Note: This story is the result of watching old movies and reading a Dashiell Hammett novel. Suddenly I saw Derek as a Nick Charles or Sam Spade and had to try it out. And of course, Penelope would be his trusty side-kick/love-interest. As a side note, any race discrimination of the time will not even be addressed or happen here.
Summary: AU. Morgan and Garcia are trying to keep Prentiss out of jail for murder. To bad the suspect list keeps getting longer. At this rate, they may never solve the crime.
***"Hey, sexy. You look like hell."
"Thanks, Pen," I sarcastically replied.
"Hot date last night?" she asked with that impish smile of hers that drives me wild.
I swear I'd fire that back talking woman if I didn't love her like I do.
Perching myself on the end of Pen's desk allowed me a better view of her curves—which until now had been hidden by her desk, and gave my aching body a rest.
"Sorry to disappoint, goddess, but I was wrapping up the Dorpat case."
"Ended in a speakeasy?" Pen teased.
"When don't they?"
"You're just lucky that way. Did you get a free drink?"
I don't know what got into me, but something about that woman drives me nuts. Usually, in many wonderful ways, but today, it seemed to stop at just nuts.
That's the only explanation I have for unbuttoning my shirt and showing off my wound. The bullet may have only grazed me, but it hurt like hell and I wanted a little sympathy from my girl.
"Yeah, really lucky, baby girl. I almost got killed."
She just grinned at me. No sympathy at all.
"Poor baby. Should I kiss it better?"
I probably would have let her, but I noticed movement in my office and started rebuttoning my shirt.
"Who's in there?" I asked with a nod towards my office door.
Pen's eyes lit up as they always did at a particularly good piece of gossip.
"The senator's daughter?"
"The one and the same."
"What could Senator Prentiss' daughter want with us?"
Rolling her beautiful eyes at me, Pen replied, "I swear, sweetness, how can you be as good of a detective as you are and never know what's going on?"
"I have you, baby girl. Why should I look everything up when you always give me more accurate information than anything I could find elsewhere?"
Pen seemed somewhat mollified, but I knew I'd never get away with that answer in the long term.
Penelope Garcia (Penny to those who had no sense) may be blonde and have more curves than Lombard Street in San Francisco, but she was brilliant. I wouldn't be half the detective I am without her. Not that I'll ever tell her that. The woman has a big enough head as it.
"So, why has Senator Prentiss' daughter invaded my office?"
"Well, she was engaged to Jules Norde," Pen happily informed me.
"The late Jules Norde?"
"You got it in one, sugar," she replied with a wink. "It seems the police have listed her as their number one suspect."
"Do you think they're right?"
"Well, rumor has it that she did have good reason to kill the man," Pen temporized.
I didn't like that. I never have.
"Not what I asked, beautiful. I trust your instincts. Should I take her case?"
Pen thought about her answer before slowly nodding. That was my girl.
"I think you should, gorgeous. I think Hotchner and Gideon are wrong this time."
Nodding, I stood up and stretched my back while Pen grabbed her notebook.
As I stared to head for my office and our waiting client, Pen's voice stopped me.
"Next time you solve a case, handsome, I want to be there."
"You forget, baby girl, but I've seen you with a gun. I don't want any innocent bystanders accidentally getting killed."
Pen rolled her eyes. "Gorgeous, just because I don't believe in guns doesn't mean I can't be helpful. Besides, I know you'll catch the bad guy. I just want to see you in action once."
"It's not all fun and games, Pen. I got shot last night. I couldn't stand to see you get hurt."
"I'll stay of the way. I promise," she told me earnestly.
The problem was that I knew I'd eventually give into her. With a bat of those long lashes and a pout of her ruby lips, I turn into a spineless puddle.
Trying to put off the inevitable a bit longer, I grabbed her hand and pulled her close. Wrapping an arm around her waist, I kissed the tip of Pen's nose.
"I think we've kept our guest waiting long enough, my goddess."
Those ruby lips started to pout, but my girl gave in for the moment.
"This isn't over yet, sweetness."
"I never imagined it was, baby girl."
Emily Prentiss didn't look any different in person than she did in pictures. She was all tailored frigidity wrapped up in brown tweed. The complete opposite of my baby girl. Pen's all bright colors and energy.
As we walked in, Miss Prentiss turned and gave me the once over. Then she looked at Pen like she was intruding. My baby girl is never intruding—even when she is.
"I'm Derek Morgan."
She continued to stare at Pen pointedly.
"This is my assistant, Penelope Garcia. She'll be taking notes."
My tone brooked no argument and Miss Prentiss seemed to recognize that. Even if she didn't like. Giving a sniff of disapproval, Miss Prentiss sat down stiffly in the chair across from my desk.
Pen happily perched on the edge of my desk as soon as I'd settled in my chair. Her eyes flashed a bit of worry at my light groan and I suddenly felt vindicated at the shirt episode.
"So, Miss Prentiss, what can we do for you?"
"Call me Emily," she requested in a soft voice, surprising both Pen and me with the decent into familiarity. "Hardly anybody does anymore."
Pen and I exchanged a quick look before I once again asked, "Emily, what can we do for you?"
Instead of answering, Emily fiddled with her already perfectly coiffed hair.
Pen and I are used to dealing with reluctant witness and clients so we both just sat there, waiting for her to finally speak.
"The police think I killed Norde. I didn't, but they have no reason to believe me. I have no alibi."
"That's not enough for them to think you killed him. I don't have an alibi for that night either."
Emily sighed. It seemed as if she really didn't want to share, but she did.
"He was a playboy and stole my money. Detective Gideon said either motive would be good enough for murder but together…"
Her voice trailed off and she looked at her hands. Being used to my brash and flirtatious Pen, I'm always surprised to see a woman act coy. I shouldn't be. Most women aren't like my baby girl.
Pen never did like seeing another soul upset, so when silent tears started to run down Emily's face, Pen jumped off my desk and hurried over to comfort her.
"Don't you worry, Hun. Morgan and I will find the murderer. You won't be going to jail."
"You'll take my case?"
I sighed as the girls turned to look at me. If I hadn't already decided to take the case, I would have caved with the two puppy dog looks. Especially the one from my baby girl.
"I won't just take your case, Emily, I'll solve it."
The grin from my baby girl was enough thanks for my decision.
All in all, we didn't learn that much from Emily Prentiss. Only what we'd heard before and anything Pen could have easily found out.
For the last six months, Emily and Norde had been engaged and planning their large, social-event-of-the-season wedding. Emily didn't know much about Norde, but her father, the Senator, and her mother, who was a powerhouse in her own right, convinced her it would be a socially acceptable match.
Pen felt bad for her, being pushed and pulled around like that. Personally, I think Emily has a backbone in there but hasn't felt the need to use it yet. Though, I do agree with Pen in the fact that I don't believe Emily killed Norde.
Norde, himself, was a professor. He was inventing something, though no one really understood what it was—except maybe his assistant, Spencer Reid, Emily told us. As Pen took down the address I could tell she was itching for a field trip to meet our first suspect.
When we learned that Jennifer Jareau, Norde's secretary, was a beautiful blonde who Norde constantly hit on, Penelope was ready to leave immediately.
I don't know whether to hate her enthusiasm or love it. Either way, we've got a case and Pen's not going to be left out of the action—no matter what I say.
For being recently murdered and engaged to a big shot senator's daughter, no one seemed to really know where Norde did his research. It wasn't until Pen flirted with an impressionable undergrad that we finally got a lead. Pen left the poor kid as a big pile of drooling mush as we headed off towards the agriculture department.
Wrinkling her cute little nose at the smell of fertilizer, my girl said, "What could Norde be researching that's so damn complicated?"
"You just don't like the smell of cow manure, baby girl," I had to tease her.
"That goes without saying, gorgeous. I'm just afraid to find out what he was developing."
Entering the lab, however, it was obvious what exactly Norde and Reid's research involved. The smell of hops is a very distinctive smell.
Looking up at me, Pen's forehead was creased in confusion.
"Sugar, what's so complicated about brewing beer?"
"Maybe Emily never visited Norde's lab. It wasn't exactly a love match, mama."
Before we could continue to discuss the matter, we were interrupted by Dr. Spencer Reid.
Spencer Reid was exactly what one would expect a college professor to look like; thin, a little sickly looking, and wearing thick glasses. Pen thought he was adorable. Frustrating woman!
"Can I help you?" he asked us, pushing his long hair behind an ear.
"Dr. Spencer Reid?"
"We'd like to ask you some questions about Jules Norde."
"We've already answered enough questions for you people!" a female voice snapped.
Turning, Pen and I came face to face with Norde's secretary, Jennifer Jareau.
The blonde thundercloud came storming towards us, anger written on her every feature.
"J.J.," Reid said in a failed attempt at trying to calm her.
"No, Spence! Don't saying anything to these vultures." Stalking closer, J.J. added, "Dr. Spencer Reid didn't do anything wrong except for picking a lying, cheating, no good—"
"J.J.," Reid said again. Only this time, her name was a warning.
Going on without acknowledging him, but modifying her language, J.J. said, "—man as a research partner."
"I take it you didn't like Jules Norde?" I sarcastically asked.
J.J. just huffed and crossed her arms across her chest.
"I told you, we're not talking to anymore reporters!"
"We're not reporters," Pen assured her, butting into the conversation for the first time.
That seemed to throw J.J. for a loop as she dropped her arms to her sides and stared blankly at us. Reid was the one to finally make a response.
"I didn't know they had women on the police force."
Pen smiled at that. She likes keeping everyone on their toes.
"We're not cops. We're P.I.'s."
"I'm the P.I., baby girl. You're my assistant."
Pen gave me a look that told me she was letting me have my way this time, but I shouldn't get used to it.
"I'm Derek Morgan and this is Penelope Garcia. We're investigating Jules Norde's murder on behalf of Emily Prentiss."
"Just like the Prentiss royalty," J.J. scoffed. "Can't just let the police handle it. They have to bring in their own eyes."
"I don't work for Senator and Mrs. Prentiss. I work for Emily, their daughter, who's only a step away with being charged with murder."
Reid didn't seem to be paying any attention to us but lost in his only little world of thought.
"You're Derek Morgan?"
"That's what I said."
Pen laid a hand on my arm in an effort to calm me down. She did that every time she thought I got to snappish with someone. Thing is, her touch instantly calms me every single time. That woman is my anchor with all the dark stuff we with deal with on a daily basis.
"You solved the Dorpat murder," Reid excitedly informed me. "I read all about it in the paper this morning. That was some amazing detective work."
"Spence, now is not the time to be complimenting him. They're here to question us."
J.J.'s comment immediately curbed his enthusiasm and brought us all back to the task at hand.
"How can we help you, Mr. Morgan?" Reid asked with a surprising amount of professionalism.
"How long have you worked with Norde?"
"Almost two years now. We've been working on a way to speed up the brewing of ale but still keeping the taste."
"And you Miss Jareau?"
"I've worked here at the university for six years. I've only worked for Dr. Norde for the past eight months."
"What was Miss Jareau talking about?"
Reid looked blankly at me, so I added, "About Norde being a liar and a cheat?"
"Oh! Nothing much—"
"Spencer Reid," J.J. yelled. "He was trying to take credit for your invention!" Turning back to us, she added in a slightly less shrewish tone, "Norde claimed that he had discovered the new brewing process. He was rarely here! When he was, Norde certainly wasn't working. Spence figured it all out on his own, but since Norde was the senior researcher everything would be put in his name!"
Pen surprised me when she interrupted any further ranting on the small blonde's part with a look of complete sympathy.
"Without the money the invention would have generated you two couldn't afford to get married."
The bright red blush that suffused Reid's face was all the confirmation I needed.
J.J. grabbed one of Reid's hands in both of hers as she started to nod. "We got engaged two months ago. We've been trying to save up…"
"But neither of us makes enough to live on our own yet," Reid added bravely, but still red faced.
"It must have been hard to have Norde continually flirting with you," Pen said to J.J. though she seemed to be looking at Reid.
Reid wrapped an arm around J.J.'s waist and pulled her close, obviously trying to protect her.
"I've never doubted, J.J. I know she wouldn't have ever cheated on me with Norde."
"No," I answered. "But it still couldn't have made it any easier to see him go after her, especially, when he was engaged himself."
"Emily didn't deserve him," J.J. replied. "She was much too nice for him but she couldn't seem to ever tell her parents no."
"She said he was a playboy. Who else did he hit on besides you?"
"I don't know for certain, I tried to stay as far away from him as possible when I could."
"When he wasn't teaching," Reid ventured, "Norde hung out at Rossi's. He liked the liquor and said there was some singer there he liked to…"
"Ogle," J.J. said for him.
I nodded and handed Reid one of my cards.
"I'll be in touch."
Reid nodded in return and slipped the card in his pocket.
"Come on, baby girl."
Once we were alone again, Pen slipped her arm around mine.
"Are we headed to Rossi's?"
"I can't convince you to go back to the office and type up our notes, can I?"
"Not for a minute, sugar."
That woman owns me completely. I might as well buy her a ring.
Rossi's was just like any other speakeasy in this town, or it would be if Pen and I went there during regular hours. The tables were crowded together and with people in those chairs it would be uncomfortable to move around. Ashtrays littered every service and as Pen said, the place was like sticking your head in a chimney stack when it was open.
The owner was hard to find, hell, anyone was hard to find. Speakeasies aren't bustling at one in the afternoon. Finally, though, a dame that was barely dressed and all attitude came out of the back to greet us.
"What do ya want?"
She didn't look inclined to give it to us no matter what we asked.
"Who are you?"
I wasn't in the mood for polite introductions.
"Elle Greenaway. What's it to you?"
Pen, sensing my mood, took over.
"This is Derek Morgan and I'm his assistant, Penelope Garcia. We're looking into the Jules Norde murder."
"We heard he spent a lot of time here," I said, somewhat calmer.
"Huh," Elle snorted. "That drunk practically lived here. He paid well, though, so Rossi never got rid of him."
"Did he cause trouble?"
"Depends on what you call trouble. Does pinching my rear every time I passed count?"
"It depends on how you responded."
Elle laughed, but it was obvious that she didn't find my reply all that humorous.
"Norde couldn't keep his hands to himself and he never left a woman alone. That Prentiss dame of his was in for a rough time. I can't imagine anyone volunteering to spend her life with that bastard."
Pen quickly interrupted, "Emily didn't."
Elle nodded her understanding. "Makes sense. I couldn't really see how Jules could have landed a fish like her. Too good for him," she added for our further understanding.
"So, did you ever respond to Norde's advances?"
Elle's nostrils flared. She was an angry woman and she was ready to let me take the brunt of her hate for the male gender.
"Just because I'm a singer at a speakeasy doesn't mean I'm easy!"
Anything further she would have shared, we never got to hear. Rossi finally made an appearance.
"Elle, you have work to do. Get back to it."
Elle scowled, but she didn't argue. With one last contemptuous glance at me and my girl, Elle turned on her heel and left.
"I'm David Rossi. I heard you were looking for me."
"I don't know how, we didn't ask anyone for you."
"I have connections."
Pen grinned, "You were also waiting to see what we talked to Elle about first before you stepped out."
Rossi looked upset that Pen had found him out, but he soon covered his piqué with a neutral façade.
"So, do you wanna speak to me or not?"
I decided to ignore his rudeness. What was with the people who work at this speakeasy?
"What do you know about Jules Norde?"
"Other than the fact that he was a big tipper?"
"I think you know a lot more than that, Rossi."
"Norde bought lots of liquor that he always paid for promptly. He hit on my girls, but that's what they're here for."
Rossi was obviously thrilled at being able to share. With a sardonic smile, he said, "Let's just say that Elle was sure Norde was her ticket out of here and when he got engaged to Senator Prentiss' daughter, she wasn't happy."
"How about you?" Pen asked, startling both me and Rossi. "What had he promised you?"
Surprisingly, Rossi didn't just scowl, but actually answered her.
"His new brewing procedure. Norde was making me a partner." With a shrug, he added, "I sale liquor. Anyway to get it cheaper…now that he's dead though, I suppose I'll never know if he was lying or not."
I drove while Pen recounted what we knew so far. Unfortunately, the list wasn't very long.
"J.J. hates Norde for messing with her and stealing the credit for sweet Dr. Reid's invention."
"Same motives for Dr. Reid."
I'm afraid I said that a little nastily. Pen just grinned at me.
"Elle Greenaway thought she was Norde's girl and then found out every woman was his girl."
"Woman scorned factor."
"Don't forget Rossi. Norde was his golden goose."
"Unless he found out about Reid."
"Do you think Rossi would have killed Norde just to get a better deal with Reid?" As Pen said that so thoughtfully, I knew she hadn't dismissed the idea out right.
"I don't know, baby girl. I just don't like the man. I think he's up to something, I just don't know what."
Pen reached over and rubbed my thigh. "Don't worry, handsome, you'll figure it out."
Damn, but I love that woman.
ADA Aaron Hotchner took one look at me and my baby as we entered his office and immediately started rooting around in his desk. Pen walked right in and perched on the edge of his desk, much like she does mine.
"Looking for a gun, honey?"
"Alka-Seltzer," Hotch corrected, bringing out his find. "And, I thought we've had a talk about you calling me honey?"
Pen just grinned unrepentantly at him.
Dropping downing into one of the chairs across from his desk, I asked him, "Upset stomach?"
"Every time you two show up you throw a wrench into my carefully constructed cases," Hotch told us as he dropped two tablets into his glass of water. "I think I have a conviction wrapped up and you two wander into my office and tell me I have the wrong guy."
"But, honey, you don't want to send the wrong man to prison, do you?" Pen asked.
"No," Hotch reluctantly agreed. "And don't call me honey."
Propping my feet on the end of Hotch's desk, I reassured him. "Don't worry, Hotch. We don't have any evidence yet, we just want to ask some questions."
"You know I can't share anything about the case with you."
"What, you can't do a little information exchange between law enforcement professionals?" Pen asked with a grin as she leaned over to show off some cleavage.
"Baby girl, come sit by me."
I don't like watching her flirt with any other man but me, regardless of the reason. Pen gave me a look, but sauntered over and sat down on the arm of my chair. Sliding back up, I wrapped an arm around her waist and pulled my girl to me.
"Hotch, come on. Just a few questions."
"Morgan you can read any of the court documents—they're public record."
Lucky for us, Detective Gideon wandered in before we had to wheedle much more.
"Oh, I'm sorry," Gideon said as he noticed us. "I come back."
"No, don't," Hotch instructed him. "Morgan and Garcia are just leaving."
"No, we still have some time before our next appointment," Pen informed Hotch and Gideon with a cheeky grin.
Gideon gave us a look, but continued on into the office, shutting the door behind him.
"What have you two found out?"
"They want an exchange," Hotch said before we could answer.
"What do you want to know?" Gideon asked us.
Hotch sighed in frustration but made no move to stop us. Instead, he took a sip of his dissolved Alka-Seltzer.
"Only a partial. Nothing we can use to match to anybody."
"Do you have any other suspects besides Emily Prentiss?"
"Are you working for the Prentiss family?"
"That's it, handsome, don't give anything away."
Taking her censure to heart, I kissed the side of Pen's head and revised my answer.
"We're working for Emily herself, not the rest of them. Have you spoken to Rossi?"
"The owners of speakeasies aren't very free with police. Rossi just confirmed that Norde spent most of his free time there."
"He wanted Norde's new distilling technique."
"Which he'd need Norde alive for," Gideon argued.
"Not unless he made a deal with Dr. Spencer Reid," I countered just as quickly.
"Ah, I see you have been speaking to Miss Jareau."
"You don't believe her?" Pen asked a little angrily.
My girl's always been a sucker for a tragic romance, not that you could get her to admit it.
"I didn't say that," Gideon temporized in an effort to calm Pen down. "She just seems a bit like a biased witness."
Pen didn't reply verbally, but if her eyes could talk…
Trying to get back on track, I gave Pen a quick squeeze and asked, "Does anyone actually have a viable alibi?"
"Yeah, me," Hotch sarcastically replied before downing the rest of his drink.
Alka-Seltzer came out in March of 1931, making it 77 this year.
Out of all the places in the world, the one I felt the most comfortable in was Penelope's home. There was something about being completely surrounded her things that always calmed me down.
After dinner we headed back to her place for cocktails. Pen was curled up on the couch while I mixed the drinks.
Handing Pen her glass, I sat down next to her and she snuggled against me. Propping my feet on her coffee table I took a sip of my drink and then asked, "So, where are we now?"
"No where, handsome," Pen answered with a sigh. "If Hotch is right and he's the only one with an alibi…"
"And there's no physical evidence…"
"We're going to need to get a confession," Penelope finished.
"Exactly, sweetness. If only we could narrow down the suspects."
"Well, let's rule out Emily."
"Because she's our client?" Pen asked, surprised. "That's not like you, hot stuff."
"Just go with me, baby girl. We won't cross her out completely, but we wouldn't have taken her case if we really thought she was the killer."
"Emily said that Gideon and Hotch thought she was guilty because Norde stole from her and cheated on her."
"Yeah?" I asked, not sure where she was going with this. I took another sip of my drink hoping to catch up.
"Senator and Mrs. Prentiss wouldn't like that either."
"No, I don't think the Prentiss's would have enjoyed being played for a fool. Two more for the list."
"We'll call on them tomorrow."
"Don't even start with me, sugar," Pen told me with that grin of hers that always makes my heart beat faster.
Deciding that putting the case on the back-burner and kissing her would be a better use of my time, I sat my drink down and started to lean in when she decided it was time to start chatting about the ADA of all people.
"I feel bad for Hotch. I think that poor man could use a wife."
Stroking her cheek, I tried to bring around to my way of thinking, "Pen, why don't we let Hotch take care of himself?"
"He just hasn't been the same since his wife died," she continued, completely ignoring me.
Giving up, I grabbed my drink and downed the rest of it. Standing up, I refilled mine and refreshed hers, not that she noticed, she was so busy worrying about that damn ADA.
"He's trying to raise little Jack by himself…"
Settling myself back down by her, I finally interrupted. "Baby girl, where are you going with this?"
"I think Emily would make a wonderful mother."
"Goddess, please tell me you aren't thinking about what I think you are thinking about."
The frustrating woman just smiled at me.
"I think they would just—mesh, sweetness."
"Woman, if…okay, Emily can't have done it because she needs to marry Hotch and take care of him and Jack. Reid and J.J. are in the clear because they have that tragic romance that needs to be fixed. We should probably cross Senator and Mrs. Prentiss off our list as well, because that would be bad for Hotch's career."
"Are you done?" she asked with a look that made me feel like an idiot.
"Sorry, baby girl."
"Yes, you are," Pen replied with a grin as she patted my cheek. "But, I love you anyway."
Taking our drinks, I sat them on the coffee table. Wrapping her snuggly in my arms, I said, "Now, about that…"
Unfortunately, I didn't get any farther than that. About the time our lips would have met, a crazed pounding started at the door. This was followed by angry shouts of, "I know you're in there! Morgan! Garcia! Open the door!"
"That's J.J.," Pen exclaimed, before pulling out of my arms and rushing towards the door.
Acting on instinct, I picked up my drink and then Pen's and downed them both.
As soon as Pen let her in, J.J. burst into tears. She didn't even stop after she downed a drink in one gulp. Pen just sent me to make more while she rubbed J.J.'s back comfortingly and handed J.J. a handkerchief.
After what seemed like forever, J.J. finally dried up enough to talk to us. Though she did require another drink before she sounded semi-coherent.
"They've taken Spence in for questioning."
"Oh, J.J.," Pen comforted her. "It will be okay. They're just questioning him. That doesn't mean anything."
"You didn't see Detective Gideon's face when they took Spence. It was so gloomy."
"It's always gloomy."
Pen didn't appreciate my remarks if her glares were anything to go by.
"Look, J.J.," I said, in an attempt to make up for my last remark. "If they were planning on arresting Reid they would have already done so. They're just trying to see what he knows."
"But, he doesn't know anything," J.J. bawled.
Luckily for me, someone decided Pen's place had become Grand Central Station and there was another knock on the door.
"I'll get it," I told the two women, but I doubt they were listening to me.
On the other side of was Emily Prentiss looking like she was ready to go to a funeral, but I suspect was one of her flirty nightclub outfits. Pen was right, Emily would make Hotch an excellent wife.
Looking over my shoulder in concern at the blondes on the couch, Emily said, "I came by to see how the case was going."
"It's only been a day."
Turning back to me, she blushed faintly, but said, "I know…I just…I wanted to know if there is anything I could do to help. I may not have loved Jules, but I don't want to see his killer go free."
I was about to ask her if she'd still feel the same if the killer was one of her parents, but Emily had already moved passed me and was intent on going to join Pen in comforting J.J.
Giving up on understanding the minds of women, I shut the door and head towards the bar to mix up more drinks. I needed to feel useful, but the only woman I'm ever going to let sob all over me will be Pen.
While I added a dash of vodka, J.J. looked up through her red rimmed and puffy eyes and saw Emily standing uncertainly before her.
"You!" J.J. shouted. She was up and moving before anyone could stop her. "It's all your fault!"
I thought at most that J.J. would slap Emily in some misguided effort to avenge Dr. Reid against the late-Norde, but instead, she attack Emily—both fist flying. Surprisingly, Emily fought back, and surprisingly well for a socialite.
"Derek," Pen commanded as she tried, unsuccessfully to break the two apart.
Reluctantly, I put down the shaker and grabbed our client while Pen held onto J.J.
Emily calmed down as soon as she realized she was no longer being attacked. J.J., however, decided to be content with screaming since she couldn't reach Emily.
"Since Norde's no longer alive, you must pay for his sins! You were his fiancée, you should have stopped him!"
"I couldn't stop him," Emily shouted, getting re-riled.
Surprising us all, Emily ripped off her jacket and showed off her upper arms and collar. All up and down her arms to her elbows and encroaching on her chest were large ugly colored bruises. The edges were starting to turn yellow, showing their age, but it was obvious Emily had been hurt bad. It was amazing she was moving around and nothing was broken.
"This is what happened to me anytime I tried to question him. Mother said I was being impertinent and once I learned how to behave like a wife should, then the hitting would stop. She was wrong!"
Turning to me, Emily buried her face in my chest and started to sob. Luckily for me, Pen came rushing over and pulled Emily away from me into a comforting hug.
J.J. just stood staring with her mouth ajar. Shutting it with a snap, her eyes went wild as she began to panic. Before I could stop her, J.J. rushed out the door, saying, "I've got to save Spence!"
Pen and I exchanged a look over Emily's shoulder and I knew this night was going to be a long one.
We couldn't leave Emily alone, as upset as she was, and Pen wasn't about to be left behind, so I gathered our coats as we hurried out to the car and tried to follow J.J. Luckily for us, I guessed where she was headed and it took J.J. a while to find a cab. We arrived at the police station only a few minutes after J.J. to find her hysterically yelling at the officer on desk duty.
"I need to speak to Detective Jason Gideon!" she was repeatedly shouting. "Now! Get him for me NOW!"
Pen didn't wait anytime rushing forward to try and calm J.J. Emily held back and stepped closer to me.
Pen distracted J.J. long enough for Sergeant Cooper to finally speak.
"I'm sorry, ma'am, but Detective Gideon is with a suspect at the moment."
"He is not a suspect! Spence didn't do anything wrong! I need to tell Detective Gideon that!"
"Ma'am, I'm sure Detective Gideon can speak with you later, but…"
"J.J. …" Pen started, but was quickly cut off by the hysterical blonde.
"Don't J.J. me!" Turning back to Cooper, J.J. yelled, "You tell Detective Gideon Spence didn't kill Norde."
"Spence didn't do it because I did! I killed Jules Norde!"
This night just got longer.
"What is going on here?"
We all turned to see Hotch standing by the door looking grim with his three-year-old son, Jack, perched on his hip.
J.J. wasted no time and went rushing towards him.
"I'm here to confess! I did it! I killed Norde!" Dramatically thrusting out her wrists, J.J. added, "Arrest me and let Spence go!"
From his sigh, it was obvious that Hotch was getting a headache. Rubbing his forehead, Hotch sat Jack down on ground, and said, "Sergeant Cooper, why was I called down here?" Seeing J.J. open her mouth to no doubt repeat her confession, Hotch held up a hand. "I asked Sergeant Cooper, Miss Jareau."
J.J. snapped her mouth shut and Sergeant Cooper gave off a sigh of relief before relating the incident to Hotch. In the meantime, a sleepy Jack Hotchner wandered over to Emily and me.
As I was familiar with the boy, I squatted down until I was closer to his eye level. "Hey, buddy. How are you doing?"
Jack completely ignored me and turned to Emily. "Hi," he shyly replied.
Pen was right, Emily will make an excellent step-mother. It was obvious that in that second she fell in love with the little guy. Instantly, she knelt down and gave him a friendly grin.
"Hello. My name is Emily. What's yours?"
"It's nice to meet you, Jack."
Jack grinned brightly and threw himself into her arms. It seems he fell in love with her, too. Emily picked him up and carried him over to some chairs that were out of the way. Seeing that they would be fine, I walked over to see what was going on with J.J.
I was surprised to see that my baby girl wasn't there, but I didn't have long to think on that as evidently Sergeant Cooper was done explaining and J.J. felt it was once again time to confess.
"I did! I promise! I shot the bastard!"
By then, the commotion had brought Gideon out with Reid hot on his heels. Reid didn't even bother to wait and see what was going on, instead, he shouted, "Don't listen to her! I did it! I killed Norde! I did it for the money," he added somewhat calmer, I suppose to come across more believable.
Hotch didn't say anything, but just turned his attention back to J.J. She didn't let him wait long for a response.
"Don't listen to him! Spence is just trying to protect me!"
Hotch held up his hand to stop the couple from arguing over who was the true killer and asked, "And where did you get the gun?"
"I stole it from Norde."
"Norde didn't have a gun," Hotch countered.
"Well, maybe not registered," J.J. replied stubbornly.
"I bought a gun from a man at a speakeasy," Reid interrupted. "And, I threw it in the river after I shot Norde!"
"That's interesting," Gideon slowly observed. "Because we found the gun next to the body."
"You were holding out on me, Gideon," I chastised.
Giving me an unrepentant look, Gideon replied, "I'm sure it's mutual."
"Okay," Hotch said, getting everyone's attention. "Miss Jareau, Dr. Reid, you both are obviously trying to protect each other. The gun was bought at a speakeasy, we know that. But, I'm willing to bet, Dr. Reid, that you don't even know how to shoot a gun."
Reid's blush was the only confirmation any of us needed. Hotch nodded his head as if confirming his hunch.
"Miss Jareau, we have no intention of arresting Dr. Reid. Now that you know that, would you like to amend your statement?"
"You never planned on arresting him?" J.J. asked, disbelief coloring her voice.
"No," Hotch emphatically informed her.
J.J. just stood there, quiet, trying to decide how to get out of the mess she'd just landed herself in. Reid hurried around Gideon and rushed over to J.J. to pull her into a comforting hug.
"She didn't do it," Reid repeated. "We were together that night."
"That's not a very good alibi, Dr. Reid," Gideon informed him.
Hotch sighed and stopped anyone else from answering.
"It's late. My housekeeper is visiting her sister in Boston, so I had to wake Jack and bring him with me. I'm tired. My son's tired."
As he said that, Hotch realized his son was no longer with him. Looking around, he soon found Emily and Jack. Jack was curled up on her lap, eyes drooping as she told him a story. Hotch's face instantly softened. Pen would have loved this. She'll be ecstatic once I find her.
Turning back to our little confessors, Hotch said, "Miss Jareau, we don't really have enough to make an arrest at this time. You made a confession, but it wasn't witnessed or signed and you were obviously distressed, so I'm going to let it go for the moment. Don't leave town," he added sternly.
"Yes, sir," J.J. answered with a nod.
Turning towards me, Hotch sighed. "Try to keep those two out of trouble, if you can." With that, he walked off towards Emily to get his son.
Anything else he did, however, I never found out because Pen decided to reappear by my side, slipping her hand into mine.
"Baby girl, where have you been?"
Giving me a cheeky grin, she replied, "Oh, just rummaging around."
Smiling in return, I leaned closer and whispered, "What did you find out?"
"Later, handsome. Not in front of the cops."
Nodding in agreement, I kissed the top of her head and turned to round up our charges.
Once everyone was in the car I decided that I couldn't just let J.J. and Reid go back to their homes. There was no telling what those two would get up to if left on their own. Like Hotch, I didn't want to have to deal with anymore of their craziness tonight.
"Obviously, I can't let either of you stay alone. Don't argue," I added preemptively.
The entire backseat nodded, even Emily who has been the least trouble.
"J.J. can stay with me," Emily then volunteered.
"Good," I agreed. "Reid, you're staying with me."
Reid just silently nodded in agreement.
"We'll bring Reid over tomorrow," Pen told J.J. "We wanted to ask your parents a few questions, if that's all right?" Pen then asked Emily.
After we got another agreement we rode the rest of the way to the Prentiss home in silence.
Dropping the girls off wasn't so bad, and J.J. didn't insist on hugging Reid in a tearful good-bye too long, so soon we were back on our way.
"All right, baby girl, what did you find?"
Smiling happily, Pen dug into her purse and pulled out her notebook and a crime scene photo.
Leaning up to see what was going on, Reid asked, "How did you get the photo?"
"I stole it," Pen simply replied. "Now I just scanned…"
"When did you do that?"
"While J.J. was distracting everyone." Pen's voice was a little harsher that time. That was her way of telling Reid to be quiet and let her finish.
"Now, as I was saying, I just scanned the file and wrote down anything that I thought might be important."
"What did you find, baby girl?"
Pen held up the crime scene photo that showed Norde's dead face. Across his left cheek were four deep scratches.
"They found a sliver of a nail in his skin," she told us excitedly.
"Damn, girl. Good job."
"I don't understand," Reid said. "How is that helpful? We can't prove the nail piece belongs to any specific person."
"No," Pen agreed. "But, J.J. keeps her nails short, doesn't she?"
"It makes it easier for her to type," Reid agreed.
"Emily's nails are expensively manicured," I added.
Pen nodded her agreement. "It's not enough that the woman would have cut all her nails to make them even. She would have just filed off the rough edge."
"Leaving one fingernail looking slightly lopsided," Reid finished.
"Got it in one, doctor," Pen congratulated him.
"But, how can that prove…"
"It can't prove anything," I interrupted. "It will just give us a starting point."
"Oh," Reid said slowly. "Where are we going?"
"Rossi's. There are a lot of women there who admit to not liking Norde. It's a good place to start."
Rossi's was just what we thought it would be during regular business hours, crowed and smoky. I kept my arm around Pen and Dr. Reid followed close behind. We didn't get far, however, before I saw her. She was speaking to Rossi and gesturing wildly.
"Ah, hell," Pen exclaimed.
My feelings exactly.
Not bothering to see if Reid was keeping up, I drug Pen with me over to Rossi and the woman who was quickly becoming the bane of my existence. It just goes to show that not all blondes are worth the time.
"Where's your keeper?" I snapped as soon as we were within hearing distance.
Rossi turned to look at us, surprised at my tone. J.J. was just surprised that we were there. Come to find out, Reid had been keeping close behind us because he wasted no time in pushing past me and going to J.J.
Instead of J.J. answering, Rossi decided to take it upon himself to enter a private discussion.
"Miss Jareau and I were just discussing the possibility of my speakeasy investing in Dr. Reid's new invention."
Not feeling very pleasant, and tired of every moment I almost have with my baby being interrupted, I retorted, "I don't remember talking to you."
"Derek," Pen whispered in my ear.
I know she was trying to get me to calm down, but feeling her breath on my ear only made me all the more frustrated. I wanted to be having dessert with her, not be in some damn speakeasy chasing J.J. down again.
Sighing, I turned. There was J.J.'s keeper. Emily was coming from the direction of the bathroom, but now she was standing stalk still and worrying her lip.
Shuffling closer, she said, "I'm sorry. It seemed like a good idea at the time."
"I'm sure it did," Pen assured her.
Rossi bored with us all, turned to the young couple doing an impersonation of clinging ivy on a wall, and said, "So, you have the rights to the new brewing procedure?"
"He invented it," J.J. proudly informed Rossi.
Reid, surprising everyone, spoke up. "Mr. Rossi, if you would like, we could go to your office and go over the particulars. For obvious reasons, I can't give you specifics on how the process works, but I can give you an understanding and an estimated cost vs. potential profit."
J.J. looked up at her professor with stars in her eyes. You would have thought he'd just saved the world, not offered to do a sales pitch.
"That sounds good," Rossi quickly agreed. "My office is this way," he added, pointing the way to the couple.
As the three of them went walking off, Emily said, more to herself than anyone in particular, "That's unfortunate."
That, of course, caught our attention.
Emily nodded up towards the stage. There stood Elle Greenaway, crooning her set, hands wrapped around her mike as if she were caressing it.
"See her middle finger on her right hand," Emily instructed. "It's uneven. I wonder if she'd like to see my manicurist. She could easily straighten that up for the singer."
As Emily made her offer, Pen and I exchanged a look.
With a grin, Pen said, "I have an idea."
Emily wasn't exactly thrilled with our idea but as she was the only one who knew the words to Cheek to Cheek, she was voted as the decoy. Though really, I think Pen knew the words but didn't want to be left out of the fun.
With what my girl would later tell me was amazing finesse, I danced Emily right up on the stage, exchanged her for Elle, and danced my way off, leaving Emily to finish singing the song.
"What are you doing?" Elle snapped as soon as we were off the stage.
"We just have a few questions about where you get your nails done." Pen said with a grin. "Your middle finger on your right hand has a distinctive…"
"Design, is the word I think you're going for, baby girl."
"No, handsome," she replied with a flirty grin. "I was going to say shape."
"Ah, much better," I agreed, slipping my arm around her waist once again.
Elle just scowled at us as she snapped, "I chipped my nail the other day. What of it?"
"You broke it off in Norde's face," I volleyed back.
At first, it looked like she was going to be angry, but then a slow smile spread across Elle's face. "Even if that's true, you can't prove I scratched him then killed him or that I even scratched him in the first place."
After it was all over, Pen and I found out that Hotch decided to have us trailed, just in case. Normally, I'd be mad, but the officer following us around called Gideon and Hotch in at just the right time. That let Gideon make his comment, right on cue.
"Oh, I don't know about that. We can match up the nail fragment with your finger to prove what you did."
"I already filed…"
Elle's face showed her dark fury as she realized what she admitted too. Backed into a corner, she lashed out.
"That still doesn't prove I shot the bastard. You can't link that gun to me. You can't prove a damn thing!"
"Except for the fingerprints."
If Gideon was going to lie, I thought I might as well join him.
Panicked, Elle made a run for it.
I doubt she would have made it far in high heels and a flowing, feathery dress, but J.J. calmly tripping her never let us find out.
Rossi heard the voice change and came out of his office to see what was going on. J.J. and Reid followed them. It didn't take our young couple long to figure out what was going on, so when Elle went running by, J.J. just stuck out her foot and let the pieces fall where they may.
Two uniforms pulled Elle up. As they put the handcuffs on her, she looked towards Emily, who was now standing unusually close to Hotch.
"I did it for you," Elle implored.
I'm not sure what she thought Emily could do, but that didn't stop her from trying.
"Me?" Emily asked, a bit appalled at that confession.
"You and every other woman like you! That bastard used us and abused us. He never thought of anyone other than himself. He would have killed you one day with his beatings, just like he almost killed me! The bastard didn't deserve to live! He sucked us in with his lies and then never thought twice about getting rid of us once he was through."
Gideon nodded to his officers and they hauled her towards a police car.
Turning back, Elle yelled, "I did the public a service! The world is better off without a bastard like him in it! It was justice!"
Emily's eyes widened as she listened to Elle's diatribe. Seeing her so shaken up, Hotch wrapped her up in his arms and held her close. Emily glanced up at him thankfully before cuddling into his embrace.
Pen was right, those two were made for each other. Six months later, in a quiet ceremony, ADA Aaron Hotchner and Socialite Emily Prentiss happily joined their lives together. A year later Emily gave birth to a baby girl who was the apple of her daddy's and her big brother's, Jack, eye.
J.J. and Reid, on the other hand, got married at city hall three days after Elle was arrested. Not only was Rossi interested in Reid's invention, but the press coverage brought people out of the woodwork wanting a piece of the action. Reid and J.J. were going to be able to live very comfortably for the rest of their lives.
As for me and my baby, well as soon as the police car holding Elle started to drive off, everyone lost interest in the happenings on the street and went back inside, another girl taking over Elle's set.
Wrapping my arms around her and pulling Pen against me, I said, "Was seeing the end nearly as exciting as you thought it would be, baby girl?"
Grinning cheekily up at me, Pen replied, "It would have been better if Elle had a gun. Then I'd have gotten to see you in all manly, tough-guy, action mode."
"Maybe next time, baby."
"So, what do we do now?"
"I was thinking it was time for a little dessert," I replied in my most sensual tone.
Pen just laughed and patted me on the cheek.
"Funny, handsome. How about, you drop me home so I can go to sleep? Then tomorrow, we can work on finding another case?"
It was like getting hit with a two-by-four in the head when you're expecting soft kisses and warm embraces.
"Drop you home?"
"It's been a long day, sexy."
"Drop you home!"
"You're starting to sound like a broken record," she informed me with a scowl appearing on her beautiful face. "What else were we supposed to do?"
"I was thinking it was time we went on vacation. Not try to find another case!"
"I'll have you know, handsome, that my mother always told me to not travel alone with a man unless he was your husband."
"We would get married first."
Pulling out of my embrace, Pen put her hands on her hips and definitely started to glare at me.
"Derek Morgan, I don't know what you think gives you the right…"
"I'll get you a ring," I offered, trying to pull her back against me.
Pen just beat my hands off her.
"How about love, Derek? Hum? You never once said you loved me."
"It was implied."
How could she not know how much I adore her?
Evidently I made a tactical error.
"I love you!" I quickly inserted. Then, before she could start yelling some more, I pulled her up against me and added, "Baby girl, Penelope, I couldn't last one day without you. I mean that."
Relaxing against me, Pen asked, "Where we you thinking of going?"
"Anywhere I could be alone with my new bride for a few…weeks without being interrupted."
Wrapping her arms around my neck, she added with a grin, "And you wouldn't make me stay behind during the next case just because we were married?"
"I haven't been able to make you do anything now. Why would being married change that?"
Pen's grin widened. After giving me a quick peck, she asked, "Vegas then Hawaii?"
"We'll drive all night," I agreed.
Finally, I got that lingering kiss I had been hoping for. I am glad I finally asked that woman to marry me. My life's never been better.
Cheek to Cheek was in the top ten songs of 1935 and was sung by Fred Astaire.
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