Here he was, finding himself again having to listen to the same old story... This time though, from his point of view. Derek could swear he had had enough of these 2 buffoons and them not wanting to, or being too scared to admit their feelings for each other, even to themselves.
He had taken a quick liking to the new SSA. He saw straight away how he was looking at his Babygirl and how he seemed genuinely and sincerely drawn to her. Thus he decided to make a point to befriend his 'replacement', intrigued to follow their story.
Hey, anyone not Kevin Lynch, was an improvement in his book.
If only he had known then, that amusement from their initial love/hate relationship- nay courtship, would turn into this frustrating mess, he might have decided to stay out of it. As it was, he had already invested more time and effort into it than he'd care to admit. Instead of cutting his losses, he decided to do something about it to nudge things along.
"Hey, listen man,I’m due to visit DC this week.'' He said, interrupting Alvez and his whining about the latest thing Penelope had called him. "We’ll have dinner at Rossi's Friday after work, and I bet you I can get her to say at least one nice thing about you".
Luke promptly replied, "I'll take that bet, it’ll be an easy win!"
At which Derek huffed, "Ok, ok, Mr so-full-of-himself. Here are the rules: you can't tell her or anyone else that I’m coming; I’ll arrange it all with Rossi. Over dinner, when I give you the signal and start talking to PG, doing my thing, you can't say a word... "
Luke interrupted him excitedly, "I won't need to, she’ll do all the disparaging without prompting. I am so going to win... "
Derek then took back control of the conversation "Alright then, you shouldn't have a problem following the rules. Just make sure you help Rossi get everyone there and she will not suspect anything" ,"Got it? "
"Piece of cake, man"
"I’ll see you Friday then". He smiled at himself having heard the excitement in Luke's voice, just at the possibility of spending more time with her, even though he expected to be treated as her (friendly and willing) punching bag.
The former profiler extraordinaire loved his Babygirl so much and knew she deserved to be treated like the Queen she was and deserved a man that thought the same. Alvez really seemed to fit the bill quite nicely. Something that he had confirmed for himself after a thorough background check into his work and personal life. Hey, one can't be too careful when it comes to the well-being and safety of their lifelong (or near enough after almost 15 years) platonic soulmate!
He also knew that his Baby Doll was jaded after a few unfortunate relationships. She was obviously interested in Alvez, every put down, every scorn, an obvious, well to others at least, challenge to gauge his reaction. She must have sensed his interest, his longing gaze whenever they were in the same room, how he always seemed to be the one that 'just happened' to call in for any updates when they were away on cases. So far, the new Agent seemed unfazed, meeting her every challenge with a smile and showing her he wouldn't be easily scared away. He even went out of his way to make himself available as a shoulder to cry on without asking for anything in return.
However, she had experienced something similar before. A good looking man, charming and openly interested in her. Unfortunately, he also turned out to be a corrupted cop that shot her and left her for dead. That scar, now a constant reminder that when something looks too good to be true, then she should think better of it. Derek still partly blamed himself for the part he played in helping build the foundations to those walls she had built around herself for protection. At the time, he was going through a personal crisis himself and didn't handle the situation as well as he could have. He was determined not to repeat the same mistake again. He wanted her to find the same happiness he had been blessed with. He wanted her to see that it was ok to trust herself and her feelings. That it was ok that she liked Alvez more than just co-workers, more than just friends. That it was ok to give him a chance. That it was ok to trust that he was good through and through and he was not just playing a long game with her.
He hoped to himself that this dinner could act as a catalyst, propelling their relationship forward into the epic journey that all their work family was rooting for.
There weren't really any new cases, so the week was progressing at a boring snail's pace, spent catching up on paperwork, refreshing various aspects of their training and sowing the seeds for that pivotal dinner.
Luke was getting antsy, as he always did, with too much down time. He started regurgitating the terms of the bet. Maybe he had been too quick to accept them as they were. After all, her Chocolate Thunder could get Garcia to do pretty much anything. One look into his dreamy hazel eyes, and she would be agreeing to his every whim.
With that in mind, he thought to himself, there was no reason why he shouldn't try to level the playing field. As far as he remembered, there was no rule to say he couldn’t antagonize her a little bit more than usual which wouldn't be too difficult, since his mere presence usually did the trick.
So, he started small, building up his pranks everyday, to a grand finale at the end of the week. Using her glitter pens to make notes (not returning them); using her favorite octopus mug to make himself a cup of her sparingly used and cherished left over tea, which she had bought in London when visiting Prentiss; clicking on and forwarding any spam e-mail he could find, clogging up inboxes and prompting her huffing and puffing trudging around the bullpen trying to unfreeze all the computers he managed to tie up in endless loops, etc.
On Friday, after taking stock of his endeavors, he decided that one last push should just do it. He even managed to coerce Anderson into this plan. He was tasked with ensuring she stayed late enough so that everyone else had left the building to get ready for the dinner. For his troubles, poor Grant got a thorough lecture on PC etiquette and a write up for a refresher course from the usually laid back Tech Analyst.
As planned, she found herself in that blooming elevator alone with him again.
She scoffed as soon as she realized who was holding the doors for her.
"Of course I would end up in this dang metal box with you Newbie… "
"I think the words you’re looking for are -”Thank you for holding the elevator for me, oh kind one" He smirked.
"Don't even start with me SSA Alvez, I have had quite a week.. " Why did she have such a week, though!?! She couldn't quite put her finger on it.
As if reading her mind, he quickly interrupted her train of thought before she would fully realize that he was in fact the mastermind behind her growing frustration. He wanted her seething, but he still wanted her to turn up.
"Don't worry Chica, you get to go home now, doll yourself up and then enjoy a nice family dinner tonight"
"I suppose you’re right, even though you’ll be there. Well, I guess, we all have to make sacrifices-"
As she was finishing her sentence, she noticed he had pressed the wrong button on the panel. She pointed it out, but he seemed to get flustered and proceeded to press multiple buttons, including the emergency stop one.
As she was catapulted forward from the sudden stop, he caught her in his strong, well defined arms. She allowed herself a fleeting thought of how good it felt to be caught in his embrace, somehow the active action of slamming into his unyielding body overshadowing any previous (and very seldom) touch/hug they ever shared. And oh boy, did he smell good. The perfect mix of testosterone, freshly brewed coffee and love for cute furry animals (As far as she was concerned, that last ingredient had a very distinctive smell)!
She quickly composed herself, told him off, asking him how he ever managed to pass his Agent training when he couldn't even operate a simple elevator.
He apologized profusely making up some excuse about being sleep deprived over the last couple of weeks, all the while trying to maintain a straight face. This should do it, he thought to himself. There is no way she will have anything nice to say about me now, even if the one asking is Morgan!
She had finally made it home. She had a nice relaxing bath, a very satisfying cuddling session with Sergio and had worn one of her favorite ensembles that always managed to make her feel extra good about herself.
Her night was looking brighter, all her favorite songs were playing on the radio. Esther behaved herself and she had a wide smile on her face thinking of the revelry that awaited her. That was, until she pulled up to Rossi's long driveway and found Luke’s truck parked at such an angle that she could not drive past it. Instead, she was left to park and walk up almost the whole length of the gravelly path in her best stilettos. "Newbie!" She cursed under her breath "I swear, if my shoes get ruined, he will have to buy me 3 new pairs and carry me everywhere until they are on my feet!"
He watched her as she was greeted at the door by Krystall, a smiling façade barely masking her thunderous demeanor. He marveled at his last minute stroke of genius. This surely sealed his fate and she would have to be extra snappy at him.
After the usual greetings and quick pleasantries with the team and their partners, they all sat at their Arthurian round table for what promised to be a relaxing family dinner.
It was only then, that she realized there was an empty place setting next to her.
She had thought that the bane of her existence would have tried to sit there to annoy her as he had done the whole day, come to think of it, the whole week. Just then the 'penny dropping' that he was the reason for the dark clouds following her overhead for the past few days, instead of the usual rainbows and flying unicorns. She threw a 'death glare' his way ready to plough into him with the scolding of his life, only to be met by his stupid, dimpled, disheartening smile.
Instead, she lost herself, as she often did, in those beautiful, expressive, deep brown eyes. She started to wonder why he had decided to settle himself right across from her. She wasn't sure why she was even more affronted by this and, truth be told, saddened by his choice to sit so far away. As they both left work as soon as they could, they had not had their routine end of week debrief and plan ahead discussion. These had become a habit of late since she had started visiting Roxy more often. Luke had asked her for help after Phil's passing, citing that his furry friend had suffefered at his and Lou's loss. The younger puppy having been re-housed, helping another veteran with their recovery. In the beginning she had been hesitant in accepting. After their first meeting however, she had realized she actually enjoyed both their company - not that she would freely admit it out loud. Luke seemed to always have something planned that both animals and humans could enjoy. He had shown himself to be an attentive and caring companion. Always anticipating her needs ensuring she would never want for anything allowing her to relax and be happy.
Dinner had not even started and already she was missing him. The little conversations they would have just to themselves when the rest of their family were busy with their respective partners. The fact that when it got a bit noisier he would always get nearer, needing to wrap himself around her chair and moving his body closer to ensure she could hear him. Though, almost never making physical contact, she could still feel his presence washing all over her body. Leaving a pleasantly tingling sensation that seemed to remove any worry or negative thought that still lingered from their working day.
She shook herself out of those thoughts, deciding to try and get her evening of fun back on track.
She then asked Rossi if he had miscounted his guests or if he had finally decided to introduce Prince William to her.
"Oh Kitten, he was tempted, but didn't want to give up his place in line just yet" He teased back.
At that moment, she noticed a familiar silhouette coming from the side of the house and as she started to squeal and jump up off her seat, the whole team followed her gaze.
As he got closer, she threw herself into his arms. They hugged tightly for a few seconds, then she pulled back until there was some space between them.
"Chocolate Thunder... Are you a figment of my, very wild and veeery vivid imagination, or are you really here?" She then proceeded to roam her hands freely all over his beautifully sculpted upper body, clearly showing through the form fitting sweater he had decided to wear for the evening. Poking and prodding as she went along, without breaking eye contact with him and with a satisfied smile on her face, she let out a low appreciative moan. "Mmmhh you do feel real, and Sugar, let me tell you, I might just need to start calling you Cabernet Sauvignon.Just like wine, you get better with each passing year! "
Everyone around the table just shook their heads at her antics, no one really surprised at their interaction.
After allowing her to do 'her thing' for a while and ensuring that Luke had the desired reaction (simmering with some envy- not for his predecessor, but mourning the fact that he was not the object of her desires) he spoke to her directly while taking the empty seat next to her.
"Yes Babygirl, it's me in the flesh. As much as I am enjoying those magic fingers of yours, we’re with company and I need you to calm yourself so we can chat"
This started another flurry of warm greetings and catching up with his former teammates and significant others. Sure they kept in touch thanks to the wonders of technology, but it had been a while since they all had been in the same place together.
A sudden contented feeling enveloped him. He was glad he was here. Even if his 'Garvez plan', as he had dubbed it, didn't work out, he would still enjoy a great evening with some of his favorite people.
He slowly started making the rounds around the table speaking to each person there, leaving Penelope keenly trying to get his undivided attention. Derek purposefully kept her on tenterhooks, while talking to everyone else,barely acknowledging her knowing full well this would work her up and fluster her. At last, he engaged Luke in the kind of protracted conversation that would make you think they didn’t talk to each other as much as they did.
As Pen was getting more angsty in her vying for his attention, she then decided to be more straightforward and asked him in a loud voice, with a knowing grin and side glance at Alvez, "Why are you bothering to talk to Newbie that much anyway? You know he is not worth it"
Luke was about to retort, when Derek gave him a slight nod, the agreed signal from the bet, turning to speak to Garcia directly.
"Oh Sweetness, I’m just trying to understand how you could have replaced me so easily with him. I mean you don't call, you don’t text, and you don’t visit as often as you used to. Even when you had a boyfriend you always made time for me. Now even when you get in touch, all I hear is: Newbie this and Newbie that... "
Penelope was left stunned at what he was saying with such a serious demeanor.
She was already worked up, now even more so, especially after she clocked everyone smirking around the table. Especially him, now with his telltale tongue in cheek, mouth ajar, slightly bent smile, the one he used on her whenever he thought (ok had) he had outsmarted her.
She then turned back to Derek trying to form a coherent sentence.. "I, um, did not replace you, he did... I mean Hotch did... It's not like that. He’s annoying and we're busy... And when I speak to you I don't really bring him up that much- ok well to say how much he’s been a pain in my side maybe... "
Not letting up, he interjected "But you made a point to tell me about all he does for the team. Helping Reid while in jail, running into a burning building to save JJ, evacuating a hospital but standing his ground when there was a bomb he thought needed diffusing. I believe the word Hero was used... "
Penelope, now losing the plot even more, started with a raised voice "I don’t believe I ever used that word. Fine maybe I did, but to say that he is not one, not like you and he shouldn't even try... "
"Are you sure? He is not the NEW me!?! I mean, I've heard some of the interactions you two had. Genie in genealogy and somethin' about rubbing 'your' lamp; how about 'he should worship at your throne'... which he apparently does!?! "
Morgan, then abruptly turned towards Luke with a raised brow and a quizzical look. "How does that even work man? And what is it exactly that you do to worship my Babygirl?"
She looked up and saw Alvez, though bashful and holding his face in his hands, now unable to contain himself, laughing out loud, thoroughly shaking and almost falling off of his chair.
Trying to maintain a semblance of dignity she asked curtly "Who told? That HR harassment lady again? I think she has a vendetta against me. Ok, maybe we had some non HR compliant interactions, but nothing like you and I had. He is definitely NOT the new you... "
At this, Luke looked up, all the laughter punched out of him, a bit, well a lot hurt-though not entirely sure why. After all, he was expecting this to be her reaction. Wasn't this what he had been tormenting her all week about? To ensure she wouldn't, couldn't, possibly have anything nice to say about him thus ensuring his victory?
Just then a realization hit him. He now understood why he was so keen on taking this bet, to ensure she wouldn't say anything nice about him. Not even one thing. After all, how was he supposed to move on otherwise? Despite all of his best efforts, he knew he would never be anymore than a coworker to her, a friend perhaps, but never what he had hoped for, even allowed himself to dream about sometimes. When Derek suggested the bet, he saw it as a way to show himself once and for all that his feelings were unrequited and that he should accept the role she had assigned him in her life. He still wanted to be part of it and would accept anything she would give, but would stop holding out hope for more. But even this plan had failed, it actually made things worse. He finally understood the depth of his feelings for her. To a degree, he had stopped lying to himself a while back. He had to acknowledge that he thought of her as more than just a friend. Too often had he caught himself thinking of her at the oddest times. Even something as mundane as grocery shopping, would have him think of her, buying items she might like, just in case she came for a visit with Roxy. His beloved dog, she had been instrumental for him in his pursuit of his Chica. At the time, he had convinced himself that his insistence in organizing regular play dates with Garcia were for her own benefit. To help her maintain some stability and happiness, to keep the darkness and ugliness they experienced at work at bay. But now, he knew better. And just now, as she said those words that stung more than a thousand bees, he knew just how much he loved her. That he had loved her all along, since that awkwardly sweet first conversation in their elevator. So, now he found himself trying to keep those feelings inside of him. Burying them as deep as he could. He had to accept the demise of his own doing and get through this latest rejection the best he could. So he tried to put on the best fake smile he could muster while pretending to enjoy the spectacle unfolding in front of him.
Undeterred, Derek continued in his plan, sure he had almost got her to just where he wanted her. "Are you sure Mama? 'cus from where I’m standing you seem to feel the same about the both of us, treating us the same and all... "
''Ah, gotcha there my Delectable Candy Bar!" Garcia, sure she finally had the upper hand, brazenly went on with her speech "I do not feel the same about the two of you at all! For starters, I have NEVER been IN love with you Derek, yes I do love you but strictly platonically, like a brot-... "
As she heard all the gasps and hushed comments of excitement around the table, her words finally caught up with her. All she could do was sit there stunned at the revelation, not just to everyone else there, but to herself too.
She then saw Derek turn towards Luke and tell him "told you I would get her to say something nice about you... "
For his part, Alvez was now as speechless and as flustered as she was. He just managed to formulate a barely there "You’re IN love with me?"
At that, Garcia quickly stood up and ran off into the grounds.
Luke, still in shock, slow on his reflexes, was finally brought back to reality by the whole team encouraging him to go after her. Derek's stern "Get off your ass man, before I have to slap you into action!" got the job done.
He caught up with her in the pool house where she was sitting on the plush couch in the darkness. Her head in her hands, full on sobbing.
She was startled when she realized he was there, kneeling in front of her and gently removing her hands from her face.
"Garcia, please, don't cry" He pleaded softly, "I'm sorry about that. It was just a silly bet between me and Morgan to see if you could be persuaded to say one nice thing about me. I know it was childish, but it was meant as a lighthearted thing we could all laugh about, together. I never meant to hurt you. I never want to hurt you. I didn't mean to have you say anything you may regret…" He lifted her chin gently, finally making eye contact, while dabbing her face with a tissue.
Whilst soothing her, he was scrutinizing her face, looking for anything that would give him an incline as to how she wanted to proceed. Dare he hope? Dare he allow himself to think of the chance that they may have a future together after all? Would she be willing to cross that line for him, with him? He already knew, though, that he didn't dare to speak. Too afraid that might break this magical moment. A moment, however short-lived, where he knew she loved him and all the endless possibilities and happy endings were within his grasp. He took a deep breath steadying his nerves and looked up at her.
Somehow she was even more beautiful than usual, with a timid look in her eyes and the semblance of a small smile starting to grace her face again.
She then put on her usual defiant voice, though with a slight tremble, talking directly at him. "Well, my saving grace, at least, is the knowledge that you lost the bet to one of the most perfect creatures to ever walk this earth… " Losing her confidence again, she tried to avert her eyes, him now staring at her so intently.
"Gar-, Penelope, look at me, there is nothing to save… "
"No! Whether you lost or not, you finally have something on me. So, go on, let me have it, Newbie." her trademark spunk slowly returning, "So have your fun, you have free reign to mock me, this is a one time offer. You have 5 minutes" She challenged him.
He stared at her for what felt like an eternity. If she could be brave, damn it, then so could he! He slowly stood up, gently taking her with him. He held her head in his large, strong hands, staring into her eyes, trying to convey all his feelings with his next few words. "I don't want to mock you Penelope, I want to love you...and not just for 5 mins. If you'll let me, for the rest of our lives…"
She perked up at his declaration, could it be? Had they both been feeling the same about each other? Was this what the rest of their team members always seemed to allude to?
Emboldened, she decided to get a clear understanding of what he was saying, of course in her own unique way. "Oh, Newbie, you had the upper hand and you go and say something that sappy? When is the violin going to start to play-… "
He let out a frustrated growl before interrupting her quite harshly "C'mon, Chica!"
As he got her attention he continued in a shy, strangled, whisper "Por favor, Mi Amor. No more games. Tell me you want this too. Tell me it's ok for me to kiss you!?! "
And just like that, as if a veil finally lifted from her eyes, she could see his pain, his want, his desire for her.
She lifted her hand stroking that handsome face she oh so tried to hate, but was destined to love all along, nodding her consent.
They both let out a sigh of relief when their lips finally met. He held her tighter and allowed one of his hands to move from her face navigating around her body, finally settling on her hips. She shivered at his touch and decided to allow herself permission to explore what she had only been able to fantasize about up until now. Still in disbelief that all of this, him, was now hers to hold, touch, possess anytime she wanted. The kiss, starting out gentle but firm, soon became all consuming.
Both were now very aware of their surroundings and how they could get carried away. Lost in each other's cravings for one another.
When they finally came up for breath, he rested his forehead on hers and said with a cheeky grin "Remind me to make bets with Morgan more often."
They both chuckled into their next, more needy and passionate kiss.
Both sure that they were not quite ready to rejoin the rest of their party. Instead opting to remain in their embrace savoring each other's taste and feel.