Disclaimer: I own nothing.
So this is the second in the two-parter for CeeCee333's belated birthday present. More Ingrid Michaelson for this one (the song from the last chapter at the end, and another one called "Wonderful Unknown" for the beginning).
Here we go, going in alone
Into the dark and wonderful unknown
Let us go, let us go…
…In the best way, you'll be the death of me
Penelope finished lighting the candles in her living room after the power outage. The room was filled with soft light from tea lights and scented candles alike. She plopped herself down on her living room couch and leaned her head back against the cushions. Her eyes flicked around the room. She was bored beyond belief. The power was out, her daughter was with Derek, and she was had no bottles of wine left.
All she could do was think, and her thoughts weren't something she wanted to be left alone with.
Sighing, Penelope glanced sideways at her coffee table. In front of the lamp were two photos: one of Penelope and Regina taken by JJ, and the other a family photo from when she and Derek were together. She didn't know why she kept it out still. It was just a memory from her past with Derek after all, just like the photo she kept in her room of him holding their newborn daughter. No matter how much Regina tried to convince her Derek was missing her, she simply didn't believe her.
Why was she keeping memories of him around then?
Lifting the photo gingerly from the table, she laid down on her side and stared at it for a moment. They looked so happy in it. What happened that made them fall apart was still a mystery. They were once best friends, but falling in love and getting pregnant — things she once felt were something she wanted with Derek — destroyed them.
Inhaling deeply, she allowed the scent of the vanilla candles to wash over her while she studied her and Derek's faces.
As she observed the photo, a loud rapping on the door alerted her to someone's presence. Sitting up abruptly, she frowned. Who the hell was at her door in this weather?
She rose to her feet, picked up a candle, and padded into the atrium of her house, looking out the small front window on the door. As soon as she saw who it was, she swung the door open frantically and ushered them in.
"Derek!" she cried. Her ex was there, his head and leather jacket soaking wet even though he just walked up the short distance from the driveway to the front door. In his arms was their shivering daughter, her arms wrapped around Derek's neck tightly.
"Mama!" she cried, letting go of Derek and reaching her arms out for Penelope.
Immediately Penelope shoved the candle into Derek's grasp and took her daughter in her arms She kissed Regina's frozen cheek. Narrowing her eyes at Derek, she snapped, "What the hell were you doing driving out in this weather? You could have had a car crash!" She started for the living room, Derek striding along behind her.
"The power went out at our place, too," he explained as he set the candle down on the coffee table and took his jacket off. "Regina got scared and wouldn't calm down until we came over here. She wanted you." He prepared to sit down on the couch on the farthest part away from Penelope. Before he sat though, he saw the photo Penelope was looking at before he showed up at her door. Hastily she released one arm from around Regina and snatched it away from him. She set it face down on the arm of the couch and returned her attention to Regina whose neck was buried against her neck.
She kissed Regina's curly hair. "Did you get scared, Baby?" she murmured gently, rubbing her back.
Regina looked up and nodded. "Yeah," she whimpered. "Daddy and I were going to have a movie night, but the lights went out." She pouted her lip. "I wanted both you and Daddy…you both can keep me safe."
A lump formed in Penelope's throat. Movie nights…she and Derek once shared those. Did he share them with Savannah now, as well as Regina?
"Okay, Baby Doll," Penelope whispered past the lump. "We can both do that."
Derek cleared his throat and rose to his feet. "I'm gonna check the kitchen for a water bottle," he said uncomfortably. Penelope didn't respond as he strode from the room.
Lowering her voice conspiratorially, Regina murmured, "Mama, you wanna see something prettiful?"
Arching a brow, Penelope smiled, amused. "Oh? What's prettiful that you want to show me?" she asked.
Regina crawled off her lap and towards Derek's seat where his jacket was slung over the back of the sofa. Digging in the inside pocket, she produced a small velvet box and returned to her mother's lap.
Penelope's eyes went wide, and her mouth dropped open. What in the hell was Derek doing with this?
No, she tried to tell herself firmly. Maybe this isn't what I think it is. Maybe I'm just panicking….for no good reason, of course.
When Regina opened the box though and grinned, Penelope's stomach dropped. It was a beautiful engagement ring, a twinkling diamond in the center that was surrounded by two sapphires.
"What are you two looking at?" Derek asked with a small, accompanying laugh. He tipped his water bottle to his lips and sat down on the couch again.
Regina turned around and showed him the ring that he obviously knew about. "I'm showing Mama the prettiful ring you think I've never seen," she said smugly.
Penelope looked at Derek finally, her eyes wide. He was staring at the ring, his own eyes wide in shock. His eyes met Penelope's for a moment before he averted them once more, embarrassed.
Good, she thought, furious. He should be. What is he thinking, proposing to a woman he's only been dating for three weeks? Another part of her felt wounded, though. They were together for years, and he never even hinted he wanted to marry her. What was so special about Savannah?
"It's so prettify, isn't it, Mama?" Regina said with a grin.
Without breaking her cold gaze with Derek's, Penelope nodded. "Prettiful, indeed," she agreed sarcastically.
After Penelope carried Regina to her bedroom to tuck her in, she returned to the living room with arms crossed. Derek was kneeling in front of the fireplace, stoking the the brand new flames.
"Gee, thanks for asking if you could start a fire," she said with a snippy tone.
He rolled his eyes. "Well if I'm sticking around, I'd like some more light, and I don't wanna be cold." He went back to the couch and sat down, kicking his shoes off.
"Excuse me?" Penelope demanded, going to stand in front of him. "Who told you you were allowed to stay? This is my house last I checked, whether you did restoration on it or not."
"Last I checked it was my time with Regina," he snapped. "I brought her over here because she was scared, and she wanted you, but she's a sound sleeper…I could easily take her home to my place without her waking up."
She pointed at him with an accusatory glare. "Screw you!" she snarled.
He smiled wolfishly, but his eyes were challenging her. "You used to do that an awful lot," he snickered.
"I should slap you!" she hissed. "Sometimes I can't believe how we were best friends, much less how we stayed together so long!" She didn't care how venomous she sounded; he thought his realtor was worth marrying, but not her. He could go fuck himself.
A flash of hurt crossed his face, but it disappeared just as quickly. He rose to his feet angrily and pointed at her with just as much anger. "Well, I think the same thing most of the time. The only good thing that came out of our relationship was Gina, that much is obvious."
"Oh, I can only imagine how fabulous your relationship with Savannah is going to go." She cackled. "You gonna have another love child with her, or wait 'til Gina is old enough to tell you she wants siblings?"
Derek's face became a thundercloud. "That's none of your damn business. If you really want to know, though, I'm not all that interested in Savannah."
"Oh really? It sure seems like you are. When were you planning on telling me my daughter is about to get a new stepmother?" He opened his mouth to speak, but she thundered on, furious. "And what about the fact it's only been three weeks since you met her? Is this woman somehow the love of your life?" She tapped her chin and snapped her fingers sarcastically. "I seem to remember you telling me the exact same thing at one point."
"Who said anything about me marrying that woman?" he growled. "I've been dating her for three weeks. I was with you for years, and we never got married. What makes you think I'd marry a woman who I've been out with three or four times?"
"I'd say the fact you have a ring is a pretty clear indication you're planning on that, you bastard!" Penelope shouted. "Do I look like I'm fucking blind?" Her hands clenched into fists.
Picking up the box, Derek flipped it open and shoved it out so she could see the diamond. "Does this look like a fucking ring I would buy someone like Savannah?" he demanded, just as loud. Pulling the ring out of the box, Derek grabbed her hand and put it on her left hand. Her eyes went wide as he dropped her hand.
It was a perfect fit.
As they regained one another's gaze with red hot, blazing anger, a loud bang sounded as one of the windows blew open, and the sound of the howling wind filled the room. All at once, all the candles blew out, and the small flames in the fireplace died down. Lightning lit up the sky, casting white glows on Penelope and Derek's faces. She covered her mouth and stared at her hand. Shaking her head, she strode over to the window and shut it, locking it up tightly. She placed her palm on the window, breathing deeply. Looking back at Derek's form, she stumbled back over to stand in front of him.
"That ring was for you," he said, running his hand over his head. "I was going to propose to you on Gina's second birthday…but a few days before I could do it, I found out you were seeing that relationship counselor." He scowled. "I decided if you thought it was pointless to talk with me, a marriage wouldn't work for us."
She looked back up at him. She wasn't able to see his face, but she knew he would feel her looking at him. Shock was radiating from her. Clenching her hands into fists, she growled, "Seeing a relationship counselor did not mean I thought we couldn't make it. You jumped to conclusions and shut me out. That's on you!"
"How can I trust you if you can't talk to me about our problems?" he hissed.
"You could have trusted me because I love you!" she cried, tears filling her eyes. Stepping closer to him, she shoved a finger into his chest. "This was your fault. You didn't believe me, and you walked out."
He chuckled bitterly. "If I remember correctly, you kicked me out of this house. This is all your fault. I love you, I want to spend the rest of my life with you, and then you throw me out like you don't give a shit about all the years we've been together."
She smacked him across the face, unable to contain the rage any longer. "Don't you dare tell me I didn't give a shit about those years!" she hissed. "Those were the best years of my life, and I miss you everyday. You couldn't handle the fact I went to a counselor, and you shut me out. Not to mention you worked too damn much." She sniffled. "I've always loved you, Derek. It killed me when we broke up, and I haven't been able to get over it yet. It makes me feel weak that I look at you with Savannah and can't even function, but it's how I feel." She wiped her tears and laughed bitterly. "Then again, I'm still pissed as hell at you for not getting it."
Another flash of lightning broke out across the sky and revealed both their faces. Both of them wore looks of disbelief.
Reaching forward, Derek cupped her cheek and stroked her cheekbone with his thumb. "What are you doing?" she asked, voice shaking. His hand tingled against her cheek.
"Kissing the woman I love," he whispered, a hint of anger in his voice. He leaned forward so that his breath was hot against her lips. "If she's okay with it…"
Penelope's heart rate sped up, and her limbs started to shake. Derek's lips were so close to hers, and she wanted so badly to kiss them. "You love me?" she murmured back. "Why am I not believing you?"
"I think you should," he growled.
Penelope's eyes fluttered, her lashes stroking her cheeks. Wrapping her arms around his broad shoulders, she held him tightly. "Prove it to me," she ordered. "Prove to me that you do."
Pulling her closer, Derek placed his lips gently against hers. He coaxed her lips open and their tongues stroked together. But she didn't want the gentleness. She wanted the fire, the passion, the rage. She wanted to feel every ounce of pent up anger and resentment to know if he was feeling everything she herself was feeling.
Breaking their contact, Penelope grabbed his face. "Don't hold anything back," she growled. "You know this isn't what you're really feeling. You're still angry at me, just like I'm still angry at you."
Derek didn't say anything; he merely pulled her back in and did as she demanded. They exchanged fierce kisses, both of them pouring every ounce of anger and pain they felt. She moaned low in her throat as he grasped her breast. She pushed against him the couch so he fell backwards onto the cushions. Straddling his waist, she continued kissing him fiercely.
Pushing upwards, he sat upright and wrapped his arms tightly around her, hugging her to his chest. She removed her lips and rested their foreheads together. "I hope you know I'm still mad at you," she murmured.
"Stand up for me," he whispered, kissing her throat. She arched a brow at him, and he pecked her lips. "Trust me."
With a sigh, Penelope stood up, putting her hands on her hips. "Alright, I'm up now," she said. "What do you —"
She was interrupted by Derek getting to his feet and descending to one knee. He picked up her hand that held the ring, and he kissed her knuckles. Another bolt of lightning lit up the room, and she was able to make out his face as he gazed up at her. He was flashing her his classic grin.
"I wanna marry you, Baby Girl," he said. "I've wanted to marry you for a long time. We're perfect for each other. Always have been."
She looked at him skeptically even though she couldn't see his face, and he couldn't see hers. "After this past year, you really think that's a good idea?"
"We can fix it," he said confidently. "I'm still mad about the counselor, but I love you more than I'm mad at you." He kissed her hand again. "I want to come home, Baby. It's where you are. I want us to be a family…because I love you."
Sniffling, she used her free hand to wipe tears that were slipping from her eyes. "Derek," she murmured. She reached out to touch his cheek. "Get up here." He rose to his feet and wrapped his arms around her, holding her tenderly in his arms. "You'll be the death of me. You know that?" A warm feeling settled into her stomach, and she pulled him down onto the couch with her so she could rest her head against his chest.
He laughed. "Well I'd say you'll be mine, too."
Her fingers curled into the fabric of his shirt. "I love you," she said. She smiled as his lips touched the top of her head. Even though she still had a burning anger at him for the way he accused her of not caring, she pushed it away, the same way she knew Derek was. There would be time to focus on that anger later.
"Is that a yes to my question?" Derek asked, amused.
"Cancel all those plans with that realtor lady, and we'll talk," she said. She smiled against his chest. "I'm keeping my ring, though."
Derek kissed her head again. "Fair enough, Baby Girl," he murmured. "I did give it to you, after all." They sat in the dark, silent as they listened to the storm outside. It was starting to dull down so just a gentle falling of rain was heard. They kept their eyes trained on the window as the clear droplets pattered down the glass. A few booms of thunder were heard, but gradually the length of time between them grew farther and farther apart.
Penelope wrapped her arm around Derek's waist tighter, never wanting to let him go. "Where do we go from here?" she asked after a long period of their silence. "Somewhere into the unknown, I'm assuming?"
"Maybe," he speculated. His hand massaged her arm, and she closed her eyes, savoring the feeling for a long moment. "We can fix everything. I know we can."
Turning her face, Penelope cupped his cheek and kissed him, the warm feeling setting over her like a blanket of snow over the ground. "Welcome home, Hot Stuff," she murmured.
I know everything about this place,
It wears your face
Even when my body blows away,
My soul will stay
This is my home