It had been a lot of years since his last 'episode' but Nick Stokes remembered the symptoms well.

He was fairly sure they must be very similar to the clinical signs of insanity, because he certainly felt like he was losing his mind. He silently checked off the growing list of symptoms as he walked from the lab at the end of a frustrating day.

Pounding heartbeat

Missing chunks of time

Loss of ability to speak or even form a cohesive thought

Laughing or smiling at inappropriate times

Easily distracted

They occurred randomly and in all kinds of situations – there was only one constant through out every episode, he had finally admitted to himself. It took a fairly embarrassing new symptom before he recognized what should have been clear weeks ago.

He had recently caught himself sniffing the hair of a certain someone, could he be more stalker like he'd asked himself.

But what was worse is that the result of this latest symptom was that he suddenly had a craving for cinnamon and an overwhelming desire to pick violets.

He was putting cinnamon in and on everything he ate or drank, the final straw was the look Warwick gave him when he requested it in his coffee.

It was time to do something about it. There was only one cure for this – it could be totally humiliating or the start of something amazing. He ignored the annoying little voice in his head screaming warnings with increasing shrillness; he was committed to this course of action.

With a deep breath and a silent prayer/plea to any and all gods who might be listening, he pushed the door to the break room open and stepped in.

The first thing he noticed was he was beginning to sweat big time, was this a new symptom or a side effect of the treatment he wasn't sure, but if he didn't move quickly he would soon dehydrate and possibly pass out. Secondly he realized he was standing there imitating a goldfish, mouth opening and closing but nothing else was happening, he was also frozen to the spot. 'Move' he yelled to himself, 'you're not 16, you are starting to look like an idiot'. As he stood silently berating himself he failed to notice that he was being watched. When he finally focused on his target he found she was watching him with a very amused look on her face.

"Hey!" Sofia said, "You Okay!"

"Hunh! Oh yeah, I just, I umm…" Nick froze again in horror, 'I can't believe what a mess I'm making of this' he thought, 'I guess were shooting for humiliating.'

"Sorry, bad day." He finally offered as he rubbed his hands over his closely shaved head.

Sofia beamed at him "You're not alone, nothing has gone right for me today." She closed the file she had been staring at without focus for ten minutes at least. She could not absorb another word.

"I was thinking of getting a coffee, did you want one?" he asked

"Yeah, I'd love one, I can make it if you want to sit down, you look like you need to."

"What! No! I mean… not here, I meant out, like a coffee place." Nick was amazed that the gods had not taken pity on him and struck him down yet. This could not be going any worse than if he was actually trying for disaster.

"Oh!" Sofia stopped half way out of her chair; she was so startled by Nick's awkwardness at asking a simple question. She suddenly realized this was more than a request for coffee. The usually unflappable Nick Stokes, self-professed ladies man was bumbling like a love struck teenager. She smiled secretly to herself and sank back into the seat. "I like the sound of that, I need to get out of this place." She offered casually, and she began to collect her things. "Let me file these and I'll be back."

As the door closed quietly behind Sofia, Nick sank, boneless into the nearest chair. He was exhausted; he had no idea how he had actually ended up with a positive response. It definitely couldn't have anything to do with his actions, a thought which had his brain whirring. There is no way that she wouldn't recognize his clumsy request as anything less than what it was, his blundering had made it clear he was asking her on a date. It could mean one of two things, Sofia was taking pity on him for now and would let him down gently later or she was genuinely interested in coffee with him, under the heading of 'date'. He tried not to analyze it too much, using the time instead to regain some composure.

Too soon the door was opening again and Sofia was ready to go, coat on and bag in hand she smiled at Nick. "So where to?" she asked.

"There's a little Mom and Pop café three blocks north of here on Dublin." He replied as he stood and picked up his own jacket.

"I know the one." Sofia smiled again, "I'll follow you there."


Seems like a good spot to stop. So what do you think so far? I will start the next installment soon as I am currently on holidays it is the only time I can write. Once I'm back at work there will be a rather large hiatus, so I will try to get as much done now as I can. Also I am prone to losing interest when things go wrong in the real world – i.e. If Sofia's character doesn't return or either of them ends up in another relationship. (See my NCIS story as proof – I will try to get back to it but when Tony is so smitten by Jeanne it's hard to find inspiration.)

Also hope this makes sense. I'm Australian, so I may use slightly different language and I have no idea of the geography in Las Vegas – is a small independent coffee shop even possible? Also I don't drink coffee so know very little about the associated 'rituals'. I know North Americans use North, East etc. for directions, in Australia we turn left or right – very limiting but we get where we are going. I will completely make up the small details and even maybe some big ones later on.