Disclaimer: I own nothing.

So this is a new story I'm starting. I couldn't get the idea out of my head, so I decided to go ahead and write it! This is an AU story, but many of the Criminal Minds characters we know and love will appear. And since they're the bomb, the stars of this show will be Morgan and Garcia ;) I hope you guys will like it.

If anyone asked Penelope Garcia what her wedding day would have been when she was a child, the answer would have been a fairy tale. A wedding with exotic, beautiful flowers, in a garden beneath a white canopy, and a string quartet playing Canon in D. Something heavenly.

And when she walked down the aisle to Jason, she knew she would be in heaven.

She'd known Jason Kenton since she was fresh out of college. The two of them had a storybook relationship, something for the ages. He was handsome and successful, just the person who she could spend her life with. She could hardly wait to finally be married to him.

"Everything is looking beautiful!" JJ cooed as she entered the room where Penelope and the rest of the bridesmaids were preparing for the wedding ceremony to take place.

Penelope turned in her long, white wedding gown to face her maid of honor. A radiant smile lit up her face as she gazed at her.

"It's almost time?" she asked, excitement radiating from her voice. Her heart raced with the prospect of finally getting to marry her best friend in the whole world, the man who held her heart.

JJ winked at her. "Your groom is waiting with a smile on his face," she said, ushering Penelope toward the door.

Taking a deep breath, Penelope followed JJ and her two other bridesmaids out of the room. She felt jittery, like streams of fire were racing through her veins.

This was her day.

As they walked down the halls of the small set of rooms off of the garden where the wedding would take place, Penelope nearly barreled into someone leaving the men's restroom. She tripped over the skirt of her dress, but before she could reach the ground, the mysterious stranger caught her.

"Hang on, Baby Girl!"

Penelope looked up into the eyes of the man who caught her and gave him a grateful smile.

"Oh, thanks!" she cried. Adrenaline made her voice squeaky.

The stranger had dark skin and a bright smile that Penelope found herself unable to look away from. She couldn't help but smile back at him; his own grin was just so infectious. What was this feeling she was experiencing as she looked at him? Her belly felt warm, and all of the sudden her bridesmaids disappeared from her peripheral vision.

All she saw was this handsome stranger in front of her.

"Careful there," he said, a twinge of amusement in his voice. "You wanna get down that aisle in one piece."

Penelope grinned at him. "Yeah," she said. "I do."

Before she could say anything else, JJ drew her attention away from the man in front of her. "Penelope! C'mon, you don't want to be late. Jason will just worry you're ducking out on him." She laughed slightly.

Smiling, Penelope nodded. But when she looked back where the man had been standing, he had disappeared, almost as if he ha not been standing there in the first place. Somehow that made her feel sad. She liked his smile.

There was no time to think about someone fleeting whom was likely the date of one of her wedding guests. Jason awaited her at the end of the aisle, and there was nothing to do but get down there to kiss her groom.

XXXXX

"You look beautiful," Jason said, kissing the top of Penelope's hand as they went to greet their guests at their reception. His index finger traced the outline of her ring on her hand. He smiled at her, unable to keep it off his face.

Penelope grinned back, tweaking his nose. "I know." He shook his head and chuckled. She looked into his blue eyes, savoring the warmth she felt every time she saw them. From now on she could wake up every morning to see those eyes. "I love you, Jujube," she murmured, using the nickname she had given him because of the way he tossed back JuJuBe candy when they first started dating.

Jason smiled at the sound of the nickname, but as he opened his mouth to respond, their guests began to flood toward them with their congratulations. Penelope took hands of people she both knew and some people that she didn't. By the end of the night, she was sure her face would be hurting from all the smiling.

Eventually the stream of people slowed down to the point where she could

"Oh, sweetie!" Jason said, tugging on her arm to get her attention. "C'mere. You have to meet an old buddy of mine!"

Surprised at her husband's enthusiasm, Penelope chuckled. However, when they came face to face with whom Jason wanted her to meet, her mouth nearly dropped to the ground. Instantly a bubbling began in her belly, and her hands started to tingle with sweat. She knew this face.

It was none other than the mysterious stranger who had run into her in the hallway on the trek to the ceremony.

Swallowing hard, she smiled. "Hi, there," she said.

The stranger shot her a returning grin before Jason pulled him into a bro hug. They clapped one another on the back, laughing as they did.

"What's up, my man?" the man said to Jason, pulling out of the hug. Penelope took the opportunity to observe him. She'd never met this friend of Jason's. She wondered where they knew each other from. Her husband and she had not met until after college; maybe this was someone he had played football with.

Jason grinned. "Thanks for coming! It's been, what, six years?"

The man nodded. "Maybe something more like seven," he said.

"Well, whatever it's been, I'm glad you were able to make it," he said. Turning back toward an expectant Penelope, he gently took her arm and brought her forward to introduce her. "Penelope, this is a ball buddy from college, Derek Morgan. We played football together. Derek, this is my wife, Penelope."

Penelope extended her hand, smiling at Derek Morgan as they shook hands for the first time. "It's nice to meet you," she said, trying to figure out what the feeling she was having was right now. She couldn't tell what was so intriguing about him. Something just struck her about the way he carried himself.

Derek flashed her a smile. "Nice to meet you, Mrs. Kenton," he said, giving her a wink. "You've got a great guy here. My boy Jason here was a good friend back in college."

"I know," she said with a laugh. She turned to look at her husband and touched his chest. "This one's a keeper."

"Well, you'll both have to come have some dinner with me," Derek said. "I'm in DC now."

Penelope watched as Jason's eyes brightened and he grew excited. "So close? Shit, man! We're definitely going to have to get together. Penelope doesn't eat meat, but she makes some mean pasta."

Derek met Penelope's eyes and a teasing grin lit up his face.

"Damn, how'd you manage to keep her with all the hamburgers you throw back?" He chuckled.

Penelope narrowed her eyes at the other man before kissing Jason on the cheek. "As long as I'm not the one eating them, I don't care what he eats," she said. "I love him too much." She couldn't help but feel a little annoyed with this stranger. Who was he to say this to her? Did she look like so shallow as to leave a man because he didn't follow the same diet as her?

Jason grinned at her. "I'd give up meat if you asked me to, though, sweetheart."

Clapping his old friend on the back, Derek nodded to them. "I'm going to go find my seat at the reception tables," he said. "I'll let you two lovebirds get ready for the speeches."

And without another word, Jason's friend disappeared into the throngs of people, leaving Penelope and Jason together to greet more of their guests.

XXXXX

Later That Evening

Derek leaned over the stone bannister that overlooked the gardens where Jason's wedding was being held. He watched the twinkling lights of the reception from where he stood, in awe of how much work his friend's new wife had put into their decorations. She'd certainly gone all out.

He couldn't quite place his finger on why this Penelope person fascinated him so much. Though he didn't understand how anyone could go vegetarian, he liked her. He was jealous good-boy Jason had landed yet another perfect girl. This was how it always went in college with him. Sure, Derek had lots of girlfriends, but Jason always ended up in the good relationships, the solid ones.

As he stared at the twinkling lights, he caught sight of someone coming into his little haven of solitude. When he tilted his head in the direction of who had just entered, he caught sight of the unmistakable white, shimmery gown. She looked beautiful under the moonlight, keeping her eyes up to the sky with a dreamy smile on her face.

He had to resist the urge to say something to her. He wanted to say something, but he also didn't want to disturb her. She looked so serene, like everything had disappeared from the world until she was left with nothing but the stars above her.

Derek felt a warm bubbling begin in his gut, and he didn't want it to stop.

"Catching a little alone time?" he asked, finally breaking the stillness in the air.

Penelope's face snapped in his direction, startled. When she saw it was just him, she shook her head and smiled.

"Oh," she said. "Hi."

He stuck his hands in his pockets, striding toward her. Tilting his head toward the reception, he arched a brow. "You taking a break from your festivities?"

A grin lit up her face as she shrugged. "Yeah," she said. "I love them, but I needed a break." She stopped in front of him, leaning on the balcony as she shot him a probing glance at him. "What about you? What are you doing up here?"

"Same as you," he said. "Taking a break. I'm not much of a – "

"A people person?" she said, finishing for him.

Derek chuckled. "How'd you guess?"

Penelope bit her perfectly painted pink lip, hiding a smile. "I just had a sense about you," she said with a teasing tone.

He smiled at her, but then bent his head to rub his forehead. "Hey, listen," he began. "I'm sorry for picking on Jason about the vegetarian thing. I was just kidding. Old college buddies, you know?"

"Oh, don't worry about it!" she said. She swatted his arm lightly, throwing him another amused look. Her eyes twinkled. "If you do it again, maybe you'll have a problem, though…"

"It won't happen again," he vowed, putting his hand over his heart.

Penelope regarded him carefully, but then asked, "Why'd you show up out of nowhere to see your old friend get married? I'd never heard of you. Jason and I tell each other everything."

"Everything but who your old college friends are evidently," he said with a slight chuckle.

She pursed her lips. "Yeah, yeah," she said. "But really. Answer the question."

He gave a slight shrug of his shoulders. "Just seemed the like the right time to reconnect," he said. "Jason was a good friend to me. Great ballplayer, good wingman." Penelope rolled her eyes at his last comment, making him laugh louder.

"I'm sure he was," she remarked dryly.

Softening, he made a bold move and rested a hand on her shoulder. Her bare skin felt baby soft, like a velvety satin. "Seriously though, you just married a great man. He's the perfect guy, he'll take good care of you."

Penelope gave him a smile that warmed his heart to the point he felt like he was seeing a side of her she rarely showed anyone. It felt like a private smile.

"I know he will," she said. "I'll take care of him, too. He's my best friend."

For a moment they watched one another, neither of them tearing their eyes from each other.

There's something about her…he thought, his heart growing forlorn.

He needed to leave before he got to know her all the more and landed himself in some form of trouble.

"I'm going to head out I think," he said, still not looking away from her. "I need to get home for work tomorrow."

"So soon?" she asked, her voice coming out almost as a squeak. "But we haven't even cut the cake yet, or – "

"Nah, I do have to go," he said. "But I'll take you up on dinner. Let me know when you guys want me over. I'd love to get to know the new Mrs. Kenton."

Penelope smiled her sweet, kind smile he was already in love with. "Sure," she said. "I'd like that."

Without another word, Derek turned to leave. But before he could get very far, Penelope called out to him. "Hey, Derek? Thank you for not letting me fall."

"I'll catch you anytime you need me to," he replied.