Title: Answers

Fandom: Criminal Minds

Pairing: Morgan/Garcia

Table:Time

Prompt for 10 I love you: #9 Years

Rating: T

Disclaimer: Neither the show nor the characters belong to me, they belong to CBS. Nonetheless, I love to borrow them from time to time. No copyright infringement is intended. The story is mine, though.

Summary: Part 10/10 of the Chicago series.

warnings: none

AN: I'm almost sad to say that, but here we see another story end. This one was one of my personal favorites (is it arrogant to say that?). I can't even tell you why. Maybe it was the shower scene. ;) Or maybe it is because I like writing about Morgan dealing with his demons. I also like some good drama, you know that.

Anyway, what I like most is the happy ending – so here you go. Despite the fact that there are several things our favorite couple has to worry about when returning to D.C., there is a lot of fluffiness in this chapter.

I hope you enjoyed reading the story as much as I enjoyed writing it. Once again thank you for all your support and encouragement to keep writing.

Hugs,

Caro

"You know, I was about to give the ring to Sarah," Fran admitted, smiling at the couple on her couch. "I thought you were serious when you said you never wanted to get married."

"I was," Derek told her, and then turned to look at Penelope. "But that was before I met this girl right next to me."

"Well, I'm glad she could change your mind," Fran said, raising her glass.

"I'll drink to that!" Derek grinned at his mother, and then pecked Penelope's lips.

A dreamy smile appeared on Fran's face. "Oh, I wish your sisters could see you now."

"Mom…" Derek rolled his eyes.

"Just to see how happy you are," Fran told him defensively. "Too bad you have to head back to Washington tomorrow."

"Speaking of that," Derek replied, putting his glass on the living room table and standing up, "we really need to go to bed. Our flight will take off at nine tomorrow."

Fran stood up as well. "You know you can stay here for as long as you want, right? I'm just saying, after everything that happened lately, your boss would have to grant you some time off."

"Mom, he would give us as much time off as we need, and you know that." Derek sighed. "But there's too much we have to… sort out before we can think about a vacation."

"Yeah, maybe after that, we'll have several years to think about vacations," Penelope mumbled.

Fran blinked at her in confusion.

"Don't worry, Baby Girl," Derek told her, wrapping his arm around her waist. "They're not gonna fire us. They can't afford it."

"Fire you?" Fran exclaimed.

Penelope blushed slightly. "Yeah, well, us getting married isn't exactly approved by the authorities."

"It's against the frat rules," Derek specified. "Rules against relationships between agents working in the same team."

"Rules that can get us fired, if we violate them," Penelope reminded him.

"Don't you worry." Derek gently nudged her nose. "We won't be fired. These rules are stupid, anyway. I mean, of course, you can forbid people to have a relationship, but you can't tell them not to love each other."

"Honey, you don't need to convince me." Penelope smiled at him. "You need to convince Strauss, and that's gonna be hard, considering that she's the only woman in the world who can resist your charm."

"Yeah, mine, but not Rossi's," he said with a grin. "Let him take care of her."

"Okay, but if you don't get fired, I expect you to go on a long vacation after that," Fran sternly told her son and his soon to be wife.

"Yes, ma'am," Derek said, rolling his eyes once more. "And thanks for your concern about the prospect of us losing our jobs."

"You know what I mean," Fran told him, putting him off. "You need a vacation. Period."

"Mom, we can take care of ourselves," Derek tried to argue with her.

"I know you can." Smiling, Fran petted her son's arm. "The thing is, you don't. I'm just worried about you, okay? That's what a mother is good for."

Smiling, appeased, Derek pecked his mother's cheek. "And I thought your cooking was the main reason I come to visit you."

"That's part of the caretaking, you know," Fran explained, winking at him.

"Yeah, I figured that much," Derek said, again rolling his eyes.

Fran giggled softly, putting an arm around Penelope. "You're lucky, though. Since I have a new daughter to take care of now, you'll only get half of the motherly advice."

"Thank you," Penelope sniffled. "It's been a long time since I had a real family."

"Trust me, Baby Girl, this family is gonna get on your nerves in no time at all," Derek chuckled.

"I can't see that happening," Penelope objected, smiling.

"You haven't met my sisters yet," Derek teased.

Winking at Fran, Penelope shrugged. "I have a feeling that we're gonna get along quite well."

"What was that?" Warily, Derek eyed Penelope and his mother. "Only one week, and the two of you are already ganging up against me? I'm going to remember this!"

"Oh, poor baby." Penelope petted Derek's cheek. "Now you have to put up with another woman in this family."

"Ah, wait until Des and Sarah are married. Then the men are gonna gang up against you." Derek grinned triumphantly.

Fran and Penelope giggled. "Sorry, honey, but it's still gonna be three against four." Fran dispelled his hopes.

"There would be no use, anyway." Smiling, Derek put his arm back around Penelope and kissed the top of her head. "There is no man in the world who can cope with the force that is Penelope Garcia."

"You betcha!" Penelope grinned at him.

They wished Fran a good night's sleep and walked up the stairs, arguing about who would take the bathroom first.

Smiling to herself, Fran cleaned up the living room, and then went to bed herself. It had been a very long time since she'd last seen Derek so happy. Penelope was good to him, and for him – and Derek was completely at her feet. It was obvious that they were not only in love with each other, but that there was a much stronger bond between them.

"Are you okay?" Derek asked a few minutes later, wrapping his arms closer around Penelope.

"Of course." She turned a little to face him. "Why wouldn't I be?"

"You're pretty silent," he stated. "That's all. I… It's just unusual."

"I was just thinking." Penelope snuggled up closer against him. "It's been a long time since I really felt at home somewhere. Don't get me wrong, I love the team, they're like a family to me, but…"

"They aren't really a family," Derek finished the sentence for her. "When they go home, they all have their own lives."

"Yeah, everyone except for me, so far," she added in a whisper. "I… I guess I had forgotten how good it feels to belong somewhere."

"Hey, you've been a part of this family for years. I thought you knew that." Derek softly nuzzled her neck.

Closing her eyes happily, Penelope whispered, "Just not the way I'd wanted to be."

"I'm sorry," Derek whispered against her skin, "for being so blind – and so stupid."

"I just… never thought we would… end up here, getting married, I mean." Penelope chuckled slightly. "I thought I was lucky to call you my best friend – I had no idea how lucky I actually could have been. I mean, I never thought you would… you know, be interested in me."

He raised his head to look at her. "What? You still think I wouldn't cross a crowded room to hit on you?"

"I don't know," Penelope replied honestly. "Would you? I mean, would you have if you'd never worked this case?"

Derek braced himself on his elbow to look at her. "When I said I loved you, I meant it. I didn't ask you out because I felt like I had to make up for anything, but because I wanted to show you how much you really mean to me.

"I know, it wasn't the best time to ask you, and I understand what it looked like to you. Apparently, when it comes to real relationships, I'm not as good with women as I thought."

"That's not true," Penelope objected, turning her head so she didn't have to look at him. "I had been waiting for you to ask me out for as long as I've known you. And when you finally said those words, I wanted to accept the invitation so badly. But I thought… I don't know. I was afraid you just did that to prove me wrong and to appease me. I just didn't want to promise myself and get hurt."

Derek cupped her cheek with his hand and made her look at him again. "I would never knowingly or willingly hurt you, ever," he assured her.

"I know that," Penelope whispered. "It's just… I never thought it was possible that you… You know. You're just… out of my league."

"Hey." Derek silenced her by putting his finger over her mouth. "I love you very much. And in case you haven't noticed yet…" He let his hand run up and down her body, making her shiver. "I can't keep my hands off of you."

Leaning down so close that his lips were almost touching hers, he added, "Yes, I love you. Yes, I want you; and yes, I need you. No, I don't care what people might think or about the whole geek and jock thing. All I care about is you, because I know we're meant to be. Any further questions?"

"No," she whispered, her eyes fluttering shut.

"I had no idea you felt this way about me," he whispered into her ears. "I'm sorry for being so blind all these years."

"Oh, I have a pretty good idea how you can make up for that," Penelope panted, rather than said.

"Yeah?" He grinned, letting his hand move further down. "Am I getting closer?"

"Most… definitely." She bit her lip to keep herself from crying out.

"What do you think?" Derek asked much later. "How many years did we make up for already?"

"Hm, at least two," she mumbled, snuggling up closer against him.

"Well, then, we have to try a little harder, I guess," he chuckled, starting to run his hand up and down her body again.

"Hey, easy, stud." Penelope playfully slapped his chest. "Who said we need to make up for the past years in one night?"

"I know," he said, grinning down at her, "but like I said, I can't keep my hands off of you."

"As much as that flatters me, I'd like to get some sleep tonight," she mumbled against his chest, already half-asleep. "You wore me out."

"It's not my fault," Derek whispered. "I just can't seem to get close enough to you."

"You know, that's actually the cutest thing anyone ever said to me." Penelope sighed contentedly.

"I'm just telling the truth," he replied honestly.

Derek could feel his Baby Girl smiling against his chest, and – smiling himself – he wrapped his arms tighter around her and closed his eyes.

But neither of them found any sleep that night. Penelope was mulling over their future – or the question if they even had one. Strauss would never approve of them getting married. She hated the team – and she had some major problems with Penelope.

She sighed sadly.

"What's wrong?" Derek asked, appalled.

Raising her head, Penelope frowned at him. "You're awake?"

"So are you." Derek smiled at her and gently brushed a strand of hair out of her face. "So what is it that's keeping you awake?"

Sighing once more, Penelope laid her head back on his chest, and mumbled, "I was just… worrying."

"About what?" Derek pressed her. "The wedding?"

"Yeah," she replied voicelessly. When she realized how that must have sounded to him, she quickly added, "No. I mean, not this way. I was just… What is the team going to say? And Strauss? What if she doesn't approve?"

"Hey," Derek said softly, making her look up at him again. "Don't worry about Strauss. We will get married, I promise. This will all work out."

"But…" she tried to object.

"No but," Derek interrupted her. "Maybe Strauss won't approve, but I honestly don't care about her. All I care about is you. And we will get married, no matter what. Even if it means that I'll have to quit my job with the BAU."

"What?" Penelope exclaimed. "You… You can't quit. I mean, you love this job."

"True," Derek agreed, nodding, "but still it's just a job. I love you more. If I am forced to choose between you and this job, there's no question about what my decision will be."

Tears sprung to her eyes, but she didn't mind wiping them away. "I love you," she whispered.

"I love you, too." Derek smiled at her and leaned in to kiss her softly.

Penelope couldn't believe how lucky she was. Derek was willing to give up everything he loved just to be with her. Of course, she wouldn't let him. But now she knew that nothing could keep them from spending the rest of their lives together.

Knowing all this, it didn't take long before Penelope finally fell asleep, a wide smile still on her face.

"Well, this is the moment of truth." Derek took a deep breath, before he stepped through the big glass door inside the bullpen.

The rest of the team was standing around Reid's desk, seemingly waiting for him and Penelope to return.

After many hugs and greetings, Hotch finally said, "Welcome back, both of you. You did a good job in Chicago; the local police seemed pretty happy with your work."

"No wonder, considering the outcome," Rossi added, smiling wryly. "You helped them catch a serial killer, and it turns out that they didn't have a mole, but this guy was just clever enough to hack their computers without them noticing. They wouldn't have caught him without you."

"Ah, now you're exaggerating," Penelope said modestly.

"And,"Hotch grinned at them, something that was very unusual"you finally got together. Congratulations, it's about time!"

Both their jaws dropped. "How… did you…" they stuttered.

"Well, it wasn't too hard to guess," Rossi answered, shrugging.

Meanwhile, JJ pressed a glass of champagne in their hands. "This has to be celebrated."

"When Derek called to tell me that you solved the case and were heading back home, I noticed quite a few changes," Hotch told them. "He seemed much more light-hearted than normal after a case like this – and every second word he used was your name."

"We just had to put two and two together," Rossi added. "Well, or one and one in this case. Besides, the ring on your finger is pretty telling."

Derek eyed them suspiciously. "My mom called you."

"Yes," Hotch and Rossi admitted, chuckling slightly.

"Don't be mad at her," JJ jumped in. "I had to pump her for a good while, before she finally spilled the beans."

"Yeah, and after that, she had to tell everyone," Emily teased, rolling her eyes. "We had to stop her from making a bigger deal out of it than this." She pointed at the glass in her hand.

"I still think you would have enjoyed the boy band," JJ giggled. "But I admit the banner would have been a bit overdone."

"Wow," Penelope commented, "and I was worrying about how to tell you and how you might react."

"Are you kidding?" Reid burst out. "We all made bets on when you two will finally realize that you're absolutely meant for each other."

"Really?" Derek raised an eyebrow at him. "You made bets."

"Oh…" Reid mumbled, his cheeks turning a deep shade of red.

"Well," JJ sighed, "I'm glad I lost the bet. I thought you'd never realize it."

"Oh, and don't worry about Strauss," Rossi told them. "After we all appealed to her conscience, she gave in without a fuss. Or maybe she gave up, same difference."

"That was a lot easier than I imagined it to be," Derek mumbled, clinking his glass to Penelope's. "To us, Baby Girl!"

"To you finally getting together!" JJ agreed. "And don't you ever think of breaking up! You just cost me twenty dollars."

Grinning, Derek put his arm around Penelope's waist. "Don't worry, that's not gonna happen."