Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Hi, all. My apologies on the extreme delay in posting. My fall has been rather horrible, with a very heavy class schedule, and then I had a death in my family, which set me behind in school and in my personal life :( So, it's been pretty rough. However, I really hope to get back in the swing of writing more frequently. I keep thinking about my Morcia stories, so I hope things will return to normal soon.
"So…you're in love with Derek? Jason's friend from college?" JJ asked.
Penelope stared into space, her eyes trained ahead of her. She knew a feeling of emptiness should have filled her belly, but instead, all she could feel was a sense of freedom. Her love for Derek, the love she'd tried to deny, gave her a strange sense of hope. Guilt still plagued her, but it was overshadowed by what she wanted. What she truly wanted.
"You ended a relationship, a marriage, with a man you've been together with for years for someone you've know for less than even one year?" JJ opened her mouth, but shut it once more in disbelief.
"Yeah," Penelope murmured. "I did."
Two days ago, Jason had walked out on her. For those two days she remained holed up in her apartment, calling in sick to work so she could hide her shame. She'd thought about calling Derek, but with everything that had happened, she hadn't the heart to try. When JJ waltzed up to Penelope's door to find her after the forty eight hours of complete silence, she'd had no choice in the matter since her best friend had a key.
"I just don't understand," JJ protested. "You left Jason."
"He left me," Penelope corrected, running her hands through her hair.
That didn't stop JJ from going on. "For a man you just me! What the fuck were you thinking, Garcia?"
Rolling her eyes, Penelope leaned back against the couch cushions and huffed. "JJ, I really don't know what to tell you. It just – "
"Happened, I know," JJ grumbled. Sighing heavily, she leaned back against the cushions beside Penelope and shot her blue eyes to the side. "What's going on, PG? Why'd everything change?"
Tears flooded Penelope's eyes, and she turned her head to look right back at JJ. She bit her lip. "I – I don't now, Jayje," she whispered, a few tears trickling down her eyes. She sniffled, knowing red eyes and a snotty mess awaited her when the storm hit fully. "Everything was fine, and then…and then…" She took a breath, filling her lungs before blowing out slowly to calm herself. "He caught me before I could fall at the wedding, and I knew right then that I loved him. I just didn't even see it, but I recognize it now."
"A little ironic that you guys were fighting about love at first sight being real or not," JJ said with a half laugh.
Penelope nodded, putting her head in her hands. "I remember," she said. "I remember everything. But I also know I can't go after him."
"Why the hell not?" JJ asked. "You left your marriage for this guy!"
"That's the thing, I wasn't going to leave my marriage until Jason found out!" Penelope cried. "I was going to stay with Jason, and I broke Derek's heart to try and make it work. He'd never want me now."
JJ reached over to take Penelope's hand. "Garcie, if he loves you like he claims he does, he'll want you no matter what happened."
Tears filled Penelope's eyes. "I – I don't know," she murmured. "What would I even – "
Before she could say anymore, a knock sounded from the door. She jumped in her seat, glancing toward her door. JJ arched a brow.
"Ugh, who the hell is knocking at the door right now?" Penelope muttered, rising to her feet. She wiped her eyes beneath her glasses, hiding any evidence of her tears. Hopefully her face wouldn't be too red.
Opening the door, she found an older, well-dressed man standing on her doorstep. She frowned at the anxious look on his face. "Umm, can I help you?" she asked.
"You've got to be Penelope," he said. His eyes flicked over every inch of her face. She could tell he wanted to figure out exactly who she was, but all he was doing was reading her body language. He said nothing as he watched her.
Her eyebrows shot upwards. "Yeah," she said. "I am. Who are you?" The man pushed inside her apartment, studying her home in the same way he had studied her. Irritated, Penelope gaped at him and shut the door. "Umm, excuse me! What do you think you're doing?"
He fixed her with a serious look, arching a dark brow. "I needed to meet the woman who sent my partner running for the hills," he said. He had an iron tone, and it grated against her ears.
"I mean what are you doing barging into my apartment!" she snapped, putting her hands on her hips.
He sparred right back, meeting her verbal blow by blow. "I just told you, Kitten: you chased my friend off."
Losing her tongue, Penelope blinked at him. David Rossi – Penelope knew exactly who he was from all Derek's stories – was right. She really had chased Derek from town. Not intentionally of course, but the sheer force of her rejection sent him bolting toward Dulles International Airport. She bent her head.
"Who's this?" JJ asked, approaching. She placed her hands on her hips, watching the older man carefully.
He extended his hand toward JJ. "David Rossi, detective with the DC police," he said. "Pleased to meet you…?" He waited expectantly for her name.
JJ shook his outstretched hand. Lightness entered her voice. "Jennifer Jareau," she said. "Call me JJ."
Penelope rolled her eyes and went toward her kitchen to pour a glass of water. The last thing she needed to do was bear witness to her best friend getting hit on by an older man, and vice versa. "That's nice that you guys," she grunted. "Glad you two are hitting it off, but what the hell are you doing here, Detective?"
"I told you," Rossi said, taking his eyes off JJ and following Penelope into the kitchen. "You chased my buddy off."
Taking a frustrated sip of her water, Penelope shook her head. "That doesn't tell me why you're here," she said. "What's the point of being here if he's gone?"
"What's the point?" Rossi laughed. A humorous twinkle entered his eye. "My dear, the whole point of me being here is to have you help me bring him back." She opened her mouth to protest, to say that she'd already done the worst thing she could possibly do for the situation. Rossi cut her off again before she could say anything. "Your husband has already left you. You wouldn't look this tense and upset if he hadn't. You also wouldn't have your best friend over here in the middle of a work morning to comfort you if it wasn't for something serious." He nodded. "You didn't want to leave your husband, even though you love Derek. Yet here you are, and the other guy isn't."
Blinking at Rossi, Penelope set her glass down on the counter. She swallowed hard. "I don't know what you want me to say," she said. "Derek's gone. He's gone, and he isn't going to want to talk to me. He won't come back."
"That's where you're wrong," Rossi said, crossing his arms over his chest. He stared at her as if ready to give her a lecture.
Narrowing her eyes at him, Penelope snapped, "Listen, Rossi! I don't need you coming in here and rubbing in my face about what happened between Derek and I. I – "
"No," he said. "I'm not rubbing anything in your face. I'm saying you're wrong about him not wanting to talk to you. He's going to come back."
Penelope averted her eyes. "No, no way," she said. "There's no way that's going to happen." Not after what happened between us.
"Why don't you listen to what he's saying, Garcie?" JJ suggested, placing a hand on her shoulder.
Tears filled Penelope's eyes. Guilt filled her heart. After all the hurt she'd caused Jason and Derek, she didn't think she could risk trying what Rossi was about to suggest. Her shoulders sagged at the thought of what she wanted, but couldn't let happen.
"I know you don't believe it," Rossi started, "but you're the only one who can bring him back. If you tell him you want him, he'll hear you. You're the only one that can do it."
Was he right? Could it be possible Derek would come back if she said something? She loved Derek, she could no longer deny that fact. There was nothing she could do to fix what happened with Jason. But maybe with Derek there was a chance she could fix things. The pain she caused Derek could be replaced with something better, something warmer.
Looking back up at Rossi, Penelope took a deep breath. "Let's find him then," she murmured.