So yeah. Here's a silly one shot. I have no excuse except a really boring meeting at work…
Sometimes, in between all the running and chasing, she helps him on cases. Because she's bored, or because she has contacts who would never talk to him, or because someone pissed her off and what better revenge than getting him to bring them down. It's not because she wants to see him.
He's in Paris looking for a missing Rembrandt, and she's there for reasons that have nothing to do with the Rodin Museum.
She meets him in the hotel bar, and he pretends it's all business at first. She doesn't know who took the Rembrandt, but she can make some educated guesses based on the style (it's elegant, not a con, but not a smash-and-grab either.)
They're both aware of the attraction between them, but she knows he'll never act on it, so she flirts outrageously, teasing him. Lingering glances and little touches, and it's not an accident she wore that dress. She knows about how far she can push before he pulls away, but she likes to test those limits. She gives him a few possible leads on the painting, and as he leaves he indulges himself for just a split second, leaning into her, ghosting a kiss over her cheek. A gesture that should be merely polite, but he's a little too close, it lasts a little too long, and as always, she's left wanting something she can't have.
It's a feeling she really doesn't like.
It's still stinging a little that night, despite what ought to the perfect end to a Parisian day, drinking champagne at a rooftop bar with a spectacular view of Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower. In between flirting with the bartender, Tara asks her what's wrong.
Tara shrugs. "Some kind of nothing for you to be in a bad mood in Paris."
Sophie considers. Tara is one of very few people she really considers a friend. It works because while they're in the same game, they're very rarely after the same things (though, they were once, that's how they met, a misunderstanding over a Faberge egg that nearly turned lethal…Sophie's glad it didn't, she's sure Tara is a better shot.) She's not in the habit of confiding in people, but she does this time.
This, naturally, produces gales of laughter.
"Oh will you stop!" she snaps irritably. "It's not that funny."
"No, it is actually that funny. You've got a crush! I've told you before that romantic streak is going to get you in trouble. Sleeping with someone who could arrest you…I don't know, Soph."
"I'm not sleeping with him," she protests.
"I'm not! He's married."
All right, that's fair. She doesn't go after married men, but she has conned more than a few men while pretending not to notice the obvious wedding-ring tan.
"You obviously want to be sleeping with him."
Sophie finds she can't argue with that.
Nate returns from lunch one boring Wednesday to find her sitting at his desk, idly flipping through case files. He stops as though he walked into glass, which seems to amuse her.
"You're…in my office."
"Yes. Thank you, Captain Obvious."
"Sophie, this is IYS headquarters. You're in the middle of a building full of people who would arrest you on sight." He's not sure if he's impressed by her audacity or annoyed with her for taking stupid risks. Probably both.
"Do I look concerned?" she asks easily, swiveling his chair casually, looking around. "This is a very nice office. They must really like you."
"Well, I have you to thank for that. I got this office after I recovered a certain stolen Degas sculpture."
She pouts a little at that memory, and then swings gracefully out of his chair, and wanders over to the window, taking in the sprawl of Los Angeles and the distant mountains.
"Did you come to L.A. just to visit me?" He wouldn't put it past her to sneak into his office just to see if she could.
"Afraid not," she says, switching moods instantly, from flirting to business. "Monet's Church at Verdun just changed owners in a private sale. Maggie authenticated it for the new owner, and he's going to insure it with IYS."
"How do you know that?"
Private collectors are generally very secretive about such things, mostly to keep people like her from knowing about their collections.
"I hear things. Anyway, it's a fake."
"Sophie, Maggie is pretty good, I think she'd-"
"I know that, it's a very good fake. I've seen it, it's been floating around since the 30's, which makes it even more convincing, older forgeries look more authentic."
"How can you be so sure?"
She gives him that smug little cat-that-ate-the-canary smile.
"Because you stole the real one," he answers his own question.
"Mhm, several years ago, it was one of my best jobs. Remind me to tell you about it someday," she says, sweeping up her handbag, preparing to go. "But in the meantime, tell Maggie to take another look. She'll see the flaw if she's looking for it."
"You should go, before one of my co-workers walks in and decides to make an example of you."
"I do have a flight to catch," she kisses his cheek. "Be good Nate."
"Shouldn't I be telling you that?"
"Well, I think we both know that would be pointless," she says, and disappears. He hears her exchange pleasant, casual hellos with a few people on the way to the elevator, not a single one of them having the slightest suspicion who she is.
He's still staring out the window absently about thirty minutes later when Sterling comes into his office.
Nate sits up quickly and clicks something on his computer blindly, trying to look busy. "What do you need?"
Sterling doesn't answer, but strolls into the office, looking highly amused. That's never good.
"Well, I'm a bit curious why a gorgeous leggy brunette in a shockingly short skirt and nine hundred dollar shoes is sneaking in and out of your office over lunch," Sterling says, raising an eyebrow.
Nate mimics the expression. "I'm a bit curious why you know so much about women's shoes that you know how much they cost at a glance."
Sterling ignored that. "Nate, I saw the way you were watching her go. You're not cheating on Maggie, are you?"
"No," he said firmly. And it was true, God knows he'd been tempted, but he'd always stopped himself.
It would be even worse to tell Sterling that he let Sophie Devereaux walk out of his office, and so there's nothing else he can say. He can tell Sterling doesn't really believe him, and if he's honest with himself, he probably wouldn't either.
They stop in Paris on the way back from Serbia. Mostly because Sophie insists, but also because they need a little down time, and in Paris there's something to keep everyone entertained.
After a few days of living on top of each other, they also probably need some time apart- they're learning to work as a team, but for people who had always worked alone before, they could only take so much of each other before tempers started running high, and so Nate wasn't worried when he didn't see much of them for the next few days.
The evening of their second day in Paris, Sophie comes into his room and drops elegantly on the bed and announces, "I'm bored, take me out!"
"What about the others?" he asks.
"Well, Parker went to the Louvre…"
He glances at his watch. "The Louvre closed a few hours ago…"
She gives him a look that clearly says "so?" and he remembers it's Parker, and nods.
"Eliot is flirting with one of the cocktail waitresses in the lobby bar and has it turned up to high gear, so I assume they'll be heading up to his room soon."
Again, he nods, agreeing with where that is going.
"And I think Hardison said he was torturing Doctor Who…is that a euphemism for something?"
He considers it for a moment, and realizes she means "torrenting" and doesn't bother to explain, because she hasn't waited for an answer.
"So, let's go out!"
He smiles because it reminds him of the old days, when he was chasing her, when he was supposed to be trying to put her in jail, and yet she would show up in his hotel room and demand to be taken out for drinks, or dinner, or demand he accompany her to the theatre or some gallery opening gala, and he always would. Back then, he couldn't give her what she really wanted, but he couldn't say no to a few hours with her. He looked forward to those stolen few hours, no matter where they were, talking to her, watching her over flickering candlelight.
And as time went on and it became their own odd version of normal, sometimes they didn't even bother to go out, instead sharing a bottle of wine and watching ridiculous local television in whatever exotic locale they found themselves in. Nothing ever happened, not really, and yet in some ways it had felt more intimate than a fling that was simply about sex ever could have been.
And so in Paris he gives in again, like she knows he will, and they end up at a ridiculously expensive restaurant, the sort where the waiters seem offended at their audacity for expecting to order food, and yet he knows she loves it, and he'll put up with pretty much anything when she wears a dress like that.
They end up back in his hotel room, drinking (wine for her, whiskey for him) and he wonders what's stopping him now. He's not married anymore, the one thing that always stood in their way before, and yet he can't take that next step.
She falls asleep there, and he lets her sleep, it's not the first time.
He wakes up the next morning to a soft knock on the door. Sophie only makes a sound of annoyance and slides a little deeper under the covers (she has never been a morning person) but he gets up to answer it- it's too early to be housekeeping.
It's Eliot, looking supremely annoyed. "Hardison can't find his goddamn phone charger, and he thought it might have gotten packed with- oh."
And since Eliot can't be in any space without scanning for potential enemies, it's no surprise he notices dark hair tumbling across the pillow next to Nate's.
"…sorry…" he finishes, in a softer voice.
"It's not what it looks-" Nate begins.
Eliot steps back, holding up his hands in an "I don't want to know the details" gesture.
"It's none of my business, man. You're both adults, what you do on your own time ain't my concern. We all knew you two had a long history."
Over the next few weeks he wants to try to explain again that it wasn't what it looked like, but bringing it up again will only make things worse. Over the next few months though, he can feel Eliot watching them and realizing they are still dancing around each other, still unsure. And sometimes he can feel Eliot's annoyance, wondering what the hell he's waiting for. He wonders that too.
"I don't love him, but I might like him a little more."
He smiles at Maggie's assessment of the new version of him. He's glad they got a few moments, alone, while the others are replacing all the "stolen" art. He should have known Maggie would come through for them on this. She had as much reason to hate Blackpoole as he did, and it was one of things about her he'd fallen in love with- that willingness to sometimes ignore "the responsible" thing and instead do the crazy, insane, impossible thing. She always took some convincing, but she could be convinced.
She takes his hand and squeezes it. "But I'm glad you found someone, Nate. You deserve it."
"Sophie…you need someone, Nate. It's an odd little family you've made yourself, but it works."
"Maggie, Sophie and I aren't…"
She's still holding onto his hand, but she draws away slightly to give him a skeptical look, and because they were married over ten years, she can tell when he's lying, and he's not.
"Why the hell not?"
It's his turn to stare at her.
"We're not married anymore, Nate," she says. "I haven't dated much, but I've tried, and you…you've got exactly what you need right there in front of you."
"It's not that simple."
"It can be," she says simply. "I'll always love you, Nate. I want you to be happy. I like to think I can read you pretty well, and I can see how you look at her."
Voices and a banging suggest the others are returning, so Maggie stands, releasing his hand, and cups his cheek. "You need someone to take care of you."
She kisses his forehead, like a blessing, and the others are back.
"That was brilliant! You're a natural," Sophie cries, embracing the new President of San Lorenzo (as soon as her body has been taken away with all due solemnity, and Eliot and Hardison figured out some plausible way of getting her out of the ambulance before they tried to do an autopsy and realized she was, in fact, still alive.) As he always does, Vittori looks a little taken aback by her enthusiasm, but she's actually, as ridiculous as it sounds, proud of him. From a man who couldn't string together a sentence in front of a small press conference a week ago, he just held an entire nation rapt, and ousted a corrupt president in the process.
"I don't know how to thank you," he admits, and then, "but you will have no problems getting out of the country safely, I can promise you that. And your partner, he will be glad to have you back."
"My partner? Oh, Nate? No, he's…we're…we just work together."
He gives her a skeptical look. "No, you are-" he makes a vague hand gesture, that is nonetheless pretty clear.
"No, we're just… friends."
Vittori shakes his head. "No…he can't stand it, seeing someone else touch you. Even me, when he knew it was a campaign strategy, one that he supported, it drove him mad to see you with someone else, even pretending."
She wants to laugh it off, after all he's terrible at reading people, they've seen that all along.
And yet later, when Nate invites her for a drink, and they drink more than they should, the idea is there…maybe he does still want her.
"Where have you been?"
She can see it startles him, he expected the apartment to be empty. It's not that late, but the others have gone home. She waited around, wondering about his mysterious errand. As soon as he realizes it's her, he relaxes. She uncurls herself from the couch and turns on the kettle again; it's gone cold since she made tea earlier.
"I went to meet the man who bugged our headquarters," he admits. She smiles a little, mostly because he acknowledged "our headquarters" and not his apartment.
"Who was he?"
"Just another bastard in a suit," he dismisses.
"Want to talk about it?" she asks, knowing sometimes he likes to talk through cases, it's been something they've done together since long before they were supposed to be working together.
"No, not tonight," he says, suddenly immediately behind her, hands coming to rest on her hips, and his mouth on her neck. She tilts her head slightly, making a slight "hm" of approval. His hands slide until they're wrapped around her waist, pulling her against him, lips traveling from her jaw down the side of her neck to her collarbone. She turns in his arms, wanting to kiss him properly, and as she does, her hands are on his shirt, pulling it free from his trousers. His fingers are fumbling with the tiny, slippery buttons on her blouse.
"So we were outed, I guess," she murmurs against his mouth.
"What's that?" he mumbles, more intent on unhooking her bra.
"Sherman told everyone. The team. Everyone knows about us."
She can feel him smile against her mouth. "Soph, everyone knew long before we did."