AN: While I'm thankful that so many people seem to like my fics, it's starting to bug me that people love to favorite my stories, sign up for author posting notifications, and such without replying to my fics. If you like something, just drop me (or any author) a little comment and say so. Really. it makes our day.

Iz

Sirens & Clowns

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She knew he would be coming to see her. What she didn't expect was for him to show up thirty minutes after the BAU Learjet touched down. It typically took him forty-five minutes to get back to Quantico.

She had planned to be gone in thirty-five, praying they wouldn't cross paths.

"So tell me about this clown," Derek Morgan ordered as he watched Penelope Garcia hastily pack up her belongings from the doorway to her office.

Penelope, her back to Derek, stiffened, rolling her eyes to the ceiling. "How did I know that was the first thing you were going to ask me?"

"That why you're trying to leave early?"

She turned, her brow furrowed and her nose adorably wrinkled. "See? This is why I hate profilers. You're better than the god-damned psychic hotline."

Derek simply folded his arms, his muscular shoulder braced against the doorway. He arched his eyebrows pointedly, waiting.

Huffing, Penelope dropped her purse and leaned back against the desk, fixing him with a dark look. "It was a long time ago, Derek. I was a kid. Nothing you could've done."

"True," he admitted begrudgingly, "but I can now."

"Statue of limitations for assault," she reminded him quickly. She smiled innocently. "Guess you can't do anything."

"What I was going to do didn't involve arresting him, sweetheart," Derek muttered, his onyx eyes flashing.

She rolled her eyes again, trying not to laugh. "Honey, really, there isn't anything you can do."

"Oh, no?" he challenged, his voice dropping an octave as he crossed the room to her. He stopped, inches away, looking down at her. "I'm serious, Penelope."

It was sweet, but not unexpected, his overwhelming need to protect her. Over the years she had come to adore it as a cute little quirk, but his protective demeanor had shifted into overdrive after she had been shot the year before.

Clearly the clown was on the losing end of the wrath of Derek Morgan.

"I don't know," she answered calmly. "I was twelve, and it's not like I wanted to find out the particulars on who the guy was."

"Fine," he replied, just as easily, taking it all in stride. "Whose house was the party at? I can find out who they hired—"

She giggled then, biting her lower lip to keep from laughing outright. Lifting her hands, she framed his face, the neon pink of her nails standing out in stark contrast to his mocha skin. "Derek, please. I'm really, truly fine."

He wasn't happy. "Except now you have an abnormal fear of clowns," he pointed out.

"What's normal about a man wearing layers of makeup, with a permanent smirk attached to his face as he plays with children? I think my fear is perfectly normal. Or whatever normal is. Thousands of people fear clowns. I'm not the only one out there refusing to eat a Happy Meal because it's served by an overzealous, gigantic footed clown. Clowns are just creepy." She shivered at the end of the sentence to enforce what she said.

He cracked a smile then, shaking his head. "OK, OK, you win."

"Of course I do." She smirked up at him and dropped her hands, turning to gather her belongings again.

Penelope turned back, suddenly. "Hey, how did you get here so fast?"

Derek's grinned. "Ah, now that would be telling one of my secrets. Can't do that."

"Oh, my God," she said slowly after a moment. She stared up at him incredulously. "You used the sirens."

He didn't reply, but his smile gave her the answer she needed.

She poked him in the chest with her index finger, wincing when her finger folded and barely made a dent in his chest. "Hotch is gonna kick your ass."

"Hey, it was an emergency," he protested, grabbing her hand.

"No it wasn't," she sputtered, amused.

Derek held her hand against his chest. "It was to me."

After several seconds, Penelope cleared her throat and stepped back. Derek dropped her hand, reluctantly, and took a step back himself.

"So, dinner?" he asked, his tone back to its normal, teasing lilt.

Penelope swung her purse over her shoulder and watched as Derek took her computer bag from her hands, carrying it himself. "Sure."

He followed her out the door, turning off the lights and closing her door. He waited as she locked it. "What do you feel like?"

She slanted her eyes over at him as they started down the hallway together. "Anything but McDonalds."