A Criminal Mind Fan fiction. Derek Morgan and all other original characters are owned by CBS and the Producers of Criminal Minds! I own NOTHING! (All new characters are all mine, however---let's not get it twisted!)
This is simply the overactive imagination of a CM Super Fan!!! Enjoy!!!
reluctantly decides to spend Christmas in Chicago. Will family drama threaten
to ruin his first Christmas with Penelope or will he learn the true meaning of
Derek Morgan- Morning
Derek had dodged his mother’s request for a holiday
visit for months now. Things hadn’t been the same since he’d rescued his cousin
Cindi and brought her home two years ago. Even though the reunion was a
miracle, things had not been the same between him and his family especially his
Up to now he’d been able to blame work on his
infrequent visits and phone calls. This year his mother however, was insisting
on a visit from her Baby Boy and she wasn’t taking no for an answer.
“…And bring Penelope with you.” She insisted
Derek closed his eyes and inhaled trying to remain
calm. He hated denying his mother anything. They had always been close and she
knew him better than anyone, well, almost anyone. Penelope had that spot now.
He was certain that his mother had more in mind besides, wanting to see him
opening presents in his childhood home. Her constant chiding about grandkids
and settling down were sure to be main topics during his visit.
“Mom, you know I can’t promise anything. If we get
“Derek, I know all of that, son, but I want you
home. Your sisters miss you, I miss you.” She pleaded.
“Fine, fine. I’ll talk to Pen when she gets home,
“Thank you, Baby! I’ll see you in a few days.” She
Fran Morgan quickly hung up before her son could
protest further. He released an exasperated breath, looked at his mother’s face
on the screen of his cell, hit the “END” button and pocketed the phone.
A broad satisfied grin spread across her face. Except
the two times cases had brought him to Chicago, it had been two years since
he’d been home for a real visit. His calls home to her had dropped from once a
week to once every two weeks. Their family had been fractured since Cindi’s
return and she knew Derek blamed himself for the strained relationships.
Fran had made it quite clear that she wanted her
son to settle down and give her some grand babies. She didn’t just want him to
settle down, she wanted him to settle down with his “best friend” Penelope
Garcia. She knew that the two of them were hopelessly in love and as smart and
aware as her son was he was clueless when it came to his true feelings for his
Derek hadn’t told his mother about his new relationship
with Penelope. He knew she’d be thrilled but he didn’t want any pressure for
marriage and babies. Too many things had gone on in the last few months and
adding a determined mother to the mix would definitely push him over the edge.
Penelope would be thrilled over the invitation from
his mother. The two had never met in person but had talked several times over
the phone. The two hit if off immediately, which made him happy and terrified
all at the same time. A case had sent them to Chicago a few months ago and his
mother sent homemade peach cobbler back with Derek just for Penelope. He had
himself to blame really; he talked non-stop about her whenever he called home.
He loved his family and he missed them terribly but
he didn’t look forward to spending Christmas in Chicago. Things hadn’t been the
same in the last few years. A visit would mean seeing his Auntie Vonne, his
cousin Cindi and her son Anthony and memories of a lie he told that caused the
rift in the once close-knit family.
The sound of jingling keys and his squeaky front
door drew him out of his thoughts. He and Penelope had keys to each other’s
places and so it wasn’t strange that she would let herself into his home.
Clooney’s ears perked up and he lazily walked toward the front of the house,
tail wagging at the familiar figure that met him in the front room.
Penelope bent down and greeted the overgrown puppy
with a scratch behind his ears before heading toward the noise in the kitchen.
She smiled as she saw him shirtless and his back to her which meant that something
was bothering him; she never got this far into his house without him at least
turning to meet her as she crossed the kitchen’s threshold.
“Hey Baby Boy.” She said gauging his mood.
“Hey.” He growled in a low voice.
Uh-oh not good she thought.
“Okay, let’s cut to the chase. What’s up, My
Penelope sashayed playfully toward her man as he
slowly turned to face her eyeing her up and down. Even though he tried to hide
it she could see the frustration behind his grin. He took the last few steps to
close the gap between them and pulled her into his arms. Looking into each
other’s eyes momentarily made him soften a bit and shift his mood.
“Sorry, Baby Girl.” Kissing her lightly on the
lips. “You deserve a better greeting than that.” Kissing her again but this
time deeper as if to prove a point.
“Okay, wow!” She said pulling away for air. “You’re
forgiven Hot Stuff!”
Penelope looked at her watch and held up her hot
pink travel mug glancing at the coffee pot filled with fresh coffee.
“Let’s go, we’re running late. Hotch will be
looking for us.”
Derek’s smirked turned into a fake frown as he took
the mug from her and walked toward the coffee maker filling her cup and his.
Headquarters – later
Derek and Penelope had been at work for three hours
and he still had not told her about his earlier phone call with his mother. It
was all he could do to stay focused on the mundane consults that he had been
assigned by Hotch while they weren’t out of town on a case. He knew he had to
tell her sooner than later because it was only a matter of time before she
demanded an explanation for his still foul mood.
A knock on his office door provided a much-needed
break from the current file he was working on. Rossi opened the door after a
few seconds and entered making himself comfortable in a chair across from
“Hey, what’s up, Rossi?” Derek said closing his
“I noticed you’ve been holed up in here all morning
like a man hiding from something.” He said staring at his younger friend.
“It’s this case Hotch handed me. Just trying to get
it knocked out before I leave today.”
“You sure it’s not something else, like holiday
plans with family and friends?”
Derek looked at Rossi in amazement; he always
seemed to know things, gossip that no one else was privy to.
“What are you talking about Rossi?”
“It’s just that I’ve noticed you haven’t been home
much since we solved your cousin’s case. She’s home now, I’d think everything
would be back to normal.”
Derek leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes
for a moment not knowing where to begin but needing to talk to someone.
“Rossi, when I told my aunt that I lied about my
cousin being dead, she freaked; I can still feel her slap across my face.”
“Your cousin’s home now. She and her son are safe
and they’ve started a new life.”
“My Aunt told me that she’d never forgive me for
that lie. She told me she didn’t want to see me again.”
“But you brought Cindi home…”
“Yeah, I did. I thought it would change things,
that she would forgive me but I haven’t spoken to her since.”
“Have you tried calling her?”
“No. I just thought that it would be better if I
just left it alone. If she wanted to talk to me then she’d call.”
“And how’s that working for you?”
“It’s not. Now my mother is insisting that I come
home for Christmas and she wants me to bring Penelope with me.”
“Does she know that you two are together now?”
“Nobody’s supposed to know that we’re together,
“Derek, c’mon. We’re profilers we knew the moment
it happened we just thought we’d let you guys make an official announcement.”
“We’d planned to say something sooner but…”
“Yeah, I know…Erin…” Rossi said sadly.
“Dave…” Morgan said sorrowfully.
Dave straightened in his chair and shook off the
dark mood that threatened to overtake the room.
“Derek, listen to me. Life is short and family is
everything. Go to Chicago and make things right, clear the air. If nothing
changes than at least you know you did everything to fix things with your
aunt.” Rossi pleaded.
“Rossi, I thought I was protecting my aunt when I
told her Cindi was dead.”
“And you never stopped looking for her, right?”
“Right. I kept looking.” Derek confirmed.
“Then tell your aunt that. She needs to know why
you did what you did.”
“I don’t know…”
“And take Penelope with you. She has a way of
melting the heart of ogres and dragons. Besides, your mother needs to know that
she may be getting those grand babies sooner than she thinks.”
Penelope sat running diagnostics on her babies. She
knew Derek’s mood had to have something to do with his family. Lately the
holidays were filled with his mood swinging from bad to worse even though he
tried to hide it from her. She wasn’t going to push him to talk; that was an
unspoken rule between them. No pushing which often meant a lot of waiting for
the other to be ready to talk.
Penelope was slightly disappointed, to put it
mildly that Derek hadn’t mentioned Christmas. She loved the holidays but since
her parents died when she was eighteen, they just weren’t the same and she’d
spent most of her holidays alone or with quick dinner drop-ins with friends and
their families which in the end only managed to make her feel even more alone.
Now that she and Derek were together she wanted to begin making happy memories
A knock on her office door interrupted her
thoughts. She knew it was him even before he wrapped his arms around her and
planted a soft kiss on her cheek.
“What’s cracking, Hot Stuff? She smiled turning to
“My mother wants us to come to Chicago for
Christmas.” He said cutting to the chase.
“Us? As in you and me, us?” She questioned.
“Yes. You Penelope Garcia and Me.”
“Does she know that…?”
“No but you know my mom, she’s the president of the
Penelope Garcia Fan Club. If she has her way we’ll be married before the New
Year.” He interrupted.
“Is that why you’re in such a pissy mood?”
“I’m not in a pissy mood, woman!” He said
“You my Chocolate Hunk of Burning Love are in an
extremely pissy mood!”
Derek surrendered and pulled her up and into a
close embrace. He didn’t want to fight with her; besides she was right as
usual, he had been an unbearable bear since his mother’s call.
“I’m sorry, Baby Girl.”
Their private moment was interrupted by a knock on
the door. The two released each other just as JJ poked her head in the door
pretending that she did not know what was going on.
“Hotch wants us in the conference room.” She smiled
and quickly retreated.
JJ smiled as she headed toward the conference room.
“Those two.” She said to herself.
Penelope Garcia – Evening
Derek and Penelope sat comfortably on the sofa
eager to start their weekly movie night. Tonight’s menu was pizza from Derek’s
favorite Italian restaurant, wine and if they managed to stay awake long enough
Penelope had planned hot fudge sundaes for dessert.
“Man, I thought when Hotch called us into the
conference room he was going to tell us we had a case.” Morgan began.
“Yeah, me too. I can’t imagine you guys out in the
field on Christmas.”
“Well the bad guys don’t observe the holidays, Baby
“I know but still…”
“I hear you.”
Morgan opened the wine and poured two glasses
handing one to Penelope.
“Thank you my Sweet. So, have you decided if we’re
going to Chicago? She said changing the subject.
“You know I won’t hear the end of it if we don’t
go. Besides, my mom is already making plans. Are you up for meeting the rest of
the Morgan clan?”
“I’ve been ready, Baby Boy. The real question is,
are you ready?”
“No, but I know we need to make a decision so we
can enjoy the weekend off that Hotch was good enough to give us.”
Penelope grabbed his phone off the cocktail table
and handed it to Derek and smiled at him encouragingly as he dialed his
Fran Morgan – Chicago – Evening
Fran hung up the phone and began putting the
finishing touches on dinner. Her Baby Boy was coming home for Christmas; all of
her babies would be home and eating dinner together.
There had been a few changes in Fran’s life since
her son had last come to visit; changes that she knew she should have probably
shared a while ago but she kept putting it off hoping to be able to share it
with him in person. With her sister-in-law and her family joining them
Christmas for the Morgan family was sure to be interesting to say the least. As
she pulled the roast out of the oven she secretly prayed that if there couldn’t
be peace on earth, perhaps there would be peace in the Morgan household,
although she didn’t hold out much hope.
“Derek and his best friend are coming for
Christmas.” She said placing a plate in front of her dinner guest.
“I assume you haven’t told him about us.” He said
placing his napkin on his lap.
“It’s not something I wanted to tell him over the
phone.” She said placing her plate and sitting across the small kitchen table.
“Are you sure Christmas is the best time to tell
your son that we’re dating? I’m not his favorite person in the world.”
“Stan you do have a knack for the obvious.”
Stan Gordinski chuckled and began eating his
dinner. Detective Gordinski and Derek Morgan had a bad history. When Derek was
a young boy, he was a constant target of Gordinski’s. Even on a visit for his
mother’s birthday about seven years ago, Gordinski arrested him and was
convinced that Derek was a serial killer. That arrest led to the discovery of
Derek’s secret of childhood sexual abuse that he had fought so desperately to
“How’s your food?” She said trying to change the
“Delicious as always, Babe.” He said exchanging
smiles with her.
“Let’s not fool ourselves, Fran, your son is going
to blow a gasket! His mother and me, his arch nemesis, dating. I don’t know
that’s just a Christmas disaster waiting to happen.”
The two continued to eat and discuss the impending
start of World War III that was sure to begin with an epic explosion when Derek
Morgan and Penelope Garcia arrived on Christmas Eve.
Headquarters – Monday Morning
Hotch stood on the catwalk watching his team goof
off. Christmas was two days away and he knew unless they got a case in the next
few hours nothing productive was getting done. He much preferred giving them
the entire week off but the bureau would not hear of it.
Rossi joined him as they both grinned at the silly
goings-on below. Reid was showing JJ some silly magic trick, Alex chatted with
Penelope and Derek was noticeably absent from the group. He still wasn’t in the
Christmas mood so he sat in his office finishing reports and thinking about the
next few days and feeling guilty for wishing for a case that would take them
out into the unknown. So many personal plans had been interrupted in the past,
birthdays, anniversaries and graduations that it wouldn’t be out of the norm to
have to cancel Christmas. Somehow, Derek had a feeling that this year Christmas
would come and drag him right along with it.
Family Home – Chicago, Illinois- Christmas Eve
It didn’t matter that it was thirty degrees and
snowing Penelope was happy to be in Derek’s hometown. She’d dreamt for years for
the day to come when she would meet his family. Of course she wasn’t naïve
enough to think that these were ideal conditions. With the strained relations
with his aunt and the two of them revealing that they were now a couple, the
next two days were going to be filled with lots of tension, drama and home
cooked meals, just the way the holidays should be, she chuckled to herself.
Derek pulled the rental car into the freshly
shoveled driveway and cut the engine. Looking at all the white snow reminded
him of how much he didn’t miss Chicago. He also wondered when his mother
started shoveling snow because she was way too frugal to pay for a service to
do it. Quickly helping Penelope out of the car and grabbing their bags the
couple dashed to the front door and rang the doorbell. Fran Morgan quickly
opened the door beaming from ear to ear and welcomed them inside.
“My Baby Boy is home!” She shrieked.
“Hey, Ma.” Hugging her tightly.
“And this must be Penelope!” Quickly pulling her
into an embrace.
“Good to meet you Mrs. Morgan.” Returning the hug.
“Come in you two, come in!”
Derek and Penelope followed her into the main room
of the house. Derek took their coats, scarves and hats and hung them on the
coat rack in the hallway as Penelope made herself comfortable on the couch.
“I’ve got fresh coffee or tea, hot chocolate?” Fran
“I’d love some hot chocolate.” Penelope piped up.
“Coffee for me Ma.”
Fran disappeared into the kitchen as Derek sat
close to Penelope on the couch nervously tapping his fingers on his knee.
“Relax, Stud Muffin. You look like a man about to
walk the green mile.”
“You don’t know my family. I love them dearly but
once my mother’s on a mission, she’s relentless. My sisters, man, they are
nosier than The National Inquirer on steroids!” And once they find out about
Fran returned with a steaming tray of drinks, which
put a halt to Derek’s rant.
“Penelope, your are simply gorgeous! My son has
“What? You don’t think I’m falling for that ‘just
friends’ thing do you?”
“Ma, Pen and I are just…well, we were just…”
Penelope blushed and looked at Derek as he fumbled
with his words. She thought it best she take the conversation at this point.
“Well, Mrs. Morgan…”
“Fran. Please call me Fran, baby.”
“Thanks. Fran. Uh, Derek and I are officially
Fran shrieked in delight as she jumped up and
hugged Penelope for dear life as Derek rolled his eyes and shook his head in
embarrassment.Then came the questions
of “when,” “how,” and demanding blow-by-blow details. Derek excused himself and
headed toward the basement in hopes of finding some sports on TV or a dull
knife to slash his wrists. “Fa-la-la-la-la,
la-la-f’g-la,” he thought to himself.
Fran and Penelope talked well into the late
afternoon; Fran sharing things about Derek that Penelope didn’t know and some
of those things he would be mortified if he knew she knew. Both women bonded
immediately and Penelope felt as if she’d found someone that filled the empty
space left with her own mother’s passing. She didn’t mind the questions about
her and Derek or even her own childhood and it was clear why the man she loved
possessed the qualities of compassion, fearlessness and everything else that
made her fall madly in love with him.
The Morgan home was warm with love that sent a
twinge through Penelope as Fran explained the history of the many ornaments on
the tree that stood filled with garland, blinking lights and homemade and store
bought decorations. The blazing fire made everything seem surreal and straight
out of a Hallmark Christmas special.
Derek got comfortable on the old couch in the
basement and surfed the channels for something to watch settling on Sports
Center. He was glad that he had decided to come to Chicago even though he still
wasn’t looking forward to seeing his Auntie Vonne tomorrow. The joy in his
mother’s eyes was worth whatever came next. Penelope was happy too she had
finally gotten a chance to meet the woman who he spoke so highly of and who had
raised him and his sisters under tough circumstances.
The smells coming from upstairs reminded him that
he hadn’t eaten since early this morning and he climbed the steps up to the
main level of the house and headed toward the kitchen where he found his mother
and girlfriend laughing, talking and cooking. A goofy smile crept across his
face as he watched them momentarily unnoticed from the doorway.
“I’m not sure it was a good idea to leave you two
alone.” He said as he eased into the room.
“Remind me not to let you near any kitchen appliances
when we get back home.” Penelope teased.
“Oh no! Mom you didn’t tell her…”
“What? She needs to know!” Fran giggled.
“Hush Hot Stuff there’s so many other things that
you’re good at.”
Derek moved to Penelope and wrapped his arms around
her waist nuzzling and planting a sweet kiss on her neck.
“I know that’s right, Sweetness.”
“Okay you two, enough.” Fran scolded playfully.
The three worked together to finish the meal and
prepare their plates. The meal of smothered pork chops, mashed potatoes and
gravy, green beans, salad and homemade biscuits was incredible and brought
childhood memories flooding back. No matter how long her day had been his
mother always prepared a warm meal for them. She never cut corners and she had
a way of expressing her love for her children through the meals she would
prepare for them.
Just as Fran and Penelope finished the dishes
Derek’s older and younger sisters arrived bearing bags of gifts as they filled
the room with noise and laughter as they hugged their mother and brother. Derek
introduced them to Penelope and his sisters grabbed her and embraced her like a
long lost relative. It felt good to be introduced as his girl friend and seeing
the shocked looks of delight on his sister’s faces as they responded in unison,
“We thought we’d bring our gifts tonight so they’d
be under the tree in the morning.” Sarah said excitedly.
“No, you just needed an excuse to see who Derek
brought home!” Desiree teased. “This is a first you know!” She said looking at
“What?” Penelope asked puzzled.
“My baby brother has never brought anyone home before.” Sarah answered.
“See. This is why I wanted to stay in Quantico! The
two Nosey Nellies, here will drive you crazy!” Derek whined.
“Oh, come on, Derek! You know it’s true! Right Ma?”
“Leave your brother alone or it might be another
two years before he comes for a visit.” Fran warned.
“Exactly! Thank you, Ma.” Derek teased.
Penelope sat and watched the exchange between Derek
and his sisters and couldn’t help but smile. So much love, she missed that and
she missed having a family that showed love so easily.
Home – Christmas Morning
The house was quiet and Fran Morgan was up
preparing her turkey for the oven. She absolutely loved holiday dinners and she
had a traditional meal planned; roasted turkey with oyster dressing, baked ham,
yams, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, greens, corn pudding, corn bread
and biscuits and lots of gravy, and cranberry sauce. Her desserts were, peach
cobbler, red velvet cupcakes, pumpkin pie, and lots of ice cream.
Derek and Penelope were still sleeping and Sarah
and Desiree had promised to arrive around one to help her get everything ready
for dinner at three. Breakfast would be a no frills continental breakfast so
she could focus on the main meal of the day.
Stan had arrived an hour ago; he had made it a habit
of coming by early each day to clear her driveway and sidewalk of snow. He was
nervous because he knew that she hadn’t told her family about them dating.
Scraping the snow out of the way had provided him an outlet for his nervous
Fran Morgan and Stan Gordinski had not met on good
terms. He seemed to have it in for her son from the beginning. Derek had gotten
into some trouble as a teenager when he and a friend were attacked by a local
gang. From that point on he was on Gordinski’s radar and was constantly brought
into police headquarters whenever anything happened in the neighborhood.
Stan had been treated at Chicago General where Fran
worked when he had been injured on a case a year and a half ago. They were both
shocked when she was assigned as his nurse. To say that you could cut the
tension in the room with a knife when she entered the exam room would be an
understatement of epic proportions. Nevertheless, from that moment on he could
not get her off of his mind. He then ran into her at the movies and again at
the grocery store and figured that he was either being tortured or it was a
sign that he needed to ask her out. He was shocked when she accepted.
Fran shocked herself when she accepted his
invitation to dinner. This man had given her son hell but there was something
about him that made her give him a chance. There was a kindness and passion
behind the gruff hardened exterior and she respected the fact that the first
words to her was an apology for how he had treated Derek growing up.
Fran had assumed that she would spend the rest of
her life alone; she’d loved her children’s father deeply and when he was killed
a part of her died as well. Her life had been dedicated to her children, which
meant sacrificing a part of her life that she had convinced herself that she
could live without. Now her children were gone living their own lives and Fran
had to admit that she didn’t want to live alone, existing on occasional visits
from her children who seemed determined not to give her any grandchildren to
distract her in her latter years.
Stan entered the house through the back door, which
lead into the kitchen where Fran was mixing the ingredients for her cornbread.
She glanced his way as he removed his gloves and stuffed them into his coat
pocket; his cheeks flushed from the cold outside. Smiling she poured him a mug
of coffee and turned to face him as he approached. Kissing her lightly on the
lips he took the mug from her hand and as he looked deeply into her eyes took a
long sip from the hot steaming cup.
“I’m not staying long. I don’t want your son
getting any ideas if he sees me here this early in the morning.” He said taking
another sip of coffee.
“He and Penelope are sound asleep. Besides, I’m a grown
woman and if my son sees my gentleman friend here in the morning that’s my
business.” She smiled kissing him gently on the lips.
“Okay, that’s what you say now but you know as well
as I do that you would have a heart attack if Derek were to walk in on us right
Fran smiled and playfully grabbed the mug from Stan
and placed it on the counter behind her, then she wrapped her arms around his
neck as he pulled her close to him as they lost themselves in a long passionate
Fran sighed. “When did the roles reverse?”
Derek never could sleep when his mother was in the
kitchen cooking Christmas dinner. The smells of sage and the other incredible
spices pricked his senses and roused him from his slumber. He glanced over at
Penelope who was still asleep and quietly eased himself from the bed. Tossing
on a t-shirt and sweatpants he tipped out of the room in search of free samples
of his mother’s fixings. As he rubbed the sleep from his eyes and rounded the
corner to the kitchen he stopped dead in his tracks at the sight before him.
There were no words and no amount of inner strength to keep him from losing it
at the sight before him.
“OH, HELL NO!!! MOM!”
“Derek! Baby!” Fran shrieked.
“Derek!” Stan stammered red-faced.
“What the hell is going on here?” Derek shouted.
Fran quickly pulled away from Stan and approached
Derek grabbing his arm. Derek jerked away and stepped back mouth opened in
“Mom! Answer me! What’s he doing here?”
Stan stood there wishing he could disappear or
crawl under a very large rock.
“Calm down…let me…us explain!”
“No! Mom I know your lonely…I get it…but are you
“Now hold on, Derek, that’s hitting below the
belt.” Stan interjected.
Derek shot a death-glare at Stan that froze him in
“Please, Derek, lower your voice! This is still my
“Mom, this man made my life a living hell and
your…your… oh, DAMN, please don’t tell me you’re sleeping with him, Ma!”
“Who I am or am not sleeping with, young man is
none of your business!”
“Derek, look your mom and I love each other. A lot
has happened since you’ve been home.” Stan said a little calmer.
“Why are you talking right now? I don’t want to
hear anything you have to say, Gordinski!”
“Derek! Stop it right now!” Fran then turned to
Stan. “Maybe you should leave. I need to talk to my son.See you later for dinner?”
She planted a tender kiss on his lips and walked
him to the door. Watching, Derek shook his head in disgust.
“Oh, hell no! This cannot be happening!”
Awakened by the commotion, Penelope sleepily comes
around the corner to see Derek in a rage as his mother is closing the back
“What is going on in here?” Penelope asked.
“My mom was so busy in my business that she forgot to tell me that’s she’s sneaking around
with my worst enemy!”
Fran red-faced approaches the couple.
“We are not sneaking!”
“No? Does Sarah and Desiree know about this?”
“Exactly! Then you’re sneaking around!”
“Derek, baby, let your mother explain.” Penelope
“There’s nothing to explain. Mom, I can’t believe
it! You and Stan Gordinski?”
“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you but you haven’t been
home for a visit in two years. I didn’t want to tell you over the phone.”
Derek was inconsolable. He rubbed both of his hands
over his head and neck and paced the small kitchen. Penelope hadn’t seen him
this made in a long time and it scared her.
“I’ve got to get out of here.” Derek grumbled.
Derek left the kitchen and headed to his bedroom
slamming the door behind him leaving a humiliated Fran and Penelope staring
Bound Youth Center – An hour later
Derek is shooting baskets alone in the indoor gym
of the Youth Center. Since Carl Buford’s incarceration, Derek’s family along
with Damian Walters mother have run the center so it was easy getting access to
the center on a holiday. Christmas had crashed and burned quickly and he hadn’t
even seen his Auntie Vonne yet.
Derek ignored the sound of the door opening and
closing sure it was probably someone he didn’t want to talk to, so he continued
to shoot baskets.
“We need to talk, Derek.”
“I think we’re a little late on the talking.” He
“It’s never too late to talk.”
Derek didn’t respond as he kept shooting basket
“I was wrong.”
“I was wrong about you all those years ago when you
were a kid.”
“You didn’t deserve what happened to you…with Carl
“Your mother loves you very much and she wouldn’t
do anything to hurt you.”
“I love your mother, Derek and I want to take care
“Derek! Talk to me! Look I’m sorry!”
Derek slowly turned, sweat dripping down his face
as he looked Stan angrily in the eyes.
“Why my mother? Huh, why? Of all the women in
Chicago, why my mother? Haven’t you done enough to torment me, Gordinski?”
“It’s not about you, Derek! We didn’t plan this! It
“Nothing just happens, Gordinski!”
Derek turned and resumed shooting baskets, more
like launching rockets toward the basket would be more accurate. Gordinski just
stood watching him release his anger on the rim of the hoop, better than him he
thought to himself.
Gordinski knew that Derek would take the shock of
his mother dating him hard but he was willing to deal with the fallout. He
loved Fran and his love had caught him off guard but no one had affected him in
such a powerful way. Nothing and no one would keep him from loving her even if he
had to get his ass kicked in the process.
“You don’t have to like me or the fact that I’m
with your mother.”
“She’s happy…I make her happy!”
“I make her happy…she makes me happy!”
Derek had to admit it; his mother seemed happy.
There was something different about her, lighter, something in her eyes that
was bright and it wasn’t just about him being home or bringing Penelope with
him. Everything made sense now. His mother, the woman who had grieved the death
of his father in silence for thirty years and raised her three children alone
was happy again and had managed in the midst of everything found happiness and
contentment in the most unlikely of places and faces. He couldn’t deny it even
if he didn’t want to see Stan Gordiniski’s face across the dinner table this
evening, but he was responsible for the gleam in her eyes.
Derek grabbed the old weathered leather ball, that
had seen many years and hands and tucked it tightly under his arm and faced the
older man inches from him breaching his personal space and with deadpan
determination and sweaty conviction he spoke his mind.
“I don’t like you and I’m sure that I’ll never like
you. The thought of you and my mother together frankly, turns my stomach but if
she is happy and I mean truly happy then that’s all that matters in the end.”
“Uh-uh…I’m not finished. If you ever hurt her in
any way, I will kill you. It will be a slow, deliberately painful death and I
will bury your body in the Chicago sewer system where the rats can feast on
your old bloated carcass!”
Stan stood silent with a glint of shocked fear in
“Have I made myself clear?” He finished.
Stan cleared his voice and took a step back and
took a calming breath.
Derek turned back and began shooting baskets again
as if nothing had just taken place.
Swoosh! Swoosh! Swoosh!
Family Home –
Fran was visibly upset as she desperately tried to
distract herself with dinner preparations. Penelope stood by helpless. She was
so mad at Derek she could wring his neck as she thought about his childish
display earlier. She knew he was angry but she also knew how it felt to love a
man even though it made absolutely no logical sense. She thought about her and
Derek and how it took them so long to get their act together to finally admit
the feelings they had for each other. She had kept silent because she was
certain he couldn’t love her beyond a platonic friendship and he kept silent
because he was certain that his past would prevent her from loving him either. Yeah,
as she cut the vegetables for the salad, she could definitely see her hands
around his neck and wringing it real good!
“Fran, I’m so sorry for Derek’s behavior…”
“Please, you don’t have to apologize for my son. I
should have told him long ago.” Fran interrupted.
Penelope stopped her work and wrapped the older
woman in a comforting embrace.
“He’ll come around. He just wants you to be happy,
The two women bonded in that moment over tears and a
deep love for the men in their lives.
The sound of Derek coming through the back door
caused the women to pull away from each other as they watched him enter with a
remorseful look in his eyes. No one said a word as he slowly approached his
The new tears threatening to expose themselves on
her cheeks held firm in her eyes as he pulled her to him and held her tightly
against his chest. Penelope stood next to him bursting with love for this man
who held his mother so delicately and so obviously sorry for his earlier
“I’m sorry, Ma.” He said his voice shaky.
“Me too, Baby Boy.”
Penelope rubbed his arm lovingly as he shot a teary
glance at her.
“Are you happy?”
“I mean really happy. Not settling happy but
“After I lost your father…”
He didn’t want to think that anyone could replace
his father but his mother had been alone long enough and he knew his father
would want her to go on with her life.
“Mom, you don’t have to explain anything. I know Dad
was the love of your life.”
She pulled away and looked up into her son’s eyes.
He was right; no one could replace his father but that didn’t mean that God
couldn’t send another man to love her and cherish her.
“Yes. Yes he was but is it wrong for me to want
“No Ma, it’s not.”
After a few more seconds, Fran pulled away and
wiped her face with the back of her hand. The silence between the three spoke
volumes and they knew that things would work out just the way they were meant
“Now, go take a shower, you stink!” She said
Derek headed out of the kitchen, Penelope and Fran
embraced and giggled at the man who would be boy as they continued working on
Sarah and Desiree had arrived and relieved Penelope
so that she could shower and get dressed. It was noisy in the Morgan home;
laughter and teasing with Christmas music playing in the background and the
aroma of the most amazing food filling the air. Fran beamed as she supervised
her daughters while running back and forth to answer the doorbell.
Stan arrived dressed in his Sunday’s best taking
Fran’s breath away when she opened the front door to let him in. She had
informed her daughters of her new relationship status shortly after they
arrived and they surprisingly took it better than she thought they would. Once
they heard that Derek had not killed Stan they seemed to be a bit more
accepting of the whole deal.
Derek and Penelope were still dressing but they
could hear the others arriving. As Derek adjusted his tie in the mirror,
Penelope approached him and took over the task.
“You ready for this, Handsome?”
“Whatever happened to those Christmases where you
could just pop a frozen pizza in the microwave, grab a cold one and sit on the
couch and watch football all day? Is that too much for a man to ask for?”
“When have you ever spent a Christmas like that,
“Never but I’d like to.”
“Anything is better than what’s about to go down
“Oh, come on. It’s not going to be that bad.” She
“Penelope, my mom’s boyfriend who happens to be the
same man who tried to send me away for life, will be sitting at the table with
us! Oh, and then there’s my adoring aunt who helped raise me but now hates my
guts because I lied and told her that her daughter was dead, who by the way,
slapped the hell out of me when she found out I lied, will also be at the
“No, Pen, really, we are about to have dinner and
we are the main dish!”
“Stop it! Listen, you need to talk with your aunt and settle this. Besides, it
will make your mother really happy.”
“Don’t even play the mother card Baby Girl.”
She smiled and patted his chest as she finished
adjusting his tie.
“All done. Now let’s go out and enjoy dinner.
You’re mother worked really hard to make everything perfect.”
“What did I tell you about playing the mother card
She playfully grabbed his hand and pulled him
toward the bedroom door.
“I’m telling you that frozen pizza and beer is
sounding real good about now.”
The table was set with Fran’s beautiful family china.
The food was placed just like a print ad in a magazine. Fran made sure that all
of the new “family” was introduced to the old. Smiles and glances where shared
as everyone found their assigned seats around the table. Derek had for the most
part avoided his aunt but was happy when he received a warm greeting from his
cousin. He was also pleased that his cousin’s son, Anthony still remembered him
and in fact, insisted on sitting next to him which threw a kink in Fran’s well
planned seating arrangement.
Surprisingly, dinner went well with everyone catching
up and trying their best to be pleasant. Penelope marveled at Derek’s family
and even in spite of recent conflicts they obviously loved each other. After
dinner everyone found places to settle and relax and it gave Penelope a chance
to chat with Derek’s cousin Cindi and his sisters. Fran and Stan remained in
the kitchen to clean up and conveniently Yvonne and Derek were left alone in
the living room.
Derek wanted to make a hasty retreat but there was
no where to go without being obvious about not wanting to be alone with his
“It’s good seeing you Derek.” She said
“Yeah, you too, Auntie Vonne. How’ve you been?”
“Better now that my baby girl is home.”
Derek sat down on the couch.
“Good. I’m glad to hear it.”
Yvonne joined him on the couch.
“Derek, listen. I owe you an apology. I said some
pretty harsh things to you the last time I saw you.”
“Auntie Vonne, I was wrong for lying to you. I’m
the one who should apologize.”
“I know you thought you were doing the right thing,
but Derek you don’t get to say what’s best for me. I needed the truth about
Cindi, no matter what it was.”
“I know that now. It’s just that I saw what it was
doing to you; you weren’t eating, or going out, you weren’t taking your
medication, it was killing you. I couldn’t let that happen; not if I could do
“You’ve always wanted to take care of everybody but
there are some things you can’t take care of.”
Yvonne grabbed his hands and held them in hers
until he looked at her.
“Listen to me, Derek, it’s not your fault what
happened to Cindi…”
“But it was, Auntie. If I hadn’t convinced her to
leave Chicago none of this would have happened!”
“Derek, Cindi was taken before she even left
Chicago, you know this!”
“I just should have done more!”
She knew he blamed himself for Cindi’s
disappearance, which made it so easy for him to accept the harsh words she had
spit out at him. She had been so angry with him but she didn’t mean what she
said about not wanting to see him again.
“There was nothing more you could have done. I’m so
sorry I made you feel like it was your fault.”
“When it was all over and you all left the station
without me, I never felt so alone in my life; like even though I’d brought her
home I still lost my family in the process.”
“You can never lose us, okay?”
“Besides, in case you haven’t noticed your nephew
is crazy about you. In fact, he’s talking about becoming a cop or FBI agent
when he grows up!”
Derek shot a glance at Anthony seated near the
fireplace looking at all of the wrapped presents under the tree. As if on cue,
the little boy jumped to his feet and scurried over to his grandmother and
“Grandma, can we open presents now? Please?”
Yvonne smiled at Anthony and then Derek.
Fran began rounding up everyone to open presents.
As Fran and Stan read the labels and passed out the gifts, Derek felt full;
he’d missed being around his family. Life and work had made it easy to be
absent but it didn’t replace what every one of these people, well almost
everyone, meant to him. No matter what was going on between them life was too
short to let distance and misunderstandings divide them.
He pulled Penelope closer she smiled and planted a
tender kiss on his lips. She was glad to be with him for Christmas in his
family’s home. This is what she had longed for and now here she was with Derek,
the love of her life; their first Christmas of hopefully many together.
This was what Christmas was all about, family, no matter
how it looked family was family, period. He silently promised himself that he
would even try to accept his mother’s relationship with Stan Gordinski although
he wasn’t sure how long it would take his stomach to stop wrenching at the
thought of the two of them together, nevertheless if he wanted his mother to
have the happiness like he had found with Penelope he had to shut up and let
things work themselves out.
In spite of all the unexpected drama, he was
happier than he had been in his life. The year had been filled with tragedy,
and drama and pure hell but it had also been miraculously salvaged by the love
of a wonderful woman who loved him and whom he loved beyond any explanation. He
knew he didn’t deserve her but he knew enough to know that she was his God
given solace. No, Derek still wasn’t a religious man and spiritually he was
still struggling day to day, but he definitely knew that surviving this year
had absolutely nothing to do with him.
He smiled and pulled Penelope even closer and as he
looked around the room he had to admit that this was much better than frozen
pizza and beer.
family, man, alone in the world, trembles with the cold.” – Andre Maurois