Disclaimer: I own nothing in relation to Criminal Minds.
A/N: This was just one of those ideas that came but wouldn't leave.
Penelope Garcia wasn't normally one to get up in the middle of the night. However, tonight she had a special purpose behind her nocturnal wandering. It may have been partly due to the strange house and stranger bed; regardless she was up now and restless. Making her way downstairs as quietly as she could manage, she tiptoed over to the mantle. Moving slowly she perused all the pictures placed there until she came to the one that had given her pause earlier in the evening.
She had come to Chicago with Derek for his mother's sixty-fifth birthday, at his mother's insistence. Fran Morgan might not be the biggest physical presence however she had raised Derek to be the man he was. That alone made it obvious: she was not a woman to be denied her wishes. When Derek had come to her with his mother's request, she had initially said no. Within a day, she had received an engraved invitation by registered mail, followed by a personal phone call from his mother. Three weeks later, she had been on a plane this morning with Derek on a week's personal leave.
Arriving here late that morning, she had taken in the small, cozy house, and felt instantly at home. As she had hugged Fran, she had been instructed to refer to her as Mama Fran or Mom, depending on her preference, along with a healthy warning of a stern lecture if she didn't drop the Mrs. Morgan title immediately. Penelope just didn't know what to think, but she ran with it.
After dinner as they gathered in the living room, Penelope experienced a feeling of shock that was quickly overtaken by warm acceptance. Sitting on the mantle of the fireplace was a picture of her and Derek, arms wrapped around one another laughing. She remembered well when it was taken at Will's first birthday party. When had a copy of the picture, along with a lone portrait of her, come to occupy space in Mama Fran's home? Both pictures sat surrounded by several others of Derek, his sisters, his parents and other family through the years?
This had been her destination now, to prove to herself she hadn't dreamt their existence there amongst Derek's family. Reaching out tentatively, she picked up the frame of her portrait and giggled at the realization there was a thin film of light dust on it and all the pictures. Not a recent addition. Before she could stop herself, Penelope hugged the picture to herself. "Wow," she whispered.
"Are you surprised?"
Penelope yelped before she could stop herself but managed not to drop the glass-framed picture. Hand shaking a bit, she returned the picture to its dust marked position. "Yes, actually I was," she said in admission as she turned to face the speaker. Derek was right behind her, nearly taking up her personal space when she went to turn around. This time she withheld the spooked cry that tried to escape.
"You shouldn't be, baby girl. My family knows how much you mean to me. In fact, you are likely the only one presently in this house who doesn't quite seem to get it."
"Derek, as happy as I am to be here and make your mother happy for her birthday, I don't intend to read more into it than her wanting to include me because I'm your best friend. The pictures were a surprise. And it's lovely to feel like I am a part of a family other than our BAU one. What more is there for me to accept, hot stuff? I know you love me and I love you, too."
"You know what, goddess, I think I finally get it. For the last two years, as I watched you with Lynch, I just didn't understand why him and not me. In the last few months since you two broke up, I have stepped up my game with you in everyway I could think of and still, zilch. I'm standing here before you in the middle of the night with both of us in our pjs in my mother's house and still, nothing. Penelope, I know you are not stupid, farthest thing from it. So I am going to go with a completely different method here."
There was a mirror situated over the fireplace. Derek turned her to face it before he wrapped himself around her from behind. "Tell me what you see, baby."
"Derek, it's you holding me. What's your point?"
"Close your eyes."
"Woman, stop arguing and just do it."
"Grumpy much," she mumbled as she did as he requested. She felt as he released her on one side momentarily before she was once again held tightly in his embrace.
"Open your eyes, Penelope." Tears instantly filled her eyes. Reflected in the mirror was Derek holding her with a ring held up against their crossed arms. She looked down then at the ring then back at the pictures along the mantle. Yes, there was the same ring. The picture was an old one, at least seventy to eighty years old in black and white. The ring was on the hand of a beautiful young bride smiling into the eyes of her groom.
"No, P. This is real. I love you. No confusion, baby girl; marry me."
She couldn't speak. Instead, she nodded her agreement, allowing Derek to slip the ring onto her appropriate finger before turning in his arms. He met her with a soul-stirring kiss and any remaining doubt vanished. Penelope was certain if she could see their reflection in that moment, it would mirror that of Derek's maternal grandparents: filled with love and promise.