July 27, 2008

5:15 p.m.

"Ok, thanks," Matt sighed hanging up his cell. "The truck with our furniture is stuck in an accident on the 409, we'll hopefully get it tomorrow."

She looked up from the box she was digging in. "Great. Nothing better be missing when we do get it."

"I'm sure it will be fine," he assured her, brushing sweat-soaked hair out of her face. Every fan they owned was pointed at them, or their four friends helping them move in, but the heat wave was still miserable. All three guys had their shirts off, and the women were rather tempted to lose the shirts and walk around in their bras.

"I know, I'm just hot. When's the A/C going on?"

"Super is fixing it as we speak."

"This is an expensive building, aren't we paying for things like that not to happen?" Everything had been going wrong. The A/C wasn't working, the truck never came, their new closet contraption was missing some of the hardware (Duff was presently occupied with improvising), two glasses already broke, and hot and cold had been reversed on the brand new installed kitchen sink.

Matt shrugged, and rubbed her shoulders.

"Lehman, what the hell is this thing? It's massive." Frank asked, as he pulled a large pannel of wood from the newly pried open box.


"Of course it is." Frank shook his head. "You had to shack up with a nerd, didn't you Flannery?"

He grinned. They'd made a deal, Emily could have the biggest bookcase he'd ever seen in his life (outside a library), and he got to keep his big, comfy leather sofa. They were finally moving in together, after over a year of spending almost every night of the week together. Matt, unlike most other guys he knew, didn't worry about his girlfriend pressuring him into marriage. In fact, Emily was more commitment-phobic than any guy he knew, getting her to move into a new place with him had been a challenge.

"Shut up, Frank." Emily grinned and took a few sets of curtains into the bedroom, where Cheryl was on the ladder with a power drill. The guys joked about that for a good ten minutes.

She handed a curtain to Cheryl, and then turned toward the closest. Duff's mouth was in a straight line, his eyes focused on two pieces of white, barred shelving. Lia was standing beside him, an assortment of screws, nuts, and nails in her palm, a dubious expression on her face.

"Everything okay?" Lia shot her a look that was less than convinced.

"Yep, everything's fine," Duff insisted.

"You know Duff, it won't kill us to wait until we get the hardware from the company."

"No need, I'll get this up for you, Lehman." He grinned, absolutely convinced. Lia rolled her eyes.

"Em, I need another curtain," Cheryl called. She obliged.

An hour later

"Flannery, I know what I'm doing! That piece goes here, and this piece connects with it," Frank hissed.

"No, You need to attach this one first, before that one," Matt pointed out, thrusting the wood at his friend.

"No, you do that and the bottom is going to fall out!"

"Well, if you do it your way, the back won't stay on!"

"Easy guys. How about we take a break?" Emily asked gently, removing the wood from Matt's grip for fear that he might actually impale Frank.

Matt nodded. "I'll order some pizzas, I'm sure we're all starving."

"What the hell is going on out here?" Cheryl asked, coming from the kitchen, finally finished getting up the last curtains in the apartment.

"Dinner time," Emily answered, shooting a look at both men. They conceded, and stiffly raised themselves off the floor.

"Sure. Where are Lia and Duff?"

"Still working on the closet."

Cheryl looked concerned. "You sure he's still breathing? Lia wasn't looking happy when I left."

"Yo Duff, you still alive!" Frank hollared.

"And kicking!" Came the muffled reply.

Frank shrugged. "Hasn't killed him yet."

Cheryl rolled her eyes.

"We were not that bad!" Emily insisted, expression part scandalized, part amused.

They were all lounged on blankets, pillows, and random rugs in living room, anything with a soft surface. Empty pizza boxes sat to one side, and a bag of empty beer bottles on the other. They each had a fresh sweating bottle in their hands, and both fans were turned onto the sextet. Exhausted and hot as they were, they were still laughing and enjoying reliving the last few years.

"Oh, yes you were," Cheryl said. "I quote, 'we even had sex in the office once', and I know he wasn't lying."

Emily turned her head back to look at Matt, whom she was half leaning against. "You and your mouth."

He sipped his second beer, and shrugged. She was wearing a smile, she'd long since forgiven him for blurting their secret. "I say Duff and Lia are worse," he offered.

Lia's eyes widened, and her mouth dropped open. "We have never had sex in the office!"

"Yeah, but I did catch you guys necking pretty heavily in the kill house." Frank grinned.

"Okay, I officially command the horniest FBI agents in the country." Cheryl sipped her own beer.

"Two words Cheryl," Emily said, grinning evilly. "Parking garage."

Matt looked back and forth between his girlfriend and former partner. Their friends wore the same curious, albeit confused, expressions.

"It was after hours, not technically in the office, and it wasn't that heavy."

"He had you pressed up against your SUV, like he was literally trying to push you through it." The two women stared at each other, barely keeping the grins off their faces, a friendly challenge between them.

"Come on Lehman, who had our lovely boss up against her vehicle?" Frank demanded.

"Cheryl?" She asked. Cheryl nodded, they were going to find out anyway. "You're all aware that Narcotics got a new SSAC?"

"That Less dick guy left?" Duff chuckled at his girlfriend's intentional mispronunciation. He'd never heard her say his name right, though he knew she knew what it was.

"Lestack, and yes, he was promoted to a position in the Chicago field office."

"Yeah, and his new replacement looks like Taye Diggs," Emily grinned at Lia.

"Hey!" Matt tightened his arm around her in mock offense.

"Relax, I just took on a mortgage with you."

Frank chuckled. "Now that screams commitment like nothing else."

"Shush Frank. Back to the actual topic, I found Cheryl not two weeks after this guy gets here, giving him a full dental exam."

There were giggles and grins exchanged, through which Cheryl kept her cool, and simply responded to Emily, "And to that, I say again: had sex in the office."

"I wouldn't talk yet, Cheryl. Tonsil hockey in the parking garage leads to sex on his desk."

"Speaking from experience there, Matt?" Duff asked.

He shook his head. "Nope, wasn't my desk. Actually, it wasn't near a desk."

"Matt! Stop giving them extra information!"

"Man, please listen to your girlfriend, we don't want the visuals." Frank cringed with much exaggeration.

They continued talking and laughing, and generally carrying on for most of the night. Tired as they were from the move, the time seemed to pass without any of them realizing it. Around four, they finally began dropping off to sleep. They slept pretty much where they'd sat, using the blankets and pillows for cushioning. It wasn't the most comfortable sleeping arrangements, but it was too late and they were too tired to care.

July 28, 2008

10:30 a.m.

Emily woke the next morning to the still dark living room, minimal light pouring in through the dark curtains Cheryl had painstakingly installed. She raised her head from where it had been cushioned in Matt's chest, and looked around the room. Their closest friends were all still passed out on the living room floor like teenagers at a slumber party. They were all so used to late nights, surviving on minimal sleep, and passing out wherever was convenient that this was nothing to them. She smiled, pressed her face back against Matt's chest for a few seconds, and then dragged herself off the floor.

She walked into the kitchen, suddenly realizing it was much cooler than yesterday. The A/C was working, thank god! Sighing with relief, she filled the coffee pot with water, and located the filters. Quietly, she set-up the coffeemaker, and pulled out mugs, spoons, sugar and cream. They're groceries were minimal at this point, but they had the necessities--namely coffee and coffee fixings, orange, eggs, and some dry goods they were able to take with them from their apartments. She was in the fridge, grabbing the small carton of creamer, when arms came up around her.

She smiled. "Morning."

"Morning," Matt whispered back, kissing her hard on the mouth.

She returned his kiss eagerly. Emily was something in the ballpark of deliriously happy. She felt not just loved by Matt, but secure, in their relationship, their life together, and their future. For the first time in her life, Emily wasn't waiting for the other shoe to drop. She wasn't spending the days waiting until he got tired of her job, or found out about her sister. And, she wasn't dreading he'd ask more of her than she was able to give.

"Do you feel it? We've got A/C now," she told him.

"I know, I'm excited. It means tonight we'll get to have sex in bed, not in a cool shower," he said with a suggestive grin.

Emily opened her mouth, in exaggerated surprise. Matt took the creamer carton from her hand, set it on the table, and nuzzled into her neck, tightening his arms around her, and murmuring into her ear. He was as happy as she was, and as comfortable with their relationship. They were actually on the same page, and really, wanted the same things, and wanted them together. She was his best friend, his partner in crime, and the woman he'd fallen completely in love with.

Emily turned around in his arms, and they pressed their mouths together, kissing each other hungrily, oblivious to their waking guests.

"Oh Jesus," a tired and groggy Frank mumbled, as he stumbled into the kitchen. Matt and Emily quickly broke apart.

"Morning Frank," Emily smiled.

"Don't you two think that's a little harsh for first thing in the morning?" It was too early to see his friends making out.

Matt grinned evilly, and kissed his girlfriend again. Frank groaned again, and fell into a seat at the table.

"What?" Cheryl joined them, eyes squinted, still half asleep.

"A night at Casa Flannery-Lehman comes with a floor show." He nodded to their friends, still holding each other.

Cheryl sighed. "Do we need to turn the hose on you two?"

"Nope. I was just about to start breakfast, how does everyone like their eggs?" Emily pulled open the fridge again, and turned to them with a carton of eggs in hand.

Frank grinned. "Rocky style."

She looked to Matt for an explanation. Much like anything with zombies, Rocky was not on her list of Must-See movies.

"Raw, and in a glass so he can drink it down," he offered.

Emily grimaced. "Not in my kitchen, Frank. Scrambled or sunny-side up?"

He chuckled. "I was kidding anyway. Scrambled, I don't like them looking at me."

"Too bad, I was going to put them on a plate with a bacon smile," She teased, and grabbed a bowl to start cracking eggs, while Matt started pouring coffee. Duff chose that moment to stumble into the kitchen, a sleepy Lia in tow, barely awake enough to watch where she was going.

"You guys got someone out there at your door," Duff said, gesturing awkwardly with a thumb.

Matt ran out to see, while Emily continued with the eggs, and everyone picked a wall to lean against, lacking furniture as they were. Matt bounded back after two minutes with an amused look on his face.

"Guess what Em? We've got furniture."

"And only a day late," she answered, one eyebrow raised.

"Well, let's go get it up here, so we have somewhere to eat," Frank said, already heading toward the door.

Everyone, except Emily joined him, rushing out of the apartment to retrieve the furniture from the moving truck. She continued beating the bowl full of eggs, adding in a few spices, and searching for the oil. They'd dragged kitchen supplies with them, fortunately, and she'd never been so glad they all had SUVs. She covered her mouth as a yawn hit her, and set the eggs aside while she searched for plates and forks.

Once everything was gathered and set on the counter, Emily took a moment to just look around their new apartment. Theirs. Hers and Matt's. She grinned; she was content. She heard voices, and turned toward the sound, as the door opened and her friend's talking carried clear into the kitchen.

Content wasn't quite right; she was damn happy.

Okay, so this is it. This is the last chapter of my last Standoff fic, and I have to say a little something to my readers. I owe you all a very big, very heartfelt THANK YOU. I will admit when I posted the first chapter of 'Positive' (my first Standoff fic), I was terrified. Nervous wreck fit a little too well for the duration of that entire story. First I was scared no one would like it, and then I was so scared I'd screw it up, and disappoint everyone.

I soon discovered that Standoff viewers are some of the kindest, most encouraging people on the internet. You all liked that one, so I wrote another and another, and you still just kept asking for more. Some of you stuck around for months (even years), some of you came and went, but every review I received meant a great deal to me, and still does. So, I want to thank you all for reading my stories, and for taking the time to tell me that you enjoyed them. Because of you all, I've gotten some wonderful practice writing, and I've developed enough confidence to actually write a novel, and attempt a career at writing.

Special thank you's go to Tjmack, Slplady, Gremlin, mariedawn, detective-giggles, wilddaisy, Cindy Ryan, ACM Rocks, Cinderella, twin*muse, TJ Cullen, Bite Beccy, Squinter, and hunnielove.

And, an extra special thank you goes to Keavy, who, on top of reviewing my fanfic, I know won't ever let me give up on the book, or let me believe it's anything less than stupendous for that matter.

Thank you!