Title: Worries, hesitancy and too much thinking – part 17
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: we’re at the more fluffy part now :)
AN: Hi, everyone! It’s me again, Caro, you remember me? :)
I’m sorry this update took forever but things were really crazy around here and I had problems writing this chapter anyway. But here it finally is and I hope you’ll enjoy it. And yes, I’m typing almost all the time. So there will be more updates – hopefully soon if things stay normal.
“I can’t believe you finally dared ask her.” Sarah grinned as she and Des were examining the ring on Penelope’s finger once again while they were waiting in a row to pay for the tickets to the Shedd Aquarium.
“The ring is beautiful.” Des announced. “Who helped you chose it?”
“No one” he grinned, “I saw it and knew that it was the one perfect ring for my baby girl.”
Penelope turned her head to smile up at him and Derek couldn’t help but use the opportunity to lean down and give her a quick peck on the lips which made Des and Sarah giggle.
“Aw, come on!” Sarah then rolled her eyes. “No man would choose such a ring without a woman’s advice. It was mom, right? She didn’t seem to be surprised.”
“Because it’s mom. She has visionary skills.” Derek put his sister off. He turned to pay for the tickets before he wrapped his arm tightly around Penelope’s shoulders again.
“Derek has always known me better than anyone else.” Penelope said in a low voice and smiled up at him again which was rewarded by him with another quick kiss.
“Maybe you two should have stayed home.” Des grinned.
They started out at the lizard exhibit. And the Komodo was commented on by Derek with: “I bet that’s how people came up with all the tales about dragons.”
“You could ask your little genius about that.” Sarah grinned and winked at Des who just rolled her eyes.
“Oh, my…” Penelope gasped as she stepped closer to the window eying the animal behind it. “How freaking cool is that!”
“Prehensile-tailed skink.” Derek announced reading out the sign next to the window.
“I swear, one day I want to have one of those.” Penelope said with wide eyes.
“You’re really an unusual woman.” Des giggled.
“Look who’s talking!” Sarah shook her head in amusement. “Aren’t you the one with the two gigantic iguanas in the living room?”
Penelope’s head snapped around and she looked at Des excitedly: “Really?”
“Yup” she grinned, “that’s why mom hasn’t visited me in about three years. You can come over to see them whenever you want.”
“That… would be great.” she smiled.
“Let’s go and see the Wild Reef exhibit.” Sarah said excitedly. “They have about two dozen sharks there and a see-through floor where you get the impression that you’re walking over the water.”
Penelope could hardly resist the urge to just lay down and watch the water underneath her and the rays swimming right beneath her feet.
“Beautiful sight.” Derek whispered into her ear.
“Yeah, I never imagined rays to be so huge and elegant.” she smiled as she turned a little to look at him.
“Right, they’re beautiful too.” he grinned.
Penelope giggled. “You shouldn’t talk to me in that sultry voice or I might just pull you into the next best corner for some making out.”
Chuckling Derek leaned down to peck her cheek and mumbled: “I really don’t have any intention to stop you from doing so.”
“Hey, get a room!” Sarah giggled as she walked past them.
Smiling mischievously Derek wrapped his arm around Penelope’s waist and said: “I have something much better in mind.”
“What?” Penelope wanted to know.
He leaned down again and whispered in a voice so seductive that Penelope thought she might faint any second: “That’s going to be a surprise.”
Fortunately Des and Sarah kept her from thinking about that any longer by pulling her and Derek with them to the sharks. If Derek went on like that she would certainly lose it.
The sharks were even more impressive than the rays had been. Penelope took a step back when a big one suddenly swam by close to the window. “Wow.” she gasped.
“Yeah, I wouldn’t want to meet him without the glass between us.” Derek commented.
“Sharks aren’t dangerous.” Penelope objected. “At least not as dangerous as everyone wants to make you believe they are. In fact, they’re rather placid and they’re really beautiful.”
“I know.” he smiled. “But still I feel better on this side of the window.”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean…”
“I love the way you talk about these animals.” he gently interrupted her. “And I love how much you care about every being in the world.”
“I don’t care about spiders that much.” she grimaced and grinned at him.
“But I bet you’ll like the snakes in the ‘Amazon Rising’ exhibit.” he grinned back at her.
“I love snakes.” she nodded. “I had a python when I was a kid.”
Derek turned to look at her almost in shock: “You’re kidding me.”
“No.” Penelope giggled. “My parents thought it would be a good thing if we all learned to take over responsibility so they wanted us to have a pet. Their only mistake was that they made us chose which pet we wanted. They were sure we would go with cats and dogs, maybe mice. But one of my brothers wanted a tarantula and I wanted a python.”
Laughing heartily Derek commented: “Give my baby girl an inch…”
“And I’m most definitely taking the earth’s diameter.” she grinned.
“Hey, I know that these sharks are really impressive but unfortunately we don’t have so much time.” Sarah smiled at them. “At least not if we want to visit the
“I’d like to see that.” Penelope nodded.
“Besides I’m pretty sure this won’t be the last time you visit
“By the way, baby brother, have you already chosen a destination for your honeymoon.” Des wanted to know.
“Not yet.” he replied. “We haven’t even chosen a date yet. And before we do that we’ll go on a holiday together.”
“That sounds nice.” Des giggled. “Where are you planning to go?”
“Hm… the city of love.” Sarah purred and waggled her eyebrows. “But you’re not planning on eloping, right?”
“No.” he laughed. “Don’t worry, it’s a great feeling to be engaged and I want to enjoy that a little more.”
“Yeah, and besides we want our families to be with us.” Penelope smiled.
“Most definitely.” Derek grinned and quickly pecked her lips. “Most of them are armed so we’d better not piss them off.”
“I guess, I really need a FAC.” Sarah grinned at her brother.
Laughing he shook his head: “Trust me, you’re threatening enough without a gun.”
The Amazon Rising exhibit wasn’t any less impressive than the Wild Reef had been. There were more reptiles, fresh water stingrays and some fishes Penelope had never seen nor heard of. But she was especially interested in the green anaconda.
“You’re not going to buy one of those, too, huh?” Derek mumbled with a smirk after Penelope had admired the snake for several minutes.
“No, I’d much rather have that lizard we saw in the other exhibit.” she giggled.
“How about a gecko?” he suggested. “They’re smaller and… well, cuter if you ask me.”
“You have a point about the cuteness.” she agreed. “Or maybe some of those turtles.”
“We could move into a really big house with a big basement you can turn into a huge terrarium for all sorts of snakes and lizards and turtles you want.” he shrugged. “Well, as long as they don’t sleep in our bed at night.”
“Snakes are quite warm and their skin is really soft.” she objected.
Wrapping both arms around her waist and pulling her a little closer Derek answered in a low voice: “I don’t think they can ever feel as warm and soft as you. Besides you wouldn’t try and strangle me at night.”
Leaning back a little she whispered: “Only if you ask me to.”
This caused a low growl somewhere deep in his throat. “I like it when you’re being naughty.” he breathed into her ear.
The Waters of the World was certainly the biggest exhibit and they spent almost an hour exploring the ninety habitats and the animals in them. But in Penelope’s opinion the leafy sea dragon and the paddlefish were the most interesting animals – because they were the most unusual ones. Even though the strawberry dart frog was a very close second.
“This one looks like you.” Derek grinned as he pointed at one of the sea dragons.
“How’s that?” she frowned.
Chuckling Derek replied: “It’s flashy, colorful and has a lot of nice accessories.”
“Most people call that strange.” she replied.
“I don’t see why.” Derek shrugged. “You, baby girl, most definitely have style. Some people just can’t stand that because they couldn’t dress this way. They’re just jealous.”
“If people have a reason to be jealous of me it is you.” she whispered.
“Love is wonderful…” Des rolled her eyes at the two of them.
“Aw, come on, now you are jealous.” Sarah giggled.
Des just shrugged: “Sure I am, no need to deny that. I wish my relationships had been half as perfect as yours is.”
“Yeah, you have a point there.” Sarah sighed, put a comforting arm around her sister and winked at Penelope and Derek over her shoulder.
Derek moved to follow them but Penelope held him back for a moment. “Thank you.” she whispered.
Giving her a quizzical look Derek wanted to know: “For what?”
“For not telling them.” she mumbled and looked down. “About our fight and… stuff.”
“It’s just… I feel... Your sisters are right, our relationship is perfect and I… I almost spoiled all this and…”
“Shush, baby girl!” Derek gently interrupted her and wrapped his arms back around her. “Forget about that, okay? Just promise me one thing.”
“Anything.” she quickly agreed.
Smirking Derek leaned down a bit and whispered: “You should be careful with statements like that.”
Giving him a soft peck on his lips she smiled: “I don’t think I need to be.”
His face became serious again and he said: “For now just promise me that next time you hear or see something that offends you in any way you won’t turn around and try to run away but step in and confront me.”
“I promise.” she nodded.
The Caribbean Reef was a huge circular habitat holding 90,000 gallons of water and an amazing diversity of fish as well as a green sea turtle called ‘Nickel’, cownose rays and bonnethead sharks. They were lucky and saw a presentation with the Shedd Diver who was feeding the residents of the habitat – as he called them.
But the best part was the Oceanarium and Penelope knew why Derek had saved that until last. They started out at the tide pool which was full of rather unusual and funny looking underwater animals such as sea cucumbers or bat stars.
Their next stop was at the otter cove where they could see the otters at the surface and underwater. Penelope thought that these might be the cutest animals she’d ever seen with their big black noses and their big round eyes.
Then they visited the penguin shore and Penelope couldn’t help but smirk: “This one walks a little like Strauss, don’t you think?”
“Yeah” Derek chuckled, “but the penguin looks better.”
“Do you think she’ll give us permission to get married?” she whispered.
Chuckling again Derek replied: “I don’t see a problem there. It seems that Rossi has a certain… influence on her. So all we need to do is win him over. That’s gonna be cake.”
“Seems he likes you.” the trainer smiled at her.
“I thought in this case he would at least spit over a fish.” she grinned at the woman raising a hearty laugh.
And then they watched a dolphin show at the amphitheater. After a countless number of whispered ‘Wows’ Penelope leaned over to Derek and said: “You know, I’ve been dreaming about swimming with dolphins since I was a kid. One day I’m gonna do it.” Her eyes never left the dolphins in the huge pool only a few feet away from her.
Derek just smiled at that.
“That was amazing.” Penelope smiled at her future sisters-in-law. “Thank you.”
“We’re glad you had fun.” Des grinned. “Come on, let’s go for lunch, I’m starving!”
They ate at the UNO Chicago Grill. The restaurant was a thirty minutes drive away from the Shedd Aquarium. Suddenly Penelope remembered how awkward she’d felt the first time she’d eaten with Derek’s family and how comfortable she felt around them now – even though it was only the third time they ate together.
Penelope couldn’t believe that all this had happened within one week. One week ago she’d been sure that Derek wasn’t serious about their relationship and that it would be over pretty soon. Now she was engaged. It was like all her dreams had come true. Well, almost.
“What’s on your pretty little mind?” Derek asked in a low voice when he noticed the dreamy smile on Penelope’s face.
“Oh, I was just imagining you in a tailcoat.” she grinned at him.
“Were you?” he raised his eyebrows at her. “I think we need to have a serious talk about that later.”
“And I wondered how my life – and I myself – could change so much in only one week.” she added. “I still can’t believe how lucky I am.”
“How lucky we are.” he smiled and leaned over to kiss her softly.
“Hey, behave!” Sarah giggled. “This is a public place.”
“It’s amazing.” she smiled at Des and Sarah. “You didn’t promise too much.”
“Let’s take a picture of our new favorite couple.” Des giggled as she directed Penelope and Derek into a position she thought was best for a picture. “You want to have some pictures to show to your friends, right?”
Derek leaned in a little and whispered: “Hold the ring into the camera, I want to see them freak when they look at the pictures.”