Author: Scribere Est Agere
Spoilers: Sometime after Untethered
Disclaimer: These characters do not belong to me.
Summary: It’s all true, except for the parts that aren’t.
For the wonderful suffisaunce and lozziecap.
This part is all true:
She was a little drunk and they both knew it. He’d been drinking, too, but he still had his wits about him, for the most part. More than she did, anyway, which, as it turned out, wasn’t saying much.
Friday night, late-April, cold with drizzle but with the promise of Spring, whatever that meant. O’Malley’s, Logan and Wheeler, Price and Diluzio. Just a few drinks after a few bad cases, which Bobby had been about to turn down, but one look at Alex’s face and her sudden shift in expression from hopeful/upbeat to not, and he’d (reluctantly) acquiesced. He’d had been back for two weeks and they’d barely spoken, he and Alex, about anything other than work. (You finish the paperwork? I did. You ready to go? I am. What’s for lunch? I don’t know. What do you want?) The tension was there, but so was something else. Something else just beneath the surface that neither one cared to scratch.
So, he went and they all laughed and they all drank, and then drank some more. After some good-natured and unnecessary jostling, Bobby and Alex had ended up next to each other, pushed up against one another in the red, vinyl booth, closer physically than they’d been in months, years maybe. She laughed loudly at all the jokes, even the unusually lewd ones, and even let him buy her a Margarita, leaning over and murmuring thank-you against his ear. It was pretty much the most pleasant evening he’d spent in, well, forever.
Everyone split up in the end, and he was pretty sure Logan didn’t raise his eyebrows as he watched Bobby hail a cab for himself and Alex. And, if he did, Bobby found himself not caring.
In the cab she leaned against him heavily, her head on his shoulder, and she slipped an arm through his and held on to his elbow. He looked down at the top of her head several times during the ride and resisted a strong urge to drop a kiss there, where her hair parted and was damp from the rain.
A very strong urge.
He swallowed and looked away, looked out instead at the night city, at lights so bright and garish they made his eyes water. He blinked slowly and thought about things he’d never really let himself think about.
Then he thought he must have had more to drink than he realized.
In her apartment he was unsure and he hated feeling unsure. She calmly kicked off her shoes and dropped her coat on the couch, then walked — a little unsteadily and without a backwards glance — down the hallway to her bedroom. Well, he assumed it was her bedroom.
He waited an acceptable amount of time, and then followed her.
She was fully clothed, sprawled across her bed, one arm thrown up over her face. He hovered in the doorway.
“I shouldn’t drink,” she said finally. “I always end up feeling sick.”
“Can I get you anything…before I go?”
“Just a glass of water, please.”
Happy to be given a task, he hurried to her kitchen, thinking about things like domesticity and how her apartment smelled like jasmine.
She drank most of the water and set the glass on her bedside table.
“Do you need more?”
She shook her head.
“Well, then,” he said, not turning to leave.
“I missed you, you know.”
One hand, small and cool, slid into his and he grasped it without thinking. Her fingers moved beneath his in a sort of deliberate pattern, he realized, back and forth, then a small circle, then back and forth again. It was incredibly — he searched for the right word — sensual.
What was she doing?
She looked up at him in the half shadows.
Ah god he wanted to kiss her so badly. Ah god he needed to get out of her bedroom, now, fast.
He spoke rationally and with great deliberation, though he felt neither rational nor deliberate.
“Eames, you’ve been…well, you’ve had some drinks and you’re tired, we’re both very tired—”
She was still doing that horribly wonderfully maddening thing with her fingers and her hair was splayed across her face and the pillow and if he reached out just a little he could touch it—
“Maybe you should just, you know, sleep—”
“Maybe,” she said. She yawned.
“Maybe.” He nodded in something like relief, but not quite.
“Or, maybe you’re just not attracted to me.” She said this last part very quietly, so quietly he wasn’t sure he heard her correctly, but the way she had turned her face away and the way she was speaking into the pillow made him realize he had, and the implications of her words rendered him speechless and horrified.
Was she serious? How on earth could she possibly think—
He wanted to laugh at the utter absurdity of it but managed to convince himself that laughing at this precise moment could only bring disastrous results. Instead he bit the inside of his cheek hard and closed his eyes and squeezed her fingers and willed his heart to stop doing annoying things like hammering against his ribs so hard he was sure she must have been able to hear.
“Eames,” he murmured in near despair, but she had fallen asleep. Sometime after that he let go of her hand and made himself leave.
They didn’t talk again until Monday morning. He was sitting ramrod straight at his desk, staring at her empty chair, then at his watch, which read 9:23 a.m. Ross appeared over his left shoulder and dropped three case files in front of him. Bobby jumped.
“Eames called. She’s sick.”
Goren shook his head, as if coming out of a great fog.
“Sick. Flu, she says. She sounded pretty bad.”
Ross looked at him.
“Yes. It happens, from time to time, even to Eames.”
“She can’t be sick, I just saw her—”
He stopped, made himself stop because Ross was looking at him with a different expression now. Bobby swallowed and looked down at the files, waved a hand. “So, what are these?”
He ran down the hallway, his thumb hitting her name on speed dial as he looked for a quiet place to stop and talk. She answered after the fourth ring and she sounded like shit.
“Eames,” he said. Then he didn’t have anything else to say, so he waited.
“Bobby.” She coughed and sniffed and waited.
“Uh…you’re not here.”
“I just thought…uh…I wanted to make sure everything was all right…with us and I when you didn’t show up this morning, I thought—”
She sniffed again. She sounded a little pathetic, actually.
“Bobby, if I wanted to avoid talking to you about something, I just wouldn’t talk to you about it. I wouldn’t stay home, pretending to be sick with a 102-degree fever. Trust me.”
“You have…a what?”
“Fever, Bobby. I’m actually sick. Didn’t Ross tell you?”
He chose not to respond.
“Do you need anything?” he finally asked politely.
“A bottle of Tylenol and about 12 hours of uninterrupted sleep.”
“Do you have Tylenol?”
“Okay,” he said.
“I’ll see you tomorrow, I hope.”
Bobby almost wished this hadn’t happened:
They were sitting outside Lenny Krakowski’s house, waiting for the good doctor to receive his usual Thursday night drug drop. A half-eaten bagel and cold cups of coffee sat between them and Alex was restlessly drumming her fingers on the steering wheel. She let out a gust of breath. She was irritated and her back hurt.
“Where is he? Did he suddenly develop a conscience, or what? Of all nights for him to be late—”
“I am attracted to you.” He hadn’t known he was going to say it. It came out before he could even process the words in his brain. It just came out, very quietly, but there it was. And she heard him because, even in the car’s dark interior, he could see her mouth drop just a bit and her eyebrows did that thing they did when she was caught somewhere between amazed and aghast.
He stumbled on. “You said, couple weeks ago, that maybe I wasn’t. Attracted to you. Maybe you don’t remember saying it, but I do, and you need to know that nothing could be further from the truth, all right?”
He said all of that very quietly, too, and kept his face almost turned away, but not far enough that he couldn’t see her stop drumming and instead grip the steering wheel very tightly with both hands.
“There’s our guy,” he said and opened his door.
This is mostly true, depending on who’s telling the story:
It all happened without a word, in the car again. It was late on a Tuesday night this time, and she had driven him home. They were both exhausted, but humming with some weird energy, having closed their case with a bang, literally. Alex had fired her gun, again. She had missed this time, barely, but still, Manning had pulled his and was aiming for Bobby. Alex had meant to kill, but all she’d done was scare him into dropping it, hands raised, crying like a baby. Fucking coward, she’d screamed in her head. Fucking point a gun at my partner.
What was there to say? They sat for several minutes outside his apartment complex, staring out at the night. Finally, Bobby moved to gather his belongings and badly fumbled his folder, dropping it off the seat. Papers spilled haphazardly but Alex barely cast a glance.
He was leaning over to grab a few from under her feet when she kissed him. She had been going for his cheek but at the last minute he had turned his head a little and she caught the corner of his mouth, too. He sat back and saw her throat work as she swallowed, then watched in amazement as she raised her hands and placed them on either side of his face. They felt very cold against his skin and he was quite sure they were trembling. Or, maybe it was just him. She held his face as she leaned forward and pressed her mouth against his — no accident this time, he thought, giddy — very, very lightly at first, but then with increasing pressure. He kissed her back. There was no question about that, and it was all lips and skin and her hair brushing his cheek and the scent of her in his nose and the sound of her breathing, breathing. He dropped everything he was holding and grabbed her shoulders in case she decided to change her mind before he was ready to let her go.
Bobby remembered the next part happening something like this:
There was no alcohol involved but he felt drunk. Exhausted? Giddy? No, not quite, but not like himself, either, at all.
One in the morning: case files covered in scribbled notes scattered across her coffee table, two cups of discarded decaf, Bobby on the couch half lying on top of Alex with his hand under her sweater, writhing like two teenagers after the parents have left for the evening. Hardness and softness and god the things she could do with her mouth—
She left his neck alone long enough to raise her hands and push against his chest.
“You’re…kind of hurting me a little,” she said, embarrassed. He immediately shifted and sat back, running a hand through his hair and taking a shaky breath.
“Sorry,” he said. “Maybe I should go—”
But then she was on his lap and clothes were being removed at an alarming pace and her breasts were everything he had fantasized about, on the very rare occasion he had permitted himself to fantasize about her, ever. Then they were in her room, on her bed and he realized how far this was progressing and he realized with some panic he had nothing to use, because he didn’t do this kind of thing these days, and the notion of buying something hadn’t even crossed his mind in ages, and especially not for an encounter with Eames.
“It’s ok,” she gasped against his neck. “Bedside table.” Which stopped everything cold because, what the hell? Not that he hadn’t considered the painful fact that his partner may entertain but now that he was here, doing this with her, the thought made him feel more than a little queasy and hot sickening jealousy squirmed beneath his ribs.
She watched him fumble in the drawer, smirking gently at his averted eyes. She kissed his hand, his shoulder, slowly.
“They’re old, Bobby. They may have expired, in fact,” and she smiled shyly when he did in relief and wondered how she was going to survive this, any of it, Bobby’s hands and mouth on her, without spontaneously combusting.
And it was awkward and messy and not perfect at all because they were still figuring each other out. He remembered the feel of her skin under his hands, the way she arched against him and the way she cried out and he had a difficult time thinking about anything else because it wasn’t just anyone, it was Eames, and that realization alone was enough to send him over the edge into a kind of oblivion.
He remembered sliding into her for the first time and almost losing it then, but he held on, thinking it would actually be enough, it would be just fine to remain like this for the rest of his life. But, of course, it couldn’t last, because she wouldn’t let it and she urged him on with a sharp sweetness he knew she would possess. He remembered a molten release and the feeling that everything was as it should be. Everything was right. He wondered if she felt the same way, but was too frightened to ask.
He remembered her breathing changing, slowing from frantic to laboured to even, and her voice, timid in the darkness:
“You meant what you said in the car that night, about finding me—”
“Oh god, Alex. Yes. Yes.”
He remembered wanting to cry at that exchange but instead pulled her to him as tightly as he could, as if the very strength of his arms could impart the truth behind the words.
He remembered possibly falling asleep before she did.
He remembered not wanting to change any of it for the world.
Unfortunately this is all too true:
He had anticipated some awkwardness in the workplace — he wasn’t that naïve — but this? This was ridiculous, that’s what this was. She wouldn’t even look at him, and when she did speak to him her voice was low and gravelly and she barely moved her lips. She held herself stiffly away from him, like she might explode or disintegrate if he fucking brushed her hand by accident, and all he wanted to do was kiss her or grab her and take her somewhere, a storage closet, the elevator, on the goddamn desk for pity’s sake—
In the car she sat as far away from him as possible, her mouth tight, her hair partly covering her face.
“You all right?” he said finally when it became painfully apparent she wasn’t going to say another word to him.
“You’re acting…” He trailed off.
“What? I’m acting what?”
“I don’t know. You sound…funny. You look…you look angry. Or something.”
“I’m not angry, Bobby, and if I sound funny it’s because I don’t know.”
“You don’t know…”
“I don’t know how the hell I should act or sound right now! I mean…fuck! What if everyone can tell just by looking at us…?”
He grinned. He couldn’t help it.
“If anyone saw us right now they’d think you hate me, Eames. No worries there.”
He thought it might make her smile, but it seemed to have the exact opposite effect. She looked seriously pissed off.
“I don’t hate you, Bobby, god.”
“Well, I’m glad to hear that.”
“Don’t be such a—”
She slammed one hand down on the horn as a cab cut her off.
She was driving faster and faster. He wanted to tell her slow down, but didn’t dare. He looked out the window at the landmarks hurtling past, instead.
“Maybe we should just…cool it for awhile.”
That got her attention. Her shoulders went up around her ears.
“What does that mean?”
He shrugged with a casual elaborateness he did not feel in the least. He felt, in fact, like throwing up, violently. Here it was. Here it was, after all, his biggest fear. It was all going to come crashing down, go up in flames, everything that meant anything to him, the one person who meant everything.
“Did we make a mistake?” she asked as she drove. Her voice cracked, twice, and she still wouldn’t look at him. It was starting to make him mad.
“Do you think we made a mistake?” he asked, his voice much harsher than he’d intended. Or maybe he had intended. He didn’t know anymore. She winced. He didn’t take his eyes off her. She shook her head, once, twice. More like a twitch to the casual observer, but he knew better. He wanted to touch her but was afraid she’d run into the back of a bus or jump the curb or something. He leaned towards her.
“I think this, you and I, we’re the only thing that isn’t a mistake right now.”
She sighed, wavering, cut her eyes to him at last and they were full of tears. She nodded.
“I think so, too.”
In the beginning, years ago now, they met one morning for the first time and sized one another up, large and small, dark and light, and both smirked and sighed inwardly, with no small measure of relief:
Not my type.
No chance of falling in love, here.
Which turned out to be the biggest untruth of all.