A/N: People, you have no idea what I had to go through to get this done. The reading, the editing, the, ahem, researching... But seriously. No Authors were harmed in the writing of this fic. I am severely nervous about this, as I have no experience with sake or anything other than experimental amounts of Vodka. However, enjoy this anyway!
Morgan couldn't get her father's words out of her head. I have fantasies of walking her down the aisle. She didn't need to be a CSI to know that he wasn't acting when he said that. She knew her dad wanted to get to know her better. She just didn't care. There were some things that you don't do in her book, and walking out on your daughter is one of them. She was sitting in the bench in the locker room with one of her street shoes on, but she made no move to finish changing. She stared into the depths of her locker, thinking about her dinner with Hodges and his mother and her father. She had sat uncomfortably with him until Hodges had arrived. She knew her father wanted her to forgive him, but she just couldn't. It wasn't that simple. Even if she wanted to, she wouldn't have been able to just turn off the hurt that remained, the loss and abandonment left over from when she had sat at her bedroom window, looking at the cars that went past, hoping that the next set of wheels that ground their way down her street would carry her father.
She felt her lower lip begin to tremble. She was more prone to crying when she was exhausted; it was something she had hated about herself for a long time. She ran a hand over her face, rubbing her eyes. "Hey, are you okay?"
Morgan looked up. Greg was standing behind her.
"Yeah," she said unconvincingly. "Yeah, I'm fine."
"You don't look fine," he said, sitting down next to her. "Wanna talk about it?"
"No," she said quietly. "I could use a drink, though. You want to buy?"
Greg smiled. "Sure," he said. "I'll even drive."
Twenty minutes later, he pulled into a parking space outside a bar just outside Henderson.
"We live in Sin City," Morgan said. "You had the choice of any one of literally a thousand bars to choose from, and yet you drag me out to a little hole in Henderson?"
"Bars on The Strip are loud, flashy, and annoying," Greg said casually, getting out of the car. "I got the feeling that you didn't want loud and flashy. This place is quiet, nice, and doesn't patron to hookers. Besides, I like it here. They make a mean microbrew."
Morgan smiled. "Greg Sanders, you are weird," she announced.
"Hey, if you want to go back into town and get hit on by tourists, it's fine by me," Greg said, moving to get back into the car.
"No, it's fine," she said. "We can stay. Why don't you show me this mean microbrew they have?"
Greg smiled. They went in and sat down at the counter. The bartender nodded at Greg and smiled at Morgan.
"Be with you in a moment," he called. Greg nodded. They sat in moderate silence for a bit.
"So what was bothering you?" he asked Morgan finally. She sighed.
"My dad again," she said. "He was talking about the case."
"The wedding robbers? That must have been fun," Greg said sympathetically.
"It was," Morgan said. The bartender came over.
"Hey, Sanders, how's it going? What can I get you?" he asked. "And who's the lady friend? New girl?"
"What? No," Greg said quickly. "She's not my—oh, no, we work together." The bartender grinned.
"Uh-huh," he said. "Why you blushing then?"
"Jay, I'm not blushing," Greg insisted. "Honestly, you're worse than my mother, trying to get me together with any girl I'm in here with. Pour me a Miller, Mom."
"Oh, come on, honey," Morgan said, grinning. She put her arm in his and looked up at him. "You don't have to be ashamed of me, do you?" she purred. She watched him turn red and winked at the bartender. Greg stared at her.
"You are blushing," she said. Jay roared with laughter.
"She's a keeper!" he said. "I don't care if you're not dating her right now, you will be soon. What can I get you, honey?"
"I'll take one of your microbrews," she said, still grinning mischievously at Greg. Greg sat, stunned. What was going on?
"Which one? We have a nice IPA, a new lager, a nice dark, and a fresh malted," the bartender said.
"Surprise me," she said.
"Yes, ma'am," he said, pulling up two glasses. He poured their drinks and slid them across the counter. Morgan took a sip, surprised to taste lemongrass and citrusy flavors, along with a simple, hoppy base. It wasn't too overpowering, but she thought she could taste something moderately oaky, like bourbon and beer mixed together.
"Wow," she said. "That's nice. That's real nice."
"Eight percent ABV," the bartender said proudly. "Developed it myself."
She nodded. "It has a real nice head," she commented, taking another taste. Greg raised an eyebrow.
"When did you become a beer snob?" he asked.
"I'm not a beer snob," she said defensively. "I just like a good micro. There's nothing snobby about it."
"Eh, beer is beer to me," he said, taking a sip of his Miller to prove his point.
"Ah, Greg," Jay said tragically. "When are you going to learn? I've been trying to get him to branch out since I met him in college. The closest he's gone is my St. Patty's specialty."
"Uh-huh," Morgan said. "Yeah, he got me in here by saying that that you have, and I quote, a "mean microbrew.""
"Well, he's right," Jay said. "We have the best microbrews in Vegas and the surrounding areas, but don't tell anyone, because the day this becomes a tourist bar is the day I set fire to it."
"Why? Wouldn't a lot of tourists be great for business?" Morgan asked.
"Yes," Jay said nodding, "but at what cost? Instead of a nice little bar, a taste of the small town in a big city, with soft music and great beer, we become a loud bar, too small for the business I'm getting, and suddenly I find myself adding on room and making my microbrews en masse, and then, my quality goes down, and instead of microbrews I'm proud of, I'm making the same watered-down swill that they serve in casinos."
"That makes sense," Morgan said. "So are you an artist?"
"No, a chemist and a small-business entrepreneur," he said. "Why do you ask?"
"You talk like an artist," she said, smiling.
Greg listened to the conversation, trying not to frown. Morgan was supposed to be talking to him, not Jay. He hadn't brought her here to get picked up by his bar-tending chemist friend from college.
"Thanks, Jay," he said. He shot Jay a look, trying to silently communicate that it was time to go. Jay got the point, nodded, and went to go bother someone else.
Morgan sipped her beer, surveying him silently.
"You're not the jealous type, are you?" she asked.
"No," Greg said shortly. "I'm not."
"So why did you make Jay leave?" she asked. "I think you're jealous of him."
"Yeah," Greg said sarcastically. "Yup, I'm jealous of a guy who makes half as much money as I do, works twice as hard as I do, spending half his time making microbrews in his basement and the other half of his time serving beer to people who don't like neon lights and loud music."
"You're jealous that he was interested in me, weren't you?" she asked. Greg felt himself redden again.
"No," he said shortly. "I just know him." He decided to change the subject.
"So you and Hodges, huh?" he asked casually, sipping his brand-name beer.
"Jealous of him, too?" she returned, just as casually. He snorted and began to laugh.
"As if," he said, still laughing. "Why, want me to be?"
"Definitely not," she said. "I only did that because I felt bad for him. He needed someone. I still can't stand him."
"Even so, it was really nice, doing that for him," Greg said awkwardly. "I heard that his mom took him to the jewelry store to look for a ring, and that's how they got kidnapped."
"Oy," Morgan said suddenly weary, "that was low and you know it." She lifted her drink to her mouth, drained it and then tapped her empty glass against the bar.
Jay caught her eye and nodded, holding up a "just a minute" finger. To Greg, he winked. Greg narrowed his eyes at him, wanting to flick him off but unable to do it without Morgan noticing. He drained his glass, too, but declined a refill. He had the sudden urge to get drunk.
Jay meandered his way back over to where they sat. "Refill?" he asked Morgan. She nodded.
"And you?" he asked Greg.
"Shot. Surprise. Something strong, Miller to chase," Greg said.
Jay nodded. "Coming right up," he said. He took a bottle of something from the middle shelf and poured it into a decoratively tall shot glass. Then he refilled his beer glass and set it in front of him.
"What, scared?" Morgan said with a light smile. Greg shook his head and picked up the shot. He played with the glass, spinning it around on the bottom. Then he grinned at Morgan, picked up the shot, and tossed it back.
Whatever it was, the drink almost made him gag. Normally, he didn't really mind the taste of alcohol, but this was stronger than anything he'd ever tasted. Before he'd swallowed, he knew that this was going to get him hammered.
He swallowed, and to impress Morgan, didn't wince, although the effort was almost herculean. But he set the glass down, smiled as his throat and mouth burned, controlled his facial muscles. He waited five seconds—five endless, painful seconds, before picking up the glass and lifting it slowly to his lips. He took a drink; a slow, normal sip, even though he wanted to gulp it down to cool the heat of his throat. The beer was softer down his throat, easing the burn slowly.
"Was I supposed to be impressed?" Morgan said, teasing him. She had seen what Jay had pulled down—Dewazakura Sake, 50%. Greg raised an eyebrow.
"No, but it would help if you were," he said, already feeling the alcohol loosen his tongue.
Jay, who had watched him for his reaction to the sake, laughed.
"You never could hold your sake," he said, refilling his beer. "Could I interest you in another round?"
"You're really funny," Greg said. "Get one for Morgan, though."
"No, I'm good," Morgan said quickly. "We'll be fine, Jay."
"Okay," Jay said cheerfully, and left them to tend to the rest of the patrons.
Already, the alcohol was working its way into his system. Greg cursed himself for not eating before he went out. But the alcohol was making him feel loose and more relaxed as it hit his cerebral cortex.
"You know what I don't get?" Greg said suddenly.
"What?" Morgan said, with the air of only answering to humor him.
"Love," he responded flatly. "I just don't get it. "People do crazy things, just because of a combination of chemicals flooding the brain. And even with families—how many murders are committed each year, just in Vegas, over what's basically a flood of adrenaline, dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, and vasopressin and a lifetime of media deception? How many jealous husbands, wives, girlfriends, fathers? All in the fucking name of love. And speaking of love how was your dad? What'd he do that made you so pissed off you agreed to come out for drinks with me?"
Morgan made a face.
"Hey, Jay," she called. "I'll take that shot now."
"Oh, come on," Greg said.
"No, I'll tell you," Morgan said. "We're friends, after all. But I'm gonna need a good shot to even think about it."
Jay heard her. "Sake?" he asked with a smile. She shook her head.
"No, whiskey, strong stuff," she said shortly. "Two shots."
Jay whistled and shook his head, but reached for a bottle of Jack Daniels nonetheless. He poured her two shots, and she drank the first one without blinking and slammed the shot glass upside down on the table. She winced, but smiled sarcastically at Greg. He chuckled. She stuck her tongue out at him.
"God," she said suddenly. "My father." She emphasized the word by downing her next shot, quicker than the first, and rapped the glass, upside down again, on the bar. Jay came over and poured her another round. But she didn't drink them right away. She crossed her arms and leaned into the bar, a pensive look on her face.
"My father," she repeated, "said he had fantasies about walking me down the aisle. I mean what the fuck? He wasn't there for me when he left my mom. Why doesn't he get that I don't want to see him?" she tossed back a shot, but then passed the other one to Greg.
"Drink with me, Greg," she said, rapping the table with her knuckles this time. Jay raised an eyebrow, but poured another round. Morgan raised it up, indicating Greg to do the same.
"To fuck up family," she said cynically.
"To fucked up weddings," Greg added, thinking of the victims of the wedding robbers. Morgan nodded and tossed her head back, bringing the shot to her lips. Greg couldn't help but watch the way her hair flicked back over her shoulders, cascading and catching the light like gold. He brought the shot back to his lips and drank, trying not to wince as the whiskey went back like fire down his throat. It doubled the burn of the sake from before, and his breath hissed out between his teeth against his will.
"Bartender," Morgan said smilingly. "Two shots, and leave the bottle. I want to see how far he can go."
Jay poured them with a look of concern at Greg. He knew that Greg could hold his liquor okay, but even so, he was going to have to call a cab for the two of them soon if they kept their pace. He left the bottle anyway.
Morgan took the next two rounds without a word, but then she set the glass down and regarded Greg.
"You're kind of cute, you know that?" she slurred, giving him a smile. Greg smiled back.
"Thank you very much," Greg said, in a poor imitation of Elvis. Morgan laughed anyway, and Greg laughed too, perhaps harder than he needed to—it was getting hard to tell.
Maybe I have a chance with her, he thought, but then he caught himself. He wasn't going to ruin their friendship over a drunken hookup. He drank the shot, now wincing.
"Can you believe that, though?" Morgan said suddenly. "Fantasies of walking me down the aisle. As if I'll ever get married. God, pour us another round."
I have fantasies of being at the end, he thought. He almost said it out loud, but something managed to keep him from saying it.
"I'd marry you," Greg said instead. Then he screwed up his eyes. Shit. He wasn't supposed to say that out loud.
"You know, if no one else comes along," he added quickly. Morgan smiled.
"I knew it," she said. "I knew you liked me."
"Of course I like you," he said quickly. "You know, as a friend."
"Uh-huh," she said slyly. "Drink your beer."
"Why, because you want to get me drunk?" Greg asked.
"Uh-huh," Morgan said, smilingly drunkenly. "I want to hear more about how you only like me as a friend."
"I don't know what you're talking about," Greg said, lying through his teeth.
"I'm an investigator," she said teasingly. "You can't hide anything from me."
"I should be," Greg slurred after two more shots and denials. "I'm an investigator, too."
"Yes, but that doesn't mean you're able to hide things," Morgan said. Then she leaned over and kissed him. He sat up a little, mildly shocked.
"I have to go to the little girls' room," she purred. "Want to join me?"
Did he? Yes, he wanted to join her more than anything else in the world at that moment. But he remembered what he had told himself before—he wasn't going to ruin their relationship over a drunken hookup.
"Isn't that my line?" he said.
"We can go to the men's room, if you want," she said.
"I don't think so, Morgan," he said slowly, knowing some even as a certain part of his anatomy perked up at the idea. "I think that's a bad idea."
"I don't," Morgan said. "Come on, let's go." She grabbed his leg and pulled. He felt himself react to her touch, but stayed firm.
"Come on," he said to Morgan. "You're drunk, I'm almost there, and we'll regret it in the morning. Let's get you home."
"The only home I want to go to is yours," she said.
"No," Greg said gently. "If I ever have sex with you, we're going to be sober, both of us. I want to remember it."
"Oh, you'd remember it," Morgan whispered, leaning close to him. Her lips brushed against his ear, and he fought back his desires, forcing himself to focus on the alcohol he could smell on her breath.
"I'm trying to do the right thing," he said. "You're making it hard."
She looked down at his lap. "Yeah, I can see that," she said with a giggle.
Greg rolled his eyes. "That's it, you're going home," he said. He stood up. The sudden change in orientation made his head reel, and he had to grip the bar with one hand.
"Hey, Jay, can you call her a cab?" he called. Jay looked at him.
"I'll call you both one," he said. "You're drunk, too."
"No I'm not," he said, silently cursing when his words slurred.
"Right," Jay said. He picked up the phone and called them a cab.
"There's one that'll be here in about a minute," he said when he hung up. "Go outside."
They complied, Morgan hanging onto him for what would be support, except she kept running her hands over his chest.
"Hey, you're pretty buff," she said.
"Don't seem so surprised," Greg said, hurt.
"You hide it well," Morgan said defensively. She continued to feel his chest until the cab arrived.
"Morgan, you have to stop that," Greg begged. "Please."
"No," said stubbornly. The cab pulled up and Greg, grateful, opened the door. He let Morgan get in first, ever the gentleman, and then got in himself.
"Where to?" the cab driver asked. Greg gave his address, and then turned to Morgan.
"What's your address?" he asked. Morgan didn't answer. She was already asleep. Greg rolled his eyes.
"Just that one," he told the driver. The driver nodded and pulled away from the curb. Greg sighed and looked out the window.
"I guess you're getting your wish tonight," he muttered to her.
A/N: If I got them too drunk or if there's an inconsistency, please tell me! Hope you enjoyed this, it was a lot of nerve-wracking work.