When Truth Comes Knocking Chapter 16
Derek was anxious to leave the hospital and head back home to Quantico. He needed distance between him and Chicago, the place where he normally ran to, not from. His mother had already left at his insistence, reluctantly honoring his wishes. Their conversation from the night before still lingered between them there was much more that needed to be said but for now Derek didn’t have the patience and Fran did not have the courage.
The team had discussed their suspicions about Derek’s past and had agreed that until he confirmed anything none of them would broach the subject…for now. It was going to be difficult to pretend that things were normal, that this was just another case, but that was exactly what they would have to do to honor Morgan’s need for privacy.
Hotch, Rossi, JJ, Penelope and Reid headed to the hospital immediately after breakfast to pick up Morgan. Cruz had instructed that they head back as soon as possible. Already their assistance had been requested in Baltimore, Maryland and he’d assured the lead detective that the entire team would arrive tomorrow morning. Hotch knew the fragile state of his team, not just Morgan but all of them yet his request for down time was refused. He hadn’t told the team that they had a case waiting on their return. He didn’t have the heart.
Morgan was putting the last few things in his go-bag as the team pushed through the door. His broad smile caught them all off guard.
“Hey, what took you all so long?”
Puzzled they all exchanged glances as he stood in front of them waiting for a response.
“What? Cat got your tongue?” Then looking at Reid. “Pretty Boy?” Then at Garcia. “Baby Girl?”
“Uh, Morgan?” Hotch began. “You okay?”
“I’m fine, Hotch! I have my discharge papers and I’m ready to blow this popsicle stand.”
Rossi frowned and looked concerned at Hotch then at the younger agent.
“Yeah, you sure you didn’t take one too many pain pills this morning? You seem a little…”
“Nah, old man. I’m good really.”
“Well I guess I can tell you all now that we’re together.”
“What is it Hotch?” JJ asked.
“Cruz has a case for us in Baltimore, so we’ll be heading there before we go home.”
“What about some time off, Boss man?”
“Hotch, this case took a lot out of us…”
“Come on, you guys sound like a bunch of wimps!” Morgan chuckled. “We’ve seen worse…right?”
An uncomfortable silence fell over the room as everyone looked at each other. The last thing any of them wanted to do was to be in the field with Morgan who was teetering on the verge of a breakdown.
Baltimore, MD – Police Department- Morning –
Detective Bernard Sanders rushed across the room anxiously greeting the team. Hotch made the necessary introductions after which, the team followed the man to a familiar conference room.
“Thanks for coming! We could really use you all on this one.”
“Of course. Thanks for inviting us in.”
Hotch accepted the case file from the detective as the copies passed among the others.
“Tell us what you have, detective.”
“The bodies of three boys have been found dumped near area middle schools…”
“The first two bodies were found two months ago, the last was found a week ago.” Morgan interrupted.
“What took you so long to call us in, detective?”
“Morgan!” Hotch scolded.
“No, no it’s okay Agent Hotchner.” Then looking wearily at Morgan. “We didn’t realize the cases were related because the victims crossed racial lines and the dump sites were so spread out…”
“It doesn’t matter detective! These are three boys! Three boys beaten, raped and murdered! I don’t know about Baltimore, but that’s not common in most…”
Hotch’s fiery glare and flaring nostrils silenced Morgan freezing him in place. The others looked away in embarrassment. Detective Sanders stood in the uncomfortable room that seemed to shrink to half its size in a matter of seconds.
“Take a walk!”
“I SAID TAKE A WALK!”
Without another word, Morgan stormed out the room throwing his case file angrily on the conference room table. His team watched in disbelief as he left the building.
“Agent Morgan is going through some personal difficulties. He in now way was insinuating…”
“No worries, Agent.”
“Still, I apologize for him, this is not how we conduct business. We appreciate you letting us help.”
Morgan rushed from the building, fuming and emotionally out of control. The detective had missed something and he put other young boys in danger because of it and worst of all his boss threw him out of the room and took the other man’s side. Morgan had no idea where he was headed. He ended up in the parking lot next to the SUV that he had driven there, pacing and running his hands over his head and neck trying to reel in his feelings.
“You can’t get emotionally involved like that.”
Morgan glanced over his shoulder at Rossi. He’d no doubt volunteered to come after him. Morgan respected him and right now Dave was probably the only person he’d not rip to shreds.
“Dave, he should have called us two months ago, man!”
“They didn’t know. They’re not trained like we are! There’s reasons why they didn’t catch it and if you’d stayed long enough and read the report instead of biting that poor detective’s head off you would have realized that!”
Morgan turned and faced the older man. He knew he was right. He was absolutely right, he should have read the entire report before flying off the handle.
“I know, I know…I was wrong…I’m sorry.”
“I’m not the one you need to apologize to.”
“Yeah, I know. I’m such a jerk.”
“No you’re not. You just get too emotional sometimes.”
“I hear you, man.”
Morgan moved to head back to the precinct until Dave stopped him by gently grabbing his arm.
“No one will think any less of you if you want to sit this one out.”
“I can’t. I have to work this case and bring this son-of-a-bitch down.”
Dave nodded and smiled. He understood perfectly. He also knew that Morgan was in trouble and so he vowed to watch and wait and when the time came he’d have his back.
Doubletree Hotel – Evening –
“How’s my man, JJ?”
“He’s struggling, Garcie. Hotch almost sent him home five minutes after we got here.”
“I feel so helpless, knowing what I know or what I think I know and not being able to say anything.”
“Yeah, but he needs to talk to someone about this. He’s acting like nothing is wrong and this case is bring out the demons.”
“I’m about five minutes from jumping in Esther and driving to Maryland.”
“He needs you, Garcia…”
“I’m on my way!”
He’d given up on sleep. Every time he closed his eyes he saw James, he saw James’ letter and he saw his mother from last night’s nightmare. He could hear her voice ringing in his ears and her eyes, accusing him of being duplicitous in her son’s death. He felt as if the walls were closing in on him and he needed a distraction. Of all the times for Hotch to assign them all separate rooms. He raided the mini bar and now the empty bottles lay strewn across the room along with an untouched burger and fries from a nearby deli. The team had made a stop before heading to the hotel. He wasn’t hungry.
He was angry; angry at knowing what the boys must have felt in their final moments. He knew how it felt to be trapped and touched and laughed at because he was too small, and too afraid. He was tired of hiding what had really been his childhood. The shame and humiliation that he’d clung to that had kept him silent now seemed to taunt him in the quietness of the hotel room. He was alone, utterly and completely alone and yet, he still could not speak about the unthinkable. He knew there had to be some sort of relief in uttering the words and telling but…he couldn’t. After all that had happened, how could he say the words? How could he stand the pity that would shine in their eyes each time he saw them. He had to be strong, and he had to keep fighting to prove that he was strong, that he was a man that he could protect them…even if he couldn’t protect himself.
Derek wanted to scream but just when he thought he would…there was a knock at his door. Pulling himself from the floor he hadn’t realized until then that he’d barricaded himself in the bathroom, he’d forgotten he’d turned on the water and the room was filled with steam. The knock came again just before he opened the door. It was her, his solace and deep down he knew she would come, she knew he would need her. He felt the fissures around his heart widen and he fought to keep it together as she pushed passed him into the room. Trembling he watched her as she removed her coat and set her purse near the door. Then as she turned to face him, he saw the love.
“I’m here, Handsome.”