Author's Note: I don't own Sweets. If I did, I wouldn't have to write Fanfiction. Everyone else is mine. MINE. RAHHH!
This is a one-shot, for now. I might write a few more one-shots related to this pairing later. No promises, though.
Also, I'm having some trouble with the horizontal ruler thingies that separate sections so if two sections don't quite fit together and you're all 'WTF?' feel free to blame the document manager and mock it cruelly behind its back.
Rain was pounding the windows in steady rivulets, the thick streams of freezing cold droplets relentlessly attacking the outside world. Lance Sweets was therefore understandably surprised when a hesitant-sounding knock on his front door roused him from his concentration. He'd been deeply engrossed in the most recent case file to come across his desk at the Bureau.
He slid the deadbolt aside and swung the door open into the night.
Standing on his doorstep was a slight woman, soaking wet, clothes and hair plastered to her frame by the freezing rain.
"I'm so sorry to bother you," she began quickly, teeth chattering. "My car broke down just across the street and I was wondering if you had a phone book I could use to call a tow truck?"
"Please, come in." Sweets quickly stepped aside, allowing the girl through.
"Thank you." she said, chafing her hands. "Oh, I'm dripping all over your carpet. I'm sorry." she apologized quickly.
"Oh, hey, don't worry about it. Here, let me get you some towels so you can dry off a little bit. You must be freezing." Sweets dashed into the hallways and returned seconds later holding a stack of mismatched but fluffy looking towels. "I'm Lance, by the way. Lance Sweets."
"I'm Morgan." she said. "Thank you so much for the towels." she began patting herself dry to the best of her ability.
"The phonebook's in the kitchen. I'll go get it for you. Please, have a seat." Sweets disappeared again while Morgan spread a towel over a section of Sweet's gray sofa and sat down.
Sweets returned carrying the phone book and sat it down on the coffee table.
"Can I get you anything else? Hot coffee or tea to warm you up?"
"No thank you, Mr. Sweets." Morgan said. "I'll call a tow-truck and be on my way. I won't inconvenience you further."
"No inconvenience. I'm happy to help." Sweets countered.
Morgan, who had been flipping through the yellow-pages, stopped at the correct page before addressing Sweets. "I really appreciate your help." she said before pulling her cell phone out of her pocket and dialing the number.
Sweets took this opportunity to observe the girl, giving into the demands of his psychological training. She sat in an introverted position, shrinking into herself in an attempt to make herself smaller. She spoke quickly and softly into the phone, similar to the way she had spoken to him. She apologized frequently, and came across as very polite and formal. Perhaps the oddest thing was that she flinched whenever he moved. He wasn't entirely sure what it meant. She gave off mixed psychological signals that made her impossible to read.
She was also very pretty. Chin-length dark hair framed her face, and her rosebud lips were perfectly pink. Her wide, doe-like eyes were capped with long, curling lashes.
"Thank you." she said into the phone before ending the call and slipping the plastic device back into her pocket. "There were a few major accidents on the highway earlier this evening. Every towing business in the city is backed up according to the man I just spoke with. It's going to be at least three hours before anyone can make it over." she paused. "I'm going to wait in my car. Thank you so much for everything, Mr. Sweets." she stood.
"You can't just sit in your car for three hours." Sweets said incredulously. "I really have no problem with you staying."
"I have no wish to impose. Really, I don't mind sitting in my car."
"You wouldn't be imposing at all. I'm offering. It's freezing out there. If you catch Pneumonia, I'd never forgive myself. Please sit back down."
Morgan, after a moment's hesitation, complied with his wishes.
"Would you like some tea?" he asked again.
"Do you work for the FBI?" Morgan asked sometime later as they were sitting on the sofa drinking tea, having warmed up quite a bit. Both in reference to body temperature and social willingness. She motioned towards the case-file on Sweets' coffee table.
"I'm employed by the FBI. I'm a psychologist." Sweets said.
"You must lead an interesting life."
"What do you do for a living?"
"I'm training to become a tattoo artist."
"That's an interesting career path. What made you choose it?"
"I..." Morgan trailed off. "Are you psychoanalyzing me?"
"Not at all. Simple curiosity. Scout's honor."
"I always loved to draw. That was part of it."
"What was the other?" Sweets prompted.
"It's permanent." she shrugged. "It's painful. It's beautiful. Pain in exchange for beauty."
Sweets resisted the urge to break his honor. "Do you have any tattoos yourself?"
"No." she said quietly. "I don't. Not me."
A sharp knock on the door stopped Sweets before he could ask his next question.
"Morgan Barrett here?" a gruff-looking man in a yellow parka asked when Sweets opened the door.
"Right here." she said quickly. "My car's across the street. The silver Buick."
"Where d'you want it taken?" he asked.
"Budd's Garage. Downtown." she said. She'd left a message on Budd's voicemail explaining why her car would be in parking lot when he came into work the next morning. Not that she needed to do so. The refusal of her ancient Buick to run properly was nothing new.
"I know the place."
Sweets watched as she handed over her insurance information, and then as the silver wreck was loaded onto the truck.
"I'd better call a cab." Morgan said, watching the truck drive away with her car.
"I can take you home." Sweets offered.
Morgan shook her head. "I don't want to be---"
"No inconvenience at all. I promise." Sweets said, grabbing his coat off of the hook by the door. "Come on."
Morgan followed him tentatively out to the sleek black Camaro parked in his driveway. He hit the remote and the locks clicked. Morgan slid in quickly, reluctant to get soaked again. She'd only just dried off.
"Where do you live?" Sweets asked, sliding the key into the ignition and starting the car. It purred. Morgan couldn't recall ever having heard a car purr before.
"Just down the street from the Jeffersonian. I'd offer you directions but everyone knows where it is." she chuckled uneasily.
Sweets put the car into gear and they took off into the night, driving over the gleaming wet pavement.
Morgan sat staring out the window, shivering in her damp clothing against the cool air.
"Oh, I'm sorry." Sweets said, cranking up the heat. "You should have said something."
Morgan shrugged. "I was okay."
An awkward silence hung over them, clogging the air, clinging to them for the remainder of the car ride.
"It's the building next to the Starbucks." Morgan said after what felt to Sweets like hours of silence.
Sweets pulled to the curb and put the car in park while Morgan fumbled with her seatbelt. He was sorry to see her go. He'd been enjoying her company.
"Thank you again, Mr. Sweets." she said, swinging the car door open.
"Uh... Morgan," he began. "Would you like to... get some coffee sometime?"
Morgan froze and turned to face him through the open car door.
"I'd... like that." she said honestly.
"Meet you at the Starbucks tomorrow night? Say eight o'clock?"
"Okay." Morgan smiled.
Morgan sat at a secluded table in the corner of the well-lit cafe, clutching her foam cup, wondering what on earth had possessed her to agree to a date.
Morgan didn't date.
Sweets walked in and looked around, smiling when he spotted Morgan.
"Hey." he greeted. "You're looking rather dry this evening."
Morgan smiled, in spite of herself.
"What are you drinking? I'll get you another."
"Just black? Nothing in it?"
Sweets nodded and took off towards the counter.
Morgan stared into her cup, praying to the swirling black liquid that the evening wouldn't lapse into an ongoing chain of awkward silences.
Sweets returned shortly, carrying two of the green-patterned cups. He sat one down in front of Morgan before taking a seat across from her.
"You don't want anything in your coffee. No cream, no sugar? Nothing?"
"I drink everything plain." she shrugged.
Sweets recalled that she'd taken her tea plan the night before and nodded.
"I prefer to savor it's natural flavor." Morgan explained.
"Coffee has no natural flavor."
"Maybe your taste-buds are unrefined."
"Ever think it's you?"
Morgan scoffed. "Please."
"So how's life as a tattoo artist?" Sweets asked after a completely un-awkward pause.
"I'm going to get certified soon." she said. "Next month, sometime. How about you? How's life at the Bureau?"
"Hectic. New case. One that they actually need me for. Usually I sit in on the interrogation, tell the agents when someone's lying... This one's more involved. It's serial. I'm profiling."
"That sounds way more interesting than tattooing." Morgan said. "Although I suspect there's significantly more blood."
"Not really. The un-sub has vampiric illusions, so his victims are completely drained of blood and left..." he trailed off. "This isn't good coffee conversation."
"I think it's interesting." she protested.
Sweets smiled. "Okay, well this guy's seriously messed up. We know for sure that he interacts with his victims before striking. He seduces his victims, lulls them into a false sense of security, that kind of thing, although he doesn't pursue a sexual relationship. His preferred method of killing is exsanguination. Typically serials with similar M.O.s will slash throats or shoot the victim before drinking their blood, but this guy bites their necks and drains them."
"That's mad crazy." Morgan said. "Go on."
"He doesn't target men or women specifically. He doesn't single out a specific type. His victims seem to have all been chosen at random, although most of them seem to have committed undocumented crimes. How he knows that... I don't think we'll ever find out. I think he's an insider. A police officer, maybe, who hears things but can't prove them.
"He doesn't seem to be overly careful. We have a description from friends and family members of the victims. He's obviously not shy and doesn't bother hiding. The craniofacial artist at the Jeffersonian sketched him, and we gave the sketch to the media but no one's called him in, even though several more victims have turned up. He leaves nothing behind. No hair. No DNA. Nothing at all. Whether or not he's intentionally doing so or if he's just getting lucky is up for debate."
"Oh! Okay. Blond guy, right? Wide mouth, high cheek-bones, prominent nose? I heard about this on the news a few days ago."
"It's by far one of the strangest cases I've ever worked." Sweets said before taking another sip of his coffee. "Apparently he calls himself The Brat Prince."
Morgan choked on her coffee. "Seriously?" she laughed.
"Does that mean something to you?"
"Anne Rice. Vampire Chronicles. Lestat. Has no one made that connection?"
Sweets eyes widened. "Of course! That's... that changes the whole profile. Classic example of an inability to separate reality from fiction."
"Maybe it's really Lestat." Morgan suggested.
Sweets laughed. "You don't honestly believe that?"
"No. But it's a nice thought." Morgan said wistfully. "Someone has to punish the unpunished malefactors of the world. Why not a dashingly blond French vampire?"
"I can't imagine it would be easy trying to profile the undead."
"I can't imagine an undead allowing himself to be profiled."
"Touche." Sweets toasted her. "Touche."
Sweets, being a gentleman and all, had walked Morgan back to her apartment after they'd finished their coffee.
"All the way to the third floor." she said, heading towards the stairs.
"Not the elevator?" Sweets asked.
"Not if you want to see tomorrow."
"Point taken. Stairs, then."
They began their long trek up the stairs, heels and toes tapping against the linoleum covered concrete.
"Three flights of stairs." Sweets said, still climbing. "Not as far as I thought."
"Unless you have groceries. Then it's Everest."
"I can only imagine."
They went on in silence for awhile, taking a corner and walking down a long hallway before stopping in front of Morgan's door.
"I have to say, this was one of the best dates I've been on in awhile." Sweets said.
"The only date I've ever been on." Morgan smiled uneasily.
"This was your first date?" Sweets asked, surprised.
"Oh. Okay. Um. Wow. I hope it wasn't a disappointment. I know that women sometimes idealize situations like this and---"
"I had a wonderful time, Lance. Thank you."
Sweets smiled and touched her cheek with the tips of his fingers. She flinched violently, turning her head away from his touch and squeezing her eyes shut.
"Are you… alright?" Sweets asked quietly.
Slowly, she opened her eyes and turned her head back towards him. "Y-yeah. I'm fine. I'm sorry. I'm just… I'm sorry." she touched his hand reassuringly. He could feel her pulse thrumming wildly in her fingertips. It's not you, her eyes were whispering.
Slowly, this time, Sweets touched her face again. She didn't flinch this time, because she was expecting it. Sweets kissed her quickly and gently on the lips.
"What are you doing Thursday?" he asked softly.
Morgan didn't get off until seven that Thursday, so Sweets had agreed to pick her up from work. The small tattoo parlor where she worked was brightly lit, creating a halo effect around the mottled glass windows. He felt very out of place walking into the shop, still clad in his federal-regulation suit and tie ensemble.
"Hey hon, how can I help you?" the heavily inked woman standing behind the front counter asked. "We don't get suits in here very often. Well, never, actually."
"Uh. I'm here to pick up Morgan?" he said nervously.
The woman eyed him suspiciously before calling Morgan's name over her shoulder.
Morgan hurried up from the back, bag slung over her shoulder.
"Sorry." she apologized, taking a place next to Sweets. "Mattie, this is Lance." she said. "Lance, Mattie."
"Nice to meet you." Sweets said cordially.
"Be nice to our Morgan, or I'll bash your skull in like a hard-boiled egg." Mattie replied.
"She means 'Hi, nice to meet you, Lance.'" Morgan translated.
"Yeah, I'm sure that's exactly what she meant. Are you ready?"
Morgan nodded, and the two left the shop.
"Anywhere particular you'd like to go?" Sweets asked once they were in the car.
"Wherever you'd like to go is fine with me. Do you have somewhere in mind?"
"Have you ever been to the Founding Fathers?"
"The name sounds familiar but I don't think I've ever been there."
"Oh, it's fantastic. You're going to love it."
Sweets hadn't been to the Founding Fathers since he and Daisy had had their falling out there. It had been a stupid argument, really. Something about how busy he'd been at work. She couldn't handle his absolute devotion to his career, so she'd broken up with him in the middle of their evening out. Sweets had been devastated, but that had been months ago. He'd moved on. Daisy had moved on.
"Get anywhere with the Brat Prince?" Morgan asked, fiddling with her seatbelt strap.
"No, unfortunately. Although no new victims have turned up so I guess that's a plus."
"Still, you'd like to put him away, wouldn't you?"
"He needs help."
"Everyone needs help in one form or another." Morgan reasoned. "He just needs a little bit more than everyone else."
Dinner was pleasant. Better than either Sweets or Morgan had expected. Morgan half imagined that their first date had been a fluke. That nothing could possibly go that well for her. Her fears proved to be dead wrong, however, when their second date went just as well, if not better, than their first. They'd chatted easily and freely, just enjoying each other's company.
"Drinks?" Sweets asked as the waitress cleared away their dishes.
"No. I don't drink. Ever. At all." Morgan said, toying with her spoon. "But if you want something, that's fine."
Don't analyze that. Sweets told himself firmly. Had been, in fact, telling himself that all night. Morgan's behavior was infinitely interesting to him. It was both right and wrong, somehow. Typical and atypical at the same time.
"Drinking alone isn't any fun. If you aren't going to have anything, I won't, either."
When the waitress brought the bill, Sweets slipped his credit card in the leather flip-book before Morgan had a chance to protest.
"You didn't have to do that." Morgan said as the waitress walked away with it.
"What kind of gentleman doesn't pay for dinner?"
Morgan just smiled slightly and began to play with the corner of her napkin. Sweets watched her fidgeting until the waitress returned with the receipt.
"Ready?" Sweets asked, cramming the receipt into his pocket and replacing his credit card in his wallet
Morgan nodded, standing up, and the two left the restaurant together.
"When I get my car back I'll drive you places." Morgan said as she eased into Sweets' car. "Granted, I may not be able to drive you back home afterwards since, as you know, my car likes to break down. So I guess I'll walk you home."
Sweets laughed. "I think I'm going to have to pass on that offer." he said, starting the car and throwing it into drive. "Besides, my car likes you. It told me so."
"For a psychologist, that's a pretty unstable thing to say, don't you think?"
"As a psychologist, I'm deeming myself completely stable."
It had been almost two weeks since Sweets had seen Morgan. They talked often, sure, nearly every day. They'd kept each other up late, talking about everything, talking about nothing. However, talking and seeing were two completely different things. And Sweets wanted to see her. Work had kept him busy. The Brat Prince had continued to strike, and the department was putting pressure on him to…
To do freaking magic. he thought, disgruntled, as he pulled his phone out of his pocket and hit Morgan's number on his speed dial.
"Would you like to come over for a little while to watch movies?" he asked after greeting her. "I just got Spirited Away in the mail today." Sweets paused. "Okay. Wow. Sorry. That sounds horrible. I'm not trying to sleep with you. I'm not that kind of guy. I honestly just want to watch a movie. God, I'm such an idiot. I never should have asked you that. What is wrong with me? Way to go, Lance." he babbled.
Morgan began to laugh. "I… I believe you." she gasped between fits of giggles. "You're too funny. That was priceless. And I'd love to see… what did you say it was called? Spirited Away?"
"Yeah. Have you heard of it?"
"No. I don't really see movies that often."
Sweets could see her shrugging in his mind's eye, that small, barely perceivable ripple of her shoulders. "I don't know. They're not something I'm used to, I guess. I prefer reading. "
"Movies are my life. I camped out to see Avatar when it came out with some guys I know from the Jeffersonian…" he trailed off. "I probably shouldn't have told you that."
"I kind of wanted to see Avatar."
"But you didn't? Why? Everyone saw Avatar."
"I don't know. I don't really like… crowds."
"It's more common than you'd think." he said. "So I'm about to leave the office now. I'll be there to get you in about… fifteen minutes?"
"I'll be ready."
"My car says it missed you." Sweets said when Morgan slid into the passenger's side. "But I missed you more."
Morgan smiled. "I missed you, too."
A comfortable silence soon followed during which point Morgan began to fiddle with her seatbelt, running the woven nylon through her fingers, catching her nails on the metal edges of the buckle. Sweets noticed this out of the corner of his eye, and couldn't help but find her actions endearingly childlike.
The silence continued, hovering over them like an old friend, until they pulled into Sweets' driveway. Morgan followed him to the door and waited patiently as he unlocked it and swung it open with mock-grandeur.
"My most humble abode, Madame." he said, leading her inside. "Just the same as it was before."
"Except less rain on the carpet."
"Okay, yeah. There's that." he conceded, flipping on the lights. "I'm going to go put on something that's not a Fed suit. Human clothes. Make yourself at home. I'll only be a minute." he said before taking off down the hallway. Morgan stood awkwardly for a moment before taking a seat on the sofa. She looked down at her hand folded on her lap, unsure of what else to do.
Sweets returned several minutes clad in jeans and a t-shirt.
"Want some popcorn to go with the movie?" he asked as he took the DVD out of the red Netflix envelop and inspected it for scratches.
"No thank you. But if you want some go ahead."
Sweets slid the disk into the DVD player, deciding that the few scratches he saw weren't severe enough to hinder the movie-watching process. He hit the power button, turned off the lights, and took a seat a little bit of a distance away from Morgan.
"Do you know what this movie's about?" Morgan asked as the intro music played.
"It's a Japanese film about a little girl who gets trapped in the spirit world while she and her family are wandering around an abandoned amusement park."
"That sounds pleasantly weird."
Sweets and Morgan sat silently for a long time, watching the scenes unfold before them on Sweets' moderately sized flat-screen. Morgan, Sweets noticed, was hyper-aware of his every move. She flinched at his every movement, so subtly that, had he not been trained to notice such things, he wouldn't have seen it. She'd done it before, of course. All the time, as a matter of fact. Every move anyone made around her was nearly immediately followed by an involuntary, subtle shudder. And when he'd touched her? He hadn't expected her reaction to be so… sharp.
Sweets wasn't entirely sure what had happened to Morgan, although he had a fairly good idea. The signs were all there, after all. But he wasn't going to pry. He had no right, after all. She wasn't his patient. She was his…
Girlfriend? he wondered. Could he call her that, after only two dates?
Well, three now. he reasoned. Or does this even count?
He looked at Morgan from across the couch. She was sitting straight up, hands folded in her lap, watching the movie intently. Sweets couldn't actually recall a time he'd seen her relax.
Slowly, so as not to startle her, he moved closer to her and put a arm around her shoulders. She reacted like he thought she would, by jumping and shuddering in response to his touch. After the initial shock, however, he felt her relax. She leaned into him, relaxing her arms and resting her head against his shoulder. Sweets turned and buried his face in her hair momentarily, breathing reassurance over her dark tresses. He pulled her closer, then, and took her hand with his free one.
The two remained in that position for almost the entirety of the movie until Morgan tipped her head up and kissed Sweets timidly, taking him completely by surprise. He sat shock-still for a moment before he began to kiss her back, beginning slowly, at first, before tentatively deepening the kiss.
Morgan allowed his tongue to probe her mouth only momentarily before she broke the kiss.
"I'm sorry." she said. "I'm sorry."
Sweets regarded her with confusion. "Morgan, what could you possibly be apologizing for?"
"I… I don't know." she confessed. "I just… I apologize a lot. It's just something I do. Like flinching when someone moves or freaking out when someone touches me or sitting like I've got a metal rod shoved through my back or… or talking quietly, or not looking anyone in the eye. Things that I know you see but you're too nice to comment on." she looked away. "I'm sorry." she said again.
"Morgan," Sweets murmured, taking her hands as the TV went black. "What happened to you?"
Morgan looked away. "I don't know what you're talking about."
"I want… I want you to know you can trust me."
Morgan pulled her hands away. "Lance, you're the only person I've ever trusted. It seems silly, because I've only known you for… for hardly a blinking second but I can almost believe… I can almost believe when I'm with you or… or talking to you that the world is a beautiful place filled with… with beautiful people. I trust you more than I trust myself."
Sweets brushed a stray piece of hair out of her face, ignoring the way she jumped when he made contact with her skin, and took her into his arms again. Morgan buried her face in his neck.
"I got hit." she whispered into his throat. "I got hit a lot."
Sweets didn't say anything. He just held her.
"My dad was a drunk. My mom was… was schizophrenic." she began.
"You don't have to tell me anything if you don't want to." Sweets said. "I know how hard it is to…" he trailed off.
"When my dad wasn't after me with his belt or his cigarettes, my mom would try to rip demons out from under my skin because the voices she heard told her I was the devil."
"Did you ever tell anyone? Get help?"
"My mom was sick." Morgan said. "My mom was sick. I had to… I had to take care of her. Someone had to."
Sympathy twisted Sweets' features. "The state would have---"
"Would have thrown me into the foster system and shipped my mom off to some two-bit government-run mental hospital. How is that better?"
Sweets tightened his hold on her and kissed her temple.
"What happened to your mom?"
"She… died." Morgan said. "When I was eighteen."
"Please don't pity me."
"No, Morgan. Never." Sweets promised. "Nothing's worse than pity. It makes you feel like… like something not quite human. Like you're less than everyone else. Like you're fragile. But you're not fragile, because you survived it."
"You sound like you know."
"I do know." Sweets said quietly. "I was… I was…" he sighed. "Every single day without fail I'd do something to… to make my parents angry and my dad would bring out the whip and hit me until I passed out. When I was six the state intervened and I was adopted."
Morgan pressed her fingertips to Sweet's cheek. "We're both damaged goods, aren't we?"
"Why do you say that?"
"Because we are." she shrugged. "Our visible scars can fade and heal, but the ones inside of us? The ones that no one can see? Those will never go away."
"Good hearts heal all kinds of scars. Good hearts healed mine."
"And do you have a good heart, Lance?" Morgan asked.
"I like to think so."
"Are you going to heal my scars?"
"If you let me."