Penelope felt like she was typing through gelatin, and everything took way too much concentration and energy to complete. She had been on the phone with Alex, discussing what the team and the police had found in the hotel room. A fresh bout of tears had fallen down her face when Alex told her that Curtis had forced Erin to drink, and she knew that her soulmate would consider that atrocity to be enough to reset her clock, that she would think all her carefully made progress had been obliterated in a single moment, when the first sip of alcohol had been forced down her throat.
And now, she was trying to pinpoint where, exactly, Erin could be. She didn't have her cellphone or watch on her, both of which would have helped her pinpoint her location, with the built in GPS they had. So now, with the help of the police, she was carefully sifting through the camera data to see if she could spot Erin. Curtis was still an enigma to her, since she had been unable to locate a current photograph of him, and that frustrated her to no end.
"Hey, isn't that her?" Derek asked, touching the screen as Penelope paused the recording. "I mean, I've seen her wear that sweater when I've been over at your home. It's kind of distinctive."
"That's because her mother knitted it for her. It was the last thing she ever made Erin." Turning her face up to Derek, she smiled for the first time in what felt like ages. "Now to figure out where this is, and to see if we have a good glimpse of Curtis." He nodded, and Penelope began to go through the footage frame by frame until she figured out the cross streets, hurriedly texting the information to David, since she knew that Hotch would be driving.
"And have you found a picture of Curtis yet?"
"Not a good one," she murmured as she continued to work, feeling herself tense up as she tried to find a good glimpse of him. Finally, she found the moment that Curtis messed up, and she watched as he pulled Erin down onto a bench on the street, looking up at something that had caught his attention. Freezing the moment, she took a screenshot and sent it not only to the entire team, but also to the precinct that they were working with, telling them to send it on to whomever they felt would be of the most use. When that was done, she looked up at Derek, giving him a pleading look.
"What is it, Baby Girl?"
"I've done all that I can do here, now is the time that I go and join Hotch and Rossi. I'm no good without my soulmate, and you know that. You know that I need to be with her, and let her know that everything is all right."
He let out a deep sigh as he rested his hand on her shoulder. "You know that I can't let you do that, Penelope. Hotch ordered you to stay here, because we can't look out for both you and Erin." Her eyes filled with quick tears as she scrunched her shoulders up around her ears, feeling close to breaking down in harsh sobs. "Please, don't look at me like that. You're breaking my heart."
"Good, because my heart is breaking, too. What if she dies there, alone, without me? How will I be able to live with myself, with our children, if I tell them that their beloved mother died in the arms of another man, one who she had a tenuous relationship with, at best? Derek, if it were Emily, I know that you would do anything in your power to reach her side before the end. Hell, you did just that, not even knowing that she was your soulmate at the time. How can you stand there, looking at me in understanding, and not let me get to her side?"
Her voice broke on the last word, and the first harsh sob ripped through her body. Hugging herself, Penelope pulled away from Derek a little, needing to get her pain out of her system. She knew that it would have been a long shot to get him to agree, but she still thought that her best friend would be moved by her plight, at least a little. It wasn't until she heard him on the phone with someone that the first little ray of hope began to pierce the blackness of her grief. "I have to, Jen. She's going to go crazy if I don't. This is the address of where Erin and Curtis are, we're headed that way in about five minutes, since I think she'll want to stop crying before we head out. I don't care if he suspends me for this. Penelope needs to have time with Erin, just in case the worst happens. All right, we'll meet up there soon."
"You know that I don't want to do this, but you're right. You have to be by her side just in case the worst happens. I'm still praying that everything will be all right, because I know how much the two of you mean to each other, but we have to be prepared for the worst. And you know, we'll be here to support you, if that happens, yes?"
"Yes." She sniffled a little, blindly searching for a tissue in order to blow her nose and clear away the tears that lingered. Penelope gave him a grateful smile when Derek handed her what she wanted, hurriedly cleaning her face before getting to her feet. "All right, I think that I'm ready now." A sharp gasp slipped from her lips as she clutched at his arm, knowing that she was causing him pain with the gesture.
"What is it?"
"Our song changed again. It's, it's quieter now, and I don't know what that means. Can we please hurry?"
He nodded before gathering her up in a tight hug, pressing a kiss to the top of her head before reaching around and grabbing her purse off the desk and leading her out of the room. There were a number of officers milling about, and she tried not to acknowledge their sad looks, as if they knew the hell she was going through in that moment. "We've sent a number of squad cars to the location you gave us, Ms Garcia. Don't worry, we'll give your team as much back up as we possibly can."
She looked at the captain and gave him a small nod, knocking loose more tears with the gesture. "Thank you. I know that we've upended your precinct with this investigation, and I'm so grateful that you've been so gracious." The man smiled warmly at her, even though his eyes were sad, and she shrugged a little as she choked back further sobs, letting him shake her hand firmly before Derek hustled her out of the building and over to the remaining SUV. She climbed into the passenger seat and fastened her seatbelt before curling up in the seat as tightly as she could, listening to the sirens that Derek turned on as he pulled out of his parking spot and began to race towards where Erin was. As she prayed to the God that Erin believed in, Penelope began to sing their song, trying to infuse it with the previous happiness that it had had, hoping that Erin could hear her in her heart and mind as she waited for Penelope to arrive.