A/N: sooo... clearly, i have a problem. i am unable to be "without fic". i have finals to study for, but last night's episode was just so fantastic i HAD to write a little something. :) this is only a two-shot, since jamie and i have something bigger in the works, but i thought i'd just do this for fun. hope you all like it -- please let me know what you think. part two should be up shortly. xoxo mia
His eyes flicker towards the clock first at the first knock at his door. It's late, after twelve-thirty. He's been sitting in a chair by the living room windows for awhile now, two fingers of scotch glowing in the bottom of a glass.
But he isn't drunk. He's been replaying the minutes spent on the stand today, has been remembering her face from across the courtroom. Never in his life had he so badly wanted to deny the truth, to thwart the system, to spit on justice. He'd zeroed in on her eyes, shining like headlights across the room, and he'd wanted to lie.
But he hadn't. He'd sat there for several moments, watching her. She'd tilted her head, a challenging look in her eyes. She'd told the attorney he'd picked up his son, had set this all into motion, and now she wanted him to do it – wanted him to let these people believe that she could have killed someone.
And sitting here, in his living room, he realizes now that people will most likely assume that he'd admitted that they'd been apart long enough because of his strict sense of honor, of his belief in the justice system. That he couldn't lie because he'd sworn before God that he would tell the whole truth.
But the whole truth is, in that moment, he would have lied. He would have gone against his oath if it meant protecting her, if it meant assuring no one would ever try to go after her. But she hadn't wanted him to. He'd seen it in her eyes; she'd wanted to do this, wanted to make the jurors doubt her. Her father's life was important enough for her to let people believe she could be a killer.
And so he'd said, in front of witnesses and a judge, that yes -- she'd had time. She'd barely moved a muscle, but he'd seen it. Even from the distance between them, he'd seen the light hit her eyes differently, had seen the shimmer there. That same shimmer had been in his own.
Whoever is at the door knocks again, and he stands slowly, the glass still in his hand. He's changed for bed, wearing only a pair of old sweatpants, and he has slippers on his feet. The room has a slight chill to it, but the liquor has made him feel warm, flushed.
He pauses when he pulls the door open, and he supposes he shouldn't really be surprised that she's here. Still, tonight, at the very least, she could have been exhausted enough to fall asleep, to sleep well knowing her father is safe.
"Hey," he says quietly, pulling the door open further. "Everything okay?"
She nods, looking slightly awkward. "Can I come in?"
He steps back so she can enter, watching her as she makes her way over to the windows where he's been sitting. He feels awkward himself, suddenly. He'd stood on the steps of the courthouse while she'd hugged her father, and he'd felt a swell rise in his chest as he'd seen the happiness so evident on her face. But he'd left only minutes later, giving her only a quick pat on the shoulder. It hadn't been his moment, his reunion.
But now she is in his living room, and he isn't sure why she's appeared.
He walks towards her slowly, feeling slightly exposed without a shirt. He sits on the arm of his chair, his hand holding his glass resting on his thigh. "You sure you're alright?"
She turns from the window, the moonlight highlighting the planes of her face. He can't read her expression, which worries him. Over the years, he's come to know her myriad of smiles and frowns, even to navigate the variety of her sighs. But tonight, her eyes are darker; a deeper blue.
"Thank you for what you did today," she says quietly, her eyes flickering around the room before landing back on him.
He takes in a deep breath. "I didn't do anything," he murmurs. "Except tell the truth."
"I know," she says, catching her lower lip between her teeth. "I never doubted you would."
He swallows, words rising in his throat, and he bites them back. He won't tell her what he would have done. She'd seen his struggle on the stand; he knows she had. But he figures she's attributed it to his disapproval over what she's done. Still, she has a strange look on her face, and he isn't sure what she means exactly. I never doubted you would.
He waits for her to speak, to justify what she did, even though it isn't necessary. But she doesn't. She takes a step closer, and her fingers suddenly touch the ones holding his glass, and she tugs it from his hand gently.
He can offer to go get her a glass of her own, can get up and head to the kitchen, but he doesn't. He likes the intimacy of it, of her mouth being on the same glass.
She swallows, passing the glass back to him, and he turns it in his hand slightly so that when he takes a sip his lips fall where hers have – almost like a kiss.
"You look tired," he says quietly.
"I am." She turns back to gaze out his window, her lashes leaving a shadow on her cheeks. "I talked to my dad for quite awhile."
"I imagine so," he says, his mouth twitching slightly into a smile. Despite his job, despite his beliefs about right and wrong, he finds he likes her father. He's glad Max Keenan isn't a convicted murderer.
"He loves me," she says quietly.
"He's your father."
"Yes, but…" Her voice trails off, and she wraps her arms around herself, as if she is cold, and he has to fight back the urge to tug her into his embrace. "But he stayed for me. He stood trial for me; he gave up his freedom. Just to be near me."
He nods slowly. "People do all sorts of things for love."
She's quiet for a moment, and he drops his head, his fingers tracing the rim of his glass.
"Do you love me?"
His heart skips a beat, and his head snaps up quickly, his eyes locking with hers. She's facing him now, standing slightly in the shadow of the curtain, but her eyes still shine. "What?" he asks hoarsely.
She's so still, the slight rise and fall of her chest the only sign that time hasn't frozen. She's simply waiting, and he feels his throat start to close up.
It hangs there between them, her question, and his mind is racing so quickly he's barely able to pluck a single thought out. Do you love me?
She must sense his struggle, because she steps out of the shadows, coming closer. "You were going to lie."
His eyes widen. "What?" he chokes out, surprised.
"On the stand. I saw it," she says slowly, hesitantly. "And I was thinking about that, what that means." Her tongue sweeps out, moistening her bottom lip. "You trust the courts, you believe in justice."
He's frozen, unable to move as she comes closer, stopping right in front of him. "It wasn't just that you didn't want to tell the truth, was it? You wanted to lie."
With her standing in front of him while he sits, she is a bit taller, and he has to tilt his head up to look at her. He raises his glass again, taking a large, burning swallow of scotch before answering, his heart drumming against his ribcage.
"Yes," he manages. "Yes, Temperance. I wanted to lie."
Her eyes flutter closed for only a second, and then they're blazing blue again, locking with his. Her fingers reach out, brushing against his cheek, and he shivers as she finally touches him, feeling naked in front of her, exposed.
"I'm sorry I did that to you," she whispers. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to put you in that position, but I –" She reaches out with her other hand, easing the scotch from his fingers, her hand trembling slightly.
He catches her other wrist gently, stilling her fingers against his face, and he shakes his head slowly. "You did what you felt you had to do," he says quietly. "I know that."
She nods, and he turns his head slightly, pressing a kiss to her palm, and now it is she who shivers, and she takes a step closer, standing between his knees. When she allows herself to be vulnerable like this, he has trouble remaining objective, keeping his distance. She is so many things to him after all these years. Every part of him responds to her when she walks into a room, when she fixes him with her gaze.
She is more maddening than any woman he's ever encountered, more stubborn, more frustrating. She's stronger, more independent, more driven in a way that continues to astound him each time it's displayed.
And beautiful – so much so that she does more than simply turn him on, light him up, drive him wild. It moves him, her beauty. It makes him ache when she brushes a hand through her hair, when her brow furrows with confusion or displeasure. He wants to take a thumb and smooth the lines of worry away, to promise her everything will be alright. Yes, she moves him -- especially like this, standing before him, her eyes naked and questing. He's a fool for her, a fool to have ever believed they could just be partners, just be friends.
"Yes," he rasps, his breath quickening. "Yes."
The line appears, the one between her eyebrows when she's trying to understand, and he realizes he took too long to answer her, to make his heart known. He dips his head, pressing his lips to the very tips of her fingers, gently, just so.
"Yes, I love you."
He hears her suck in a breath. She still does it, every time they solve a case, every time the truth finally comes out. Even if she's claimed to know, even if her so-called evidence has shown her indisputable proof, she still reacts the same way when the answer is finally revealed. He loves that about her, loves that she can claim to be so sure and still be surprised. One line, one simple line, and he's told her so much.
With the words finally out, finally released after years of being caged inside, swallowed back down, he feels a calm settle over him. Reaching for the scotch she's clutching tightly, he tugs it free, setting it on the windowsill before standing, causing her to step back as he rises.
He catches her as she backpedals, his hand cupping her face, and she stills. They're close, so close, barely an inch between them, and he lets his thumb sweep over her lower lip. Maybe he's telling her too much, telling her with his body not simply yes, but how he loves her. Maybe it's better left unsaid.
But her lips part, her breath whispering against his fingers, and he drops his head lower, hovering above her mouth, waiting.
And it's there in her eyes, that same look that she'd given him from across the courtroom this morning, saying, Yes... Yes, do this. I want you to do this, I'm saying yes.
Headlights from a car on the street sweep across the window, lighting her face, and he brushes his lips gently across her own, just a light touch. Her eyes flutter closed, and he lets his fall shut as well. He lets the sensation, the electricity that the simple touch brings sink into him for a moment, and they simply stand there, a breath apart.
And before he can open his eyes, she's back. Warm fingers press against the bare skin of his chest, and her mouth opens hotly against his. He grasps her hand, holding it against his heart, against the pounding beneath his ribs as he tilts his head, parting his lips against her kiss.
He feels her tongue, like velvet. It sweeps against his lower lip and then into his mouth, and his knees go soft, his head spins, and he lassos an arm around her waist, bringing her body against his own. His other hand slides around to cup the back of her head, and then he's really kissing her back, his own tongue sliding against hers, tangling into her mouth. Yes, I love you.
They finally break apart, chests heaving, breaths ragged, and their eyes lock as they stand in front of the window. He's answered a question. But with one kiss, a thousand have appeared, and he searches desperately for an answer as she meets his eyes.
(if booth can talk about his feelings, so can you, right...? c'mon, tell me how you feel...)