Disclaimer: I don't own anything except the plot. Disclaimer applies to the whole story.
Chapter 1: A Plan is Hatched
It had been a horribly long two weeks in Florida for myself and the rest of the team from the BAU. The case in Pearl's Cove was one of the worst we'd seen in years, and everyone was drained. Luckily for us, the bad guys were behind bars, the latest victims were recuperating in the hospital, and we'd all survived with only minor injuries.
A few days before, JJ, Emily, and I had listened over the comms as the men in our lives were nearly killed in an explosion. I'd been reminded of the time in New York when Derek had driven the ambulance away from the hospital and had nearly gotten himself killed when the bomb in the back had exploded. This time, I'd been choked by the fear that not only had Derek not made it out alive, but that the other men I considered family were gone, as well.
I sighed heavily and turned my attention back to the girls when I heard my name being called.
"Earth to Pen," JJ called quietly.
Emily sat across from us, smirking. "Where'd you go?" Her eyes cut across the aisle and down to the other end of the plane. "Thinking about a certain someone?"
I rolled my eyes. "Ugh, no!"
They laughed, clearly not believing me. I didn't push it, since they were obviously correct.
"Okay, so, back to what I was saying," JJ said, grinning. "We all agree that we want to drag the boys out to karaoke this weekend, right?"
Em and I both nodded. "I really wanna make them sing for us, but I'm completely at a loss as to how we can make that happen." She frowned, her forehead wrinkling adorably.
We were quiet for a minute before inspiration struck. I sat up excitedly, snapping my fingers. "I got it! Have I ever told you guys that I am very good at spades?"
JJ and Emily looked at each other and then back at me. "How good?" they echoed.
"Major online tournament winner six years in a row," I said proudly. "Ten to one I can beat everyone on this plane, including Reid with his super-smart brain."
Emily thought it over for a minute. "Morgan is good at cards, though. I'm not bad, but not up to your level. How about you, JJ?"
"I can hold my own. What are you thinking, Pen?"
I smirked. "How about we challenge them to a spades tournament? Men versus women. If we win, we get the guys to sing, as a group, a song of our choosing."
Emily barked out a quick laugh, quickly smothering it with a hand, while JJ nodded slyly and said, "That's a fantastic idea, Garcie!"
Grinning, I said, "Okay, let's go tell the boys that we're gonna have a group get-together on Friday night. It's only Wednesday, so that gives everyone two nights of just being lazy or whatever." I got up from my seat and heard JJ and Emily following behind me as we made our way up the few rows of the plane to where the four guys were sitting and chatting quietly.
"Hey, mama," Derek said, giving me his patented charming smile. "Did you ladies come up here to check us over again for more injuries?"
I reached out and punched his shoulder as I took the seat across from him. "So not funny, Agent Morgan."
Emily and JJ glared at them all before taking their seats.
"She's right, man. Not cool," Emily growled at Derek before turning the evil eye on our fearless leader.
Derek held his hands up in mock surrender. "Okay, I get it. Too soon for jokes."
Ever the voice of calm reason, JJ grinned. "Children, behave." She waited until the two of us pretended to zip our lips before continuing. "We've come to invite you guys to Garcia's place on Friday night. We'll order pizza, have some drinks, watch a movie...whatever. Just have a good night of down time. Hotch, did you mention to the others about Saturday night yet?"
After Emily, JJ, and I had decided on karaoke, JJ had told us she would tell Hotch about it while they were driving back to the local police station one evening earlier in the week.
Hotch nodded. "We're all in, right, guys?"
Derek agreed with a nod.
Agent Rossi smiled. "Should be fun," he said. "I haven't been out to karaoke in years."
"Ahh, Mr. Special Agent Profiler Man, not only have you not been out in years, you've never been out with us. Right, ladies?" I glanced over at Emily and JJ, who were both grinning and nodding.
"We've never gone with you, either," Derek reminded us. "Then again, we've heard all your stories. Should we be worried?"
I smirked and wiggled my eyebrows. "Not at all, Hot Stuff. You guys just go along for the ride."
"Uh, guys," Reid said, looking pensive, "I may not be able to be there. I called Austin when Hotch told us about the week off, and she's flying up tomorrow."
"Good for you, my sweet young genius! Bring her along," I chirped, smiling at him. "The more the merrier, right? She's more than welcome at my place, and I think she'll have a good time at karaoke."
He nodded. "Okay, I'll ask her. Thanks, Garcia."
"My pleasure, sweetie."
The rest of the plane ride was spent in conversation among ourselves, staying far away from the horrors of the past two weeks, and before I knew it, we were buckling up in preparation for landing.
Derek took my bag from me and then followed behind me as we walked off the plane. As soon as we'd all grabbed our go bags, he asked, "You too mad at me to let me give you a ride home, Baby Girl?"
I sucked in one cheek and pretended to think about it for a few seconds. Finally, I shrugged. "I suppose not."
He laughed as he moved all the bags to one hand and then wrapped his free arm around my shoulders. "See you guys Friday night," he called out to the rest of the group. "I'll come in tomorrow to do my paperwork. I'm gonna take Garcia home and then go home and crash. I feel like I could sleep a good sixteen hours."
I called out my own farewells, listened as they all chimed in to tell the two of us goodbye and that they'd see us later, and then smiled up at Derek as we walked toward his truck. He opened the passenger door and tossed our bags into the back. After helping me into the seat, he handed me the bag with my laptop and then carefully shut the door. I couldn't help but admire him as he walked around the front to his own door.
God, the man was nothing if not magnificent-looking.
"Thanks for the ride," I said aloud, sneaking a peek at him out of the corner of my eye.
Reaching across the console, he took my hand. "You're welcome, baby. I'm glad you weren't mad enough to refuse the offer." Giving my hand a squeeze, he started the truck and began the drive to my apartment. It was a quiet, but comfortable ride; neither of us felt a need to fill the silence with chatter.
When we pulled up and parked at the curb, Derek jogged over to my side and grabbed my go bag from the back seat before taking my laptop bag from my hands. Then he helped me out, shutting the door of the truck when I was clear. He walked me up to my door and waited as I unlocked it. As was customary when he brought me home from wherever we'd been, he set my bags down just inside the door. I waited as he made a quick search of my small apartment.
When he came back into the living room, I smiled. "All clear?"
He nodded. "All clear. You gonna be okay tonight?"
I knew what he was asking. It'd been like this for the last long while after tough cases. Nightmares were a common-enough occurrence for me that middle of the night phone calls weren't unusual.
"If I offered you a beer and said I'd do your laundry, would you mind staying? I have a feeling they're gonna be bad tonight," I said shyly. I hated admitting that, but knew I wouldn't be able to keep it from him, no matter how embarrassed I was.
"I wouldn't be offering if I minded, Penelope. You know that. Go take your shower and get ready for bed. I'll put the clothes from both of our bags in the washer and grab my own beer. If you want, we can watch a movie before going to sleep." He picked up the bags, handed me the one containing my laptop, and then moved toward the laundry room.
"Thanks, D," I said softly.
He looked over his shoulder at me and smiled. "No need to thank me. I'm here because you need me and because I wanna be here. I wouldn't be here otherwise." With that, he moved through the kitchen and disappeared through the doorway, leaving me to go into the bedroom to gather up my night clothes and two clean towels.
Two hours later, we were both in our sleepwear, the clothes were in the dryer, the movie was finished, and I was snuggled into Derek's side as we talked about the week off.
"Are you going to Chicago next week?" I asked quietly.
He shook his head. "Nope. Mom and the girls are coming here. They all have a few days off from work and wanted to get out of town, so that seemed like the perfect opportunity."
"Oh, good! Please tell them I said hi," I told him, smiling at the thought of his family.
"Hah, don't think you're getting out of it that easy," he said, looking down at me and grinning. I gave him a quizzical look, and he responded, "My mom already told me that you're invited over for dinner as much as you're able to make it. She and the girls are also planning on inviting you out to go shopping while they're here."
I smiled. "I've missed seeing them. It'll be nice to have them here."
He gave me a gentle squeeze and agreed. "It will. I've missed them, too." I yawned, and he laughed in response. "Okay, Sleeping Beauty. Bedtime. I'll grab the spare pillow and blankets out of the hall closet and bunk down in here. I'll be able to hear you if you have a nightmare, but wake me up if you need me."
"Derek, I'm not making you sleep on the couch. You know my bed is plenty big enough for the both of us." I glared at him until he smiled and shrugged his shoulders.
"Mmm, good, 'cause my back was really not looking forward to sleeping out here." He stood up abruptly, wrapped one arm around my shoulders and another under my knees, and then lifted me up in his arms.
I squealed as he laughed at my reaction. "Derek! Put me down. I'm too heavy for you to carry."
"Oh please, mama. You aren't gonna hurt me." He carried me into the bedroom and gently tossed me onto the bed. "Get comfie. I'm gonna go make sure it's all locked up and turn off the lights."
After he walked out, I slid under the covers and flipped on my bedside light so he wouldn't be fumbling around in the dark. Less than a minute later, Derek came back into the room and turned out the overhead light. I waited until he was under the covers with me and then reached over and turned out the small light. I felt his arms wrap around me, and then he pulled me close to him. My face was buried in his bare chest.
"Good night, Derek," I said quietly.
"Good night, Baby Girl. Sleep well," he murmured before kissing the top of my head.
The last conscious thought I had before falling asleep was the only things separating us were his boxers, my panties, and the thin pajama top and bottoms I always wore.
Perfect fodder for my dreams.