Disclaimer: I own nothing.
I've been super obsessed with Adele's new album and I decided to do a twoshot with "Hello." Just an angsty twoshot right after the holidays (because angst is just how I role). I hope you'll enjoy!
Hello, it's me
I was wondering if after all these years you'd like to meet
To go over everything
They say that time's supposed to heal ya
But I ain't done much healing
He sat outside the Edwardian style house, gathering his courage. He had come back after three long years overseas, and he was coming back to her. Not that he thought she would take him back; he just wanted to talk. His years in the Middle East profiling terrorists had given him an opportunity to look over himself and every mistake he'd made that caused him to run away.
Christmas had come, seemingly the perfect time for his homecoming. A light blanket of snow covered the ground. The air had a frosty tinge to it. That seemed to be perfect for him coming home, too.
It froze his heart in the same way the pain of losing Penelope and their life together did.
Cautiously, he opened the door of his car and made his way toward where she now lived. JJ had given him the address when he returned. She had also bestowed upon him a warning, one that he had not wanted to hear, but acknowledged was a truth he needed to accept.
He didn't care, though. He needed to apologize, to tell her he was sorry for everything he had done.
When he reached the porch, he knocked sharply on the door. He knew they were up still; the lights shone brightly through the glass and onto the lawn, making the snow glitter like hundreds of tiny diamonds. Keeping his hands in his pockets, he waited patiently for the sound of footsteps on the other side.
As the door opened, a man, one he had never seen before, appeared. Her husband was the polar opposite of him. The man was shorter than him, and he had a fair complexion with a head of golden hair.
So this was who had replaced him.
"Can I help you?" the man asked, frowning.
Derek straightened, nodding. "I'm looking for Penelope," he said.
"Umm, who are you? Why do you want to see my wife?" the man asked, his eyes narrowing. Clearly he didn't trust Derek; of course, who would? His face was covered in scruff where his goatee used to be, and he had wrinkles around his eyes from the intense stress of living in a warzone surrounded by bombs and explosions. Not to mention he had burn scars on his neck and hands from an explosion he had been caught in. Thankfully a shirt covered his chest or he would have made the husband extremely uncomfortable with the burn scars there.
A sweet, soft voice came from behind the husband. "Lance? Honey, who's at the door?"
Behind Lance came Penelope. She had a radiant smile on her face until she saw who was at the door. Her smile dropped abruptly. Swallowing hard, she touched her chest.
"Derek?" she whispered. Her voice was hoarse.
He nodded. "Hello, Penelope," he greeted.
Her eyes lit up with emotion, but not the joyful type he used to see when she looked at him with before. Blood drained from her face.
"Wh – what are you doing here?" she stuttered. She moved to stand in front of her husband, directly facing Derek directly. Her eyes definitely found the scars on his neck because they grew wide with shock. She gasped. "Your neck!"
Derek nodded. "Can I talk with you?" he asked.
Lance held up his hands, halting the conversation. "Wait, wait!" he snapped. "Who is this, Penelope? Why does he want to talk to you?"
"We're…old friends," Penelope answered carefully. She couldn't remove her gaze from Derek's, even as she was supposed to be talking to her husband.
He snorted. "Is old friends code for exes?"
Penelope turned to her husband finally. "Honey, go back inside," she murmured. "I'll be in to help you with the Christmas decorations in just a few minutes."
Lance turned his gaze back to Derek, his eyes narrowed in distrust. All Derek did was stare evenly back at him. Lance was letting him know in his own not-so subtle way that he didn't trust Derek alone with Penelope. Instead of saying anything, Lance leaned in and kissed Penelope's cheek.
"Call me out if you need me," he said before disappearing inside the house and closing the door.
Penelope and Derek were left alone on the porch. The air around them chilled both of them to the bone, but they stood on the porch even so. She crossed her arms over her chest. Coughing, she met his eyes again.
"What happened to you?" she whispered.
He shrugged. "I was profiling terrorists," he said. "I got caught in a fire caused by a suicide bomber." He neglected to mention it was from pulling a child out of the collapsed building.
Tears filled her eyes. She covered her mouth. It looked as if she were struggling to breathe. "Why did you come back?"
"The things I saw over there – people with suicide bombs strapped to them, children dying because of drone strikes our government sent over? I couldn't be a part of it anymore."
She shook her head, wiping the few tears that leaked out of her eyes. "Why are you back at my doorstep?" she clarified.
Derek stayed silent for a moment, staring at her face and taking in every inch of it. His eyes flicked to her left hand next, looking at the large diamond on her ring finger. It was bigger than the one he had given her three years ago. Oddly enough, it didn't make him jealous.
"We didn't say goodbye very well last time," he said finally.
Penelope's expression darkened at that. "Yeah, well…" She shook her head. "Things didn't exactly end well between us. You left."
He cleared his throat. "Things got hard," he mumbled.
"That's the biggest understatement I've heard in three years," she snarled, her voice turning vicious all the sudden. "Don't try and tell me it's something as simple as 'Things got hard'!"
He rubbed his chin, scratching at the scruff on his face. "It isn't a simple statement," he said. "I really mean it."
"I would know it better than anyone!" she hissed. "I was the one who had to carry him after we found out he was dead. I was the one who had to give birth to our dead son!" Tears came in more ferocious waves now, and she hurriedly wiped her face. "If you think things were hard for you, how do you think things were for me?"
Derek thought back to three years ago, when they lived together and were expecting their first child. When they found out the baby was dead in Penelope's womb, she delivered their son after having to carry him for another two months.
After that they both ran away from each other, and Derek's form of running involved going overseas; Penelope's was getting married. He had hoped the pain would alleviate over the years he was gone, but he felt nothing but sorrow even after spending them in the hot desert sun.
"I came to apologize for…for running away," Derek said. "I didn't come here to tell you how I had it harder than you."
Penelope bent her head, choking on a sob. The way they were before would have sent him running to comfort her. Right now, he couldn't. They weren't what they were before. So he watched her cry, a knife plunging into his heart every second he stood there without trying to ease her pain.
"I never wanted you to leave!" she wept. "We were struggling, but I needed you. After losing Felix, we should have stuck together."
Pain coursed through every nerve in his body, a white hot, searing agony that he wanted to expel from himself as fast as possible. He bent his head, ashamed. Seeing her on this porch, crying over him and Felix even when she had found herself a new life killed a part of him.
"I know," he whispered. "I'm so sorry." He went toward her, reaching his hand out to touch her face. "I'll never forgive myself for what I did. I came to tell you I'm sorry. I want you to know that I never stopped loving you, and I'm glad you found someone to make you happy."
She glared at him. "You're glad I found someone to make me happy?" she demanded. "You're glad I'm with someone who isn't you?"
Derek stared at her. Of course he wasn't happy that it wasn't him. But after leaving, he couldn't very well say he was unhappy. He had no right to say that.
Penelope shoved his burn-scarred hand away with a venomous look. "No words, huh?" she snapped. "What a surprise!"
He shook his head with a sigh. "I just wanted to say I'm sorry," he murmured. Leaning forward, he placed a tender kiss on her forehead. "Merry Christmas, Penelope."
She shoved him backwards. "Just go!" she cried. "I'm done with you. Done!"
Without another word, he turned and started to return to his car. As he disappeared into the darkness, he heard Penelope's thick sobs escaping from her throat.
Hello from the outside
At least I can say that I've tried
To tell you I'm sorry for breaking your heart
But it don't matter, it clearly doesn't tear you apart anymore
Derek pulled out his keys in the parking lot of the grocery store. Readjusting to normal life wasn't going the way he wanted it to. Everywhere he went people pointed and stared at his burn scars. Frequently he woke in the middle night from nightmares of dead children, a cold sweat covering his brow.
His only solace was the booze he bought that drowned his memories.
"Hey! Hey, Derek!"
The voice that hollered at him sounded viciously angry, like there was a burning rage in the speaker that couldn't be contained. Derek turned to find the source of his name. Storming toward him was Lance, Penelope's husband. A look of fury decorated his face.
Derek arched a brow at him, setting his bag of groceries down on the hood of his car. He wanted to be prepared in case the other man threw a punch; he certainly looked like he might sock him in the jaw.
"Where the hell is my wife?" Lance demanded, halting in front of Derek. He shoved his finger into Derek's chest, causing him to tense up.
Confused, Derek shook his head. "I don't know where she is," he said. "I haven't seen her since I came to your house two weeks ago." Panic washed through him. "How long has it been since you saw her last?"
"I haven't seen her for three days," Lance growled. "But she's been acting off ever since you showed up at our house. What did you do to her?" His eyes narrowed. "You better not have hurt her! I swear I'll call the police if you've done anything to –"
Derek silenced him with a look. "If I see her, I'll be sure to let her know you're looking for her." Without another word, he went around Lance and got into his car. If Penelope was acting odd, and that was all he was saying, she clearly had not told her dearly beloved about their son.
With a sigh, Derek put his SUV in gear and prepared to drive off. He knew exactly where Penelope was.