"Matt, we need to talk," Emily suddenly declared, turning to face him, swiveling her chair a little closer so she could keep her voice low.
"Okay." He figured she'd want to talk at some point, but didn't know what to say.
"Are we going to be able to do this?" She gestured between them.
"You mean still work together?"
She nodded, slightly impatiently.
"Yeah, I can if you can." He shrugged, more secure than he actually felt.
"Sure, I can," Emily answered quickly, not sure she actually felt that way.
"Okay." Sure, it was that simple.
"Okay," she agreed, both turning back to their computers and piles of paperwork.
"Whoa…easy there Flannery, you'll be outta rounds before you hit anything." Frank whistled as Matt fired his gun off again and again, blasting away at his target and hitting nothing.
Matt ignored him, continuing to take his rage out on the target, or more correctly the wall surrounding it.
"Matt, stop shooting for a minute." He tried again, slightly worried now.
The only muscled that moved on Matt was his trigger finger, which kept his gun blasting lead at the wall.
"Flannery, stop firing your weapon now! That is an order!" Frank bellowed, issuing an order, a right he had over only his men, and anyone using the shooting range. He'd never had to do that with Matt before now.
Matt finally stopped, reloading, before turning to face Frank with a sneer.
"Man, what the hell is wrong with you?"
"He and Emily broke up," Duff filled in, walking in with perfect timing to the tense situation.
"What? After yesterday at the juvy prison?"
Matt didn't answer, so Duff filled in again, "yeah, after it was over."
"How do you know all this?" Frank wondered why he hadn't heard the same information.
"I just had lunch with Lia, who got breakfast with Emily. She's pretty broken up, Matt." According to Lia, Emily wasn't taking it very well either.
"Does it look like I care?" Matt finally spoke, seething angrily.
Frank smirked, not the least bit afraid of his angry, armed friend, "actually, yes."
"Piss off Frank, I'm practicing."
"No, you're missing, and wasting ammo." He gestured to the clean target and beaten walls.
"Then I should practice more, don't you think?" He just wanted them to leave him in his misery.
"Uh, no I don't think. That's what you negotiators are supposed to do."
"Just leave me alone," the negotiator whined, dropping his pissed attitude in favor for his more accurate depressed attitude.
Frank glanced at his watch. "It's five-thirty, and you aren't getting anything done, so we're going for a beer."
"And what, I get to cry on your shoulder?"
"Man, you can cry all you want, but leave my shoulders out of it." Frank cracked himself up, Duff following suit with his own poorly veiled laughter.
Matt rolled his eyes, and finally gave in, opting for getting sloshed on cold beer over getting laughed at any more. "So are we getting beer or what?"
"Smart man. Let's go." Frank led the way off to Sloan's, still laughing as he went.
"Hey guys, what's it tonight- Matt, you aren't looking so good." Josh, the bartender gave him a concerned look. They took seats on the stools closest to the door, not that they couldn't have had any. It was still early, so the bar was fairly deserted.
"A certain lady broke his heart," Frank answered for him, earning another eye roll from Matt.
"You and Emily broke up? I'm real sorry man, that's got to be rough."
"I'm managing." Matt didn't know how he felt about everybody knowing every detail of their relationship.
"First round is on the house then," he said, sliding three glasses of beer down to them.
"What about second and third rounds?" Frank asked eagerly.
"Those are on you and Duff. And, I get you're keys after five rounds."
"Nice...don't trust us?" Frank batted his eyelashes innocently.
"Just protecting my loyal customers." He grinned at them, and moved over to serve an agent from organized crime.
Matt swallowed his beer in two gulps, not spilling a drop, and not even gagging as the liquid rushed furiously down his throat.
"If you drink like that all evening you're going to be wasted by six."
"Good, then I'll pass out easily tonight." Matt raised his hand for another, sliding the empty glass back down to Josh.
Frank and Duff exchanged looks, and shook their heads; this was worse than they thought. It had become tradition among the three to go to Sloan's after any of them broke up with a girlfriend, and get so impossibly wasted they could barely walk. The last time had been Frank's Carol, a woman he'd dated for six months, before decided she wanted a wedding ring and baby by her next birthday. Poor Frank wasn't even close to being ready for that. Only a few times over the years were the break-ups really painful for any of them, because it wasn't often that the relationships lasted that long. These were men's men, eternal bachelor's that had a whole lot of fun, but generally didn't get too involved.
Frank and Duff had each already mourned their relationships that lasted over a year, Jackie and Maria, and those had been the hardest in the group. Maria was actually on tactical in another unit; the two met in a follow-up course. Duff broke it off after it became obvious that they were doing more fighting than loving, or even talking; that just barely made it over a year. Jackie was a dispatcher for the LAPD, and met Frank when he called in demanding more cops to back them up at a very messy scene. They argued for twenty minutes over whether he had the authority to make that demand, and after she chastised him for being rude, she agreed to a date. He found out 15 months together that she'd been sleeping with one of her precinct's detectives for three months.
Both had been in those relationships longer than Matt and Emily, but there was something between the negotiators that made them grow close very fast. Maybe it was because they were friends and partners first, or that in choosing to pursue their relationship they were risking their jobs. Regardless, their affection for each other was obvious, enough so that Frank and Duff had been expecting this breakup to be a painful one. Even so, tonight, as they watched Matt finish his second mug, it seemed they might see a whole new level of pain.
Emily finished dabbing the water off her face with a towel, hoping the redness wouldn't show too bad. She hadn't cried last night, but seeing Matt today had been too much, so when she returned home, she let a few tears slip from her eyes. She heard a knock at the door and knew it was Lia. Cursing, she checked her eyes in the mirror, praying Lia wouldn't be able to tell she'd been crying- that would just worry her more. She ran out of the bathroom just as Lia knocked again, and after undoing all the locks, pulled the door open to admit her friend.
"Hey Em, I brought ice cream and click flicks, just as I promised." She gave Emily a once-over, and decided that, if she had been crying, it wasn't too bad.
"What kind of ice cream did you get?" Emily instantly perked up, happy with the distraction.
"Mint Chocolate Chip, your favorite of course," Lia announced happily.
Emily shook her head in amazement, "I can't believe you remembered that."
They'd gone out for ice cream once, and Emily had been thrilled to get her cone of mint chocolate chip with chocolate sprinkles. But, of course it was just like Lia to remember. She had an uncanny ability to remember the little things that people say, one of those people that never forgets a birthday. And, though she had a reputation as a gossiper, if the gossip involved one of her friends, she was the first by their side for comfort. Lia Mathers was just a very caring person, the kind of which is hard to come by.
"Of course I did, and I also remembered not to get anything too sappy. I picked out two, so you can pick out of them: Ever After and Say Anything."
"Oh I love that one! John Cusack is so cute with the boom box at the end." Emily all but shrieked when she heard the title.
"Say Anything it is," Lia answered, stuffing the other movie back in the bag. "So, how have you been doing?"
"Since this morning?" Emily asked sarcastically, grabbing bowls and spoons. "I'm alright Lia. It wasn't easy to see him today, but I'm fine."
"Really?" Lia didn't believe her; she'd been Emily's confidant for most of her tenure in LA, and knew that what she had with Matt was a big deal.
"Yeah, it's hard, but it's just like getting over any other failed relationship." Emily dug at the ice cream, spooning it into the bowls as she spoke.
"If you say so."
In only a few minutes they were sitting on Emily's couch, the movie in the DVD player, credits playing. Emily had her legs curled under her, and Lia was working on getting herself into a comfortable position, and lost her spoon in the couch cushions.
"Oh shit." She jumped up, digging for the spoon, which thankfully hadn't made contact with the ice cream yet.
"Did you have something to drink before you came over?" Emily laughed at her friend struggling to dig between the couch and the cushion she'd been on.
"Funny, at least I'm making you laugh," she commented, reaching deep into the couch, and finally coming up with her spoon and a fake ring. It wasn't really attractive: a slightly over thick gold band with a ruby encircled with diamonds, or rather imitations of everything.
"What? Did you find something good?" Emily notice that Lia had stopped searching and was studying something.
"Yeah actually, what's this? Did you have a kid here?" She held out the ring for Emily to see.
"Oh god, I can't believe that was in there…" she was totally captivated by the small object.
"What is it?"
"You remember that the day when I was half out of my mind in April? Everything was going wrong, we were late, my paperwork disappeared, my class wouldn't shut up, my pen exploded on me, and then there was that horrible fire alarm and I got stuck in the elevator?" She cringed as she remembered what a horrible day it had been.
"Oh yeah, I remember we were all outside and couldn't find you, Matt was about ten seconds from panicking when they came out and said it was a false alarm. Cheryl sent half of HRT swarming around the building looking for you." That was a day they'd all remember for a while.
"That was pretty humiliating actually."
"So, the ring?"
"Right, well Matt and I went to get groceries after work, and he saw how miserable and upset I was, so out of nowhere he throws a few quarters into one of those toy machines for kids, and gets this ring. He made a big production of giving it to me, as it was real gold, ruby and diamonds." Emily was twirling ring between two fingers and smiling by the end.
"And he made it all better?" Lia grinned back at her.
"Just him being there made it better, but let's just say if we'd had a little more restraint that ring would have been lost in the bedroom."
"That's sweet, and maybe just a little bit more information than I needed to know about the couch I'm sitting on." She grinned at her friend, who seemed to suddenly remember that she broke up with that sweet man, and grew sullen.
"Yeah…oh look the movie's on." Emily perked up slightly, happy to focus on John Cusack instead of the ring, though she didn't put it down, but cupped it in her hand, allowing it to rest between her skin and the bowl she was holding.
Lia raised an eyebrow, but turned to the TV, figuring Emily would talk more when she was ready.
Emily felt the first tear slip down her cheek barely in time to catch the second before it fell. The third, the fourth, the fifth, she managed to catch those, but they came too fast, and she had to set her bowl down, earning Lia's attention. She lamely pretended to be trying to get something out of her eye.
"Emily?" Lia asked, voice tinged with worry.
Then, as if she just broke, Emily covered her face as the tears began streaming down, and her body was assaulted by silent sobs.
"Oh sweetie…" Lia cooed, moving closer to her friend, and wrapping her arms around her frame as it jumped with sobs.
Lia had never actually seen Emily cry, not even once. The negotiator at times seemed to be built of steal, and hadn't even let a tear fall when Tobin Jensen was turning her life into a living hell. Emily had admitted to her once that she'd broken down for a few minutes in Mexico, when she thought they were going to die. This was new for her, and somewhat unexpected, even under the circumstances.
Cheryl watched Matt from her the doorway of her office. It was still early and she was actually shocked he'd made it in on time, let alone made it in at all. She'd gone to Sloan's last night, knowing she'd find her favorite trio wasted to the point where'd they'd all be praying to the porcelain god at some point that night. As it turned out Matt had managed to surpass being even that drunk, and had managed to get himself vomiting in Sloan's men's room before eight.
Frank and Duff were pretty drunk, but still sober enough so she could ream them out for letting him get that drunk. They'd rushed to defend themselves, blaming his broken heart and need for a drink to quench it. That made her even more irate, and she'd yelled at them for encouraging him to drink away Emily's absence. It wasn't a healthy way to begin grieving the loss of a relationship.
Now the man in question was parked at his desk, on his third cup of coffee, a bottle of water nearby, and what was left of a travel case of Advil. His eyes were severely bloodshot, but otherwise he seemed to be fine. He was, or appeared to be, focused on his paperwork, typing away at this keyboard as if he was actually doing it. She didn't believe for a second that it would actually be coherent, but he seemed so focused on it.
Her attention was diverted by his partner arriving, looking surprisingly worse than he did. Emily's eyes were slightly bloodshot, but more importantly red and puffy, as if she'd been the one having a rough night. She dropped her bag, and flopped into her seat, the red chair, choosing to rest her hand in her hands rather than actually begin any work. Matt snuck a glance at her, but went quickly back to his typing.
Cheryl turned her attention from the couple, just as Emily was pulling out folders from her bag, apparently collected enough to begin working. She needed to talk to Lia, who she knew was with Emily last night, enjoying the traditional post break-up girl night. As she marched to the Intelligence room, she saw the analyst through the window, noticing that she didn't look worse for the wear.
"Lia, I need a minute with you." The analyst turned at her name, and followed Cheryl to a vacant corner of the room.
"What's going on?"
"Were you drinking last night?"
"With Emily, were you two drinking?"
"No, we had ice cream. Alcohol is a bad idea coming out of a break-up." Lia was growing confused.
"Then why does she look like hell?"
"She does?" Lia hadn't seen her yet.
"Yeah, she looks worse than Matt, and he was throwing up at Sloan's last night before eight." She said matter-of-factly.
Lia's eyes went wide, "god how much did he drink?"
"Enough so that he was probably bordering on alcohol poisoning."
"Jesus, they are not handling this well."
"Thank you Sherlock, now what happened last night with Emily? Do you think she started drinking after you left?"
Lia shook her head vehemently. "No, nothing like that. She uh…" Lia glanced around the room, concerned about prying ears. She pulled Cheryl father into the corner, and kept her voice lower. "She spent half the night crying, sobbing actually."
Cheryl cringed, "I've never seen her cry."
"Me neither until last night, and it was just heartbreaking. She stopped at one point long enough to tell me that she was in love with him."
"Great…" What was she going to do with them now?
"Have either of them said anything to you?"
"What, about wanting new partners?"
"No, not a word. But, if they keep this up I won't have a choice."
But, Matt and Emily proved their friends wrong that day, and were completely civil towards each other. In fact they were bordering on normal. They traded notes, and discussed parts of the case they were writing up, but someone familiar with the two could tell that something was wrong. The only time they spoke was when they were discussing a case, their chairs remained a good distance apart, they didn't flirt or find excuses to touch each other, didn't go to lunch together, and barely looked at each other.
However, it was a marked improvement that they were in the same room together. After their conversation the day before Matt had disappeared to the shooting range and Emily to her classroom, though she only had one class. Today, they seemed like partners that were having an off day, as if they'd just had a hard case and weren't up to conversation. But, not a couple having an off day, not lovers that had been so close days before, one would have thought they'd been together for years rather than just months.
Later that afternoon, Matt was still staring at this computer, typing up reports. In fact, he'd been staring at the screen so long, he was about halfway to being blind. Normally, he would have taken several breaks, to catch up with the guys, grab coffee, but most often to turn to the side and distract Emily from her work. They would engage in shameless flirting sessions regularly throughout the day, but still somehow manage to get all their paperwork done. Nobody, including them, could seem to figure this out.
But, today he avoided any breaks, knowing it would be too easy to turn to the side and fall back into flirting with Emily. He wanted it too much to risk taking his eyes off that screen for a minute. He'd come close to losing his mind forcing his eyeballs to be glued to that screen, with Emily a foot away. The only time he turned was ask or answer a question about a case, and thrn thry didn't even really look at each other, just kept their eyes on their paperwork. Fortunately, the woman that was the cause of his torture fled for lunch just after one o'clock, and Matt wasted no time before pulling his face away from the screen.
He rubbed his face, and stretched, feeling stiff after five hours in the same position. As he leaned back, yawning from the slow morning, he caught a glimpse of something shiny, reflecting the light from under it's tent of papers. The stack was by Emily's computer, undoubtedly the a trees worth of paper on one of their cases. Looking to make sure she wasn't coming back, he reach underneath and pulled out a gold object. A laugh bubbled up in his throat at seeing the fake ring.
He'd thought she'd lost it the night he gave it to her, one of the many night that they never made it to the bedroom. What was she doing with the ring here? Today, two days after they broke up? He turned it over with his fingers, momentarily lost in the memories the gold and red plastic churned up. Did this mean that she missed him? Did she regret breaking up? He felt hope well up inside him, but quickly beat it down. As far as he could tell, she was dealing just fine. She didn't need him anymore, didn't love him anymore. He swallowed down a lump in his throat. Get a grip man; she was just a woman- plenty of fish in the sea, and all that.
"Yo, Matt, how's the hangover?" Frank startled him; he palmed the ring, not risking his friend seeing him with a little girls toy.
"Fine," he shrugged.
"Now how does that work, you were in bad shape last night?" After admonishing them, Cheryl had waited for a break to come between Matt's puking bouts before driving him home just before nine. Frank and Duff had stayed at Sloan's.
"After I stopped vomiting around eleven, I passed out for a few hours, and woke up again around three dying for a drink. Nothing blocks a hangover better than water." He smiled, pleased with the trick he'd learned in college.
"Lucky bastard, Duff and me were fighting over the aspirin stash downstairs this morning."
"Well, I might have traded a hangover for the puking. Nothing is worse than spending four hours with your head in a toilette."
"And that is why I stopped drinking like that after I hit thirty," he laughed. "What do you say we grab lunch?"
"Sounds good." Matt agreed, tucking the little ring in his pocket, Emily probably wouldn't miss it anyway.
Emily returned to her desk an hour later, thrilled beyond belief to find Matt wasn't there. The muted tension was difficult to ignore, and the urge to touch him, to even look at him was harder now that she couldn't. A week ago, keeping her hands off him wouldn't have been an issue, simply because she knew she would have free reign when they went home. Now they weren't going home together, or going to Sloan's together. They weren't even talking to each other, and kept themselves busy with work.
She shook her head, trying to shake all thoughts of Matt out, as if that were even possible. Instead she swallowed and began shifting through her papers, trying to remember what she'd been working on. Oh, yeah, that's right. She'd hadn't really been working so much as she was zoning out as she played with that little ring. Wait, where was the ring? It wasn't under the papers, where she was sure she'd left it before meeting Lia for lunch. God knows if the analyst had seen her with that toy, she would have slapped some sense into her. Her emotional breakdown last night made it pretty clear that she wasn't handling this break-up well.
But, the ring wasn't where she left it. She plowed through the papers, while wondering how anybody could actually think she would or should handle it well. It was more than just another break-up, just another failed relationship. Matt was more. Damn it, where was that ring? She began tossing papers into her lap, binders and books following suit. There was no trace of the ring anywhere. Had Matt found it? But, if he did, why would he take it? No, it must have just gotten lost in some new crevice. It was gone, just like everything she and Matt had together. Damn it.
Shaking her head dejectedly, she turned back to her work, looking forward to not thinking about Matt for a few more hours. Lia had watched her like a nervous mother all through lunch, as if she was waiting for her to dissolve into tears again. But, she was fine. She'd be fine. It was over, it was best that she adapt to that idea now, rather than later. It's over Emily, she told herself. Everything you felt for Matt, everything you felt between the two of you, it's dead now, she calmly reminded herself. He doesn't love you anymore, get that through your head, she admonished herself, after the calm reminder failed. She had to come to terms with that now, later might just be too painful.
Here's the first chapter squinter, hope you liked it. I think the characters might be a little off with the characters on this one; I can't seem to get a grip on their characters when they're not together. Just goes to show they should be! FYI: The next chapter is going to skip a few days ahead. Otherwise, thanks for reading and please review!