A/N: It was truly a pleasure to work with Kricket on this story. Thank you for sharing the joy of writing and bringing Derek and Penelope together with me. Happy reading everyone.
Derek's house hadn't been adorned for the holidays in deference to all the team had experienced of late. Regardless, that didn't mean he and Penelope still couldn't put on one heck of a New Year's party to welcome what they both hoped would be the best year of all their lives. They met each member of their BAU family at the door with their fingers entwined and grinning the smiles of the truly in love.
Hotch's arrival brought Derek up short and he nodded to Penelope and kissed her hand before stepping outside to speak to the man he respected as his boss and close friend. "I want to thank you, man."
"Morgan, I'm just thankful you proved yourself to be as wise as I believed you to be."
"Fair enough. Shall we go in and usher in a new year in style?"
"I can't wait to say goodbye to this one so, most definitely yes." Derek slapped him warmly on the back and followed him up the steps into his home. He watched as Hotch dropped an affectionate kiss on Penelope's cheek and then accepted the glass of champagne offered to him by Emily.
With everyone in attendance, they spent a pleasant evening free of any worries other than who would bed down in which room once the evening came to an end. Rossi had a rather rigged coin toss going to decide whether he would be sharing the queen-sized bed in the second guest room with Hotch or Reid. "You know the mathematical chances of heads being called over tails is-"
"The couch it is for me," Hotch said and went over to the couch and made himself comfortable even as he shot Rossi a look of triumph.
"Our family," Penelope said and giggled at the rather bemused expression on Reid's face and the amusement on JJ's and Emily's.
"We're blessed," Derek added before lifting her chin so he could kiss her deeply.
"Hey, hey, you two are cheating. It's still two minutes to midnight," Reid called out.
"Get a room," JJ added.
"We have one," Derek said.
"We're just warming up, Spence," Penelope added.
No further comment was made about it and at the stroke of midnight they toasted in the new year. Both of them noticed but said nothing that Hotch was gracing Emily with a chaste peck on the lips, while JJ had Reid on one cheek and Rossi on the other. It didn't matter because Penelope and Derek had each other and a friendship grown into love that happened at Christmas and would grow with this new year. They sealed the promise to each other with a kiss.
Meanwhile across town…
The lights in Tamara Barnes house were all ablaze much the same as they had been the evening of her Christmas party. The woman in question sat in front of the fireplace in her family room making ribbons of an impressive stack of pictures. It was a series of shots taken during the party all featuring Derek and herself. She had a neat pile of her own face laid carefully on the coffee table behind her but every one of Derek was horribly scarred. A few of them even had holes pierced through the eyes and the forehead with the ice pick lying on the hearth. "Leave for that cow." Stab "Think that's the end of it." Rip. "You really believe I'm not enough woman for you." Stab, slice. "Bastard! I won't let you disrespect me for some little computer tech." Tamara held up an enlarged picture of Derek's smiling face and spoke directly to it. "You're mine. Do you hear me, Derek Morgan. Mine!" Then she grabbed the whole mass and tossed them into the fire raging in front of her and threw her head back and laughed.