Title: Worries, hesitancy and too much thinking – part 6
Disclaimer: Neither the show nor the characters belong to me, they belong to CBS. Nonetheless, I love to borrow them from time to time.
Summary: That’s what in my humble opinion should have happened after ‘True Night’.
warnings: some angst and hurt/comfort
AN: Thanks for all the reviews I received, they helped a lot with getting better. Anyway, the fever forced me to stay in bed for a couple of days and I wasn’t really able to continue writing. Yet I’m on the road to recovery I guess so I hope I’ll finish the next chapter sooner. :)
“I guess you’re still not telling me why this is a special date.” Penelope said as they entered the restaurant. She was excited and maybe also a little scared. At least her heart rate doubled when she stepped over the threshold.
“I want you to meet someone.” he smiled at her. “Someone who’s really important to me.”
She turned to face him and raised both her eyebrows.
“My mom and my sisters.” Derek explained.
Penelope froze and stared at him. After a few seconds she shook her head vigorously and said: “Derek, why didn’t you… at least warn me? I… would have dressed differently or…”
“Baby girl, you’re beautiful as usual.” he smiled.
“But… it would have been helpful if I… had had some time to… well… prepare for that.”
Derek couldn’t help but chuckle. “Sweet cheeks, you’re going to meet my family not the Grim Reaper. There is nothing you need to be prepared for.”
“What if… they don’t like me?” she said in a low voice.
“No chance of that, baby cakes.” he smiled and led her towards a table where three women where sitting and chatting. Penelope could only see the faces of the two younger women, beautiful just as Derek. The third woman had her back turned at them.
Penelope stopped and whispered: “Derek, did you… tell them anything about me?”
He turned around to frown at her. “Anything in particular I should have told them?”
She blushed a little. “Well… your last girlfriends were… so not like me and…”
“Relax, Pen.” he put both his hands on her shoulders and kneaded them gently. “They never met any of my past girlfriends.”
Her head shot up and she stared at him almost in shock.
Derek just grinned and wanted to move forward.
Penelope held him back once more. “But… what about…”
He just laughed and put an arm around her shoulder. “Come on, I know that they will like you because there is no possible way they won’t. Just let me present you to my family.” Derek forced her towards the table and greeted: “Hey, girls!”
“Derek.” the eldest woman stood up, grinned widely and hugged her son. “It’s so good to see you again, we don’t see often enough.”
“Yeah, I know.” Derek chuckled and hugged his sisters.
“And you must be Penelope.” the woman smiled and stretched out her hand. “Fran Morgan, I’m glad to meet you.”
“Um… thanks… I’m glad to… meet you too.” she stuttered.
“Baby girl, these are my sisters Sarah and Desiree.” Derek introduced the two women. He’d put an arm around each one’s shoulders. “Don’t you listen to them, no matter what they say.”
Sarah poked her brother in the rips, rolled her eyes and said sarcastically: “Thanks, baby brother, we love you too!”
“Don’t worry, I never listen to him.” Penelope smiled and immediately bit her lip. She should think before she speaks!
Sarah grinned and put an arm around her shoulder: “Now, finally a girl who can domesticate my baby brother.”
Penelope sat down between Desiree and Derek and shifted uncomfortably in her seat.
Derek took her hand in his and squeezed it gently to calm her down.
Penelope skimmed through the menu and wondered if she’d maybe rather not eat anything when Fran said to the waitress: “I think I’m going to have the chicken.”
“Fish.” Sarah smiled at her.
“I’ll have a steak.” Derek said and everyone looked at Penelope for her decision.
“I… um… I think I’ll just have coffee.” she said and desperately tried not to blush.
Fran raised her eyebrows. “Is there nothing you like on the menu? I’m sure they have a number of vegetarian meals.”
“We do.” the waitress nodded.
Okay, that was probably a moment to blush, at least Spencer would have blushed so Penelope considered it wasn’t that bad. “How do you know that I’m a vegetarian?” she asked.
“Derek told us.” Fran shrugged.
Penelope’s head snapped to her left and she stared at him. “I never told you.”
“Whenever we eat together you pick something without meat and your favorite meal is pasta.” he shrugged. “It wasn’t too hard to guess. I’m a profiler, remember?”
Penelope felt flattered that Derek had noticed that and, moreover, that he’d kept it in mind.
When he saw the radiant smile on her face the one on his own face grew wider. It seemed that he was pretty good at paying attention to his baby girl.
“Finally I’m no longer the only vegetarian in this family.” Desiree gave her a radiant smile and handed her menu back to the waitress. “I’ll take the Couscous.”
“Yeah, that sounds good.” Penelope smiled and handed back her menu as well.
“So, Sarah.” Derek grinned at his sister when the waitress was gone. “How’s your new job?”
She rolled her eyes and growled: “Don’t remind me of that! They forced me to use a new laptop for the research for my article. And it crashed, the whole hard disk formatted itself and all data is gone!”
“If it hasn’t been clobbered, you can still retrieve the data.” Penelope shrugged.
Sarah raised both her eyebrows and stared at her almost in disbelief: “You mean the data is not just lost somewhere in the depth of my computer?”
“Um… no.” she smiled sheepishly. “If you want me to take a look at it, I could maybe try and restore your data.”
“You would do this?” Sarah’s face immediately lit up at the prospect of not having to do the research all over again.
“Sure.” Penelope nodded.
“I swear, I’d be forever grateful.” Sarah grinned excitedly.
“The next twenty-five years would be enough.” Penelope put her off.
Sarah gave her a puzzled look before the whole Morgan family burst into laughter.
Penelope just grinned.
It didn’t take Derek’s family very long to make Penelope feel comfortable among them. After only one hour she was glad that Derek had introduced them to her.
However, after two hours Derek’s cell phone rang and from the expression on his face Penelope knew that there was another case.
“Yeah, I’ll be right there.” Derek frowned and hung up.
“A new case?” Fran asked.
Derek nodded and gave the four women at the table an apologizing look. “We’re leaving in an hour.” He stood up and grabbed his jacket. “I’m sorry, we’ll have dinner again as soon as we’re back.”
“Will you drop me off at the Bureau?” Penelope asked and stood up as well.
“We won’t arrive before midnight.” Derek smiled and kissed her temple. “Stay here and we’ll contact you tomorrow.”
“I’ll be there.” she promised.
Derek gave her a peck on her lips before he hugged his mother and sisters and then hurried for his car.
Penelope sighed and sat back on the chair glancing a little nervously at Fran Morgan and her two daughters. Sure, they got along well. But would that be the same if they were alone?
Fran eyed Penelope and then glanced at Sarah.
She nodded slightly and stood up. “I think I need to go to the ladies’ room.” she smiled and nudged her sister as she passed by her.
Desiree stood up and called after her: “Wait, I’ll come with you.”
Being alone with Derek’s family had made Penelope nervous – but being alone now with his mother was even worse. Maybe she should just follow Sarah and Desiree to the…
“Derek really loves you. You know that, right?” Fran asked.
Penelope’s head shot up and she gave the elder woman a puzzled look.
Fran just smiled at her and leaned a little closer so that none of the other guests could overhear their conversation. “You’re giving him a hard time, do you know that?”
Penelope blushed and looked down again. “Yeah.” she mumbled. “I know that and I know that he deserves… more. It’s just that I’m not sure that I’m… ready for this.”
“Wait, I think you misunderstood me.” Fran replied. “I wasn’t talking about sex. Derek doesn’t want to lay you, he wants to win your heart.”
When she didn’t get any answer, Fran frowned and asked: “You doubt that?”
“No… it’s just… I don’t know.” she whispered. This conversation was going to be really embarrassing. Why couldn’t she just drop dead?
“If you don’t let him win your heart, he can’t break it.” Fran concluded.
Penelope shrugged in return.
Fran watched her for a moment before she asked: “Why do you think Derek can’t love you?”
“It’s not that… I just… I’m not like the women he usually meets.” Penelope mumbled.
“What do you mean?” she wanted to know.
“Well, they all look like supermodels.” she shrugged.
Giving her a warm smile Fran pointed her head towards a largely oversized man in his mid-forties and asked: “Would you flirt with someone like him?”
Blushing Penelope replied: “No, probably not.”
Fran grinned and pointed at the red-haired waitress who cleaned a table in the corner: “But almost all men flirted with her. Why?”
“She’s beautiful.” Penelope answered. “I mean, it’s flattering if she flirts back.”
“Does that mean that every man in this room wants to spend the rest of his life with her?”
“I don’t know.” she whispered.
“But I do.” Fran said and grabbed Penelope’s hand. “Men need approval that they are attractive, especially from women who meet society’s ideal of beauty. But when it comes to relationships, they look for something else, something special.”
“But yet men like Derek don’t fall in love with women like me.” Penelope replied. “I mean, for over three years I’ve tried to tell myself that we’ll never be more than friends, that he doesn’t feel this way about me.”
“And now you can’t believe that he does.” Fran softly added.
She shrugged again.
“Do you think you’re not worth it?”
“I don’t know.” Penelope whispered and wiped away the single tear that wanted to run down her cheek. “The last handsome guy who asked me out just wanted to shoot me. I mean, if someone looking so incredibly good wants to date someone… like me… something must be wrong with him, right? Derek knew it.”
“He didn’t want you to go out with that guy because he was jealous.” Fran grinned. “It just took him a while to realize that. Derek didn’t think that something was wrong with the other guy because he thought a handsome man can’t be interested in you.”
Penelope didn’t answer.
“You know, when I asked Derek to describe you a little, the first word he used was beautiful.” Fran told her. “I know my son pretty well and I can assure you that you have him wrapped around your little finger.”
Penelope remained silent and just smiled sheepishly.
“You don’t believe me?” Fran frowned.
“Yes, I do.” Penelope whispered. “I know that Derek loves me and… but it’s still… kinda hard to believe.”
“Derek said everything was perfect.” Fran eyed her a little suspiciously. “You don’t think so.”
“It IS perfect.” she smiled and then sighed. “It’s just that sometimes I think it is… a little too perfect. You know, like a dream.”
Fran gave her another warm smile and gently squeezed her hand: “Maybe you should just let go and give it a try. Dreams sometimes come true.”
“Not for me.” Penelope whispered.
Fran stood up, sat back down next to Penelope and put an arm around her shoulder. “For everyone.” she assured. “You just need to let it happen.”
Again she didn’t answer.
Fran sighed. This was harder than she’d expected it to be. Finally she said: “You know, after I met Derek’s father it took him almost six years to finally make a move. He was good-looking and very smart – just like you. And yet he thought I could never be interested in him because he was black.”
Penelope just nodded.
“We raised our children to look deeper than just to what meets the eye.” Fran added. “And I’m rather sure Derek likes what he sees in you. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have fallen for you as much as he did.”