AN: To my faithful friends (Who happen to be reviewers/readers/alerters, too!): Thanks so much for the gifts of your reviews, favorites, and alerts. It is like Christmas year round in my inbox!...I really hope you enjoyed this Christmas present from my home-and my heart-to yours!...Peace and love, KricketWilliams
"Yes, Kevin," Penelope remarked, stifling a groan. "I'll bring the cookies."
Garcia had risen at eight AM to finish up wrapping and packing for the Lynches' house. After returning home from Derek's last night, she'd washed her face, brushed her teeth, put on her pajamas, and crawled into bed.
And dreamed about her best friend the entire night.
When she woke, she realized one thing. That Santa had been right on some accounts. The man she wanted had nothing to do with the one she thought she did. The man she wanted really did love her, always had, as her best friend for the past six years. As she'd stood in his entryway, wishing with all her heart that he would kiss her, she knew he'd continue to love her forever….as his best friend.
"Don't forget the fruitcake. Cousin Mark loves his fruitcake," Kevin whined, then added, "and the macaroons."
She didn't hide the grumble that time. Truth be told, she didn't want to go to Kevin's parents, but she didn't feel that she had any other choice. Being home alone on Christmas day wasn't very appealing, either, and Derek said he was going to the Hotchner's, so she couldn't go to his place.
"Come on, Penny, dearest, don't sound like that," Kevin cajoled, obviously hearing her grumble. "It's Christmas day, after all."
Huffing silently again, she plopped on her couch, distressed. This was not going to be a good day; her spirits were lower than they'd ever been.
She looked up and saw a tiny package wrapped under the tree. Derek's gift. In all the hustle and bustle of the things they were doing together the past week, she'd forgotten to give him his ornament that she got him every year. She'd painstakingly wrapped that present, with the prettiest-yet still masculine-wrapping paper she could find and a gorgeous bow. He would love it, and….
"Kevin, I have to go," she murmured.
"Oh…okay," he said, sounding very uncertain to her ears. "See you in an hour?"
Derek needed to get that present. More than anything, she needed to give Morgan his present.
"No," she said, her voice stronger than it had been in days. "I have somewhere else I need to be."
"Penelope," he snapped. "What is going on?"
"Goodbye, Kevin. Good luck," she breathed softly, hanging up the phone.
She stood immediately and picked up the package from under her tree. She'd rather spend today, the most holiest of days, with someone she really loved. She gave the present a hug, then slid on her jacket, and headed out the door.
She turned and smiled at the deep, familiar voice.
Derek was standing in her courtyard, holding a small, beautiful box with a bow on it. He'd obviously had it wrapped; he wasn't the sort that wrapped presents himself! He was wearing a long, charcoal gray dress coat, the kind he wore when he had his suits on at work, with a white scarf looped around his neck and tucked into his lapel.
"Hi, Derek," she said, her curiosity piqued. She put the present she had for him in her pocket. "What are you doing here?"
He approached her, an uncertain smile on his face. "I forgot to give you your present last night…"
Reaching for her hand, he lifted it, then placed the small box in her palm.
She looked up at him. "What is it?"
The corners of his mouth quirked. "Open it and find out."
Penelope pulled off her mittens and undid the perfect tiny bow. Lifting the lid off, she found a smaller, velvet box. Her breath caught in her throat as she lifted the little box out of the other one and opened the case.
It was a pin, an angel, in stunning gold and silver. She was miniature, but her features were distinct and glorious, carved by a master. Her wings sparkled, her long dress flowed, and her hands were folded in a gesture of perfect peace.
The angel became fuzzy as her eyes watered. She looked up at him, awestruck. His expression was expectant, and he was focused completely on her, like he was that night at the Christmas tree lot.
"Do you like it?" he murmured softly. "An angel for my angel…"
"It's beautiful. Absolutely exquisite," she answered, tears rolling down her cheeks.
"Like her owner," Derek remarked, bringing his warm hand up to cup her cheek. He brushed a teardrop away with his thumb.
She sniffled and looked down. "I'm silly, crying like this."
"No, never," he said, cupping her face in both hands, making her look upward at him.
Dark, soft, gentle eyes met hers, with an expression of longing that took her breath away.
"Penelope…that isn't the only gift I want to give you."
Her heart started to beat so strongly in her chest, she was sure that he could hear it.
"I want to give you my heart, Penelope, if you want to take it," he whispered softly, his hands trembling. "You've had it for years, but now I'm adding all that I am, and all that I ever will be."
She couldn't respond; her heart bound into her throat, making speech completely impossible.
"I have a price-that you give me your heart in return," he murmured, kissing her forehead like he had so many times before. "Can you do that for me?"
"Oh, Derek, yes!" she cried, launching herself in his arms, laughing and crying, too, at the same time. "Yes, yes!"
He wrapped her in a fierce embrace, like he couldn't bare to let her go, then cupped her face in his hands. He traced her features with his fingertips, gently, nearly reverently.
"Now I have all I wished for this Christmas."
He lowered his head, kissing her like she'd always dreamed of being kissed. A warm, sweeping sensation swept over her, as if she were standing in front of his Yule Log fire, instead of the middle of the damp Virginia weather. She clung to him as the kiss went on and on, a kiss that was as pure and perfect as Christmas morning itself.
When he finally lifted his head, he said, "I love you, Penelope."
"I love you, too," she answered, looping her arm around his waist as she stepped closer to him to head to the car. She reached for her mittens in her pocket, and felt a present.
"Oh! I have one for you," she said, handing him the gift.
He smiled. "Silly girl, you're the only gift I need."
"Open!" she said excitedly.
He opened the little box and pulled out the ornament. It was two snowpeople, hugging each other. Underneath was a banner that said Our First Christmas Together.
He gave her a beaming grin. "The first of many."
She nodded. Originally, she'd meant it teasingly, but now, it seemed very apropos.
"To the Hotchner's?" he asked, tucking her into his side again.
"Anywhere you want to go," she answered, snuggling into her spot, knowing in her heart that wherever he went…was exactly where she belonged.
Remember This December, that love weighs more than gold!-
Josephine Dodge Daskam Bacon