A/N: Nothing new in this chapter, just corrected some time-related canon errors...thanks Angelfirenze!
He watched her carefully as she strolled into the squad room. She'd taken off her blazer to accommodate the warm weather she walked to work in, and now she wore only a tightly-fitted red tank top above her tailored black pants. The butt of her service weapon broke the slim lines of her outfit, but he was used to that and hardly noticed it, choosing instead to use these precious few seconds to study the muscles of her upper arms, displayed to their full effect by the tank top and flexing as she adjusted the bag she was carrying. He always found himself impressed by those arms, despite having seen them almost every day for five years; few women could show such strength without even opening their mouths.
He tore his eyes away as she approached, glancing around the room aimlessly before returning his eyes to her and giving her a friendly smile. "Good morning."
She dropped the bag on her desk, brushed her hair out of her eyes, and smiled back. "Morning. Coffee?"
"I started it brewing when I got in. It should be ready by now," he told her as he stood up. "I was just about to check. I'll get yours while I'm there."
Her eyebrows went up a fraction of an inch; it was unlike either of them to actually volunteer to make a coffee run. But who was she to look a gift horse in the mouth? "Uh, sure. Thanks," she said, offering him another smile. "A tiny bit of cream and -"
"And two sugars," he finished. "I know." He grinned at the dirty look she gave him, then turned and headed for the coffeepot.
A few minutes later he was back, setting her mug down in front of her. "Here you go."
"Thanks," she mumbled without looking up from the report she'd been studying.
"Mmm." He returned to his own desk and slid into his chair, taking up his customary position leaning back with his legs outstretched. After a few seconds, he unzipped his portfolio and looked again at the invitation he'd slipped into the front of it before leaving home:
Benjamin Franklin H.S.
Cordially invites ROBERT GOREN and guest to a reunion for the class of 1979
Location: Marriott Marquis, 1535 Broadway, New York, New York
Date: November 6, 2005
Cocktail hour: 6 PM
Banquet: 7:30 PM
Dress is semi-formal
Please RSVP to 555-2163 by Nov. 1
He detested reunions, avoided them as often as possible. He'd escaped the last three of his high school class, as well as the the twentieth reunion of his college class a few years ago, by simply ignoring the ornate invitations the organizers insisted on sending him.
He'd planned to continue doing that for as long as the schools kept sending invitations, but he'd had the unfortunate luck of running into this reunion's organizer in a deli two days ago. Susan Alexander had insisted on handing him his invitation then and there, along with a promise that "I have your contact information, Bobby. I expect to see you at the reunion or I'll use it!"
He could still avoid it; after all, he had caller ID and locks on his doors and could easily prevent the woman from hunting him down, but to his disgust, he found himself curious. Susan Alexander, who he had once gone on two dates with, had grown into a woman nothing like he had thought she'd become. Back then, she'd been a rough-edged girl from the Bronx, keenly interested in biology, but when he'd run into her at the deli he had been faced with a well-to-do woman wearing an Hermes scarf who had cooed a "hellooooo" at him in sugary accents that bore no resemblance to her original street dialect.
And he began to wonder who else he'd been wrong about. He knew reunions were, to most people, a chance to show off their accomplishments and their arm candy, neither of which he had any interest in, but Susan's changed appearance had provided a new impetus for him: a review of sorts, a way to find out how accurate his profiling skills had been before they were honed through his training.
Which brought him to where he sat now, staring at the invitation and wondering exactly how he was going to ask his partner to accompany him without having it sound like a proposition or an act of desperation. And what exactly did "semi-formal" mean, anyway?
"Earth to Goren," the object of his thoughts interrupted, leaning across her desk toward his. "Come in, Goren."
"Huh?" he managed, looking up at her.
She grinned. "You were completely zoned out. Go on, I'm waiting for you to tell me you were perfecting the art of solving cases without moving out of your chair."
He shook his head. "Sorry. I think you've got me confused with Miss Marple."
She snorted. "You'd be kind of hard to confuse with a little old lady with an English accent. So, if you weren't solving a case, what were you so absorbed in?"
Drawing in a breath, he pulled the invitation out of his portfolio and tossed it toward her. She picked it up and examined both sides, then raised her eyebrows. "I thought you didn't do reunions," she said, sliding the card back to him.
"I usually don't."
"So then why were you concentrating so hard on the invitation?"
He shrugged self-consciously. "I'm curious to see how people turned out. I ran into an old, uh, friend the other day and she got me thinking."
"An 'uh, friend,' huh?" Eames said, wiggling her eyebrows. "I see where this is going."
"She's married," he said dismissively. "It's just that she's the polar opposite of what I thought she'd grow up to be, so now I'm curious about the rest of the class."
"You want to test yourself? Why doesn't that surprise me?" She shook her head. "Don't bother answering that. You still haven't told me what's so intriguing about it that you're daydreaming at work."
"I wasn't daydreaming. I was . . . considering."
"Whether to go or not?" she asked.
He shook his head and picked up the invitation, circling the words and guest and handing it back to her. "Not quite."
A smirk appeared on her face. "You're trying to think of who you can bring? I would have thought you'd have any number of girls lined up for the chance."
"I'm sure I could find someone if it was just a matter of needing anyone."
". . . But it's not?"
"Well, it's a reunion. You're supposed to put your best foot forward, I don't want to bring someone who I don't know and trust."
She sighed. "You afraid your date's gonna ruin your reputation with your classmates?"
"Not exactly." He searched his mind for a good way to ask her, but came up blank. "I was, uh . . . actually wondering if you might be free that night?"
She recoiled slightly, shocked. "Me?"
"Uh, yeah," he said, looking away and clearing his throat. "You're . . . a more interesting companion."
". . . Than your typical bar bimbo? Gee, I'm overwhelmed."
"No! I mean that you're . . . a very nice person, and you'd get along well with people, and I can, uh, trust you."
She cocked her head to the side, studying his face. "You're big on the trust thing, huh."
This was not going as well as he'd hoped. Time to get himself out of this hole. "It was just an idea. If you don't want to come, then that's that," he said, slipping the invitation back into his portfolio.
"Hey, I didn't say I wouldn't go!" she said. "I was just teasing you. What was the date, again?"
She took a moment to consult her Outlook calendar. "I haven't got any plans. I'm all yours if you want me."
He blinked. "Really?"
"Yeah," she said with a laugh. "But you're buying the drinks."