When Truth Comes Knocking Chapter 19
The drive back to Quantico was uneventful. Garcia had given Derek the keys to Esther and so he did what he’d sworn in the past he’d never do…drive a bright orange Cadillac with the top down alone. It was chilly but he needed the crisp bite of the air against his skin to keep him alert. He hadn’t slept well the night before and he was exhausted. Derek dreaded being alone but his thoughts and guilt were more than willing to keep him company.
He pulled into his driveway and turned off the engine. His body was sore and stiff from the drive and now he regretted not taking his pain medication before making the drive from Baltimore. Grabbing his go bag from the back seat he headed toward the front door. Just as he put the key in the lock and turned the knob he realized he had company. Morgan quickly turned to face his visitor. The man who looked not much older than James walked toward him stopping just short of the steps. Morgan noticed the brown envelope in his hand.
The man handed the envelope to Derek.
“You’ve been served.”
Reluctantly, he took the envelope from the man’s hand and before Morgan could react, the young man disappeared quickly. Stepping inside and closing the door he examined the envelope. It was official looking peaking his curiosity. He had a bad feeling about what he was about to see as he opened the envelope and pulled out the paper. As he read and re-read the document he had a feeling that his nightmare was just beginning.
Police Department – Baltimore, MD – Afternoon –
Penelope kept herself busy with searches but her mind was on Derek. She like the rest of the team had not been fooled by Morgan’s desperate attempt to act as if he was fine. He’d quickly said goodbye to them all and headed toward Quantico in Esther earlier that morning. He smiled and kissed her goodbye promising that he was okay yet she saw the pain and remnants of the horror of last’s nights nightmares in his face.
Thankfully, the team had been successful in putting together a suspect list and now they’d all split into pairs and began the process of whittling the list of six names down to one. All of them wanted to end this case and get home as soon as possible the thought of another young boy losing his life was unacceptable. The thought of Morgan blaming himself for another lost life was also unacceptable.
Home of Derek Morgan – Quantico, VA – Evening –
He’d read the document at least a dozen times the beer he’d taken from the refrigerator over an hour ago still sat untouched in front of him. His law degree made it easy to understand the severity of a situation that made it important for a processor to serve him at his front door. He was being compelled to appear in court to answer to his roll in the deaths of thirteen young boys over the past eleven years. The word, ‘accomplice’ seemed to standout on the paper mocking him and accusing him of unspeakable crimes. The names of the victims were listed with an asterisk next to the phrase, et al.
Morgan stood and began pacing the room. It was near nine in the evening and he’d been home for hours now. He hadn’t heard from anyone not even Penelope, which meant the case had kept her busy and distracted. It was okay, he was a big boy he could take care of himself…’and others’…The words jumped from the page as he picked up the paper and read it again. What others? None of the names listed were familiar to him. None of them had been tied to any of his cases over the years, still somehow he knew who they were. Had someone else uncovered his past? Was there someone looking into his crimes? After all he was duplicitous in Carl’s atrocities by remaining silent. He’d fought so hard to keep his past in the past and he’d always wanted to believe he was the only victim of a vile monster. His years as a Chicago Police officer and now FBI profiler had taught him otherwise. His prayers for an exception no doubt unheard and now it was time to pay. He needed confirmation of his suspicions and so, he dialed the only number he knew to dial.
Baltimore, MD Police Department –
Garcia felt guilty for not being able to call earlier. The case had taken an awkward turn with another boy reported missing. The list of possible suspects had now dwindled to two names but she’d barely had time to breathe. So when his name appeared on her cell phone she quickly grabbed it ready with an apology.
“Handsome, I’m so sorry! It’s been…”
“Baby Girl, breathe…I need you to check on some names for me.”
“Oh, okay…sure…you know you’re not supposed to be working, right?”
“Yeah I know and I’m not.”
“Then what’s going on?”
“I just need you to check the names, okay?”
“Derek Morgan, tell me what this is about!”
She could hear him exhale before responding.
“I’ve been summoned to a hearing of some sort.”
“Someone is accusing me of playing a role in the deaths of several young boys over the last eleven years.”
“Yeah…and if it’s what I think it is, they’re right. I am responsible.”
“I don’t know. It says time to be determined later.”
“Not now Garcia. Just please…are you going to help me or not?”
“Give me the names.”
Morgan ended the call and several seconds later a list of names were sent to her phone. She wanted more than ever now to be home with him because she knew the names it was the second time today that she’d seen them. Garcia knew that once she confirmed what he probably already suspected it would send him over the edge.
It was almost an hour later when Hotch, Rossi, Reid and JJ returned to the precinct. Garcia breathed a sigh of relief to see her team return and step into the conference room. They’d arrested the killer before he’d had a chance to hurt the latest victim and now they were ready to complete their reports and head home. The timing couldn’t have been better.
Hotch saw the worry in her eyes. She had something to say.
“What about Morgan?” Reid interrupted.
“He called and wanted me to do a search for him.”
“We couldn’t have closed this case any sooner. He’s going to be pretty messed up when he finds out who those names are.” Hotch added.
Garcia turned and approached Hotch entering his personal space and staring deep into his eyes.
“This could destroy Morgan. Are you sure about this?”
Hotch returned her glare never flinching. He debated whether to be irritated for being questioned or to seriously consider her question. The fact was, he wasn’t sure but the ball was rolling and he had to see it through. He needed to help a friend, one that had helped him countless times in the past.
“Make the call, Garcia.”
That was it. Nothing more needed to be said and she dared not question him again. So nodding she headed back to the conference table and reached for her phone.
Home of Derek Morgan –
The knock on the door woke him from his slumber. He didn’t remember getting into bed or turning out the lights. The clock on the nightstand blinked brightly announcing that it was four a.m. The knock came again, this time louder and with enough urgency to jerk him to a sitting position. Throwing the covers back Morgan headed toward the front of the house. Just as he reached the door the knock sounded again even louder than the previous two times. Looking through the peephole he was stunned by the familiar figure standing on his porch.
“You? You’re suppose…I thought…”
Then James was joined by four other young men, each one taking up positions on each side of James.
“Can we talk?”
Derek looked at each of the boys, none of this made any sense to him. He wasn’t drunk but perhaps he had finally lost his mind. Without waiting for a response, James stepped passed Derek into the house followed by the others.
“You’re not real, none of you…right? What’s going on?”
James turned and looked at his companions smiling and then turning to face Derek.
“Don’t worry Derek, you’re not losing your mind. We just want to talk, that’s all.”
“Talk? You’re dead, James! I saw your body in the morgue! You killed yourself and you left a suicide note!”
“I killed myself? No Derek, I didn’t kill myself.”
“You killed me Derek! You killed all of us!
“No! What are you talking about?”
“Yes, Derek. You killed us! You sentenced us to death the moment you decided to keep your mouth shut!”
“No! I didn’t know! I thought I was the only one!”
The room began to spin, slow at first and then faster and faster as the young men moved forming a circle around him. Everywhere he turned he was confronted by a cold dead stare accusing him of crimes he’d accused himself of for the last thirty years.
“I didn’t know! I didn’t know!”
“You have to pay, Derek! It’s not fair that you get to live and we didn’t! You have to pay!”
Each of the others repeated James’ statement. Every word seemed to pierce Morgan to his core as he covered his ears not wanting to hear any more.
“You have to pay!”
“You have to pay!”
“You have to pay!”
“You have to pay!”
“I didn’t know!”
“You did this, Derek! How are you going to make it right?”
Penelope was happy to be home. JJ and Reid dropped her off and waited until she reached the front door and waived goodbye. She’d tried to reach Derek by phone but he didn’t answer. She was relieved to see Esther in the driveway and so she figured he had fallen asleep. He hadn’t taken the news well about the list of names he’d given her. Even though he had his suspicions hearing the truth seemed to have rocked him. He assured her that he’d be okay but she didn’t believe him he was struggling with his guilt and the fact that others had been victimized made things worse. The victims had names and some of them had died at Carl’s hands.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t know…I didn’t know!”
Penelope saw him on the couch. It was a familiar scene one she’d experienced before.
“I thought I was the only one!”
This was worse than last night or any other night for that matter. She rushed to the couch to wake him.
“I’m sorry, James…so sorry…I didn’t know, I didn’t know…I…”
“I’m sorry…I’m sorry…”
James and his friends came closer making the circle smaller. It was hard to breathe and there was no where to run…to escape. They wanted him to pay and no matter what he said they didn’t believe him.
“You killed us! All of us!”
“Derek, Baby, it’s okay! Wake up, please! You’re safe…you’re safe.”
He could hear her voice, his solace. She seemed so far away. He needed her. Slowly he opened his eyes she was there with him. How did she know? How did she always know? He opened his eyes.
“It’s me. I’m home.”
“I…I didn’t hear you come in.”
“Yeah, you were having a nightmare.”
Morgan pulled away slightly looking around the room slightly confused.
“I’m fine. I guess I was more tired than I thought.”
He stood running his hand over his head. He wondered what she had heard and what he’d have to explain later.
“I’m fine…uh…did you eat? I can fix you something if you’re hungry.”
She stood and joined him in the middle of the room. Like earlier he was pretending that everything was okay. Like then, things were not okay.
“No, I’m not hungry. Are you okay?”
“I told you I’m fine. Look I know how it is on these cases. Are you sure you’re not hungry? There’s some leftovers in the fridge, I’ll make us something.”
“No, Handsome, I’m good.”
“You sure because it’s no trouble…”
“Derek, Derek…stop it! “
She grabbed his hands gently holding them firmly in hers until she had his attention.
“Stop, just stop! Talk to me!”
Derek pulled away from her again and began frantically pacing the floor.
“Talk? Talk about what, Garcia? What do you want to talk about; the fact that I’m responsible for the deaths of at least thirteen boys? Or that I’m being forced to justify why I kept my mouth shut while Carl Buford victimized countless other boys like me? I’m guilty! I did it! I have to pay for what I did…or didn’t do…”
“You were a boy, Derek! Carl Buford’s crimes are not your crimes!”
He grabbed the crumpled paper that he’d discarded on the chair near by and began shaking it in his hand. She approached him again taking the paper and smoothing it out and reading it for herself.
“I don’t know why, Handsome but you’ve got to face this!”
“Why so everybody can know what I did, what happened to me? NO! I can’t do this! I don’t want to see the looks and the pity and…and the questions…”
“The why’s! How could I have let it happen? How could I let Carl touch me and…”
Morgan turned and headed toward the kitchen grabbing a bottle of Jack from the cabinet then a small glass from another pouring himself a glass and downing it as she entered the room. She watched him pour another and another before she stopped him with her hand on his and taking the bottle from him.
“Derek you need to listen to me.”
“Garcia, I can still feel his hands on me…in that cabin and at the community center in his office. All those years ago I still smell his cologne and that feeling of not being able to breathe…it’s too much!”
Garcia slowly approached and wrapped her arms around his waist and pulled him to her. He stiffened at first than almost immediately relaxed as she tightened her grip around him. He buried his head in her hair and she could feel his body trembling against her.
“I should have stopped him! I should have told someone…it’s my fault…James is dead and it’s my fault” He whispered through his tears.
Garcia was at a loss for words and she could feel him breaking piece by piece in her arms. She needed him to hold on just a while longer but she wondered if he could. He needed them now and she prayed as tears ran down her face.
“Hang on Baby Boy, hang on.” She thought to herself. “Dear God, let Hotch be right, I’m begging you! Because he can’t take much more.”