They weren’t sure how or why family dinners became a Friday night tradition. Maybe it was because Prentiss wasn’t quite ready to go home to an empty apartment every night, an apartment she still didn’t feel quite safe in even with the new locks. Maybe it was because Garcia insisted on more cooking lessons, as though she had someone (or a couple people) to impress with her skills. Maybe it was because Rossi was realizing he liked the sound of laughter and life in his so-called mansion more than he liked the sound of silence and the feeling of death.
The reason didn’t really matter all that much anyway.
Hotch always brought Jack, unless he was hanging out with his aunt that weekend. Sometimes JJ brought Will and Henry, and sometimes she didn’t. Once, Rossi’s daughter stopped by to visit with her wife and two sons. That had been a real treat.
It was always more fun when the kids were there. Those days, Garcia got to watch from afar as one handsome Derek Morgan showed his natural fatherly abilities, and Spencer Reid forgot the whole rest of the world while he held and played with his godson. While Penelope watched fondly, he’d play card tricks and pull coins from behind the kid’s small ears.
The same kid that also happened to be her godson, yet she never quite decided to participate herself, because this was kind of how she always lived her life, safe and at a distance from the action.
Only that was silly. What did she need to stay safe from? They were children, not unsubs, and two adult men.
Two adult men she worked closely with on a daily basis in a work environment that had a strict “no dating teammates” policy, yet who she was hopelessly in love with.
At this moment, Penelope was leaning against the island, sipping a fantastic glass of red wine poured for her by one inspiration of a man, David Rossi. Separate from the rest, but still enjoying the atmosphere.
Spencer was napping on Emily’s shoulder, which was adorable. Once upon a time, Penelope had been jealous of their relationship, but then she realized Prentiss was just the Cool Lesbian Older Sister that he had always wanted. It was a lot easier to chill after that.
Derek was next to them with Henry in his lap, making faces at the three-year-old. It was rare to see him so relaxed and unguarded - frankly, he looked like an idiot. But he was her idiot.
“Garcia, help me cut the tiramisu,” Rossi suggested, catching her by surprise.
“Hm? Yes, of course, sir.”
He chuckled, shaking his head at her knowingly. “Distracted?”
She shook her head. “Not at all,” she lied, holding up the glass of wine.
He just chuckled again. “How many have you had?” She shrugged. “Well, there’s always one of the guest rooms.”
“How many do you even have?” she asked.
He shook his head, and there was something a little sad about it. “More than the amount of visitors I ever actually have over.”
Hotch had been staying over recently, which Penelope had definitely learned from ways that were completely ethical and did not involve bribing Jack with cookies to learn about her boss’ personal life (she couldn’t help it - she was naturally curious!), so it either meant that Rossi had a lot more than one guest room, or Hotch was staying in Rossi’s room.
Her eyebrows rose.
“Whatever you’re thinking about,” Rossi told her, “stop it.” He shook his head, muttering, “unbelievable” with a small smile, and went to hand people slices of cake.
If they could do it, maybe she could too.
She balanced four plates in her hands and took them into the living room. “Here you are.” She passed one to Emily, whose shifting woke Spencer. He blinked blearily, squinting, and smiled up at Garcia as he took the cake.
“Coffee is already fantastic, and now it’s in a cake,” he rambled, still a little out of it. “I mean, the creative genius of it all…”
Emily eyed his empty glass of wine. “I don’t think you should drink anymore, Spence,” she laughed. “It’s gonna be hard enough getting you home anyway.” She herself had definitely already consumed more than she should to drive, though she was holding onto sobriety rather admirably.
“I’m totally fine.” He swatted at Emily’s shoulder. “Let me enjoy my cake in peace.” His cheeks were flushed and he did not seem quite fine, but Penelope wasn’t sure if it was the weekly exhaustion or the wine.
Derek shook his head, rubbing Spencer’s thigh affectionately. “You know I can’t drive you home tonight, Boy Genius.” Clearly he did not care what the children saw, though they were young and probably wouldn’t think anything of casual affection.
And that’s all it was, right? Penelope would’ve noticed if there was something there because they were her boys, even if all she could do was want them at a distance, and she may not be a profiler but she knew them pretty damn well.
She wondered if in her ridiculous pining for them both, she’d missed the signs they were in love with each other.
Reid hummed and shifted so he was leaning against Morgan this time, and Henry crawled into his lap, trying to nab a piece of cake. He caught a small bite off Spencer’s fork and everyone laughed as his face screwed up in disgust.
“That’s a big kid cake,” Penelope informed him, settling on the couch. “Not yummy for you.”
“Pleh.” Henry shook his head.
“I have vanilla cupcakes,” Rossi suggested, earning a couple raised eyebrows. “What? Jack likes them. I aim to please.”
“Yes,” Henry decided, hopping off his godfather’s lap. JJ laughed at her son, then nodded, and Rossi led Henry and Jack over to the kitchen to acquire more child-appropriate cake.
This gave Morgan and Reid the freedom to turn their attention towards Garcia, while Emily returned to her conversation with JJ.
“So, baby girl,” Derek began, and Penelope smiled. If she could have nothing else, at least she had that. “What’s your life been like outside of work? You know, the three hours a week we get free.”
She laughed. “I bought new curtains this week. They’re pink and orange chevron,” she supplied.
“I’ll pay attention next time I come visit,” Derek laughed. “But you know that’s not what I’m asking, Mama.”
“Well, I did start that wonderful book Dr. Reid suggested,” she teased. “Spent many a long night alone on my couch but for those words.”
“I finished it in about five hours,” Spencer informed her unhelpfully. She rolled her eyes, but she couldn’t deny that she loved him.
“No new boyfriends, then? No one special in your life?” Derek teased.
She shoved down any residual bitterness she might feel about Kevin; clearly they expected her to be over it. And in a way, she was over it. She was just mad how he’d handled the whole damn situation, and how he wouldn’t even look her in the eye at work anymore. How he’d thrown away the sheer amount of time they had been together just because the concept of marriage scared the shit out of her.
That didn’t matter. The here and now mattered. Garcia batted her eyelashes, made thicker with three coats of mascara applied painstakingly for exactly this situation. “You two are all the special I need, sugar.” If she could have them, she could forget all about Kevin and how he was being a dick.
Reid flushed slightly, but it could easily have been the wine.
“So Rossi,” Prentiss asked, drawing Garcia’s focus for a moment. “How’s the assistant coaching going?”
“You can’t decide who’s the assistant til you see a few games,” he shot back.
She laughed. “Is that an invitation to attend a match?”
“Just short of a direct order,” Hotchner replied, but he was smiling. He did that more these days, especially around Beth or Rossi. In this case, it was Rossi who had his hand resting absently on Hotch’s knee as he sipped from his wine glass.
If they could do it, Penelope Garcia could do it too. Somehow.
* * *
Henry and Jack were sitting at the kitchen table with their cupcakes. JJ looked ready to pass out on the couch next to Garcia, but honestly, who could blame her? Balancing this job with a personal life wasn’t remotely easy, even with Will in her corner.
Which was one reason that dating within the Bureau looked pretty damn appealing right about now. Derek pulled Spencer a little closer into his side, stealthily as he could. Fraternization rules be damned. There were two people he loved more than life itself, and he wanted them with him to face the world.
Reid was easy. Reid came over to hang out and never did anything more or less than Derek wanted him to. They didn’t talk about it, but there was something, and he just had to find the courage to put it into words.
The Garcia situation was more…delicate. She and Kevin had dated for years, and while he’ll admit he hadn’t necessarily been as respectful as he could have been of their relationship (he knew damn well Kevin was always jealous), he’d done his best. He hadn’t ever made a move on Penelope she hadn’t agreed to, and it was well within the bounds of their pre-set relationship.
Their platonic relationship that made it completely impossible for him to tell if she was as crazy about him as he was about her.
“She likes you,” Reid told him on occasion. “She’s just comfortable with Kevin. It’s safe and she doesn’t want to risk it.” But it was hard for Morgan to take Reid seriously on matters of the heart when he himself would admit he knew next to nothing about women.
Penelope was Derek’s girl, and he definitely didn’t want to make things weird. She’d already flipped out enough when she woke up to find him in her apartment.
But God, he was in love with that woman.
He picked up his wine glass and took a long sip, draining it. Prentiss guffawed and raised an eyebrow at him, but he just shook his head. What he really wanted was something a lot stronger, just to stop thinking quite so much. Or he wanted to go home with Reid and forget everything for a little while. Or both.
But somehow, for God knew what reason, despite his impeccable alcohol tolerance, Derek Morgan did not feel capable of driving.
He stifled a groan and let his head fall back onto the couch. He’d lost whatever energy he had to make small talk, and now he wanted to sleep. It’d been a long week. Cindy was back, his aunt was somewhere on the way to forgiving him, and he’d been thinking way too much about everything.
He hated to leave them all, though. The togetherness was soothing, the best part of Friday nights.
It was Henry who decided the night was over. With a loud yawn, he crawled into his mother’s lap and loudly demanded, “Time to go home now, Mommy!”
Will laughed, scooping his son up. “That’s our cue,” he drawled, perfectly sober. “Come on, darlin’.”
“It’s not fair you have a constant designated driver, JJ,” Morgan quipped. “The rest of us have to call cabs.”
“You could always get married, you know, Derek.” JJ smirked at him and her gaze darted down to Spencer, who was practically in his lap at this point.
“And rock-paper-scissors every time for DD? I’d rather take my chances with a cab,” he chuckled, absently ruffling Spencer’s hair.
“Just stay here,” Rossi suggested. “Everyone that can drive, drive. Everyone that can’t, take a guest room.”
“I’m sober.” Hotch stood up. “Jack’s got a big day tomorrow so we should get home. Right, buddy?” Jack nodded. “Anyone need a ride home?”
Garcia blinked tiredly. “I,” she declared, “am not leaving this house til I’ve slept for ten years.”
“A large commitment,” Rossi commented dryly.
Reid simply continued to snore in Morgan’s lap. “The boy’s staying here.” Derek shook Spencer gently. “Me too.”
Prentiss shook her head. “Rossi is going to cook me a fantastic breakfast tomorrow morning.” Her declaration earned a raised eyebrow from the man in question. “And it will cure the hangover that is definitely his fault.”
Spencer took that opportunity to yawn, arch his back in a very attractive way, and nod in agreement with Emily, gazing tiredly at Rossi.
Rossi muttered something in Italian under his breath, and it made Emily laugh hysterically, so it must have been quite clever. Derek thought he caught a nod in his direction but his head was heavy and he wasn’t quite sure.
“I’m sure as heck not going home,” Garcia declared, getting to her feet. “That you for your kindness, sir. You can teach me how to make this hangover cure that Emily is talking about tomorrow morning.”
Rossi shook his head, chuckling. “There’s a room with two beds and a room with one. Sort yourselves out.”
“Looks like you will be playing rock-paper-scissors after all, Morgan,” Prentiss joked.
They said their goodbyes and gave away all the hugs. Derek watched, delighted, as Penelope scooped up little Henry and spun him about lovingly. She didn’t often interact with the kids, but when she did, it gave him room to imagine what it’d be like to have a family, the three of them.
Climbing the stairs took every ounce of energy left in him, and they didn't even bother to try to argue over rooms. Morgan veered into the room on his right, pushing open the door, and Reid followed with a shrug.
“Okay then.” Prentiss laughed. “Good night.”
Derek's response was to close the door after them and collapse into bed with a groan. It had been a very long week.
* * *
Spencer Reid was ready to pass out, for real, finally. But first, he had to get his sorta-secret sorta-boyfriend (not that he would ever call him that out loud to his face) sorted out.
“I’m not sleeping with you if you leave your jeans on. That'll be miserable.”
Derek flashed him a tired grin. “You drive a hard bargain.” Slowly, he unbuttoned his jeans, staring Spencer down the whole time.
He laughed, shaking his head. “You don't seriously have the energy for that?” he asked in disbelief.
“Absolutely not,” Derek replied, tossing his jeans to the floor. He was still laying on his back on the bed, and rather resembled a beached fish, albeit a cute one. “Just having some fun with you.” His eyes still sparkled, despite his exhaustion, and Spencer pushed himself over to Morgan's side. Gently, Spencer caressed his cheek and leaned down, kissing him sweetly.
Moments like this were what made life worth living.
Derek reached up and started pulling off Spencer’s sweater, making him laugh as it got tangled in his long limbs. “And I thought bras were difficult,” Derek joked, ruffling Spencer’s hair.
Rolling his eyes, Reid finished the job for his boyfriend, pulling off first the sweater and then the button down underneath, enjoying how Morgan’s eyes lingered on his torso.
“You're not sleeping in your pants either,” Morgan informed him. “They're much too nice to be pajamas.”
Reid rolled his eyes again. “I am highly doubtful you actually care about that.” Still, he stripped off his pants, taking the time to fold all his clothes and place them to the side of the room. No sense wrinkling them.
The room was medium sized, very cozy, with rich red walls and lots of dark, polished wood. The bed was four poster and covered in soft blankets - an absolute sensory heaven for Spencer - not to mention absolutely massive. The dresser had a fancy mirror on top, and Derek was definitely making faces at him behind his back.
Spencer crawled back to the bed, shivering, and Derek took the opportunity to pull him close and trace the scars along his chest. Spencer still couldn't get over the fact he found them beautiful, but appreciated it nonetheless.
There was a knock on the door and they glanced at each other, unsure what to do. Spotting a pair of bright orange sweatpants poking out of the dresser and fighting his distaste, he threw them on as the knocking got louder and more insistent.
“Coming,” he grumbled, moving quickly to the door and tossing it open. Morgan had come up to grab the door too, standing just behind him.
Spencer’s breath caught. Garcia stood in the doorway wearing nothing but a gauzy white nightgown, with lace all over the bodice and a soft, loose skirt. It looked like something out of a fairy tale, and she was the princess.
He felt Morgan go rigid beside him, probably just as surprised at this turn of events.
“You brought pajamas?” Reid blurted out, unable to pry his eyes away. “How could you possibly have anticipated this?”
“What? No!” She glanced down at herself and then up at Spencer. “It's a slip, boy genius. It's like underwear. I put it under my dress to smooth the shape. It just….conveniently doubles as pajamas.”
“Oh.” He had learned something today, and it was that he liked seeing Garcia in her underwear a lot more than he had anticipated he would.
“What can we do for ya, baby girl?” Derek asked, steering the conversation while Spencer's brain continued short circuiting. Typical. Derek was used to this kind of thing, so of course he was able to act unfazed - Spencer could count on one hand the number of women he'd seen in their underwear, and none of them came even close to this.
“Um. Yeah. Hi,” she said shyly, crossing her arms. “Um. Emily snores really loud when she's drunk. I was wondering if I could stay in here. I’m sorry to bother you, I'll sleep on the floor, don't worry about me…” she started to ramble nervously.
“Absolutely not, Mama,” Derek cut her off, and her face fell. “Look. The bed is big enough for the three of us. Or if you prefer, I'll take the floor.” Spencer sent up a silent prayer of thanks that Rossi had such decadent taste and hoped nobody would be sleeping on the floor.
She waved her hands frantically. “No, no. I don't want to be a bother.”
“Really, Garcia, it's fine,” Reid replied, gesturing her into the room and shutting the door. His eyes never left her form, beautiful and ethereal.
She nodded, still unreasonably nervous, and sat down on the edge of the bed. “Okay.”
Reid was suddenly very preoccupied with the notions of propriety, but his discomfort outweighed it. Finally, he burst out, “Penelope? Do you care if I take off these sweatpants? They're not mine and it's very disconcerting.”
“Oh, yeah, of course.” She flushed and turned away, looking at Derek instead, which didn't much surprise Spencer. He considered himself very secure in his casual relationship with Derek, and very okay with whatever outcome, so even if his ridiculously long-lasting crush on Penelope was unrequited, he'd be happy if they got together.
It'd be a relief for Derek to stop pining like a fool, though Spencer supposed this accusation was mildly hypocritical based on the way he himself was staring at Penelope and holding back a dreamy sigh.
She really was the prettiest woman he’d ever seen. The white dress fluttered around her like something angelic, and though he’d never had much a way with flowery words, it made him want to write her poetry.
“Anyway. Don't let me interrupt any planned cuddling you two had.” Garcia played with the skirt of her slip. “Like I said, I won't be a bother.”
Spencer glanced at Derek and the two of them came to a silent agreement.
“Orrrrrr.” Derek snaked one arm around Penelope’s waist, startling her slightly. “You could join us.”
“What?” Her face was red and her hands were really fluttering now.
Reid decided that honesty was the fastest route here, so he decided to be direct. “You like Morgan. Morgan likes you. I am okay with this. You should join, as you called it, our ‘planned cuddle time.’” Brutally direct.
“And you?” prompted Morgan. Spencer shook his head, but Derek just kept staring, daring him.
His confidence was now gone and he braced for rejection. “And I think you're great too.” Morgan raised his eyebrows. “Okay, I've been really interested in you for several years. Are you happy now, Derek?” His face was on fire but he was strangely glad to get it out. Like he felt lighter all of a sudden.
“That's my boy.” Morgan clapped, grinning, and it seemed very genuine.
“Oh.” Garcia looked very much like she might faint. “Oh. Am I...am I awake? Is this real?”
“Yes?” Reid was suddenly very concerned that he had broken Garcia. If his expert personality analysis was incorrect…
All of a sudden, Garcia was dragging Spencer back onto the bed and tackle hugging them both. “You two could have saved me so much angst!”
“You never said anything either!” Spencer protested. “I never thought it would take you years to tell Derek!”
“And what about you, Boy Wonder?” she teased.
“Spencer has a notoriously large blindspot when it comes to anyone being interested in him,” Morgan piled on.
“At least I noticed you,” Spencer shot back.
Morgan guffawed. “I had to put my hand on your ass before you noticed.”
“Leave me alone,” Spencer mumbled. The weight of Garcia across him was very comfortable and warm and it almost made up for the egregious attacks he was suffering.
Suddenly, Penelope was kissing him, and Spencer couldn't help the squeak he let out. Still, it was easy to tangle his hands through her hair and lose himself in the kiss he’d been dreaming about since two weeks after she started at the BAU.
They pulled apart breathlessly, panting and staring at each other in wonder. Her right hand was splayed out on his chest and he was sure she could feel his pounding heartbeat.
“Wow,” he whispered.
She smiled warmly. “That good, huh?”
“C’mere, Mama.” Derek laughed. “Share the love.”
“Why, of course, my bronze Adonis,” she replied, shifting her weight. She leaned in and he caught her face in his hands, kissing her passionately. Spencer was absolutely spellbound watching the two people he loved practically devouring each other, and he didn’t really mind that Garcia was crushing his hand because it meant he got to cup her side, more or less, and that was pretty cozy too.
Until it wasn't anymore. He coughed. “Garcia, my hand please.”
She laughed. “Of course.” She wiggled her body until she was lying down between them comfortably. “Thanks for letting me join you two.” The way she said it felt deep and meaningful, and Spencer was glad Derek had pushed him to take a risk.
“Our pleasure, baby girl,” Morgan replied, and Spencer didn’t mind that he was speaking for them both. They slid under the covers and Spencer nestled into her side to enjoyed the coziness, reaching his arm over her side to hold onto Derek’s hand.
“What does this mean?” he asked curiously. “What’ll things be like now?” He’d spent a hell of a lot of time thinking about the future, but he’d never imagined something like this. “I mean, the convention is in a few weeks, and we were gonna do a couple’s cosplay anyway…”
“I’m too tired to think right now, boy wonder,” Morgan replied, and Garcia echoed the sentiment. “Let’s just sleep tonight and then see what tomorrow brings.”
Spencer nodded. “That sounds good.” He couldn't help himself from pressing tiny kisses along Penelope’s neck, making her giggle and squirm a bit. Derek squeezed his hand and he was very, very thankful for whatever lucky star had given him this.
* * *
If Emily hadn’t been miraculously hangover-free that morning, the sight she saw would’ve cured her.
Spencer stumbled down the stairs, squinting at the light and holding his head. “God, it’s either a hangover, a migraine, or I’m dying,” he complained. He seemed not to notice that the t-shirt he was wearing was definitely Morgan’s, and that his pants were unbuttoned, pulled haphazardly up to his hips, and that he was only wearing one sock.
One shirtless Derek Morgan followed him down the stairs, looking worse for wear but ultimately alive. He dragged a hand down his face. Following behind him was a bedraggled Penelope, the dress she’d worn the night before hanging open like a robe over a very pretty and somewhat revealing slip.
Emily took a sip of her coffee, smirking. “Good morning, Sunshines.”
“That's not fair,” Spencer whined. “You said you'd be hungover too.”
Emily shrugged. “Guess I drank a lot of water.” She took another long sip of coffee. “And got a surprisingly good night of sleep. I thought you all would be louder.”
Reid gaped at her, while Garcia hid her face in her hands. Morgan, however, was ready for her. “If we’d done what you think we did,” he laughed, “you would have been able to hear it.”
“Thank god you have some manners,” Rossi said dryly, reentering the kitchen. “I’d make you clean the guest room yourself.”
Garcia groaned. “This is it,” she said. “I have died, and I am in hell.”
“I’m pretty enough to be a demon, I suppose.” Emily munched on a piece of bacon. “But it’s alright. Don’t worry about it, guys.”
Rossi washed his hands and set about serving three breakfast plates. “What happens at Dave Rossi’s house stays at Dave Rossi’s house,” he declared, though she wondered why he was talking about himself in the third person. Italians were so dramatic sometimes.
“That is a good rule,” Penelope said, sitting down at the table heavily. “Now give me coffee, please, before my head splits open and all the stuff you don’t want to see falls out.”