It had been three weeks since JJ's wedding, and with the woman off on a short honeymoon, thanks to Rossi, and Emily leaving for Interpol, Penelope found herself swamped with work and thus not able to find a free moment to speak with Erin. She had sent a few emails to the woman, but when there hadn't been a response, she had given up, hoping that once the team was back up to a full complement of people, there would be time to get to know Erin better.
With that thought in mind, she let herself into her office that morning and booted up her systems, expecting it to be another day of more of the same. Grabbing her mug from her desk, she went down to the break room to get coffee, as she'd woke up late that morning and hadn't had time to stop at her usual shop. As she added cream and sugar, she felt a familiar presence behind her, and she turned, half expecting to see Erin. A small frown formed on her face when she only saw Morgan standing there. "Well, good morning to you, too, Hot Stuff."
"Sorry, I was just expecting it to see someone different. How are you this morning?"
"Stressed. Did you not check your phone? We need to be in Strauss's office now."
Frowning, she fished around in the pocket of her skirt, pulling out her main phone and seeing that he was indeed right. "Shit. Did she say what was going on?"
Derek shook his head. "All my text said was that we needed to be there first thing this morning. And I know it's the same thing she sent you, because she did it as a group message. Now, get your sweet ass moving so that we can get back to work as quickly as possible. I still don't like being called into her office like I'm a naughty schoolboy."
She laughed as she followed him out of the breakroom and down the hall to Erin's office. Her assistant was just sliding behind her computer, giving them an odd look as they went right for the inner door. "Do you have an appointment with Chief Strauss?"
"Yes, she texted us to meet with her first thing this morning. And seeing as how that message was sent ninety minutes ago, I'm assuming she's here already." Derek gave the young woman a winning smile as he turned the doorknob and let them into Erin's inner sanctum. "Good morning, Ma'am. I brought Garcia with me as soon as I saw your text."
"Excellent. Please, have a seat." Erin smiled shyly at her before schooling her features into the usual cool look she always wore, and she wondered if Derek had caught the expression. From the way he was looking at a spot somewhere above the woman's shoulder, she figured that he hadn't. Which was for the best, since she didn't want to raise too many questions at the moment. Taking a deep breath, she refocused her attention on the woman, trying to ignore the first stirrings of their song. From the way Erin owlishly blinked, she was trying to do the same, and Penelope dared enough to give her a tiny flicker of a smile before lowering her eyes to Erin's chin and waiting for her to speak. "As you know, Agent Prentiss is now attached to Interpol, and is extremely busy, what with the upcoming Olympic games. As such, she and Clyde Easter had asked that the two of you be sent to them on secondment."
Penelope felt her brow furrow at that word. "I'm sorry?"
"I had to look the word up as well, Ms Garcia. Apparently, it's a term our British compatriots use for when we loan out agents to other places. Or doctors, or police officers. I rather like the term, even if it feels odd on the tongue at first." Derek nodded, and from the corner of her gaze, Penelope watched his jaw tighten just a tick, which told her that he was not pleased with the direction the conversation was taking. "Now, you don't have to say yes, but the assignment would be a great boon for our department, and the money you both would earn would be greater than what you could earn here in the same amount of time."
"How long are we talking about?" Derek asked, his voice tight and low.
"Twelve weeks. From this Thursday until the third week of August."
Derek's hands clenched into fists, and Penelope winced a little, knowing that he was about to explode in anger. "Three months?! Really? She couldn't stay here, but she expects me to be at her beck and call for three fucking months?"
The foul language didn't seem to faze Erin, instead she just blinked slowly as she nodded. "I think that the intention is for you to work more closely with Clyde than with Agent Prentiss, but yes, it will be an extended period of time. Again, I must stress that this is an amazing opportunity for our department, and the money that you will be paid will more than make up for the inconvenience. And I have been assured that you will both have the opportunity to see the sights and some of the Games, if you wish."
"Think of it, Der. I get to be that much closer to Prince William! Who knows, maybe Clyde can introduce me, and I can become like a technical wizard to the Royal Family," she teased, trying to get her best friend to relax and smile a little. Erin, though, frowned quickly, as if she didn't like the idea of that at all, and Penelope gave her a small wink before looking back at Derek. "It has always been my fondest wish to be connected to royalty, after all."
"Baby Girl, if I have to come back, you have to come back. Besides, you know he's happily married." He shook his head a little before giving her a grateful smile. "I'm sorry for my outburst, Ma'am. Emily and I left things on bad terms, and that clouded my first reaction to your news."
"It is all right, Agent Morgan. I wasn't particularly pleased with the idea myself when it first crossed my desk. After all, with you and Ms Garcia gone, Alpha team will be down three members. I'm trying to fill Agent Prentiss's role, but it is very difficult to do so. What answer should I give to Agent Prentiss and Easter?"
There was a brief pause before Penelope spoke up. "It is a definite yes for me. I've always wanted to visit the UK, but with my background, it had been next to impossible to get permission to visit. Being officially invited into the country? Is something that I can't turn down. But who will work with my teams while I'm gone?"
"I have already broached that subject with Mister Lynch, and he has tentatively agreed to take on your workload. It will be a change, but it won't be permanent." She nodded and turned to Derek, hoping that he was seeing her point of view. "Agent Morgan?"
"I suppose that there only ever was one choice. Someone has to look after my Baby Girl and make certain that she doesn't end up in the Tower." She gasped and reached out to smack his upper arm lightly, giving him a look of faux outrage. "I'm just kidding."
"I know." She gave him a simpering smile before turning her gaze back to Erin. "I guess that we're going to London. If only you could come with us, Chief Strauss."
"Alas, my duty lies here. Now, Agent Prentiss said that she would have all your documentation ready for the flight on Thursday. After you leave today, I do not expect you to show up tomorrow, as you'll both need time to pack and get your affairs in order. I'm sorry that this is such late notice, but I was just informed of it myself early this morning."
"Thank you for this opportunity, Chief Strauss. We'll try to make you proud and not go rogue while over there." Penelope rose to her feet and clasped Erin's outstretched hand, shaking it firmly, even as their song began to rise up between them once more. It took everything in her not to react and for just a moment, it appeared that Erin was steeling herself as well. All she could do was give the woman a small smile as she let go of her hand and scurried from the room, already planning on what to bring overseas for an extended stay.