In retrospect, thought Kevin Lynch, today might not have been the best day for the BAU debut of the bacon donut.
He knew that things had been more chaotic than usual lately. Penelope had had to cancel or shoo him out of the office a lot more. Always apologetically, always with the promise to make it up to him later. And she usually did, in some very creative ways. (Not all of which were dirty; in fact, about 75% of them were really rather tame.)
Because at heart, thought Kevin, he was really a rather tame guy. And on days like this, he knew Garcia appreciated it. She had told him so. God bless her native candor.
After the break with the thyroid medicine, Kevin had been, frankly, exhilirated. He wondered if this was how she felt all the time, chasing the bad guys, tracking them down. And then, in the form of his supervisor, things had come back down to Earth. SSA Lindell was on good terms with the BAU, but she wanted her own analyst back. End of quarter returns always resulted in a uptick in the work of the Quantico White Collar unit, and the day had gotten a little crazy.
Kevin had promised to keep in touch through text; Penelope had acknowledged with short responses which trailed off through the afternoon.
Finally, Lindell had given him the go-ahead to take an extended break, and so he motored his way back over to Building A.
As soon as he entered the bullpen, he knew something was wrong. The place was deadly quiet, skeleton crew only. Even "Pretty Boy" Anderson was no where to be found. Kevin didn't flatter himself that his Spidey-sense was anywhere in the top 50, but something was not right.
He picked up his pace, and made his way to the Lair of Supreme Genius, Superlative Insight, and Scone Recipes. (She liked when he called it that; he had even made her a sign for some holiday or another. Kevin Lynch, master of clip-art.)
He knocked; there was no response. He carefully pushed open the door. Penelope was still there. Motionless; only the hum of the hard-drives and the sound of her breathing pierced the quiet.
"Penelope? You okay, honey?"
No response. He drew up behind the chair, putting his hand on the backrest. She swung around, startled.
"Kevin? Kevin. Oh god, I'm sorry, I didn't hear you come in."
Kevin would have smiled at the self-effacement of the words; after all, he was the one who intruded. But then he looked at her straight on for the first time.
She was weeping. Her mascara was running, her eyes were squinched nearly closed, and her nose and cheeks were bright red. Kevin immediately knelt in front of the chair.
"Oh god, honey, what happened? Penelope, please tell me what happened. Let me help."
She looked him in the eye for a second, and then started to cry again.
"He found them. Foyet found Haley and Jack."
Kevin felt like he had been punched in the chest. But he took Penelope's hands in his, and stayed silent as she continued.
"Sam Kassemeyer's dead."
"The marshal on their case?"
"Yeah." She looked up at this. "But he didn't tell him a thing. Not a thing. He was so brave. But Foyet found the phone, and he called Haley, and they went to the house..."
At this, Penelope looked like she was about to topple over, so Kevin took her in his arms.
"But you guys were tracking him, right, the team was following him."
She continued to talk into his shoulder. That was somewhat of a good sign, he thought. It was when she stopped talking that he always got worried.
"I tried, I tried, I swear to god I tried, but he was too good, Kevin. He was one step ahead of us the entire time. They were at Hotch and Haley's old house, and Hotch went there."
She sat up at this, and took a breath, and seemed to pull herself together somewhat.
"He had Hotch on the phone, and we were patched in, all of us, but we couldn't do anything. Not a thing. And he shot her. We listened, we heard her....She's gone. She's gone."
Kevin found there was nothing he could say to that. Nothing that could do any good. So he just held Penelope's hand as steadily as he could. As though if he stopped, she might blow away with the prevailing wind.
He gulped back the rising tide of emotion.
Something approaching a spark reached Garcia's eyes.
"No, no, Hotch got there in time."
After a moment, something clicked in Kevin's head, and he asked the question before he could stop himself.
"So Hotch got to the house, and Foyet was still there?"
Garcia looked as if she would rather answer any question but the question Kevin hadn't asked. She had stopped crying, and her voice had gone flat.
"He's dead too. Foyet. Derek called a little while ago. I think there was a fight. And Derek and Emily and Rossi arrived a little bit after...after it ended."
Ended. They might have been Technical Analysts. But Kevin was pretty sure that both of them knew what Garcia was getting at. The ugly messy part of the job, that *thing* that was part of the FBI makeup.
But then Kevin looked into Garcia's big beautiful eyes. He had never considered himself a violent man; he had faced enough bullying all the way through school to abhor it. But presented with the possibility that Agent Hotchner had faced today...he couldn't say he wouldn't have done the same. He really couldn't.
Garcia's breathing seemed to have calmed down a bit, and the tears had slowed.
"Is there anything I can do, anywhere I can take you?"
"Yeah. They're taking Hotch and Jack over to Inova, to check them out."
"Say no more." Kevin got to his feet; his knees cracked slightly. "I'll just call Lindell and let her know I'm taking off."
"Wait, Kevin, you don't have to do that..."
"Penelope, they're your family, you're my family, so they're mine. I'm doing this for you, and that's final."
She smiled slightly, for the first time.
"Thank you, baby."
She got up, shakily, and looked over at Kevin.
And then she tackle-hugged him with the force of several Mack trucks. Kevin suspected she might have bruised a few ribs, but he kept his mouth shut. So he stood there and held Garcia, bathed in the light of a dozen computer monitors.
She whispered into his collarbone.
"Don't you ever..."
"Don't ever what?