Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Finally, the time has come to finish up this story! It's been a fun ride, and I've enjoyed working on it, but it's time to move on. This ending is pretty easy going compared to the rest of the story. (I had a really hard time figuring out how to end this story, so bear with me on it!) Thank you so much to those of you who reviewed, as well!
"Fox, are you almost ready to go to your grandma's yet?" Penelope called, flopping a laundry basket down on the couch. "She's gonna be here to pick you up in about ten minutes."
Fox's response came swiftly. "Geez, Mom!" he hollered back. "Almost done. Chill!"
Penelope rolled her eyes. Her son at thirteen was much more difficult to handle than her daughter ever was. Sometimes it didn't pay well to have the extrovert gene run in the family.
"Don't be a smartass, just get down here," she replied under her breath.
Padding out of her living room, she headed for the kitchen. She needed a break from trying to get her children ready to go to Fran's house for a two week period before school started for the year. It had been over a year since her family had been kidnapped and retrieved, since they had been reunited. She was reluctant to let her children go at all after the trauma they had endured, but her therapist told her they needed to start moving forward at some point.
In the kitchen, Derek and Idina sat at the table. They handed one another brochures from the beginning of Idina's college hunting. Penelope smiled at them. Since Derek had returned home, Idina had taken a turn for the better. As her relationship with him repaired, so too did her mental health. Her grades improved, she slept less, and she smiled more.
"Hey, you two," she said, going up behind Idina and kissing the top of her head. "Grandma's going to be here soon. Your stuff is all packed, right?"
Idina glanced up at Penelope briefly and nodded. "Yeah, yeah I'm all good," she said flippantly. She turned her attention back to her father. "Dad, what about Georgetown? Aunt JJ said that's a good one."
Derek shrugged, flipping through the brochure she'd handed him. "Well, that depends," he mused. "You want to be this close to me and your mother?" He flashed Idina a teasing smile. She threw back an irritated look, making him laugh. "That's true. It's probably your mother more than me who would be a pain in the ass living this close to us."
Swatting at his arm, Penelope said, "I would not. Don't listen to your father, sweetie. I'm not the one who will wave a gun at your boyfriends."
Idina rolled her eyes at both of them and snatched the Georgetown brochure from her father. "Alright, both of you are driving me nuts at this moment, so that makes Georgetown a big N-O."
Derek barked a laugh. "Fair enough," he said.
Before Penelope could object further to the teasing, a knock sounded from the front door. She was about to go toward it when Fox called out that he was getting it. Moments later, he appeared in the kitchen with Fran, who had her arm around her grandson.
"Oh my goodness, this is a sight I never thought I'd see again," Fran said, a broad grin spreading across her face. "All four of you in the same room, smiling."
Derek rose to his feet, going to give his mother a hug. "Hey, Mama," he said. "Good to see you, too."
Fran kissed her son's cheek, before going to Penelope next. "My favorite daughter-in-law," Fran murmured, giving her a tight squeeze.
"Your only daughter-in-law," Penelope pointed out, not bothering to add that she had not technically been her daughter-in-law for several years.
Fran shrugged. "I'd say it even if you weren't the only one."
Penelope laughed. "You're too much." Fran was always too kind to her, even after her marriage with Derek fell apart.
"When are we heading out?" Idina asked as she moved in for a hug. "I can't wait to see Aunt Des. I've got a movie for us to watch together."
Kissing her granddaughter on the forehead, Fran cupped Idina's cheek. "Whenever you both are ready to go and have your butts in the car," she said. She jerked her head toward the door. "Go fetch your things. We'll leave as soon as you have them. First one down gets shotgun."
Fox's eyes immediately lit up, and he grinned before rushing from the room. Idina merely rolled her eyes and simply walked out. Penelope's anxiety started to bubble in her gut as the inevitable departure of her children approached. She knew this was supposed to help with moving on, but maybe she could go with to –
"I can tell what you're thinking," Derek murmured, massaging her shoulders and breaking her thought process. "But we need to let them do this."
Penelope's head jerked in the direction of Derek's voice, and she gulped. "I know that," she protested, quicker than she should have to avoid suspicion. "I'm just…nervous."
"Me and Des will take good care of them," Fran assured her, taking her hand to give it a squeeze. She gave Penelope a comforting smile. "It'll be okay. If you want, I'll make them call you every night."
Brightening slightly, Penelope opened her mouth to say that would be a good idea. Derek beat her to the punch, though.
"Uh, no Mom, that'll be okay," he said. "The therapist said this would be good. We've got to do it." He leaned over and kissed Penelope's temple comfortingly. "They're going to be okay."
Wringing her hands together, Penelope glanced between Derek and Fran. She knew her anxiety was radiating throughout the room, but she hadn't yet figured out the trick to hiding it. Biting her lip, she just nodded.
"Mom freakin' out about us leaving again?" Fox asked, reentering the room with his duffel bag slung over his shoulder.
Idina followed after him. "Of course she is," she said, setting her own bag down on the kitchen table. She ruffled her brother's hair before going to hug Penelope. "We'll be alright, Mom."
"I love you both so much," Penelope murmured, pulling Fox into the hug so she had both of them in her arms. Tears unconsciously pricked her eyes, and her grip tightened on them.
After a moment, her kids cleared their throats at the same time. "Uh, Mom?" Fox said. "You're kind of suffocating us here." Reluctantly, Penelope released them. She wiped her eyes, noticing that both her kids were trying to hide their laughter.
"Oh, stop making fun of your poor mother," Fran said, ruffling both her grandchildren's hair. "We're about to leave, so be nice to her." They all began walking toward the door, the children with their bags in tow.
"We'll see you hooligans in two weeks," Derek said as Idina and Fox followed Fran to her car. He put his arm around Penelope as their children got in the car and waved to them one last time. As the car drove pulled off down the driveway, Derek kissed her temple. "They're gonna be okay, Baby Girl. I know they will be."
Penelope knew he was right, but she inhaled deeply and tried to push away her fears.
"Whew!" Penelope breathed as Derek rolled off her. "I'll say one thing about your mother taking the kids: it's really giving us some quality alone time."
Derek laughed, rubbing his sweaty forehead. He missed his children already, and like Penelope, he'd had a hard time letting them go, but having the whole house to themselves had its advantages. Pulling Penelope toward his side, he kissed her forehead and kept his arm snugly around her.
"They will be okay, you know?" he murmured, trailing the tips of his fingers up and down her arm. It was partly for her benefit, but telling it to himself would help make him feel better. "Mom will take good care of them, and the bad guy is dead."
Wrapping her arm tighter around his waist, Penelope took his hand in hers, kissing his palm. "I know," she said softly. "I just never want to lose them the way we almost did back then. Fuentes almost took everything from me, Derek. I can't have that happen ever again."
He played with the tips of her hair, bobbing his head all the while. "I know what you mean, Baby Girl," he whispered. "But he's dead. And no one is ever taking our kids again…just like no one is taking you from me again."
Penelope laughed against him, running her fingers over his chest. "Well, I'd say no one, or rather, no job, is going to take you from me again," she said, "but this whole last year I've not almost lost you at all."
Derek shook his head. "That happened before," he said, kissing the top of her head. "I won't lose you to some pussy like Grant again." He knew he sounded deathly serious, but he needed to. After nearly losing his family, both Penelope and his daughter, to his own ambitions, he wasn't letting anything get in the way again.
Penelope was silent for a moment, as if mulling over his iron tone. But her answer was anything but serious. "I've always wondered this, but did we ever technically 'break up'?" she murmured. "I mean, we never stopped sleeping together, so..."
Laughter bubbled from his lips, and he allowed his heart to lighten momentarily. "Silly girl," he whispered. Sitting up straight, he swatted her bottom once before swinging his legs over the side of the bed to head to the dresser.
"Oh, Hot Stuff don't cover that beautiful tush of yours," she protested. He threw a wink over his shoulder at her as she stretched out completely on their king-size bed. "It's not even midnight yet. We're not done."
Derek pulled open one of his drawers and produced a small velvet box from it. He went back to the bed and cupped her cheek. "No," he said, kissing her lips gently. "We're not done. Not even close." He took her left hand and slid the engagement ring he'd given her almost twenty years ago back into place. Before he could even look up at her again, he stared at the ring on her finger for a long moment. He wanted to keep the image of this in his head for a long, long while.
Looking up at her finally, he saw tears shimmering on the surface of her eyes. Despite his years of being a renowned profiler and being able to read a whole person's history based on nothing but their face, Derek found himself at a loss for how to read the woman he loved.
"Why do you look so nervous?" she asked with a slight laugh and a sniffle.
"Well, you look like you're about to cry," he said, "so –"
She pulled him into a fierce kiss, making him lose track of all thoughts. When she broke it, she rested their foreheads together.
When she remained silent, he said, "I know we got a bit lost along the way, but I don't want anyone else. You're the only one I've ever wanted. Will have you me again, Penelope Garcia? The bad and the worst?"
She nodded, kissing him once again. "I'll take the good and the best," she whispered.
Heart brimming with jaw, Derek laid Penelope back on the sheets. His hands ran up and down her side, heating both their bodies and building their arousal. Penelope's breathing increased, and she moaned low in her throat. He dotted wet kisses up her shoulder to her neck. He suckled on the tender flesh of her neck as he simultaneously stroked between her thighs.
"You know what we're doing right now?" she asked huskily.
"Hmm?" he asked. He had several ideas for what they were doing. Fixing their marriage. Rebuilding what they had. Making everything better.
Penelope grabbed his face to look her right in the eyes. "We're having 'We're getting married again sex.'" She giggled.
Pushing her hair behind her ear, Derek smiled. This moment was so much more than that. After everything he'd been through – unsubs, rivals for Penelope's affections, tensions with his daughter – he finally had everything back. And he didn't ever plan to lose everything again.
"Hell yes we are," he growled, flipping them over so she was on top of him.