Author: Sara Nublas
Character: Penelope Garcia, all team involved
Summary: Garcia joins the team in the field and the day takes an unexpected turn. Humor and Friendship.
Disclaimer: I don't own the characters of the show Criminal Minds, I am just borrowing them. The story though is inspired to true events...
A/N: This is my first Garcia-centric fiction, any comment or suggestion would be very welcome and appreciated. Thanks!
“I still can’t understand why we have to climb a mountain to question a witness” Garcia snorted while walking behind the team.
“Come on baby girl, don’t you appreciate the nature, the fresh air, the sun light and the birds singing instead of your tiny office for a change?” Derek encouraged her, amused by her grumpy mood, “And I wouldn’t call this a mountain, it’s barely a hill”
The technical analyst addressed the profiler with a nasty look, then stopped, panting “I can enjoy the nature at the park with Kevin, for a picnic on my free day, laying on the grass, reading books, whispering naughty things to his ears, without walking twenty miles in the middle of nowhere to go and visit a hermit.”
Derek shot her a skeptical look, chocking a laugh about her definitely overdramatic and farfetched description of the situation, but decided not to argue.
They had been requested to consult on a series of weird disappearances in Oregon; five hikers had gone missing in the woods over the last month, the last one before vanishing had spent the night in a farm at Mount Pisgah, so now the team was going to join the search party and to talk to the farmer, who last saw the missing man. In this particular case Hotch had required Garcia’s presence in the field, where they were supposed to meet the detective in charge of the investigation and coordinate with him.
“Oh boy,” she moaned slowly walking her way to the top of the hill “I’m going to die, my heart will explode and I will exhale my last breath in proximity to a farm on the top of the world, away from the civilized society..”
Emily exchanged a glance with Morgan, both trying to repress their laughs “Garcia, once we get to the farm we will find somewhere where you can refresh and you’ll be as good as new” she tried to encourage her friend.
Garcia had always made of style her signature, a unique brand that reflected her personality and announced her nature: Penelope Garcia one of a kind. She had tried once to impersonate the sober and professional agent that JJ was, but it didn’t work. Parting Garcia from her clothes and accessories was like throwing Superman into a room full of kryptonite. That day Garcia had opted for a brown top, peppered with silver sequins and glitters coordinated with a red creased fluffy skirt, which right now was blown by the wind in a Marylin Monroe fashion, with the difference that Marylin was comfortably exposing her legs in a busy street to the benefit of amazed men admiring her curves, and not in the countryside on a muddy slope with her new white stilettos completely soaked with dirt, exposed to the unruffled look of cows and goats and to the amusement of her colleagues. In addiction, the multicolored butterflies she had chosen as hair dress to keep her chignon in place were tragically slipping out of their position, dropping loose locks on her forehead.
She looked desperate at Emily who was waiting for her with a friendly smile “Why are you so awfully perfect and fresh?” she moaned moving her eyes between her friend’s comfortable hiking attire and the disaster her own beautiful clothes were turning into.
“Because I’m not hiking with 8 cm high heels and a princess hairstyle, Pen. Look, we’re almost there” she squeezed her hands trying to provide some comfort.
Garcia hinted a feeble smile and complied with the profiler.
Hotch hang up the phone and walked toward Rossi with his usual stoic undecipherable expression “The detective in charge has been held up by another case and won’t come up here, he’ll join us later”
“Well, you’ll tell Garcia” Rossi commented moving his eyes between Hotch and Reid.
“Why? Something’s wrong?” Hotch inquired.
“She’s not very comfortable with hiking and climbing, especially on her heels..” Reid added.
“This is barely a hill, there’s nothing to climb and we’ve been walking for less than fifteen minutes” Hotch pointed out as if he was speaking to a whining child.
“Actually there is a still open debate on the distinction between hills and mountains” the young doctor clarified “for years the geographers of the United Kingdom defined a hill as a landform extending from the surrounding terrain and reaching at least 300 m in elevation, but according to hill walkers a hill is at least 600 m above sea level”
“Oh God, here it is Discovery Channel” Rossi sarcastically commented.
“Now,” the young doctor carried on unbothered by the older profiler's comment “technically considering that the maximum elevation reached in this range of hills is 467 m above sea level and picking the hills walkers criteria, you’re right, this is a hill and not a mountain. But if we wanted to concede some credit to the English tradition and taking into account that this place is called Mount Pisgah and not Hill Pisgah…”
“Where’s the detective?” Morgan, joined by Prentiss, interrupted Reid’s dissertation.
“He’s not joining us” Rossi answered glad the semantic conference was over.
“Ouch” Emily commented “Who tells Garcia she’s been hiking for nothing?”
“Again, this is not hiking. Even my six year old son knows it” Hotch settled once for all with a hint of annoyance in his voice.
Emily and Derek looked at the other profiler in interrogation, perplexed by Hotch’s blunt reaction.
“This is Mount Pisgah, but it’s not a mountain, it’s a hill. Unless you’re British, that’s all another story then” Rossi playfully explained beckoning Reid, who didn’t wait further prompts.
“Strictly speaking though this place has been named after the biblical Mount Pisgah, who is situated in the Jordan Valley and I doubt at that time somebody was bothering about topographical definitions” he pointed out and soon stopped mortified, noticing the curt looks by his colleagues.
“Anyway, where is she?” Hotch demanded stern.
“Ah, there is a little fountain near the staples, she went there to refresh herself and be more presentable for..” Prentiss’ answer was suddenly interrupted by a long, acute scream.
The five profilers turned immediately, guns in hands running toward the source of the cries and suddenly froze in an incredulous, astonished expression, uncertain on what to do.
Garcia was running uphill, waving her arms in the air, her crimson skirt wildly waving in the air like the cape of a toreador; few metres behind a cow was merrily trotting after the technical analyst, the bell dangling from the animal’s neck and sounding rhythmically in the air at every pace, thus causing Penelope to scream even louder. The shoes of the woman were soon thrown in the grass to speed up her run, the state of her outfit being suddenly the last of her concerns. Once she got to the top of the hill, where a solitary old oak was standing, Garcia turned around leaning on the stem in panic and confusion and eventually not seeing any other way to hide from the approaching bovid, she started climbing the centennial tree.
Few meters away the profilers were trying to understand what to do.
“What the hell is she doing?” Derek asked bewildered.
“I guess she mistook it for a bull” Prentiss offered.
“Well, in that case running away with a red skirt is not gonna help” Reid countered.
“Actually the bull doesn’t distinguish colors, he’s excited by the movement” Prentiss pointed with nonchalance even though Rossi caught the hint of satisfaction on her face for correcting the genius of the company.
“Guys” Hotch recalled their attention “could we please focus on rescuing Garcia?”
The group reached the terrified woman who was perched on a branch with steady grip and heavy breath.
“Hey Princess, I didn’t know you were into tree hugging” Derek tried to smooth the atmosphere joking.
“Morgan, as much as I love you, I don’t need your sense of humor right now. Please, do something!” Penelope cut him short, shouting terrified looks at the cow, who had stopped trotting and was now peacefully grazing a bunch of daisies.
Emily got closed to the animal who winked at her and absent mindedly picked another mouthful of grass “Garcia, I really don’t think you are in danger. This cow probably followed you because you attracted her attention with your screams” she tried to placate her.
“Balls! He wants to kill me! It’s not a peaceful cow, but a crazy bull, I clearly saw the malice in his eyes when he charged me” she shouted back.
“Garcia, this is not a bull. It’s a cow, there is no horn, and look down here, does it seem to you a creature capable to kill?” this was Rossi’s turn to dissuade the blonde, then he turned to Reid “hey genius, when we need your help you suddenly go dumb?” he commented annoyed.
“Rossi, what do you want me to do?” the young doctor whined back.
“Don’t you have some cattle dissuasion techniques to share with us?” Rossi pushed impatiently.
Reid cogitated for a moment then he spoke “Garcia, there are in average 19 cattle-related deaths per year, at least this the estimate between 1992 and 2007, and 10 out of these 19 are caused by a bull, so you already reduced the chances of a fatal outcome…”
“Hey kid!” Morgan admonished him “We’re trying to get her down the tree, not to freak her out even more”
“That’s what I’m trying to do, if you let me finish I will explain how for example deaths caused by lightning are more frequent, and this is a good reason why she shouldn’t stay so close to a tree” he explained the brilliant logic hidden behind his reasoning.
“Yes, the only problem is that I don’t see any cloud at the horizon, but I am pretty sure there’s a huge piece of cattle parked right under my tree! So unless you do something now I’m not gonna move” she settled with no space for replies.
“Ok” Hotch intervened evenly, “I’m done listening to lightning and cattle related statistic and to cows behavioral analysis. Reid, go and look for the farmer and, please, no more statistics for the day”
The young doctor ran away grumbling about the clear logic of his reasoning, in the meanwhile the four profilers went on monitoring the cow who didn’t seem bothered at all by the bedlam and was blissfully ruminating.
After a few minutes Reid reappeared with a man in his sixties all agitated and hurrying up behind him.
“Penelope!” the man called in worry, causing the profilers and the analyst to turn in perplexity at the degree of attachment he was apparently displaying for a perfect stranger “Penelope, my love what are you doing? Chasing strangers around the countryside like a stalker? I taught you better than that, you naughty girl!” he stopped in front of the cow, while the group stared at him bewildered, not knowing if to approach the situation in professional detachment or to burst out with laughs.
The farmer then lifted his eyes “Madam, I’m so sorry. She’s one of a kind. All my cows are quiet and disciplined, but this one is a loose cannon, everybody tells me ‘what are you waiting for Archie, this one is good only for stakes’ but I can’t bring myself to hurt her, she’s weird but she has a golden heart and she’s affectionate. Sometimes I think she believes to be a butterfly that can chase people around without scaring them, but she’s harmless, I promise”
Everybody looked at the tenderness the man manifested for his cow and couldn’t help smiling.
“You called your cow Penelope…?” Garcia whispered to the farmer.
“Yes, all my cows have names. But this one, I knew she was special since I first saw her, so I thought that an exceptional creature needs an exceptional name” he smiled.
“Couldn’t agree more” Hotch convened with a smile “I guess we can call it love at first sight, when two unique creatures meet and immediately recognize each others, right?”
Finally Penelope agreed to abandon her refuge and came down helped by Morgan.
After the situation had been clarified and everyone calmed down, Garcia and Reid were left to question the farmer and create a geographical profile which could indicate the comfort zone of the unsub.
It took two days of exhausting manhunt before they were able to find the first four victim lifeless and the last one about to be killed. They just got in time and caught the unsub, a former soldier suffering from PTSD who was convinced to be still in a war zone and considered all the hikers passing through his comfort zone as enemies.
The team finally made it back to the farm that in the meanwhile served as coordination centre for the investigation and the searching party. They were all drained, the awareness that four lives were taken and that the unsub was actually a former hero undergoing a massive trauma left them all with a feeling of helplessness and dismay, sometimes this job was like a dog chasing its own tail, and finding the bad guy didn’t always mean victory; there was a lot of pain and sufferance to include into the equation and they rarely ended up taking back home a positive balance. They would have dealt with this, they would have had their nightmares, swallowed the pain and got back on track, just another little crack on the dam. As always.
This time though their return was welcomed by a rare vision that immediately cheered up their mood. Garcia was sitting on a wooden bench outside the farm, her bare feet childishly swinging over the grass underneath; at her side there was her namesake, still busy in chewing over a multicolored bunch of grasses and flowers, the gentle light of the approaching sunset extending a golden blanket on the landscape and making everything so precious.
The profilers couldn’t help smiling at that odd but cute couple, for once after a gruesome case they wouldn’t have fallen asleep with the face of the unsub and his victims stuck in their minds; for once their dreams would have been accompanied by Penelope’s blissful smile together with her new special friend, staring at the sunset and appreciating the beauty of life.
I’m not native of the States and I found the infos on Mt Pisgah on Wikipedia, as well as the info about the debate on the hill-mountain definition. I’ve never been to Mt Pisgah either in Jordan or in Oregon, even though now I’m kind of curious about both, anyway I apologize in advance in case I made some mistakes, it wasn’t intentional!