Penelope paced back and forth in the ready room, her gut twisting and churning with nerves as she waited for the team to bring Alex back. She had sent them off to a location two hours north of the city what seemed like a decade ago, but was in actuality only four hours ago, and while she knew that there wouldn't be instantaneous results, she still wanted to hear something from one of them as soon as they had more information to tell her. It was sheer torture to listen to her song in her heart and know that she couldn't be with Erin until John Curtis was taken out, and Alex was on her way home.
A large hand touched her shoulder, causing her to jump and let out a small shriek. "I'm sorry, ma'am, I didn't mean to startle you, but I tried calling out to you a few times before touching you."
"I'm just really jumpy right now. Waiting is the hardest part of my job, and this is the worst sort of waiting. What can I do for you?"
"It's getting to be late, and while I know that you might not want to rest until your team is back here, it might be for the best if you follow me to the break room, so you can at least get something to eat and drink. If any calls come in from your team, I'll make certain to get you as soon as possible."
She knew that he was right, but it still felt a bit like a betrayal to Erin and Alex. "I suppose that you're right," she finally replied, giving the younger woman a small nod before following her to the break room. There was a pot of coffee ready, along with an assortment of doughnuts and bagels.
"And if there's nothing here that catches your eye, there is community food in the fridge, basically, anything without a name on it is up for grabs. Take your time eating and drinking. You'll be no good to your team if you're worn out from worry."
"Thank you," Penelope whispered, giving the woman a small smile when she squeezed her shoulder and then left the room. Breathing out through her nostrils, Penelope went over to the coffee pot and poured herself a cup. The brew was bitter, but that suited her just fine, since it meant that it would help keep her awake more easily. Her stomach grumbled at her, and she went over to the table and picked up a glazed doughnut, quickly devouring it before grabbing a sesame seed bagel and refilling her mug. With both things in hand, she went back to the conference room and took a seat in front of her laptop, willing her phone to ring and let her know that everything was all right.
At some point, she must have fallen asleep, because the next thing she knew, a warm kiss was being pressed to her cheek, startling her awake. Shaking her head a little, she looked up to see Alex and Rossi in the room with her, and she burst into tears before hurriedly getting to her feet and throwing her arms around Alex into the tightest hug she could muster. "You're okay, sugar pie!"
"My wrists are sore, from where John had me tied to a chair, but other than that, yes, I'm fine. Now, how about we go and tell Erin the good news?"
"You know that she's alive, then?" she asked as she let Alex go, staring into her eyes to try and confirm to her that Alex was really standing before her, that it wasn't some figment of her imagination. Alex gave her a small nod, and that was all it took for Penelope to break down in tears, embracing the woman once more and nuzzling her nose into her thick brown hair. "What are we waiting for, then? Take me to my soulmate."
Alex nodded and guided her blindly out the door. It was so nice to give control over to someone else, and she didn't look up again until she heard a car door open, and then she pulled away from Alex long enough to climb in the back, seeing that Derek was already behind the wheel. Rossi joined him up front while Alex got in the back with her. Reaching out for her hand, Penelope laced their fingers together, hoping that the woman was all right with physical contact. "We'll never have to worry about John Curtis ever again, Penny. Dave managed to take him down with a shot almost as impressive as ones I've seen Erin take. I knew that things would be all right from that moment on, even if I still didn't know Erin was alive. Dave didn't say a word about that until John was declared dead, just on the off chance that he survived. It would have been a miracle, but stranger things have happened. You'll be the first one to see Erin, but would you mind if I joined you after the first few minutes?"
"No, I think that I would love to have a support system with me. I don't know what we're going to find at the hospital, after all." Alex nodded before patting her shoulder lightly. Penelope took the opening for all it was worth, cozying up to Alex and letting her head come to rest on her upper arm. They spent the rest of the drive in companionable silence, and Penelope tried not to dwell on the fact that she wasn't certain what condition she'd find Erin in when they reached the hospital. Unconsciously, she began to hum their song, and Alex joined in as well, adding a harmony that Penelope found herself soothed by.
"I listened to this song for years. I know it almost as well as I know my own," Alex murmured in her ear before she laid her head atop Penelope's. Penelope nodded a tiny bit before continuing on with the song, trying to tamp down her impatience at how long the drive was taking. Finally, though, they arrived at a large hospital, and Derek showed his credentials to the security guard out front before being shown where to park. "All right, we need to head inside and find where they're taking care of Erin. Don't worry about the police presence, Hotch said that it was necessary to keep Erin safe, just in case Curtis figured everything out."
She nodded, never letting go of Alex's hand as they followed after Derek and Rossi. Again, Derek showed his credentials as he spoke with another security guard, and then they were being escorted to a secluded part of the ICU and over to a private room where two officers were posted. "Good morning, we're here to take over for you," he said, shaking their hands before gesturing for Penelope to enter the room. She nodded and tightened her grip on Alex's hand, dragging her inside as well, not wanting to be alone in that moment.
"I'm perfectly okay with waiting for a little while!"
"And I suddenly find myself needing moral support sooner rather than later." Taking a deep breath, she went over to Erin's bedside, feeling a wave of sadness sweep over her when she saw that her beloved soulmate was hooked up to a number of machines. The noises started to get to her, and so she began to sing their song. It took a moment for her to recognize the fact that another voice, not Alex's, was singing along with her, and she looked into Erin's face, seeing her grey eyes groggily looking at her. "Darling, I never thought I'd get this opportunity again. Even though I could still hear our song, I didn't know how long that would last. Alex is here, too, because I didn't want her to have to wait to see you. And Curtis is dead, we won't ever have to worry about him hurting the two of you ever again."
Bursting into tears, Penelope dropped her head carefully onto Erin's torso, letting the woman run her fingers through her hair as they sat there quietly for a few moments. "I feel like I've waited a lifetime to tell you this, Penny. I love you."
"I love you, too, Erin. Now, I am going to go to sleep while Alex talks your ear off. I can finally relax, knowing that you're both okay." Erin tugged gently on a hank of hair before murmuring her assent, and as she and Alex began to speak, Penelope drifted off to sleep, hoping that this was the start of the best part of her life.