t cry, he wasn’t a person who cried “ but he couldn’t hold back the tears. Not any more. He had managed to hold back these tears such a long time. Now they uncontrollably ran down his cheeks. Penelope’s embrace had broken down the last walls he had built around him. He pulled her closer and buried his face in her smooth hair.

“It’s okay.” she whispered and gently stroked his back. “Let go! I promise I’ll catch you.” She closed her eyes and a tear ran down her cheek. She wiped it away with a dapper wave of the hand. She had to be strong now, for him.

He threw both arms around her and pulled her as close to him as possible. What he had feared the most for so long had occurred; the demons of his past had caught up with him. But now he no longer feared them for he knew he wouldn’t have to face them alone. Yes, she would catch him. She would make sure that this past wouldn’t tear him apart. “Penelope” he whispered.

“Shhh” she returned equally voicelessly continuing to gently stroke his back. “I’m here, sugar, I’m here.”

“I know” his voice was shaking as he tried to speak up. “thank you.”

“I’m always there for you, gorgeous.” she replied and slightly kissed his forehead. “You know I am.”

Yes, he knew. And he wished he could find words to express how much that meant to him. For a while he just held her, enjoying the warmth that her embrace sent through his body. He desperately wanted to tell her everything, he needed to talk. All these years he hadn’t spoken about all that a single time “ and now it seemed he couldn’t stop talking about it any more.

“It was so… disgusting.” he whispered into her hair. “I felt so dirty.”

“I know.” was all she could reply. But she didn’t know. She didn’t have the slightest idea. Her stomach cramped at the thought of what Derek had experienced in that cabin.

“He said… I just should have said no.” his voice was so low that Penelope hardly understood what he said.

“You know this isn’t true.” she answered in a whisper. “What he did to you wasn’t your fault. You never did anything wrong. He just said that to draw the attention off the fact that he’s a sick pervert. But that’s exactly what he is. He’s a creepy sleazebag and what happened is only his fault, only his.”

“I wanted to make him proud… and happy.” he sobbed. “I should… have done something… anything to make him stop.”

“He’d never stopped.” she returned in a low voice. “There’s nothing you could have done and you know that. You’re the expert. Bastards like him do not stop.”

He nodded but again she wasn’t sure if he believed what she said. “And then… When I finally tackled him about all that he said he never hurt me.”

“Yes, he did.” Penelope said a little louder to make sure he understood her. “He hurt you and I hope that he’ll be condemned to hell. I hope he’ll be sentenced to life imprisonment and that they put him to the most terrible cellmate he can get. And I hope that every single bit you hear about what they do to child abusers in prison is true.”

Derek raised his head and looked at her.

She looked straight into his eyes, caressed his cheek and whispered: “It’s okay to think like that.”

The expression in his eyes almost ripped her heart out of her chest. She could see the burden and the pain he’d carried around with himself for so long. She wanted to take this burden off his shoulders, wanted to ease this pain. He quivered and Penelope held him tighter, put his head back on her shoulder.

After a while she slowly leaned backwards on the sofa and pulled him with her. He needed to sleep.

Derek snuggled up to her. There wasn’t enough space on the sofa anyway to have been able to bring a considerable distance between them. He lay in her arms and her warmth, her nearness calmed him.

He couldn’t believe he had allowed her to get behind these walls, that he let her know how unwell he really was, that he had cried. But it did him good to let everything out and to know that she’d be strong for him. Her embrace did what nothing else in the world had ever been able to do for him “ and he’d tried nearly everything. Her embrace warmed him, not only his body, but his soul, too.

“Try to sleep.” she whispered still stroking his back.

“I can’t” his reply was hardly audible. “the dreams, I…”

“It’s okay, honey” she softly interrupted him. “sleep! I promise I’ll hide you so that the nightmares will not be able to find you.” Penelope continued stroking his back whispering comforting nothings in his ear.

Derek closed his eyes a little unwillingly. He knew the dreams would come back. They always did “ and this night they’d been more terrible than ever before. But when he closed his eyes suddenly all of his senses were focused on Penelope, her embrace, her familiar smell, her calming words, the gentle touches, her heartbeat…

Every time he feared the nightmares would return she seemed to notice, put her arms tighter around him or gently kissed him on the forehead. Finally he felt the memories fade away. For years he had tried to reach this but failed ever since. He had never felt really save, not from the memories, from the dreams. Now he was finally able to see these experiences as what they were: his terrible past, but his past. He felt relieved, freed and safe. He knew the dreams would not return, not tonight.

Penelope continued stroking his back until she finally felt him relax. Then she closed her eyes and granted herself a little sleep. She slept calmly and without any dreams. It seemed to be only seconds later when her mobile phone woke her ruggedly.

She cast up her eyes and hastily reached for the phone on the table. She took a concerned look at the man in her arms. Derek still seemed to sleep deeply.

“Garcia?” her voice was barely above a whisper. She didn’t want to wake Derek by any means.

“Agent Garcia, this is Gideon.” a familiar voice said. He sounded concerned, upset even. “I’m sorry to disturb you but… It’s about Derek. I suppose you know how rough the case in Chicago was for him. I was worried about him and wanted to offer him to talk to me but… he doesn’t pick up his phone. It’s probably nothing… remarkable but I’m worried anyway, that he… maybe can’t handle the fact that we know about his past and I thought maybe you could…”

“Everything’s fine, Sir.” Penelope interrupted him. Gideon really seemed to be worried for he was normally a rather calm person and not talking his head off. “You don’t need to be worried. Derek is… he is here with me.”

This was followed by a long silence. Then Gideon sighed with relief: “Good, I… tell him if he wants to talk to me he can call me anytime.”

“Thank you, Sir, I will tell him.” she hesitated for a moment and than explained: “You know, I would like to hand Derek the phone but… he’s still asleep and I don’t want to wake him.” She could guess that Gideon knew from what she said and the fact that her voice was really low that Derek and her had shared the bed tonight “ he probably couldn’t know that it was the sofa, he wasn’t that good. Penelope didn’t really care but was relieved when Gideon didn’t amplify it.

“It’s okay, let him sleep.” he said and then he asked something Penelope had expected the least at that moment: “How are you, Garcia?”

“How… I am, Sir?” she asked in confusion.

“I know you’re there for Derek and he’ll probably talk to you.” he explained. “And I know that the two of you are… quite close. This isn’t easy for you either, so… I just wanted to tell you that my offer doesn’t only apply for Derek, it applies for you, too.”

“Thank you very much, Sir.” she replied emotionally. It was good to know, that Gideon was not only concerned about Derek, that he was not only there for him, but for her, too. “But don’t worry, I’m fine.”

“Alright.” his voice sounded not a bit convinced. “But remember, whenever one of you or the two of you need to talk you can call me.”

“Thank you, Sir, we’ll keep it in mind.” she said, tears springing to her eyes. She hung up, put his arms back around Derek und closed her eyes. Now she knew they could handle this. They were not alone and they would all help Derek through this. They could handle this if they only stick together. She smiled and drifted back into a deep sleep knowing that everything was going to be okay.
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