Disclaimer: I own nothing.
So the music video for Demi Lovato's song "Stone Cold" was recently released, and I'm actually secretly a huge Lovatic. Lady GaGa's Oscars performance also played a role in the inspiration for this. I felt the strong desire to write it with my OTP because when inspiration strikes, you just can't ignore it. A word of caution: this oneshot is not for the faint of heart. Please be aware of this.
Stone cold, stone cold
You see me standing, but I'm dying on the floor
Stone cold, stone cold
Maybe if I don't cry, I won't feel anymore
In her dreams she saw nothing but snow. Flakes fell from the sky, whipping past her face at a blinding pace. Wind bit her skin, chilling her. Even when her eyes fluttered open, and she found herself amongst her crisp sheets, she knew the cold would haunt her.
The feeling remained long after she awoke.
Every morning she rose from those sheets, the recurring dream weighing heavily on her mind. She popped two of the prescribed drugs her doctor had given her, woke her daughter, preparing them both for the long days ahead.
It was her new routine.
Penelope looked up from making her coffee at fifteen year old, Damaris. Her daughter tilted her head to the side, concern for her mother etched in every feature. Swallowing hard, Penelope forced a smile.
"Yeah, sweetie?" she asked.
Damaris sighed. "You know what this weekend is," she said, "and I – I really wish you would tell Dad what happened…"
Biting her lip, Penelope shook her head and stirred cream into her coffee. She watched the steam rise from her mug, fogging up her glasses. Logically she knew the coffee was hot, but she still felt cold, a frigid numbness staying in her bones.
She couldn't shake it, no matter how many antidepressants she popped. The cold was there to stay.
"No," she said, her voice firm as iron.
Mist covered Damaris' eyes. "Mom, please," she begged. "Please don't let him marry her. All you need to do is say something and he'll – "
Flashbacks to the cold hit her full force, but she slammed her eyes shut. The cold metal of the car imprinted on her face and she couldn't forget it, no matter how hard she tried. She couldn't bear it.
"Mom? Mom, it's okay!" Damaris said. She grasped Penelope's hands, squeezing them. "You're in the kitchen. You're with me."
Penelope opened her eyes, burning with the unshed tears she had held back for a year now. Hastily, she shook her head.
"He can't know," she said.
"He doesn't love Savannah. You are –"
"I'm happy for him, Baby," she said. "He found someone who won't disappoint him. He found someone who won't let him down."
Tears started to roll down Damaris' face. "He would never think what happened to you is your fault," she said. "Please. Don't let Dad do this."
Penelope felt the cold of her car's back window against her face. Horror washed over her at what happened, what she tried so hard to stop but was unable to.
"No," she said, pulling Damaris into a hug. "Your father and I are over. It was my decision and I want him to be happy. If Savannah is what makes him happy, I'm happy for him."
Damaris' tears wet Penelope's neck, and she held her daughter tightly. She was the one who made this decision; she was the one who shut Derek out. She was the one who was going to have to live with it now.
She would be stone cold, just like the wind and snow that bombarded her in her waking and sleeping hours.
Stone cold, baby
God knows I tried to feel
Happy for you
Know that I am, even if I
Can't understand, I'll take the pain
If happy is her, I'm happy for you
Derek adjusted his tie in the mirror. He had a moment alone before his wedding took place. With a sigh, he rubbed his face, wondering what the hell he was doing. He had no earthly idea why he thought this was a good idea, but in the whirlwind year he'd had, it just happened. It wasn't that he didn't like Savannah; she wasn't unpleasant. But she wasn't what he wanted. This life wasn't what he wanted.
It wouldn't have had to be if Penelope hadn't thrown him out of her life.
His fists clenched as he recalled everything that happened. After the car accident…that was when she changed, when he lost her.
One winter night he got a call from JJ that his wife had been in a car accident. When he got there, he found his daughter and friend with Penelope, who had bruises and cuts on her whole body. Damaris and JJ told him everything that the doctors had told them, that Penelope would experience some symptoms of head injuries. He never imagined he would lose her completely.
A knock on the door drew him out of his stewing. He forced himself to bury his emptiness and tried to remember what he was about to do. His life with Penelope was over. Time for something different.
Derek turned to find Damaris standing in the doorway, looking miserable. He gave her a small smile.
"Hi, Baby," he said, going forward to hug her.
Damaris held up her hand, shaking her head. "Dad, we don't have a lot of time before the wedding is supposed to start."
Frowning, Derek observed her. One could usually find a sunny smile that lit up a whole room, but now there was nothing but a troubled expression. He grimaced, but didn't say a word. Damaris was no fan of his fiancée.
"I need to talk to you," she said in a small voice. "And you just need to listen."
He remained silent.
"You can't marry Savannah," she said. "You can't."
Sighing, Derek said, "Damaris, I know you don't want me to be with someone who isn't your mother, but – "
She cut him off. "Mom wasn't just in a car accident, Dad."
Derek stared at his daughter. Ice filled her tone, chilling him. "What are you talking about?" he asked. Numbness unlike anything he had felt before settled over his bones. He didn't know what else to say.
"Didn't you ever think anything else was wrong?" Damaris cried. "Didn't you see something?"
Panic, pure and utter panic, draped over him like a cloak. He swallowed hard, fear choking off his airway. "Damaris, what happened?" he murmured. His daughter didn't speak for a long moment. He went forward and put his hands on her shoulders. "Baby, you have to tell me what you're talking about."
Tears trickled down Damaris' face. She bit her lip. "Last winter…"
When she finished telling him everything, he couldn't move. His legs had turned to stone, immobilizing him to the spot he was in. Every muscle in his body quit working, including his lungs. Unable to stand anymore, Derek stumbled away from his daughter to collapse onto a stool. He put his head in his hands, desperately trying to get air back in his lungs.
"Why did you never tell me about this?" he asked in a hoarse voice.
Damaris shook her head. "Mom made me and Aunt JJ promise we wouldn't tell you," she said, bowing her head. "I wanted to tell you, Dad, I really did. I had to do it now, though…before it was too late."
Derek couldn't come up with words. He shook his head, not sure of what he could do. Rising to his feet, he did the only thing he could think of: he went to his crying daughter and pulled her into his arms.
"I'm sorry, Dad!" she wept. "I didn't know – "
He kissed the top of her head. "No," he said. "You don't have anything to apologize for." As he spoke, his mind shot to Penelope. Being apart from her was horrible for him, but with this revelation from Damaris made him forget everything he had felt.
What had she been feeling? How could he not have seen this?
"Damaris, where's your Mom now?" he asked. "Is she at home?"
Damaris nodded. "Yeah," she said. "She was asleep when I left this morning."
He nodded, kissing her forehead. "I need you to go tell Hotch that I'm leaving. If you see Savannah, just tell her I'll call her to explain."
Red-eyed, she hugged him again. "Mom's going to be so mad at me," she murmured. "But I had to tell you. She can't lose you."
"She won't be mad at you," he whispered, holding her tightly. "I'm going to go find her. You go find Hotch."
As Derek headed to the door, undoing his tie as he went, Damaris called after him. "You still love her, right? You're not just going to make sure she's okay and then come back here?"
Derek looked back at his hopeful daughter, her eyes sending him a plea that matched her words. But he couldn't speak. He would reunite with Penelope in a heartbeat.
He wasn't sure the same would go for Penelope.
Stone cold, stone cold
You're dancing with her, while I'm staring at my phone
Stone cold, stone cold
I was your amber, but now she's your shade of gold
Penelope lay on the sofa in her home, shivering. The dreams woke her up again, so now she found herself curled up on the sofa where she could stare at her phone on the coffee table. Damaris was gone when she awoke, gone to her father's wedding. She promised to text her when she was on her way home, and that time couldn't have come quick enough. Damaris was the only person she felt comfortable with anymore, and to have her gone made her feel anxious.
Most women would have been upset on their ex-husband's wedding day. Penelope, though, felt nothing; nothing but the frozen wind that chilled her to her core.
As she waited silently for Damaris' text, a knock sounded from her front door. She jumped, ready to flee if she needed. But the knocking was gentle, nothing she would have to run from. With a heavy sigh, she trudged to the door.
She pulled the creaky front door open. Her jaw dropped.
He stood before her in his dress shirt and dress pants, the tie and jacket abandoned. A sorrow unlike one she had ever seen shone in his eyes as he looked at her. Her heart sank.
"What are you doing here?" she asked, even though she already knew the answer.
Derek went forward to her, as if to embrace her. He stopped right in front of her. There was hardly any distance between them now. "Why didn't you tell me?" His voice came out hoarse, sand-papery. His face contorted in pain.
"What are you doing here, Derek?" she repeated. If she ignored his questions, maybe reality would fade away. "You're supposed to be getting married right now."
He shook his head. "I don't give a damn about a wedding right now!"
She turned to go back in the house, but he followed her inside. Her shoulders tensed as she prayed he would fade away so she wouldn't have to endure the pain of what happened all over again. She couldn't bear to let him see her.
"Penelope, please," he said. A plea was thick in his voice, so desperate it almost brought tears to her eyes.
Whirling around, she put her hands up to stop him from getting any closer to her. "You aren't supposed to be here," she said. "Savannah is probably wondering where you are! How could you do this to her?"
Derek stared at her incredulously. "You think I care what she's wondering right now?"
"If you love her, you should!" she shot back.
He shook his head. "I'm not here to talk about her," he groused. "I'm here to see you. Damaris told me what happened…what really happened! I spent all this time thinking it was brain injury, something that changed your personality, but that was just a lie that JJ and Damaris told me."
Penelope wrapped her arms around herself, shielding herself from the cold. She could almost hear the wind roaring in her ears, and she had to force herself to stay on her feet. Derek noticed the shift in her body language almost immediately. His face fell, and he went toward her.
This time she did not fight him.
Derek cupped her cheek, moving a thick lock of her hair behind her ear. She wished when he touched her she would have felt it.
"I'm sorry," he said. "I shouldn't have yelled. I –" He stopped abruptly, resting his forehead against hers.
Penelope closed her eyes, trying to fight off the assault of memories that threatened to wash over her. Derek's skin against hers ceased to exist as she was thrown violently backwards into the recesses of her memories.
Her eyes fluttered open and she looked around her car. The unseasonable cold and ice on the road had careened her into a ditch on some back road she rarely traveled on. This would probably be the last time she'd get to drive Esther. There was now way the car wasn't totaled.
Cursing, she reached for her phone to call a tow truck, but it was nowhere to be seen. She groaned, knowing she would have to go open the other side to find it. She pushed her door open, and the cold air rushed in. Bracing herself, she stepped outside, immediately regretting not changing into her snow boots before leaving the BAU. Derek was going to laugh at her when she told him about having to climb over snow piles on the side of the road.
As she stepped gingerly across the ice, she caught sight of headlights coming down the road. Her heart leapt. If she could flag this Good Samaritan down, maybe she could use their phone instead of having to hike into the ditch to try and find hers on the other side of the car.
Hugging her arms, she braced herself against the cold before waving to the approaching car. She smiled to herself when the car slowed down. She might get off the side of the road in time to have dinner with Damaris.
The car growled to a stop a few feet away from her. She smiled brightly as the driver stepped out of his car. His form was still shrouded in darkness due to the brightness of his headlights.
"Need some help?" he called over the roaring wind.
She nodded. "Yes!" she said. "I'm über glad you stopped. I can't find my phone, and I – "
But as she turned toward her car to point at it, the driver shoved her forward so that she stumbled against her car. The cold of the steel chilled her to the bone. Tears pricked at the back of her eyes at the pain that flared up in her ankle.
As she tried to steady herself, a hand clamped down over her mouth. She tried to scream, but it was muffled against his glove. Her eyes streamed, and as they did, he leaned into her ear, hissing, "No one is going to hear you scream out here."
The weight of the memory made Penelope unsteady on her feet. Derek's knowledge of the truth broke a dam inside of her, and her breathing increased.
"I couldn't have you know," she rasped. "I – I felt dirty after what he did to me. I didn't want you to be with someone who…I didn't want –"
Derek shook his head. "Shh," he said. "No, no you are the furthest thing from dirty. Don't you ever think you are." He pulled her into his arms, kissing the top of her blonde hair.
She tensed in his arms, desperately trying to release herself. How could he want her after this? If he knew everything that really happened that night, he would never touch her again. Derek didn't falter, though.
"You have to go back and marry Savannah," she said. "You – "
He stopped her from speaking by putting a finger to her lips. "I'm not marrying Savannah," he said. "I've never wanted to marry her."
Tears started pouring from her eyes. Thick sobs accompanied the tears as she fell against his chest. The trauma of the ice and snow came flooding back to her with such a strength she felt as though she had been punched in the gut.
"You dissociated from everything," he murmured, cupping her face to look directly in her eyes. "But Penelope, I want you to know I'm never going anywhere, not ever again, even if you push me away everyday for the rest of our lives. What happened to you was because of that bastard, and the moment I find him he's going to wish he'd never been born." He kissed her forehead. "No one is going to hurt you ever again."
Penelope shivered uncontrollably, but she stopped fighting him. It was no use; his eyes said he wasn't going anywhere, even if she tried running away. But even the sincerity in the love of her life's expression could not push away the cold.
It lingered, refusing to leave her.
Straightening her back, Penelope bit her lip. If he wanted to help her, he needed the whole truth.
"I'm cold, Derek," she said, trying to ignore the whistling winds from that night in her ears. "I'm always stone cold."
Taking her hands in his, Derek kissed both her palms. "I'm going to help you get warm again," he said.
With a quivering lower lip, Penelope allowed Derek to pull her into his embrace. But even the warmth of his strong arms couldn't take away the chill.
She wondered if it would ever go away.