Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Happy New Year, everyone! Sorry the first one was so heartbreaking. I really appreciate you sticking in for it. Here is the second one of this twoshot. Thank you so much for the reviews, and I hope you'll find this a satisfying ending to the story.
PS – I have started an Instagram account for anyone interested. It's evgrrl09, just like my name here!
Derek pulled into the cemetery parking lot, shutting his car off. Everything was white. The trees had no leaves, their branches simply covered in a dusting of white powder. Tiny flakes of snow fell from the shimmery white sky.
He sighed and stepped out of the car, his boots crunching on the snow as he made his way through the iron-wrought gate to the rows of graves. He weaved through the trees to find where he was sure Penelope was. As snowflakes fell from the sky and landed on his nose, he swiped them off his face. A gust of wind blew against his skin, biting through his coat and chilling him to the bone.
Up ahead of him, he found Penelope kneeling on the ground in front of a small stone grave. Her back was to him, her shoulders trembling. His heart, the one that had been frozen in his chest for the last three years, broke in two. Had he ever really taken time and thought about what he'd done to Penelope? Or had he just been so selfish he only cared what happened to him and his pain?
When he reached her, he went to kneel beside her. Glancing over at Penelope, he saw her tears glittering on her cheeks. They shimmered like diamonds on her face. She couldn't tear her eyes from the grave. Her lips were slightly parted, and she sniffled.
"Who do you think he would have looked more like?" she whispered, not removing her eyes from Felix's name.
He didn't say anything; he merely watched the grave. The cold granite remained unmoving. It didn't fit with the image of his son that Derek wanted in his head, but it was all he would ever have. He hadn't seen it in three years, but he remembered it like he had seen it yesterday and not just in his nightmares.
"I think he would have looked like you," he whispered. He hadn't even thought about it before because it would have been too painful. "I bet he would have had your eyes."
"Really?" A ghostly smile appeared on her lips. "I thought he would have looked like you."
A lump formed in his throat, and he swallowed hard. Of course they thought their son would look like one another. It hurt too much, and he rubbed his eyes to keep from breaking down.
Taking a deep breath, he said, "Lance found me at the parking lot of a grocery store. He said he hadn't seen you in a few days. And that you'd been acting weird."
Penelope didn't say a word.
"You didn't tell him what happened?" he asked.
She shook her head. "No," she said. "There was no reason to."
"Don't you love him?" he asked, finally looking over at her again.
Tears continued to stream down her face, but she still didn't look at him. Wiping her eyes, she murmured, "I needed him, but not because I love him." She laughed bitterly. "I've been hiding things for a long time. You showing up again brought it all back." She finally turned to him and glared. "You're the one who made me feel this way again! If you hadn't come back, I would have been fine!"
Derek met her eyes they stared at one another. Fiery hatred blazed back at him, unlike anything he had ever seen before.
"If you had just left me alone, I could have moved on!" she spat. "Why did you have to come back?"
"Because I wanted to say I was sorry," he said. "I wanted to –"
She rose to her feet and pointed at him with fury. Her knees were soaked with snow, the same way her tears stained her cheeks. "I'm tired of you telling me you're sorry!" she screamed. "It's not enough! You left me when I needed you most, after our son died!"
Rising from his place in the snow, Derek faced her. He wasn't even upset; he knew she needed to let him know what she felt. He deserved this.
"You didn't have any right to jump into my life again after you bounced out!" she screamed. "Why didn't you stay in the desert and get blown up there? You should've let that fire kill you instead of coming back and breaking my heart all over again!" Her face now had red splotches on it, crimson with the fury she felt.
Derek went toward her, desperate to fix this. He'd killed the spirit inside of her. "Penelope," he begged. "You have to believe me, I never meant to hurt you."
"Well, you did!" She stepped backward, not wanting him to get anywhere near her.
His chest burned with the pent up guilt he had carried with him for three years. He held out his hand to her, hoping she would take it. But instead she stared angrily at it. Taking a deep breath, he murmured, "I know. I fucked up. I fucked up because I left you. I never should have because every day I left I regretted it. When I went into that fire for Siddin, I hoped it would kill me. I know I deserved it, but when I was in the hospital, all I thought about was you." A burning flared up in his eyes, and he tried to blink it away. "I wanted to die because of how bad I hurt you. But when I was in the hospital, I knew I needed to fight because I wanted to come back and tell you that I'm sorry. I'm sorry that I hurt you, and I'm sorry that I wasn't strong enough after Felix to stay and be here for you."
"And what?" she cried. "You think now that you came here and said this to me that I would just, what? Leave my husband and get back together with you?"
Derek shook his head. "No!" he protested. "No, I just wanted you to know that I'm…well, I'm sorry."
"Stop saying that!" She started to choke on sobs. Touching her chest, she tried to hold them in, but was unsuccessful.
He shook his head in defeat. She would never forgive him, and now all he could do was do what she wanted. "What do you want me to do?" he murmured.
Penelope stared at him, the hate still blazing in her eyes. She remained still. It killed him, almost physically crippling.
When she finally spoke, the words she said turned his heart to ash in his ribcage.
"I want you to go, and never try to contact me again," she hissed. "You stay away from me, and take your useless guilt somewhere else. Save it for someone who wants it!"
Somehow he knew that was what she would say. And he knew he needed to accept it.
"If that's what you want," he murmured, "I'll do it."
Thicker sobs broke free from her throat, and she squeezed her eyes shut in agony. "Of course that's not what I want!" she wept. "I want everything back the way it was. I want my best friend back, I want to be happy again. I – I want my…I want my son back!" Her breath disappeared as she tried to take in air in deep gasps. Everything that remained of Penelope dissolved as she wavered on shaky legs.
This time, instead of watching her suffer alone, Derek shot forward and caught her in his arms before she could fall to the ground. He held her with as much strength and gentleness he could. Even so, she beat her fists against his chest, struggling in his arms. Her whole body felt cold in his arms.
"Let go of me!" she cried. "You left me once, you can do it again! I don't need you."
He shook his head, squeezing his eyes shut to try and banish the pain he felt so he could focus on nothing but her.
"No," he whispered. "I'm not letting you go."
Penelope's protesting began to slow down, her arms growing weaker and weaker until she fell apart. Derek took a slow breath in and out, fighting against his own grief. Her fingers curled into the coarse leather of his faded jacket. She wore no gloves, and when he looked down at her hands, her fingers were red and frozen stiff.
Removing his gloves, he shoved them in his pocket and took her hands in his. He warmed them with his own, hoping his body heat would keep her fingers from getting frostbite.
Neither of them spoke. The only sound was Penelope's sniffles. All he wanted to do was warm her and try to repair the damage he had caused.
After a moment, Penelope looked up in his eyes. Her sherry brown orbs shimmered back up at his onyx ones.
"Please don't go," she whispered. "I lost Felix…please don't make me lose you, too."
Derek shook his head as he made his vow. "I'm not going anywhere."