She watched him from afar, he was laughing at something Reid had said. From where she stood she could almost hear his laughter, even though she was so far away, somewhere in her memory she had stored his laughter that even from such a distance, when he laughed she could conjure up the sound that has always made her heart skip a beat. She closed her eyes for a moment trying to swallow the sudden sadness the crept up, the thought that he was leaving was painful, unthinkable, and yet he was.
After Kate had died in the bombing, New York brass had offered him Kate's position. It was an amazing opportunity for him in the Bureau, she knew he had ambitions to climb the infamous FBI ladder, and as much as she was going to miss him, he had to go.
Emily noticed that her friend was miles away and had discreetly made her way to her where she stood just outside the bullpen seemingly engrossed in the signing the photo they had blown up of all of them for his new big shot office. Emily knew that despite her bravado Penelope had taken it hard that their friend was moving away. Yes, New York was within travel distance, but it wasn't going to be the same. Things were going to change, and they didn't do change bery well. Emily was the only change they welcomed, and even that was a fight.
Emily stood beside her friend and gave her arm a gentle squeeze, drawing Penelope out of her reverie. Penelope looked up at her gratefully, the last thing she needed was for Derek to see her trance. She knew he was worried enough about her reaction as it was, and she didn't need to fuel that. She had promised herself that she was going to make it as easy for him as possible to transition. Even if it meant lying to him about how she really felt about him leaving.
How could she tell him that he was breaking her heart by leaving? How does she explain to him that the thought of him not being around made her heart ache so much that she could barely breathe? How could she ask him to stay merely because she loved him, because she was in love with him?
Their friendship was bound by trust, love and a lot of flirting. She didn't even want to imagine how it was going to be come Monday to not have him there. Not to have him pop his head into her office just to say hi, and hand her a coffee he had made especially for her. Not to have him on the other side of the phone when the team called her. Not to hear him call her 'Baby Girl', it was almost inconceivable, but it was the reality.
Derek looked up in time to see that Penelope was looking right at him, he flashed her a smile as she grinned widely at him, oblivious to the gut wrenching torture she tried so hard to conceal. Derek knew that he was going to miss each and every one of them. They each played such an important part of his life, he trusted them with his life. Hotch and Rossi were more than just his boss, they were his friend, and his mentors. Reid was like the little brother he never had, and he will certainly miss his sporadic statistic muttering, JJ and Emily were like sisters to him, they certainly teased him enough and vice versa, and then there was Penelope Garcia, his friend, confidante and the person who knew him best, and loved him unconditionally. He certainly was going to miss her.
Penelope knew that Derek assumed that their friendship would remain the same after his move, in fact it was the one thing he counted on, but Penelope wasn't sure if she was strong enough to withstand the distance and changes ahead of them. Did he not know his departure would be a life altering moment for her? She wasn't sure if she could handle hearing about some girl he'd met being so far away. She didn't know if she wanted to be the best friend on the other side of the phone hearing about his latest conquests and offers. Not when she couldn't physically assure herself of her position in his life. Not when she couldn't mark her territory as she had already done so in Quantico. Women knew he was a flirt, and they loved him, but they also knew that Penelope came first, at all times, the proverbial best friend that he would drop everything for, she came with the package and if they wanted to have any hope of long Gevity in his life, they had no choice but to suck it up and accept it. She had grown accustomed to it, and now that was about to be pulled right from underneath her. When he turned his attention back to their friends, Penelope excused herself and slipped out of the room, unable to hold back her emotions any longer. Emily let Penelope slip out alone, as it would be more noticeable if both of them went missing. She had to give Penelope credit, she outwardly looked as though she was coping, even if she knew that she wasn't.
A few minutes later Derek looked up and frowned when he saw that Pen was not in sight. He gave Emily a questioning look who mouthed 'bathroom' giving Penelope a few more minutes of recovery time knowing that had she not offered him an answer he would search high and low till he found her. As if on cue Penelope had walked back into the office with a brave smile across her face.
"So I'll see you tomorrow at the airport." He said hugging her goodnight. After his little farewell at work that evening she had come home with him to hang out, help him pack the last of his things. The movers had come earlier in the week to pick up the big things, and his boxes full of belongings. All that was left was what he could take on the plane. He had asked her to stay but she insisted on going home to get changed, as he was leaving in a few hours. Reluctantly she had announced that she was going home, he offered to have Reid swing by to pick her up but she refused and said she would drive herself there. They stood in his doorway for some time just hugging, even though the moment they had arrived at his house they had been inseparable.
"God I'm going to miss you Baby Girl."
"Me too, you take care in that big city okay handsome."
"I promise, don't you worry." He assured her kissing the tip of her nose affectionately. Penelope looked right at him as she spoke,
"There's something you should know," taking a deep breath she took a step closer to him and placed her lips against him. Surprised, it took a moment for Derek to realise what had happened and hungrily he responded. A few moments later she pulled back, a smile on her face, tears in her eyes.
"I love you." She said looking right at him. Before he could respond she had given his hand a quick squeeze before leaving him at his door step dumbfounded. Did she mean, did that mean? His thoughts whirled. He decided he was going to pull her aside at the airport and they were going to talk. She kissed him. She loved him, after all this time.
Reid picked up Morgan, and with only an hour before his flight it was going to be a quick goodbye to his team, his family at the airport. He had hoped that by the time that they got to the airport that Penelope would be there, but she wasn't. When they got there, everyone was there but her. He pulled out his phone and called her but got her voicemail. When they announced his flight, panic crept in. His heart sank. He kept dialling her number and he kept getting her voicemail. When his flight was called for him, Emily walked up to him and shook his head,
"She's not coming Derek. She thought it would be better."
"She was never going to come was she?" he mumbled, and the look on Emily's face told him as much. As the final boarding call was made, his friends had literally walked him to the gate, shell shocked knowing in his gut that Penelope had said her good bye, and he didn't even know it. Everything was a blur, and all he wanted to do was run out of there and find her. Tell her he loved her too, but his feet didn't move, instead he allowed the stewardess to walk him to his seat and obliged when she told him to fasten his seat belt.
Sorrow filled him realising that he had lost Penelope. That she had walked away from him. His inability to tell her right then and there after she told him she loved him was like the justification she needed to walk away from him. As the plane began to pull out and taxi along the runway, he looked out the window, back at the terminal he had just left and there he caught a glimpse of a the blonde he knew so well. She stood there watching as his plane pulled away, her hand on the window, as though his hand was on the other side. From where he sat he saw her wipe her tears and realised he too was crying. All he wanted to do was get off the plane, but it was too late. She had let him go.