L.A. was bright and beautiful this Wednesday morning, with pigeons chirping happily on the balconies and random perches they'd claimed for themselves, and only a handful of puffy, ivory clouds drifting across the unimaginably blue sky. A gentle breezy tickled the leaves on the few trees still alive in the city, and excited the squirrels lurking in them. It was one of those days that makes it impossible to go to work, sit still, and not stare longingly out the window. One of those rare days that feel like it could last forever.
This was completely lost on the six FBI employees who were rudely woken by screaming alarms within twenty minutes of each other. Four people slammed snooze buttons, one grabbed a pillow and buried her head underneath it, blocking out the world, and the sixth went to smack what he thought was an alarm clock, but found to be a Nora Roberts novel. All six were suffering from the horrendous headaches most adults have come to realize indicate the previous night involved way too much alcohol.
Oh yes, they had all had way too much to drink last night. It had begun with a celebration after the team received kudos from the Washington bosses for talking down what would have been the next Timothy McVeigh. First, they had beers, cheering their success, with cocky smiles proclaiming their brilliance in hostage negotiation. Then Cheryl had treated her team to a round of shots, shots of pure Jack Daniels. This round was what initially led to their utter inebriation, and current state of miserable pain. Though one thing could be said of the group, only one member ended up in the wrong bed.
Cheryl smacked her snooze button for the seventh time, ignoring a curse and mumbling from her boyfriend, whose job kept him up until two a.m. She just didn't care this morning, and his unnaturally loud protests just pissed her off further and encouraged her to let the device keep screaming. Then a garbage truck went careering and blaring around the corner, forcing her to jump ten feet in the air, and use the longest line of expletives in the history if the FBI. She stomped out of bed, every footstep sounding like a gunshot to her hypersensitive ears, and the bright lights of the bathroom causing her to scramble in panic to cover her sore eyes.
Fuck everything. That is what she thought as she stared at herself bleary-eyed in the mirror, yawning and grabbing her fuzzy head. She squirted paste on her toothbrush, and half-heartedly rubbed it back and forth against her teeth. She was still squinting slightly in the bathroom light as she twisted her shower knobs, adjusting to a hot warm. She was just beginning to adjust to her hung-over state, and coping, when the tub seemed to move from beneath her. One foot in, hand pressed against the tile wall, supporting her, as she rested her second foot down, only to have it slip and cause her to almost do a split over the tub rim as she just barely caught herself.
Duff woke up, grabbing his head with one hand, and still smacking the Nora Roberts novel with the other. The chick novel he was hitting should have been his alarm clock, and the lavender sheets he was tangled in should have been a more manly grey-blue. What the hell? At least he knew one thing- his alarm clock did not mysteriously turn into some romance novel. That didn't help the fact that he couldn't remember where the hell he was, until of course, he turned and saw an equally confused, and moderately horrified Lia Mathers lying next to him.
"How drunk we're we last night?" She asked, cringing at her own loud, raspy voice.
"Uh…if ten is bombed out of your skull, I say we all hit a 30."
"That feels about right."
"You're still wearing your clothes," he blurted out, startling her.
She looked down at herself, then over to him, "Yeah…so are you."
"Then we didn't have sex?" Now Duff was even more confused.
"I guess we were so drunk that, you couldn't, couldn't, you know…" She trailed off, embarrassed to be discussing that with him.
"Right, that would make sense. That's a relief I guess." He looked away, half relieved and half disappointed.
"Yeah, right, a relief." Lia was feeling much the same, as she crawled out of bed, and into her bathroom, praying the hot water would cure the pounding of her head.
Matt stumbled off to the kitchen desperate for a drink of water to cure his severe cottonmouth, and for once not the least bit disappointed at leaving Emily behind. As he was leaving, she had pulled her head out from underneath the pillow was stomping angrily toward the shower. They'd woken up hung over before, and were both horrendously nasty people on these occasions. But, when your head felt that sore, your face that uncomfortably clogged, and everything was too loud, too bright, and just too damn much for 7:30 in the morning, it was impossible to be even the slightest bit pleasant.
Matt guzzled his water, allowing the last bit to rest in his mouth a few seconds before swallowing it down, hoping it would lubricate his mouth. He began making the coffee, filling the pot as full as it would go before dumping it into the maker. They would need every ounce of caffeine they could get and then some espressos on top off that just to get through the morning, let alone a full miserable day. He was sipping his first cup when Emily emerged from the bathroom, no happier than when she'd gone in. He handed her an already fixed cup, and guzzled the rest of his first one, before heading off for the shower.
They ended up in the bedroom getting dressed at the same time, adjusting easily to each other's very similar hung-over behavior. Basically, this consisted of some very intense vibes that screamed 'don't touch me, don't talk to me, don't look at me, don't even acknowledge my presence unless you're on fire or bleeding profusely.' On fire meant more than 30 percent of your body is engulfed in flames, and profuse bleeding was limited to bullets no smaller than 22 caliber, or no fewer than three stabs wounds. It wasn't that they were mad at each other, or blamed the other for how horrible they were feeling, they were really just that hung over.
Frank was pissed even before he got in his car. He was even pissed before he drank his breakfast, inhaling several cups of caffeine in place of his usual bowl of cereal. He was pissed because the wind blew through his open window and allowed beams of sunlight to attack him every time the curtain moved. It was way too bright outside today, just way too damned sunny, and he didn't care that it was LA and bright sun was the norm. Today thunderstorms would have been too bright, today a black hole would have been intolerably bright. But he dealt with this unimaginably bright, sunny day.
He'd donned his darkest pair of sunglasses for the drive, and was actually slightly calmer navigating the city streets in his black HRT issue SUV. He didn't put the music on, enjoying the silence, and was actually patient at the red lights for once. Then some idiot in a fifty thousand dollar Mercedes had to ruin the slightly better mood that was trying to break through. Frank had momentarily zoned during a light, and the wiener behind him was honking and yelling at him loudly. That was it, the hang-over was going to win, and he didn't really care.
He stuck his head out the car, looked straight at the balding man who was sticking out of the Mercedes, and hollered, "Fuck you and your mother dickwad!"
"Hey, you're the one stopped cocksucker!" the man screamed back.
"You want come here and say that you little shit?!" Frank climbed out of his car, as the man did the same. The man suddenly stopped when he saw Frank had a holstered weapon.
"Shit, are you a cop?" he asked much quieter than he'd been.
"FBI Tactical. I get paid to play with big guns all day. You still want to tangle, asshole?" Frank was pissed, and wasn't going to back down against some businessman.
"No, no, sorry man, really, sorry." The man stuttered his apology and rushed back to his truck.
"Friggin pussy…" Frank mumbled under his breath, ignoring the rest of the horns blaring behind him.
By the looks of things, it was going to be a wonderful day. Cheryl was hiding in her office with a mug of coffee and bottle of aspirin. Frank and Duff were in the corner, looking pained and practically inhaling coffee. Lia walked past and she and Duff avoided looking at each other, in a very obvious fashion. And Matt and Emily landed at their desks, both looking nothing less than pissed. Matt cursed colorfully for two minutes when he nearly fell over a cord attached to his computer. He bumped Emily as he adjusted himself, and she crashed into her seat, knocking over a stack of papers.
"Oh god damn it all!" she yelped loudly.
"Emily," Lia said softly.
"What?" She answered more nastily than she intended.
"Never mind," Lia told her, and turned away nervously.
"No wait, sorry Lia, I didn't mean to sound angry. What's up?" Emily apologized quickly.
"Do you have a minute to talk," she turned to Matt, "alone?"
"Uh sure, let's uh, find somewhere," Emily said, grabbing her coffee cup and following Lia. She didn't know what was up, but Lia looked…well, not like Lia. She wasn't bouncy, she seemed nervous.
They made it into an interrogation room, and Lia fell into a chair. Emily sat opposite from her, sipping her coffee like it was her last refuge on Earth.
"What's going on, Lia?"
"I woke up with Duff this morning."
"What?" Emily was so too hung over for this kind of conversation.
"Duff slept in my bed last night," Lia tried again, eyes wide, still processing it herself.
"Any sign that you used a condom?" Emily asked.
"What? No, we woke up in our clothes!" Lia said desperately.
"Oh…then what's the big deal?" Emily was really too hung over to grasp Lia's problem.
"It was awkward, Emily! I mean, we've been on two dates so far, and to just wake up together like that, it makes things weird," Lia stressed.
"Yeah, I can see how that would make future dates uncomfortable. Did you plan on going out with him again?"
"Well, I told you the first two dates went really well, so yeah I planned to see him again."
"Then just go talk to him. Tell him that the morning was awkward, but you don't want it to screw things up before they even get started," Emily suggested.
"You make that sound so easy."
"It will only get harder as your hangover's start to fade. Then you'll both be able to think." She was thinking of her own inability to concentrate.
"Alright, you're right. I can do that. Talk to him, right." Lia nodded, coaching herself, before abruptly taking off.
Emily returned to her cubicle, and plopped back down beside her partner and boyfriend. He didn't even look over, just dropped his second alka seltzer tablet in another glass of water. They both knew that once their headaches diminished, and they began to feel human again, they'd be all over each other—like usual. Until then, they'd make Cheryl happy, and actually get some work done.
"Damn it all to hell, who screwed with the coffeemaker?" Cheryl demanded, eyeing her subordinates. No one jumped up to take credit.
Oh yeah, it was going to be a long day.
"Does anybody had some friggin asprin?" Frank bellowed out at his agents.
"How'll Tylenol work, boss?" A young agent asked.
"Just dump some in my hand, and we'll see."
"Oh god, me too," Duff walked up beside him, one hand holding his sore head.
The young agent shook a few pills into each waiting hand, and quickly retreated. It did not seem like a good time to hang around the men.
"I'll say one thing…at least I woke up alone," Frank muttered, downing the pills. He'd had some mornings where he'd woken up next to a woman, and been in disbelief over the sheer amount of alcohol he must have drunk to climb into bed her.
Duff grumbled, but made no articulate comment.
"Son of a…you didn't wake up alone did you?"
"What? No, but I woke up with my clothes on."
"Kind of lame, but who was it?" Frank's headache suddenly wasn't quite so bad.
"Does Mathers know about her?" Frank knew his second in command was pursuing the young tech.
"No, yes, I…shit man, it was Lia." Duff gave up trying to lie, he couldn't think that hard. It hurt too much.
"That must have been awkward."
"Duff?" A voice called from by the stairs.
Duff waved a hand at his boss, signaling an end to the conversation, and went to meet his sort-of girlfriend.
"Hey, how's your head?" He asked politely.
"Could be worse…?"
"Just took pain killers, so should get better soon," he smiled.
"So about this morning," Lia began before it became anymore awkward between them. "It was weird, and unexpected, but I don't want it to ruin things before we even get to try."
She stood nervously in front of him, hoping he felt the same way. Cottonmouth when you're nervous is extremely unpleasant.
"Oh thank god," Duff blurted. "I'm sorry, I don't even really remember how we got there. Do you?"
"No, I still can't believe we really all drank as much as we did."
"Seriously, really bad idea."
Lia smiled. "So…we're okay?"
"Yeah, we're good." Duff felt a little lighter, his head a little less sore, now that one problem was resolved.
Lia turned to leave, then changed her mind, and moved closer to Duff. Leaning next to his ear, she whispered seductively, "I am looking forward to the day we wake-up like that on purpose."
Ignoring the HRT agents wide eyes, the analyst walked calmly up the stairs, barely hiding the smile desperate to break out on her face.
Duff didn't bother hiding his. When he got his eyeballs back in his head, a gianormous grin broke out on his face, and he practically skipped back over to Frank.
Around three o'clock Cheryl's headache was virtually gone. She made a call to her boyfriend, getting him on the third ring.
"Gavin, I'm sorry about this morning."
"That's alright, I got back to sleep. How much did you drink last night?"
"I have no idea. I don't even have a very clear memory of getting home. I must have taken a cab though, because my car was still here at the office." Cheryl shook her head. They celebrated their successes, but good god, they didn't celebrate them that hard.
"Damn. That was one hell of a celebration you all had," he chuckled.
"Tell me about it. Never again."
"You know how many times I said that in college?"
"Yeah, well next time I'll invite you, and you can pry the damn shot glass from my fingers." Cheryl shook her head. That was what she remembered, a lot…no, an insanely large amount of shot glasses on a table.
"You don't drink armed, do you?" He teased her.
"I'd say we weren't that irresponsible, but after last night, I don't think I could justify that statement."
"Oh come on babe, you're allowed to be a little irresponsible, and party a little too hard now and again."
"A little too hard is almost definitely an understatement for whatever the hell we did last night."
Gavin laughed again. "How's everyone else? Still in one piece?"
"Besides checking in this morning, I haven't heard from Frank or Duff, Lia was actually smiling earlier, and Matt and Emily have barely looked at each other. But, yeah, everyone is still in one piece."
"Matt and Emily? I don't think so, just too hung over to bother is my guess."
"Probably better then."
"Yeah, that's what I figured."
"Alright, I've got to run and get back to work. I'll see you tonight?"
"And, I'll even be sober," Cheryl mocked her own drunken state of the night before.
She hung up with him feeling better than she had. Gavin was a good guy, and she wanted him to hang around for a while.
Two and a half hour later, two negotiators walked out into the parking garage together, as quiet as they'd been through the day. Matt had spent the day going back and forth between the breakroom to get water, and the bathroom to piss it all out. His mouth didn't really feel dried out anymore, so he was happier than he'd been. Emily, on the other hand, had spent the day with her hand on her stomach, trying to ease the nausea away. She hadn't thrown-up, fortunately, but had felt like she was going to a couple times.
Never again would they get that drunk. What possessed them all last night, they might never figure out, but oh dear lord please, never again!
They were parting ways by the back bumper of the Bureau issue SUV when Matt suddenly stopped to his girlfriend. "Hey, wait a second."
"What?" She turned and looked around, confused.
Matt motioned her back over by himself. Emily frowned, but walked back over to him anyway. When she was within inches, Matt grabbed her arm, and pulled her close to his body. Letting his arms slide up her back, he kissed her.
It was a peck on the lips, or even a short full kiss. Rather, it was a the kind where he pressed her up against the side of the car, and they stayed happily suctioned to each other for longer than was probably healthy.
When they came up for air, Emily felt a little weak-kneed, and instead of moving, she leaned against Matt, arms wrapped around him, head on his shoulder. It felt nice to hold him, and to be held by him. It felt right to be affectionate again.
It was only one day, not even twelve hours really, that they'd gone without touching each other, or even really talking to each other. Still, they'd missed it terribly. It didn't feel quite right to go so long without even sharing a chaste kiss. They always at least had a kiss in the mornings.
Matt pulled back first, and said softly, "I love you."
Emily pressed her lips to his in a more delicate kiss than their first. "I love you too."
"How about we stay in tonight, and curl up in front of a movie?"
"That sounds perfect," she sighed contentedly, finally pulling away from him. If they were going to curl up in front of the TV, they needed to get in the car and go home first.
Emily started walking around to her side of the car, but stopped after she opened the door. "Matt?"
"Yeah?" He looked over from his side of the car.
"No zombies." She almost grinned, listening for his objection as she climbed in the car.
"Oh come on, I told you I'd tell you when to cover your eyes…"
It was the great argument that would never cease. Fortunately for the two arguers, the world seemed to have righted itself, after the worst night of drinking ever.
Never again would any of those six FBI employees consume that much alcohol.
Okay, I've been trying to finish this story since May 2007, and now that it's finally done I want to do a happy dance! I hope you enjoyed it, thanks for reading, and please review!
Oh, and I am in NO way encouraging heavy drinking. Don't get that wasted, you gain nothing by it, always have a designated driver, and ladies be very careful when you buy a drink in a bar.