It had been three weeks since their first chat, and Penelope was growing accustomed to hearing Erin's voice every few days. Though they weren't talking about anything too particularly deep just yet, she had managed to find out quite a bit about her children, her parents, and she had told her just as much about her own family. But still, they seemed to dance around the one elephant in the room, and she knew that eventually, she might have to make the first move and bring it up herself. That thought was more than a little scary, and she shook it out of her brain, knowing that she needed to think about happier things, as it was their prescribed time to talk.
"Erin!" she said as she answered her phone. "It is an entirely dreary Saturday here in London, so I am hoping that the weather is a good sight better back home in Quantico!"
The older woman laughed lowly, and Penelope could picture the way she was shaking her head. "It is a glorious day. Tabitha's soccer game went well this morning, and I've just dropped them back at their father's house, and am headed out for a late lunch. I hope you don't mind if you hear my food being eaten."
"Eh, I'm used to is, given the work we do. I'm actually going to try and catch the football match here, when the US women's team plays. If I do, and if Emily can get me access, do you think that Tabby would like something signed?"
"She would love you forever if you could do that. I won't tell her until you tell me that you have something in hand. I think that one of her favourite players is Tobin Heath? I don't know if that means anything to you, but I'm certain that you can figure that out."
"I will most definitely write that name down and do some research. Other than soccer games, do you have anything exciting on the docket tonight?"
There was a short pause. "I'm seeing David tonight. There was a rather bad case that the team was on, and we both need to work off some steam. Though I'm almost certain that you didn't want to hear all that."
"No, no, it's fine. JJ and I talk about things like that a lot. Emily, she's more reserved. You're like the perfect blend of them both, where I get to see into your mind, but not hear all the salacious details. I do hope that he is continuing to treat you right, though. Because he knows full well what happens when someone hurts my friends."
"I'll keep that in mind." Erin hummed a short bar from their song, and it took everything in Penelope to not answer her, even though she desperately wanted to. "The short list for Emily's replacement came across my desk yesterday."
"From the way you said that, there's someone on it that you aren't happy is there."
A deep sigh slipped out of Erin's mouth, and Penelope tightened her hand around her mug as she waited for the woman to reply. "You could say that. And given her experience, I know that Aaron is going to want her above the others."
"You could always remove her name from that list, pretend that it never was there?"
"She'd find out somehow, and then would be out for my blood once more. I couldn't do that to her. Especially not when she's one of the last people I need to make amends to. Typical me, leaving the hardest ones until the very end. Thank you for Jason's number, by the way. I haven't gathered up the courage to call him yet, but knowing that I can reach out has made a large difference."
"I can completely understand that hesitancy, we never really hit it off, either. I can't think of what might have happened if he had been with the team when I got shot instead of Rossi. Don't get me wrong, he was a dick to me in the fallout, but I did sort of deserve to be raked over the coals for the secrets that I was keeping. I put so many people in danger."
"You were trying to protect your family, Penelope. I would have done the same, most likely, if I was in your position and had the same resources that you have at your disposal. Family and friends mean the world to me, Penelope. I know, I don't show that at work, but it's hard to show that side there. I need to be impartial so that I don't appear to favor any of the teams that I oversee, so I can't make nice with people I might think that I could be friends with. And the people I can be friends with, well, they aren't the type of people I want to be friends with. I'm taking a chance with you; I know that this could blow up in my face. But there's something in my heart that trusting you will be the best decision of my life."
"I should think so! I am a happy ray of sunshine into everyone's life." Erin giggled. "I know, I can be a bit much at times, but that's just part of my charm. You'll get used to it with time. I hope. And, when we get home, do you think that we could head out to a concert? I'm so afraid that I won't have time to do anything cultured here, since there aren't that many shows on the West End that still have tickets available. We're here during peak tourist season, and with the Games starting in two weeks, the population here is swelling to almost unmanageable levels. Don't get me wrong, I love people, but this amount of people is a bit much, even for me. As a result, there is nothing available, even though there are a number of shows that I would love to see."
"I'll try to find us something to see, once you're back. And I can email you a few options, that way you're still seeing something that you might like."
"That would be awesome, Erin! How is Hotch doing, by the way? Not to completely change the subject, but…he's the one I worry about most on the team."
Erin drew in a soft breath. "I don't think that you have to this time. He seems to be coping quite well. And I'm trying to give him as much support as I can, while making it seem like I'm not doing anything at all. I know that he doesn't like meddling."
"That is an understatement! He has a very particular way of doing things, and I've learned to couch my ideas as ones that he's come up with. Though I think that he has realized how I'm maneuvering him, and tolerates my suggestions now. Seeing as how I do, generally, have the team's best interest at heart."
"I might have to take lessons from you, then. Though I hope that since the wedding, I've become a little more trustworthy. Though I know that it will take time to fully gain everyone's trust. It's a hard thing to rebuild after the damage I did."
The forlorn sound of Erin's voice caused her to tear up a little, and Penelope let out a deep sigh. "If I was there right now, I would so be hugging you. Make certain you get Tabby or Karen to give you one in my stead. And for what it's worth, I trust you." The almost pleased sound that spilled from Erin's lips injected a spot of happiness into her heart, and Penelope began to steer the conversation into a more positive direction, wanting to hear Erin happy once more.