Hello everyone,

Here's a one shot that just had to be written. Whether it's good or not is up to you. As usual I don't own Criminal Minds.

Thanks for reading.

Rituals of Friendship

Some people go to priests; others to poetry; I to my friends.

-Virginia Woolf

"It's called Pussy Galore."

Under normal circumstances not much can throw Derek Morgan off his A-game but her words coupled with the way her voice practically purred when she said them were enough to make his hands shake.

Before he could stop himself his gaze landed in her lap and stayed there a beat too long before shooting up to her face. Yup, she caught him. Her playful laugh was proof enough.

Being best friends with a woman had its perks but he was pretty sure that looking at her there wasn't an allowable benefit under the friend code.

"Excuse me?"

"Pussy Galore, the color," she answered wiggling her toes for emphasis.

Penelope knew that she was playing with fire but she couldn't help herself. Teasing Derek was her second favorite pastime only topped by the joy she got from fulfilling her fairy godmother duties.

"Hey, hey, behave. You'll make me mess up."

Grasping her ankle he gently repositioned her foot in his lap just a few inches away from what Penelope liked to call his Holy Grail. The woman had a mouth on her, that's for sure and he never knew what she was going to come up with next.

But this was their thing. A little ritual started six-months ago as a way to relax after a particularly hard case. From the jet he would call to let her know that her little family of superheroes were safe and sound and on their way home. He would give his ETA (estimated time of arrival) and only hang up once she had promised to drive carefully.

Shutting down her babies for the night she would race to her apartment (her definition of careful was different than his), shave her legs, pick out her colors and order take-out from Yang Chows. By the time Derek walked through her front door a hot plate and a cold beer were always waiting for him.

Once they had eaten their fill they would retreat to the living room to make themselves comfortable on the couch. Penelope, already in her pajamas would prop her favorite pillow against an armrest and then lie back to watch her BFF organize the supplies just the way he liked them.

First would be the odorless polish remover (he hated the smell of the regular kind) followed by cotton balls, Q-tips, orange-wood sticks, a nail file, clippers, and dual purpose base and top coat. The actual polish was always chosen from the large selection of bottles she would lay out ahead of time.

She wasn't surprised when tonight's chosen hue was a soft dusty lilac with silver flakes of glitter. He knew her well and anything with sparkle was always a safe bet.

And Penelope loved it when he did the choosing. Even after all this time she would still giggle at how serious he took this responsibility. Each bottle, tiny in his large hands, would be turned this way and that way and face inspection by candlelight.

According to Derek he took pride in picking out the right paint colors for his rental properties so why wouldn't he give considerable thought to what he put on his Baby Girl's body.

On nights when he was feeling particularly generous, which was more often than not, he would start out by giving her a foot massage. Penelope was convinced that the man must have made a deal with the Devil because his hands were pure sin.

Meticulous and methodical in his execution, Derek's touch was never too rough or too soft. He knew just the right amount of pressure to give and which parts to knead and which areas to caress.

Invariably his calloused fingers would find their way to the sweet spot in the middle of her arch and within minutes her pulse would quicken and her breath would turn shallow. Derek was a freaking artist and he had no idea how he made her feel.

The thing is, he did know and he loved watching the flush of warmth climb from beneath her tank top to the edge of her hairline. Sometimes she would let out a little moan and Derek would feel his own pulse throb in response. During those moments it took everything in him not to replace his fingers with his tongue and watch her eyes roll to the back of her head.

But he couldn't do that because she was taken and even if she wasn't, it would be a bad, bad idea. Romantic relationships were his Achilles heel and keeping their relationship completely platonic was the only way to guarantee its longevity.

"You know if this whole profiling thing doesn't work out you could open your own salon."

Her voice sounded a little sleepy but he knew she would be good for at least another hour. This was more than enough time for him to finish the job and for the polish to dry. Carrying her to bed and climbing in beside her would be his reward for a job well done.

"Never gonna happen. I'll leave it to the professionals."

Derek was a three-stroke man. Three brush strokes per toe, that is. He had already applied a clear base coat, careful not to paint the cuticle, and was now applying the lilac polish to the little piggy that stayed home.

"But you're so good at it. Maybe I should loan you out to JJ and Emily."

Pausing from his task he let his gaze slowly sweep up the length of her body and then back down again.

"I'm good at a lot of things sweetness but let's keep this one just between us."

"What if I don't want to?" She teased with a defiant nod of her head.

"Lil mama, don't make me spank that fine ass of yours." His response is so automatic that he doesn't even bother to look up from her foot.

"Promises, promises."

Picking up her phone, Penelope quickly snaps a picture of Derek. It's a cute one too. Deep in concentration, he's holding the brush between his teeth while using his thumbnail to clean the excess polish from the edges of the little piggy that had none. Adorable.

"What the Hell?" That got his attention.

"Just calling your bluff, Hot Stuff."

Turning the phone around so he can see his picture, Penelope snatches it back when he makes to grab for it.

"What do you think…this year's Christmas card? Or maybe I should tap into the Fox News feed and share this with its more conservative-minded viewers."


Pretending to type she recites out loud, "FBI Agent Derek Morgan paints woman's toenails with sassy colors."

"Woman, behave."

Her laugh is infectious and Derek can feel himself losing the battle to remain serious.

Holding out his hand he motions for her to obey his order. "Give me the phone before someone gets hurt."

"What's in it for me?"

"Maybe we'll move from pedicures and graduate to the fine art of the bikini wax," he offers wiggling his eyebrows.

Rolling her eyes Penelope slides her phone onto the coffee table. "You're a letch."

"And that's how you like me. Now be still or you'll smudge."

For a few minutes they exist in comfortable silence. The rhythm of Derek's brush strokes soothing for both of them.

"D., do you do this with your other girls…I mean paint their nails and give them massages?"

"You make it sound like I have a harem."

"I just call it like I see it."

"Nope. Just for my #1 girl." Catching her eye he gives her a wink and a smile before putting a top coat on the little piggy that had none.

"How often does Kevin do this for you?" His tone is unreadable but if Penelope didn't know better she would have sworn that he was holding his breath.

"He's not allowed to touch my feet. I save that privilege for my chocolate prince."

"Good." That one simple word comes out in a rush. Maybe he was holding his breath.

"Derek, do you like Kevin?"

"If he makes you happy then I'm happy."

Finished with the last toe, Derek recaps the bottle and puts it off to the side. The application of the color is perfect and Penelope wonders is there anything this man can't do.

"Nice way to deflect. Be honest, I really want to know."

Picking up both feet by the heels, he starts blowing on her nails like a human oscillating fan moving back and forth from one foot to the other and then back again.

"He's alright but he's not good enough for you. No one is."

"You are."

"Nope. Not even me."

The End

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