Disclaimer: They don't belong to me.

Catagory: awr

Spoilers: everything from seminar of hell foward.

March 2, 1999

I think that this past case was the scariest in my whole life, well make it the second. I was supposed to go with Joe to a basketball game and a great night out afterwards. A weekend to ourselves, and we were going to take advantage of it big time. We finally decided talk about what is going on with us on a personal level. I was really looking forward to this. Be normal people for once, not just Joe and Westlake Special Projects.

About midweek last week, Joe and I were having dinner, when he asked me.

"What do you think of courtside seats to the basketball game Friday night?"

"Sounds great if you actually had the tickets, Joe." I say to him.

"Ah but Westlake you under estimate me." He says as he pulls two tickets out of his jacket pocket.

I just smile and nod at him. This is going to be a great night; I have a gut feeling things are defiantly going to change for the better.

"So a basketball game, pizza and Good Company for Friday night."

"Sounds great. But I have to as, is they're something else to this?"

"What can't I take my best friend out on a Friday night?" He asks me.
I know there is more behind this, I can tell. So I give him that look,
you know the one that says I-know -there-is-more-to-this-Joe.

"I just wanted to take you out and have a nice time, as regular people. Have some pizza at this great place I know, have some beer,
maybe a dance or two, go to see the BEST basketball team play, and court side seats for that matter."

"Dance or two?" I ask him. I know how he works; I know that every time he or I want to talk serious, we both mask it in humor. Not overly bad, but not good either. It is hard to tell when he is serious or just pulling my chain, if you may.

"You know, after all this time we have been working together, these last few cases have been some of the hardest ones yet." He pauses

"But why?" I start to ask him.

By this time dinner is pushed aside and we are taking face to face across the table. Just the two of us, nothing between us. I can really get used to this.

"Don't, please let me finish, okay? They have been the hardest because…."

He trails off. I think he is scared at this point, I know I am. How can he sit there and not know how I feel about him, about our partnership, relationship?

"Joe," I say to him, reaching out to him, letting him know that I want him to continue. "Please, please continue, what were you going to say?"

"I am not sure you want to know?" Okay my turn to be speechless, how could I not want to know. I have been fantasying about this moment for a while now. I am really nervous, he is not going to continue.

"You know when I thought you were dead a few weeks ago, I…I was never…"

Shit damn phone rings at the most inopportune times. Argh. I am trying to ignore it.

"Aren't you going to answer it?" Joe asks me. The mood has been lost for now anyway. He is trying to avoid me for the time being I will let him have some room.


Joe gets up and clears the table and is loading the dishwasher.
Domestic Joe, I like this side of him very much.

"Hi honey, look I need you to come home this weekend." My mother tells me, well actually screams over the phone. She has such a high pitched voice, sometimes it makes me cringe. I know Joe heard that, because I had to pull the phone away from my ear, plus I saw that his shoulder sunk a little, like in defeat.

"Mom, I can't this weekend, its not a good time for me."

"What, why not? Are you on a case dear?"

"Well no, but I do have plans with…" I never get to finish that sentence.

"Well then there is no problems, I will pick you up at the airport."

One thing about my mother is that there is no way of saying no to her.
I really wanted to stay here though, with Joe.

I put the phone down and rest my head on the table. I really don't want to go home, I really don't.

"It's okay Westlake, you haven't seen your mother in a long time,
maybe you should go. You will have a great time, don't worry."

"You really don't know my family to well then. I know I haven't been home in a while, but I really wanted to be courtside…with you." I say to him poking at his ribs.

"Don't worry." Those are the worst things he can say to me. I always worry, especially when I am not even in the same state.

He looks at me, like he can see what's going through my mind that very moment. He probably can, I know I can see what's going through his.

"Hey Frankie will be here, and Catlett."

At this I break out laughing. Catlett is the biggest bureaucrat around, but he is also a very good friend, to both of us.

"Look Westlake, nothing is going to happen, no cases this weekend.

"Yeah right"

"Hey I am hurt, you don't trust me."

"I do trust you with everything that is me, but I don't trust everyone else that is out there, that's all."

I made my reservations for a early morning flight on Friday, Joe was going to take me, then, I have no idea what he was going to do, but he better hope that it is safe, I can't protect him very well from a three hour plane ride away.

Friday Morning 8am

"Okay Westlake, that's your flight, you better go."

"I know, I am I am. So pushy this morning, eager for me to be gone aren't you?"

"No that's not it at all. Believe me."

"Then what?"

At this point I am standing way to close to him, actually directly in front of him, just inches away from…

"Keeping my hands off of you." Wow what do I say now?

"Who said you had to anyway?"

Gotcha Joe.

"Well you have a great weekend at your mothers and I will see you Sunday night." He says to me as he pulls me into a hug.

I meant to say this in my head, but I think it came out, aloud.

"I'll miss you"

He pauses for a moment and squeezes me harder. "Same here" he whispers back.

"Don't get into to much trouble will you?"

"I won't don't worry. See you on Sunday."

Then I was gone. I am really going to miss him. Okay now I am not the emotional type. Well wait, I am, I just hide it very well. My eyes start to well up a bit when we are taking off. I really didn't want to go alone. And I miss him already.

The rest of the weekend was a blur. My mother was, well my mother. I kept thinking about the wonderful time I would be having back in Metro at a great basketball game with a great guy/ But no I was here listening to her.

"But cam, you aren't getting any younger."

"I know this great guy, we can go out on a double date."

Oh great, now I really want to go home.

I tried to tell her I didn't need to be set up on a date, that I already found the person I want to be with.

Whoa wait a minute. Take a breather here, 'found the person I want to be with', I actually typed that, twice.

Well that 'double date' was horrendous. My mother and my date and hers were drunk as skunks, my date was hitting on my mother and her date was hitting on me. Needless to say I went on a very long walk. Do I ever love the beach at night, so peaceful, quite, romantic. I would love to come here with someone and just be here. Nothing else then just the two of us. I wonder if Joe would like it here?

That is it, I have to go home. Next morning I am at the airport booking a return flight. I just couldn't take the bickering between my mother and I, about everything right down to my hair. It was nice to see her again, but one day and I am ready to go back home. Plus I miss Joe.

But what I am greeted with, is not what I was hoping for.

I return home and take a cab to my house shower and change. Then I head towards the Complex. I am going to surprise Joe, being home a day early that is. I know Frankie will be there, but that's okay. It will be nice to se them both.

When I arrive they are both sitting at the table reading the paper. I start talking about what happened over the weekend. Joe is looking at me strangely, like..well I am not sure really. So after my little pace and run around I sit on the other side of the table, in front of Joe.

'Shit' what happened. Joe's side of his face is all bandaged up.

"What happened? Are you okay?"

Joe then looks at Frankie.

"What it's not my fault" Frankie says

"What happened?"

Joe looks again over to Frankie. What is going on here?

"Its not my fault" Frankie says again. And Joe is making this face that says It-is-your-fault-you-it-is look "Fine it is all my fault"

"What happened here guys? I leave for one day and everything goes wrong."

Frankie gets up from the table, and leaves.

"You are back early. But I am glad" Joe says to me.

Then he finally goes into detail about what happened over Friday and early Saturday morning.

I am just glad that he is okay. It could of worked out a lot worse.

Frankie comes back over to us. "Hey guys I am going out, I will talk to you later."

"What big date?"

"You could say that. See ya" and he was gone.

I get up and walk over to Joe. "Let me take a look will you?"

I gently run my fingers over the bandages. I am shaking like a leaf at this point. I have no idea why. Well yes I do, I am just having a hard time admitting it.

"Westlake. Are you okay?"

"I am okay, I just worry about you, you know."

"I didn't do anything wrong this time, it could of happened to anyone,
I am just glad it was me not some innocent person."

I know. I am just reminded how short life really is, and that we should take advantage of the whole picture and not just the small parts.
"Oh I know, it's ok. I shouldn't of went to my mothers. That was a disaster in itself. I wasn't here to be a partner and I should have been here."

"Westlake, you know the blame game doesn't really work for you."
Haha Joe. I feel really bad. But being true Joe, he is trying to make me feel better.
I just sit there and look at him not moving. Nice why don't you show a little more emotion. Why is this so hard for me?
"Okay, why don't we go out for some pizza and.. we will take it from there?" Joe asks "Okay, but I am treating"
"Sure anything you say Westlake."

The Fountain 7:30pm

We are sitting in this tavern, side by side, eating the most delicious pizza I have ever tasted, drinking beer. One fantasy come true.

"I am really glad you are home." Joe says to me as he brushes his hand with mine.
I smile at him and return the gesture. "I am too, I am sorry that we missed the basketball game though."
"Yeah well, I can get tickets again."
Why is he looking at me that way? In the background I hear music playing softly. This tavern is not a busy place. It looks like a out of the way, family place. It is really nice, I will have to remember this place and come back. But something tells me I am never going to forget this place.

"Do you want to dance?" He whispers in my ear. I notice that Joe is sitting a little closer than before, when did he move over to me. I got the shivers.

"Sure..sure okay" I stammer out. Where did I learn to speak?
He gets up out of the booth and hold his hand out to me.
Joe pulls me into his embrace and holds me to him. Wow he feels,
right, I can't explain it.
I snake my arms around him, but I have to say, that no I didn't pull him to me all the way. I did still leave room. See I am very nervous.
I had told my mother that I didn't need a man. I still think that, and plus I really don't want to ruin Joe and I working relationship.
We are looking into each other eyes for a while. What I see is almost astonding. I am taken aback by this. I mean its one thing to say to yourself that you are in love, but to actually tell the other person is a totally different thing.
Joe takes my hand and holds it over his heart. That single gesture,
means the world to me. I move closer and tighten my hold on him. He is now drawing small circles on my back.
"Westlake, I want to tell you something." He whispers in my ear.
"Joe" I touch his face where the band aids are "I am really sorry,
that I wasn't here over the weekend." See I feel incredibly guilty about that. Although I would never admit it to anyone.
I look down at the floor, I am not dealing with this whole thing very well. I mean twice I almost lost him within a few weeks. I mean the first time was hard enough, but this time I wasn't even here to try.
"Do you know how it felt to know that something happened to you, and I couldn't fix it?" I say to him, it wasn't supposed to be out loud but he heard me anyway.
"Yeah, I think I do" He lifts my chin to look back at me. His eyes are watering as are mine.
I have to smile, I know he does, I can't forget that.
"I know" I say to him."Joe, I have no idea what I would do, if something happened to you."
"I want to tell you that I am truly lucky to have you in my life."
We move closer to each other and then it finally happened, we kissed.
It ended far to soon for me, and I am sure for Joe as well. But we are in a public place. So we just stay linked, Joe breathing down my neck whispering sweet things to me.
I need to sit. This is all to much for me at once.
We sit back down at our booth and talk more, about what happened in our childhood, well my childhood anyway, we joked with each other and really we both had a great time.

Continued in Part 2

Hi this is Joe. After our 'date' the other night Westlake said maybe I should try to write my feelings down, to get things straight in my mind, you know sort things out. I told I'd give it a try and she handed over this notebook to me. So anyway here I am.
I have to say this last case was, well probably the second scariest in my life. I was so scared I was not going to see Westlake or Frankie,
or Catlett, anyone for that matter. Let me start from the beginning.
Westlake and I had planned on going to a basketball game and out for a pizza afterwards on Friday night. I was really happy that she actually said yes.
We were having dinner together one night and I asked her what she thought about court side seats to the best game of the century.

"Sounds great if you actually had the tickets." Was her reply. I had to laugh. See we are always cracking jokes and whatnot on each other.
I think it is a way to deal with the unresolved feelings for each other and work, and other stuff. It's okay though, we both have the same sense of humor, and to tell you the truth I really like it.
See since the diamond case and our little dance, well things have been different between us. We have been spending a lot more time together,
not just at work, but after too. Westlake looked absolutely stunning that night, well not like she doesn't every day, but this was different. She went through a lot just to get my attention. And she did just that. Anyway, after that we decided to go out to the game.
The work I went through to get those tickets. Then her mother called,
and there went the game and the dinner. I wasn't so upset, as I was disappointed. I was really looking forward to Friday night. A chance to be normal people, just Joe and Cameron not Westlake and Astor,
Special Projects, even if it was only for a few hours, it would have been wonderful. Well it seemed like once she left, everything went downhill. Is it really true that once the one person that means anything to you leaves for life (even if for a weekend) everything goes wrong? Well it certainly looked like it was going in that direction for me. I miss her already. Well I am just going to stop by the bank and go back to the complex for the weekend. That was mistake number one.
It was mistake number one because the bank was being robbed. Figures on all days, when all I wanted to do was relax for the weekend. Oh and then I was taken hostage. I wasn't sure what was going to happen after that. A million things were running through my head, how am I going to get this woman, her daughter and myself out of this situation? Are we going to live? Am I going to be able to see Westlake and Frankie again?
I tried every trick I could think of to get out of that house, it didn't work. And if you saw my face, well you would know. I have a few nice cuts there. Anyway to fast forward a bit, I had the wool pulled over my eyes big time. I have never been made a fool of like that before. I was pissed to say the least, well not pissed but upset that I would let anyone take advantage of me that way. I knew if we had taken the Viper, Frankie would have been able to track us, but like my afternoon was going, it didn't happen. All I had to hope for was that Frankie and Catlett found me before something happened that wouldn't be to harmful. And I was hoping in a way they would contact Westlake,
but then again I didn't want her weekend spoiled. We all need a break sometimes.
Let me just say that the sight of Frankie coming through the front door was wonderful, I was sure they were going to kill me as they did the two bank robbers.
Okay now that that whole episode was over and done, I had gone to the hospital, the money had been returned, and the suspects taken to jail.
Job done and it's still Saturday. Well I have part of my weekend to do something, or nothing as the case may be. Frankie and I were sitting at the table and reading the paper. I don't really blame Frankie for missing the game, but if he had said he would of went with me I wouldn't of went to the bank at all in the first place. Anyway Frankie has asked me about what was going on between Westlake and I, I quickly dismissed it. On the outside that is, What he said got me thinking. I know what happened on our last case, I know what was said and what was done. And due to the fact that we had mics on so does Frankie. Like I said, it would be wonderful to have some quite personal time.
"Joe, look I know what you said to Westlake that night when everyone was at the Masquerade ball. You don't have to fool me."
"Frankie, there is nothing going on between us. We are just good friends."
"Yeah right, good friends just don't go out and buy new clothes, and go out and go the salon, and say what was said between the two of you last weekend."
"Sure Frankie whatever."
"Fine Joe, be that way. All I can say, is look at me, look at Catlett,
do we have any sort of working relationships? We work to much, not that it is a bad thing, but it would be nice to have someone to go home to at night, someone who cares, other than a friend or co-worker,
you know what I mean? Take the chance Joe, take the step, otherwise you will end up alone in the end."
At that moment, like she knew we were talking about her, or I was thinking about her, in comes Westlake. Oh man did I miss her, and she was only gone one day.
"Boy you are back early." I say to her.

Then she goes into talking, well babbling about how awful her weekend was, I can tell she was babbling, she never talks like that. It was quite amusing if you ask me, I had to so all I could not to laugh. She never once saw my face, well until Frankie said something about pianos. Then Westlake sat down and looked at me.
She reached for my hand and grabbed it.
"What happened to you?"
Before I could get anything out Frankie said he was leaving. Don't get me wrong, I really like Frankie's company, but finally some time alone with Westlake.
"Bye Frankie, have a good night."
"You two behave yourselves." He said and then he was gone.
"See ya"
As soon as Frankie walks out the door Westlake gets up and comes over next to me. What she does next, I don't want to say stunned me, but it had a definite effect on me.
She reached up and ran her hands gently over my face where I had the Band-Aids. I can tell she is very nervous, or upset I can't tell right now, but I know her hands are shaking, and her eyes look they are watering a bit. Okay now I feel incredibly bad.
"I almost lost you again for the second time I little over three weeks." She says "Westlake.."
"Shh..don't say anything okay. I don't know what I would do if I lost you."
Oh Westlake. Now I can tell she is upset and crying now. I take her hands in mine and hold them, I want to pull her into my embrace but I can she has more to say.
"I should have been here for you. This is my fault."
And from here she goes on this guilt trip, that really does not suit her very well at all. See Westlake is the strongest person, the most caring person I know. This is totally unlike her. But I do know how this feels, I do the same thing. It can't be helped. In fact I just went through this a few weeks ago when that seminar went to hell. That was absolutely horrifying.
Anyway and I do, I tell her that. She just looks at me and smiles. We are communicating about things that are very hard, for both of us, and it is very important.
"Why don't' we go out for pizza and we can take it from there?" I ask her. I am starved, I hope she says yes, I really do not want to eat alone tonight, or any night for that matter. But we will keep that between us for right now.
"Sure but I am treating."
"Anything you say Westlake."
The Fountain Tavern I found this place one day, its this really nice, quite, tavern. It has a old time juke box and a small dance floor, a bar and some tables. I love it here. So I decided to bring Westlake here.
We sit a little closer then normal, next to each other in the booth. I don't know about her, but I am having a really hard time keeping my hands to myself. I just want to touch her and be with her. I have never in my entire life had feelings like this before. It is overpowering.
We order some beer and pizza, and we are actually talking about our childhood, well mostly Westlake's childhood, mine brings back to many bad memories, and she knows this. It was a lot of fun none the less.
I hear this song playing softly in the background. I sit there for a few moments to get up enough courage to ask her to dance,

"Do you want to dance?" I ask her "Sure..sure I'd like that" She manages to get out. I can see that she is remembering the last dance we shared. I know I am. If I could change that moment in any way, we would be alone in all possible ways.
That would be the only thing I'd change.
I get up and hold out my hand to her.
It starts off as a innocent dance. Then she reaches for my face again.
"I am so sorry Joe."
"Hey. It's okay."
She reaches for me more or I reach for her, I am not really sure. This feels so right to me. I have no idea why it took us this long.
We say some more stuff to each other about how we don't know what we would do if something happened to the other and then we finally kiss.
It was magical. I have no idea how to explain it.
We return to our seats after that, some rock song came on that no one could really dance to anyway. I know I can't. It was the best night that I have had in a really long time. We sat there at the tavern for I have no idea how long, just talking, getting to know each other better, hold hands, talking. I had a wonderful night and I know she did as well.
I have to say that writing this stuff down did help. I am sure I will be doing this again.

Finished :o) for now. anyone who thinks i should continue email me