Penelope smoothed her skirt down her thighs as she stepped up to the host podium, not really knowing if Erin was there or not yet. She hadn't heard back from her in the past fifteen minutes, which made her a little more anxious than she already was for the night ahead. Giving the woman a quick smile, Penelope took a deep breath and then said, "Strauss, party of two for quarter after six? I'm not certain if she's here yet…"
The woman nodded as she looked down at the list in front of her. "It does not appear that your dinner partner is here yet. If you'd care to follow me?" Penelope nodded and released the breath she had been holding as she kept pace with the woman, heading back to a secluded part of the restaurant.
"I did call ahead about having a bottle of non-alcoholic champagne available for dessert. Was that request able to be accommodated?"
"Yes, ma'am, it is currently on ice and waiting for the right moment. I hope that you get the answer that you want tonight."
Penelope smiled and nodded before picking up her menu and taking a glance at it. Since this had become their favourite restaurant, as of late, she had an inkling of what she was going to order, but she still needed a bit of a buffer that would allow her to get her rapidly beating heart under control. "How did you beat me here?"
Looking up, she felt her heart lurch a little to see her Erin, smiling down at her. "I must have had really good traffic," she replied as she rose to her feet and leaned in to kiss her partner. "I haven't seen our server yet, so you're not too late."
"Good. I was worried when Karen took the scenic route here. Did you have a good day at work?"
She nodded. "Yeah, it was uneventful. Though I did have a small chat with Hotch about our little Replicator situation."
"Let me guess, he still thinks that we're blowing things out of proportion?" She nodded. "Even though Alex is of the same mind as us?" Again, she nodded. "I suppose that's to be expected, even if it is a bit disheartening. Alex usually isn't wrong."
"What about you?"
Erin shrugged a little as she picked up her menu and glanced at it quickly before setting it aside. "I know that I'm fallible, that I make mistakes, some of them large. But I also know who are my strong people. You are one, Alex is another. I'm glad that we've started making inroads, thanks to you, even though things are still so tense at times."
"Progress is progress," she started, only for their server to appear. It didn't take long for them to place their order, and she watched Erin raise an eyebrow when she forewent the wine that she usually ordered when they were at this restaurant. "I'm driving tonight, and I want to have all my faculties about me for the night ahead."
The smirk that flickered across Erin's face told Penelope that she probably knew what was going to happen, but she didn't mind, truly. "Well, perhaps I'll just have to get you drunk on kisses once we're home."
"I love the sound of that!" From there, they settled into an easy conversation about everything that was not related to their work or the Replicator. "I think Anderson is going to ask Gina to marry him, soon," she said, wanting to slide the idea of her own proposal into Erin's mind.
"That's wonderful. It's hard to fathom that we have quite a number of soulmates in the BAU. Speaking of soulmates, how are things between Derek and Emily?"
"They're moving more slowly than Emily would like. But it's hard to be soulmates with someone who lives halfway around the world. Believe me, I lived through that for too long, even if you didn't know that we were soulmates yet. Though Rossi seems to feel that you knew more than you were letting on all along."
"He's wrong. I just thought that you truly wanted to be my friend, and that thought gave me so much joy. As you now know, I don't have many close friends, given the hours I work, and all the events that I have to go to outside of work. Schmoozing is my strong suit, even though I hate it. But now that I know I have you to come home to, or drag along with me, well, it's made it easier to deal with that aspect of the job. Which reminds me, we have a black-tie event to attend next week. I've already taken the liberty of ordering us new dresses, since I know how much you love pretty things to wear. Once they're here tomorrow, you can find a beautiful fascinator to wear with it."
"Ooh, now you have me intrigued! I know that you've probably chosen something elegant for me." Erin shrugged a little as she finished off her entrée, giving Penelope an enigmatic smile. "Do you want to split that delicious chocolate cake that they have? I don't think that I could eat a whole piece by myself."
"I think that sound delicious, Penny."
They shared a long smile before Penelope caught their server's eye, drawing her over to their table and putting the dessert order in. "All right, while we're waiting for that to arrive at the table, I have a question to ask, though you probably already know what it is." Reaching into her pocket, she drew out the ring box. "David actually helped me make this a reality, and I can only hope that you like it. I, I never really thought that I'd find my soulmate, and that when I finally found her, I would eventually want to take this next step. Because my hippy parentage didn't make it seem like a viable option for me. But I want to take this step with you. Erin, would you please agree to be my wife?"
She handed the ring box over to Erin, watching her lift the lid. Apprehension tugged at her heart as she began to second guess the gem she had chosen, wondering if she should have gone with a traditional diamond after all when it took a beat too long for Erin to look up at her. "How did you know that I prefer emeralds? Alan assumed that I was like the typical woman they show in jewelry advertisements, and always bought me diamonds for Christmas and birthdays. When he bothered to go big on gifts, that is. But this, this is perfect, darling." Erin slipped the ring onto her finger and held it up so that it would sparkle in the light. "And I suppose that I should tell you that my answer is yes. With all my soul, yes."
"Thank you, darling. And now, since it's a foregone conclusion that we're spending the rest of our lives together, I hope that you will do me the honor of wearing this ring, to let everyone know that we are going to last the test of time." Erin handed over her own ring box, and Penelope picked it up, gasping in pleasure to see the round purple gem winking up at her.
"This is gorgeous, Erin," she breathed out. "I've never seen an amethyst like this before."
"It's not, it's a purple sapphire. I wanted something unusual for you to wear, since I know that you are anything but ordinary."
She nodded as she picked the ring up, sliding it into place as their server returned with dessert and the bottle of champagne. "Congratulations!" the woman remarked as she poured the drinks for them, and Penelope gave her a happy grin as she nodded through her tears. "I hope that the rest of your life is as happy as you appear to be right now."
"Thank you," Erin huskily replied, and Penelope gave the woman a quick smile before dragging her gaze back to her ring, loving how it looked in the light. "As soon as we finish our drinks and dessert, I'll have one last sweet thing to devour before we fall asleep." Penelope flushed a little as she picked up her fork and broke off a piece of the cake, knowing that this was the next logical step in their relationship, and she couldn't wait to show off her ring to everyone in the BAU.