A.N: sorry to have kept everyone waiting so long but I hope this makes up for it. Bit of a warning emotional chapter ahead and now on with the show.

Disclaimer: I own nothing but my mistakes.

Chapter twenty-two

"How could you?"

Derek turned sharply to see Penelope standing beside the long table behind his black leather couch, a medium sized cardboard box in one hand the other holding a broken piece of ceramic that looked like half a lion. Two steps and he was in front of her trying to figure out why and how something like this had happened in the first place.

Her voice choked with unshed tears, Penelope tried to search his face, eyes to come too term with why he'd do something like this. "If you hated me this much why'd you even save me? Why'd you waste your time?"

"Penelope I didn't…" he stuttered out, trying to understand himself. When he remembered that the lion should've been in his room on the dresser. The three inch tall figurine had been a gift, all those years ago when their friendship was in the infancy stage and she'd given him the lion as a birthday gift.

"If you wanted me out of your life so bad why didn't you say something? Why'd you have to destroy the mementos to prove a point?"

"Penelope," he tried again reaching out to try and take hold of her upper arm but she jerked it away. "Baby girl I…"

"Don't," she exclaimed fire dancing in her hurt brown eyes, boiling the tears away with the intensity. "Don't call me that you bastard you lost that right when you treated my gifts like garbage. And to think I was really gonna try this time, but this," she pointed with her eyes towards the box in her hands and then down to her feet were a plastic garbage bag sat. "Is unforgiveable Morgan. I thought you would've shown better judgment and at least let me collect my things."

"Penelope," he tried again reaching out for her.

However, she dropped the box, the loud crash of shattering glass echoed around the apartment like a death toll as she stepped back away from his reaching hands.

"Don't touch me, don't even look at me anymore Morgan. That," she paused and pointed to the wreck at their feet, "ends everything."

Penelope, grabbing the bag at her feet, quickly turned on her feet before the sobs broke free of her lips to spill forth and consume her body and heart. She'd been stupid to think that he'd care that he'd still, somewhere in that heart of his, still loved her and wanted at least a friendship with her. Yet seeing the destruction of so many little trinkets and mementos in that box, like their friendship had been nothing but trash, broke the last piece of her heart and will to continue any friendship with the man she'd left standing in his living room.

Once safely enclosed in the guess room, Penelope tossed the bag, her purse and go bag aside rushing for the bed throwing herself atop the soft covers letting the tears flow from her eyes. Her heart broken beyond repair for this slight, considering that she couldn't begin to believe he would've done something so contemptible. Yet the proof was in the pudding sort of speak, as her clothes were stuffed haphazardly into a plastic garbage bag of all things. The trinkets and mementos were rubble at the bottom of a box, things she'd given him over the years of their friendship reduced to nothing as if they were nothing.

When the tears finally slowed down, Penelope picked herself up and reached for the bag tearing into the plastic with ease and sorting out flannel pajamas to sleep in and underwear before rummaging through her go bag for toiletries and making her way towards the bathroom, which shared with the master.

Once disrobed and under the warm spray, Penelope let her shoulders sag in defeat fearing that life as she knew it was over and done with never to be returned to normal. Yet what was normal anymore, she hadn't been that way for all her life. No Penelope Garcia was a fighter and what didn't scar would only make her stronger and more resistance the next time around. Though she figured a few wounds from this pain would always stay with her even if she chose to leave a part of her would always remain here in this apartment with this man.

With those thoughts in mind Penelope finished up her quick shower, dressed and slipped under the bed covers drifting off into un-restful sleep. The events of the evening pushed aside for matters of the heart. She never heard the mini battle that raged on in the kitchen.


Kneeling down, Derek picked up the remains of their once close and loving friendship all piled into a cardboard box ready to be thrown out. Resting it atop the table, he reached inside and found the other half of his lion thankfully not in a million pieces like it should've been when Penelope had dropped the container. Seeing that the two halves could be fitted back together he slowly made his way to the kitchen nabbing the carton on his way.

He wouldn't give up no matter what Penelope had said not without a fight. Six years of friendship wouldn't go down the drain for anything. Though he understood her anger, hell he was angry and had a good idea on who to place the blame. What he didn't know was how, till his fingers fished around the junk draw for the spare key he kept and came up empty knowing that he should've placed it somewhere else, like his safe, but hadn't. A deep wounded sigh left his lips as he picked the small bottle of Gorilla glue© up to fix what was broken at least in the physical since.

Once the two pieces were back together, Derek placed them on the window ledge above the sink and rested his hands on the edge trying to think of how to mend the gap which felt like the Pacific Ocean right now even though she wasn't a hundred feet away. He came up with nothing thus far and the front door opening jolted him out of his thoughts, thinking that Penelope, in her anger would try leaving this late at night.

Steeling himself for the fight that would surely come, Derek took the twenty steps and came face to face with Tamara's smiling face as she placed her purse and coat over the leather couch.

"Oh Derek your home," she exclaimed coming forward for a kiss.

Derek held her off, grabbing both her out stretching wrists as she was about to wrap them around his neck. "Why?"

She gave him a puzzled look not understanding his question. "What on earth do you mean?"

"My key why did you take it?"

"But," she gulped searching for an answer. "You gave it to me Derek don't you remember?"

His lip curled slightly while he pushed her back just a fraction like she was a leper. "I never gave you my key Tamara. You asked and I told you it wasn't the right time for that."

"So I was ready. What did it hurt baby?"

"A lot more than you know," Derek answered under his breath stalking away back towards the kitchen.

Tamara followed, "I don't understand the big…" the flow of words stopped when her eyes caught sight of both the box and the figurine. "What is that hideous thing doing there?" she demanded pointing at the lion.

Derek turned her fists clenched tight by his side. "Drying," was all her provided her with.

"Why?" she all but screeched crossing her arms under her slightly heaving chest, the silk fabric of her cream colored long sleeved blouse pulling taut.

"Because I came home and found it, along with several of my belongs thrown in this box like trash and I demand an answer Tamara. What gave you the right to come into my home and take over?"

"I'm your girlfriend," she screeched arms flopping to her side anger coloring her face.

"Keep your voice down, woman and don't make a scene," Derek hissed trying in vain to keep his own temper in check.

"Keep my voice down," she parroted back jamming her palms to her hips. "You have some other whore in our apartment is that it Derek?"

"This was never our apartment Tamara," he grounded out seething with anger. "And for your information, Penelope is in the guess bedroom most likely trying to sleep."

"Penelope?" she screamed this time advancing towards Derek right hand raised to slap him. "You bring that bitch to our apartment."

Derek caught the thin limb just before it made contact. Jerking her close just to hiss angrily into her ear, "Never call Penelope that again you hear me."

"I hear ya. But what I don't get is why you choose a fat cow like her over me," she demanded pulling free of his grasp.

"Don't push your luck Tamara. Get your shit and leave," he growled advancing a step. "In fact never darken this place again and stay the hell outa my life. You got that woman?"

"I got it," she returned snidely turning haughtily, but stopping just before the threshold. "You know what I don't get is why you want someone like that? She has no taste I saw that while tossing her clothes into a garbage bag. She doesn't deserve someone like you baby," Tamara cooed falsely pivoting back around giving Derek a saucy wink.

"Ha," he laughed mirthlessly. "Penelope's twice the woman I now see you are."

"At least you got that right. She is two of me."

Anger darkened his eyes as he narrowed them to slits, his voice like gravel and cold as ice. "Out Tamara now I'll pack what little you have myself. I want you out of my sight."

She shrugged not knowing a threat when she saw one. "Your loss Morgan and we could've been so good together."

He watched her shapely hips sashay back into the living room wondering how life had gotten so messed up, then heard the front door open and slam shut thankful that Clooney was still at the kennel and not here in the middle of war.

Expelling the breath of air, Derek turned back to the box hoping to save a few more pieces of what he realized now was in fact his heart even if the fragments were just shards of broken glass and ceramic they'd come from someone special.

One shattered frame caught his eye and he reached in saving the glossy paper, but receiving a prick from a piece of glass in its place. He brought the digit to his lips sucking the dark red life giving blood from the callused tip while his eyes searched the face forever frozen in time, remembering that day three years ago.

"What's the matter Hot stuff you look like someone kicked your dog?" Penelope asked from her perch on the edge of his desk.

"Bite your tongue woman," he admonished though the playfulness didn't quiet reach his eyes.

"Bite it for me stud," she returned seeing that it didn't get any rise out of him. Forcefully she shoved him of course it had no effect other than a raised eyebrow from the man. "Well what did you want me to do Mr. Grumpy pants your ruining the good vibe for the day."

"I'm sorry Baby girl it's just… never mind."

"Oh no you don't big boy you spill that secret right now or mama will spank that fine ass of yours," Penelope demanded springing to her bright pink heeled feet hands on her hips trying to look menacing.

This only served to make Morgan laugh seeing her standing there in a knee length, short sleeved dress that looked like someone couldn't decide what color to use instead decided to splatter every shade of the rainbow against a white background. Therefore the menacing look she was going for didn't quite come off as well though she still looked cute in her trying.

"What are you laughing at gum drop?" she asked crossing her arms under her ample bosom still tapping her foot just a touch vexed by the turn of his mood.

"You love," he teased eyes drawn to the stretchy material covering her breasts seeing the way it molded around her in just the right way.

"Eyes up buddy," she mocked scolded but secretly enjoyed the fact that he looked interested for all of two seconds. She of course knew better than to hope for too much after all he was the FBI's resident play boy and heart breaker but still her best friend even though she wished for more.

"Can't help it Goddess," Derek grinned wickedly, yet deep inside in the part he kept hidden even from her, Derek yearned to be able to have Penelope all to his self.

"Earth to Morgan, come back down to terra firma were your needed," Penelope said pushing his well-muscled arm trying to make him move. "Whats got you all pensive my chocolate drop? You know your mood swings are gonna give me a head ache soon."

"Sorry sweetness not something I intend to do" he answered standing to tower over her. "What about lunch?"

"I could eat."

"Your choice."

"Humm," she hummed tapping a bright pink nail against her chin while the other hand traced an imaginary line down his chest. "Would you be on the menu?" Derek chuckled shaking his head.

"Shoot," she stated snapping her fingers. "Then I guess I have to go for something else how about Italian?"

"Sounds good," he grinned offering her, his arm.

She linked up with him and they both walked out, Derek not noticing that the rest of his team was nowhere to be seen.

"You know love I still haven't gotten an answer out of you."

"And the question was beautiful," Derek said as they stopped before the bank of elevators.

"Something was bugging you back there you never told me what."

"It doesn't matter right now baby girl, its forgotten," he answered though it truly wasn't.

He never figured that everyone would forget what day it was. Not even a call from his mother. Childish he knew but it didn't stop the dull ache that settled in the middle of his chest. Granted birthdays hadn't meant a lot to him since his father's death, but Penelope had always tried to make them special right from that first small celebration the year they met. However, this year it seemed to have slipped her mind all together.

Twenty five minutes later with lots of laughter and banter, they pulled into Gianna's Italian kitchen.

"You know," Penelope called as she slipped from the leather passenger seat.

"What's that Garcia?"

She giggled to herself about how clueless men can be sometimes. "I think there maybe something special about today but I just can't seem to put my finger on what."

"It'll…" his words stopped after coming around the SUV seeing Penelope holding a brightly wrapped package in her hands. "Penelope?"

"What did you really think I'd forget about my Adonis's birthday? Shame on you hot stuff for believing something like that," she admonished playfully but an under lying seriousness caught his attention.

"Woman what I'm going to do with you…" he trailed off grabbing her around the waist and into a crushing hug forgetting about his present, just letting her body and heart soak into him.

"Handsome your gift," she reminded him a shiver of lust licking down her spine at the closeness.

Derek pulled back just leaving a hairs width of space between them. On impulse he cupped the side of her face feeling the soft texture of her skin beneath his fingertips itching for closer connect. "Thank you Penelope for remembering, for being you."

"Of course Derek I wouldn't forget something this important," she breathed feeling the warmth and strength of his body wanting to just get lost in him.

"The others did."

"You think so huh," she giggled eyes shining radiantly the afternoon sun bathing her hair gold.

"I know so."

"My silly, silly profiler," she grinned shaking her head slightly making his callused palm to cross over her lips and cheek igniting a slow burning fire in her body.

"What are you getting at woman," he growled, not just because she was messing with him, but because the feel of her soft skin had warmth and lust flooding his veins.

"You'll have to see," she stated in a sing song voice a full smile spreading across her lips.

"Tell me," he gouged playfully giving her a tiny shake, bring her body into closer proximity to his.

"Nope," she stated pulling away sharply heading towards the front door of the restaurant.

Strong hands reached out nabbing her swinging wrist, bringing her movements to an abrupt halt before tugging her willing body back into his. The force brought them so close together this time that they each could feel the others breath against their face.

"Derek," she whispered unsure of what the look in his eyes meant.

However before he could answer, JJ's light voice called out from the entrance. "Say cheese you two," and they turned just in time smiles plastered on quickly as they camera captures the moment forever.

Derek always wondered what would've happened if he'd given into the impulse and kissed her warm full ruby red lips. To sample the sweetness he knew lingered just beyond their borders. A missed chance to claim his hearts yearning, because after that life went to hell in a hand basket and now there was a fissure so wide between them he didn't know if anything could bridge the expanse without one or both of them falling in.

Roughly he pushed away from the counter leaving the box where it sat till tomorrow to go and check on Penelope. Softly he pushed her bedroom door open bathing the room in a gentle white light seeing her lying on her side facing him. One arm under her pillow the other draped over her stomach her face scrunched up as if she was having a bad dream and after today's events he couldn't blame her.

Slowly he crept into the room to crouch beside the bed to watch her. Derek knew he should be hurt even anger with her, the harsh words, the cold shoulder, the slap a few weeks back, yet all that didn't matter right now, not when she needed to be protected. Reaching a hand out he picked a few soft strands of auburn hair up between his forefinger and thumb feeling the texture before smoothing it back behind her ear and running a single finger down her cheek. Wishing things he knew better than too asked for they didn't happen for a man like him.

Rising to full height once again, Derek leaned over and placed a simple kiss to her forehead. Seeing a bit of tension loosen as she snuggled deeper into the pillow beneath her head, then he promptly turned and left the room.