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It's a train wreck waiting to happen and everybody knows it, but it's up to you to try and somehow, miraculously, prevent it. Severide is taking a step back from the whole thing, claiming that it isn't his job to get in the way of his wingman having a good time, and he's looking at you like you're nuts for having the gall to suggest otherwise. The rest of the guys are pretty much ignoring the way Shay and the petite brunette are dancing, foreheads resting against each other as their hips grind slowly together in total disregard to the up-tempo, bass-heavy beat that's cascading seductively over the dance floor, and you wish that you could too.
But you can't, because the petite, doe-eyed brunette who's pretty much humping your best friend's leg looks too much like Clarice, and you know that in the morning, when the alcohol wears off and the regret sets in, that you'll be the one to pick Shay up off the floor again.
"Just go get her, Dawson," Mills says, giving you a brotherly shove on the shoulder that's strong enough to make you take a stumbling step forward. You turn and glare at him as you start for the dance floor and as you bump into a table on your right that you're positive wasn't there a minute ago, you realize that it wasn't the force of Mills' push that made you stumble but the two... no, three, shots of tequila that are singing in your veins.
Jensen's is predictably busy for a Friday night and the closer you get to the dance floor, the harder the bass pumping heavily through the room seems to pound in your veins. Your entire body is pulsing with the beat and it's all you can do to weave your way through the crowd that has seemingly to multiplied exponentially in the time it took you to get to the floor. You push your way through a couple of drunken frat boys who seem entirely too excited to see you as you approach, and you roll your eyes as they holler a number of inappropriate suggestions for what you can go do with yourself at your back. A soft sigh of relief falls from your lips as you finally spot a familiar blonde head swaying with the beat and it only takes you a few heartbeats more to get to her side.
You catch her dance partner's eye and shake your head as you reach out and grab Shay's shoulder.
"Time to go," you say, leaning into her so that your lips brush against the shell of her ear so that you know she'll hear you. You don't miss the shiver that rolls through her at the touch, but you're too focused on trying to break up the little party happening in front of you to give it too much thought.
Glassy, lost green eyes turn to look at you and you feel your heart break as she just stares at you like you're the answer to a million questions you didn't even know existed. "Okay."
A part of you hates that it's so easy for you to do this, to get her to bend so easily to your will, but at this point, you're just happy that she's giving the brunette she'd been dancing with a sad smile as she grabs onto your arm and allows you to lead her off the dance floor. The guys are still at the tables and only Severide and Mills seem to have paid any attention to what you were doing, and you purposefully steer Shay down the hall that reeks of smoke and sweat to the bathrooms so that you can have a moment alone with her before you two rejoin the group.
The lights are too bright after the dimness of the club and you squint as your eyes adjust. By the time they do, Shay is standing at the sinks, leaning heavily against the counter as cold water pours into the basin. The absence of any other noise tells you that you two are alone and you sigh as you cross the checkerboard tile floor to stand by her.
It kills you to see her like this and you're struck with an urge to just take her in your arms and shelter her from the world. The water is still pouring into the sink and you reach out to turn it off, sending the bathroom into silence that's broken only by the hum of the fluorescent lights overhead.
The absence of sound draws her eyes to you and you're again faced with that inscrutable expression of hers that seems to come out more often on nights when she's been drinking and you wish you knew what it means.
"She called me again today," Shay says, interrupting your inner monologue before it could really pick up steam. "Clarice."
You clench your jaw shut so that you won't say anything you'll regret, but on the inside, you're screaming. How dare she even think of calling her. "Really? When?" you ask, and you're pleased to hear that your voice is calm and that none of the anger you're feeling toward Clarice has leaked into your tone.
Shay shrugs. "When you were changing at the station."
Well, that explains the doppelganger dance partner, at least, you think, as you reach out and gently cradle her face in your hand. The softness of her skin never fails to surprise you and you sigh as you smooth your thumb over her cheek. "Why did you even answer?"
"I dunno," Shay answers, rolling her eyes and shaking her head.
She looks so broken that your heart breaks for her, and you hum softly under your breath as you pull her into a light hug. She melts into you, her arms looping around your neck as she lets you hold her, and you sigh as you feel her head settle on your shoulder. Her breath falls in soft waves over your throat and your stomach twists with something close to anticipation; but before you can worry about it too much, you realize that she's crying softly and you turn your full attention onto her.
"Shh, sweetie," you soothe as you pull her in tighter, your right hand sliding up to settle between her shoulder blades as you hold her close. "It's okay. You're okay."
You rub her back soothingly as she continues to cry and you promise yourself that once you know that Shay is home, in bed, and taken care of, that you're going to go give Clarice a piece of your mind. Because you are not going to let her keep hurting your partner like this.
The hold on your neck eventually eases and you can tell by the way Shay's breathing has slowed that the blonde has pretty much cried herself out, and you lick your lips as you gently guide her away from you so that you can look her in the eye. Your heart seizes in your chest at the hurt and sadness you find looking back at you, and you swallow thickly as you reach up to brush the tears from her cheeks with a tender swipe of your thumbs.
Her eyes flutter closed and she draws a deep, shuddering breath as your thumbs stroke the smooth line of her cheekbones, and you can't help but think that she is the most beautiful woman you've ever met. Your gaze lands on her lips and you find yourself impulsively licking your own as you trace their shape with your eyes. She's so beautiful. So warm. So loving. So good. And it kills you that she seems to always end up being hurt.
"Please," she whispers, and you jerk your attention away from her lips to find that she's staring at you, her red-rimmed eyes looking broken and needy as she unflinchingly holds your gaze. There's no denying what she's asking of you, and there's no denying that a part of you has always wondered what it would be like.
You know that it's a mistake, as you tilt your head and lean in closer to her, but you can't for the life of you stop yourself from closing that final distance that separates you from her as you claim her lips in a sweet, chaste kiss. Any thoughts of What the hell am I doing?, stop the moment her lower lip fits perfectly between your own and when she moans against your mouth any semblance of control that you've been managing to hang onto disappears. Your nipples tighten and your eyes roll back in your head at the soft sound of her pleasure, and you push her back against the flimsy wall of the stall beside the sinks, pinning her there with your body as her mouth opens beneath yours and her tongue sweeps tentatively over your lips.
A low groan rumbles in your throat as her hands wrap around your hips, pulling you closer as she deepens the kiss, thrusting her tongue boldly into your mouth as she takes everything you didn't even realize until now that you were willing to give her.
The need for air eventually forces you apart and you smile lazily as you open your eyes to find her staring at you with an expression of horror on her face and you feel the smile you'd been wearing only moments before slip from yours.
"Oh my god, I'm so sorry," she whispers, her eyes scared and pleading as she begs you with a look to forgive her for your transgression.
You bite down on your lower lip as your heart skips a beat and the thought, What if it wasn't me that she wanted, but just a warm, safe body?, floats through your mind. "Don't be sorry," you murmur, purposefully holding your ground as you remain pressed up against her. You tilt your head to the side and smile shyly at her as you add, "If anyone should apologize, it's me. Because I'm the one who kissed you."
"Yeah, but " She shakes her head and looks down to the side. "I asked and it was stupid and just god, please don't hate me, Gabs. It won't happen again."
The definitiveness in her tone cuts through you like a knife and you swallow thickly as you nod and take a step away from her. You instantly miss the warmth of her body and you wrap your arms around your waist as you watch her steadfastly refuse to meet your gaze. "I could never hate you, Leslie," you whisper.
She just nods and you feel your eyes begin to fill with tears at her rejection.
"I'm I'm gonna go," she murmurs, still refusing to look at you as she eases past you to get to the door.
"'Kay," you whisper, closing your eyes as the sound of the bar outside pours into the bathroom through the door as Shay leaves.
It takes you about five minutes to get yourself under control enough to even dare think about rejoining the guys out in the bar, and you're not at all surprised to see that neither Shay nor Severide are anywhere to be seen when you get back to the group. Mills is looking at you like he knows something's wrong, and you just shake your head in an answer to his unspoken question as you steal a shot glass from the tray on the middle of the table and slam the tequila inside it. The alcohol burns and you close your eyes against it, and when the burning stops you grab your coat off the back of your chair and give the guys what you hope passes for a tired smile.
"I'm out. I'll see you losers in a few days."
"Later, Dawson," the guys chorus, and you toss a few bills onto the table to help cover the tab before you put your coat on and head for the door.
You walk out into the cold night with your head down when the sound of a familiar voice calling your name startles you out of your defeated, introspective reverie.
"What do you need, Severide?" you ask as you turn to look at him. Over his shoulder, you see Leslie leaning back against the outside wall of the bar with her head in her hands, and you don't doubt that he'd been trying to console her when you walked out.
His expression is protective and curious and you're just glad that he doesn't look angry when he asks, "What happened?"
Everything I never knew I wanted, you think as you hold his gaze. "I kissed her."
His eyes widen with shock and he leans closer to whisper harshly in your face, "Why the fuck would you do that?"
You just shake your head and shrug. "She asked. And I wanted to, okay. I wanted to kiss her."
He looks at you like he's trying to figure out whether or not he wants to hug you or kick your ass, and you hold his gaze unblinkingly as you wait for him to make up his mind. "Are you just dicking around with this?"
You shake your head. "No. But she doesn't want it to happen again, so don't get your panties in a twist, Severide. We'll just chalk it up to an alcohol-induced mistake and move on," you add as you turn away from him to head home.
You get only four steps away when he asks, "Was it?"
You know that he's asking if you think it was a mistake and you shake your head sadly as you turn to look at him. "No."
His eyes grow soft and you offer him a small, pained smile before you turn to leave again. But this time you don't even take two steps before his hand is wrapped loosely around your upper arm, pulling you to a stop as he asks, "And if she feels the same way?"
"Then she knows where I live, Severide," you tell him as you gently pry his fingers loose. "I'll see you later."
This time he lets you leave, and you somehow manage to hold back your tears that threaten to fall as you round the corner, unable to keep from hoping that you'll hear her running after you and calling your name. By the third block, you accept the fact that it isn't going to happen; and by the time you slide your key into the deadbolt on your front door, you feel like your heart has been ripped from your chest.
You undress quickly in the dark and climb into bed in your underwear and a too-small t-shirt that you like to sleep in, and as you pull the extra pillow to your chest and hold it tight, you finally allow the tears that you'd been holding back since you left Severide standing in the middle of the sidewalk outside Jensen's spill free.
The sound of someone knocking on your front door snaps you out of your grief and you wipe at your eyes as you roll out of bed, preparing to lay into whoever it is on the other side. You pull on a pair of fleece pajama pants emblazoned with the Blackhawks' logo and make your way down the hall to the front door, and when you look out the peep hole to see her standing in the hall outside your apartment you swear to god that you heart literally stops beating.
The lock tumbles open loudly and you take a deep, fortifying breath as you pull the door open to find her looking just as lost and broken and hopeful and scared as you're feeling in that moment, and you sigh as you hold a hand out to her, beckoning her inside. "C'mere."
She falls into you, her thin arms wrapping around your neck, and you push the front door closed with your left hand as you claim her lips in a slow, sweet kiss.
"You wanted to?" she asks.
Her voice is so soft and small and so goddamn fragile that it breaks your heart all over again, and you smile reassuringly at her as you nod. "Yes."
You watch as she takes a deep breath and a small smile lifts the corners of her lips, and you feel your heart swell with affection for her.
"What changed?" she asks, her eyes dancing over your face as if she's trying to read your answer in your expression.
You're not sure how to answer her because you still don't quite understand exactly what it was that made you kiss her back at the bar, so you just shrug and answer with the only word that seems to make any sense at all. "Everything."
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