A/N: Prequel #4 of 5. One more after this! We're starting to get to the conclusion of things so it's not going to be as angsty starting now. This one is based on You and Tequila by Kenny Chesney. This one is set directly after Show Me a Little Shame.
Next (Last) in the series of prequels: More Than Friends by Gabrielle Aplin
He knocks at her door and he almost starts to regret it. She's probably asleep, he reasons, plus, would she even want to talk to him? He's been an ass and he's willing to admit it. If she's pissed, she won't let him in. But if he's been reading her correctly lately, she'll let him in without hesitation.
His sniper trained ears hear her socked feet padding down the hall to let him in. He heard her pause to check the peep hole and his heart went into overdrive with nerves as she unlocked the door. He doesn't know why he's so nervous, but it's the first time he's about to face his feelings about her, the feelings that never went away.
She opens the door and he can tell she hasn't been asleep for long, if at all. She still looks relatively awake. She tells him to come in. So he does. Wordlessly, she goes to the kitchen for the tequila she keeps for when cases are just too hard to face the public. She knows that's what they both need right now. He's the only person she can read. And she knows he needs it as his fingers furiously trace the poker chip in his pocket. He wants to gamble, she realizes and that makes her gather the bottle and the shot glasses faster.
She sets the tequila and the undecorated, plain shot glasses down in front of him on the coffee table. He flops down on the couch and reaches for the bottle. He pours an equal amount for the both of them, not bothering to stop his pour as he guides the bottle from one glass to another. He knows she won't mind the small mess.
They each take the first shot with little poise, the burning sensation almost too much for either of them to handle. He wants to tell her what he's been thinking for all these months. But she grabs the bottle from him and pours a second round. Where's the salt and limes, he wonders dryly, knowing the accenting tastes would be only part of what could take the edge off the harsh liquor.
They take the second shot like champs, knowing the more they take, the less it'll sting. Until morning, that is.
That's it. He's had enough. He has to get this out before he bursts.
You still drive me crazy, he tells her. He confesses things she already knows, things he already told her on the Hoover steps, but she needs to hear them again. She interrupts, asking if crazy is a good thing. Of course, he says, you're all I think about and not being near you, not being the way we used to be is driving me insane. It's all I want, being with you, showing you that love is more than just a fleeting emotion, he states.
The tears are pooling in her eyes now. She's scared, he realizes, so he pulls her close, hugging her instead of putting his lips to hers. The last time he tried that it didn't end well.
She tells him she doesn't understand. He smiles, because he knows she only says that around him, because she trusts him to explain any confusion she could have about anything. So he tells her, I love you, more than should be possible. He vows he'll never abandon her, never break her heart or leave her scarred. No matter how she wants to be in a relationship, he says, even just friends is okay with him if it means he can still be in her life.
He thinks now that he's settling. Realizing that settling for second best is something he swore he'd never do, he knows, now more than ever, that people change. He asks her, so…what are you thinking?
She smiles softly, knowing loneliness is one feeling she can get rid of permanently.