By: Felicia Ferguson
Disclaimer: If I owned Threat Matrix and the characters contained therein, the show would still be on the air! ;-)
Author's Note: This piece falls in the timeline established with "Belli ira et lacrimae" so you might want to read that one first.
The Vault was silent. Anders, Jelani and the others had left hours ago for a much needed relaxing Friday evening at a local pub while Frankie had stayed to finish up some paperwork. She was about to leave when she noticed the light still on the Kilmer's office. He sat, legs crossed on the table top, when she walked into the room. She smiled at the picture, so eerily reminiscent of their exchange after the Hassan case, and leaned against the glass doors watching her ex toy with his much-loved baseball for a moment. When he paused, leaned his head back against the seat and closed his eyes, her smile softened. He was exhausted. He took his responsibility for the team so personally: her capture, Vargas' death and even Teddy's suicide.
"You gonna watch me all night or you gonna join me?"
Frankie started at the sound of his voice. How had he known? Pushing away from the door, she replied, "Well, I was supposed to have a date tonight."
"With that jerk of an ex-husband?" he quipped as a wry smile lifted his lips.
Frankie grinned as she reached him. "Yeah, but I guess I could stay here with you," she admitted with mock reluctance.
In the month since she'd agreed to give them another try, they had had a standing date every Friday night unless one or the other was on an op. Even when they were both in country, somehow they managed to steal a few hours alone. She wasn't sure if anyone else had noticed. If they had, they were professional enough not to comment.
Kilmer snaked an arm around her waist and pulled her onto his lap. The chair shimmied for a moment then stilled. Drawing her head down to his chest, he absorbed the soothing balm of holding the woman he loved. How many times had they sat like this when they had been married? Not enough, he decided as Frankie's fingers slipped behind his neck to weave through his hair. The sex had been great and he would welcome its return to their relationship, but the need for the seemingly simple act of giving and receiving comfort from each other, of showing their mutual love, must have been beyond them before. No gut feeling could have ever trumped this.
John brushed a kiss against her forehead as his fingers traced the bumps and grooves of her spine. "God, I've missed us," he whispered, unwilling to break the mood and yet unable to hold the words back.
Frankie didn't -- couldn't -- reply as the words washed over her. She closed her eyes and simply breathed him in: the final notes of his cologne now overlaid by his natural scent. She had missed "us," too, and yet they had scarcely been "us" like this, the way she had needed. Frankie nestled her head a little deeper into the curve of his neck.
After her parents had died, her aunt and uncle had taken her in. They had given her all the love and support she could have ever wanted. But part of her soul had died that day with her parents. She had never quite felt whole again, until she had met John. Then the stresses of life and two careers in the Bureau began to crack her hopelessly romantic notion of what a marriage should be. She now realized that the idealized version she had created of her parents' life together was not realistic and it was patently unfair to hold such an unattainable standard for John and her.
This time around, they were both wiser, not only in terms of their relationship, but also in knowing themselves and each other. He had used the months after the divorce to heal, and, unbeknownst to her, also to grow. Since they had begun working together, they had certainly had their disagreements. However, there was no one she trusted with her back and life more. Even so, it had been harder to trust her heart to him. But with every conversation, with every action, the arrogant jerk of husband she had known had disappeared and been replaced by a man who accepted her as an equal. And even if he wanted to shield her from danger, he respected her decision to go ahead into it. It was a heady change from the caveman tendencies he often displayed when they were married.
John felt Frankie's lips lift against his neck and held her tighter. His legs were beginning to fall asleep, but the last thing he wanted to do was let her go. He was home, minus the trappings of their life together which still surrounded him in their old apartment. In truth that was why he spent so much time at work. When she was there, he could allow himself to forget that the apartment he lived in was no longer their apartment. He could envision a scenario in which she was still his wife. When she wasn't there, the lingering trace of her perfume remained echoing the promise that she would return. That scent had disappeared completely in the months after their divorce leaving their apartment bereft of her presence.
At length, Frankie stirred then sat up. When he brushed the tendril of hair out of her eyes, his fingers continued down to trace her cheek. She turned her lips into his palm and kissed him. Then, she threaded her fingers between his and lifted his hand from her lips. "It's late, John. Let's go home," she murmured, tugging on his fingers, still loosely joined with her own.
"What about our date tonight?" John asked, confusion written on his brow.
Her lips turned up in a smoky smile of promise. "Who said it's over?"