Tapping out the last few letters on the last word he intended to write, Rick punched the period key with his right index finger. Finally! He moved his right hand over to the mouse and used it to click the "send" button and then leaned back in his chair and groaned, ever-frustrated. It had taken him nearly twenty minutes to type an email that normally would have taken less than five. He had no idea how much more difficult it would be to type with just one hand—stupid shoulder!
All things considered, Rick knew that he was very lucky with regards to his shooting. The bullet had entered his upper chest just below his clavicle and exited through his armpit, breaking only one of his ribs in the process and no other bones. He had plenty of muscular and soft tissue damage, which arguably could be more frustrating to heal, but he was still lucky. Though with his left arm in a sling and strict orders to move it as little as possible for four weeks, he didn't always feel that day.
Ten days after the shooting he was back at work for the first time, restricted to desk duty. Ryan and Esposito had jumped at the opportunity to have him request all their warrants and push the paperwork they didn't want to. Having no other choice, he slogged through, but also knew the next three weeks would go by very, very slowly.
The one bright side for him was being back at his desk across from Kate. During his time off, they'd only been in minimal contact: a few text messages here and there plus one phone call the day he'd come home from the hospital. She'd been kind and polite, but ever insistent that he needed to take it easy and rest. Given how much pain he'd been in those first few days, he didn't have trouble following her advice, but now that he was back and his discomfort was under control, he gazed across their joined desks at her and felt most the disappointment of a missed opportunity.
She had been right there beside him—rather, he had been beside her in her bed—but he had to go and act like a moronic commitment-phobic teenager and push her away. What a fool he'd been! Now, he had to watch as she grew closer to Todd—or, if not him, someone else. He knew ultimately he would be able to accept their missed opportunity and move on, but he also suspected it would be a very, very long time before he didn't want her anymore.
"Having fun over there, Rodgers?"
Rick startled a bit at the unexpected voice of his partner. Gazing over, he saw she wore an amused expression, which he did not appreciate in the least. "No. I can't do anything with this worthless thing," he said, gesturing with his right hand towards the arm bound to his chest. "It's miserable."
"I'm sorry to hear that; I'm sure it's very frustrating."
He scoffed. "You don't know the half of it."
She hummed and gazed at him curiously for a moment before saying, "Well, at least the day's almost over. One down; twenty shifts to go."
He gave her an unappreciative look. When put that way, it sounded worse! "You're not helping."
She laughed and shrugged. "So do you have any plans tonight? Other than bellyaching and being pathetic, I mean."
"Hey!" he squeaked with offense. "I took that bullet for you—you're not allowed to call me pathetic."
She grinned. "Fair enough. So do you have plans?"
"Not really…" he responded, his tone mildly spurious. Unable to hold in his curiosity, he added, "Why do you ask?"
"No real reason," she said with a casual shrug as she adjusted a stack of papers on her desk so that they were neater. She, too, was taking a break from field work since her partner was out of commission. He had insisted that he didn't mind, and she could go out with Ryan or Esposito whenever she wanted, but he did appreciate the solidarity for however long it lasted. "I just thought maybe, well, did you want to go to a movie?"
His eyes widened with surprise. "A movie? With you?"
Her brow crinkled, amused. "That was the general idea, yes."
Now more suspicious, he asked. "…why?"
"Well, as you just said, you took a bullet for me. I figure the least I can do is take you to a movie, or dinner, or both."
"Oh." He commented, notably surprised. He had not been expecting such an invitation about her, but certainly wasn't upset about it. His egotistical side eagerly anticipated being praised and fawned over for his selfless act, though naturally it was not at all why he had done it. He had, however, grinned for the better part of a half hour when earlier that morning he walked into the bullpen to a round of applause. Now, if Kate wanted to thank him further with dinner and a movie, he appreciated the gesture, but given their recent romantic tryst he wasn't entirely sure it was a good idea. Surely, spending more time with Kate outside of work would make it more difficult for him to move past his feelings for her.
"That, um, sounds nice, Kate, but I don't want to do anything that would upset your boyfriend," he said as a cheap, but plausible excuse.
"You mean Todd? Oh, no; we broke up," she said with a flippant hand gesture.
"You—you what?!" Rick spluttered out, having no idea that she was no longer with the man Lanie had set her up with—the one she claimed to be both funny and sweet; a threatening combination.
She shrugged. "Yeah, it's been about a week or so I guess now." She finished stacking up the papers on her desk, stood, and then walked over towards his chair. Stopping just a few inches from him, she leaned her backside against his desk, gripped the edge of it with her hands, and gazed down at him as she spoke in a quieter tone. "I really liked him—he was a great guy: kind, smart, and gentlemanly. Perhaps not the most exciting person in the world, but a good, solid guy."
"So…" he began, sensing there was much more to what she was saying. Even though he was not entirely sure he wanted to know the nitty-gritty details, he could not help himself from continuing with, "Then why did you break up."
She smiled, tucked a strand of hair behind her ear with her right hand, and then dropped that hand so that it landed atop his. Gazing at him directly she said, "Because…he wasn't you."
Rick instantly felt his heart do a summersault in his chest and he exhaled, "Oh…Kate…" He'd thought his chance with her was gone forever, but there she was smiling at him and holding his hand and somehow in his gut he just knew—he knew—they had a real chance. Flipping his hand over, he gripped onto her fingers with his and exhaled, "Kate."
"Shh," she hushed, glancing around quickly, though she still wore a smile. "Not here; we can't make this too public remember?"
He gazed around too. Right—the no fraternization between partners policy. Giving her hand another little squeeze, he scooted closer to her in his chair so that his knees bumped up against her thigh. "So then how about we get out of here?"
"Movie or dinner?"
He shook his head as a much more brilliant idea crossed into his mind. "Neither—how about you pay me back for taking that bullet by coming over to my place?" he suggested, his tone ever-deepening.
Obviously picking up on his implication, her eyes flared wide. "Rick!" she hissed. "You just had surgery—are you sure that's a good idea?"
He brushed his thumb over the back of her hand. "I dunno; let's find out." Could they jump into his shower and have an adventurous round of sex there? Most likely not, but if his left shoulder was the only part of him that was truly injured, they could surely work around it. Honestly, he was going to be most disappointed about not being able to touch her body with both of his hands, but he'd get over it.
"Okay—but!" she added quickly as he hopped out of his seat. "We're not doing anything that will derail your healing process, okay?"
"Derail?" He scoffed. "This is going to help it—trust me."
Trailing behind Rick as he led the way into his apartment, Kate simply could not stop smiling; she was just so happy. Finally! Finally they were going to be together and give their personal relationship a real shot. She was under no illusion that their transition from platonic to romantic partners would be smooth. In fact, given Rick's shaky history with romantic relationships, she knew many pitfalls lay before them, but she was willing to be patient with him as long as he was committed to being with her, and it seemed he finally was.
After she realized he was serious about his post-shooting confessions, Kate thought very long and hard about the status of her romantic life. She was dating Todd, but only casually. As it had only been a few weeks, they weren't anything official yet; they hadn't even had sex. She did like him, though, and had Rick not confessed his feelings for her she probably would have continued to date him, but Rick had confessed his feelings for her—more feelings than she'd ever anticipated.
If while bleeding on the sidewalk Rick had confessed that he made a mistake and wanted to try a romantic relationship with her, she probably still would have made the decision to break up with Todd, but hearing that Rick was falling in love with her really was a game changer. Such sentiments meant that her gut instincts about their week of cohabitation were correct; they were becoming something more. As being with Rick was something she had wanted for a very long time, she knew she had to give them a chance if he was interested. Still, she was a bit afraid once the haze of the injury wore off, he would have second thoughts, which was why she gave him a week of distance so he could recover and reset himself.
Knowing he would be returning to work that morning, Kate had thought about how she would approach him to inquire about his feelings. The night before, she'd almost talked herself out of it, fearful that because of his conclusive statement in the hospital he would have moved on, but the moment she caught him gazing longingly at her while she poured a cup of coffee for him she knew he still felt the same and was even more thrilled she was able to come up with a playful and creative way to reveal how she felt about him.
Due to their concern over being seen by a colleague, she and Rick had a relatively platonic subway ride home. Fearful of having to hold himself upright if the car suddenly stopped, Rick chose to sit and she stood beside him, holding on to one of the support bars. The car had been too crowded for them to do anything other than smile at each other, which they'd continued to do in the sappiest of ways (and she loved it!). On the walk to his apartment building, she'd grabbed on to his hand, but that was the most intimate thing that they'd done. Now that they were safely inside his apartment, though, she felt no shame in looping her arms around his neck, rising up on her toes, and kissing him soundly.
Rick hummed into her mouth while gripping onto her hip with his right hand; Kate chortled happily. She pressed a few kisses to his bottom lip before stepping back to give herself enough room to shrug out of her restrictive blazer. She also toed off her shoes and left them by the door before turning and seeing an expression on his face so peculiar that she asked, "What's wrong?"
He hummed and skimmed his fingers over his chin. "Nothing—nothing's wrong I just…I guess I'm kind of wondering why you took me back."
She arched an eyebrow at him. "You really want to question that?"
She laughed at his uncertainty and then led the way towards his sitting area, where she folded her hands in her lap and waited for him to sit too before she began her slightly embarrassing confession. "The truth is…I've kind of had a crush on you for a while—except it's kind of more than a crush."
He studied her for a moment before blurting out, "But you kept calling me an asshole!"
Kate let out a loud laugh at the unexpected comment. Reaching over, she landed a hand on his knee and told him sincerely, "A well-deserved accusation every time."
His brow wrinkled. "I'm confused."
She merely shrugged. "So was I, for a while. There was just something about you. I can't explain it—in fact, I tried to ignore it—but the more I got to know you I saw it. You, the genuine you—the guy who hung out at my apartment for that week; the kind, generous friend; the man who went out of his way to make jokes so that a scared little kid would smile. He was so different than the detective desperately trying to fight his way out from under his father's shadow."
Rick's eyes widened and he brought up his right hand to comb back through his hair. "Oh. Well. You've got me pretty pegged, don't you?"
"I am a detective." She winked at him and they shared a laugh before he reached out to cover her hand where it still rested on his leg.
"But seriously—you have me really pegged—right down to me being afraid of relationships because of my divorce, but I promise I'm going to try—I don't want to mess this up."
"I know." She leaned in to give him a quick kiss, then another kiss, and then another. As she kissed him, she trailed her left hand down his chest, over his belly, and down towards his hip until she reached the juncture of his legs and caressed him through his trousers; he gasped into her mouth. She nipped lightly at his bottom lip and brushed her thumb back and forth against him until she could feel his arousal through his jeans. Leaning back, she gazed up at him and said, "Can I thank you for saving my life now?"
"Jesus Christ yes."
She chuckled inwardly at his moan, leaned into kiss him once more, and then reached for the zipper on his pants.
Twenty minutes later, lying with her head resting against his thigh so as not to accidentally injure his upper body, Kate gently traced her finger over her partner's patella. His hand lay across her shoulder, a bit heavier than it had been for the prior ten minutes. She suspected that he'd drifted off to sleep, but she didn't mind. She imagined his first day back was tiring, even if he had just been filling out paperwork.
For several more minutes she lay there, smiling to herself and day-dreaming about her future as Rick Rodger's girlfriend, when she heard him snuffle and felt his hand drop from her shoulder, signaling that he'd woken up. Rolling onto her back she gazed up and he smiled down at her, lazy and sated. He brushed his fingertips over the apple of her cheek and she cradled her hand against his as she turned to kiss the tips of his fingers. Looking back up to him she asked, "Are we going to tell people about this?"
He arched an eyebrow. "Your amazing blow job skills? I was considering writing a mass department email but-"
"ROGERS!" she scolded, poking a sharp finger into the soft flesh of his belly.
He winced and grunted, but said nothing else knowing he'd earned the scolding. "Kidding, kidding," he managed before she struck again. "But, um, yeah? I guess? Why wouldn't we?"
She rolled her body upwards and then turned one hundred eighty degrees so she could face him properly. "Department policy—Montgomery will break up our team."
"Well I don't want that, but we have to tell people eventually, right?"
"But when's eventually?" she challenged.
He merely shrugged. "I don't know, Kate; truly. I don't know if I remember how to do any of this and considering that maybe we can just keep it to ourselves for a little while." She nodded, agreeing with him. A moment later, he smiled and reached out to caress her shin. "Besides, it'll be fun having a sexy, secret affair, right?"
She rolled her eyes. "You can be so dramatic."
He quirked his head to the side. "I get it from Mother."
Squeezing her leg a bit tighter he said, "I have to have some outlet for my creativity, Kate. Can't do it in my reports—Montgomery yells at me if they're too flowery."
Kate merely laughed, shook her head, and leaned back against the couch, teasing him by saying, "Then maybe you should just write a book or something."
He leaned forward and smiled. "You know that's not a half bad idea. Maybe I will." And then, with that, he kissed her.
A/N: Thank you all so mcuh for reading & reviewing. I know it probably wasn't everyone's cup of tea, but I appreciate those that stuck with it
Next, I will be posting Back to the Beginning
see you saturday!