"So, Holly Go'Fight'ly, huh?You've been holding out on me, Sweetness?"
Still wide eyed and shocked, Penelope asked, "What are you doing here?"
Then she remembered the only person in the world who knew about her derby life and scowled, "Supervisory Special Agent Aaron Hotchner is so on my list."
"No, Hotch didn't tell me anything." Derek lifted her duffel bag from her shoulder, placing it on his own and started to walk her slowly down the corridor.
"There was a flyer mixed in with some other files on his desk when I went in to speak with him earlier. I don't think he realized it was there, he seemed pretty distracted. I asked Prentiss and Reid to come check it out with me before we headed to the bar, looked like a good time. Prentiss and I decided it was a better way to put a dent in two hours than waiting for you at the bar while Reid stole precious minutes of our lives away by yakking about something neither of us gives a shit about. What I didn't expect," he stopped and turned to face her, "was to see my baby girl kickin' ass and takin' names out there. You said you were going to visit JJ and Henry tonight after work and then meet up with us. How was your visit?"
She shrugged, trying to look more nonchalant than guilty about having been caught. "I took a small detour. Wait… My unicorn genius and Emily the strange and great are here, too?"
She peeked around Derek's shoulder, still ignoring his smirk and silent request for an explanation. Standing at her team's table at the end of the corridor were her second best girl and her best brainy boy. She smiled. A few of her teammates appeared to be flirting with Spencer and Emily was trying to hide her laughter.
Doing good, boy genius.
"Hey, hey! Do not change the subject. When were you going to tell me about this? You know I would have been here to cheer you on, baby."
She met his eyes then, "You know, while I was changing in the locker room, I imagined that you would probably carry me off of the track bridal-style if you had ever witnessed me take a hit. You like to rescue and protect, Derek. You can't help it and that's why you will forever be my Noir Knight. Sometimes, I love it but I didn't need you here babying me." She softened her voice so that it didn't echo through the small hallway too much, "We all have things for ourselves. You have property, I have roller derby. Well, I had it until your snooping curiosity found me out."
He paused to consider what she had just said. She may have been right. He overdid it but only because he loved her so much. He never wanted her to feel pain. "Okay. That's a fair assessment, I guess. I may have overreacted the first time you went down, but I got over it pretty quickly."
Penelope tilted her head, disbelief coloring her expression. She knew him well enough to know that he was only telling her half of the truth.
"Well, that and Emily told me that you could handle yourself just fine and if I moved from my seat, she would cuff me to it."
Penelope made a mental note to thank Emily for that later on.
"Wait a minute, hold up. You were daydreaming about me while you were naked in the locker room?"
She laughed, low and throaty, "Maybe a little. My favorite place to daydream about you is between my sheets though, Sugar."
Derek's expression turned serious then, "Listen, baby. If it's any consolation, you played a great game. I don't know much about the sport but, you really can handle yourself on that track. Who knew you were such an athlete, Penelope Garcia?" He brought his arm around her shoulder to hold her close as they walked into the lobby but immediately let go when he noticed her wince and flinch away from him.
He looked at her questioningly.
"I'm fine. I'm just a little sore." She placed her hand on his chest and leaned in, her face just inches from his, "Maybe I'll let you give me some TLC later."
Derek laughed as he watched her walk away. She was a champion at leaving him speechless. The woman simply had no clue how much she owned him. His heart raced as his mind replayed the way she gracefully made her way around the track during the game, her cheeks ruddy from exertion. He had never seen her so poised and in control before and he found it extremely inviting. She showed everyone in that arena tonight what she was made of and he had never wanted her more. Now, he just had to figure out how to tell her that.
She sauntered down the remaining length of the hallway and Emily and Spencer immediately walked to her. Their excitement made her feel good, although a bit shy.
"P.G., You were amazing! The way you bumped that girl completely off of the track? Whoa! And you looked so sexy in your uniform!" Emily was talking faster than Penelope had ever heard her talk before.
Reid chimed in, "Garcia, I never would have guessed that you would be in to something like this. You were like, a completely different person out there! I was pretty scared when you took down number forty-nine. I really hope she's feeling okay."
"Yeah, yeah! Me, too! God, you were fearless! And then you blew her a kiss as you skated off! That was so dirty!"
Penelope watched as Spencer nodded excitedly while listening to Emily as she listed off to him the hits and game plays that she enjoyed watching.
Derek came up behind Penelope and wrapped his arm around her waist. She grinned up at him, motioning towards Emily and Spencer who were so caught up in their own conversation that they seemed to forgot that she was standing there. Penelope didn't mind it at all. In fact, she was starting to regret not having told them about this in the first place.
"She's right. You looked beautiful tonight." He brushed a finger underneath her chin, "Ready to go?"
"You bet, Gorgeous. I'll see you when we get there. Drive safely, please. "
Penelope stood taller in her heels as she kissed his cheek and then pulled away from him to link arms with Emily and they walked out of the lobby together.
Spencer stood next to Derek and smirked. He just couldn't pass up the opportunity.
"I think Garcia may have a better tackle than you do."
Derek laughed loudly, motioning towards the lobby doors for Spencer to follow him out,
"I won't argue with you on that one, man. Let's go get that drink."
"Come on. Tell me," Emily started, her steps in perfect time with Penelope's, their arms still linked together at the elbow, "Something is definitely different between you and Morgan. He couldn't take his eyes or his hands, for that matter, off of you tonight. I mean, it wasn't any more dry heave inducing than it normally is but, there was something different about him. I have never seen him look at you the way he did tonight."
Silence fell between them as they approached Penelope's car, which Emily leaned against as she waited for Penelope to muster enough courage to confirm out loud what she already knew. She had watched her and Derek avoid their feelings for each other for years. It was time for someone to make a serious move.
"It feels different between us. Good different! But, it's also kind of scary at the same time to think that maybe he feels the same way that I do. Lately, I catch him staring at me and I think 'This is it. He is finally going to kiss me!' and then he doesn't and I remind myself that my life just doesn't work that way. We've been friends for what feels like forever and I like what we have. It's easy and it's fun and it's solid but, you know I wouldn't turn him down if he asked me to open up more than just my heart to him."
Emily rolled her eyes as her friend laughed huskily and motioned for her to continue speaking.
"I think that if he wanted more from me he would have said so by now, you know? He's had years of opportunities! Besides, E.P., I depend on his friendship so much. There isn't another man in the sparkly, swirly universe that understands me better than he does. That's honestly better than not having him in my life at all, right?" She paused to catch her breath and then sighed, sadly. "I don't know. What do you think?"
"I think you really caught his eye tonight. I think," Emily pushed herself off of the car with her hip, "that Morgan is finally beginning to pull his head out of his ass. It's about time," she said dryly.
Penelope laughed as she opened her car door. Emily started to walk away towards her own vehicle, hidden somewhere in the chaos of the parking lot. She turned her head over her shoulder and shouted, "I'm buying you a drink, Holly! You deserve it!"
Penelope honked her horn twice as she pulled away to join the line of cars waiting to leave the lot.
She hated how encouraged her talk with Emily made her feel. She hated that even after all of these years, her body still responded to Derek's voice and touch. She could be entirely brave on the track but telling Derek how she felt after all of these years would require an amount of courage that she wasn't quite sure she would ever possess.
A/N: Happy Criminal Minds Day! Special Thanks to boys who like 'em feisty, Tumblr memes, Disney Channel commercials, chatty antique mall owners, Karl Lagerfeld's sunglasses, free shipping, Skype dates, my bedazzled flask Rachel Berry, Siouxsie and the Banshees, all of the awesome women that I've connected with in this fandom and derby team name generators. -Betty T. G. xo