"I get that women like jewelry for Valentine's Day, but what kind of jewelry?" Matt asked Frank, a pained tone to his voice.
"That's why we're doing this together Matt, so we can make sure that the other one doesn't screw up." He explained as they ambled through the third jewelry store in the never-ending mall.
"Yeah, but I've only met your girlfriend twice, I don't know what she likes." Matt told him, struggling to figure out which of these pieces of extremely expensive jewelry fit Emily.
"Man, I trust your taste more than Duff's." Frank said laughing.
Matt laughed with him, before sighing in frustration, "This is impossible, none of this looks like Emily."
"More importantly none of this fits our FBI paychecks." Frank said, as hopeless as Matt.
"Can't I just get her a book or something?" Matt asked.
"If you want to break up with her sure." Frank teased him.
Matt glared at him.
"Next store?" Frank asked.
"I guess so. You see anything you like for Carrie?"
"No, Carrie's more into earth kind of stones." He struggled to describe.
"I don't know, she likes some blue stone the used in Egypt the same time they were making the pyramids." Frank shrugged.
"Do they still use the stuff?"
"Who knows man, if not she likes opal and turquoise too." Frank didn't seem terribly concerned, and Matt was jealous.
"How do you know that?"
"I asked her a month ago in preparation for this. You never asked Emily what she likes?"
"It never came up." Matt offered sheepishly.
Frank looked at him in disbelief, "How long have you two been dating?"
"Uh…two and a half years?"
"And you don't know what kind of jewelry she likes?"
"She likes silver, I know that. She doesn't own any yellow gold."
"Well, you just narrowed your search down considerably. What stones does she like?"
"I swear she has one of almost everything, except maybe emeralds, I've never seen her with emeralds."
"Then she should like almost anything. Get her something with hearts man, women always melt when they get hearts." Frank suggested as the pair walked through the mall.
"I gave a heart necklace last year, it was an opal, she liked that." Matt said absently, looking around the mall for the next jewelry store.
"So get her earrings to match this year, she'll be so impressed with that."
"The next time we're at work and you tease me about Emily, Duff is finding out how much you know about jewelry." Matt told him, still trying to figure out why Frank knew so much more about jewelry than he did.
"Nothing wrong with knowing how to make a woman happy Matt." Frank said smiling.
"Then why did you need me?" Matt challenged.
"I like another opinion, and I figured you could use the help." Frank said laughing.
Matt rolled his eyes, "Here's another store." He gestured to the store just ahead of them, as they veered into it, resigned to another hour of tortured searching.
Two and a half hours later
"Matt for god's sake pick something already, Emily isn't that picky." Frank demanded annoyed, gesturing with his hands as he spoke and shaking the bag in his hand. He'd found a set of earrings with lapis lazuli stones, the Egyptian ones.
"I don't know, I can't find anything I like." Matt looked very pained as he spoke.
"Alright man, this is the last jewelry store in the mall, if you don't pick something from here, then I will pick something for you. Got it?" He warned Matt as they walked inside.
"Hello gentleman, can I help you find anything?" an overzealous clerk was by them in less than two seconds offering his services. Matt was about to turn him down, but Frank spoke first.
"Yeah, my friend here is looking for a Valentine's Day present for his girlfriend." Frank said gesturing to Matt.
"Alright, did you have anything in mind?"
"Uh, she doesn't like yellow gold." Matt offered.
"Anything else?" the clerk looked like she might be regretting her offer to help.
Matt just shrugged at her, if he'd known, he'd probably have had something by now.
"Alright how long have you been dating her?"
"About two and a half years."
"Alright, well, over here were have our white gold collection, there is some beautiful earrings in here." She suggested pointing to a duo of display cases filled with white gold jewelry.
Matt studied the pieces, counting the bracelets out right away, Emily didn't really wear bracelets too often. Several of the rings had huge, overwhelming stones, others were too ornate, some weren't too bad but nothing caught his attention. The earrings had many of the same problems, but instead of being too ornate, many were too plain. The necklaces weren't terrible, but none struck him.
"Nothing?" the clerk asked patiently.
"No, not really." Matt said feeling guilty that he was being so picky.
"Alright these are our platinum pieces, but these tend to be very expensive, how much are you looking to spend?" She asked him.
"Uh, I'm paid by the government." Matt offered as his only price gage.
"Alright then, how about we just skip right over to silver, you can get her platinum in a few years." She told Matt smiling, trying to keep him from feeling completely inadequate.
Matt nodded and the trio started to move to another part of the store, but on the way there something caught Matt's eye. He stopped and stared at the display case, seeming to be sucked in by this objects pull. It was so Emily, so perfect. He had to get this.
"Yo Matt, what are you doing?" Frank called from several display cases down, where he was waiting with the confused clerk.
"Come here Frank." He called still staring in the display case.
"I found it." He told his friend, who now very curious, hurried over.
"You found something to get her?" Frank asked almost in disbelief.
"Right there, next to that gaudy necklace." Matt pointed out his find.
"That ring?" Frank asked confused.
"Yeah, that's what I want to get Emily." Matt was still staring at the ring, hypnotized.
"Um Matt, do you know what that is?" Frank wondered if his friend was really being that dense.
"Yeah Frank, I'm not dumb. I know it's an engagement ring." Matt said annoyed.
"So you know Emily will think you're proposing when you give it to her." Frank said it slowly as if trying to get a child to understand.
"That's the idea."
"Whoa, you didn't tell me you were looking for an engagement ring." Frank said trying to wrap his mind around the last two minutes.
"I wasn't really, until I saw this ring."
"Are you guys ready for that?" Frank had no idea they were that serious.
"I think so." Matt gestured to the clerk who'd come over that he wanted to see the ring.
"You better know so Matt, before you go proposing to her." Matt was holding the ring now and looked up from examining it.
"Honestly, I think I could have married Emily the day I first kissed her, and I wouldn't have been scared."
"Your funeral. So are you going to get that?"
"Yeah," he looked to the clerk, "how much?"
"That's one of the antiques we've acquired, and it's platinum. Let's see…$4700, and an extra hundred for sizing."
"It doesn't need to be sized, it's a six and a half and so is Emily." Matt said absently, trying to come to grips with the price. It could be much worse, he'd seen engagement rings costing over ten thousand, but this ring was still expensive. As he turned the little trinket over in his hand, he knew he was going to get it, and halting the debate with himself, he handed over his credit card.
"You're really ready to marry her?" Frank asked in pleasant disbelief, he had not seen this coming, as far as he knew, nobody had.
"If you keep asking me that I'm going to start getting nervous." Matt warned him, as they waited for the charge to go through.
"Fine, I'll stop. Have you met her parents yet?" Frank asked curiously.
"Uh, once. They don't really care for me." Matt said quietly.
"What stupid thing did you do?" Frank was getting more amused by the second, as he watched Matt squirm with this particular topic.
"It's not anything I did, they don't like Emily's job, so…" Matt trailed off.
"So you are a big part of that job, her partner, gotcha."
"They don't actually know that we're partners." He revealed quietly, focusing on signing the receipt. Frank started laughing.
"Two and a half years and they don't know their daughter is dating her partner?"
"That's how Emily wants it, she said they'd just hate me more."
"Whoa wait, hate you? I thought you said they don't care for you."
"I was trying to make it sound less pathetic- can we drop this topic?" Matt began to plead.
"Sure man, just one more question." Frank was trying desperately to stop laughing at his friend, but failing miserably.
"What?" Matt said thoroughly annoyed.
"You don't know what kind of jewelry Emily likes, but you know her ring size?" Frank was quite obviously amused by this.
"Went shopping with her once…" Matt trailed off mumbling as they left the mall, Frank still laughing.
"Hey Emily, Emily!" A voice called to from behind her. A voice she knew better than she could ever want; the slimly little man from the Human Resources Dept.
He'd processed Emily's paperwork when she transferred to L.A., and she'd met him when she went to get it. Bob Murphy was a shortish, red-haired man with a receding hairline, and a leer than could make any woman uncomfortable, as it did Emily. He'd spent the first twenty minutes flirting with her, and the last two actually giving her, her paperwork. She'd been ten minutes late her first time meeting Matt and Cheryl, and this man still made her skin crawl.
"Bob, what can I do for you?" She asked him turning around, trying to hide her severe displeasure.
"I just wanted to offer my sympathies, I heard you and Matt broke up." He told her, taking her hand and squeezing, offering her nausea, instead of the comfort he hoped to.
"What? Where'd you here that?" Emily hated rumors, they made relationships that much more complicated.
"HR just got his request for a new partner, I just assumed it finally went sour." He offered, still holding her hand firmly in his, though she tried to take it back.
Emily was silent, her mind racing. Matt requested a new partner, why? Was he preparing to break up with her? That didn't seem right, he'd been so affectionate this morning, more than normal… Was he trying to play like everything was normal until his request went through? Emily was getting upset, and Bob apparently notice this, as he put and arm around her and tried to rub her back.
"It's okay hun, I'll give you a shoulder to cry on." There was that leer, and Emily cringed, and shook him off, not in the mood for this.
"Afraid I'm still on the rebound Bob." She tried to be polite.
"I don't mind, I think I can make your pain go away." He offered, leering again and coming toward her.
"I do mind, sorry Bob." She said, turning to go, until he stopped her, pulling her toward him, pressing against her.
"You look so sad, let me take you to lunch, I can cheer you up." He suggested, brushing her hair behind her ear.
"Really, I don't-" Emily was saved by Cheryl barking her name from down the hallway.
"Lehman, we have a situation, I need you." As she got closer she noticed there was a guy who certainly wasn't Matt wrapped around a very disgusted looking Emily. Bob Murphy, the creepy little man that hit on every female in the building.
"Great, let's find Matt." Emily said, shooting her a thankful look. Cheryl nodded to her, and addressed Bob.
"Bob if I ever see your hands on another woman in this building I file a sexual harassment suit faster than you can ask the unfortunate woman to lunch." She then briskly turned around and headed for the nearby elevators, Emily close behind her.
After the doors closed Emily shivered involuntarily, still reeling from him touching her and breathing on her. Cheryl noticed, and pitied her, Bob didn't mess with Cheryl; nobody really messed with Cheryl.
"You know if it had been Matt that found you, he probably would have pulled his gun." She commented, trying to get Emily's mind of her still crawling skin.
"I'm not so sure about that…" Emily trailed off absently, a tinge of sadness in her tone, but enough for Cheryl to notice.
"What are you talking about?"
"Nothing…" She sighed, and then admitted, "Matt requested a new partner."
Cheryl looked at her in surprise. How had Emily found out about that…oh right, Bob the worm. Now she looked at Emily, who looked troubled, no more like hurt, at the idea. She was about to say something, when the doors opened and they were thrust into the FBI lobby, where Frank and Duff were almost out the door, and Matt was standing in front of them.
"Oh good, I just go your page. We ready to go?" He asked, noticing the less than thrilled expressions on the women's faces. Uh oh, what happened?
"Yep, scene's at Cherry and 59th, a bank." Cheryl said walking past him, toward the door, where Frank and Duff had stopped to wait.
"Are you okay?" He asked Emily.
"Fine." She said shortly, before repeating Cheryl's move. Matt shrugged hopelessly, and followed them.
The short drive to the scene had just given Emily time to stew in her recent revelation. She had gotten over being upset and hurt, now she was just plain pissed. He didn't have the balls to tell her that he wanted to break up, he was going to do it by requesting a new partner. That was low.
Matt could tell there was something off with Emily, she had barely spoken to him the whole drive there. When he tried to get her to talk, she brushed him off, making it clear she wasn't happy with him. What had in done to make her angry in the hour he hadn't even seen her?
"Emily, it's obvious you aren't really happy with me right now, can you at least tell me what I did wrong?" He asked as gently as possible, why piss her off more?
"You first." She said harshly, looking at him, the first time she she'd gotten off the elevator.
"I don't follow." What did she mean by that?
"You tell me what I did first." She demanded, if he was ending them, especially in that manner, she wanted to know why.
"What do you mean, who said you did anything?" Matt was caught completely off-guard with that.
"You're breaking up with me, so come Matt, at least tell me why?"
"Breaking up-what do you-I don't know-what?" Matt finally sputtered out, now completely confused. Where the hell did she get that idea?
"I found out you requested a new partner Matt. You didn't even have the balls to tell me yourself, I found out from Bob, that slimeball in HR. I think after two and a half years I deserve a little better than that." Now she just sounded hurt, and he felt like a jerk.
"Flannery, Lehman, let's go!" Cheryl yelled to where they stood in front of their SUV.
"We need to finish talking about this later." He assured her, but she just shrugged and went over to the command center.
"I get that your pissed Greg, and we can work on that, but this isn't really the best way to show them that." Matt tried to explain to Greg Billings that taking Comcast Cable hostage was not that way to settle the grievances with his bill.
"I got their attention now, don't I?" Greg demanded.
"Yeah, yes you did, you have a lot of people's attention right now, but I think it might be best if you let those people go, and we'll get you a nice long sit-down with the Comcast people." He covered the mouthpiece and looked desperately at Emily.
"I don't know what to tell this guy, this is ridiculous." He said referring to Greg's demands to clear his bill of charges.
"Something else is setting him off, probably a collection of somethings. You have to make the connection to find out…you have Comcast right, they ever over charge you?" She suggested, always go for common ground. Matt nodded at her gratefully, before speaking into his mic.
"You know, the first two months I had my cable bill they charged me double because they screwed up and thought I got a bigger package. I argued with them for an hour each time." He offered, hoping the HT would bite.
"You see! You see! They over charge everyone! They're saying I paid for premium channels, like HBO and Cinemax. Man, I have my our porn, I don't need theirs!"
"I get that, they thought I got the premium sports package, and I'm pretty happy with ESPN." Matt commiserated with the HT. This HT would go down in the Hall of Fame as one of their most pathetic, a cable bill, seriously?
"Everybody tries to rip you off! Everybody! The banks, the credit card companies, the fucking electric company even! None of that shit's mine! I live in L.A. why the hell do I need to power a house in Sacramento! I don't even own a car, why would I buy $400 subwoofers!" He yelled into the phone.
Matt and Emily looked at each other, it all became very clear. Greg Billings was a victim of identity theft, and the companies weren't reimbursing him. Comcast was very likely just incredibly unlucky to be the umpteenth company to turn him down.
"So somebody stole your identity." Matter said quietly.
"Yeah, and all the damn companies are 'investigating'. What's to investigate? I didn't buy any of that shit!"
"I get that, and maybe we can work something out, but right now, we can't do that unless you let those hostages go."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah, not happening man! They ain't going nowhere."
"Alright well, then how about feeding them, they must be getting hungry. We'll send you in some food, what would you like?" He had to at least buy time, there was nothing else to do at this point.
"Fine, ok, get some pizzas and sodas. Don't call back until you got'em." Greg then slapped the phone down.
"Somebody want to get pizzas?" Matt asked hopelessly, looking around the command center.
"Simpson and Coen are going." Cheryl told him adding, "You're doing good guys," before going off to ask Frank about tactical possibilities.
Matt watched Emily flip through papers, reading, thinking, working, and completely ignoring him. He rubbed his hands over his face, feeling slightly exasperated.
"I didn't request a new partner because I want to break up with you." He blurted out.
She looked up at him, surprised, "Then why?"
"I uh, well I um…" What could he say that wouldn't give away his Valentine's Day plans?
"Are you tired of me?" She demanded, not letting him off the hook.
"What? No, never." He insisted.
"Do you think we can't work together and date?"
"After two and a half years and few complaints from Cheryl, no. We work together fine."
"Then I'm not good enough anymore?" She didn't really believe that, but she was running out of potential reasons.
"Of course not, if I could I'd be partnered with you until we retire." He confessed.
"Then what Matt, I don't have any other ideas." She was getting angry again, what was he playing at with this.
"I…I…" Matt sighed frustrated, there was no way out of this. He ran his hands through his hair in exasperation, and grabbed Emily's wrist, leading her off, "Come with me a minute."
"Just trust me a minute." He pleaded with her.
"Not so easy when you're requesting a new partner behind my back." She shot back at him.
"Just stand there a second." He begged as he opened the door to their SUV, mumbling, "Valentine's Day is cliché anyway."
"What does that mean?" Now Emily was not only angry, but confused and peeved that he had her standing there waiting for him to do…whatever.
Matt reached into a bag in the back seat and pulled out the little box he stowed there after showing Cheryl. She told him she wanted to see it after he'd informed her he was requesting a new partner yesterday morning. Now, he backed out of the car, and pulled Emily behind it, ignoring her protests. With his back to her he opened the box, hiding it behind his back before turning around and resting on one knee, taking her hand.
"Emily, I requested a new partner because I want to marry you, and according to the FBI you can't be partnered with your wife. I didn't want you to find out because I wanted to surprise you on Valentine's Day. So Em, will you marry me?"
Emily's mouth was nearly touching the pavement as it hung open in shock, and coming out of it, her hand flew to her mouth, "Oh my god." She closed her eyes, shaking her head, "I feel like such an idiot."
Matt just stayed there waiting for her to answer his question, sweat beginning to pour from his brow as time continued to pass without a word between them. Then she looked at him, and looking completely mortified spoke again.
"I'm so sorry Matt, I had no idea."
"All's forgiven if you say yes. I'm getting a little nervous here." He said with a nervous smile.
Emily's eyes went wide again when she realized he was still down on one knee, and she hadn't given him an answer. "Oh god, I'm sorry, yes, of course yes."
She pulled him up and wrapped her arms around him, kissing him deeply before resting her head on his shoulder. As he held her close, relief pouring through him, he could hear her mumble against him, "God I completely screwed that up."
He laughed at her. "I think we both screwed this up Em. I haven't even given you the ring yet."
They were silent for a minute, and Matt was worried that she might actually be upset until he felt her laughing against his shoulder, and he began laughing again. This would be a proposal for the books. They laughed at themselves for a few minutes, when Emily pulled away and looked at Matt and asked him, "Are you going to show me that ring?"
"Of course," he brought his hand up to her, still holding the open ring box, diamonds gleaming under the sun.
"It's beautiful Matt, I love it." She kissed him again, as he slid the platinum ring onto her finger. It had one large diamond in the center, and was flanked on either side by three tiny diamonds, and some simple engravings. It wasn't overblown or gaudy, but it was timeless, something that would be beautiful no matter what the current fashion was. Arms around each other, and enjoying their moment of bliss, the couple was interrupted by a slightly irate Cheryl.
"Flannery, Lehman what did I tell about out in the field? Two and a half years you managed to go with me having to scold you!" She called to them as she approached from the command center.
"Sorry Cheryl, I had to take care of something." Matt said both of them grinning like the Cheshire cat.
"Alright," Cheryl said looking at them, not quite trusting, "What has you two grinning like that?"
Emily held out her left hand, biting her lip nervously, knowing that news like this traveled faster than light, at least at the Bureau.
Cheryl looked at Matt in amused disbelief, "You proposed to her in the middle of a negotiation?"
"Yeah, I wasn't given much of a choice, she knew I requested a new partner."
Cheryl looked at the two happy people in front of her, "You two are just…" She pinched the bridge of her nose and shook her head in disbelief. "Okay, uh, Congratulations, and can we get back to the crisis? The pizzas are here."
"Right sure." Emily said quickly, detaching from Matt.
"Yeah, of course." Matt said almost simultaneously, both hurrying after Cheryl who'd already walked away.
Frank and Duff were at the command center wondering what was going on when the trio walked back in, all three looking slightly uncomfortable. Frank and Duff exchanged questioning looks, before both shrugging their shoulders, and listen to Cheryl hand out orders.
"Frank do we have a point of entry yet?"
"Yeah, back door to get into the building, and then there is a closet with a vent. I'm thinking we put Duff in the vent, get him in position in the closet, and I have two entry teams cover the doors."
"Sounds good, you ready Duff?" She asked Duff who didn't answer immediately.
Duff had just gotten a look at the diamond Emily was wearing and was staring in shock, only hearing Cheryl the second time she called, "What? Right, yeah I'm ready to go."
"Ok…" She said giving him a skeptical look before dismissing HRT, and turning to her negotiators.
Duff ducked in the building, searching around while connecting to Lia, she had to know what was going on with the ring.
"Mathers." She answered.
"Lia, Duff, has Lehman said anything to you lately about Matt?" He asked.
"No, why? Are they arguing again? You know they do that all the time, and most of the time it means nothing." She said nonchalantly.
"No, but I just saw a really expensive looking rock on a certain finger." He told her, grinning as he imagined her response.
"What? Are you sure?" Lia asked eagerly, how could Emily not tell her that?"
"Oh yeah, almost missed Cheryl talking to me because I was staring at it."
"I don't believe it. Emily was definitely not wearing that this morning." Lia insisted.
"Then he probably gave it to her about ten minutes ago, because it's there now." Duff assured her.
"Trust Matt to propose during a negotiation." Lia commented in a sardonic tone.
"Hey at least he didn't announce it first to the HT." Duff said, referring to Matt's now famed revelation.
"Emily would have killed him then, I think she almost did then." They both laughed at the memory of their friends.
"Hey Lia, do you have any plans for Valentine's?" He suddenly asked her.
"Yeah," she told him, smiling as she felt his disappointment though the phone line, "with you."
"Great, I know a good restaurant." He said eagerly, before explaining, "I'm at the vent now though, I have to go."
"Alright, before careful," she warned.
"My middle name Mathers." He teased her before hanging up.
Lia laughed at that, right Duff was careful; the man lived on adrenaline. Actually they all lived on adrenaline. She then turned her mind to his mind-blowing news, she just couldn't wrap her mind around it. If they'd been taking bets on when Matt would propose hers would have been in another year, but if they'd taken bets on when Emily would say yes, that would be at least another two.
An hour and a half later the CNU suddenly getting louder signified the return of the team, and Lia wasted no time. Tearing out of the office life she'd just guzzled jet fuel, she made it over to the group, and immediately zeroed in on Emily.
"Oh my god let me see it!" She half squealed to a very startled Emily, grabbing her hand before she could even offer it.
"We did this less then two hours ago, how the hell did you find out that quick?" Matt said, as startled as his partner, or rather fiancé.
"Duff," she answered quickly before continuing to gush, "It's beautiful Matt, you have good taste."
"Thanks." He said proudly, it isn't very often a man gets told by a woman that he chose well.
"Yeah it's a beautiful ring Matt," Cheryl agreed, not having really commented before.
"But one thing," Lia asked him, still holding Emily's hand, "during a negotiation, really?"
"I already told Cheryl, I didn't have a choice. Emily knew I requested a new partner. I had planned to ask her on Valentine's Day." Matt defended himself with Emily watching amused.
"Hey you've got to admit it fits them." Frank teased.
"Yeah, Flannery will end practicing his vows with the next HT." Duff joined in.
"I only did that once, two and a half years ago." Matt told them glaring. Would he ever live down announcing his and Emily's relationship to the HT?
"And you just proposed to your girlfriend in between calls to your HT." Frank said grinning. Evidently he'd have this to live down too.
"Alright, alright," Cheryl said breaking in, "how about we go out to celebrate?"
"And spend a whole night listening to this?" Matt asked desperately.
"We'll be good." Duff told him, offering his most sincere puppy-dog face.
"Yeah, you will." Lia warned him, which got Frank laughing.
"Well then, lets go." Cheryl motioned them all out of the CNU, though Matt and Emily lagged behind, commenting that they'd catch up.
"Are you disappointed that I didn't do the whole roses and romantic dinner thing?" Matt asked Emily worriedly.
"No," she assured him smiling and pulling him into a kiss, before pulling back, and saying, "Valentine's proposal are kind of cliché anyway."
"Glad I didn't do it when I was going to, then." He told her, tightening his arms around her and initiating another kiss.
They could still do it. It being those breath-stealing, knee-weakening, head-spinning, heartbeat-racing, make-you-forget-the-world-is-there kisses. The ones that are the only answer you need to that age old 'are you in love' question.
Then Emily pulled back and gave Matt and odd look, "There's just one thing."
"One thing?" Matt asked confused and suddenly concerned.
"We're eloping, right?" She said flashing him a smile.
"Oh hell yes." He told her, before they kissed one last time before hurrying off to meet the rest of the team.
So I'm not great with humor, but hopefully the practice will help. I hope everybody enjoyed it, and thank you in advance for reading and reviewing. Happy Valentine's Day!