(I own nothing. Again, thanks to demonchilde!)

WE'RE MAKING SUCH A MESS

Sam stifled a yawn as she waited for John to come pick up her at the crack of dawn. The sun was rising on her left. The streets outside the fire station house were empty; only a few vehicles had passed while she waited for her ride. They would fly to Chicago on the Bureau's own plane. They wouldn't be served any salted peanuts or small drinks on the flight, but at least they could skip the security checks.

Sam's eyes shuttered shut, and she took a deep breath, willing herself to remain awake. She began to side step a little to keep sharp. In two days, she would be on vacation for two weeks. She'd managed to finish the profile of the Deak killer yesterday. She wondered what would happen in fortnight's time in the task force. Anything could happen, but she knew Bailey would keep her apprised of any major developments.

She wondered if, not when, he would have his vacation. She should probably encourage him to take a week off, to spend with Frances. Sit on his laurels for a while. She almost snickered; Bail wasn't good at that sort of thing.

Sam looked down the street and spotted a GMC driving toward her. That would be John. She picked up her bag and said goodbye to Chloe, Angel and Denzel in her head. She'd already said bye to them last night. There was no need for them to get up obscenely early to say farewell to her over a two-day training weekend.

John popped the trunk and Sam threw her bag in there before climbing to the back seat and saying hello to Washington. They would go pick up Marcus and then head to the airport. Bailey was in charge of picking up Grace and George.


Sam and company arrived at the small airport to find most of the agents already boarded. They left their luggage with the crew and proceeded to the plane. Sam smiled good morning to Grace and Geroge, sitting next to one another, and, without preamble, plopped herself next to Bailey who was sitting on the other side of the aisle.

"Hey Bail," she said warmly.

"Morning, Sam," he returned her smile. "You want to sit next to the window?"

"Nah, I'll sit by the window on the flight back," she yawned, then frowned when she spied some files on Bailey's lap.

"Don't fret, I'm only reviewing MacGruder's case," he whispered, wanting to keep the matter between them.

"When are meeting Renick?" Sam murmured.

"On Sunday morning, before the ftx." She nodded, then looked back over the seats when she heard an explosion of laughter behind them. Marcus, John, Washington and several other agents were cracking up about something. Boys and their games.

With that thought, it occurred to Sam that she should try to get back at John and Marcus for their relentless teasing of her from weeks ago. "Are John and Marcus roommates?" she asked from Bailey, who she knew had been informed of the arrangements at the hotel.

He raised his gaze from the files. "John and Marcus? Don't you want to know who you're bunking with?"

"No, why? Is it you?" she asked cheekily.

"Brace yourself: sadly, it isn't," he quipped.

Sam let out a theatrical sigh of disappointment. "I'm crushed. Then it's gotta be Grace. So, John and Marcus?"

"They are sharing the room. Why do you ask?" He leveled a curious look at her.

"Oh, no reason," she brushed off his question, suddenly taking an inordinate interest in the safety features flyer in the pocket of the seat in front of her.

She smiled when she sensed Bailey leaning in to whisper: "Remember that I can't put 'rock-star behaviour in a hotel room' down in the expenses sheet I send."

She turned her head to see Bailey's close-by eyes dancing with mirth. "Please, give me more credit. My payback will be far more subtle. Wait and see."

He raised his eyebrows. She said under her breath: "Really, you're literally going to have to wait and see. I have no idea yet what I'm doing."

Bailey's laughter boomed throughout the plane.


Grace had the honour of entering first into the room she and Sam would share for the next day and a half. It was comfortable enough, but nothing plush. Two separate queen-sized beds separated by a night stand in the middle of the room. Beside each bed was a wingback arm chair. On the wall opposite to the beds was a small desk with a chair. Television was next to it in the far-off corner. The balcony looked to be a decent size.

"Ah, home, sweet home. Which bed do you want?" Grace asked from Sam who trailed her. Sam had remained behind to spy which room John and Marcus would head into. They were three doors up and on the opposing side. Bailey and George were down from them, five doors it looked.

"I don't really care." Sam's eyes skirted around the premises, taking in the relatively nice room.

"I'll take the bed next to the balcony, then," Grace decided and parked her trolley at the foot of her bed.

Sam threw her bag beside her bed and collapsed onto it, yawning: "How much time before the first workshop?" She was feeling more tired than usual. Some of it was the early wake-up call, some of it was the plane ride. She always tried to sleep on flights lasting more than an hour: otherwise, she'd get a head ache. She'd slept in fits during the two-hour-and-change flight, as turbulence had impeded on her slumber.

"Uh, twenty minutes. I think Bailey said ten o'clock. Which one is it, again?"

"The rules and regs, I think. Whoop-de-doo," Sam said sarcastically.

"Isn't lunch after that one?"

Sam watched as her friend, almost annoyingly efficient, had already started unpacking her clothes. "Yes, thank goodness. Then, something to do with firearms, an hour of brushing up our first aid skills, a workshop on self-defense and how to handle oneself physically on the job, and then, it's a night of painting the town red."

Then, it occurred to Sam that her friend might not take part in the same work shops.

"What do you have in store? I assume you won't be hearing about the remarkable strides in Glock design."

"I'm attending a workshop on blood spatter analysis, then one centered on blunt trauma objects."

Sam forced her eyes open and shot up from the bed. No use in letting herself get drowsy before the day even officially began. "Are you about done, roomie? I need to buy a chocolate bar before listening to a monologue about the rules of the Bureau."

Grace smiled, knowing Sam's chocolate habit. "Jonesing already? Sure, let's go get you your fix."


Sam stretched her legs underneath the seat in front of her, stifling yet another yawn. The topic of the workshop was mildly interesting, but the early wake-up call was catching up to her. The quiet hum of the air conditioning wasn't helping matters, either. She shook her head and sat up straight, determined to keep awake. The instructor was droning on about the rules and regulations that had been changed in recent years. Her mind wandered, since Bailey had done a good job of keeping his agents up-to-date.

She decided to stay awake by beginning to plot her payback. She knew she wanted to do something connected to the room her colleagues were staying in, but she hadn't come up with anything good yet. She'd thought about ordering a wake-up call for them at 3.30 am from the hotel reception, but she'd discarded the idea as too lame. She needed something insidious, something that the guys would see and know instantly that she was behind it all.

She was unaware that she'd closed her eyes again, and her head was about to droop a little. However, Bailey, sitting behind her, had noticed her lack of focus earlier on, and he'd stepped out of the room to remedy the situation. He'd actually been keeping an eye on her, having guessed that sitting still in a quiet space would prove challenging to his friend. She'd nodded off a few times on the flight, her head even lolling to the side to rest on his shoulder at one point, but the flight had been bumpy, and so she hadn't gotten the rest she wanted.

Sam opened her eyes and jerked a little when she felt a finger poking her right shoulder. She turned around to notice a steaming cup of coffee less than ten inches away from her shoulder. Her eyes traveled beyond the cup and took in a familiar silver bracelet. She smiled at the sight, and her gaze met Bailey's amused one. She grabbed the cup gingerly and mouthed "thank you" to him silently. He just shook his head in delighted disbelief.

She sipped the black liquid and almost hummed when she tasted the aroma. Good coffee. She would make it through this workshop.

Maybe she should ask for Bailey's help in brainstorming a suitable payback. After all, by bringing her coffee he was now a co-conspirator, albeit an unwitting one.


Sam peered ahead of Bailey, trying to see the lunch dish selection in the hotel restaurant. Having no luck, she took another look at the salad bar in front of her, weighing the pros and cons of a salad lunch. Bailey was about to proceed without any salad on his plate, so she grabbed hold of his sleeve, detained him and placed a hefty mound of salad leaves on his place with a flourish.

As he made a face at her, she asked innocently: "You want tomato with that? And no, ketchup is not tomato," she added, cutting off his pointed remark. "Fine, give me some tomato," he grunted, turning his face to hide his amusement at how well she knew him.

He waited graciously for her to put some cucumber on his plate and then advanced to the warm dish section of the lunch line. When she caught up with him, he filled her in on what the choices were: "We have pork stew, halibut and good ol' mac and cheese."

Sam let out an enthused sound. "I'm going for the mac and cheese. Haven't had that in ages."

"You know what, I think I'll join you. I bet it pales in comparison to yours."

"Thanks for that, but I believe we both know who boasts the culinary skills in this partnership," Sam uttered and ladled a significantly smaller portion than Bailey's onto her place. Now was his time to tut her.

"What? I'm just thinking ahead. All those workshops still to come. A very full stomach might induce me into a coma." He conceded that she had a point and put away the spoon.

"Thanks for the coffee run, by the way," she smiled at him.

"My pleasure. I can't have my team profiler dozing off in plain sight." They advanced to the desserts, where Sam inspected chocolate pudding and creme brulee closely.

"Coffee did the trick. I stayed awake for the remainder of the workshop. Although a part of it was me hatching a plan for the guys."

"Any progress from this morning?" Bailey decided to forego dessert, whilst Sam opted for the chocolate pudding.

"No, unfortunately. You have any ideas? C'mon, by getting me that coffee you became my co-conspirator," she informed him when he shot a questioning look at her.

"You'd have your boss conspiring with you? What if it gets me into hot water?"

"Then just blame me and my feminine wiles." He gave her a put-upon look. They reached the cash register and paid for their lunch in silence. They scoured the dining hall and secured a nearby table for six that was empty.

"Maybe I don't have what it takes to be a prankster," she sighed, sitting opposite to her friend.

"You just need the right inspiration, that's all. I see you excelling at psyching out someone rather than doing practical jokes, anyway," he commented, his mind flying to the time she'd misled him by pretending not to know what huddles were.

A delighted smile blossomed on her face. "Psyching someone out? I'll take that. Bon ap├ętit."


The official business finally over for the day, Grace observed the swimming pool 22 storeys below them. The air was balmy, but only a few kids were splashing around the rectangular pool. She made up her mind to go for a brief swim. It would be nice to swim laps without having to worry about Jason. Good thing she'd had the foresight to pack a swimsuit.

As Sam stepped out of the shower and reached for her towel, she heard Grace yelling through the bathroom door. "Sam, I'm going for a swim in the pool! Can you give me a towel?" She tied her towel around her and opened the door, then reached for the spare towel hanging on the drying bars. "Here you go. Do you want to use the shower?"

"Nah, I'll use the one next to the pool."

"Okay, see you in a while. Have fun."

"Will do," Grace remarked and disappeared into the hallway.

Sam stepped out of the bathroom in her white robe, drying her hair with her towel. A light breeze hit her feet, and she noticed that Grace had left the sliding balcony door slightly ajar. She walked over there to close the door. She reached for the handle which was partially shrouded by the curtain, in the process juggling the curtain a little.

She jumped almost three feet when she heard a loud buzzing near her. She backed away quickly out of fright and scanned the area around her and the balcony door. Sure enough, a hornet appeared from under the curtain. She backed away further, keeping a close eye on the flying insect and grabbing her cell phone from the desk on her right. She hit the speed dial button on her phone, praying for a quick answer.

She heard his familiar voice on the other end. "Malone."

"Hi, it's me. Can you come to my room, right now?" she rattled off, keeping her voice down so as to not pique the hornet's interest.

"Why? What's wrong?" Her tone of voice alarmed him.

"I need your help. Where are you, how soon can you get here?"

"I'm in my room, I'll be there in less than thirty seconds."

"Come quickly," she hissed and hung up. The hornet was still buzzing at the glass balcony door, trying to find a way outside. Sam put her phone in the pocket of her robe, then took a few steps and grabbed a thin hotel brochure which she rolled up to use against the flying monster, should it get closer to her. She backed down to the door leading to the hallway and counted down the seconds until Bailey arrived.

When she'd gotten to twenty five when she heard a knock on the door. She flew it open and breathed out: "Thank God!"

Bailey took one look at her and could she see that she was truly rattled by something. "Sam, what's happened? Is Chloe okay?"

He heard a buzzing sound and Sam nearly jumped out of her skin, then pulled him into the room and closed the door. She grabbed his hands and shot a terrified look out into the room at large. "There's a hornet at the balcony door," she muttered in a horror-stricken voice.

"What? A hornet?" he repeated.

She nodded her head vehemently. "Yes. Kill it, quickly," she pleaded him and turned him to face the balcony door, walking cautiously behind him.

He took a few steps and spied the offending insect flying in front of the glass door. He looked back at Sam, wondering if she really was terrified of the creature. He concluded that there was no faking that level of panic.

He looked around the room for something to use for chasing the hornet away, like a magazine. A towel lay in heap on the floor near the foot of the bed closest to the balcony. On the other bed, closer to him, were clothes. A purple dress, pantyhose and... black lingerie. He averted his gaze instantly, looking at the desk.

He noticed a case file folder, which he took and then walked to the door. Sam lingered back. The hornet had calmed down some, not trying to pervade the window pane of the door. He started gently coaxing the hornet with the folder, trying to lead it to the open air.

He heard her gasp. "What are you doing? I said kill it!"

"Relax, Kid." No sooner had he said so that the hornet retaliated and took a short flight across the room, its path taking it to the roof and milling around the center of the room. Sam hitched her breath, backed away from the impending threat by taking to the wall and walking over the beds to seek safety from Bailey's proximity. "Don't Kid me, Malone. Just kill the damn thing!" she urged him. She let out a small yelp when the hornet changed course in the air and headed back to the balcony door, directly at them.

They moved to the right in unison, out of the hornet's way. They waited until the hornet had finished its attempts at flying through the glass panel again and had started walking on it. Then, Bailey approached it with the rolled-up brochure from Sam, and with one fell blow, nailed it to the balcony door, leaving a black and red smudge on the otherwise spotless glass.

Sam slumped to the arm chair behind her and took a deep breath, her small adrenaline rush over. "Thank you."

He looked at her, wondering about her panic. "You're welcome. You okay?" He knelt down to pick up the towel, which he guessed Sam had dropped in her panic. He closed the balcony door.

"I am now," she smiled gratefully at him.

"I didn't know you were scared of hornets," he remarked and handed her the towel.

She ran her fingers through her towel-dry hair. "Well, I am. And wasps and bees. I can cope with bumblebees. Just about," she suppressed a shudder.

"Just out of curiosity, what do you do if you get a bee at home?"

Sam shrugged her shoulders. "Angel's always around. Or Denzel."

"I thought dogs are allergic to bees."

"He provides moral support."

The idea of Sam relying on a dog for a sense of security from a flying insect was so comical that he had to shake his head and smile a little. "Well, I think you're safe now. Shall I?" He gestured at the dead hornet laying on the floor. She nodded her head and said: "Please."

He used the brochure to scoop up the little carcass and put them both in the trash bin underneath the desk. As he turned around to look at her, his eyes closed in on the clothes on the bed for the briefest of seconds. Something to think about. Or ignore completely. He couldn't make up his mind.

Sam averted her gaze from Bailey just as he turned to her.

"I'm gonna leave you to it. Dinner's in an hour. See you then?"

She shot up from the arm chair, tightened the belt of her robe and walked him to the door. "Yeah. Thanks, Bail."

He cocked his head to the right a little, as if to say 'sure', and walked out of her room. She closed the door behind him, then headed to the bathroom, pausing for a while next to the desk and listening intently. She couldn't hear a buzzing or any sign of life from the trash bin. The fiend was well and truly dead. Thank God Bailey had come to her rescue.

She started shaking her curls out with her hands, judging whether or not she still needed the towel. Her hair was already pretty dry, so she hung the towel to dry and started combing her locks. A small thrill of excitement made her smile when she thought back on how Bail had behaved when he'd spotted her clothes on the bed. Now, that was a fun, little reaction.

For his part, Bailey strode into the room he shared with George, playing the scene again in his mind. Sam's frantic call, her overwhelming distress at the intruder, her demands, fleeing to safety over the beds. He chuckled silently, but his laughter died when the sight of the items on the bed invaded his thoughts again.

Now, he was fully aware that his friend was an exceptionally stunning woman. He also knew that, as a woman, she probably possessed numerous pairs of black lingerie. But there was a difference in knowing and knowing.

Thank goodness George was in their room to ask questions about his quick departure. He decided to own up the reason for Sam's call. George wouldn't abuse the knowledge.

He hopped in the shower himself, made it a brief one and started dressing for the night. His usual black suit and crisp, white dress shirt. For a twist, he chose to put on his purple tie.


Sam exited the ladies' room and stepped to the side to make room for two women making a beeline there, apparently too anxious to powder their noses to pay heed to common courtesy. She shook her head in silent annoyance, but her irritation dissipated when she set her eyes on their table, seeing her coworkers sharing a laugh. She proceeded there swiftly, unaware of the admiring looks she was drawing from the male patrons of the restaurant. Her hair shone under the dimmed lights, and her purple dress, despite not showing any skin, was sensual in its restrained elegance.

Bailey either sensed her approach or caught it out of the corner of his eye, for he turned his head as she was half way to the table. They locked eyes and smiled to one another, just basking in the glow of shared enjoyment.

When she was eight feet from their table, a drunk woman from the table next to them stood up abruptly, knocking over her chair in the process. The offending chair made contact with the back of Sam's left knee, sending her toppling to the right. She would have splatted down on the floor, had Bailey not shot up and caught her by the waistline. She grabbed his shoulder and steadied herself, using him as leverage. She gave him a grateful smile before shooting a marked look at the back of the woman, now heading outside.

"You okay?" Bailey asked, letting his arms go lax and following her line of sight.

"Yeah. Some people, huh?" she remarked, her vexation still bubbling on the surface. The woman's companions muttered embarrassed apologies, and she acknowledged them with a curt nod of the head. Then, she took a deep breath, deciding to focus on more pleasant things.

"Okay, this round's on me," Sam declared and remained on her feet before tallying the drinks she would get, going around the table. "Bail will get a Scotch. John will want to stick with beer, I know Grace has had a hankering for a margarita for a long time, but what about you two, Marcus and George?"

"Manhattan, baby," Marcus ordered.

"Manhattan baby it is," Sam repeated before turning her gaze to George.

"No, Sam, just Manhattan," Bailey corrected, smiling a little. Sam shot a questioning look at him.

"The drink is called Manhattan, Sam," Marcus explained.

"Ah, okay. And Georgie?"

"I'll have a gibson, please."

"What's that?"

"It's a martini with a pickled onion." Sam nodded her head, committing the drinks to memory before striding to the counter. She rattled off her order and asked the bartender to bring the drinks to their table.

This time, Sam arrived at the table without mishaps. She found the team discussing vacation plans for the summer.

"We might go to Alaska for a week or two. Rich has family up there, in Juneau," George explained.

"Alaska? Have you ever been there?" Sam asked, her interest piqued.

"We've been there twice, but never in the summer."

"Is it true that the sun never sets there in the summer?" Marcus jumped in to the conversation.

"In places north of the Arctic circle, yes. For instance, in Barrow, the sun doesn't set for 84 days."

Marcus whistled at the fact. "That'd make me one crazy cat."

Grace gave the agent an amused look. "Do you have plans, Marcus?"

"Me, I'm thinking of heading to Miami, knocking back some drinks, sitting under a palm tree and feeling the love of the sun and the ocean." In anticipation of his good times by the sea, he lounged back in his chair and let him head rest against the back rest.

His coworkers smiled at his eagerness as a waiter arrived with their drinks. They toasted their weekend together, then shifted their discussion to the final touch football game of the season.


John observed from the table as Bailey and Sam broke apart after their first dance, smiling at one another. Bailey listened intently to the beats of the next song, which sounded decidedly more upbeat than the one they'd just danced to. Sam tried to excuse herself from the floor, but Bailey detained her, a playful grin on his face. He persuaded her to stay with him, and attempted to teach her the steps of the dance, with little success. Sam would trip up, but instead of becoming exasperated, she looked to be having a great time, if her giggling was anything to go by. The pair stayed on the edges of the dance floor, too engrossed to notice Grace and George dance up a storm at the center.

Bailey made a valiant effort, but when the song reached the second chorus, he gave up teaching her, and they just swayed together to the music until the end. John thought about Angel's opinion on the nature of the relationship between the two. Maybe she wasn't too far off, after all.

John and Marcus whistled loudly as the song ended and the pair headed back to the table. "What was that dance? The one you tried to teach Sam?" John asked, taking in the happy expressions of the duo.

"The bossa nova," Bailey informed his friend.

"You should have seen Grace and George. They got smooth moves, man," Marcus enthused.

"I'm sorry we missed it," Sam sighed and took a sip of her third martini.

"Listen, John and me were thinking of heading back to the hotel. There were rumblings of a poker game on the fifteenth floor, and we'd like to scope out the situation," Marcus owned with a wink.

Sam was disappointed at the thought of their merry group disbanding this early. John read her expression and decided to deflect the disappointment with jesting. "Fine, Sam, you win. I will dance with you. Will you stop begging now?" John stood up and offered her his hand from across the table. Sam gave a wry smile to Bailey before shooting a delighted grin to John. "Nice to see you finally came to your senses," she quipped and led him lead her to the dance floor.

They danced a while in silence. Then, John started off a conversation: "Doesn't your holiday start on Monday? Do you have any special plans?"

"Not really. I'll take Chloe up to Richmond for Tom's dad's 60th birthday, but that's it. Just lots of silly girl time."

"Sounds like a blast. You should arrange one of those slumber parties."

"I take it you've heard of Angel's knack for scary stories?"

"You kidding? She sometimes gets me with those stories!"

Sam laughed at Johns's admission. "I haven't said this before, but I think it's really great that you two reconnected."

"Yeah? Thanks. She means a lot to me."

"And you mean a lot to her."

They danced in silence for the rest of the song, affording Sam a chance to admire Grace and George's whirls and twirls.


John and Marcus made their departure shortly after they'd both danced with Sam, while the other four stayed at the restaurant for an hour, dancing the night away. Grace was enjoying her first chance since Jason's birth to paint the town red, but had to relent in the face of her companions' growing fatigue as the night progressed. They took a cab back to their hotel, George and Grace heading inside whilst Sam and Bailey stayed outside, for Bail wanted to smoke a cigar to cap a great night out with friends.

They lingered at a distance from the entrance, which was populated by other hotel visitors despite the late hour. No fellow agents were to be seen. Sam guessed that they were either in bed or in the throes of a poker game.

The visitors were getting rowdy, and Bailey's law enforcement officer instincts kicked in, making him give his undivided attention to the proceedings. Luckily, the ruckus died down when a woman announced that she was going inside and ushered the whole lot with her. Bailey watched the group head inside, then turned to Sam, who had stepped away from him, from the looks of it, to practice the steps to bossa nova.

He heard her humming the tune they'd danced to, and a look of concentration was on her face as she retraced the box. She frowned as she apparently tried to figure out the two steps back and the chasse.

"Sam?"

She looked at him, not at all embarrassed that he'd caught her, and approached him, assuming the dancing pose even as she walked. "Come on, I think I got it." She reached for his left hand without a care in the world, and he had to act fast to move his cigar to his right hand. She missed it all in her excitement. Her right hand and his left were clasped together, her left hand rested on his arm and his right hand on his shoulder blade, still holding the cigar.

She looked into his eyes expectantly, waiting for him to start the step. They danced two box steps without a hitch, but when it came time for the steps back and the chasse, Sam dropped her gaze down to her feet, trying to will her legs to behave in the correct manner. Her left foot wouldn't do as told, and she groaned out loud.

"You're thinking too hard, Sam. Don't let your gaze drop to the ground. Look at me the entire time and have faith that you've got it."

"Okay." She shook her upper body and lolled her head from side to side, trying to loosen herself up. Then, she nodded and locked her eyes with Bailey's. They made the box again twice, and he gripped her right hand tighter when he sensed she was about to glance down once more. She resisted temptation, and they performed the chasse for the first time.

"Got it!" Sam's eyes shone with excitement. "One more time, then you can go back to smoking your cigar?" He relented and they took the two steps again.

"Thanks for the lesson." Sam looked very pleased with herself.

"No problem. Seems nowadays like I'm always teaching you things. Touch football. The bossa nova."

"It's very much appreciated," Sam acknowledged with a smile.

Bailey reminisced the last months. "Come to think of it, I'm always doing stuff for you. Cooking dinner. Borrowing poetry books. Lugging heavy things. Carrying you around. Breaking your fall. Killing insects," he rattled off.

She rolled her eyes and flashed a brilliant smile at him. "You know you love it, Malone."

He looked at her before coming to the same realization and responding with a smile of his own. "Yeah."

Bailey drew the last drags of his cigar, and Sam pulled her cream-coloured cardigan tighter, feeling an unexpected nip in the air.

"Are you cold?"

"Not yet."

He placed his hand on the small of her back and ushered her towards the hotel entrance. "Let's go inside. You don't want to catch a cold on the eve of your vacation, do you, Kid?"

There was that 'Kid' again. Her chance had arrived. She stopped in her tracks and spun around to face him directly. "You know, that's the second time you've called me Kid today. I don't like it. Are you aware that 'kid' is the young of a goat? Are you insinuating that I somehow resemble a goat?" she fired off, struggling to hide her smile.

He stared at her, his mind slow to process her accusations. A goat? The hell? "Wait, what?" He looked absolutely befuddled.

Out of nowhere, she grabbed his jaw and pressed a kiss on the side of his mouth. "I was just messing with you, Malone. You can call me Kid anytime."

He looked as if he still wasn't getting the point. She shook her head affectionately. "You're getting way too easy to mess with, Bail."

She pressed her lips against his and let them linger there for a moment. When she broke off the contact, a craving for something more overtook her. She knew she'd felt a rush from the feel of their kiss, but to her disappointment, he hadn't reacted at all. She wanted, needed, some indication of his feelings, his thoughts. So she kissed him again, briefly, but as she was finishing the kiss, she tugged at his lower lip gently. That got her the reaction she was looking for.

He'd been stunned by her kiss, too stunned to react one way or another, even as she initiated another kiss. At the back of his head, he wondered how much of this was attributable to the alcohol they'd imbibed before, but all rational thought flew out the window when she tugged at his lower lip. So she wanted to play it that way? He could come up with a few flourishes of his own.

She hadn't backed away; her face was two inches from his own. He placed his palms on either side of her face, effectively locking her head in place. His eyes caught hers and studied them as he went about teasing her. He pressed a gentle kiss on one side of her mouth, then let his lips ghost across hers as they landed on the other side. Then he let his lips hover near hers, inviting fleeting, light touches that only lasted mere split seconds. The caresses of his lips were so ethereal that she was beginning to think she was making up half of them.

Finally, Sam let out a demanding, impatient sound and he relented, granting her her wish. He captured her lips and twined his hands around her, pulling her close. She yielded to his kiss eagerly and ran her hands up his strong back.

Why the hell hadn't they been doing this all along?

That silent question that had sprung from her mind cut through her rush and sobered her up. She broke away from him. What the hell was she doing?

She'd just kissed her best friend.

Even worse, she was pretty sure she wanted to do it again.

'cause when you're looking for nothing

babe, it's not the speed that kills

THE END