I apologize for the long lag time between updates but if the muse aint there she just aint there. Thankfully, she came back last night with a vengeance. Here's is the 2nd to last chapter of Tuesday. I hope you like it. Don't forget to hit the review button at the end of the page.
It should go without saying but I'm saying it anyway, Criminal Minds and its characters do not belong to me.
Aaron Hotchner has a secret.
His favorite place in all of the BAU is Penelope Garcia's office. Filled with sock monkeys, furry pens, troll dolls, and old-fashioned penny candy, it's like a funhouse hidden among the cold sterile walls of the FBI.
On the rare occasion that he has reason to enter he sometimes stands just off to the side – before she even has a chance to realize that he's there- to watch her manicured fingers dance along the multiple keyboards.
Usually she reminds him of a spinning top he was obsessed with as a boy. With a quick flick of the wrist, it was an explosion of stored energy spinning with the grace and speed of an Olympic figure skater.
Perfectly balanced on its axis it would skip along the sidewalk until the inevitable wobble would cause it to lose momentum and fall on its side. But for a time it was pure poetry in motion.
But today his technical analyst is more wobble than balance and this instability has her muttering to herself as she tears around her office organizing files that don't need organizing, and wiping down already dust-free monitors. She's been thrown off-kilter and he has a pretty good idea as to why.
The years have taught him that when dealing with an agitated Garcia, it is best to not make any sudden moves and to keep his voice gentle yet firm. His role in their relationship is clear – be her constant, her anchor in the storm – especially when said storm is Hurricane Morgan.
It's a responsibility he doesn't take lightly and one he privately welcomes. To outsiders he is her boss but he and Penelope connect on a much deeper level. She is his little sister.
It is not until Penelope backs into what feels like a living breathing wall does she realize that she's not alone. Letting out a startled cry she whips around to discover that the immovable object in the doorway is not her Hot Stuff but her Bossman.
Sending up a silent 'merci' to the goddess of tiramisu and all things chocolate, she bends down to pick up the file folder she dropped on the floor.
For a time the only sound in the room is the low hum of the computer equipment. Penelope opens her mouth to speak but when nothing comes out, closes it again. Not usually at a loss for words, she decides that the best course of action is to pretend that he's not there and hope that he'll go away.
What does one say to one's boss who may or may not have noticed your BFF undress you with his eyes in a conference room filled with your teammates? Nothing, if asked you plead the fifth.
Taking pity on her, Hotch decides to put her out of her misery.
"If he hurts you I promise they'll never find the body."
Clutching the folder over her heart, Penelope can't help but feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Hotch always knows the right thing to say.
"Aww, that's so sweet."
There's no question as to whom the "he" is. Hotch is like Santa Claus, he sees and knows everything.
"Bossman, have you ever wanted something only to finally get it but then change your mind about wanting it?" her voice sounds small and uncertain even to her own ears.
Shutting the door behind him he gives her a quick nod.
"Yeah…well, I've changed my mind. I think. Yes? Maybe? No. I don't know." Her words end in a whine.
Shaking her head she drops the folder onto her desk. Hotch takes note the even her file folders scream Penelope Garcia. Hot pink and lime green they are unconventional colors for an uncommon woman.
"I'm used to the status quo. Me lusting after Morgan and him pretending to want me back and me trying to pass off all my lusting as a joke but that," she motions to the conference room beyond the door, "I don't know how to do."
"You'll figure it out," he assures her.
"But we don't make sense," she argues back.
"I think the two of you make a lot of sense."
Hotch, the man gets up at 5 AM and runs 5 miles, every day" the face she makes when she says 5 AM rivals his son Jack's when he's told to eat his brussel sprouts, "tackles bad guys like they owe him money, and struts around with a body sculpted by the mighty hands of benevolent gods and a smile designed by vestal virgins."
Her eyes plead for him to understand.
"I couldn't even wake up on time for the wedding of the century," she confesses as if she's committed a mortal sin.
At his look of confusion, she sighs. Sometimes his lack of knowledge of world events is disturbing. She makes a mental note to get him subscriptions to People Magazine and Hello! UK, pronto.
"Prince William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge! I had to watch it online two hours after it aired. Keep up, Bossman."
Hotch quickly suppresses the smile that's bubbling to the surface. Her flair for the dramatic is what makes Garcia, uniquely Garcia.
"The only tackling I do is to a plate of fudge brownies and the only sculpting my body gets is when it's fitted for a new corset." Hearing herself she gasps.
One does not speak of corsets with one's boss.
"Penelope, I've seen Morgan leap from one 10-story building to the next with only air and concrete to break his fall, take down armed men twice his size with his bare hands, and save hundreds when he drove an ambulance carrying a bomb out of city limits.."
Eyes' narrowing, Penelope interrupts, "I'm still mad at him for that one."
"So am I but he gets both my frustration and respect because there's not much that scares him. But when you were shot by Battle," Hotch shakes his head at the memory of Penelope lying in her hospital bed, "I saw something in his eyes that scared me and I knew that if we lost you, we'd lose him too."
Derek's faith, tenuous at best, was tied to whether the person he loved the most in the world lived or died and from experience Hotch knew that agents without faith in God, a person, or a belief in something would eventually self-destruct. He'd seen it too many times.
Some were quick and direct and put a bullet to their heads while other opted for a more scenic route by slowly drinking and drugging themselves to death.
But Derek Morgan, he would be different. He would throw himself into seemingly more dangerous situations with unsubs and be the first to volunteer for deadly missions with bomb squads until fate finally caught up with him.
Hotch sometimes wonders if J.J. has any idea just how many people she saved with her steady gunshot to the middle of Battle's forehead.
"I once told him that he doesn't truly trust anyone but I was wrong. He trusts you, Penelope, probably more than anyone else. He trusts that you'll keep his secrets safe and love him despite his faults."
Blinking back tears she gives him one of her sweet smiles. "What faults? My noir knight is perfect."
Hotch's face breaks into one its rare smiles. It's a smile that reminds Garcia of Jack, her honorary nephew.
"He loves you, Penelope. It took him a long time to admit it but don't let that stop you from finding happiness. And he'll make you happy, I'm sure of it or he'll answer to me."
By now Penelope is in full-on ugly cry mode. Sobbing she throws her arms around Hotch and hangs on for dear life. It may be inappropriate to soak the front of your boss's crisp white dress shirt but she doesn't care. She adores this man and he needs know it.
"Uhm…Garcia, it's time to let go now," he voices over her sniffles and hiccups. Arms held straight down at his sides he prays that no one walks through the door.
"No can do, Bossman. I'm not done with you yet."
Squeezing tighter she sighs, "I love you, Aaron Hotchner."
It's not long before she feels two strong arms wrap around her and they're squeezing back just as hard. And maybe she's imagining things but she's pretty sure she hears him whisper something into her hair.
Six words that sorta sound like, "I love you too, Penelope Garcia."
One chapter to go and I promise it will be all Morgan and Garcia.
Please review, you know you want to.