A/N: Post-ep for Season 1 episode "Extreme Measures". This is for those of you who were awesome enough to review my last story, which I honestly didn't even expect anyone to read, and asked me for more. I'm sorry it took so long. I hope you enjoy.
Disclaimer: Not mine. If only...
Louis squared his shoulders and took a breath, wondering whether what he was doing was really as good an idea as it had seemed half an hour ago.
It wasn't a conversation he had with himself very often. He wasn't the kind of guy who thought something to death before he did it. He tended to follow his instincts and roll with whatever came his way. That's what made him such a good cop. Most of the time, his instincts were right, and if they weren't… Well, he could usually handle himself.
So it was weird that now, when he was just on the verge of taking the kind of action that came naturally to him, he was hesitating. Questioning. Thinking about turning around and heading back home to pretend none of this had ever happened.
And the weirdest part? That all of this thinking and questioning going on was about something as simple as knocking on his new partner's door.
Louis shook his head in disgust at his own lack of courage.
Grace had had a pretty rough couple of days. She'd run into some old friend of hers while they were working on a case. Louis didn't need to be a cop or to know Grace very well to figure out that "old friend" translated to "old boyfriend" in this case. It also wasn't too hard to figure that she still had feelings for the guy. Unfortunately, Kevin—the idiot—turned out to be in way over his head with some pretty bad stuff. Stuff that involved two murders and ended with Kevin falling out of a tree and getting himself killed. In front of Grace.
Poor Grace. Like it wasn't tough enough getting shipped to a new country, being the newbie on the team, and starting off the whole gig with an undercover assignment gone really bad.
Come to think of it, Grace had had a pretty rough couple of months.
Anyway, that's what Louis had been thinking when he'd had the bright idea of stopping by. He figured maybe she shouldn't be alone. Maybe she could use a friend. And seeing as he'd just lost one when Dana left the team and he was Grace's new partner, he thought maybe he'd be a good guy for the job.
Which brought him to standing in front of her apartment door with his arms full of pizza, movies, and a 6-pack of soda.
Now that he was here, though, Louis was kinda rethinking this whole plan. He and Grace got along pretty well, but maybe he was overstepping. Maybe she'd rather be alone. She did kind of seem like the private type. Maybe it would be better for her to talk to Sammo.
Before he could make up his mind, though, the door cracked open.
"Louis?" Grace asked uncertainly, eyeing him warily from the doorway. "What are you doing?"
"Uh…" Louis frowned as he searched for a reasonable answer to that and came up empty. "How'd you know I was here?"
"I could see your shadow under the door. You've been standing there for awhile. I thought you were a stalker or something." Grace arched an eyebrow at him in a silent request for an explanation.
"Yeah, sorry about that," Louis admitted sheepishly, ducking his head, and his gaze fell on the answer. "Uh, didn't really have a hand to knock, you know? And it seemed rude to just kick the door."
He flashed a charming smile, the one that normally made women drop their guard and warm to him. He hoped it would have the same effect on Grace, because he already felt like an idiot and she definitely looked like she'd rather be alone. In fact, he wasn't sure, but it looked like she was dressed for bed in red silk pants and a tank top.
Man, this really was a stupid idea.
Grace stared at him for a moment and then a small smirk appeared on her lips.
"What were you going to do if I hadn't saved you?"
Louis looked down at his cargo. "Hadn't really figured that part out yet. I was kinda thinking about just camping out here and eating the pizza. That would've freed up a hand."
That got her to laugh, a sound he realized he'd never heard from her before. She wasn't the type who laughed a lot. She'd smile or smirk or do that quiet chuckle thing. But you had to surprise a real laugh out of her. He'd managed to do that after everything she'd been through that day and he wasn't even in the door yet.
Okay, maybe it wasn't that bad of an idea.
"What are you doing here?" she finally asked, still grinning.
He shrugged. "Well, we're partners now, right?"
She raised her eyebrows doubtfully, but nodded.
"Well, I was thinking we should kick off our new partnership with a little celebration. And I even have a surprise for you." He winked. "So, can I come in?"
"Oh, believe me, I'm already surprised," she said dryly, but her smile told him she didn't mean it. "What else have you got planned?"
"Uh-uh, Pei-Pei," Louis teased, slipping past her into the apartment. "Food first, then the surprise. Besides, this stuff's getting heavy, I gotta put it down."
"Wimp," Grace taunted.
Louis shot her a mild glare as he dumped everything unceremoniously on her dining table.
"I'm trying to start us off on the right foot here, Pei-Pei, and you're making fun of me. That's not a good sign for our partnership. Not a good sign at all."
Grace hid a smile and nodded as she came up to help him make sense of the mess on her table. "Okay, you're right. I'm sorry. But, as long as we're setting the tone here and everything… could you stop calling me Pei-Pei?"
Louis stopped what he was doing to stare at her. "Sorry, I didn't know it bothered you. I thought you'd want people to call you by your name?"
Grace smile gently. "I do. And my name's Grace."
Louis nodded slowly and processed that.
"I know it seems weird," Grace admitted. "It's just that I'm used to being Pei-Pei when I'm in China and when I'm here…"
"You're Grace," Louis finished for her. "I get it. Not a problem. See? We're getting to know each other better already!" he said, grinning at her.
Grace chuckled. "Okay, partner, so what's this grand plan of yours?"
She reached for the plastic bag with the movie, and Louis hastily pulled it away, handing her the sodas as a substitute. He ignored her curious look.
"Actually, it's pretty simple, Grace. We eat pizza, we drink some soda, and we watch a movie." He pulled the top of the pizza box open to reveal the contents. "I didn't know how you liked it, so I kept it simple. Pepperoni. From the best pizza joint in L.A."
"CPK?" Grace guessed, looking at him innocently.
Louis groaned. "That's not funny, Grace. You keep that up and I'm gonna have to ban you from the pizza. You can't waste Alfredo's on people who don't appreciate good pizza."
She smiled. "I'm just kidding. And if you try to keep me away from that pizza, I'm going to have to hurt you. I haven't had Alfredo's in eight years. Think how bad that would be for our partnership."
Louis looked at her wide-eyed. "Eight years?! Geez, Grace. I would've brought you pizza a long time ago if I'd know you'd been deprived for so long."
Grace smiled as she reached for a slice. "I'll forgive you if you promise the next one will have mushrooms and olives on it. And don't hold it against me that I'm not going to wait for the plates right now."
Louis winced. "Deal, but after that we're going to have to talk about the olives."
Grace shrugged through a mouthful and headed to the kitchen for plates.
Louis smiled to himself. His plan was working better than he'd expected. He could tell that Grace was still a little quieter than usual, but she was making an effort to get into the mood and he appreciated that.
He was starting to put together a theory about the mysterious Grace Chen. At first, he'd thought she was just a hotshot who thought she didn't need anybody. But then he met her and she was quiet and hardworking and respectful and she had a sense of humor. Then he figured she was just really private and independent and didn't like needing people. But now he was starting to think she just wasn't used to having people around to lean on.
Maybe he could change that.
A moment later, they were settled on the couch with plates, napkins, and sodas. Louis had kept the plastic bag with his surprise in it close to him at all times so Grace couldn't sneak a peek. She kept eyeing it and he knew it was driving her crazy not knowing what it held, but he gave her credit for not asking. Instead, they talked about random other things, like when they'd both first discovered Alfredo's. Grace admitted she was surprised he even ate pizza.
"I thought you were Mr. Health Food, the way you've been avoiding the cookies and candy bars back at the station."
Louis laughed. "No, no, no. I like cookies and candy bars as much as the next guy. Or girl," he added hastily, with a glance in her direction.
Grace just smirked and sucked tomato sauce off her finger.
"I just don't want to get caught up in all the craziness. All this charity bake sale stuff has turned into war. It's way out of hand. I'm not letting the Captain rope me in."
Her look was skeptical. "I'm surprised Winship let you get away with that."
"Yeah, me, too," he admitted on a laugh.
Once they'd both had their fill of pizza, Grace sighed and settled back into the couch cushions. "God, I forgot how good that is. If I ever leave the country again, I'm having someone ship me pizza once a week."
Louis smiled as he wiped pizza sauce from his fingers. "You're gonna have one heck of a bill."
"It'll be worth it," she decided. Then she shot him a sideways look. "So, are you going to show me what's in the plastic bag now?"
Louis finally pulled out the bag and held it up with a flourish. "Well, it's our first movie, so I figured it should be something appropriate. Something about teamwork and solving mysteries and getting the bad guy."
"Please tell me you didn't rent any of the Lethal Weapon movies."
Louis put the bag down and looked at her with sad, kicked-puppy eyes. "First of all, I didn't rent anything. This is a gift, Grace. And second, I thought you were going to cut me some slack here?"
Grace's smile softened. "I'm sorry, Louis. You're right. And you really didn't have to give me anything. That was very sweet." Then she added, "But, for the record, if you try to compare me to Danny Glover, all bets are off."
Suddenly the pout disappeared, and Louis studied her thoughtfully. "I don't know, I was thinking more along the lines of Renee Russo."
Grace glared at him. "Okay, I'm going to let that go because you've been really nice and I've given you kind of a hard time tonight. But if you say that again, our partnership is going to get off to a really bad start. Or end," she added, pointedly.
Louis grinned. "I'm learning all kinds of things about you tonight, Gracie. I think this is going pretty well."
Grace arched an eyebrow at his latest nickname for her but didn't comment, and Louis tried not to smile. He liked that he'd managed to annoy her but, even more than that, he liked that she liked the nickname.
"So, the bag?" she reminded him impatiently, dying to know what was in the damn thing already.
"Right!" He picked the bag back up and decided to skip the flourish this time, knowing he'd already pushed her patience as far as it was going to go. "I'll let you do the honors, Grace," he offered, handing her the bag.
She didn't wait for him to ask twice and yanked the tape out of it plastic wrapper. She stared blankly at the brightly-colored cover for a moment, clearly surprised. And then she broke out in a wide smile.
"The first time we talked, you told me you grew up watching it," Louis explained. "I did, too. I think Scooby and Shaggy are the reason I became a cop." He flashed a smile. "Anyway, it's the latest release, just came out this year. Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island. I thought we could check it out together."
She stared at him for a moment and he wondered if she understood what he was trying to do. He wasn't really great with gestures and symbols. He was better at just saying what he meant.
But then Grace smiled, softly, in a way he'd never seen from her before and he thought maybe she did understand.
"Don't thank me yet, Gracie," he warned, but leaned back casually and made himself comfortable, anyway. "I haven't seen it yet. It's not what we're used to and it might not be that good. But I think we should give it a shot, don't you?"
He finished settling in and fixed her with an expectant look.
She smiled. "You know what, Louis? I think it's going to surprise us."
I'm afraid I can't promise that there will be any more Martial Law fics, 'cause I'm all out of ideas and I don't even have my favorite episode on tape (which I am still totally bitter about, but whatever). If the show ever comes out on DVD, maybe I'll finally be able to figure things out and write a conclusion to the season. Keep you fingers crossed with me.