Note: Thank you to all the reviewers and friends who have encouraged me over the years. Everyone who has sent private messages of encouragement to me as I suffered writer's block helped me to find the inspiration to start writing for this fandom again.
The following story is inspired by the simple and sweet Christmas movies that are on Lifetime and The Hallmark channel at this time of year.
Stranded for Christmas
Morgan and Garcia
"Let's spend the holidays in the mountains," Penelope grumbled as she slowly inched her old beast of a Cadillac up a slippery hill. Her tone was mocking and stressed out as she went on "It will be fun, she said. A once in a lifetime experience, she said. Fun like a heart attack, which is what this goddess is gonna have if she doesn't get to the gosh darn frickin cabin soon- and in one gosh darn frickin piece!"
Barely able to see past the falling snow, Penelope held her breath as she came to the top of the hill, inched around a corner and then saw the cabin there- lights blazing warmly in the window and looking like an oasis. When Penelope had set out for this trip it had been clear skies but halfway to the cabin it had started to sprinkle snow drops and now it was coming down hard enough to obscure her vision while driving.
She hadn't had a great feeling about renting a cabin in the first place but Emily had insisted it would be a lot of fun and since Penelope's original plans of spending Christmas with her boyfriend Kevin had fallen through- and she didn't relish the idea of sitting home alone on what was supposed to be one of the most festive and happiest days of the year- she had begrudgingly agreed to meet Emily up at this cabin.
Why in the world Emily had thought it would be fun to spend the long holiday weekend out in the middle of nowhere- far from cinnamon dolce lattes and the after Christmas sales at the mall- Penelope could not understand but her friend had been insistent that it was the perfect solution after Penelope had admitted, while they were leaving work earlier today, that she had no one to spend the holiday celebrating with.
Penelope supposed she should be happy that Emily would so willingly and quickly agree to ditch her own family celebration so they could have a girl's weekend. Who knew, maybe it wouldn't be so bad after all? At this moment all she wanted to do was get inside and in front of the fireplace.
The heat in her old car wasn't as strong as it used to be and her toes were going numb after the hour and half long ride from Quantico.
Parking her car in front of a garage, she climbed out, wrenched open the back door and dragged her oversize luggage out of the backseat. The suitcase was so filled to the brim that it opened and spilled everything onto the wet ground.
Groaning, Penelope bent down to gather everything up, while muttering under her breath. "I hate the woods! This is where unsubs lurk in every bush waiting to torture and kill young, sexy things like me. Who could ever find this fun?"
Right then she heard the cabin door open and a deep voice ask, in a confused tone, "Garcia?"
She froze for a moment. Her heart leapt into her throat as she turned around and took in the sight of her co-worker and one of her best friends- the hunkiest hunk that God had ever made, a tall, muscled, bald, work of walking, talking, six foot three art.
At the same time they asked "What are you doing here?"
He was wearing a tight fitting dark green sweater and black jeans that hugged his chiseled thighs and ass. A confused scowl marred his otherwise gorgeous face.
"You first," he ordered her to answer.
"Emily said she rented this place for the weekend."
"I rented this place for the weekend. To get away from everyone and have some time to clear my head and chill out." Shaking his head at this strange turn of events of her showing up on his doorstep, Derek came onto the porch, down the stairs and reached for her suitcase. "When I see Prentiss we're gonna have words and, trust me, they ain't gonna be pretty."
"I don't understand. Emily said she found this cabin online today and was lucky to be able to book it last minute."
"Come on inside. It's freezing out here."
Penelope allowed herself to be led inside, with his hand against the small of her back, and once she was in there she looked around and saw a gorgeous log cabin with a luxurious open floor concept, sporting an modern kitchen and large windows that showed a snow covered mountain view.
Shaking the snow off her hair, Penelope shivered slightly. "Are you saying Emily isn't here? Is she even coming?"
"Sweetheart, we've been had."
Hearing him call her sweetheart only reminded her that it was rare and far between these days for them to flirt and tease each other the way they used to. She knew it was totally hypocritical of her to be pissed at him for hooking up with Tamara Barnes and that he hadn't really lied to her about it but only kept it on the down low. It was his business who he fell for after all.
But it still bugged the hell out of Penelope that Derek had acted the way he did with that women. She had seen something in his behavior, in his tone, in his eyes that was different with Tamara than it had been with any of Derek's many conquests over the years and that had bothered her deeply. Maybe it was just the idea that he would fall in love and things between the two of them would inevitably have to change- even more drastically then it had when she started to date Kevin- or maybe it was the fact that, deep down inside, Penelope had wanted to be the one Derek fell for when he finally gave up his player card.
Whatever it was, she hadn't taken it well that he got involved with Tamara and things had been tense between them for months now. They were still friends but it just wasn't the same fun, flirty, dirty, sweet, sensual vibe that they always had before.
She missed it but she wasn't sure how to get it back or even if it was healthy to want it back. The therapist that she started to see two years before- after she was shot- had told her that it was important to focus on things Penelope could have instead of fantasies and dreams that would never come true. That it was only fear and insecurity that kept Penelope from living her life to her full potential. Those words had pushed Penelope to give Kevin a chance and for a while they had been okay...just okay, though. Lord knows that their relationship never set the world on fire with its heat but it had been comfortable enough for a time being. Until Kevin dumped Penelope two weeks before Thanksgiving.
It was a horrible time of year to be single. Especially when Penelope didn't keep in touch with much of her family- including her often cruel tongued birth father and her still bitter over the past step-brothers.
Even though spending a weekend in a cabin in the woods didn't seem like the ideal Christmas get-away spot to Penelope, she had been glad to have somewhere to go and someone who wanted to spend it with her. Except now she realized she never had that.
That Emily had played her.
Tears welled in Penelope's eyes. "I'm gonna kick her rear for this! What in the hell could she have been thinking to send me up here to crash your plans? Oh my God, please tell me that you're here alone? Frick! I have to get out of here! Back into the snow I go! Esther, don't fail me now! Mama needs you to turn into Santa's sleigh and whisk me home!"
Penelope grabbed her suitcase and Derek grabbed it too. She yanked it away from him and pulled open the door but he pushed the door closed, standing with his chest against her back, and told her, in no uncertain terms, "Woman, you ain't going anywhere. It's working up to being a blizzard out there. Face it, you're stuck with me at least till morning. Sorry to disappoint you."
She slowly turned around. "No, I'm sorry to interrupt your plans."
He shrugged a shoulder. "Stuff happens."
She looked around, trying to see if there was any sign of another person there, before she asked "Are you sure this is okay? I could try to call a cab or something if you're worried about me driving down the mountain in the snowstorm." She dug in her purse and got out her phone. "Is there even cell reception up here?"
"Iffy at best and, hate to break it to ya, but cabs don't come up here."
"Up here to the uber creepy, spooky, backwoods bone yard? This is the kind of place unsubs bury people, isn't it?"
He chuckled slightly. "Sometimes. But don't worry, I'll protect you."
She sighed. "Why would Emily do this to us?"
Rolling his eyes, he asked "Can't you guess?"
"She wants us to make up? Not that we're really fighting but things have been a little tense lately, I suppose."
"Yeah, I'd say she wants us to kiss and make-up."
Garcia swallowed hard. "I really should probably go."
"Too late for that now. I get that you wouldn't have come up here if you thought you were getting me instead of Emily but you're stuck with me so lets just make the best of it, all right?"
"It's not just that I'm stuck with you. It's that you're stuck with me."
His lips curved into devilish grin. "Makes me one lucky boy."