***I started writing this a few Thanksgivings ago and for some reason decided to finish it tonight. I LOVED Dinah and Mallet. I think in some ways they were my favorite Dinah pairing. Too bad they ended so tragically. But that said, this is a pretty angst-free one shot set during the time they were doing their little mating dance lol Enjoy!***

Taking a Chance

Thanksgiving. What to do, what to do? Dinah thought as she wandered around her house. There wasn't much going on tonight. In fact, nothing at all was going on. No one wanted her around –not even for the holidays. The only person that might possibly have wanted to spend the occasion with her was her father but Ross was currently out blazing the campaign trails and wouldn't be back for some time.

She didn't want to stay inside though, especially after Edmund had locked her up in his little torture chamber for so long. She was free from there but the walls still felt like they were closing in on her tonight.

"Okay so I've got to get out of here but where can I go?" She asked aloud as if she expected an answer from the empty house. "What's open on a holiday? Hmm, Towers? No. Jonathan's bar? No. I am in no mood to be pawed at by old, lonely, drunk guys."

In the end she decided that Olivia's was her best bet. She slipped on a simple black dress and pulled a jacket over it. It was snowing as she emerged from the house. She hurried to her car and slid behind the wheel. Flecks of snow dotted her window shield as she drove through town. She recalled now that the weatherman had said on this morning's news that a storm was blowing in from the east. But she liked to live dangerously. Oh yes, Double D – Dangerous Dinah.

She smiled wryly at her odd thoughts as she finally pulled up in front of the establishment. A valet took over her car and she walked inside. The heater was cranked up to full blast so she pulled off her coat and tucked it over her arm as she made her way to the bar. The lighting was low and a hushed silence fell over the room. There were only two other patrons in the place and one really bored-looking bartender. They were all alone for the holidays too, apparently. It was just her and them – four poor pathetic souls forgotten on a chilly night like this.

She sat down at the bar and ordered a glass of white wine. The bartender served her and she downed it in a few gulps, quickly asking for another.

"You better not consume too much of that stuff if you're driving. I could arrest you, you know."

Dinah bristled at hearing his annoying voice. "Mallet," she said flatly.

"In the flesh," he said and plopped down on the stool beside her.

"Oh goodie."

Mallet smiled. "I am surprised you don't have some hot date for Thanksgiving. What – are the guys around the water cooler at Spaulding too busy crunching numbers in their three-thousand dollar suits to take you out?"

"What – are all the women at the state prison too busy shanking one other to accept an invitation for your company?"

"Shanking?" Mallet laughed. "For your information, Miss Marler, I don't need to date a prisoner when I could have my pick of any woman in Springfield."

"Except your ex-wife Harley.'

"Well that was a low-blow."

"Sorry I couldn't help myself. You bring out the worst in me."

"Charmed, I'm sure."

"Don't you have some parking tickets to hand out or something? Maybe you could arrest someone. After all I read that stores are more likely to be looted during the holiday season."

"You read? How positively pedestrian."

Dinah shook her head and turned away. "Oh look there's Alan-Michael!" She stood up then and took her drink her, moving over to the other extremely handsome man. She fully intended to ignore Mallet for the rest of the night.

"Dinah," Alan-Michael greeted her with a smile. "What are you doing out here on a bone-chillingly cold night like this?"

She smiled, swirling the wine gently in her glass. "I could ask you the same thing. Why aren't you with the Coopers?"

"Things are a little awkward with Frank."

"Oh."

"Why don't you sit with me?" Alan-Michael asked.

"Sure," Dinah said and feeling Mallet's eyes on her, she turned and shot him a smug smile.

"Scotch on the rocks," Alan-Michael called to the bartender as they walked past the bar. He found them a table in the corner and pulled back a chair for her.

"Such a gentleman. Unlike others I know," she said. She felt Mallet still watching her so she leaned close to Alan-Michael. She wanted to teach Mallet a lesson. He had gone and tried to ruin her holiday.

"Wow. I am feeling a bit ignored over there by myself," Mallet said, suddenly moving over to them. "Mind if I sit?" He didn't wait for an answer. He just pulled out a chair and slipped into it. Naturally, he sat down on the chair right beside her.

"Hmm I don't recall inviting you," Alan-Michael said stiffly.

"Well I didn't want to be rude by continuing to ignore you."

"Rude is your middle name," Dinah muttered but for some reason her heart was racing as Mallet turned his eyes on her and gave her a shit-eating grin.

The bartender brought Alan-Michael his drink and then he looked at Mallet again. "If you don't mind –"

"Actually I do, A-M."

Alan-Michael ignored him and turned to face Dinah, reaching for her hands across the table. "So what has my sexy little friend Dinah been up to?"

Mallet rolled his eyes. "That was a really bad line, Alan-Michael."

"Why are you still here?" Alan-Michael grumbled.

"I am an interested party."

"Yeah I bet."

"Seriously that was a cheap line and I am sure Dinah thought so too."

Dinah glared at him. "How do you know what I think?"

Alan-Michael smirked at the tension between them. "Anyway, Dinah, how are things at Spaulding? I hope Harley's not working you too hard."

"Not too hard."

"I still can't believe Harley went and married another Spaulding. I guess regular Joes don't do it for her." Alan-Michael looked at Mallet pointedly.

Dinah sighed. "Alan-Michael-" She started but Mallet was cutting her off.

"Apparently not all Spaulding men 'do it' for her. She dumped you real quick if I remember right."

"Apparently you can't take a joke, AC."

"You just aren't that funny, A-M."

"I'm getting very sick of looking at your face, Mallet."

"Likewise. Did anyone ever tell you that you look like a wasted Mr. Potato Head?"

Alan-Michael pushed back his chair and hopped to his feet. He approached Mallet. "Do you want to say that to my face?"

"Yeah." Mallet stood, a full head taller than Alan-Michael. "You look just like a wasted Mr. Potato Head."

Alan-Michael rolled up his shirt sleeves then. "Do you want to fight with me right now?"

"Damn right I do."

"Bring it on." The men started advancing on each other but Dinah jumped between them, one arm stretched out each way.

"I don't know what's gotten into you two but you need to stop this stupid pissing contest. You both are awful. I am going home."

"I'll drive you," Alan-Michael said.

"Just a minute there, Dinah," Mallet said and grabbed Dinah lightly by the arm giving her a tug towards the middle of the polished floor.

"What the hell do you think you're doing?"

Mallet shook his hips outrageously. "Dancing with you. What else?"

"That's not dancing. It's an invitation to an ass-kicking from Alan-Michael."

"Oh just dance this one song. It's ours anyway."

"'Truck stop Angel' is our song?"

"Just go with it," Mallet said. He swung her out and then brought her back in close.

Dinah shivered at his touch. "No one else is dancing, Mallet."

"They're missing out."

Alan-Michael was looking more and more pissed as the seconds ticked on. Mallet was enjoying every second.

"I'll make you a bet, Dinah," he whispered in her ear. "I bet you a thousand dollars that you won't go home with Spaulding over there but will stay here with me instead."

"I bet you a thousand dollars you're wrong," Dinah said and disentangled from him. "Goodnight, Mallet."

She went to Alan-Michael and he handed her her coat with a cocky smile on his face. He and Dinah walked towards the door, arm-in-arm. Dinah looked back at Mallet to see him sinking into a chair, a dejected expression on his face. Was it possible he liked her and not just liked irritating her? Was it possible she liked him?

She tried to shake away the thoughts as she and Alan-Michael emerged from the club into the cold, snowy night but it was impossible. She bit her lip and looked at Alan-Michael. "You should go on without me," she said.

"Seriously?"

"Yeah I drove my own car so it wouldn't make sense if –"

"Dinah, you actually want to stay with Mallet, don't you?"

"NO! Yes. Maybe…"

Alan-Michael shrugged. "I have had it with indecisive women and women pining for other guys so just go on back in there."

"Don't be mad."

"I'm not really. Just disappointed. You're one hell of a catch. AC is a lucky man."

"He hasn't 'caught' me."

"Keep telling yourself that." Alan-Michael leaned over then and kissed her cheek. "Knock Mallet off his high horse from time to time okay?"

Dinah nodded and hugged him. "Happy Thanksgiving, Alan-Michael."

"Right back at you."

Alan-Michael waved to the valet and then was leaving. Dinah headed back inside, not sure what she was getting into but afraid not to take the chance now.

She walked back inside and spotted Mallet sitting at the table, staring straight ahead with a morose expression on his face. She hurried to his side and cleared her throat. "Ahem… Is this seat taken by any chance?"

Mallet looked up and smiled at her. "No."

Dinah slid into the seat beside him. "So I guess I owe you a thousand dollars huh?"

"Well I could afford to finish furnishing my place with that kind of money but no… I won't take your money."

"Fair is fair…"

Mallet smiled and reached for her hand, turning it gently and kissing her palm. "Forget the money."

"Okay…"

He grinned at her. "Happy Thanksgiving, Dinah Marler."

Dinah smiled back. "Happy Thanksgiving, AC Mallet."

THE END