Penelope Garcia told herself not again. After an intense but platonic relationship with her best friend Derek Morgan, she knew she couldn’t care so deeply for another person when they could, and eventually would, just up and leave her. Penelope often beat herself up for feeling this way because she loved Savannah and little Hank but her heart could only take so much after all the losses the team had gone through. She already had enough worry for her family and team as is.
Newbie was trying his hardest to chip away at her “fluffy armor” as he called it. What killed Garcia was that she found everything he tried so endearing but she always stopped herself before she got in over her head. On top of everything SSA Luke Alvez was another gorgeous strong superhero, just like Derek, yet totally different. His smile knocked her off kilter, but a man like that would never look at a woman like her, she lamented.
After a particularly hard case Garcia was staying late to finish paperwork so she could spend the entire weekend focused on de-stressing and relaxing, NOT thinking about the young women of this case. She was pulled away from her computer screen with a knock on her lair door.
“Still here?” A familiar deep voice asked.
“Obviously.” She snarked back but Luke only smirked at the feisty blonde.
“I would ask if I could join you but you’d just say no so I’ll just take a seat anyway.” Luke smirked at as he grabbed the extra chair in her office.
Penelope only snorted knowing he was just as stubborn as she was. When she finally finished up and shut down her computer and its many screens, she found him intensely studying one side of her office that held pictures of friends and family, even hand drawn pictures from Henry. Garcia could see the sadness behind his dark eyes. Was this case just as bad for him? Or was he missing someone, his family?
The offer flew out of her mouth before she could stop herself.
“Do you want to go get a drink?”
Luke turned to her surprised.
“Really? I-I would love that.”
“Good let’s go.”
Penelope grabbed her purse and Luke followed closely to the elevators.
As they descended to the garage level in the elevator Luke’s stomach growled loudly.
“I’m sorry about that.” He said embarrassed. “Do you think we could go somewhere with food also?”
“Sooo needy Newbie.” Penelope groaned but smiled letting him know she was kidding. Little did he know she was starving as well. “Well lucky for you I know a little Mexican joint with the best margaritas and they serve dinner late.”
When they arrived, the hostess recognized Penelope right away.
“Oh Miss Penny!! So good to see you. Your table is available.”
“Come here often?” Luke chuckled quietly.
Once seated the server arrived right away.
“Your usual Miss Penny? Peach Margarita and the veggie fajitas?”
Penelope’s face got even redder but nodded yes anyway. The server turned to Luke expectantly.
“You know what? That sounds delicious. I’ll have the same.” Luke turned to see Penelope’s shocked face. “Hey it must be good if you come here often and have a usual. I trust you.”
Penelope couldn’t stop the warmth that the statement “I trust you” put through her, even if it was just a food choice. Plus she knew Luke ate meat and drank beer so he was going outside his comfort zone for her.
“So how is miss Roxy?” Penelope started with a subject she loved.
“She’s good. I’m leaving her at the sitter’s tonight since its so late. She misses you though. I swear she knows who the dog cookies are from when I give them to her.”
“Well as long as she enjoys them, I’ll keep making them.” Penelope said with a smile.
There was a silence but Luke was just smiling at her, then the food arrived breaking the moment.
The conversation was surprisingly easy and comfortable for Penelope. She laughed hard when Luke told her about helping out an older neighbor with some chores who then came on to him. Being the nice guy Luke was he was stuck dodging her advances until all the chores were done.
“I think I like Mrs. Corgin.”
“Of course you would. You’d love anyone who gave me a hard time.”
The teasing was light and fun. Penelope appreciated his sense of humor. But what really touched her was when they accidentally got on the topic of work and this last case, he listened patiently as she described having to go through the victim’s lives intimately to only see them dead in the crime scene photos, feeling like a failure for not saving them.
Luke reached over and held her hand as she wiped her tears with her other hand.
“Its never easy when we lose victims but I know those women will be remembered because of you Penelope. You are the most caring person I know and the heart of the team. You keep us going time and time again.”
Penelope just stared at him with awe. After a few minutes she realized they were still holding hands and oddly she didn’t want to let go.
As it got later the pair reluctantly parted ways. She left him with a quick hug because if she held on longer, she might not let go.
Penelope spent the rest of the weekend replaying the night and actually looking forward to Monday morning.
When she arrived at work, she put down her purse and coat in her office and headed to the kitchen to get a cup of coffee. She saw Luke talking to JJ and Spencer but as she approached with a smile Luke’s eyes grew wide. Even before Penelope could say good morning Luke mumbled ‘gotta go’ and quickly left.
Penelope visibly deflated but quickly recovered so JJ and Spencer wouldn’t ask questions. The snuff hurt her more than she cared to admit.
“How was your guys’ weekend?”
JJ told her about Henry’s soccer game and Spencer rambled on about a new book he read and wrote a paper on for fun.
Later that morning JJ visited Penelope in her office, she leaned against Penelope’s desk and asked how she was.
“Uh huh.” JJ wasn’t convinced. “And how was your weekend? You left before I could ask.”
“It’s not nothing.”
“Oh yes, it is. Clearly from Luke’s reaction this morning, the completely meaningless dinner we had together was nothing.”
“Please don’t oh sweetheart me JJ. I know. I know that I got my hopes up and I knew it was stupid to do so yet here I am again. A guy like that would never be interested in a girl like me. Plus he's a complete Neanderthal. What was I thinking? You're right I wasn't. Don’t worry JJ, I’ll be fine.” Penelope rambled.
“You need to talk to Luke.”
Before Penelope could respond her computers and her phone chimed indicating a case effectively ending their conversation.
Penelope gave the team the details of the case. Prominent local figures were being kidnapped, killed, and left in public areas in Phoenix, Arizona. Penelope managed to ignore Luke, even when he asked a question, she answered addressing the group rather than him.
Prentiss closed the meeting with the traditional order of ‘Wheels up in 30’.
Penelope quickly headed back to her lair but with the high heels she was wearing Luke easily tracked her down.
“Hey can I talk to you real quick?”
“You’re on limited time Newbie.” She replied not looking him.
“Garcia stop. Please.” Luke gently put his hand on her elbow halting her. “Please listen. I want to apologize for this morning.”
“Why? Nothing happened.”
“Penelope look at me.” Penelope did but showed no emotion except annoyance.
“I, uh, well I just wanted to say.” Luke stumbled over his words and rubbed the back of his neck. “Dammit I wanted to do this better.”
Penelope was now confused.
“Luke its fine. You better get to the jet.”
“No its not fine. Let me explain. I ducked out this morning because you walked in on me talking to JJ and Spencer about our date.”
“Yeah well, no I mean I know it wasn’t a date per se but I was wondering if we could go on one? Together I mean. A date.”
Penelope’s confusion faded away to giddiness. She’d never seen Luke Alvez so inarticulate and it was because of her!
“Are you asking me out, Newbie?”
Luke took a deep breath.
Prentiss appeared down the hall.
“Alvez, let’s go.”
Luke looked bummed but moved towards the elevators.
“Don’t answer yet, just think about it.”
Penelope was sure she looked like a fish with her mouth gaping open.
Later in the day after the team landed in Phoenix, she got a text from JJ.
JJ: Told you. What are you going to say?
Garcia: I’m so confused.
JJ: Why? Don’t you like him?
Garcia: Well yes but was that what was really going on this morning?
JJ: Penelope you’re a smart girl. He was embarrassed, nervous to talk to you. Now call him and tell him you’ll go out with him when we get back.
Even though Penelope had trouble believing that Luke Alvez was nervous around her she took JJ’s advice, well sort of. She didn’t call him, but he called her first for information pertaining to the case. After she finished answering his questions about the victims’ backgrounds, she stopped him from hanging up.
“What no newbie?” Luke chuckled nervously.
“Were you serious?”
“Very serious Penelope. Why do you think I’ve been trying so hard to get you to like me? I loved spending time with you just us Friday night. I have to admit I wish I would’ve been much smoother with it all.”
Penelope finally let out a breath and laughed.
“Well that was pretty bad.” She teased.
“Yes it was, but I’m glad you know now. Anyway, I better get back to the team.”
“I can’t wait till you get back.” Penelope couldn’t contain her smile.
“Is that a yes?”
“See you soon Luke Alvez.” She wanted to keep him on his toes a little bit longer.
“See you soon Penelope Garcia.” She couldn't see but could hear the huge smile on Luke's face.