Penelope rubbed her finger over the velvet box that Rossi had brought by that morning. She had been planning to pick it up before taking Erin out to dinner. It had taken three weeks for the ring to be made, but it looked perfect, the deep green of the emerald sparkling and twinkling from the facets as Rossi had showed it off to her. And now, she was two hours out from their dinner, and she was at a loss for words as to how to propose to her soulmate.
"What is on your mind, Garcia?"
She looked up into Hotch's face and gave him a small smile. "It is going to be a very special night. It would have been better if I had had this in time for Valentine's Day, but the beginning of April will do, I suppose."
"It almost sounds like you're going to ask someone to marry you," he replied as he leaned against her desk, giving her a small smile.
"I am, and I hope that she says yes. Here, look at the ring I designed!" Without thinking, she thrust the ring box into his hand and awaited his response. From the low whistle that left his lips, she knew that she had made the right decision by going with the emerald cut for her emerald. It showed off the gemstone to perfection, and she hoped that Erin would like it. "So, you like it?"
"I do. And I hope that she says yes, too. I just didn't realise that you were so serious about anyone."
She blushed a little as she took the ring back from him, slipping it in her pocket before taking a deep breath. "I can't believe that you haven't heard the gossip going around the office place, Hotch. I've been dating Erin for almost eight months now." Aaron's eyes widened as he took in her words. "This really is a surprise! Oh my god, I thought that you at least knew we were seeing each other outside the office, given how we haven't exactly been discreet about things. Well, I mean, it's not like we've made out in the bullpen, just in her office, since there aren't any cameras in there. She's the one for me, Hotch. I never thought that I'd find myself wanting to settle into a ready made family, but her children love me, and we have full custody of them now, and this is the happiest I've been in my life. Just like you're happy with Beth."
"I didn't want to believe the rumors I heard, actually. I just thought that you two had become really good friends."
"That happened while I was in London, actually. I got super homesick and she agreed to let me call her, since you guys travel way too much for me to keep track of time zones when I'm halfway around the world. And you have to admit that it's been nice to have Erin on our side, especially as we deal with this whole Replicator situation."
"You've still not let that go?"
"No. And Erin and I have gotten Alex to agree with us, there is something seriously hinky going on, besides the copycat cases. I wish that you would take us seriously, but until then, we're going to continue to compile data and try to figure out what is going on. Three heads are better than one, after all."
He nodded a little before letting out a long-suffering breath. "You are even more stubborn now, I swear."
"I am not stubborn, I just know that I'm right, and Erin said that when we know we're right, we keep at it until we get our way." Hotch let out a loud laugh, and Penelope reached out to smack his shoulder lightly. "That does not mean I'm stubborn!"
"It totally does, Penelope. Now go, get ready for tonight, you're no good to us so distracted. And for what it's worth, I hope that she says yes. We need some happy news in the BAU, after everything awful that's happened so far this year."
"That is so true! And I am rooting for you and Beth to end up together, just so you know." Getting to her feet, Penelope hugged Hotch tightly, breathing in his cologne and feeling her lower lip wobble a little. "Oh god, I'm getting emotional already, and I haven't even reached the restaurant! She's so going to know before I even say a word."
"Haley figured out when I was going to propose, too. Sometimes it just works out that way. And it's better that way, since some of the pressure is taken off your shoulders."
She nodded as she let go of him, lightly wiping the tears away from her eyes. "Thanks for the pep talk, Aaron. But say a prayer for me, anyway. I think that I might hurl from nerves, too, and that is never a good combination with tears."
He nodded as they left her office, and she gave him a small wave as she made her way down the stairs. Anderson looked up from his desk, giving her a sly smile, and she shook her head a little as she made a detour over to his side. "A little birdie told me that tonight is the night. Were they right?" he asked as she plopped down onto a corner of his desk.
"Who said that?"
Anderson rolled his eyes a little as he glanced up at Rossi's door. "I saw his jeweler stop by and then he went to your office. It doesn't take a genius to make the leap that you had something commissioned from said jeweler, and that in turn means that you're going to ask Erin to marry you. I'm just assuming that tonight is the night. Am I right?"
Penelope shook her head a little as she let out a huff of breath. "I hate working with profilers sometimes, you know. Yes, you are right. I'm just making official what I asked her in the car a few weeks ago. I already have a good idea what her answer will be. And I hope that she likes the ring that I made for her. I'd show you, but I'm now running late if I want to get changed and show up to our restaurant on time. Karen agreed to drop her off, and then take the kids to a double feature."
"Double the fun for you, then," he teased, and she nodded before getting to her feet and giving him a small wave. He waved back as she turned and hurried from the bullpen, avoiding the elevators when she saw the small crowd gathered there waiting. Finding herself a bit breathless by the time she reached the ground floor, Penelope paused for a moment to catch her breath, feeling her phone vibrate against her leg. Pulling it out of her pocket, she smiled to see a new text from Erin, and she unlocked the phone to see what her lover had sent her.
I hope you like what I'm wearing tonight. I'll see you at the restaurant soon, my darling. Attached was a picture of Erin, wearing an elegant red dress that was just low cut enough to show off her cleavage. With that image in mind, Penelope began to plan her own outfit again, knowing that she wanted to match Erin a little, while also trying to not overshadow her, knowing that the focus, the emphasis, of the evening needed to be on Erin, and the love that they shared.