A/N Okay, this idea hit me, and I hope you all enjoy it! It's a bit of a different take on a sequel to Ride, which you should read before reading this one.
I don't own Criminal Minds, CBS does!
Postcards to Penny
Penelope Garcia wasn't the type of girl who checked her mail often, E-mail maybe, she was a tech goddess after all, but the paper mail deposited in the postbox down the street? Hardly ever. And especially in the five months after Emily's death and JJ's disappearance, she could hardly be bothered to get out of bed, let alone walk down the street to pick up what she referred to as an "archaic form of communication". Which is why, upon prompting by her mail carrier how no more mail could physically be packed into her slot, she made the trip to pick it up. The mail sprung free as soon as the door was opened, as if happy to be liberated.
Junk, junk, bill, junk, coupons, junk, magazine, bill, junk, junk, postcards?
A set of four different postcards from multiple locations caught her eye, and she slipped them off to the side and tossed the rest into a pile on her countertop. She flipped them all over, recognizing the handwriting instantly.
"JJ." She whispered, as if in awe. She picked up the postcard that was dated the oldest, and quickly scanned the generic picture of the skyline of New York City before reading the text on the back
I'm sorry I had to leave, but the distance has helped. I can put things in perspective now, and try to begin to move forward. I'm travelling, and right now I'm in New York City. The city lights are gorgeous here, and this place never seems to sleep! The shopping is amazing here, it's one of the places I always wish that you and Emily and I could go, a trip with just the girls. No serial killers, no dead bodies, just a week of shopping trips, classy hotels, overpriced coffees, and the three of us. It would have been amazing, but now I'm gone and Emily's gone and nothing's ever the same. How did we end up here? I find myself asking that a lot lately, and truthfully, I don't know. I guess that's one of the things I left to find out. I miss you, the team too.
She wiped a tear from gathering in her eye, confronting the odd mixture of sadness and relief brought on by the message. Maybe just the fact that she knew JJ still cared, she hadn't forgotten about the team, and that she missed all of them. The next card in the pile had a picture of a reddish-orange rock formation, that stood out brightly against the crystal blue sky.
I'm in Utah now, hiking the trails in the national parks. The colors and shapes here are so surreal, like I'm walking in a painting instead of reality. Last night I was camping in Monument Valley, it gets so clear out here, it seems like you can see every star in the universe. Something about spending the night beneath the stars, beneath the heavens made me feel so close to Em, like if I closed my eyes, I could feel her right beside me. It made me a little sad, but only a little. Even though the stars are impossibly far away from me, they're also safe from all harm, tracking their paths freely yet steadfastly across the skies. So I know that she's safe and still here with me always, and that's all I could ever want for my Emily. I'll write you again soon, I promise.
Penelope glanced outside at the stars, imagining Jennifer looking up at them too. The feeling of unity made her heart swell with a bittersweet happiness as she imagined her two favorite ladies standing beside her, laughing and joking like old times. The next postcard was of the Space Needle, and a ferry boat puttering along in the water behind.
Greetings from Seattle! It's true what people say, it does rain a lot here, it's drizzly nearly all the time. The clouds block the stars at night, but they're still there, just like my Emily. And when the rain does stop, and the sun comes out, the air smells so clean, and the leaves of the trees light up like the emeralds the city is nicknamed for. It may come as a surprise to you, but I'm growing to like the woods now. It's so green here, and they sing of life and vitality. Besides, I've already faced my worst fear, losing Emily, anything else seems miniscule. Besides, I haven't lost her, she's still with me, in the stars and the moon and the song of a bird and the gently formed droplets of rain, and in everything beautiful I can find around me. You're good at that, finding beauty in the ordinary things in life Pen, and I love you for that.
Penelope was crying now, tears of joy and love and heartbreak and as many more feelings that could be held inside the tiny yet earth-moving messenger of a teardrop. She wished she could reply to JJ, apologize for not replying earlier and tell her about all that was going on in Quantico. How Spencer had barely just returned to work, and even the mention of her name sent him into a trembling fit of sadness, how Derek, her hunk of chocolate hotness, almost beat the living crap out of the last unsub because of all the repressed rage, how Rossi hardly smiled anymore, or how Hotch never smiled at all. The entire BAU is different, holding on to everything instead of healing. Fingers trembling, she read the last postcard, with the picture of a peaceful beach.
I'm in Hawaii now, it's pretty far off where I had expected to end up, but I've learned not to dwell on my expectations. The beaches here are gorgeous, and I've been spending every spare moment either soaking up the sun or swimming. The sand here is so white, and the water is the most beautiful shade of aqua blue. Emily would tell me that it's the same color of my eyes, and that the similarity alone makes it breathtaking. It really is paradise here, though in my travels I've learned you can find paradise anywhere. In the buzz of the city or the stars on the desert horizon or the emerald light of the trees, or the crystal seas and the beach, or even in the arms of your soulmate. I may have healed, but I'll never get over Emily. I gave my heart to her, and she takes it with her wherever she goes, even in death. I couldn't give my love to anyone else, and I'm happy with that. She's my soulmate, and her soul is always with me. I may not write as regularly now, but I will try to keep in touch, I love you too much to abandon you Pen, and remember that, for it will give you faith and strength. And Penelope, you're sparkling, you brighten anything up when it's looking gloomy. Never change that.
The waves lapped at my feet, teasing my suntanned toes with its warmth. I blinked away sentimental tears as I thought of the postcards I sent to Penelope. I no longer felt as guilty about lying to her about Em's death; it was just a simple yet bitter fact. I hope she received them, and I hope that she was soothed by them. The thought of our old team mourning Emily's staged death, and my resignation and disappearance sent a pang of guilt to my heart. I hope that at least now they knew I never forgot them, and I always love them, like family.
"I wish I had gotten to say goodbye as well." The brunette beside me admitted, almost reading my mind. She knew me better than I know me, and that is one of the many things I love about her. I tore my gaze away from the endless sea of blue in front of me and turned to face the woman lying on her side next to me, lasciviously trailing my eyes over her slender, heavenly figure, barely clad in a navy blue bikini with white polka dots, before finally meeting her soft brown eyes.
"I know. But they know you love them, and they know that you're always there with them." I reassured her, stroking her sunkissed cheek gently, before I became jealous of the sun and decided to do a bit of kissing myself.
She let out a surprised squeal as I bowled her over into the sand with the force of the kiss, a wave of cool seawater slapping our entwined legs.
"This is a public beach Jen-oh God!" she squeaked as I nipped the sensitive spot on her neck which I knew sent her insane. I delighted in my control over her until I felt her strong arms wrap around me and the ground disappear beneath my back. It was now my turn to squeal excitedly as Emily picked me up and spun me around in her arms as she moved deeper into the water.
"Hey! Let me down!" I cried while laughing, knowing exactly what she was about to do. Before she tried to toss me into the water, I wrapped my arms around her neck, giving her a mischievous look for the split second before I dragged her into the water along with me. We plunged into the water together, never breaking eye contact as we entered the warm soothing sea. We lunged up out of the water, still never breaking contact, laughing while placing breathless salty kisses on each other's lips.
"I love you, so much Jennifer. There are no words I can use that can sum up how much I love you." she made it sound like a promise and a declaration at the same time
"I love you too Emily," I let her name slip, momentarily ignoring the fact that she went by an alias. But it wasn't Amelia Blake I love, it's Emily Prentiss, it's always been Emily. "And I may not have many words to describe it either, but there are a few that I can try." I took both of her hands into mine, holding them right over my heart, and laying a kiss to her knuckles as I knelt down in the cool ocean, the shallow water licking the bottom of my thighs as I stared adoringly into her eyes. "Will you marry me Emily Prentiss? Because I may not know what's coming next in our lives, but all I do know, is that I want to share mine with yours, forever." She had pulled one of her hands away to dab at the happy tears that melded with the drops of seawater on her blushing cheeks. Using the hand still wrapped within mine, she pulled me up to meet her lips, knotting her free hand within my soaked blonde locks as she caught me in a passionate kiss, forgetting the beach was in fact public, and there were other people around us.
"Yes. Yes, yes, one hundred times yes!" she looked so happy she was almost jumping up and down. She took my hand and knotted her fingers in mine, leading me from the water. "But y'know, I've always imagined Penelope as your maid of honor, and Derek as my um… man of honor? I could see Hotch and Rossi watching us like they were our own fathers, even Spencer congratulating us, trying to avoid Penny during the reception as she insists that she must teach him how to dance. I could imagine all that happening, and now it never will." Her voice took on a sad, wistful tone, and I placed another light kiss on her knuckles.
"Maybe it will? I mean knowing the team they won't give up until Doyle is dead, and then it would be safe to go back. And then we will get married, surrounded by our friends and family, and knowing that since Penelope will want to plan it, our chapel will end up pink and lime green all over." I chuckled softly, melting beneath the adoring gaze of my lover.
"Oh joy." She snickered, rolling her eyes as we continued to walk towards the car. We were almost off the beach, partially hidden from view by some tropical greenery, when I seized my chance. I held her closer to me, trying not to lose it as soon as her barely-clothed body pressed against mine. I toyed with the skinny little tie on the side of her swimsuit bottom, scraping my nails across the outside of her thigh. "Emily, Take me anywhere." I husked into her ear, before we hopped into the car, intent on a much closer destination than a new state, more like our hotel room. Wherever I ended up, whenever it occurred, expectations, time, place, all that was tossed out the window, completely immaterial when I'm with Emily. Just like the stars we were safe, far away, not bound by time or space, and free to sparkle together for as long as we live.
A/N I know, it's sappy and lovey-dovey, I honestly wasn't expecting to add in the proposal, but I began writing and the ideas and inspiration kept flowing. I'm usually more of a fan of angsty stuff, but writing this made me happy, and I hope it makes you happy too! I hope you enjoy it!