A warm feeling washed through him as her head fit snugly in the space between his shoulder and neck. Her hair tickled the side of his face, but he didn't mind. She was practically asleep as they lay entangled on the couch watching the end of some black and white romantic movie she liked so much. She held his hand in hers and had leaned into him so close that he could feel her body heat. Her breath evened out and she let out a sigh before completely relaxing into him.
He didn't exactly know how they became so close, how they had become so comfortable with each other that they finished each other's sentences and sometimes a glance was enough to have a conversation. Hutch had given them the evil eye a few times when the PDA had bled into work time and Chris knew they were walking a thin line between friendship and something else. Rita had somehow become his whole life and he really couldn't bring himself to care that maybe this wasn't normal. The only reason Hutch let them stay together was that they solved cases. More than any other detective team in Palm Beach and faster. Donovan hated the look of them but tolerated their unique way of doing things because they always delivered the evidence he needed to make the convictions. Chris knew that he and Rita's relationship had not gone unnoticed and maybe it was only a matter of time.
The had just wrapped up a particularly vicious murder case involving a young girl and Rita had taken it especially hard when the charge had gotten knocked back to manslaughter because of some evidence contamination at the lab. Donovan had looked ready to explode when he had heard and Rita looked like someone had kicked her. She held it in until they had gotten back to his place, when she burst into tears of frustration. She tended to take these kinds of cases very hard. He let her cry for as long as she wanted and since she had been so exhausted, he suggested that she just crash on his couch. Two glasses of wine, a large pizza and said movie later, she was asleep and he wondered what the hell time it was. His brain felt fuzzy and he let sleep overtake him as well.
He awoke to a stiff neck and the smell of coffee. He heard Rita humming tunelessly in the kitchen, steps from his lumpy couch. He smiled when he saw her hair was wrapped up in a towel and she was wearing one of his shirts. "Breakfast, Sammy?" She asked over her shoulder and she poured a touch of creamer into her mug. Chris took his black and she didn't even have to ask. His stomach roiled at the thought, the greasy pizza and wine not helping any.
"Just coffee, thanks. You seem to be in a better mood." He kissed the top of her head as he reached around her to grab his mug off the counter.
"Thanks. I feel better. Best sleep I've had in ages. You're a good pillow." She smiled at him. She tried not think about how easy it was with Chris. How she didn't have to pretend to be anyone else but herself or worry about hiding anything.
"Glad to be of service. Let me grab a shower and we'll get going. I'm sure you'll want to change at your place before we go in."
"I think tongues would wag if I showed up in one of your tee shirts. Don't you think?" She gave him a wry smile, eyes sparkling a little bit.
"I wouldn't mind." He said, mostly to himself. He gulped down the rest of the coffee and headed upstairs.
About an hour later, he was sitting on her couch waiting for her to finish getting dressed. His suit was pressed and he tried not to wrinkle it too much as he sat back into the cushions. She came down the stairs in one of her usual suits with one of her usual rather short skirts. Not that he minded getting a glimpse at her legs when she climbed into her jeep. He held his breath in an effort not to whistle a catcall. "Ready, Sam?" she asked as she grabbed her notebook off the table.
They got to the office at about 7:30 am, Chris still yawning over the late night. He started to pour himself another coffee from the maker in the corner of the bullpen when he heard, "Lance! Lorenzo! Get in here!"
Chris and Rita glanced worriedly at each other and made haste into the Captain's office. "Shut the door and sit down." It wasn't a good sign when Hutch looked at his desk when he was speaking.
"Okay, you two, I've tolerated a lot of what shall I call it 'unprofessional behavior' from you because you do good work. You're a really good team." He softened his tone a little bit as his eyes slid between the two of them.
"What are you getting at, Hutch? Is something wrong?" Chris sat up straighter in his chair and leaned towards the Captain's desk. Rita played with her ring absently waiting for an answer.
"You could say that. How about you explain these?" Hutch tossed some glossy pictures over his desk. They looked to be from a telephoto lens, a little fuzzy around the edges. They showed Chris and Rita in the field, looking pretty cozy. The time when Chris had dove into the ocean to try and prevent a drowning, he ended up on the beach, freezing and wrapped up in a blanket and somehow Chris and Rita were curled up in the blanket together. Another picture showed them holding hands in the parking lot after leaving court after another conviction had been held up. The most damning seemed to be from inside his own house from this morning with them drinking coffee in the living room and Rita in one of his shirts and him leaning over her to grab the mug. "These were delivered by courier this morning with the threat of sharing with the press if something wasn't done. We don't know who sent them or why, but what they're implying needs to be addressed."
"Hey, how'd… Wow, those are from this morning." Chris stammered and looked over at Rita who had turned beet red. "I know this looks bad, but nothing's going on." He looked over at his partner and fought the urge to touch her arm in reassurance. Her eyes flashed with frustration before she tamped down her feelings at the situation.
"It doesn't matter what's really going on between the two of you, it's all about how it looks. The department's reputation is on the line here. Donovan is all over me about this. The Chief of Police is even involved here, breathing down my neck to do something. Look, Chris, Rita, I know you keep your boundaries, but you have to look at it from my perspective. I have two detectives who by all appearances are throwing the "no fraternization" policy in the department's face. I'd hate to have to break the two of you up, but we just may have to. Now get out of here, I have work to do."
Chris and Rita were too stunned to say anything at Hutch's dismissal and walked out of the Captain's office in silence.
Rita took Chris' arm and guided him back to their desks. "C'mon, let's go." Rita grabbed her purse on their way out the door.
Twenty minutes later found the pair perched on a seawall overlooking a calm ocean. A warm breeze ruffled Rita's hair as Chris pushed a lock behind her ear. "Now, Chris, this is why we're in trouble." Rita joked.
"I know, but I can't help it. It's hard not to touch you." He shoulder bumped her gently. Rita laughed and looked at her feet, feeling a slight blush overtake her face as she felt the same way. She felt as drawn to him as he was to her.
"What are we going to do, Sam? I don't think I could work without you." Rita looked up at Chris' sapphire blue eyes and blinked at the bright sun rising over his shoulder. Chris rubbed her knee in reassurance.
He tsk'ed at himself and withdrew his hand. "See? Impossible."
"It's a matter of willpower. Okay, let's try it. Let's just sit here, not touching, for the next ten minutes. Do you think you could do that?" Rita put a serious look on her face in an attempt to keep Chris on the straight and narrow.
"I guess." Chris frowned and sat next to her stock still for about 30 seconds. Then, he grabbed her into a hug and kissed the top of her head.
"Oh, boy, we're screwed." Rita laughed and hugged him back.
(A/N: This is a season one interlude. I remember now why I loved this series so much. The closeness of these two (minus the last season they were in) was always thisclose to UST and was sort of a Mulder/Scully kind of relationship except hotter. Check out the series again on hulu if you don't believe me. Also check out the hair and clothing!)