Chapter 23: Epilogue
"Derek, I wish you'd gone with the team. They need you," I told him with a sigh.
Derek set the mug of hot tea on the table beside the couch and then sat down next to me. "Baby Girl, you need me more than they do right now. They will be fine."
I laughed. "Derek, it's just Braxton-Hicks contractions."
"I know, sweetness, but your back has been sore since yesterday, too. You're eight and a half months pregnant, P. I couldn't leave you here alone."
I shook my head. My poor husband of nearly three years had been worrying his head off for the last twenty-four hours.
"Derek, Austin's in town, just a phone call away. I have the FBI on speed dial, for goodness' sake! I would have been fine." I took his hand before really looking up into his worried eyes. "But I do love that you're so worried about me. Thank you," I whispered.
He moved one hand to cup my face, and the other moved protectively to my rounded stomach, holding our son safe. I leaned up to kiss him softly.
"I love you, Penelope Morgan," he said against my lips.
"I love you, too." I smiled. "Now, this little mama needs to teach your son to stay off her bladder. I swear, it's every two hours right now! Help me up, please."
Derek stood and pulled me to a standing position. As soon as I took my first step, I felt a gush of wetness between my legs. I looked down and then back up with a terrified expression that matched the one on my husband's face.
"Is that..." he stammered.
I nodded. "Better go get the bag," I said with a grin.
Derek took the folded blanket from the back of the couch and set it on the cushion, and then he helped me sit back down on top of the blanket. "Yell if you need me. I'll just be right down the hall in the bedroom," he said quickly.
As he moved away, I began thinking of this same month almost three and a half years earlier.
Derek and the team had been on a case for over a week and were due back later in the afternoon. We'd been dating for over a year and a half, but even now, being away from him was hard.
The phone in front of me rang, and I hit the button with the end of my pen. "You've reached the All-Knowing Oracle of Quantico. How may I be of assistance?"
Prentiss laughed. "Hey, Garcia, I need your magic fingers."
I turned to the computer. "Hit me," I told her, smiling.
I was puzzled when Emily had me searching for art deco engraved scrolls engagement and wedding ring in eighteen karat rose gold, but I entered the information anyway.
"Okay, I have it. What do you need?" The line was silent. "Em?"
I nearly jumped out of my seat when I heard the voice behind me. "She doesn't need anything, Baby Girl. I do."
I squeaked and flew around in my seat to look at the man standing in my doorway.
"Derek! What are you doing back already?"
I started to stand and move toward him, but he put his hand up to stop me. "Stay there, please," he requested softly.
"What? Why?" I asked. When he stepped up in front of me and dropped to one knee, my hand went to my mouth. "Oh!" I gasped.
He took my hand in his. "Sweetheart, I wanted to wait and do this in more of a romantic setting, but the last week away from you changed my mind. I couldn't wait. I knew the minute I got back that I had to come see you."
I swallowed hard. "I missed you, too, handsome."
He smiled nervously and then took a little black box out of his pocket. My jaw dropped and tears pooled in my eyes when he opened the little box to show me a gorgeous diamond ring.
"Penelope Anne Garcia, you are the love of my life. You changed my life for the better the moment I met you. Will you do me the honor of become my wife?"
I didn't even need to think twice. I threw myself into his arms, knocking him backwards until I was straddling him on the ground. I kissed him hard, punctuating each word with another press of my lips to his. "Derek—Morgan—I—love—you!"
He sat up, holding me on his lap, and laughed. "Is that a yes?"
I began to cry as he slid the beautiful, antique-looking ring onto the third finger of my left hand.
A sharp pain in my belly interrupted my memory, and I cried out. "Oh, God, that hurt!" I tried breathing like we'd learned in birthing class.
Derek came flying into the room with a bag over his shoulder. "What's wrong? Did you have a contraction?" He dropped to his knees and put his hands on the swell of my stomach, rubbing gently.
I nodded. "So much stronger than they were before," I said, my eyes tearing.
"It's okay, honey, I've got you. Let me clean this up, and then we'll get you changed and go. We can call Dr. Samuels on the way."
He picked up the towels he'd brought out with him and used one to soak up the mess on the floor. Once the floor was dry, he helped me pull my now-dirty dress and panties off and tossed them on the used towel.
"Did you bring a—"
He held up a second towel.
"What about pan—"
In his other hand was a clean pair of panties and a new dress I could pull on over my head.
"I gotcha, Baby Girl, don't worry. Now, let's get you dried and dressed so we can go meet our little man, okay?"
I nodded tearfully and let him wipe my lower half dry with the towel. He helped me pull on the purple panties and matching dress and then helped me to a standing position.
"Don't forget to let Clooney in," I reminded him as he picked up the bag.
"Already done. He's eating from the freshly filled food bowl. I'll call Katherine to take care of him after we get you settled in at the hospital." He smirked. "Any other reminders?"
I rolled my eyes and shook my head...and then nearly doubled over when the pain of the next contraction hit. I heard Derek reminding me to breathe, and when the pain began to recede, I stood straight again.
"How long was that between contractions?" I asked, trying to get a look at the watch on his left wrist.
"About fifteen minutes. Let's go, sweetheart. Neither of us wants you to deliver our son in the living room," he teased.
We walked slowly to the garage, pausing only long enough for Derek to set the alarm and lock the door behind us. He helped me into the SUV and then jogged around to the driver's seat. As soon as Derek pulled onto the road, I grabbed his cell phone and dialed my doctor's number.
"Dr. Samuels' office, how may I help you?" the receptionist answered pleasantly.
She obviously wasn't having a baby at the moment, I thought unhappily.
"Yes, this is Penelope Morgan. Could you please tell Dr. Samuels that my water broke and I began having contractions a few minutes ago?"
"Oh, yes, Mrs. Morgan, I'll give him the message right away. How far apart are the contractions?"
"It was fifteen minutes between the first two," I said, rubbing one hand gently along the swell of my tummy.
"Okay, I'll go tell her now. He'll meet you at the hospital. Just sign in at the front desk, and then you can go straight up to the maternity floor. You're preregistered, correct?"
"Yes, we did that two weeks ago when we went on the tour."
"Great. Good luck, Mrs. Morgan!"
I hung up on Ms. Perky before I could bite her head off for being so chipper.
"Everything okay?" Derek asked quietly, reaching for my hand.
I rubbed my thumb along the soft skin between his thumb and first finger. "Yeah, just nervous. She said Dr. Samuels would meet us at the hospital. We're supposed to check in and go right upstairs."
"I'm right here, honey. I'll be with you every step of the way, okay? Just keep reminding yourself that you'll be holding our baby boy in a few hours."
I nodded. "Thanks, Derek."
As we drove, I let my thoughts drift off again.
"Are you ready, Pen?" JJ asked. "Hotch is outside."
It was my wedding day, the day I'd been dreaming about for the last four months, ever since Derek proposed. Who was I kidding? I'd been dreaming of this day for years.
I nodded. "I'm ready. Thanks for getting everyone out so I could have a minute to myself."
"No problem, sweetie. Everyone else is in place, including Derek."
"Okay, let's do this, then." I smiled, my lips trembling from nerves and excitement.
JJ handed me the beautiful bouquet filled with pink and purple tulips, cream and light pink roses, and some Baby's Breath and greenery. She opened the door and handed me off to Hotch, who held out his arm.
"I'm going to go get in place," she said, smiling. "See you up there."
"Thanks, JJ," Hotch replied. As soon as she was gone, he asked, "Ready?"
"Absolutely," I answered.
When Derek and I had been on this very same boat before, we'd been too busy telling each other our feelings to do much exploring. We were getting married outside on the deck, and then we would all come below to have the reception. I was excited about it all and more than ready to become Mrs. Derek Morgan.
Hotch and I stood at the bottom of the stairs behind the line of my friends and family that were serving as bridesmaids. Des, my soon-to-be sister-in-law, was at the top, ready to lead off, with Austin and then Emily behind her. My matron of honor, JJ, was directly in front of Hotch and me.
I knew Reid, as Derek's best man, would be waiting beside my soon-to-be husband, and beside him would be Dave and Jerome. As soon as Hotch handed me off to Derek, he would take his place at the end of the line.
Soon, we could hear music, and the door slid open at the top of the stairs. Sarah was playing a beautiful instrumental version of Andrea Bocelli's Con Te Partiro on her violin, accompanied by Rachel, Jerome's wife, on the piano. The line in front of me began to move slowly.
The moment I got to the top of the stairs with Hotch, my heart began to speed up and my breathing got heavy.
"Relax, Penelope," Hotch murmured softly. "Just remember, in a few seconds, you'll see Derek, and everything will be fine."
I nodded and smiled, relaxing almost instantly. "Thanks," I whispered.
The wedding coordinator from the cruise ship motioned for us to go ahead, and we stepped around the corner, onto the long red carpet that led past the few chairs to the front of the ship.
As we began to walk, I saw everyone else who had flown or driven to be with us. Derek's mother, James and his mom, and a few other kids from the youth center, including Jerome and Rachel's son Shawn, were sitting on the right side of the aisle.
On the left hand side of the aisle, I saw John sitting with Will. John was helping keep little Henry and Jack out of trouble, since Will had his hands full. JJ's attention was split between watching me and looking at the four-month-old little girl in Will's arms.
Finally, my eyes made their way right to the middle and focused on Derek. He stood proudly, no tension evident in his shoulders as he watched me slowly walking toward him. When I reached his side, he shook Hotch's hand. Hotch turned to me and kissed my cheek before moving off to the right to stand beside Jerome.
The breeze was blowing lightly, just enough to keep the August heat from being overpowering. Derek reached out to tuck a stray curl—that was the only bad part about the wind, that my hair wouldn't stay out of my eyes—behind my ear. He smiled, mouthed "I love you," and then we turned to face the officiant.
"Baby Girl? Are you okay?" Derek's voice roused me from my thoughts just before I clutched my stomach.
I panted and gripped his hand tightly when he reached out to me.
Minutes later, I finally relaxed. "Sorry, did you say something a minute ago?" I asked.
He smiled, looking at me from the corner of his eye. "I called your name several times. You were just really quiet, and I got worried."
"Oh, I was just thinking, trying to relax. Remembering our wedding, actually," I explained with a soft smile.
"Ah, good memories, I hope," he teased.
I nodded. "Of course! The best."
He continued to hold my hand until we pulled up to the hospital. "I'll let you off here and help you inside. You can get checked in while I park, and then we'll go upstairs. Sound good?"
I nodded, ready to be inside and upstairs where everything would be safe for the baby.
Fifteen minutes later, the nurse led us into a room on the fourth floor. Assuming everything went according to plan, this would be my room for labor, delivery, recovery, and the entire stay until I was released from the hospital.
Once I was in an ugly, uncomfortable hospital gown and reclining as comfortably on the bed as I could, Derek said, "I'm gonna go call my mom. Do you have your cell phone in your bag?"
I nodded. "I'll call JJ so she can tell the rest of the team."
He smiled. "Better you than me. I'm gonna have enough on my hands telling my mom. You know she wanted to be here."
"Hey, don't blame me! Blame your son. He's the one who wants to come two weeks early!"
He laughed as he dug through my bag for my cell phone. He kissed me softly and handed me the phone before going into the little bathroom so we weren't trying to talk over each other.
I hit the speed dial for JJ's cell phone and listened to it ring three times before she picked up.
"Pen? What's up?"
"Hi, Jayje. I just wanted to let you know we're at the hospital. My water broke earlier, and I've been having contractions. We're all checked in and waiting for the doctor to come check me."
"Oh! I'd scream, but I'm in the middle of the police station, and I don't want to suddenly find myself surrounded by surprised policemen." We both laughed at the image. "How're you feeling?"
I laughed with her. "I'm okay so far. They hurt, but nothing I can't handle."
"Just remember, there's no shame in asking for drugs if it gets to be too much. Better to have the drugs and be able to get a little rest than not take them and be exhausted later. More so than you already will be, I mean," she teased.
"Thanks, JJ," I said with a groan. "Just what I needed to hear."
"Really, sweetie. You'll be fine. Keep us updated, okay? Good luck!"
I sniffled, holding back tears. "I wish you were here," I said softly. JJ had planned to be in the room with us if the team had been in town.
"I know, Pen, so do I. But Derek is there. Lean on him, and he'll help."
"I will. Thanks. One of us will call you later. Stay safe, sunshine," I told her before hanging up.
Dr. Samuels walked through the door to my room just as Derek stepped back up to my bed. He held my hand as the doctor performed a check.
"Well, it looks like you have a bit to go. You're only at about five centimeters, so you're about halfway there. Do you need something for the pain?"
I shook my head. "I'm okay for now. They hurt, but nothing I can't live through. I may change my mind when they're closer together, though," I said seriously.
He nodded. "Just let the nurse know. I'll be back in to check you in a couple of hours, unless something changes between now and then. Katie will be in and out to keep an eye on you. Let one of us know if you need something."
"Thanks," I said, still holding on to Derek's hand tightly.
Five hours later, I gave one last hard push and felt a sudden emptiness as our son came into the world. After a few tense seconds, the most beautiful sound in the world echoed through the room as our son cried for the first time. I looked up at Derek to see the same look on his face that he'd had we got married: love, awe, and happiness, all rolled into one.
Dr. Samuels finished cleaning me up as the nurses took care of the baby. Minutes later, the little bundle wrapped in blue was handed to Derek, who promptly sat down in the chair beside the bed. He held the baby up so I could touch his perfect little cheek.
"He's so beautiful," I said in a choked voice.
His skin was pale, just a touch darker than mine, but I knew it would darken a tiny bit as he grew older. His eyes were the same deep brown as mine, but their shape definitely came from his daddy. The curly mop of dark brown hair came completely from me, as did his perfect little mouth.
"Welcome to the world, Michael Aaron Morgan," I said quietly, stroking his perfectly soft cheek. I looked up at Derek with a smile. "Thank you," I whispered.
"Thank you, P. Thank you for being my wife, my best friend. Thank you for giving me this perfect little miracle." He smiled and leaned down to kiss me softly. "Thank you for being the woman who thinks so much of others that she took care of her family when they needed it most. I love you."
I felt like the Grinch because my heart suddenly grew ten sizes as I looked at my husband and son.
"As I you," I whispered. "Always."