Title: Liquid Courage

Author: GageWhitney

Rating: T

Pairing: Nathan/Audrey

Disclaimer: Very much not mine.

Summary: Post-2x08. She tries not to think about the dancing.


She stands back and watches her partner dance like a drunken idiot for a few more minutes, almost glad to see him so relaxed, until the brunette he's with sticks her hand in his front pocket. At that point, Audrey decides she's seen enough.

"Whoa! Okay," she says in her cop voice, as if she's trying to get someone away from a crime scene (which, she thinks, could quite accurately describe Nathan's dancing). The brunette retracts her hand quickly, and Audrey physically steps in between her partner and his groupie. "Time to say goodnight."

The brunette rolls her eyes. "He's a big boy," she says obnoxiously.

"Find another dance partner," Audrey says, and glares until the girl pouts and walks away.

"Jealous bitch," the groupie mutters, and Audrey wishes she could arrest her for something. Anything.

She turns to face her partner, silent through the whole exchange, to see him making a disappointed little boy face. "What'd you do that for, Parker? I was having a good time!"

"I could see that," she says, too tersely for her liking. "I think you're having a little too good a time, partner. What do you say we get out of here?"

"No. I want to dance. Let's dance," he suggests, and then he's gyrating around her, arms in the air and a stupid look on his handsome face. She thinks he looks like the complete definition of a dancing fool.

"Please, Nathan, no more dancing," she begs, grabbing at the front of his t-shirt in an attempt to make him stop flailing around. "I can't take any more dancing. Let's just go upstairs."

"Why?" Petulant Nathan is so not her favorite version of her partner. "Am I not allowed to have a little fun, Parker?"

"We can have fun upstairs," she says, and realizes how it sounded when he gives her a drunken smirk. "That's not what I… Let's just go. Please?" She takes his hand in hers and tugs him forward.

"Fine, Officer Killjoy," he mumbles. She counts to five in her head and hopes there's Advil in her apartment.

She takes him out of the bar and around the side, well aware of the looks people are throwing their way. Probably, she thinks, the Teagues will be pestering her about it by noon.

He trips over his own alcohol-clumsy feet halfway up the stairs, twisting a hand in her sweater and almost taking them both down in the process.

"Whoa!" She helps him to his feet. "You okay over there?"

He nods. "You should to be more careful on these stairs, Parker. Fucking Duke." He holds out his arm, as if she might not make it up the rest of the deathtrap steps without him.

"I'll try," she deadpans, and loops her arm through his.

"He needs to fix them."

"I know."

Inside, she steers him to the couch and pushes him down. His sits with his head in his hands and she stands over him, arms crossed. "Okay. What can I do for you? Do you want some coffee?"

"No," he says, and his words are starting to slur. He rises shakily to his feet and wanders, swaying slightly and rubbing at his chin.

"How about water? You should stay hydrated."

"Did it bother you that I was with that girl downstairs?"

Uh-oh, she thinks. Alcohol-as-truth-serum time. "What?"

"I was just wondering," he says. "Because I've been meaning to tell you –"

"Nathan, maybe you –"

"I want you," he blurts out. "I don't want that girl down there. I want you."

Oh boy. "Nathan, you're drunk."

"No. I mean yes, I am drunk, but it's not because I'm drunk." He steps closer to her, so close she can smell the booze on his breath, and brings his hand up to her face, his thumb stroking her cheek. "I've been thinking about this for a while."

"Nathan," she starts, and doesn't get to finish because he leans in the rest of the way and kisses her. There's a few moments where she kisses him back, the fact that he's pretty decent for a drunk guy flitting through her mind, before she tastes the alcohol on his tongue and comes to her senses, pulling away.

He nods, releasing her and stepping back. "Chris, right?" He sounds so hurt and she hates that.

Her brows knit together. "No, it's not because of Chris."

"I shouldn't have waited," he says, and starts toward the door.

"Nathan, stop!" She trots over to him and grabs his arm, effectively stopping him.

He stares at her hand. "I'm sorry."

"Hey," she says, making him look back to her face. "Don't be sorry. It's just… you're really drunk right now, right? I think maybe you should sleep it off, and we can talk about this in the morning, okay?"

"Okay," he nods. "You're right."

"Okay."

She leads him to her bed and he flops down onto it, his eyes following her movements as she removes his shoes.

"Where are you going?" he asks when she moves away.

"Oh, I'm just grabbing a pillow and then I'm crashing on the couch."

"You don't have to do that," he says, raising himself up on his elbows to watch her move around the room. She's noticeably hesitant, and he rolls his eyes. "I'm not going to try anything. Scout's honor." He holds up a few fingers that she's not certain mean anything at all.

"I wasn't worried about that," she says. She eyes the bed. "Are you sure?"

"Yes."

"Okay," she decides, and settles gingerly beside him on the mattress. He's staring at her, his eyes worried and tired, and she reaches over to touch his cheek. "We'll work this out in the morning. Don't worry."

He nods, his eyes starting to drift shut. "Good night."

"Night, Nathan."

She turns on her side and listens as his breathing evens out after a minute, and then she's left with her thoughts. She's both dreading the heaviness of the morning and anxious to see what comes of it. She wonders if he'll even remember his liquid courage confession, and if his Trouble will leave him free of a hangover headache.

Most of all, she lies in the dark thinking about the fact that he kissed her, and she kissed him back, and it really wasn't as weird as it should have been.

She tries not to think about the dancing.