Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Here is part two of this twoshot. I hope you'll enjoy this one. It's pretty angsty still, but hopefully satisfying. Thank you for all your reviews and readership. I appreciate it!
You showed me heaven, you rang up bells
I played with matches, it hurt like hell
I sleep and wake, you're all I see
I can't escape you, can't set you free
Penelope bit her lip to keep from sobbing. Derek's head fell against her shoulder again, his face buried against the skin of her neck. He smelled of liquor, and she could barely control the raging feelings of sorrow racing through her like river rapids. She rested her hand on his chest, praying he would pass out so she would not have to hear anymore of his pain-laced words.
"I never wanted to hurt you," he slurred against her neck. His breath felt hot against her skin, but the intense pain a burn would have caused struck her directly at her core. She held her breath, not wanting to cry aloud. With her cheek against the side of his head, she attempted to keep her breathing even. Her outward appearance demonstrated a calm, smooth demeanor that refused to betray the blizzard of emotions inside.
"Shh," she managed.
Derek shook his head, his clammy hand squeezing hers tightly. "I should nev – never have gone into that buildin' with that unsub," he continued in broken speech. "You were right. I didn' think about you or – or the kidz. You're the most impo – impor…" He could not finish the word, so he just babbled on past it. "I never wanted to keep you on the ground…to ignore you or….or make you feel like I don' care."
The lump in here throat stopped her voice from coming out. Swallowing hard, she held him in her arms. "Derek…"
"I go to sleep every night, thinking I hear…" He stopped stammering. A silence fell upon the living room, save for the sniffles of Penelope. For a moment she thought Derek had passed out, and that she would never get to hear the rest of this. He had hidden what appeared to be a heavy drinking problem from everyone who saw him on a daily basis, and he had hidden it well. Of course, her husband had forever been a man to keep his guard up and block out his pain.
If he were sober, though, she would never hear the rest of what he meant to say now. And she wanted to hear him. More than anything she wanted to find out what he had to say.
Touching his cheek again, she prayed he would speak again. "Derek?" she whispered. "Derek, are you –"
"Your heart beating," he interrupted in a choked voice.. "I think about you and the kidz all the ti –time, and you….mean more to me than catchin' any unsub." Weakly, he raised his head up to look at her with his bloodshot eyes. "I played rou – roulette with my family, and I lost you."
Entangling their fingers together, Penelope shook her head. "You need to get some sleep," she murmured. "You're staying here. I won't let you drive home like this." There was so much she wanted to say to him, but she wanted him to hear her out and remember her words. She could hardly speak to him while he was plastered like this.
Derek continued to mumble as his head fell against her shoulder again. "I know I don't deserve you, but…I wanna prove I can make it up to you," he whispered. "I lo – love you."
Penelope wrapped her arms around him and gave him a tight hug. "I'm going to put you to bed," she murmured. "We can talk in the morning." Unable to stop herself, she kissed the side of his head. Leaning forward, she laid him back against the cushions and squeezed his hand. Releasing his hand, she pulled up a throw blanket and started to remove his shoes. When she finished, Derek's eyes had shut.
He had fallen asleep finally.
Wiping her eyes, she sighed and rose from the couch. She gave Derek a forlorn look before starting for the kitchen. How could she ignore the life he had fallen into, how could she ignore the pain he was going through? She loved him still, even though she had left him. But he clearly felt remorse for what happened. She had just witnessed the love he felt for her, and it was something she could not ignore.
No matter how upset she had been when she had left him, she still loved him.
"So? What is he doing now?" Eric demanded when she met him in the kitchen. "Making himself at home?" His lips curled into a snarl.
Penelope shot him a withering look. "Stop it right now," she snapped. "He's asleep. And he's not going anywhere. He can't go anywhere."
Eric rubbed his face and shook his head. "Fine," he said. "I just – he interrupted something I've been wanting to ask you for awhile now. Ignoring the fact he is here, can we please get back to that conversation?" He dug into his pocket and produced the ring box again. Going to stand in front of her, he opened the box to show the ring once again.
Penelope stood very still, staring at the ring in the box. Aside from the fact they only dated for four months, she felt no passion in her relationship with Eric. Nothing about him made a fire burn in her gut that made her want to spend the rest of her life wrapped in his arms.
Only Derek made her feel that.
No, she could not say she would immediately jump back into her marriage with Derek. There was too much to talk about before that would happen. But this evening encounter with him proved she could start to repair their relationship. She loved Derek, not Eric. Despite the pain her husband caused her, she would fight for him.
Looking back up at Eric, she reached out and closed the box gently. The sound of it closing seemed much louder than it actually was in the silent room. "I'm sorry, Eric," she said. "I can't marry you."
Eric stared at her in disbelief. "Why?" he asked finally. She remained silent, and he shook his head. "Is it because of him?" He pointed toward the living room. "Is it because of you ex-husband? You're refusing to marry me because of that alcoholic asshole who hardly opens his mouth and made you so miserable you left him?"
She stared at him. This reaction was something she expected, and in some ways she knew this was unfair to him. His remarks about Derek sent a flash of anger up her spine, but she knew he was angrier at her.
"I know it's unfair to you," she said, shaking her head. "I know this isn't a situation you should be put through, but…" Her voice trailed off. Her but was that she wanted to be there for Derek. She loved him, and she was going to help him get better.
"But what?" Eric shouted.
The sharp rise in the volume of his voice startled her. "Keep your voice down!" she hissed. "I don't want you waking my children."
"Or is it you don't want to wake Derek?" he snarled.
Putting her hands on her hips, she rolled her eyes. "Don't be ridiculous," she said. "You're acting like a child."
"I thought we were having a great time together!" he snapped. "I thought we would get married and have our own kids so you could get over your life with Derek."
Penelope bristled. "How on earth do you think what you just said would make me anymore likely to even remotely change my mind? Forgetting my life with Derek means forgetting Ainsley and Fox." Crossing her arms over her chest, she added, "And neither of us have said we love one another. That's not a good start to an engagement."
He threw his hands up in the air. "I do love you!" he cried. "And of course I did not mean you would forget Ainsley and Fox. But you need to leave Derek behind. There's a reason for why you left him."
"And that reason wasn't because I don't love him," she snapped. She let out a heavy sigh. "Eric, the bottom line is, I won't be able to marry you. I…I just can't. It wouldn't be fair to you, and –"
He chuckled bitterly. "And it wouldn't be fair to Derek?" he guessed, incorrectly.
"It wouldn't be fair to myself," she responded hardly. "I'm not going to change my mind. I don't love you. Yes, you were a lot of fun to be around, and you took my mind off of things. But I don't love you."
Eric stared at her, incredulous. With a shake of his head, he growled, "Yeah, good luck with that one. Don't come running back to me when that alcoholic son of a bitch breaks your heart again."
Penelope watched without a word as he departed her kitchen and left through the front door. She said nothing.
Though his words were misguided and bitter, Penelope could not help but wonder if he was right. Could Derek break her heart again? Anything was possible she supposed, but that changed nothing about her feelings.
He was still the love of her life, and she planned to help him in every possible way. She would commit herself as fully to him as he had drunkenly committed to her.
Returning to the living room, she observed Derek's sleeping form on the couch. He looked exhausted, as if stones were pressing him to the ground with little room to breathe. Never had he slept like this when they were happy and together. It saddened her to see him like this.
Oh, Derek….she thought.
Heading over to the couch once again, she sat down on the ground beside him and took his hand. He remained unconscious, but she knew he would. She merely wanted to attempt to give him comfort, even in sleep.
As she gazed at him, tears filled her eyes once again. Why did he have to be her other half; why did he have to have so much unconscious control over her? Her feelings for him would never change. It scared her in a way. Did love for him take away her decisions she made for her life? Was that what a deep love such as this did to a person?
In many ways, the idea she had no control over herself because of another person made her want to run off a cliff. But at the same time, that love drove her to be a better person, to trust another human being completely.
"Damn you, Derek," she whispered. "Why do you have to do this to me?" Shaking her head bitterly, she touched his cheek. "Why do I still love you, even when you don't think?" She chuckled then. "God, I don't even know why I'm talking to you right now. You didn't respond much when you're conscious, but right now you're so damn drunk you're literally lost to the world."
She stared at him in silence for some time. She still loved him, more than anyone could love another human being. That love gave her everything: comfort, sexual pleasure, pain. Derek liked to play with matches and fire, and that was something she was positive she would never change that.
But a part of her did not care. He was all that mattered.
"I love you, too, you know?" she murmured finally. "I just couldn't handle you not thinking about us or our children. I love you, but your risks scare me."
Sighing once again, Penelope leaned up and pressed her lips to his. She did not even care his lips tasted of whiskey. He was still her Derek. Standing up, she lifted his head to sit on the couch. She laid his head across her lap and rested her hand on his firm chest.
"You scare me, but I'm not going anywhere," she whispered. Then she leaned her head back against the couch, falling asleep with Derek in her arms.