DISCLAIMER: The characters along with all rights, fame and fortune belong to
Bruckheimer and CBS. I don't own them and gain nothing except the pleasure
of their company in my imagination.
CHALLENGE RESPONSE: Submitted for the Passion & Perfection Xmas Challenge 2005
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
The crowd's finally thinning out. Thank god. I enjoy a good time as much as the next person but office parties can be treacherous affairs, especially during Christmas. Put together a bunch of people who spend too much time together, toss in a cocktail of lowered inhibitions, alcohol-loosened tongues and the spirit of the season and before you know it, and the scene is set for that one impulsive act that you'll regret for the next three hundred and sixty four days of the year after that.
So, I'm a cynic. And a grumpy one too but it's only because there's somewhere else I'd rather be right now. It's been a long day and I'm looking forward to going home to a nice hot shower and a warm bed.
And oh, did I mention the sexy brunette I get to take home with me tonight?
So, home. Shower. Bed. Sex.
And not necessarily in that order too. My mouth curls into a thoughtful grin as I remember the number of times we've transposed this simple sequence in the short time we've been dating. Maybe I should just replace 'bed' with 'nearest flat surface'. That'd work, although technically speaking, the hood of her car isn't really flat.
A familiar tingle starts to spread downwards from my belly as that particular memory replays itself. I really need to find Sara and leave. Now.
I push aside my lecherous libido for the time being and scan the room impatiently. Where could she be? There's the usual number of people who've drunk a bit more than they're used to. Talking and laughing louder than they realize. But no Sara. I'm trying to remember where I last saw her when an arm flops clumsily around my shoulder.
The pungent smell of alcohol hits my nose and I have to consciously restrain myself from jerking away instantly.
"Hey " I wrack my mind to come up with a name. It's Detective... Lawson? Dawson? Something like that. He's new and I've only bumped into him at a scene a couple of times before.
"Great party," he slurs, oblivious to the fact that I'm trying to extricate my shoulder from under his arm. Just as I'm about to make my escape, he staggers forward and I have to back up a step to stop him from crashing into me. It takes him a few seconds to regain his balance. He blinks a few times and grins sloppily when something above catches his attention.
"Look at that ."
I glance upwards. God no. Unless he wants to spend Christmas in the ER, he'd better not be thinking of trying that.
"You know what that means, don'cha?"
He lurches in my direction one more time and I'm seriously thinking of letting him fall on his face, but in the end I prop my hands against his shoulders to keep him upright and away from me instead. Spirit of the season and all. My mistake. Unaware of the reprieve he's just been given, he tries his move one more time.
"Now where were we "
If he tries to kiss me again, his face will either hit the floor or the back of my hand. Christmas or not, those lips aren't coming anywhere near mine. I'm still contemplating how much trouble I'd get into for hitting a fellow law enforcement officer when my saviour arrives in the form of terse familiar voice.
"Catherine, I need to speak to you."
When he still doesn't remove his arm, she tries again, this time with a distinct glower in her voice.
"It's about the case. Will you excuse us, detective?"
Even through glazed eyes, he can tell she means business and totters away. I breathe a sigh of relief and brush my hand against her shoulder, ostensibly to brush away a piece of lint or a gesture of gratitude. Truth is, I just need to touch her.
"I leave you alone for two minutes and you're already giving away free kisses."
I want to wipe that gap-toothed grin off her face with a big kiss but I can't. So I settle for a withering glare instead.
"Where were you, anyway?"
Her turn to sigh.
"Some party game he came up with. Don't ask. I sneaked away before he started another round."
I moved a little closer to her, as close as our bodies can get without actually touching and lower my voice to a husky tone, "If you're in the mood for games, Sidle, I think that can be arranged "
The little catch in her breath tells me that she's definitely interested, even before she says anything.
"What do you have in mind?"
Before I can answer, a voice calls out my name. Talk about crappy timing. Between the look on his face and the mumbled expletive under Sara's breath, I can guess what he wants.
"Whatever it is the answer's no, Greg. I'm going home."
He brushes aside my protest and pushes the both of us towards a table in the corner. I see that the game, whatever it is, is already in full swing.
"Come on, it'll be fun. Just one round."
I look at Sara who just shrugs before she sits in the nearest chair. I give Greg a resigned glare and take the seat next to her. The sooner we get this over with the thought of what's to come is enough to put a smile back on my face.
Greg shoves some candy into my hand.
"M&Ms?" I quirk an eyebrow.
"You'll get the hang of it. The game's called, 'I'm boring because ' "
I can't resist the jibe. "Hey, no fair. At least play a game someone else has a chance of winning."
He pretends not to hear and turns his attention to the game instead. From the volume of laughter and conversation, it's more interesting than it sounds. Then again, judging from the near empty bottles, Jack and Jim may have something to do with the current high spirits. I sigh again, the sound catching Sara's ear. She turns to me with a questioning look and I mouth 'I want to get out of here' silently. A smile lights up her face and she mouths back, "me too".
A few seconds later, I feel a hand resting casually on my thigh and it takes all the self-control I have not to gasp aloud. I glance at Sara but her expression betrays nothing even though she must be able to feel me shifting in my seat in response to her touch. It's only when my hand creeps below the table to cover hers that I get a reaction as she angles a sideway smile at me.
It's a good thing everyone else is too busy to notice since her touch is blissfully distracting. We go through the motions of playing along but I manage to screen out almost everything but the warmth of her hand against mine.
"I'm boring because I've never had sex with a woman "
That declaration catches both our attentions and we turn simultaneously to see Jacqui Franco smiling smugly.
"Cough up or 'fess up boys..."
As she collects her winnings amidst mock groans, Greg turns to Sara and me.
"So, since either of you didn't lose a candy, who wants to "
What the hell, if I'm supposed to play, I'd better do it right. I pick up a red M&M and drop it in the middle of the table.
" go next?" his voice stutters before trailing off.
The laughter and conversation fade as all eyes turn to me. All the better for hearing the corresponding clink from Sara's candy hitting the table next to mine. My candy girl
Jacqui looks impressed. Nick looks scandalized. David's face is redder than Rudolph's nose. And Greg well, Greg looks as if Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter have come all at once.
"Okay, I'll go next." There is more than a hint of enthusiastic glee in his voice and I know where this is leading. They're going to find out sooner or later so why not like this?
"I'm boring because I've never dated someone I work with."
I sneak a peek at Sara before reaching for the next piece and I can instantly tell that she's with me in this.
" or made out with her while on the clock "
" in the Denali "
Technically speaking, it was on the Denali but they don't need to know the details.
I'm down to my last M&M. At this rate, the game will be over before anyone else gets a turn.
" in the car park?"
I roll that last piece between my fingers. Come to think of it, that's one thing we haven't done. Yet. We exchange another look and again, she's read my mind. It's uncanny how she manages to do that more and more these days and I fall a little deeper for her each time.
"I'm all out, so I guess I lose," Sara declares to our now captive audience as she rises from her seat. With a deliberate gesture, she pulls the car keys from a pocket and saunters towards the door.
God, she's sexy when she walks like that.
Greg has the biggest shit-eating grin on his face.
"You still have one piece left, Catherine."
I look briefly at the last piece of M&M in my hand before tossing it in his direction, propelling myself out of the chair before he even catches it. I know what the exact look on his face is without even turning around.
"Merry Christmas, Greg."
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