AN: I don't own "Criminal Minds." CBS does and they do a pretty good job with it!
Penelope Garcia sat in a sports bar with a couple of good friends who didn't care that much about sports, either. Vivian and Lydia were good friends of hers from her early days at the FBI. They were analysts, but on a different level than she was. She worked for a specialized team of agents called the Behavioral Analysis Unit, or the BAU. She worked nearly every day, with very little time off and being constantly on call. Lyd and Viv worked for general processing.
Needless to say, Lyd and Viv had massive social lives compared to Pen. It wasn't that she wasn't pretty. She always felt she could lose a few, maybe do a few things to sharpen her image, but she didn't think she was ugly. She was just not someone that anyone would wax poetic about. She just felt… like Penelope. Lyd and Viv were on their usual subject du jour, Penelope's lack of relationships and their hopping calendar.
"Pen, we're not saying that you need to change your life or anything," Lyd said, smiling sheepishly over at her. She had heard it. Over and over. Broken flippin' record. Penelope thought of humming, waiting for the inevitable…
"But it wouldn't hurt to go see Chad's brother. He's a doll, really." Viv added. She looked over at Pen, her eyebrow arched. Pen knew what was coming, but she didn't want to deal. Not now. Not with the changes at the BAU. I'll take, 'I don't want to hear it' for a $1000, Alex.
Recently, Strauss had been giving Hotch a hard time, and Hotch did the smart thing before having to relinquish all his control: He passed the torch onto Derek Morgan. This made Derek incredibly busy. He was her best friend, but Penelope was questioning that more and more. Right before Derek was promoted, there was a case that caused their only true disagreement in the many years she knew him.
Then, Derek had become wrapped up in a case where a woman's brother was killed. Derek seemed to be crossing a line with her, consorting and discussing with her off the record. Penelope was brave enough to speak to him about it. He told her loved her, but she was "way out of line." She was certain he was going to hook up with Tamara Barnes, and get hurt. She never found out what happened. He just disappeared, no more office or home visits, no more sexy jokes.
"It's not Derek, is it?" Viv questioned, interrupting Pen's thoughts. Vivian's peachy pout was becoming more pronounced.
Penelope answered the same thing she had for a long time. "It's not like that between me and Derek. He's my best friend and I love him, but it's not love like that."
"I don't know what you see in the guy. I mean, he's a serial player, and he's…." her voice trailed off. Vivian couldn't come up with the right answer. Then something hit. "It's almost like 'friends with benefits' except he is taking your heart and soul instead of the sex."
"Look," she said angrily. "Don't mock something you don't understand. I'm his best friend, he comes to me when he's hurting, and me to him. He comes to me when he's happy. He's my first call in the morning, and I'm his last call at night…." She started to go on and on. She told them that she shared her heart with him too, that he always protected her, always was her knight in shining armor, always was there for her. She could have gone on and on. He was her everything.
Penelope stopped when she noticed that Viv and Lyd were staring at her, mouths agape.
"Oh, Penelope," Vivian said, shaking her head. "You have it bad. How long have you been in love with him?"
"I can't believe we didn't see it coming," Lydia said. "We're as blind as he is!"
"I'm not…" she began, then stopped. Oh God, what had she done? She did really love him. She knew it, but she didn't know she was quite that transparent. She looked up at them, her eyes big and glossy, her face pale. She could barely breathe. "Wh-what have I done?"
Lydia looped an arm around her shoulders. "Aw, honey, it'll be okay."
Vivian said. "Girl, he's going to string you along for ever."
"You're going to really get hurt, chasing that one." Lydia said. "Best to drop those thoughts now when you never really had Derek Morgan."
"You need to move on, start distancing yourself from him more, and we're going to help you," Viv said, tapping Pen on her upturned nose. "We won't let you pine forever for that Morgan man."