Welcome to Part 3 in the Living with the BAU series!
For reference, the prequels in order are: One of Your Own and Growing Up BAU
BECOMING PENELOPE GARCIA-MORGAN
Penelope Garcia – soon-to-be Morgan – was nervous. Her hands were shaking and she was glad she wasn't responsible for her hair or makeup. She wouldn't have had a stead y enough hand to do a good job of it. And JJ had a real skill in accenting the best of her features, the same way she'd done for Emily at her wedding. Emily had somehow managed to handle her hair while keeping an eye on Gabi and watching over AJ on her play mat. It really was a skill because Penelope's usually unruly curls had been straightened and tamed, pinned in an elegant knot at the base of her skull.
"By this point, it's second nature," Emily had said as she deftly pinned the hair back. "It's the easiest way to manage my hair for the two annual political functions Aaron and I are forced to attend."
"Everything okay, Pen?"
Penelope looked up at JJ. "This is really happening, right?"
JJ grinned. "Very real," she replied. "You are less than an hour from walking down the aisle to marry the love of your life."
Penelope took a deep breath. "And he's going to be there, right?"
"Of course he is!" JJ replied. "If he's not, Emily and I have already agreed I get first dibs.
"And come on, Pen. This is really just a formality and we all know it," Emily spoke up. She was in the process of picking up toys and packing them in preparation for their departure in the bridesmaid dress she was wearing for the ceremony. It had been her decision to stand as a bridesmaid instead of a maid of honour because of AJ. Fran had promised to keep the eight-month-old in her pew while Emily stood up with Pen, but Emily had basically taken on the job of keeping her eye on the children in case Gabi got restless two. She was only two and likely to get distracted.
"That doesn't mean he's guaranteed to be there," Penelope replied.
"The way he's head-over-heels for you definitely does," JJ argued.
"He fought for you," Emily pointed out with a roll of her eyes that Penelope caught in the mirror. "Tooth and nail. And before you say anything to the contrary, that's enough. And if you think even for a second Aaron would let him walk away, you're nuts."
"And," JJ jumped in. "Before you bring up obligation, remember Gabi's two. I think he's made it clear he's in it for the long haul."
Penelope sighed. "Still..."
"No still, Pen," JJ said. "Drop this insecurity. You're getting married. Today is a happy day."
"I'm happy," Penelope insisted. "I am."
"But you'll be better when you see him at the end of the aisle," Emily said, the words a statement not a question. Penelope knew she'd felt the same way on her wedding day.
A knock sounded on the door and Emily left her self-imposed task of cleaning up to answer it. Fran bustled in, then stopped dead as she caught sight of Penelope in front of the mirror.
"Sweetheart, you look gorgeous," she breathed.
Penelope blushed. "Thanks Fran."
"Alright," Fran demanded, getting a hold of herself and her mission once again. "Give me the beautiful little Anna-Joy and focus on getting this woman to my son."
Emily shook her head affectionately. "I'm still packing her up, but if you can grab her, I'll pack up her mat."
Fran leaned down, picking up the baby and hoisting her into her arms. "You are so cute. Just like your mama, aren't you?"
Emily chuckled. "Fran, you say that every time you see her."
"And every time I see her she gets even more beautiful. Not quite as beautiful as my own granddaughter of course, but beautiful in her own right," Fran replied.
"Thank you for doing this," Emily said, handing the other woman AJ's bag.
"Of course," Fran replied, snatching Gabi's bag and tossing it over her shoulder. She turned to leave, then turned back as if forgetting something. AJ went to her mother as her eyes darted about the room. "Miss Gabriella!"
Little feet carried Gabi back into the room. "Nana!"
Fran managed to keep her balance as Gabi ran straight into her legs. "You and I need to talk, Miss Gabi," the older woman said, crouching down to the child's level. "You're going to be good for your mama, right?"
"Yup!" Gabi said, twisting her hips and thus, her skirt. Gabi had been excited ever since she'd gone with the four older woman to pick and fit the dress.
"Okay. Look at me, Gabs." Fran waited patiently until her granddaughter met her eyes. "If you don't think you can stand up with Mama and Daddy, you come and sit with me, okay? I'll have all of your toys."
Fran grinned, pressing kisses all over Gabi's face and making the little girl giggle. "And juice," she replied laughing. "I need to get Annie settled. You remember to be good for your mama."
"Good for Mama," Gabi parroted back.
"That's my girl," Fran said. She made her way back to Penelope's side, leaning down and kissing her cheek. "You look stunning. Derek won't be able to take his eyes off of you."
Penelope blushed and grinned. "Thanks Fran."
"And he is down there pacing, wondering if you're really going to walk down the aisle."
JJ grinned, shooting a knowing look at Penelope. "We told you so."
"I'll send up Hotch," Fran offered.
"Thanks Fran," Penelope whispered.
JJ fished fixing the veil and picked up Penelope's nearby bouquet. The purple orchids matched Emily and JJ's dresses. Emily and JJ's bouquets were white orchids, deliberately contrasting with their own dresses and matching Penelope's.
Hotch poked his head in and knocked. "It's time." His eyes were drawn to Emily first, something that didn't surprise anyone, but they turned swiftly to Penelope as she stood. "Derek is going to believe how beautiful you are."
She blushed. "Thank you, Sir."
"I'm about to walk you down the aisle. I think today of all days is the day to stop calling me 'Sir'," Hotch said with a smile as he held out his arm.
"Right. Thank you Hotch."
"Are you ready?" he asked, looking down at her with a smile.
"So ready," she replied, grinning widely.
Derek tried to stand still, really he did, but he was so anxious. He needed the ceremony to start. He needed to see Penelope. He felt himself relax a little as the music started up and he saw Gabi coming down the aisle, holding onto Jack's hand just like they'd practiced the night before. He smiled at his little girl, encouraging her. Emily came next and if wasn't for how in love she was with Hotch and his own deep feelings for Penelope, it was moments like these he regretted not making a move on her ages ago. Having AJ had only done brilliant things for her body. He winked at her as she met his gaze and he could tell she was resisting the urge to stick her tongue out at him. But the perfect Emily Prentiss prevailed and she took Gabi's hand when she reached the front, in line with their rehearsals.
Then came JJ and Derek felt Reid tense behind him. He grinned at her as she winked at Reid. That made him chuckle. Then the wedding march began and Derek felt his breath catch. Penelope was beyond gorgeous. Her white dress had two thin straps and the skirt was the princess skirt she'd told him she adored. He felt tears well in his eyes against his will power.
"Ladies and gentlemen, we are gathered here today to join Derek and Penelope in marriage," the pastor said, facing the gathered guests. "Who gives this woman?"
"I do," Hotch spoke up strongly, and Derek saw the older man squeeze Penelope's hands before he put them in Derek's. Then he took his place beside Reid.
Derek lost track of the ceremony after that, caught up in the sparkle of her eyes and the way the sunlight glinted off of her hair as it floated through the windows. It wasn't until Penelope cleared her that that he realized she was preparing to say her handwritten vows.
"Derek..." To say I love you, that I've loved you forever, is probably an understatement. You've given me so much, helped me through so much... I don't know what I would do without you in my life. And don't you ever, ever think of leaving."
"I don't," he promised, reaching up to wipe carefully at her tears. "I won't."
Penelope sniffled. "I can't wait to start the next part of our lives together. Derek, I know this is just a formality because I love you. I always have. I always will."
Derek had to take a minute before he could speak. "Baby Girl... Penelope, you are the light in my life. It's so cliché, I know that, but you make everything in my life so much brighter. You make my job just that little bit easier to do. And you gave me a beautiful baby girl. I don't know why I waited so long to ask you to marry me. It's the single greatest decision I have ever made in my life. Forever will never be long enough for me to love you. I love you doesn't come close to how I feel about you. And this isn't just a formality, Mama. This is me ensuring that you will always be by my side."
"Always isn't long enough," she whispered through her tears.
It was then that Gabi not only chose to make herself known, but also show the world how much her family meant to her. "Mama cry!" she exclaimed, almost upset as her mother.
Derek and Penelope laughed along with the rest of their guests. Derek knelt as his daughter clung to her mother's skirt. He kissed her forehead gently. "Mama's fine," he promised. He grinned as Emily rushed over to pick Gabi up.
"Cry!" Gabi said, still sounding confused.
Penelope grinned at Gabi, stepping over to pepper her little face with kisses. "I'm fine, Princess. Five more minutes, okay?"
Gabi wrinkled her little forehead for a minute. "Kay."
Derek was still chuckling when Penelope turned back to him and the preacher. "She is your daughter," he said.
She arched an eyebrow. "And what is that supposed to mean?"
"She has a big heart and puts everyone else first," Derek responded immediately with a charming grin.
"Good answer," she replied, slipping her hands back into his. "Where were we?"
"Rings," the woman responded promptly.
Then Jack was at Derek's side, holding up the circles of metal. Derek grinned his thanks and turned back to Penelope. He held her left hand. "With this ring, I promise you my everlasting love and unending devotion. I promise you my life, my body, my heart, everything I am and everything I will be."
Penelope blinked, her eyes shining as he slid the ring on her finger to nestle against her engagement ring. Then she folded his hand in hers, sliding the matching ring over his knuckles. "Derek Morgan, with this ring, I promise you my everlasting love and unending devotion. I promise you my life, my body, my heart, everything I am and everything I will be."
He was already stepping towards her as the pastor announced it was now time to kiss the bride. His heart leapt when he touched his mouth to hers, the same way it did every time he kissed her. His thumbs came up to wipe her tears.
"Ladies and gentlemen, Mister and Missus Morgan."
They couldn't take their eyes off of each other as they made their way back down the aisle. "We did it," he whispered as the made it to the end of the carpet.
Penelope turned at Gabi's call and scooped her into her arms. Her eyes were glowing. "We did," she agreed. "We're officially married."
"Are you ready for our next adventure?" he asked, looking back at their family and friends.
"And what would that be, Hot Stuff?"
He squeezed her hand. "The rest of our lives."
She pursed her lips. "Let's just start with the reception, okay?"
He could definitely agree with that.