I wished they belonged to be but alas they don't But I will return them when I'm finished.
It was the sound of soft music playing that drew her to the break room. She was surprised to see the unit's tech sitting at one of the tables sipping from a mug. Not dressed in her usually rainbow of clothes just a simple white blouse and a black skirt with a dark red cardigan sweater completing the outfit.
"What are you doing here? I thought that you would be with your husband it is your first Christmas together isn't it?"
Penelope looked at the section chief standing there dressed in black slacks and a cream colored blouse completing the outfit a light green sweater. She sighed softly before she answered. "I was told that I was not welcome and to stay home. I have extra vegetable soup would you like some?"
"That would be nice thank you. I was under the impression that you couldn't cook."
"I can't cook. There is a deli not far from my apartment I bought this last night. All I have to do is reheat it, that much I can do." She answers as she pours Strauss a cup of soup and places a roll of hearty wheat bread on a small plate before she sat back down.
"Now tell me why you were told to stay home."
"He told his parents that we didn't want children they are blaming me for it, that's all."
"But I've seen you with agents Jareau's son and with Agent Hotchner's son as well. You are very good with children."
"Yes ma'am I love children I always have. Just like I've always wanted some."
"So he lied and you suffer the consequences all alone." Strauss said flatly.
"Go on." Strauss prompted.
"Kevin never wanted children he says they bleed you dry and suck the life out of you stealing your life away from you. He had a vasectomy three years before we met."
"I take it you didn't know."
" No I never knew, I always used birth control. Well while we were on our honeymoon I asked him when we could start a family. He told me that we could talk about that once we got back home and settled. He told me a week after we got back that children we not in our future and that someday I would thank him for it when we could still travel and enjoy life having the money to do what we wanted."
"You must have been furious with him."
"More heartbroken than anything. You see I loved him and I thought at the time that he wanted children as well but now I have no feelings for him at all."
"Then why do you stay married to him? Surely you know that you can get a divorce."
"I made a vow. Till death us do part. And I have always kept my word that's why, besides its not so bad now."
Hearing something in her voice got Strauss very curious as she looked at Penelope. "What did you do?" Strauss asked her calmly.
"A month after we got back Kevin was sent to some conference in New York. I put a lock on the bathroom door and replaced the queen size bed with two twins size beds. When he got back I told him I saw no reason at all to have sex with him if I was never going to have a child. I told him to find a mistress or go pick up some woman at a bar. I also told him that I will be sleeping with a stun gun and I was not afraid to use it if he came near me." She looks as Strauss places the mug back on the table. "Agent Kramer fixed me up with the it I asked him if he would teach me and he was more than willing on account that I don't carry a handgun."
"Good for you! Go on what happened tell me." Strauss asks with trepidation.
"Kevin tried to slip into my bed two days later. When he stopped shaking he needed to shower and change his clothes he wet himself I think I had the setting to high." Penelope answered with a complete look of innocents on her face.
"How many times did you zap him?"
"Twice he thought I was only joking the first time. I make sure he sees me holding the zapper in my hand as I go to bed. Well I'm a very light sleeper and now he knows that I will keep my word."
"I'm sorry Penelope, I know what it's like to be in a bad marriage. But please keep one thing in mind some vows are meant to be broken. Trust me on this don't stay and live where you're not happy You can only work so many hours and knit so many scarves, blankets and sweaters before you find something else to kill the pain." She washes her cup out and turns to leave the break room turning she looks at Penelope. "I owe a debt of gratitude to both Agents Hotchner and Morgan for helping me see how badly I needed help and for opening my eyes to the truth. I am including you in that group you are the only one that sent me care packages always what I needed." Penelope looked surprised that Strauss knew that she was the one who sent the packages. "It wasn't hard to guess Penelope you sent yarn, needles and pattern booklets. Hand cream, and things that only a woman would send an other. The novels and chocolate helped the most I think nothing like a bodice ripping Victorian novel to help you sleep and dream happily. I loved the yarn and as you can see I did finish the sweater. Think about what I told you, now go home there is no need for you to be here working on Christmas day."
Nodding in understanding Penelope cleaned her small mess and picked up her things as Strauss watched her. She didn't linger at all closing down her computers then she grabbed her coat and belongs she was out of then building within ten minutes.
Strauss looked out of the window in her office and watched Penelope walk to the parking lot all the while wishing she could do something for the units favorite person. She had heard Penelope described as rainbows and sunshine. That the woman never had a bad thing to say about anyone like a child never seeing the evil in the world but knowing deep in her heart that it is always there.
She knew what the agents in her section thought about her, that she was cold and heartless an ice queen. She accepted it long ago but in reality she saw everything and stepped in when needed. Drowning her own pain in a bottle and going home to an empty home night after night. Having lost everything along the way as she climbed the ladder to a better job always trying to prove that she could do everything and finally learning that having everything is having nothing in the end.
She had seen the way the agents in the BAU interacted with one another a close family with the work they did it was expected they depended on each other for their lives, but the love that some had for one another was another thing all together. As hard as they tried to hide it with being over protective and flirting, rambling random facts and blatant denial of any feelings it was there maybe being a woman gave her an advantage she could look in and see what they all chose to ignore what was staring them all in the face.
It was easy for her to see having made the effort to make friends with Penelope. The woman was a scary when it came to all things digital and she was willing to help when ever she was needed. Beyond that they had things in common knitting and they each suffered from the inability, for lack of a better word, well cooking . The biggest thing they shared were rotten marriages and the lousy men that they had said yes to. After a relaxing meal combined with rich cups of hot chocolate it was easy for Erin to get passed Penelope's walls and find out why she had married Lynch in the first place. A sad realization that time was running out and Penelope wanted children before it was to late. She honestly thought that it was a love match, not the romantic take my breath away kind, but a comfortable match all the same. Kevin was Kevin a man that loved her and that she loved and was willing to spend her life with, but now that there was no hope of having children it was a depressing life a life with no love and only bitterness.
It took a bit more probing from Erin but she managed to ferret out a deeply held secret from her friend. That the man of her deepest hearts desire the man that she loved above everyone else was someone that she could never be with in life only in her dreams. Erin tried to find out more but Penelope wouldn't say who the man was, it was the way Penelope's eyes filled with tears before they were angrily brushed away that told Erin all she needed to know. For she had sees that same look of yearning in someone else's eyes.
Time passed and Strauss kept watch when ever possible she suggested the Penelope go with the team explaining that it would show the local police that the Bureau was taking them seriously and was putting all their resources on the case.
She had also watched Penelope, she had to smile as she performed for that is what she was doing always like she was on stage, dress like she normally did lots of colors and her behavior stayed the same. Well as long as anyone was looking but if you happened to catch her off guard you could see the pain she was hiding if you knew where to look. Working with the best profilers in the world it was the only way Penelope get away with it after all she was a very good actor. She wanted to help but she understood Penelope's reason a vow for some people was never taken lightly. And in Penelope's case she gave her word for life. So she said nothing as winter slowly turned into spring and the new flowers bloomed bringing with them a promise of a fresh start.
She knew that she should have called in sick the moment she opened here eyes it was never a good omen when you woke up with a beginning of a migraine. She stays in her office until late morning leaving only when she was contacted about a case that needed to be addressed by the BAU. Walking in the hallway she has to take a deep breath and count to ten as she walks closer to the elevators. She sees Penelope talking to Kevin and an older woman she can only presume is his mother just from the look of contempt that she is giving Penelope.
She makes her decision and puts her best no nonsense face on as she walks closer to the trio. "Penelope the director needs a special job done he asked for me bring someone to his office today meet me in my office in ten minutes."
"Yes ma'am." Penelope answers.
"Wouldn't Kevin be a better choice?" Mrs. Lynch asks as she beams looking at her son.
"Excuse me just who are you?"
"I'm sorry Chief Strauss this is my mother." Kevin answered all flustered.
"I see. Your son has neither the skill nor a high enough security clearance to do the work needed Mrs. Lynch."
Erin watched Mrs. Lynch shift her weight and give Penelope an evil glance that only lasted a few seconds. She starts to walk away but turns back after one step. "Mr. Lynch you are needed down at human resources there seems to be a bit of confusion in the medical files. It appears that Kory Lynch's file and yours got intermingled somehow or it could just be human error. They need clarification about a vasectomy that one of you had or didn't have, I tried to tell them that I saw Kory's wife at the children's Easter egg hunt last week and she is seven months pregnant. And I know that you and Penelope were just married not that long ago and Penelope wants children." Motioning for Penelope to follow Strauss continues going to the BAU.
Mrs. Lynch started yelling as soon as they started to walk away. "Kevin what's going on? You told your father and me that she didn't want children. Did you lie to us?"
"Mom, I can explain, I really can." Kevin says hurriedly.
"Start talking and you had better start telling me the truth because if you don't I'm sure that Penelope will." Kevin gulped as his mother reached for his ear and dragged him into the elevator.
Hearing the yelling Hotch, Rossi and Morgan come out of Hotch's office in time to see Penelope and Strauss walk onto the catwalk. "Go to your office Penelope there is no meeting with the director."
"Yes ma'am thank you ma'am very much." Penelope whispers with tear filled eyes.
"You're very welcome." she replies softy.
She waits until Penelope starts to walk away before she moves. "Gentlemen I have a case that needs to be profiled I told the police chief that you would get back to them today. No need to travel just an over the phone consult will do."
"Erin what was that all about?" Dave asks as he motions over to where the Lynches and Penelope were just moments before.
"I was just helping out a friend."
The change that Erin saw come over her friend Penelope was subtle but it was there, she smiled and laughed without acting it was very nice to see her friend enjoying life again. Taking Penelope with her on a conference to New York over dinner just before the fight back she managed to get the whole story out of her.
It was Lynch's mother of all people that come to the rescue after getting the truth out of her son. She dragged her son in front of a judge, it helps when you live in a small town, and made him confess to what he did and the fraud that he committed by keeping the truth from Penelope. Then she made him find a smaller apartment for Penelope and help her move. On the last trip delivering her things Mrs. Lynch stood there with her arms crossed over her breasts watched as Kevin presented Penelope with an annulment certificate.
"I'm sorry Penelope for what my son did to you and for the way I treated you. Now please go find someone who makes you happy and can give you the life and children that you want and deserve." Mrs. Lynch tells her just before she follows her son out the door and out of her life.
It was a very warm summers day and with the breeze coming off the Potomac it made the festivities all the more pleasant for all the agents and their families. Food and games for the children with a promise of fireworks later in the night, there was no better was to celebrate the Fourth of July.
Erin Strauss took her time as she passed through the crowd stopping and saying hello to everyone. When she got the area the BAU members had claimed as their own she didn't hesitate to join them. The men were gathered together watching JJ lead a game of with a group of children. And not to far away Emily and Penelope sat a table talking quietly.
As she walked closer she had to smile as she heard Morgan talking softly to his friends. "You know I would have bet on the fact that baby girl would be pregnant by now. I know just how much she wants children."
"Maybe they're waiting it's not good to have children the first year that you are married. You should read the percentage of divorces."
"We know Reid." Hotch said cutting him off before he could go on any further.
"Gentlemen." Erin says as she stops net to them. "I'm glad to see that you're still not profiling team members, but in this case I think you need to reevaluate what you are seeing or not seeing."
"Erin what do you know?" Dave asks.
"First let me start with thank you to both Aaron and Derek for what they did for me if it wasn't for you two I wouldn't be standing here right now. As for Penelope she is no longer married she hasn't been since just after Easter."
"Why happened?" Hotch asks as he looks at Penelope carefully.
"Mr. Lynch with not so gentle prodding from his mother had the marriage annulled." Strauss answered as she opened a fresh bottle of water.
"This is a story that we have to hear." Dave tells her.
"If he hurt her. I'll make him sorry he ever met her." Morgan growled.
"If you will just keep quiet for a few minutes I'll tell you." She tells them with a slight smile this is one of the first times that she has been able to surprise the best profilers she knows. It didn't take long for Erin to tell them what had happened. What she enjoyed most was the looked on their faces.
"Well I'll be damned our Kitten, that wouldn't hurt a fly, nailed Lynch twice. Good for her I couldn't be more pleased to find out that our kitten has claws." Rossi said with admiration as they all looked over when they heard Penelope and Emily laughing.
"I just happy that she knows how to use them, legally." Hotch added with a slight smile.
Hotch, Rossi and Strauss watched as Morgan grabbed four bottles of water and dragged Reid over to where Emily and Penelope were chatting. The women stopped laughing long enough to invite the men to sit and join them.
Spencer took his clue from Derek and sat next to Emily straddling the picnic bench. For Derek it was easier Penelope was already straddling the bench When Derek sat behind her she smiled at him then leaned back into his chest as he wrapped his arms around her waist bringing them closer together.
" That was easier than I thought, Isn't nice to know that I'm not always an ice queen."
"You knew, didn't you?"
"Like I said Aaron I'm not always an ice queen. She was very good to me while I was in treatment. I'm not blind either but if he hurts her I'll send him to Guam on a one way ticket"
"I wouldn't worry about him hurting her. He adores her he always has, my friend Father Jimmy would say theirs is a match made in heaven."
"So even odds that they will be married and have a child by this time next year?"
She looked at the two profilers as they smiled and nodded and then back to the younger members of the best BAU team.
A/N: Red Writer you asked for a story I hope that you like this one. Be well my friend and I truly hope you have a good New Year.