Disclaimer: I do not own Criminal Minds.
"You have a choice. Live or die. Every breath is a choice. Every minute is a choice. To be or not to be." – Chuck Palahniuk
o o o o
21 October, 1999
"Hey, kid. You okay?" A woman donning a pair of blue latex gloves walked up to him and looked at the young man, concern written plainly on her weathered face.
"Yeah, yeah. I'm fine. I'll be fine. This is just, uh, this is just my first, um…"
"It's your first suicide. I remember mine. It's all right. Go get yourself some air, Derek. Clear your head. Suicides are always hard."
Stripping off his own latex gloves, Derek Morgan tossed them in the trashcan as he walked out of the garage onto the driveway. He dragged his hand over his face and looked around. No artist could have painted the neighbourhood more picturesquely than it appeared before him. The cul-de-sac belonged on a movie set or in a sitcom not in a Chicago suburb ten miles from the tough neighbourhood he grew up in. Every aspect of the houses appeared perfect: clean brick, crisply white siding, painted gates, perfectly manicured landscaping, fully matured trees planted in front, nice cars parked in the driveways. Only activity marred his idyllic surroundings. What could possibly have been so ghastly to make someone living in aLeave it to Beaver world feel like they had to pull the trigger?
Derek turned away from the surrounding houses to take in the chaos around him. One woman supported another as she sobbed. A teenage boy repeatedly kicked a well-used soccer ball at the gate causing the wood to rattle with the force of his angry kicks. A large, exhausted looking man spoke to two police officers with an eerie, unnatural calm, but Derek could see the man's hands shaking. A sedan pulled up behind the blue CSI van, and a pair of women walked briskly from the car up the driveway to the sobbing woman. A lean young man leaned against one of the cars parked in front of the garage, scowling furiously but not looking up from the pavement. The medical examiner reread her scrawled notes as she walked from the garage to her van. One act and these peoples' lives had been flipped upside down and sideways.
The only person who looked out of place sat in the grass away from everyone else leaning against the brick of the house, passively observing the same chaos Derek watched. She held a notebook in her lap and a pen in her hand, every once in a while looking down and scribbling for a bit and then looking back up. Derek almost thought she didn't belong here, but the uncanny resemblance she held to the corpse lying behind the trailer in the garage fifty feet away dispelled any idea of her being an outsider. Even as he walked in her direction, he knew he shouldn't. He should be walking back towards the garage, back towards his job, but instead he found himself striding over to the girl sitting in the grass.
"Hi," he said cautiously, looking down at the blonde, offering her a tentative smile.
"Hello." She looked up without expression and stared at him.
"I'm Derek. Derek Morgan."
"Congratulations. My name's Samantha. You can call me Sammie, I guess."
"May I?" He asked, gesturing towards the ground besides her.
"Sure, why not?" Sammie shrugged, writing in her notebook, not looking at him as he sat down next to her. "You're a CSI."
"Uh, no. I'm a cop, but we're a tech short today so I got called in to help."
"You picked a pretty gruesome career path. Have you seen a lot of suicides?" She finally raised her gaze from the purple ink covering the pages in her lap to look at him.
"This is my first one, actually."
"Yeah, mine too. I feel like I'm reacting wrong. I dunno… I don't know what to do with myself." Sammie tucked her hair behind her ear and sighed, leaning her head back to rest it against the house and stare up at the unrelentingly bright sky above them.
"I don't think there's a right or wrong way to act at a time like this, Sammie," Derek sat unsure what he should say, caught between wanting to offer comfort and being uncertain of his place. Instead, he simply watched and waited.
"Heh… there should be a guidebook or something. An instruction manual like a computer has. Something with step-by-step instructions – first, do this; secondly, complete this task. That would make everything so much easier. At least I'd know what I should be doing."
"I've been a cop for a about six months now. Everyone reacts to tragedy differently. Your reactions and feelings are just as justified as your brothers," Derek assured her, gesturing towards the teenager who was still slamming the soccer ball into the gate.
"James is going to break that poor ball if he keeps abusing it like that. He's had that ball for five years now. Mum and Dad gave it to him when he was twelve and made the j-high team."
"Oh, um, slang for junior high. Picked it up back in high school. My friends and I used to refer to the kids in junior high who acted like they were…
"Not really important though, is it?" Sammie wiped her eyes with the back of her hand and, for the first time, Derek realized how fragile she seemed. "One bullet and he's gone. It doesn't feel real. I feel like I'm in some alternate reality, some horrible, twisted dream, and when I wake up he'll still be here and life'll go on like usual. Everything will be all right. But life's never going to be normal again. Dammit, I wasn't even supposed to be here! I was supposed to be on campus. I only came home to watch the finals of James' soccer tournament."
Sammie dropped her head into her hands. Her short, choppy hair fell to shield her face and her shoulders shook with her sobs. Derek tentatively ran a hand over her back, still unsure if he should really be doing this. He started a bit in surprise when she leaned against him and cried. But, then, what had he honestly expected would happen when he came over here to talk to her? Staying quiet, he continued to awkwardly rub the girls back as she shifted from outright sobbing to quiet crying to, eventually, the occasional sniffle.
"I'm sorry. You've got some strange girl blubbering all over you."
"It's alright. You just lost someone you love – crying's completely understandable."
"I don't know if love's the right word," Sammie scoffed angrily, kicking at the grass with her foot and pushing her hair away from her eyes again. "He was a mean son of a bitch. This doesn't surprise me at all. One last way to ruin our lives."
"Sammie, he's your…"
"Yeah, well, life sucks and then you die. James and I lost our dad a long time before he off-ed himself last night. He loved to just mess with us, do everything and anything he could to completely fuck us over. He never actually gave a shit about us as long as we appeared perfect in every way so we wouldn't make him look bad. As long as he could pretend and make everyone around him think his life was a freakin' utopia of domestic bliss, he was a happy camper. He'd brag to everyone about James' soccer but never actually took the time to attend a game. He'd show off my music and boast about competitions I won, but always told me I wasn't good enough. He made Mum feel like complete shit all the while letting people believe the two of them were just so in love. He could never be bothered to care as long as we kept up the façade he painted for everyone else. Kind of ironic that he's the one that destroyed the pretense he worked so hard to create, not us. Jackass."
"Life's a lot more complex then what's on the surface." Derek smiled sadly.
"The worst part – despite everything Dad's done and said and everything… I still love him and I'm going to miss him so much. How fucked up is that?"
"It's not, Sammie. It's completely understandable. No matter what he did, he's still your father. He…"
"Derek? I need your help in here."
"I guess that's my cue. I should go. I'm sorry. Here, if you ever need to talk or just want someone to listen, give me a call, okay?" Derek took her pen and scrawled his mobile number across the top of her notebook before pushing himself up from the grass.
"Derek. Thanks. I didn't realize how much I needed to talk."
"No problem. Don't loose that number."
Tugging a second set of blue gloves out of his back pocket, Derek braced himself to walk back into the garage. He picked up his borrowed kit and knelt next to the prone body, undoing the clasp on the mans watch and slipping the wedding ring off, placing both in a paper folder, noticing for the first time the cracks in the cement floor and the bowed wooden shelves lining the walls, faded paint and objects held together with duct tape and sheer luck, finally seeing the exhausted, defeated expression the man wore even in death. Startled, he jumped slightly when the weathered woman knelt next to him.
"You okay, Morgan?"
"Yeah, I think so. Thanks for giving me a few minutes."
"Did you find what you needed?"
"I think so."
o o o o
"Suicide sometimes proceeds from cowardice, but not always; for cowardice sometimes prevents it; since as many live because they are afraid to die, as die because they are afraid to live." – Charles Caleb Colton
Obviously, this is set before Derek joins the FBI and is still a beat cop in Chicago. This started because I was wondering about what kind of events (besides his father and Carl Buford of course) lead to Morgan becoming the person we see on the show a half-decade later.
Thanks for reading! I really hope you like it and stick around. Tell me what you think, good or bad!