The Last Week in December

Chapter One

He hated goodbyes. And he hated saying good bye to her the most. All he could think, every time he did, was do it quick and get back to her quick. He was more than addicted to her.

Sometimes he thought that wasn't a very good thing but he couldn't seem to get over her, even if he knew he should.

"Hey there," he said, as he walked into her computer lab "you're working pretty late, huh?"

"Almost done," she said, not glancing at him.

He settled in next to her, leaning on her desk, facing the door. He crossed his arms over his chest, feigning a casualness he didn't feel inside. Looking down at her he said "So, tell me baby girl, what's on your agenda for the holidays?"

"Plenty. I want to see the parade, catch that new Christmas flick that is out, spend some time volunteering at the woman's shelter and drink gallons of spiked egg nog."

"Sounds like a packed schedule for sure."

He had a lot planned for his holiday too. In just a few hours he was due to board a plane for Chicago. As much as he did want to see his family, there was something that nagged at him and made him unable to look forward to the trip.

Eight days without seeing his baby girl.

Unless they caught a case that abruptly ended his vacation Derek Morgan was going to have to go without seeing Penelope Garcia for over a week. And that sucked. No way around it. It just sucked.

Though he wanted to see his mother, sister and nephews he didn't want to miss seeing her face. And miss her he would.

If he didn't think it would make him look like a lovesick fool he'd ask her to Skype with him every day. Twice a day.

But he couldn't do that. She had a man in her life. In her heart. In her bed.

Freaking Kevin Lynch.

Penelope would be spending her holiday with her long term boyfriend and Derek would be with his family. There was no way around it.

So he would have to soak in the image of her right now and make that last for eight days and seven nights. He was already jonesing for her and she was right in front of him. Sometimes he wondered when he stopped being a player and became this guy. A guy who ached over a woman who didn't want him.

But he didn't have to wonder too hard. He could pinpoint it to a moment in a church, right before he got the scariest news of his life, when he asked God what it all meant: him and her. And he thought he got an answer: everything.

That's why he didn't understand how they went from being so close to getting together to how they were now. She was in love with someone who damn sure was not him and he hated that fact.

Derek asked her "You gonna see Lynch's family? Where do they live again?"

"Pennsylvania."

"Flying or driving?"

"I hate to fly at this time of year. You do know you're going to be stuck on a jam packed flight, right? You better pack those headphones, my love, or else you are liable to spend several hours listening to screaming babies."

He didn't get why she was avoiding answering his question about her holiday plans with Lynch. Something was up and he didn't like the way the hairs on his arms raised at her tensed posture, as she tried to appear just as bubbly as ever.

But she wasn't fooling him this time.

She shut down her computers, stood up and went to get her purse. "Hold on a minute, I got you a Christmas present and I just have to see your face when you open it." She opened her purse and pulled out a gift, then walked back over to him and said "Here you go, handsome. Merry Christmas."

He grinned and took it from her. "Thanks, baby girl." Even though he was concerned about her he also couldn't help but smile at how she had gotten him a gift. They did a secret santa exchange at the BAU and she hadn't drawn his name. She got Rossi. He got Reid. But still he had to get his special girl something. He pulled it out of pocket. "And here is yours."

She lit up. "Really? You're so darn sweet, Morgan, I swear." She was like a little kid with how happy she was to take the present and open it. Her eyes went wide when she saw the charm bracelet. "This looks too expensive...."

"Don't even think about giving it back. I got it for you, babe, because I think it would look good on you and I'm not taking it back home with me tonight."

Her mouth made an O and then she smiled, before kissing his cheek, "Merci beaucoup."

"Mmmm. You know how I love it when you speak in French."

She then answered, in French, "And you know how I love to turn you on."

He grinned. "What was that you just said?"

"I said that you should take up a second language because I'd love to hear you answer me back in French." But her teasing eyes told him she hadn't said that at all. She went on "Open up your present."

As he did she said "You came so close to getting this picture frame I saw at the mall when I was shopping with JJ. It was electronic and you can record a message that plays when a button is pressed. I was so tempted to give it to you and record: I'll show you a good morning, Hot Stuff."

He laughed.

She said "But I'm sure that would only cause you hell the next time someone sleeps over at your place so you wouldn't be able to keep it by your bed and, if that is the case, then it defeats the whole purpose. But JJ got a good chuckle over the idea."

Derek was grinning as he unwrapped her gift. He became more subdued as he looked at it. "A saint Christopher medal."

"Maybe it will keep you safe when you're out there trying to make the world a better place."

"I don't know if I believe in all that."

"I believe in it. I have to or else I'll sit in this room every time we work a case and go out of my head thinking all you superheroes aren't coming back to me again. I need something to hang onto when the world is falling apart around me. Maybe thinking there is a grander plan in play, even when everything that happens makes no sense, seems ridiculous to you but its what I need to believe."

Wrapping his fingers around the medal he said "If you believe then that's good enough for me, baby. This is going on and never coming off."

"You don't have to wear it if-"

"Hush. I'm wearing it and you're wearing your present, right?"

She nodded and he clasped it around her wrist. Then he added, with a grin, "Looks great."

Her eyes stayed on it for a long minute before Derek used one finger to lift her chin and make her look in his eyes. "Have fun this Christmas, silly girl."

"You too, handsome."

His smile was sad as he nodded and then headed for the door. He turned around. "You never answered. Driving or flying?"

"Why does it matter?"

"Just curious, baby."

She let out a sigh. "Neither. I broke it off with Lynch a couple weeks ago."

"What? Why is this the first I'm hearing about this?"

"I wasn't in the mood to discuss it. I needed time to process it but I have now and its for the best."

"What happened? He do something to you?" Derek's tone was agitated as he imagined that Kevin might have cheated on her or just hurt her with his words or actions.

"No. He was actually the ideal boyfriend and I was the witch who was using him. But its over and done with now."

"Using him for what?"

"To not be alone, of course."

"You weren't using him. You love him." Derek truly believed that. He had to believe it. It was the one thing that kept him from blurting out to her, every damn day, "I love you, baby girl. Don't you know that? Don't you care?"

"Really, Morgan, drop it. I'm not in the mood to have you profile me tonight. Just because you think you know how I feel about everything doesn't mean you actually do. Now, its nearly Christmas, so lets not fight. Have a great time with your family. I'll see you when you get back."

"All right. See you then, sweetheart.....you sure you're okay? With this whole break up thing, I mean. You're all right?"

"I'm fine."

After a long pause, where he stared at her with his eyes studying her, he said "Okay then. Merry Christmas, baby girl," and then left her office.

XXXXXXXXXXX

Around 10 am the next morning Penelope was buried beneath her quilt, sleeping in for the first time in a long time, when she heard a knock on her door. Groaning she climbed out of bed and headed that way.

She barely had her hair smoothed down and the sleep wiped out of her eyes when she asked "Who is it?"

"Ho, ho, ho, sweetness."

"Morgan," she breathed out as she yanked open the door. She took in the sight of him. He was standing there in black jeans, a black sweater and a black wool coat that was open. He also had a santa hat on. "You're supposed to be in Chicago," she accused him.

"I missed my flight and everything else was booked. I'm not driving all the way there when there's a blizzard in Ohio predicated for tonight. The roads would be hell. So I'm stuck here, it looks like, and since I am I thought you and me, baby girl, could go see that parade you were going on about last night. It starts in an hour and you don't look dressed for it."

She glanced down at her outfit, pajama pants and a top with angels on it, and blushed. She crossed her arms over her chest. "There has to be some flight you can get on. You can't miss Christmas with your family."

"You know how it is this time of year. There's not a flight to be had unless you booked months ago."

"Let me see what I can do." She headed for her computer room.

"Baby," he called after her, as he walked inside and closed her door, "don't bother. I'll get a flight in a few days. I'm in no rush."

"And make your mother miss Christmas with you? No way. I'm sure I can do a little oracle of all knowing magic and get you a flight today."

Derek walked into her computer room."Pump your brakes."

She turned around. "I knew it! You missed your flight on purpose because you feel bad for me that I won't be spending this holiday with Kevin. Well I don't want you here out of pity and I couldn't live with myself if you missed spending this holiday with your mom and sisters so you need to book another flight, go home, re-pack your clothes, put Clooney in the kennel, and go to Chicago or else I'm going to be a very ticked woman. And you don't want to stay here and deal with that, do you?"

"I bet I could improve your mood."

"Don't start with me. Go to Chicago."