Penelope wrapped her arms around his neck, and gave him a hug. She buried her face into his chest, his into her neck. They held onto each other tightly as if their life depended on it. Penelope broke free first and lay her hand on his cheek. With one final act of bravery, in the spirit of no regrets, she brought her lips to his and kissed him. Derek's whole body reacted as he kissed her back, the years that they had shared together, the flirting, the fun times, the sad times, and everything in between, it was all in that kiss. Everything in that kiss, told them what they both needed to know. Penelope's hand touched his chest as she pulled back. As she looked in his eyes, she could see the reflection of sadness that she knew that was in hers.
"Be happy Derek," she whispered softly. Penelope turned to go and Derek had grabbed her hand. Penelope gave him a small smile and squeezed his hand before letting go. Derek watched as she walked away without turning back. Derek had to take a breath, scared that he would hyperventilate as everything began to crash around him. He knew that she had just let him go.
Penelope arrived back at the house to find a very happy couple sharing the hammock in her back porch.
"I see you have both found my favourite spot in the place."
"We sure have, but you can have it back. We were just waiting for you to come back so we can go. You know get out of your hair and all that."
"Ah, you could have just left a note, I wouldn't have minded."
"Yes we could have but we wanted to see you before we left. Thank you." Hotch said earnestly
"No thanks necessary, but I appreciate that you stayed to say goodbye."
"Hon, why don't you load up the car? Pen and I will meet you out front." Emily suggested, as Hotch nodded in understanding. Emily took a step towards her friend and hugged her,
"Thank you," she murmured softly.
"You're welcome honey. I'm happy for you both."
"Pen, I'm so sorry."
"It is what it is hon. He deserves to be happy."
Just as Hotch closed the door on the passenger side he hugged Penelope.
"You know what I have to do." She whispered.
"There's no other way Aaron."
"I know. Where will you go?" he asked,
"I've got a couple of things in the pipe line. I just need to choose.""
"You'll say goodbye. You won't just disappear."
"Of course." She promised, though it was tempting, she owed the rest of them that.
"She's going to bolt isn't she?" Em said as they drove off,
"I would if that was me." He answered honestly. The thought of Emily being with anyone else was unthinkable. Losing her almost killed him, the idea of having someone else with her was down right paralysing
"Does she know where she's going?"
"I think she has an idea."
"Derek's going to freak out."
"I don't think he'd be all that surprised Sweetheart."
Penelope stayed at the cottage or the rest of the weekend uninterrupted. She was all set. She had made the necessary arrangements and all she needed to do was pack up her apartment and go. She had already typed up her letter for Strauss. Despite how hard it was she felt at peace about her decision. There was no way that she and Derek could co exist in the same city, let along work in the same place. It hadn't worked for months, it certainly wasn't going to work now that he was expecting, and she assumed that now that Tamara was pregnant, she would make more of a point of making her infinite presence known, and Penelope wasn't up for that.
They were called away on a case as soon as Monday hit, and Penelope couldn't be more relieved. She didn't want to have to deal with Derek hearing the news from Strauss. She wasn't quite sure of what his reaction would be, whichever one she knew it would hurt her.
Penelope had distributed her calls evenly to the rest of the team with the exception of one person, and that wasn't lost on any of them. She had made arrangements with Strauss to stay on the case till they broke it under the condition that she not announce her resignation, that she would allow Penelope to break it to the rest of the team. Reluctantly, Chief Erin Strauss nodded in agreement, for which Penelope was grateful for. It didn't take long to pack up her apartment. She had worked from home most of the week, and they were none the wiser.
After much coaxing from both Tamara and his mother, Derek had made plans to fly straight to Chicago where he would meet up with Tamara at the airport and together they would hire a car to drive to his mothers.
When Penelope had seen the leave request, she let out a huge sigh of relief. When the others had arrived she was waiting for them at the bullpen with a smile on her face. Emily made a bee line for her friend and hugged her. Glad that she hadn't left without saying goodbye to them all.
"Anyone up for dinner and drinks?"
"I'm in." The rest of them chorused sorely in need of some family time. They were laughing
about something Reid was saying when Penelope caught Aaron's gaze in her direction. His eyes asked the question his mouth couldn't, and she merely nodded in response. This was goodbye. When dinner was over and dessert was almost finished, Penelope had cleared her throat.
"You guys, I sort of have an announcement to make. I'm truly sorry for the short notice, but I got offered a transfer." There was a pause and a distinct intake of breath before the questions flooded in at the one time,
"Where" Dave, JJ and Reid said in unison. Penelope made a conscious decision not to look at Hotch and Emily knowing it would put them all in compromising positions.
"CSI have been offering me a position for ages, and they've finally offered me something I can't refuse. It's doing mainly developing software for the CSI. I'll be working in a team that collaborates and designs programs to help with Crime Scenes. It's a great opportunity for me. They're sending me to London for a few months to hang there with a team they've already established. The team is still quite small, so they're currently based in London. There are a couple of new recruits and they've been waiting for my answer for weeks, and I've just been holding off. So I'm actually flying out tomorrow."
"Penelope!" JJ exclaimed.
"I only took the job at the beginning of the week and the last thing I wanted was for your guys to head off to a case with this on your mind. It's not forever and it's not permanent. I'm sorry to drop the bombshell on you. I truly am, but I really want to do this. I am really excited about the change. I love you guys, but I've reached the point where I know I am only staying in this job because of that fact alone, and that's not enough anymore. I'm sorry." She said looking mostly at JJ and Spencer who were obviously upset, while Dave saw right through her, and she squirmed in knowing that he did. Everything she was saying was true, but he knew that Derek was what broke the camel's back.
"But London is so far away." JJ said softly,
"Honey, it's not that far away and if you need me, I will be on the next plane out. I can visit and you can come visit me. You'll see me often enough I promise, besides there's SKYPE and there's no way I'd let Henry forget his favourite Godmother." JJ seemed appeased with that for the moment. Penelope looked over at Reid,
"Reid honey, say something."
"I don't want you to go."
"Oh Sweetheart." Penelope said rising from her chair to wrap her arms around his shoulders,
"I'm going to miss you too, but you're going to hear from me every day, I'll still be around Kiddo. I promise." Reid's evident abandonment issues made him dubious.
"Have I ever broken a promise to you before?" she asked,
"No," he answered honestly without a thought,
"Well, I wouldn't start now. I love you guys, you're my family and regardless how far away I am doesn't diminish that love. I would really love it if you guys could support me on this, because it's hard enough to leave, but knowing I'm leaving with you mad at me, I just, I would rather not."
"Penelope, we're going to miss you, but you have our blessing. We will not begrudge you of an opportunity of a lifetime. If this is what you truly want, then we're with you all the way."
Dave said covering her hand with his and giving it a squeeze,
"Thanks," she said gratefully
"I'm with Dave, but I will miss you like crazy." Emily said getting up to give her a hug.
"I second what she says," Hotch piped in pointing at Emily. JJ finally rose from her chair,
"I don't like it, but you have my support. You better keep in touch."
"I guess that means I'll have an excuse to visit all the museums, castles and galleries in England now and a person to drag with me." He replied with a mischievous smile,
"For you honey, I would endure that." Penelope answered with a grin.
Penelope had closed up her apartment that afternoon before the team arrived back in the office. There was a bittersweet moment when she stood by her door and memories came flooding in. She closed her eyes and forced her mind to go elsewhere. She took one last look around and she closed the door behind her.
After dinner Hotch had insisted on driving her back to the hotel. They had all insisted on taking her to the airport therefore no goodbyes were said when they parted ways. Penelope climbed into the passenger seat wordlessly, not knowing what to really say. She knew that he knew she was going to bolt. Throughout the week she had noted how he hadn't pushed or asked her for details, and she appreciated that.
"I spoke to Jack on the ride home today,"
"So he told you,"
"That you came to see him at Jessica's and you talked to him about leaving."
"I didn't want to just disappear from his life Hotch, without explanation, he's been through so much already."
"I really appreciate that Pen. I honestly didn't want to be the one to tell him you were leaving. Jack loves you, we all do."
"I would never leave you in the position Aaron. Jack means a lot to me. Just because I'm moving away doesn't mean that goes away."
"I'm glad because he needs his Aunt Pen."
"I'm glad you said that because I'm hoping that means you won't be mad when I tell you I set him up with a lap top equipped with Skype. I told him I will have mine on at all times and he can call me on it whenever he wants. I put all of the child proof protection stuff and he's only able to visit Aunt P approved sites, but I thought being able to talk to me and see me whenever he wants may soften the blow somehow."
"How can I get mad at that?"
"Well, I probably should have cleared it with you first."
"Knowing there are things only he tells you, it only brings me comfort that you would do that for him, for me, for us."
"Yeah well, you Hotchner men have a soft spot in my heart, what can I say!"
"That's good to hear."
"So how are you and Em?"
"We're good. We're certainly getting there."
"Good I'm glad. Before I forget, here are the keys to the cottage. Feel free to use it whenever you want. The brothers usually let me know when they're going down so I'll pass it on. You should bring Jack there, he'll love the beach."
"The lady down the road, her name is Mrs Lanangham. She makes sure the place is clean and aired out. She knows about you and Em, and I told her that you guys may use the place. Just introduce yourself if she's around. So she knows who you are."
"Will do. Pen, are you sure about this?"
"As sure as I have ever been before in my life Hotch. I will not subject myself to witnessing anymore than I already have. It'll make me bitter, and that's so bad for my complexion," she joked.
"Well you be sure you leave us some of eternal optimism."
"It's the very least I can do."