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Author's Note: So, after writing "Sense Memory", which got inside Jake's head regarding the events of "Get Foley", I thought it was high time I did the same for Diane. Although companion pieces, you don't have to have read one to understand the other.

Tactile
by Tara O'Shea

Sometimes, she has to stop herself from touching him.

They'd be fooling around in the lab while running tests—just joking—and he'd smile, and she'd want to run her fingertips over the curve of his mouth. Her hand would twitch, and she'd find something to fiddle with instead, like her badge, or her glasses. And then he'd go to SatOps, and she wouldn't see him until lunch, or even the next day. Days might go by, if he was assigned to a mission. Days where she would haunt SatOps, ignoring Lou's glare and Kyle's sympathetic looks, her eyes on the big board, occasionally peppering Susan with questions or just listening, frozen, as Lou issues the orders that might mean the next time she sees it, it will be to perform an autopsy.

And when he finally walks through her door, instead of resting her cheek against his chest and wrapping her arms around him like she never wants to let go, she'd tap her foot against the wheel of her chair and push her glasses further up on her nose with a knuckle as he leaned against the counter, and pretend that she wasn't terrified every time he went out into the field.

She'd make small talk in between being all-business as they conducted test after test, and pretend that she didn't want to reach up and trace the curve where his jaw met his ear more than anything. That she wasn't aching to reach out and brush his jaw with the pads of her fingers, and feel the hint of stubble. She had to work to banish the memory of the roughness of his cheek as his lips had brushed her neck. She had to smile and wave at him through the glass partition that separated the research lab from the med lab and not remember her back hitting the wall as he'd fumbled for his keys with one hand, and clutched at her hip with the other, his mouth never leaving hers.

They don't talk about it. Not after that brief aborted attempt, when she had chickened out and run away from his attempts to actually dissect the elephant in the room. They don't talk about the tense ride back to Maryland, how his hand had stayed tucked her hers, his back ramrod straight as he desperately tried to believe that Lou and Kyle were trusted friends and not jailers. They don't talk about how much she'd wanted to kiss him one last time, before she finally depressed the plunger on the hypodermic needle that brought her back to him and stole him away all in one action.

They chat about how her Italian lessons were progressing, or the new Korean restaurant that had opened up down the street from the grocery store where she shopped, and they talk about anything and everything except how he thinks she's beautiful.

They call each other. He has her on speed-dial, and sometimes he'll call when he's stuck in traffic, or sitting at home alone. She'll reach for the phone a dozen times for every time she actually dials his number and stays on the line to hear him pick up. She'll lie in bed at night, wondering if he's awake, wondering if he thinks about her at all as he drifts off to sleep at night, the way she does at least four nights a week.

She wonders if he dreams. She wonders if he closes his eyes and imagines that they hadn't stopped, in that cheap boarding house room with the chenille bedspread and mousetraps in the corners. Pretends that she hadn't frozen, as his hand had gone from cupping her waist to slipping between her thighs. Pretends she hadn't stopped him from pushing the denim skirt up over her hips and stroking her through her panties until her breath comes in gasps and she sucks hard on his bottom lip to keep from screaming. Pretends she hasn't rewritten those memories a hundred times every night, editing them until she's lying drenched in sweat, the sheets twisted around her and heart hammering inside her chest.

She wonders if she'll ever be able to watch his hands dance across a keyboard and not remember how it felt to have those fingers tangled in her hair. She wonders if her hands will ever stop twitching every time he brushes past her, and if she'll be able to resist the desire to pluck at his sleeve and drag his mouth to hers and never come up for air.

She laughs at his lame jokes as she puts him through his paces each morning, and at least twice a week he walks her to her car, and she doesn't touch him.

She doesn't give his shoulder a sympathetic squeeze, when he's obviously down and feeling sorry for himself. She doesn't grab his elbow and steer him away from the curly fries in the caf, in a vain attempt to get him to migrate over to the salad bar. She doesn't poke him in the chest to punctuate her statements, and she doesn't reach out to untangle his lanyard when his ID is twisted and facing backwards, and she doesn't curl her pinkie finger around his when their hands are side by side on the tabletop.

She doesn't cup his cheek in her hand, brushing the pad of her thumb across his cheekbone, fingers brushing the curve of his ear.

She doesn't brush her fingers against his when he hands her an espresso from the machine in the corner of the lab, to feel the shock run through her all the way to her toes at the simple human contact.

She doesn't rub his shoulders when they've had a long night in the lab.

She doesn't touch him, and wakes from dreams filled with the memory of his body pinning her to the musty mattress with his weight.

She doesn't touch him, and it gets a little harder every day.