Subject is an African American male, 39 years of age. Primary complaint: anger management. Secondary complaint(s): stress, insomnia. FBI referral. FEHB ID: MD 217 1-10.
The cold hard facts out of the way, Na'zyia Foster taps her pen on her blotter and sorts through her impressions of her newest patient as well as the wording with which to record those impressions. Though she loves her work in general, this is always her favorite part of the day; the quiet reflective moments between sessions, when she can take everything she absorbed during the hour and sort it into its component pieces.
She can already tell Derek Morgan's going to be quite the challenge. He isn't her first FBI referral, though he is her first from the BAU. That, in and of itself, will be a test of her talents, but Morgan also strikes her as someone who has defenses in place that have nothing to do with his role as a profiler. Certainly the way he deflected most of her preliminary questions—with as much charm and flirtation as with simple evasion—speaks of long and habitual practice.
Alone in her office for at least the next few minutes, Na'zyia allows herself a pleased smile. New patients are like new novels, just waiting to be opened and read.
"This isn't working!" Derek's thighs bunch and lift slightly from the couch as if he wants to lunge from its plush surface before he settles tensely again.
"No," Na'zyia agrees, considering him. "It isn't." The aborted rise is something he does quite often; gestures that he reins in with obvious effort. She wonders what he thinks his physicality will betray.
It's an interesting contrast. On the surface, Derek seems to go out of his way to present himself as easy-going, affable. And flirtatious. Good Lord, the flirtation. It's too over the top for her to take it offensively or seriously—and thank God for that, because he's a good looking brother and she'd like to maintain her ethics, thank you. But underneath his laid-back brotha-man act, Derek Morgan is one of the most controlled individuals she's ever met.
"Why do you think that is?" she asks finally.
Derek puts his head down and chuckles. "Man, you've got the shrink talk down pat, don't you?"
"But the question's a serious one. You say this isn't working. Why do you think it isn't working?"
"Why do you think it isn't working?" he bats back.
Na'zyia spreads her hands. "Trust."
Derek laughs again. "Now you sound like Reid."
"He's…" Na'zyia glimpses an uncharacteristic uncertainty as Derek pauses. The moment passes quickly and Derek shrugs. "He's this guy I work with."
Na'zyia nods but lets the silence lie a moment longer, seeing if Derek will fill it in with something. It's harder than she thought to hide her smile and the little stab of triumph when Derek says, all in a rush:
"He's a friend."
Session notes: Communication breakthrough today; patient opened up about previous sexual abuse (male authority figure; non-familial). Occurred over a number of years, beginning when the patient was 13..
Na'zyia wraps the end of one braid around her forefinger, tugging gently as she considers how to translate the mixture of loathing, guilt and deeply buried love Derek had demonstrated as he spoke about the man who had raped him. She found it interesting that he had steadfastly avoided that word, 'rape', while still willing to label what had happened to him as abuse.
Now that she's not actively writing, she realizes her head is throbbing. Child abuse of any kind is always one of her huge instant-rage triggers; her admiration for the fine man Derek Morgan has made himself in the meantime can't even begin to outweigh her anger—impotent, so completely impotent—at what was done to him, the obscene betrayal of trust.
She'd already recognized Derek was going to be a hard nut to crack, his experience as a profiler making it too easy for him to try and game the system, even when he wasn't consciously trying to. His supervigilant sense of control makes a lot more sense to her now; the question is…how to crack it?
Reid, she writes, the only one of his coworkers he's mentioned in more than passing, and circles it.
"No, I'm not suggesting anything about your sexuality," Na'zyia denies, unsurprised at Derek's tense resistance to her even raising the subject. She'd known this was going to touch on some sensitivity when she broached the topic, but it's been several weeks and Derek hasn't come near it again. "Don't overinterpret the question. I'm asking very simply: have you given any consideration to your continuous aggressive pursuit of women? Or the fact that, by your own description, you have yet to have a long-term relationship?"
Derek resettles himself on the couch, crossing his legs and throwing his arms wide over the sofa's back. It's an attempt to look nonchalant, but, if anything, it only emphasizes his discomfort. "I like variety, what can I say?" he says, flashing a roguish grin. Then, when she doesn't respond, "Look, I'm in a profession where I routinely work fifty-plus hour weeks and I'm out of town more often than I'm not. There are days I don't even remember what my apartment looks like. So when I do have a little time to myself, I just want to have fun, without a lot of hassle."
Na'zyia purses her lips a little, tilting her head. "Is that how you think of relationships? As 'a lot of hassle'?"
Derek shrugs. "Not all the time, no." He abandons his sprawled back pose for a more familiar one, perched on the edge of the cushion with his elbows braced on his knees. "But they require work. And I got a job. You want long-term relationships…I've got long-term relationships with my team. But as for anything else…who's got time for that?"
Session notes: Patient extremely defensive when questioned about relationships. Though homosexuality not mentioned, patient immediately drew a correlation. Patient didn't previously present as particularly defensive re: sexuality. Unclear what's creating new insecurity; definitely worth f/u.
"The thing is," Derek begins and then stops, chafing his chin with one hand. Na'zyia lets the silence hang, waits for Derek to fill it in, but it goes on so long that even she—who could always outwait her mother's frigid, punishing silences with equanimity—feels uncomfortable, as though she's lost him.
"De—" she starts, but doesn't get as far as the 'r' sound before he interrupts:
"I can't stop thinking about it," he says. He meets her eyes for the first time since sitting down and in them, she sees a sullen resentment. One it wouldn't take much to fan into a full blown anger, she judges and wonders whether it would be better to push Derek into it—and the catharsis that could come after it—or to back him off of it, let him come at it when he's not so churned up.
"What's that?" she asks, as much to stall the decision as her interest in hearing the answer.
Derek shakes his head. It looks less like a denial than the attempt to shake something, some annoying fly thought, away. "This last week at work…it's been horrible. I'm messing up left and right, can't keep my mind on what I'm doing. And Reid…" he chokes and passes his hand over his barely-there, close-shaved hair. It's the most obvious sign of distress he's ever shown, even when relating the story of his rape at the hands of his mentor. "I almost got Reid killed today, because my head was somewhere other than where it was supposed to be!" He gets up from the couch—lunges, really—pacing in short, controlled circles. "This isn't working!"
"Actually, I'd say this time it is working and that's the problem," Na'zyia comments, lacing her hands together.
"Oh? How's that?"
"We've stirred up a lot in these last few sessions, Derek, touched on a lot of things that you've shoved down deep. When one is pushed out of one's comfortable rut, it's only natural that it's going to take some time to find one's footing again."
He rolls his eyes and snorts, something she wouldn't put up with from her son, and she can hear a bit of the mom-voice in her tone when she asks, "How've you been sleeping?"
Another huff. "What sleep?" But the fight goes out of him and he resumes his tense perch on the couch's edge. "If I get any sleep at all, the nightmares make sure it's not much."
"Have you given any thought to taking some kind of sleep aid?"
As she expected, his denial is immediate, the shake of his head emphatic. "Can't do that," he insists. "Can't stay on top of my game if I'm all muddle-headed on drugs."
She smiles. "Is this the top of your game?"
His laugh sounds like it's surprised out of him and some of the tension goes out of his shoulders. "Ain't even close."
"So, you said 'I can't stop thinking about it'. What can't you stop thinking about?"
Another one of those shoo, fly headshakes. "I'm a profiler, you know? My job, it's all about getting into the heads of guys who… You don't want to be inside those heads. And you don't want to go inside those heads without having a good grasp on who you are, because that's how you get lost." He looks at her, the anger gone, replaced by something else, something like a plea. "I always felt like I knew who I am."
"And now you don't?"
His mouth screws up, twisted. "Now I don't know." Derek laughs, short and unfunny. "How stupid does that sound? I don't know if I know."
"It doesn't sound stupid to me."
"I just keep thinking, you know? Did he—did Buford—do what he did to me because of him or because of me? Because he saw something in me that made him think it was okay?"
"So you're saying you had no sexual attraction to your coworker… I'm sorry, what is his name again?"
"Reid," Derek supplies. "Spencer Reid."
"Right. Reid. So you had no sexual attraction to Spencer before this encounter?"
"It's not 'an encounter', all right? Don't call it an encounter."
"All right; what would you like me to call it?"
He chafes his hands between his knees. "I don't know."
"So. You've had to cancel your last couple appointments. Why don't you catch me up on what's been happening? How are you sleeping?"
He sounds better, looks better, though she can still see the signs fatigue and stress have left on him. So it would seem that, whatever his reasons for canceling, the last few weeks have been good ones.
"And the nightmares?"
He shrugs. "Manageable."
"And how are things with Dr. Reid?"
Derek shrugs again, as evasively as the first time. Another sore topic, clearly. "Fine, I guess."
"You only guess?"
"Look, can we talk about something else?"
"Certainly," she agrees. She waits for several beats, but Derek still doesn't say anything. Finally, she prompts, "What would you like to talk about?"
"I just feel like there's no point to it," he says finally, after a long pause, fingers knotted taut-knuckled between his knees. "I mean…I'm not gay and I work with Spencer. Any way you look at it, that's a recipe for disaster."
"Are you trying to convince me or yourself?" she asks.
He hehs under his breath but doesn't take the bait. She decides to give him a little slack, see how it plays. "How are your other relationships going?"
It's the wrong thing to ask; she sees it in the way his body language changes, tightens. "I haven't been seeing anyone else lately."
"Oh?" She doesn't mean to sound so surprised, but, let's face it: she is. "I didn't know."
He shrugs. "It's not a big deal. I'm not… Just work's been so crazy lately; we've been chasing this guy for a couple weeks and I just… I haven't felt like it."
"But you have continued seeing Dr. Reid?"
"I'm not seeing…" he huffs defensively, then sighs. "It's just different with Spencer. We're together all the time. It makes it easy."
"Derek," she says, leading with her voice so that he looks up at her. The anger is there in his eyes again, but it's not directed at her, so much as inward, murky and confused. "What are you afraid of?"
He stares at her a long time, no particular expression on his face, no movement of his features to indicate what's going on behind them. "Myself," he says finally. He straightens, passing his hand across his chin and then back, over the dome of his skull. "I get…so angry. And it's not his fault, it's not him, it's me, but I get so mad and I worry. I worry I might hurt him. Because I'm fucked up. And that…that's not okay. I'm not okay with that."
He pauses, but she thinks he's not done; holds her tongue until he starts up again, halting and quiet: "We were sitting there the other night and I'm saying to him, 'I'm not gay. I like you and you're my friend, but I'm not into all this, I'm not gay'. And Reid, he's sitting there right next to me and he's agreeing, 'Yeah, yeah, you're totally not gay, I know that, yeah, of course'…and then two seconds later, we're in my bedroom and I don't even know how it happened, you know? I don't know what I'm doing."
She glances at the clock and sees, to her chagrin, it's later than she expected. She thinks he could use a minute to collect himself, though. "Okay, Derek, I want to talk about this, and we'll get to it in a minute, but I need to bring up a piece of business first. You've only got a few more visits authorized on your referral. So we need to talk about whether you think it would be useful to you to keep going, past the number of your authorized visits or whether you want to set some short term goals for the time we have left and look at winding down our relationship."
"Man, has it been that long already?" His smile is slow to start, but it looks genuine. "I mean, it feels like we've been in here forever, but it feels like we just got started, too."
"So what would you like to do?" she asks.
"I'd like to keep going," Derek replies.
"I told Spencer about you," Derek says, as she closes the door behind him.
It's a big step and she can see he recognizes it in the self-deprecating way he shrugs. "We were talking and he suggested maybe I should see a therapist and I told him I was already seeing one." He shrugs again.
"And what was his reaction?" She settles into her chair but he remains standing, looking out the office's bow window to the street below.
"He was surprised. Of course he was; Big Bad Derek Morgan see a shrink? Hell, no." Derek crosses his arms, still watching the street.
"Is that how you see yourself? 'Big Bad Derek Morgan'? Or is that how you think Dr. Reid sees you?"
He turns to look at her and smiles. "What, you don't think I go through a lot of trouble to be big and bad?" He gestures at her. "You're a sister. You gonna tell me you don't put on that strong face in the morning along with your make-up?"
"Fake it 'til you make it." She nods and he gives her a brilliant smile.
"Fake it 'til you make it," he agrees, still smiling. "That's right."
"And are you?" she asks. "Faking it?"
He wobbles his hand back and forth. "Some days more than others."
"I heard about your cowork—your friend," she offers. She seldom brings outside events into the session unless her patient does first, even with those patients that, like Derek, have enough exposure to show up on her TV screen, but her shot in the dark seems to hit the mark as he finally takes his seat opposite her. "I'm very sorry."
He nods, accepting her condolences without expression. "It's about trust, isn't it?"
He gestures vaguely, without object. "This. Everything." He pauses, seeming to consider. "Relationships. You trust that this person is presenting themself honestly, in good faith. You assume that everything they're telling you isn't a lie. You assume." He fills the word with such vicious poison that Na'zyia isn't sure what to do with it, isn't entirely sure where he's going.
A moment later, calmer, Derek says, "Dr. Frank Crane wrote: 'You may be deceived if you trust too much, but you will live in torment if you do not trust enough.'"
She's still not sure where he's heading, sorting probabilities in her head as she asks, "Who is it that you don't trust, Derek?"
His mouth jags in an attempt at a smile, but never quite makes it. "Who ya got, Doc?" He spreads his hands.
"I don't think the problem is so much that you can't trust other people, Derek."
"No?" This time he manages to smile. "Then what's the problem?"
"The problem is you don't trust yourself."
"I was thinking maybe I could bring him, some time."
"I think that would be up to you, whether you feel comfortable with it or not. How are things with the two of you?"
"Good," Derek says, clasping his hands together between his knees, palms pushing against each other. "They're good."
"And you're still dating—" She sees the beginning of resistance on his face and quickly amends, "You're still dealing exclusively with him?"
Derek shrugs. He's changed a lot in small ways in their time together, but the bigger changes will be slower to come. "I know it's a cop-out," he says. "I do know that. But…as long as I don't put labels on it, I can just about handle this, you know? I just know I like being with him. And I don't know if that makes me gay. I don't exactly care all that much. But I've tried to give him up and I just can't do it, I can't. I don't want to. So maybe…Maybe it is a cop out. But it's a cop out I'm willing to make, until I figure it out some more. Is that good enough?"
She smiles. "Yes, Derek. I think we can work with that just fine."