Note- Morgan and Garcia. Derek realizes he is on the verge of losing Penelope when he finds out she's back in the dating game.

Before Its Too Late

Morgan and Garcia

Chapter One

August 2010

There was a danger in getting too comfortable. Derek Morgan should have learned his lesson long ago. He was a smart man, after all. He knew better than to take Penelope Garcia for granted.

But somehow he had slipped right into the same trap all over again. He was older now, wiser, less cocky, more jaded, more aware. He knew if he didn't step up and make a move on her she'd move on to some other guy.

Yet he spent all summer long hanging out with her every chance he could get as just friends. Telling himself she needed time to heal from her break up. He got so used to spending time with her that he woke up thinking about her and went to sleep thinking about her and every second in between he was at least somewhat thinking about her too. They had stayed connected at the hip for the last seven weeks.

And when they couldn't be together they were on the phone or computer with each other.

He couldn't seem to wipe the smile off his face for anything. Still he had it in his mind to give her space and in time he would cross that line with her. Derek didn't like to believe he was being a chicken about this whole thing, but he could admit that the thought had crossed his mind a few times. Still in his head, when push came to shove, he swore he was holding back only for her sake. All for her. She needed time to get over her ex and then Derek would tell Penelope how very deep his feelings for her had grown.

Besides she had to feel it. She had to know. They were so tight. Everyday and every evening spent together. She practically lived with him now. He shopped with half the things on his list for her. He called his house "our place" and his dog "our dog". A man didn't share his dog with just anyone.

Penelope must know that she's the love of his life.

That's what Derek believed wholeheartedly- the blind love struck idiot he could be over his baby girl- until one Sunday morning when he walked into "their diner" with a big smile on his face only to see the sixty something year old waitress give him the saddest look in the world. He followed her gaze, turning around slowly, and found Penelope sitting in a booth with some jerk.

His Penelope. At seven thirty in the morning. With some asshole Derek had never seen before. Wearing a sexy, cut to show off her gorgeous curves, slit up the leg halfway to heaven, dress that a woman would only put on at night.

So this was why she was too busy last night to come over? Derek had some guy friends over to watch the baseball game and he figured Penelope had made plans with the girls since she wasn't very big into sports.

That's what he gets for assuming.

"Honey," Madge, the waitress, said "let me get you some coffee to go."

"I'm not going anywhere," Derek said, in a dogged voice, as if she was out of her mind for thinking he would just walk out of here and leave his baby girl with this creep.

Derek had already decided that the stranger with Penelope was every nasty name in the book and then some. She needed to be saved from him and Derek was just the man for the job. No matter that Penelope looked perfectly happy with that guy. Absolutely beautifully tousled at the moment actually. Her hair all messy- like she had wild, window shattering with her screams, sex- and her eyes were dancing with amusement at something the jerkwad just said. Seeing that only made Derek believe all the more that she must be getting bamboozled by this fast talking con man.

Just look at him. Dirty shaggy blonde hair. Broad but hunched shoulders. Beady blue eyes. Pale as a vampire. This guy definitely was up to no good. Especially if he thought he was ever laying his hands on Derek's woman. He best think twice and then think again.

"Garcia," Derek growled at her as he walked up.

She startled and then turned to look at him. A bright, brilliant smiled curved her lips. "Hey! You are up early," she dragged out the words then looked at her dining partner and said, with a giggle, "or else we are just up uber late!"

The guy laughed. "The night kinda did slip away from us, didn't it?"

"Mmm-hmm," Penelope said with a chuckle. Then she nodded at Derek and said "He doesn't call me a motor mouth for nothing." Looking at Derek she said "Come on over and meet my new friend."

Derek came closer and appraised the man with the same look he would give an unsub.

The guy smiled back.

Penelope said "This is Eli Walker. He's in the awesome club for which I am the Queen. He's been hacking since the third grade. Can you believe that? The third grade! So uber impressive. And you know I am hard to impress." Penelope pulled Derek into the booth next to her. "Come on, baby, sit down and join us. You are so tense. What's the matter with you this morning?"

What's the matter with him? Catching her out with this asshole is what's the matter with him. This ass with his slimy, stupid smile. This Eli who needed to fall off the face of the planet. But Derek couldn't say that aloud so instead he told her "I didn't get much sleep last night."

That was true. He couldn't sleep anymore when she wasn't home.

"The Cubs lost again, didn't they?" Penelope asked, knowingly. Derek had been complaining all summer about their never ending slide to last place.

He made a gruff sound as his answer.

Penelope wrapped her arm around his and looked at Eli. "When they lose the world turns into a very dark place for this super fine fox. Eli Walker I'd like to introduce you to the one and only Derek Morgan. Now you can put a name to a face." She chuckled in a way that said she had told Eli some kind of story about Derek.

Eli chuckled too before saying "Good to meet you. Pen has nothing but good things to say about you."

Pen. How dare he shorten her name! Just who the hell did he think he was? Did he think he knew her and had that right? Derek felt like lunging across the table and wrapping his fingers around this guy's throat.

Derek told Eli "Can't say I've ever heard her say your name before."

Penelope chimed in "That's cause we just met last night, in person that is. We've known each other online for years now. Finally crossed into RL." Real life. "We should have done it ages ago, right, Eli?" She chuckled some more, at how great their instant freaking connection was, and Derek felt sick to his stomach.

Eli said "You couldn't be more right. I haven't spent all night talking to anyone since college. You just get it, Pen."

"Oh, I so get it," she purred at him and chuckled again. Looking at Derek she said "Are you going to order, baby? Cause mama needs to get home and get some much needed rest but if you want company I can stay."

Let her leave at the same time as this jerk? No way in hell Derek would let that go down if he could stop it. "Actually, baby girl, I would love if you hung around long enough for me to order some food to go. Then we can head home to our place together." He shot daggers at Eli as Derek slid his arm around Penelope.

She patted Derek's chest. "Sounds good. You order and I'm going to say good bye to my friend."

Eli said to Derek "It was good to meet you."

"Yeah," Derek said, gruffly, throwing in a muttered "you too," before he walked off to the counter.

XXXXXXXXXX

Derek held his tongue the whole ride home, as Penelope chattered on about how wonderful Eli was, until they were walking through the door of his house when Derek asked "So you're dating again now? Seems kinda soon to me."

"No use waiting. No one around here is getting any younger, you know," she said with a smile before yawning. "Jeepers, I'm beat, handsome. How about you carry me to bed? Those stairs look too, too tiring right now." Penelope chuckled, as she kicked off her shoes by the door.

Derek knew she had just been kidding but he set down his food and coffee, on the table near the door where they usually threw the mail, and scooped Penelope into his arms, carrying her up to her room. She laughed and told him he would throw out his back.

"Hush, woman." Derek set her down just inside of her room.

"I'll call Hotch and tell him you need a week off to recover." Penelope smirked and giggled. Damn, she was in a good mood this morning. An Eli Walker induced good mood.

Derek let out a heavy sigh. "Baby, do you think its safe to meet a guy you only know off the internet?"

"Oh, I knew this was coming. The lecture," Penelope teased Derek as she went to the dresser and opened it. She pulled out some clothes. "Its fine, Dad. Yes, normally, I would advise against it for the average woman but I am so very far from average. I'm the Oracle of All Knowing and I can research every guy to within an inch of his life. I do my homework now. Do not stress that overprotective brain of yours on this tech kitten."

"Where'd you go last night with that guy?"

"Dancing."

That meant Eli had his hands all over her. Derek saw red. "I thought you hate dancing in public."

She smiled as she breezed past him. "Who said anything about being in public?"

Derek found himself outside the bathroom door. "What does that mean?"

"We played Just Dance on his Wii. It was hilarious! I never laughed so hard in all my life!"

"You went to his house? Baby girl!"

"It was fine! He's harmless!" The shower went on.

Harmless? Derek didn't know about all that. What he did know is Eli Walker was going to turn into just a one night memory for Penelope, if Derek had a damn thing to say about it.

Which, at this point, it was rapidly looking like he didn't.