DISCLAIMER: The characters herein are used without permission. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Scene insert for Season 4 Episode 10 "Oh Little Town..." Posted 2010 to ff.net with the same title.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To howlingturtle[at]hotmail.com

The Secret Softie
By SilverTurtle


"So," Zoe asked, "What did you get for my dad?"

Jo grinned conspiratorially, "He was tough. But I think I nailed it."

As they walked towards the exit Zoe asked, "Really? Will you tell me?"

"Nope," Jo smiled at the frustrated sound Zoe made. "You'll just have to wait and see."

Zoe sighed, "I thought you'd say that." She shrugged, "Oh, well. Can't blame a girl for trying."

Jo made non-committal hum. "You know you can't tell anyone I'm the secret Santa."

Zoe bumped her shoulder against Jo's playfully, "I know," she rolled her eyes, "You've got to keep up that tough-girl facade."

"Facade?" Jo questioned indignantly.

"Yup," Zoe smirked just a little and looked at Jo through her lashes, "We both know you're a big softie."

"I'm not a softie!" Jo protested, "I'm head of Global Dynamics security. I was an Army Ranger! Nothing about that says softie!"

Zoe hummed agreement, "But those are your jobs. I'm talking about you personally. And you, Jo Lupo," Zoe said taking Jo's hand and pulling them both to a stop in the archway of a door, "Are a big softie."

Jo considered pouting for an instant but knew it wouldn't exactly help her image in Zoe's eyes so she rolled her eyes instead. "Yeah, whatever. Just don't tell anyone I was their secret Santa."

"I won't," Zoe reassured. Then she happened to glance up and grinned, "As long as you do something for me."

Jo, who had been prepared to continue leaving, looked at Zoe warily. "Do what, exactly?"

Zoe smiled sweetly and pointed up to where a sprig of honest-to-goodness mistletoe hung above their heads.

"Fargo," Jo growled while Zoe giggled. Jo turned pleading eyes to Zoe, "Seriously?"

Zoe nodded, her smile growing.

Jo took a deep breath and nodded to herself, giving herself an internal pep-talk. Zoe thought her nervousness was cute...and provided even more evidence that Jo is, in fact, a softie.

"Fine," Jo grumbled. She stepped close and leaned forward, dropping a brief kiss to Zoe's cheek. Then she attempted to flee.

Zoe gripped Jo's hand tightly and yanked her back. "Oh no, Lupo, you're not going anywhere. What was that?"

"A kiss?" Jo hesitantly offered.

"No," Zoe said trying to fight back a grin, "That was how you say hello to your grandmother. I want a real under-the-mistletoe kiss. Lip to lip."

Jo groaned and internally cursed Fargo again for putting the mistletoe up in the first place. She straightened her back and stepped into Zoe's personal space.

If Zoe wanted a real kiss Jo would give her one.

She pulled Zoe against herself with the hand Zoe still held and looped her other arm around Zoe's back. Surprised, Zoe had to press her hand to Jo's shoulder for balance. Jo took a moment to look into Zoe's startled but delighted eyes before dipping her head down and catching Zoe's lips with her own. At first it was just a warm press, nothing special. But then Zoe gasped a little, and she leaned heavily against Jo, and she pulled her hand away and wrapped it around Jo's neck, and her lips parted, and Jo couldn't resist the invitation so she deepened the kiss letting her tongue explore Zoe's mouth. Jo held Zoe close with one hand pressing into her lower back and the other steady on Zoe's hip, fingers lightly squeezing.

For long minutes they stood together kissing, growing more heated and letting hands fist in clothing, until finally they had to part to breathe.

Jo pressed her forehead to Zoe's as they panted against one another's lips.

"Wow," Zoe breathed, then she tilted her head and stole a sweet little kiss from Jo's willing lips.

Internally Jo agreed, but she didn't say anything out loud content to remain in this intimate little bubble.

"You know," Zoe said softly, conversationally, "I've sort of had a huge crush on you since you first locked me in a cell."

Jo's eyes shot open and she lifted her head away. "Zoe," she murmured, her voice cracking a little, "We can't-"

"I know," Zoe hastily cut her off, "I know we can't. But," Zoe swallowed and forced back the lump of emotion in her throat. She uncurled her fingers from the lapel of Jo's jacket and smoothed the fabric down nervously. Her hand came up to rest on the warm skin of Jo's neck and curled around to cup that area. "But I thought you should know." Zoe ran her thumb gently over the skin of Jo's neck, eyes trailing the movement so she didn't have to meet Jo's questioning gaze.

"Zoe," Jo said softly, "Zoe, look at me. Please?"

When Zoe looked up at Jo her eyes were shining wetly and her lower lip was trembling.

"Oh, Zoe," Jo breathed out, heart aching for them both. She pulled Zoe in to hug her, squeezing her gently then more fiercely as Zoe clung to her. "I'm so sorry, Zoe."

Zoe shook her head still hidden in the crook of Jo's neck, "No. Don't be. I knew when I started this that it wouldn't turn into anything." Zoe pulled away far enough to look Jo in the eyes, "I just...couldn't go another day without seeing what it was like. The mistletoe just gave me the excuse to try."

Jo looked up, they were still under the mistletoe, and she looked back down into Zoe's sad eyes and kissed her again, slow and soft. When she pulled away she said, "We should go."

Zoe nodded and reluctantly detached herself from Jo's frame. She began walking down the corridor towards the exit.

"I'm sorry this couldn't be what you'd hoped. That it can only be this." Jo offered as she followed.

Zoe smiled, "Don't be." Zoe straightened her shoulders and took a breath looking back over her shoulder to catch Jo's eyes, "If it can only be this than I'm glad it was this. Because you, Jo Lupo, are an amazing kisser. So, thank you."

Jo laughed. "No, Zoe, thank you." When Zoe looked at her curiously Jo continued, "Knowing how you feel, you don't know how much that means to me. I'm glad this happened."

Zoe grinned, "Softie."

Jo laughed again. She threw her arm around Zoe's shoulders and tugged her close as they walked out the door, "Yeah," she agreed, "But don't tell anyone."

The End

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