A/N: Here we are at a long overdue update. I'm glad so many of you enjoyed the bathroom Cherri scene in the last chapter. For being so patient and sticking with me, there's a nice Cherri moment waiting. ;)
Christopher LaSalle had to admit, there was a part of him that purposely wanted the reconstruction on his bathroom to be delayed for the fact that he loved Meredith Brody's couch. Now grant it wasn't as comfortable as a pillow-topped queen sized bed, but the cushions were comfortable enough that he didn't have a worry about a good night's sleep.
Then there was Merri herself of course, who had grown accustomed to snuggling up next him, in the crook of his outstretched arm as it laid across the top of the couch cushions, while they engaged in the latest episodes of her favorite, do it yourself show on the Home and Garden Channel, or her favorite Lifetime movie.
One night she'd actually fallen asleep, up against his arm, her head slightly on his shoulder. He didn't have the heart to wake her so instead; he sat there with his arm dead asleep from lack of movement.
Day by day it was getting harder and harder to fight off his growing feelings for the female agent. He had to give it to Brody though for the most part she respected his need to wait.
He suspected his obsession with needing to track down Claire Keats, had something to do with it. Now that he had Pride's blessing to hunt the rogue NCIS agent she was practically all he thought about it and with good reason. Though she had kept him safe after being buried alive she had failed to seek assistance, making her actions seem suspicious.
Had she been a part of Peter Kelly's sick plot to destroy him?
It stood to reason, that at some point, Claire would try to make contact with him again. It was just too strange to think that she would presumably care for him for three days in an off the beaten path motel room and never show her face again. She must of wanted something and another tip from Fawn Lynn, confirmed just that. As it turned out, the former, NCIS Red Team member had reached out to the informant asking her to keep tabs on Chris.
"How do we know we can trust Fawn?" Brody asked as she looked around the crowded night club for any sign of Claire.
"Patton says, we can trust, her and I trust him," Chris said, placing his hand at the small of her back, as if he were trying to maintain some sort of cover with her as his date.
Brody gave him the eye. "I trust him too, but it doesn't mean that you aren't in some sort of danger."
"If Claire wanted tuh hurt me, she could have easily done so back in Bama. Besides we've got Percy and Ross P watching our six."
Merri glanced at her partner skeptically. The only six Ross P was watching was Sonja's. It seemed that ever since Chris had brought the ex-con into the folds of their little family that he'd developed a little crush on the stereotyped tough girl, agent.
"C'mon, we've got a few minutes before Claire gets here." Automatically, the male agent tugged on her hand, leading her out to the dance floor.
"Ya ever two-step?" He had only meant to loosen her up, a bit, reassure her that he would be okay but seemingly it had an adverse effect. Merri seemed more uptight than ever, making him think she would rather have Percy's role of coordinating the take down. It made sense he guessed, considering how protective of him she'd become since their kiss after leaving the cemetery in Alabama.
"What? Chris, No!" Too late. His hand was already in hers with the opposite on her hip, guiding her through the steps. Silently, Merri prayed it wouldn't break out into a line dance where she would have to operate her two feet on her own. As graceful as she was on a day to day basis, dancing was a completely different story. Like most people she could do the typical sway side to side move with your partner but when it came to traditional ballroom or the more popular country line dancing she was a complete klutz.
Obviously, her partner, being from the South was an expert. "It's like walkin, quick, quick, slow, slow, turn."
Paralyzing fear gripped her until she realized what he was doing. If Claire came in and saw him having a good time, she would assume his guard was down, making her feel secure in her quest to continue stalking him.
Willing herself to follow his lead (which wasn't that hard after all), she lost sight of her fear and relaxed into the comfort that was just him. The feel of his hand in hers, and on her hip was starting to have an intoxicating affect. If it weren't for the fact that they were here to trap Claire Keats, she could dance with Chris like this all night.
"Goldilocks is in the house," they both heard Percy say into their coms. "LaSalle she's at your six O'clock."
"Easy, just keep doing exactly what you're doing, and don't make eye contact. Percy and Ross P have got this." Merri said, gently as he turned her so that he could finally get a glimpse of the mystery agent who looked so much like Savannah.
The initial glance instantly felt like someone had driven a knife through his chest. Even from across the room the resemblance was uncanny, suddenly making his heart yearn for the woman he had lost.
"Turn, look at me, and smile," he heard Merri say as they continued their loop around the dance floor.
It wasn't so much the sound of Brody's voice that brought him back as it was the stomping of her foot upon his toe that made him look at her. The smile however wasn't going to happen. He was in too much shock.
"Keep your head in the game. Let Sonja handle this."
"I can't. C'mon, I've got an idea." He said when the song ended.
Brody started to protest as he held tightly to her hand and dragged her out the front door, hoping Claire would follow. Once they were outside, Chris ducked into the ally way, and deposited his partner up against the corner wall where they were sure to be seen by anyone leaving the club.
Flanking, her face, he heard Merri yelp in surprise, when he suddenly pressed his mouth to hers and starting kissing her with wild abandon. He knew it probably wasn't the best move, considering his partner's feelings toward him, but he needed something to engage Claire and make her think that he still had no clue as to her existence.
Otherwise, he would have stayed in that club and tipped her off, simply because he couldn't tear his eyes away from her. Seeing her in the flesh was almost more than he could handle.
But standing here outside, kissing Brody well that helped to keep him grounded a bit even if it did sound a bit selfish. He wasn't sure as to why suddenly the heart pounding fear he had felt just a couple of minutes ago had faded as a quickly as it appeared other than Brody made him feel safe and secure. He had to admit, taking the initiative to kiss her on his own rather than being surprised by her forwardness, made him feel more at ease. This time around he was actually enjoying it. The way her tongue felt meshing with his own, the slight aftertaste from the sip of beer she had taken when they first arrived at the club, the feel of his strong hands against the soft skin of her face, everything about her, felt right until he remembered Claire.
Breaking the kiss, he noticed the pleading, almost frightened look in her eyes. She was conflicted and so was he. They'd just gotten over her impromptu kiss and now he was the one doing the impromptu kissing?
Her lips parted and she was about to say something until from over his shoulder she noticed Claire standing a just a couple of feet away from them casually lighting a cigarette at the curb. She appeared to be waiting for a cab.
"Now" she told him as if this had been a well thought out plan all along. She could read Chris' actions so well, that she knew he was only looking for a way to get physically closer to Claire, without scaring her off.
She was literally less than 10 feet away, an easy capture between the four of them if they played their cards right. Although they couldn't see the third member of their team, Percy and Ross were around somewhere.
Chris gave Brody a simple nod, turned and made a straight beeline for Claire.
"Claire Keats, NCIS!"
Dropping, her cigarette, the well trained agent, grabbed at a man walking beside with his girlfriend. "Help me, that's my ex and he's crazy he wants to kill me!" She shrieked before darting out into the street, cars laying down on their horns she skirted around them.
"We're Federal Agents," Chris shouted pulling out his badge as the man started toward him. Thankfully, the burly man was only a momentary distraction putting him about twenty steps behind Claire.
Dang, she could run fast he thought as he chased her down the dark sidewalk, dodging pedestrians every few feet while Brody trailed steadily behind, the traffic in the street putting a significant distance between them.
Darting into an alleyway, LaSalle continued to follow the rogue agent at top speed until he saw Percy and Ross round the corner at the opposite end, trapping her.
Claire skidded to stop, reaching behind for the weapon she had tucked into the back of her jeans. A skilled agent, she was trained to carry wherever she went.
"Don't do it, Goldilocks," Percy warned, pulling her own SIG Pro 228.
Raising her hands, Claire turned to face LaSalle. She was breathing hard. "I haven't done anything wrong."
For several seconds, Chris just stared at her, taking in the features of her face. Her resemblance to Savannah was severely messing with his head. "Ya don't call, holding a federal agent hostage doin' anything wrong?"
"I wasn't holding you hostage. You were sleeping," Claire argued as Percy stepped up behind her, cuffing the former RED Team agent just as Brody appeared.
"You can explain it all to Director Vance. He wants to talk to you."
Claire narrowed her sharp green eyes at the older female agent who had been just minutes earlier been making out with LaSalle. "I don't work for NCIS anymore; Vance has no claim on me. I'm a private citizen now."
"Save it for your lawyer," Percy grumbled as she started to cart Ariel's twin sister off to the SUV giving her two other teammates some privacy.
For several moments they both just stood staring into Claire's back as she was led away by the smaller agent and Ross P.
"Are you okay?" Brody asked, letting her hand trail down Chris' spine. She watched as he pursed his lips and swallowed uncomfortably, making her question moot.
"She sounds just like-" he swallowed again, his voice changing to a whisper "Savannah…" Minus the accent. Claire's voice was smooth more like people who lived on the West Coast, where as Savannah's had been a bit twangy, not as pronounced as his own but you could definitely tell that she had hailed from the South.
Taking his hand, Brody laced their fingers, figuring he wouldn't mind considering the kiss he had given her a little while ago had been a little more than friendly; even if he was playing a role. "We'll get to the bottom of it, all of it."
Chris nodded woodenly letting her steer him in the direction of the truck. Whether he wanted to admit it or not, he needed to lean on Brody now, needed her to help him keep his emotions in check once the interrogation started.
Now that they had Claire in custody he had the feeling that he might be heading for another downward spiral. Part of him had to wonder why a highly trained NCIS agent who once travelled around the globe, living with her co-workers allowed herself to be captured so easily. Like the LA based team of Special Operations, the RED team was specially trained at a higher level than himself or even Pride.
Did she want to get caught? If so, why? And what connection did she have to him? Until they got back to the office and started questioning her the mystery remained unsolved.
A/N: So, we now have 2 kisses and a slap. Do I detect a subconscious romance blossoming between our two agents? And what will Claire have to say that now that she is custody?
Again, Claire Keats is property of CBS television and the NCIS LA franchise. I am just borrowing her for my own amusement and using what little is known about her.