Not much surprised Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Dale Cooper. Surely the murder case of Laura Palmer was far less straightforward than it might have been, but he had learned to expect the unexpected in his line of work. In consequence, very little caught him off guard—and nothing made him lose his cool.
Nothing work-related, anyway.
That's why when he returned to the Great Northern late, after a long day, it wasn't a shock to find his door opened. He peered in, drew his weapon and calmly stepped inside, ordering the intruder to turn on the light in a firm voice. But when the light turned on, he suddenly felt much less in control.
The intruder was not armed—but she also wasn't clothed. It was Audrey, in his bed, holding the sheets around her chest, looking more vulnerable he could have ever imagined. As he lowered his gun, slowly, unsurely, she bit her lip and pleaded with him to let her stay.
He could feel his blood quickly rushing away from his brain, where he needed it. Replacing his gun in his belt, he sat down on the edge of the bed, facing decidedly away from her. It took tremendous willpower to explain the situation, letting her down gently, talking her out of it—talking himself out of it.
He was finally able to get out of the room to get some late-night snacks, and the hallway felt refreshingly cool compared to the stifling heat of his room. It was well after midnight and the hotel was sound asleep and peacefully quiet. His footsteps echoed lightly in the long, wide corridor.
"Diane," he murmured to himself, even though his tape recorder was on the dresser in his room, "I've just been in the most interesting situation. Upon returning to the Great Northern I discovered that my private hotel room was already occupied—and by none other than Audrey Horne, the daughter of the owner and a frequent breakfast companion of mine. For the sake of full disclosure, I'll add that she was in bed and appeared to be completely nude. Don't worry, Diane, nothing happened; I simply explained the position I was in and she understood. Now I'm on my way to get some malts and fries, a guilty of pleasure of mine, I admit, and the two of us will have a nice talk, as two fully-clothed friends."
Feeling much better and much more himself after a make-believe message for Diane, Cooper entered the hotel lobby.
After a few more minutes of lying in the bed, nestling her face into the pillow, Audrey stood and dressed slowly. She positioned herself in the center of the room, in full view of the door, hoping that Cooper would return before she had finished. But he'd probably knock anyway.
She paused when she was wearing her underwear, skirt and bra and he still hadn't returned. A horrible sinking feeling came over her as she wondered if he had not actually gone to get fries and malts, but to check into a different room. Maybe under an assumed name so she wouldn't be able to find him again.
She wasn't able to put her fears to rest until she spotted a neatly folded white shirt on the dresser, next to his trusty tape recorder. At first it made her smile to think of Special Agent Cooper carefully folding his laundry—but her smile grew mischievous as she reasoned that he would have to return, if only to retrieve his belongings.
Not quite able to help herself, Audrey unfolded the white shirt and smoothed out the creases against her body. She began undoing the tiny buttons, wishing that by doing so she was revealing Cooper's chest instead of the inside of the shirt. When it was completely unbuttoned, she slipped it over her shoulders, relishing the feel of the starchy material on her bare back. She left the top several buttons undone, letting the shirt gape open, especially when she leaned forward.
"That'll do," she murmured, fluffing her short hair in front of the mirror, and contemplating whether or not to undo one more button…
There was a knock at the door so clean and precise that it could only be Cooper's.
"Come in," she called, her voice cracking slightly. She waited for the sound of the opening door before slowly spinning around to face it, leaning against the dresser, her chest jutting forward.
Cooper smiled mildly, glancing at his feet as he let the door click shut behind him. "I thought that when I told you to get dressed that implied that you would put on your own clothes."
Audrey smiled innocently, but her dark eyes told a different story. "I couldn't find my shirt and I heard you knocking. I didn't want to leave you waiting."
Grinning, he glanced down at the floor near the end of the bed where her shirt lay in a heap and then back to her, clearly amused.
Her face burned as she stammered out a response, which ended up being, "This shirt is more comfortable."
He laughed, but stopped abruptly when he saw the sultry look that had come over her, far too naturally for a high school aged girl.
"Should I change?" she whispered huskily, her fingers dancing at the buttons of the shirt as she took slow yet determined steps toward him.
Hurriedly, Cooper set the fries and malts on the dresser, freeing his hands, and caught her wrists before too much of her body became exposed.
"Audrey," he said seriously, feeling the age difference between them more strongly than ever, "I said that we could be friends, and that I want to be friends with you, but only that. Friends."
She could hardly take in a word he was saying because he was holding her hands in his, and the sensation was overwhelming—even if he was only doing it to keep her from undressing herself. After she nodded apologetically, he continued, still holding onto her hands firmly.
"Promise me, Audrey, that the rest of your conduct tonight will be entirely appropriate. If it isn't, I'll have to ask you to leave. Do you understand?"
She smiled confidently, more turned on than embarrassed by his stern lecture, and nodded again. "Friends."
Unfortunately, he released her wrists and turned to get the food. Her hands felt cold as she crossed her arms and marveled at the perfect class of Special Agent Cooper; despite her shameless attempts at seduction he had remained a complete gentleman. It was as charming as it was annoying.
"Shall we sit?" Cooper invited, handing her a malt. "They're chocolate," he said genially, leading the way to sit on the edge of the large bed. "I hope you like chocolate."
"I love it," she said, appreciatively taking a spoonful.
"Alright, Audrey," he said, easily playing the role of questioner. "There's one obvious question to ask. Why did I find you in my bed tonight?"
She thoroughly chewed a French fry, not caring how obvious her stalling was. After washing it down with a bit of her malt, she nonchalantly said, "Because I like you. A lot."
He smiled, but there was no crinkle at the corner of his eyes, no sparkle, like usual. When he spoke there was a touch of irritation to his voice. "Yes, and I like you, Audrey. We've been over this. But just because you like someone doesn't mean you have to take off your clothes and climb into their bed."
"I want to be with you," she said weakly, her eyes beginning to brim with tears again.
At the sight, Cooper's expression softened. "I'm sorry for being harsh with you. I only want to understand and to help."
She nodded, lifting up a corner of the white shirt to dab her eyes, revealing a sliver of her smooth, pale stomach. He noticed that the fabric remained clean and free of black smudges when she dropped it again and realized that she wasn't wearing makeup. The intensity of her eyes and of her gaze was, apparently, natural.
"Look," she sniffled. "You said we would talk about my problems, not that you would interrogate me."
He frowned. "Yes, you're right." There was a moment of weighted silence while they munched on some fries. Suddenly, Cooper chuckled lightly. "Am I to take it that you don't have any problems?"
"No," Audrey said indignantly. "I have so many I hardly know where to begin."
He gave her a supportive smile, lightly placing a hand on her shoulder to encourage her. The contact made her palms sweaty and itchy, which left her feeling like a stupid school girl more than ever.
"How about," he said slowly, his hand dropping off of her shoulder but brushing the length of her arm on the way down, "we start with your family?"
Her arm still tingling, she bluntly said, "My dad hates me."
"No, that's not true."
"It is. He told me that I was dead to him."
Cooper was disappointed to find himself caught off guard yet again. "What? Really?"
"Well, not in so many words…"
"Ah, see? You probably read into it too much. I'm sure he meant nothing. What exactly did he say?"
"He said," she mumbled, staring at her hands as they folded in her lap, "'Laura's been dead for two days. I lost you years ago.'"
"Oh," Cooper said, cursing himself for not only letting himself be surprised once again but for his premature reassurances that her father had meant nothing by those cruel words. "Okay," he said, stalling, and glancing around the room nervously. "He really said that to you?"
"Yes," she muttered, still staring down, not meeting his eyes.
He placed two fingers under his chin and gently lifted her head. Her eyes were dark and shimmering.
"He's not worth your trouble," Cooper said firmly, noticing how soft the underside of her chin was, and wondering if he should stop touching her. He knew that physical contact strengthened trust, but he didn't want to send conflicting messages, especially when she was so fragile… and looking so beautiful in his shirt. He shook the thought from his head. After giving her chin an affectionate pinch he put his hand back at his side.
"And, uh," Audrey continued, running her fingers through her hair, "he's cheating on my mom, too."
"Really," he said dryly, not at all surprised.
"With Catherine. I've seen them."
"Hmm." Cooper caught himself thinking about the possible consequences of this relationship on anything that might relate to Laura Palmer, instead of its effects on Audrey like he was supposed to. Although he was still wearing his FBI jacket he was off-duty. He had to focus on listening to this girl and that only. "I'm sorry," he said sympathetically. "Is that hard on you?"
She shrugged, lying back on the bed, tracing the patterns on the blankets with her fingertips. "Not really. No. It doesn't bother me."
"Does your mother know?"
Audrey closed her eyes and breathed in deeply, enjoying the comfort of the bed, but not as much as the knowledge that this was the side of the bed Cooper slept on. "I don't know," she said through a yawn. The pillow smelled like whatever product it was that he put in his hair. "Maybe she does. We don't talk. She could be cheating on him for all I know."
"You aren't particularly close with any of your family members, I gather," he said, slipping out of his shoes.
"No, not at all." Her eyes slid shut again. "And my brother… I love him, but I can't talk to him, you know?"
He nodded thoughtfully as he took off his heavy FBI jacket. Underneath he was wearing a gray t-shirt.
Audrey peered up at him. "You can change if you want. I won't look." She held a hand over her eyes to demonstrate, but peeked through her fingers after only a few seconds.
He laughed quietly. "You don't give me good reason to believe you. Now, I want to hear more about your troubles."
"Well, let's see." She stretched out her arms and sank deeper into the bed. "My mom blames me for what happened to Johnny—why he's like that."
"Audrey," he said softly, "there's no way that that could be your fault."
"I know," she sighed. "She thinks it's because once I pushed him down the stairs when we were little." Her bottom lip quivered dangerously, and Cooper felt suddenly nervous. "We were just playing. I didn't mean to hurt him."
"No, of course not," he said, involuntarily resting a hand on her knee. She seemed to cheer up rather quickly when he did this, and when he tried to remove his hand she trapped it under hers. He pretended not to notice the intimate way that she rubbed his hand with her thumb.
He laughed uncomfortably, running a hand through his hair. "I think we pretty much covered family." He gritted his teeth together in an effort to not react to the sensation of her fingers caressing the underside of his wrist. Then he noticed the forgotten malts and fries, still on the bed, and seized the opportunity. "I'll move these," he muttered, slipping his hand off of her knee.
Audrey pouted slightly, her abandoned knee feeling cold. Even though he had earlier assured her that she was "everything a man wants in his life" she couldn't believe it now. If she was so perfect then how did he scrape up the willpower to resist her?
"How about friends?" he asked, his tone making it clear that he was turning the page on what just happened. "Any troubles with your friends?"
"No," she mumbled.
"Well, that's good."
"Because I don't have any," she added, her eyes flashing defiantly.
Cooper sighed. What was it about this girl? She was a never ending chain of surprises; one after another. It was downright exhausting.
"Of course you have friends, Audrey."
"I told you that I don't." She arched her severely sculpted eyebrows in a clear challenge.
"Well, who do you talk to at school?"
"No one, really."
He nodded thoughtfully. "Do you try to make friends?"
"Nope," she said contently. "It's not worth the effort."
"It's not good for a young girl not to have someone her own age to talk to," he said gently.
"How would you know?" she fired back. "You were never a young girl."
He smiled. "Fair enough. So, no friends. As long as you're not lonely, I guess." He hesitated before asking his next question. "Do you have a boyfriend?"
She winced slightly. "No."
"Really? Pretty girl like you?" The words felt and sounded forcedly casual.
She smiled coyly, lifting herself up and moving toward him. "I don't want to mess around with high school boys…" she said breathily. Her lips were nearly touching his ear when she said, "I need a man…" She considered nipping his earlobe—which she had never done, but thought would be a nice, sexy touch—but Cooper stood abruptly.
Focusing only on cooling off, he didn't say anything for a minute. When Audrey had settled down, hugging her legs to her chest as her face burned from embarrassment, he sat on the edge of the bed. "I thought we were done with that," he said, his voice strained.
She dropped her forehead onto her knees, fearing that she had cancelled out any progress that had been made. But when she risked a peek, he looked back to his normal, chipper self.
"How's school going?"
"Fine," she answered, her eyes wide in surprise and relief.
"Get good grades?"
"Yeah. Without even trying much." She shrugged, gauging his expression—would he be impressed by her natural intelligence. She couldn't tell.
"That's good—but don't get accustomed to it. Eventually you'll have to put some effort in."
She nodded, panicking slightly as she felt the conversation inevitably running dry. "Thank you, Special Agent," she said sincerely. "You really helped a lot."
"I'm glad." He smiled, wondering why she was still lying on his bed. He was about to not-so-subtly suggest she leave when she interrupted him.
"Now it's your turn," she said, folding her hands over her stomach, all ears suddenly.
"Tell me about your problems."
"It feels great to get stuff off your chest, trust me."
"I'm sorry, Audrey, but—"
"If you hold it all inside you'll explode."
He looked vaguely amused as he surrendered. "Fine. As of now I'd say my biggest problem is the murder of Laura Palmer."
"Nice try, but that doesn't count. I meant personal problems."
He narrowed his eyes, but she didn't see because her own eyes were closed as she spread out on the bed, her chest rising and falling slightly. He envied her as his tired muscles ached for a well-deserved rest.
"Okay, okay," Cooper began. "I'm a work-oriented individual. The FBI is my life. So much so that I can hardly think of any personal problems… Current ones, anyway."
Audrey yawned and nodded, lulled by the soft drone of his voice, not absorbing any words or meaning.
He continued, "Maybe that's what my problem is. All my friends are in the FBI—"
"Except me," she piped up, smiling sleepily.
He laughed quietly. "Yes, except you. But still—I wouldn't have met you if it weren't for my job." Glancing back over at her, he found he couldn't tell whether she was awake or asleep anymore. "Audrey?" he called softly, nudging her shoulder. "Audrey?"
She moaned and rolled over. Amused, he thought it was probably a good sign that his problems were so boring they weren't able to keep an audience awake.
Cooper sighed, and went to change into his pajamas. When he came back she was sound asleep, her face buried in his pillow. She was sleeping on his side of the bed. So much for getting a good rest for even a few hours before he'd have to get up again. He folded the other half of the blanket over her, slightly disturbed that she was going to sleep in his nicest shirt, which would undoubtedly wrinkle it well beyond an easy repair. But if he woke her and told her that, she'd only take the shirt off and they'd be back to square one. Planning to get the shirt ironed the next morning, he moved on to the next problem: should he sleep next to her, in the same bed?
It was tempting, but he wasn't sure if he could trust himself—and he knew it was entirely inappropriate. So he placed some pillows on the floor at the foot of the bed and lay down on them, adjusting until he was comfortable. He wondered if less than five hours of sleep was even worth the trouble, but he had drifted off before he could decide.
Audrey woke up the next morning early, to the sound of the shower running in the bathroom. She sat up, slightly disoriented, finding herself wearing a man's shirt. When she saw the FBI jacket flung over a chair her heart began pounding. Then she remembered the details of the previous night—and felt suddenly depressed wondering what he must think of her…
But the window of opportunity hadn't completely closed. Cooper had resisted her advances three times already, but he was only human. She slipped out of bed and leaned against the solid wood door to the bathroom. She could feel the heat and steam seeping out. The anticipation made her feel itchy all over as she began to unbutton the white shirt. Her hand was on the doorknob when she saw something that made her feel equally touched and ashamed.
Pillows were spread out on the floor, creating a makeshift bed. Her pink shirt had been neatly folded and placed on the dresser. She smiled sadly, realizing what a genuinely nice guy Cooper was, and what she had surely put him through the previous night. And he had not taken advantage of her. Suddenly, she heard the water shut off. She hurried away from the door and climbed back into the bed, wrapping herself up in the blankets.
When she heard the door open Audrey forced herself to close her eyes and tried not to imagine Agent Cooper, wet-haired, wearing only a towel wrapped around his waist. She pretended to be asleep as she sensed him standing over her, watching her. Then she heard him walk away. A few seconds later she risked a peek. He stood in front of the mirror, adjusting his tie. After putting on his coat, he turned around. Audrey's eyes snapped shut, her heart racing from the thrill of the close call.
She listened intently as he sat down on the other side of the bed and scrawled a quick note, leaving it on the bedside table. He stood and paused for a moment, considering waking Audrey, but decided against it. Things would be simpler that way. So, he grabbed his tape recorder and left the room, hanging a "Do Not Disturb" sign on the handle. The last thing he needed was rumors about who he was sleeping with.
Audrey sat up once she heard the door close and in frenzied anticipation she grabbed at the note, wrinkling it. Hurriedly she read it, smiling shyly at his neat handwriting.
Good morning, Audrey—
I hope you slept well. I'm off to work for the day. Please be as discreet as possible in leaving my room and remove the "Do Not Disturb" sign. Thank you.
If you ever need to talk again, I'm here—but give me a word of advance warning next time.
—Special Agent Dale Cooper
P.S. If you don't mind, kindly leave a note for the hotel staff to get my white shirt ironed.
She giggled at the formality of the note, and his slight obsessive-compulsive tendencies that showed through in the postscript. The white shirt had lost the last traces of Cooper's clean scent so she didn't mind taking it off and laying it on the dresser, placing a quick note on top. She put on her pink shirt from yesterday and slipped his note into her pocket—since he wouldn't need it she figured it couldn't hurt to hold on to it. Deciding once and for all that Cooper was perfect, she snuck into the hall, unseen.
A/N: Thanks for reading! Please leave a review :) This is my first non-Harry Potter fanfic (which also makes it my first Twin Peaks fic) so naturally I'm a tad self-conscious of this one. Did I pull it off? I started watching this show a while ago on Netflix and absolutely love it, so I had to write a continuation scene, since we never got to see what Cooper and Audrey talked about over their malts and fries…