calleigh_j: (KateBright)
[personal profile] calleigh_j
Title: On Some Idle Tuesday
Author: [livejournal.com profile] calleigh_j
Fandom: Criminal Minds/The West Wing crossover
Pairing: Emily Prentiss/Kate Harper
Characters: various from both shows, but with a focus on the pairing
Rating: R
Warnings: none that I can think of
Spoilers: all aired episodes for both shows
Word count: 19,952
Disclaimer: the characters from both shows belong to NBC and others and are definitely not mine; title taken from 'Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen' by Baz Luhrmann; quotes from within story from Brandi Carlile and Inara George
Betas: [livejournal.com profile] twtd and [livejournal.com profile] llyfrgell
Summary: Emily Prentiss and Kate Harper meet in a bar; therein follows the progression of an accidental friendship to something neither of them ever expected to have
Artwork: [TBA]
Author's notes: a thousand million thanks to my betas; also thanks to [livejournal.com profile] racethewind10 and [livejournal.com profile] oparu for telling me I could do it; massive props to the organisers of this awesome challenge which finally got me to write more than a couple of thousand words and actually sort of like it

For a brief character guide, see here



One - This Is How The Story Went

This is how the story went/I met someone by accident

Two women meet in a bar. Things happen.

***

It was a Tuesday night and the bar was mostly empty. A group of suit-clad men gathered around the far end of the bar, a couple cuddled close together behind a table in the corner, and Emily made up the entire clientele. It wasn't one of her usual haunts, and certainly not the vibrant Irish pub she usually frequented with her colleagues in the BAU, but as a place to sit and examine her latest personal...misstep ('misstep' seemed somehow better than the 'mistake' it might more appropriately have been termed), it served its purpose. Its dark, faded wood and worn leather contrasted nicely with the perpetually sunny image of Miami she couldn't get out of her head, so it worked on many levels. There had been an offer of dinner with Garcia followed by drinks with the guys, but she'd turned it down with the weak excuse of exhaustion and the desire to go back to her apartment and sleep.

Sleep, she knew, would be a long time coming tonight, hence the beer and the introspection. In general, Emily shied away from too much self-examination. She had her compartmentalisation: her own patented system for dealing with every situation, and usually that served her well enough. But for once, she had a situation she couldn't compartmentalise. She couldn't fold it up and lock it away in a drawer inside her mind, and so it had come to alcohol and wallowing as a last resort.

Honestly, she hadn't ever expected anything to happen. She was attracted to JJ; that much she would admit, that much she could deal with. Sometimes, she thought JJ was attracted to her as well, and that was harder to deal with. She'd never been particularly good at understanding signals in her own life - her skill at profiling apparently didn't transfer to her personal life - but it seemed so obvious. After Denver, when they'd sat on the plane and JJ had soothed her tired, raw emotions with simple words (I can see it...you...kids), everything had seemed possible. But because she valued her friendship with JJ and her job at the BAU, she hadn't said anything. She was grateful now that she had never mentioned her feelings to anyone; it was so much easier to deal with this knowing that no-one else knew. The confirmation of JJ's suspected relationship with Will LaMontagne had seemed somehow inevitable. Emily hated moping, but she couldn't stop thinking that she should never have even considered the possibility of a relationship with JJ, that she should never have expected anything other than perpetual loneliness.

"Act like you know me."

With her eyes fixed firmly on the fraying coaster, the voice from above her caught her completely by surprise. When Emily looked up, it was into the face of a very determined-looking and completely unfamiliar woman.

"I'm sorry?" Emily asked, unfailingly polite even when confused.

"Act like you know me," the woman repeated, "Unless you really want those guys over there to come over and start talking to you." The woman gestured over towards the group of men at the bar, and as Emily looked over, she saw that they were all looking intently at her and the stranger.

"They were, I believe," the woman continued, "just discussing the best way of getting you to have a drink with them."

Sizing up the unknown woman and the men at the bar, Emily put on her brightest smile and, standing up, proceeded to greet her supposed saviour like an old friend. As Emily sat back down, the woman pulled out the chair on the other side of the table and sat down with her. Placing her full bottle of beer down beside Emily's, the woman sneaked a surreptitious glance over at the men who had now turned their attentions to the small television showing a baseball game.

"I'm really sorry about that," the woman said, taking a long pull of her beer, "But I didn't particularly want to spend my evening fending off the advances of some drunk businessmen, and it didn't look like you did either. I'm Kate, by the way. Kate Harper."

Despite the intrusion into her planned evening of mournful introspection, Emily couldn't help but smile at Kate's explanation.

"Emily Prentiss," Emily said, "And really, I guess I should be thanking you. Being hit on by drunk guys in suits was not in my agenda for the evening."

"So," Kate said, raising her bottle towards Emily's, "To mutual protection from drunk guys."

"To mutual protection," Emily echoed, clinking her bottle against Kate's. A few moments of awkwardness followed as both women drank and Kate realised that, having acted on impulse and started talking to the lonely looking woman, she was now committed to making at least a superficial attempt at conversation.

"Uh, so," Kate began, fiddling with the label on her bottle, "what do you do?"

"I work for the FBI," Emily replied with no desire to discuss her job with a stranger, "And you?"

"I work in the White House."

Kate's short reply suggested to Emily that they shared a desire to avoid work as a topic of conversation.

"Here's a suggestion," Emily said, leaning forwards slightly, "I really appreciate you coming over here and everything, but I've had a long few days and I really don't want to spend my time off talking about my job with someone I just met. So how about we ban shop talk for as long as it takes us to finish these drinks, and then we can go our separate ways."

"That works for me," Kate agreed. Another long moment passed in silence before she spoke up again, "Having said that, I'm not sure I've had any kind of meaningful conversation with anyone other than a colleague in about a month."

"I can relate to that," Emily said with a smile, "I'm not sure what it says about us though that neither of us seems to have anything other than work to talk about."

"I think it says that we spend far too much time at work," Kate suggested, her smile mirroring Emily's as she took another sip of her drink.

"Okay, so, non-work topics," Emily mused aloud, casting her gaze around the bar, "Movies."

"Definitely not work," Kate said.

"Have you seen any recently?" Emily asked.

"Well, I fell asleep halfway through The Philadelphia Story a couple of nights ago, if that counts."

"You fell asleep in The Philadelphia Story?" Emily repeated with incredulity, "That comes pretty close to sacrilege in my book."

"Usually it does in mine too," Kate agreed, "But I'd been at work for two and a half days and I honestly couldn't keep my eyes open."

"Well, in that case, you're forgiven," Emily said teasingly.

"I take it you're a Hepburn fan then?" Kate asked, looking over to the bar as cheering announced some kind of progress in the game.

"Since the first time I saw Little Women," Emily replied. Kate raised an eyebrow and Emily continued, "I'd just finished reading the book and my grandfather took me to see the film. There was this little theatre in the town nearest his house and they showed black and white films every Sunday afternoon. Jo was my favourite character and I just fell in love with the way Katharine Hepburn played her. I spent the next six months wanting to be an actress."

"Bringing Up Baby was the first of her films I saw," Kate said, "but it never made me want to be an actress - I just wanted a pet leopard."

The remark about the leopard made Emily laugh, and Kate was struck by how it changed her face, how much more open and alive Emily looked than she had when Kate had first seen her that evening. There had been something intriguing about her, sitting alone in a bar she clearly didn't belong in, and absorbed in something only she knew about.

With a topic of common interest, conversation flowed more easily as the two women discussed movies they'd seen, and those they wished they hadn't.

"Can I get either of you anything else to drink?"

Kate and Emily looked up, startled by the arrival of the barman. The stack of glasses in his hand indicated that he had been clearing the tables of their empty glasses and bottles.

"Um, I don't know," Emily said awkwardly, conscious that she and Kate had agreed to finish their drinks and then leave, but also finding herself enjoying Kate's company.

"I have time for another drink," Kate suggested hesitantly.

"I'll have the same again then," Emily said, gesturing to her empty bottle.

"Same here," Kate said, and the barman took the bottles and headed back to the bar. He returned a few minutes later with two fresh bottles. No sooner had Emily taken a swig from hers than a phone rang, and both Kate and Emily reached into their bags to check. It was Kate's phone ringing and she answered it reluctantly.

"Kate Harper...did you tell him about...yes, I know...okay, I'll be there as soon as I can." With a sigh, Kate dropped her phone back into her bag and pulled her jacket from the back of the chair.

"I'm sorry," she said sincerely, "Predictably, I have to go back to work."

Emily grinned, "Yeah, I know all about that."

Kate shrugged her jacket on and slung her bag over her shoulder.

"It was nice to meet you," Kate said warmly as she started to turn towards the door.

"You too," Emily replied, "I hope your...whatever at work gets sorted out quickly."

"Thanks," Kate said, shaking her head as if she imagined it probably wouldn't be dealt with quickly, and she walked across the bar and out of the door. Emily watched her leave.

***

Two - First Steps

On a Saturday morning, Kate was in her office. She rarely spent any time there and was pretty sure that a significant number of her colleagues didn't even know where it was. Still, on the odd occasion when she was actually there, she enjoyed having her own space and having a door between herself and anyone else who might want to talk to her. Today, she'd gone there because she had reports to write and was being hounded when she tried to work in the Situation Room. With a little peace and quiet, she had the reports done quickly and found herself with half an hour before she was due back in the Sit Room for an update. She checked her e-mails and replied to the important ones. Opening her browser on a whim, she went to Google and typed in the name that seemed to have been constantly at the back of her mind for the past few days.

Searching for Emily Prentiss gave her plenty of results, but none that she could tell straight off were the right person. Sometimes being the Deputy National Security Advisor had its perks, though. She picked up the phone and dialled the number of a friend of hers at the FBI.

"Agent Hanson."

"Danny, it's Kate Harper."

"Commander, what can I do for you?"

"I need a file please."

A few minutes later, her computer bleeped, announcing that she had new mail. She printed off the attachment and read through the first couple of pages, feeling ever so slightly guilty as she did so.

Emily Prentiss, daughter of the Ambassadors Elizabeth and Alexander Prentiss. Graduate of Yale with a Masters in psychology. FBI Academy, field agent in various cities. And for the past eighteen months, she'd been in the BAU. Kate knew a few former members of the BAU, or BSU as it had been known then, from her CIA days.

She flicked through the rest of the file but avoided reading anything in detail. Getting Emily's file had seemed like a good idea before she'd done it. However, Kate wasn't even sure why she wanted to know more about this woman she'd spent only a few hours with, and looking her up through an FBI contact seemed like a bad way to get that information. Still though, there was no denying the fact that, for whatever reason, Emily Prentiss intrigued her.

On the first page of the file, beside the small passport photo, Emily's direct line was listed. Kate stared at it for a few minutes, the numbers fixing themselves into her memory. What harm, she thought, could calling do?

The harm, she realised a few moments later, was that she really had no idea what she wanted to say and now she felt like an idiot. She'd dialled the number listed and been put through to another agent in the BAU. The agent had explained patiently, when Kate questioned why Emily hadn't answered the phone, that Agent Hotchner's team, including Agent Prentiss, was out on a case and that their numbers had as always been redirected through to other agents.

"Can I take a message?" the woman asked.

"Uh, sure," Kate said, fumbling desperately for something to say, "Can you just tell her that Commander Harper from the White House called?"

Kate felt a little odd referring to herself as 'Commander' when, as far as she knew, Emily didn't know that was her title, but at least that way she felt she could retain some small modicum of professionalism. She hung up the phone and covered her face with her hands.

***

The stack of messages sitting on Emily's desk when the team got back from Arizona was blissfully small. She flipped through them - three requests for profiles, one response from someone to whom she'd already sent a profile just before leaving for Arizona, and one that confused her.

Commander Harper, White House.

Emily didn't recognise the number written underneath and she stared at the yellow slip of paper for a few moments before she remembered Kate Harper. Back in the office the day after meeting Kate, Emily had looked her up online and had only been a little surprised to discover that her drinking companion was the Deputy NSA. She'd guessed the other woman was military, from the way she carried herself, and in a position of some importance, from the few words she said about her job and the phone call calling her back to it.

Emily looked at the note as if trying to divine some deeper meaning from it until Morgan came up behind her, startling her from her thoughts.

"Exciting message?" he asked, peering over her shoulder.

"Just the usual," Emily replied, sliding into her chair and dropping the messages down beside her keyboard. She worked her way through the profile requests first, sending a copy of each one up to Hotch as she did so. The fourth message required a phone call and she spent ten minutes on the phone with a concerned sheriff. Once that was done, only the message from Kate Harper was left. Emily was in two minds: on one hand, she was curious as to why Kate had tried to get in contact with her and would have been lying if she'd said that she hadn't thought about Kate. However, she was apprehensive, as she always was when new people entered her life. Letting someone in, no matter how superficial the relationship, always brought the possibility of hurt.

Pushing the message to one side for a little longer, she started working on her report from the Arizona case. The outcome had been successful - two young men had been abducted and killed before they'd been called out, but the killer was disorganised and had left enough clues behind at the second scene that they were able to catch up with him and apprehend him before the third man was seriously harmed. Still, there was plenty of paperwork to be completed before the case could officially be designated as closed.

For a little over an hour, Emily focussed on the case report, determined to get it done before the end of the day and glad for the chance to put off deciding what to do about the message from Kate. But as she filled in the last few lines and sent the report to print, her attention was once again grabbed by the innocuous looking yellow paper on her desk. She picked it up and looked at it once more and decided that, whatever the outcome, she had enjoyed talking to Kate and wanted to see her again.

She dialled the number and was put through to a switchboard. After giving the operator the extension, she was informed that she would be put straight through to Commander Harper. For a brief moment as she listened to the phone ring, Emily considered hanging up but told herself not to be such an idiot.

"Kate Harper." The voice on the other end of the line was clear and familiar.

"Uh, hi," Emily started cautiously, "It's Emily. Emily Prentiss."

A pause had Emily reconsidering her choice and wondering if she shouldn't just have ignored the message, but then Kate spoke up and the panic subsided.

"Emily, it's good to hear from you. I wasn't sure if you would call."

"To tell you the truth, I wasn't sure if I would either," Emily admitted.

"I'm glad you did," Kate said, and Emily found herself smiling.

"I called to...well, I mean I just wanted to ask," Kate continued, and Emily found the nervousness in her voice at once endearing and comforting, "I wanted to see if you were free for dinner some time next week."

It was Emily's turn to pause this time, weighing up the answer she wanted to give (Yes, of course, I'd love to) and the possible implications of that, and the distinct idea that she was thinking much too hard about a simple dinner invitation.

"Emily? Are you still there?"

"Yeah, I'm still here," Emily said quickly, "And I'd love to. Get dinner with you, that is."

"Great," Kate replied and Emily was sure she could detect a note of relief in her tone. "I was thinking Wednesday?"

Emily clicked through to the calendar in her e-mail programme, the one that linked her work commitments with those of everyone else in the team, and selected Wednesday.

"Wednesday sounds good," Emily said, "Though we can get called out at any time, and making plans only seems to massively increase the likelihood of that."

"Believe me, I understand that," Kate said, "But a tentative plan for Wednesday?"

"Tentative works," Emily replied, "Did you have anywhere in mind."

"Do you know L'Adresse?" Kate suggested, "A friend of mine runs it - I'm sure he can get us in and wouldn't mind too much if we needed to cancel."

"I've never been there, but I've heard good things about it."

"How does 7:30 work for you?" Kate asked, "Tentatively, I mean."

"7:30 would tentatively be good," Emily replied, adding, "Maybe we should get in touch around six and check that neither of us has been swallowed up by our jobs."

"I'll give you my cellphone number," Kate said.

After exchanging numbers and awkward goodbyes, Emily hung up the phone. She felt vaguely uneasy, unsure whether or not she'd made the right choice in returning the call. Something in her head said she hadn't, and something in her heart said she had. She had no idea where either instinct had come from, and was at a loss as to which was the right one to follow.

***

Three - Something More Than This

With uncharacteristic nervousness, Kate had left for the restaurant a good fifteen minutes before she really needed to and then, again due to the nerves, had walked considerably faster than usual and consequently ended up at the restaurant almost half an hour early. Jean-Luc, the owner of the restaurant, was greeting customers at the door and welcomed her with a broad smile and a kiss on each cheek.

"My dear Kate, I am so glad to see you here." Even after fifteen years in America, Jean-Luc still had a strong French accent.

"It's good to see you too, Jean-Luc."

"You are dining with a friend?" he asked, talking to her even as he greeted new patrons.

"I am, yes," Kate replied, shrugging her coat off as a waiter appeared beside her and offered to hang it up for her.

"You are early though," Jean-Luc commented.

"I know," Kate said, feeling her cheeks flush.

"Ah, I see you are perhaps eager to see your friend," he suggested with a teasing tone.

"I'm just a little early," Kate protested. Jean-Luc was correct though: she was looking forward to seeing Emily again and that only made her more nervous.

"I'm a little early too," said a voice from behind her.

Kate turned to see that Emily had entered the restaurant. Her cheeks were a little red from the slight chill in the spring air and her hair was mussed as if she'd been running her fingers through it, and Kate found herself working hard to ignore the low burn that settled in her stomach.

"You must be Kate's friend," Jean-Luc said, gesturing for Emily to remove her coat.

"I'm Emily Prentiss," Emily said, extending her arm to shake Jean-Luc's hand. "Thank you so much for getting a table for us - I know you're busy."

"For a friend, there is always a table," he said with a smile, "I have put you in the back where it is not so busy."

Taking two menus from a stack on a table by the door, he threaded his way through the tables, between a set of frosted glass screens, with Emily and Kate following behind him. 'The back', as he'd described it, was a room slightly smaller than the main restaurant area and with roughly half as many tables. At a table against the far wall, he pulled out the two chairs and gestured for the women to sit down. He placed the menus down on the table in front of them and left, promising to be back in a few minutes to take their drinks order.

"I'm sorry I'm so early," Emily said as she opened up her menu, "I just hate being late for things, so I usually end up early instead."

"I'm glad you're early," Kate said with a smile, "because it means it's okay that I was really early as well."

They spent the next few minutes in silence, looking through the menu.

"Do you want to get a bottle of wine?" Emily asked without looking up from her menu.

"That would be nice," Kate said, "I walked, so it's okay."

"You walked?" Emily asked, now looking up.

Kate nodded, "I only live a few blocks away and it's a nice night. It seemed a shame to get a cab for such a short distance."

"Have you decided on drinks?" Jean-Luc asked, appearing beside their table again.

"We got as far as wine," Kate said, "What would you suggest?"

"I'll bring you something," Jean-Luc said with a wink, and he headed back to the bar.

"So," Emily began tentatively, "I've been wondering something."

"What?" Kate asked, curious.

"Exactly how you got my number," Emily said.

Kate had a sudden moment of panic - she'd been hoping Emily wouldn't ask that. But she looked across the table and Emily didn't seem angry or annoyed, just interested.

"I may have called a friend of mine," Kate said evasively.

"A friend?" Emily asked, and Kate could hear amusement in her voice.

"He may work at the FBI," Kate admitted with a rueful smile, "I hope you don't mind."

***

Emily shut the door to her apartment and leaned back against it. Turning her head to the right, she caught sight of herself in the mirror and was surprised by what she saw. Her reflection looked...happy. In the mirror she was smiling, the kind of smile caused not by a brief moment of amusement or the remembrance of something good, but by genuine happiness. It was the kind of smile she didn't often see on her own face; in her work, there wasn't much time to focus on being happy, and out of work there wasn't much time, period.

Kate made her smile. Kate made her feel comfortable, and that wasn't something Emily felt with a lot of people, especially not people she met in bars and had spent only a handful of hours with.

Pushing away from the door, Emily took off her coat and hung it up in the hall closet, boots joining it a few minutes later. In the kitchen, she poured herself a glass of water and walked over to the large window. DC was lit up and Emily watched the lights of the cars on the street below.

A week ago (and it seemed like so much longer), she'd been sitting in a bar, pining over losing something she'd never even had and never truly believed she would. Then Kate Harper had walked into her life, with her offbeat sense of humour and a gaze that held back more than it revealed, and Emily's sadness had waned. Kate was attractive, Emily wasn't even trying to deny that, but she was interesting as well, fascinating even. Emily had found herself wanting to know everything about her mysterious companion.

Now, after a dinner that had stretched on far longer than a meal between two new acquaintances, Emily was glad that Kate had called her, and that she'd returned the call. They'd talked all through the evening and had more cups of coffee than was probably healthy, neither of them seeming willing to bring the evening to an end. It was only when Jean-Luc, Kate's friend, had informed them that he and his staff needed to close that they paid the bill and reluctantly left the restaurant. Outside, preparing to go their separate ways, they'd made plans to have dinner on Sunday, or early the next week if either of them had to work.

The actual goodbyes had been slightly awkward: did they kiss on the cheek, did they hug, did they shake hands? In the end, Kate had said, "I had a really good time," and Emily had been unable to keep a slight blush from her cheeks.

"Me too," she'd said, and with an agreement to check in on Sunday morning and finalise plans, they'd gone in opposite directions down the street.

There was something there, something more than simple friendship, Emily was sure of that. She had no idea whether Kate was gay or straight or somewhere in between, but there was definitely something there. What would happen next, she had no idea, but even just the idea of spending more time with Kate made Emily happy.

Finishing her water, Emily put the glass in the sink and headed towards the stairs. Taking one last look at the DC lights, Emily caught her reflection in the window. The smile was still there.

***

Four - Building Bridges

From: Emily Prentiss <e.prentiss@fbi.gov>
To: Kate Harper <k.harper@navy.mil>
Subject: Sunday night

Hi

I had a great time Sunday night. Sorry I had to rush out - duty calls and all that. I'm in a hotel room in Little Rock, Arkansas, just waiting for the cars to arrive to take us down to the station.
Hope your Monday's going okay.

Emily

From: k.harper@navy.mil
To: Emily Prentiss <e.prentiss@fbi.gov>
Subject: re: Sunday night

Hey

Don't worry about it - you wouldn't believe the number of times I've had to up and leave someone in the middle of dinner or lunch...or basically any kind of meal. Sometimes our jobs suck, right?
How're things in Little Rock?
My Monday's a pretty typical Monday - apparently I should never underestimate the amount of trouble people can get themselves into over a weekend.

Kate

From: Emily Prentiss <e.prentiss@fbi.gov>
To: Kate Harper <k.harper@navy.mil>
Subject: re: Sunday night

We complain, and yet we keep going back. I think there might be something wrong with us!
Little Rock is hot. Much too hot. The officers here are at least glad to see us and willing to work with us which makes such a difference. We've got a few leads, so hopefully we shouldn't be here too much longer.
Are you free for dinner at the end of the week, assuming I make it back?

Emily

***

From: Kate Harper <k.harper@navy.mil>
To: Emily Prentiss <e.prentiss@fbi.gov>
Subject: Thursday night

I think it's my turn to apologise now - national security emergency, you know what it's like.
I think we might be cursed though. It's been, what, four evenings now and three interruptions? Not a good record.

From: Emily Prentiss <e.prentiss@fbi.gov>
To: Kate Harper <k.harper@navy.mil>
Subject: re: Thursday night

We could try something that doesn't involve evenings - maybe we'll have more luck with that?

From: Kate Harper <k.harper@navy.mil>
To: Emily Prentiss <e.prentiss@fbi.gov>
Subject: Mini golf

See subject line

From: Emily Prentiss <e.prentiss@fbi.gov>
To: Kate Harper <k.harper@navy.mil>
Subject: re: Mini golf

That's your suggestion? Seriously?

From: Kate Harper <k.harper@navy.mil>
To: Emily Prentiss <e.prentiss@fbi.gov>
Subject: re: Mini golf

Yes, seriously. It could be fun.

From: Emily Prentiss <e.prentiss@fbi.gov>
To: Kate Harper <k.harper@navy.mil>
Subject: re: Mini golf

Yeah, we'll see.

***

Five - Like Normal People Do

Emily stared at the course in front of them.

"You realise I've never played golf before?" she asked of Kate, who was standing next to her.

"This isn't golf," Kate said, gesturing around at the booth they'd rented their clubs from and the groups of people scattered around the course, "This is mini golf - it's a completely different thing."

Kate handed Emily one of the two clubs she had in her hand and a bright pink golf ball. Emily looked down at the ball and then up at Kate.

"Seriously?"

"Hey, mine's pink too," Kate defended, "Clearly, as two women, pink would be colour we would choose were we given the choice."

Emily snorted derisively and stepped up to the first hole. She placed the ball carefully on the faded blue spot and stood up. Turning sideways, she widened her stance and imitated as best she could the position she'd seen golfers use on television. It was awkward and felt unnatural, but she gripped the club tightly in both hands and swung.

Kate laughed as the ball flew through the air and landed in the bark on the other side of the low wall bordering the hole. Emily turned and glared at her.

"I'm sorry," Kate said quickly, raising her hands and taking a step backwards, "That was a very good first attempt."

"This was your idea," Emily said, pointing at Kate, "I don't think you get to mock me for failing."

Glaring, Emily stepped over the little wall and picked up the pink ball. She wiped the bark and dirt off, then stepped back to let Kate have a go. Kate was considerably more confident than Emily, taking a couple of small swings before striking the ball. The first hole was easy - the hole was directly in line with the 'tee', with just a small ramp to get the ball up.

"See, it's easy," Kate said as her ball sailed up the ramp. It missed the hole, hitting the wall at the back and coming to a slow stop.

"See, it's easy," Emily repeated in a mocking voice as Kate walked up the ramp to stand near her ball and Emily got into position to take another shot.

"Keep your back straight," Kate advised, "And maybe hit the ball a little less hard this time."

Emily ignored her, swung the club back, and struck the ball again. She had a little more success this time, getting the ball just up to the top of the little ramp. She stood back and watched as Kate expertly - or expertly compared to Emily's minimal skill level at least - knocked her own ball into the hole. Walking up the ramp, Emily lined herself up with the hole and tried to copy what Kate had done. The ball rolled past the hole, six inches to the left, and came to a stop by the wall. Emily sighed - golf was clearly not her game.

***

When Kate's phone rang, all Emily could do was laugh. With a heavy sigh, Kate pulled her phone out of her pocket and answered it with a curt, "Kate Harper." With a gesture of apology, she stepped off to the side and out of earshot of Emily and the other people around them. Emily watched her for a minute, then looked back at the hole they were on. They'd been at the course for close to two hours and had completed fifteen of the eighteen holes. Emily had, as she feared, proved to be incredibly bad at mini golf. She'd watched the other people around the course and listened and tried to follow Kate's suggestions, but still every shot went wrong in some way.

"And that would be me checking out," Kate said with a grimace as she walked back over to Emily.

"What is it this time?" Emily asked curiously.

"There's a thing. They need me in as soon as possible."

'Thing' was the word Kate used for anything she wasn't allowed to talk about. Emily wasn't sure whether to be amused or slight disconcerted that the highest echelons of national security personnel routinely referred to matters of national security as 'things'.

"I'll return these," Emily said, taking the club and ball Kate was still holding.

"Thank you," Kate said gratefully, "You know, maybe we should just go back to dinner?"

"I think that's probably a good idea," said Emily with a smile.

"I'll call you," Kate said as she backed away, "I'm sorry."

Emily waved as Kate disappeared into the parking lot. A few moments later, her own cellphone rang. JJ's name flashed up on the screen and Emily couldn't help but smile. It was oddly comforting to know that whatever else was going on in her life, she could always rely on a call from the BAU when she had other plans.

***

Six - I'll Tell You No Lies

'Cause your eyes are tired and your feet are too/And you wish the world was as tired as you

The restaurant was dark and quiet, despite there being people sat at almost every table. There was a low background hum of conversation and the occasional spike of laughter, but Kate and Emily could talk softly and still hear each other easily.

"I have a question," Kate started, swirling the last of the wine in the bottom of her glass.

"Shoot," Emily said.

There was a pause before Kate spoke up again as a waiter brought coffee over to their table.

"Feel free to tell me to mind my own business or whatever," Kate disclaimed, and Emily looked deeply curious now, "I've been married twice. I don't talk about it much, but you know about it."

Emily nodded in acknowledgement and from the set of her shoulders, Kate divined that she had probably worked out what Kate wanted to ask. Even she had, though, she was clearly going to make Kate suffer through her awkwardness and ask outright.

"You don't talk about relationships. Ever," Kate continued, "And when you do, it's always vague, always 'this person' and 'they.'"

By now, Emily definitely knew what Kate wanted to ask. There was a slight smile on her face and that gave Kate the conviction to carry on.

"What I'm trying to ask, in a pretty roundabout way, is," Kate said finally, "are you gay?" Her voice got quieter as she spoke and Emily's smile dimmed a little.

"Yes," Emily said, her voice as quiet in answering as Kate's had been in asking, "How long have you been waiting to ask?"

"A couple of weeks," Kate admitted, "I hope you don't mind."

"If I'd minded," Emily said, "I wouldn't have answered."

"I'm guessing people don't ask you very often," Kate said.

Emily shook her head and took a sip of her coffee before answering.

"I don't talk about it a lot," Emily agreed, "I decided a long time ago that if someone asked me straight out, like you did, I would answer, but other than that, I wouldn't talk about it. It just seemed...easier that way."

"Do you ever want to talk about it?" Kate asked.

"Sometimes," Emily replied and she sounded as if she was working hard to keep her tone neutral. Kate detected a hint of resignation in her voice though as she continued, "I mean, it's not like I have much time for a social life, but on the odd occasion when I do go out on a date or something, it would be nice to be able to talk honestly about it."

"What made you decide..." Kate started before stopping herself abruptly, "I'm sorry - this is supposed to be dinner, not me interrogating you about your personal life."

Emily smiled again as the waiter came over and offered them more coffee.

"I'm fine," Emily said, and Kate murmured her agreement. The waiter left, saying he would bring the cheque in a few minutes.

"Do you need to get home?" Emily asked, reaching into her purse for her wallet.

"Not really," Kate said, "Did you have something in mind?"

"It's a nice night," said Emily, "And I'm really not one for talking much about me, but sometimes it's just nice..." She trailed off as the waiter returned with their cheque.

They split the bill equally, leaving a generous tip for the waiter. They picked up their coats and headed towards the doors. Outside, it was warm, the air a little heavy around them. It wasn't particularly late, but the street was empty.

"We could head down to the Mall," Kate suggested. Emily nodded and they started off down the street.

There was silence between them as they walked, but Kate could tell Emily wanted to talk. It didn't take them long to get to the Mall, and that too was almost deserted. Emily flopped down onto the grass and Kate joined her, noting as she did that thankfully, the grass was dry. At night, Kate always thought, the city seemed so different. It seemed to lose the stifling air of importance Kate felt it had during the day. She liked DC better like this, dark and empty. It held fewer expectations of her then.

"I've never told my parents," Emily said suddenly, her soft voice filling the space between them. Kate turned her gaze away from the lights of the Capitol towards her friend. Emily was looking straight ahead, as if not looking at Kate made it easier for her to talk.

"I think about it sometimes," she continued, "What I would say to them, how they might react. It never goes very well. My mother launches into some big speech about the proper way for an ambassador's daughter to behave, and my father never says anything - he just looks at me with this disappointed look on his face. It's the same one he had the first time he caught me smoking, but it's so much worse."

Kate didn't know what to say in response to that. Her parents hadn't always agreed with her decisions - her father especially had never been keen on the idea of his younger daughter joining the Navy or, later on, the CIA - but they'd supported her nonetheless. Supporting career decisions was clearly very different from accepting a sexual orientation, but still Kate hoped that if she'd told her parents she was gay, they would have supported her.

"I dated a girl once," Kate said, laughing inwardly at the surprised expression on Emily's face when she turned away from whatever had engaged her attention to stare at Kate.

"She was my roommate at Annapolis," Kate continued when it was clear Emily didn't yet have anything to say, "It's a huge cliche, I know, but we were young and both living away from home for the first time and even with all the rules, we had so much more freedom than we'd ever had before."

"What happened?" Emily at last asked.

"It ended," Kate said, and she thought back to those days when everything was so new and there were so many possibilities she thought there wasn't anything she couldn't do, "It wasn't allowed in the Navy, obviously, and our careers were more important to us than any relationship. And besides, I think it was more about loneliness than any deep, undying love." Kate smiled - it was a memory she hadn't thought about in a long time.

"I really wasn't expecting you to say that," Emily said.

"I wasn't either," Kate admitted, and now Emily was smiling too, "But I figured if you were sharing, I ought to share too."

***

Kate couldn't sleep. She couldn't get the image of Emily talking about how she imagined her parents might react if she ever came out to them out of her head. Kate knew that look: loneliness and heartache and the belief that, whatever was wrong, she ought to be able to deal with it herself.

After three months of a slightly unorthodox friendship, there was a lot Kate didn't know about Emily. Emily hated talking about her family or herself in general. All Kate knew about her family for certain, all Emily had ever told her was that, due to her parents' jobs, Emily had lived in five different countries before her fifth birthday, and that she didn't get on with either of her parents. Still, there were other things she knew, things she could tell from the way Emily talked and the things she avoided saying. None of those things were good.

There was something else she knew now though, and that something was good. Kate hadn't lied exactly when she said she'd been waiting to ask Emily for a couple of weeks, but she'd had her suspicions for far longer, almost since the moment they met. It had occupied her thoughts as well - the possibility that Emily was, if not gay, at least not entirely straight.

She'd noticed Emily the minute she walked into the bar that Tuesday three months ago. It wasn't as if the bar had been busy, but Kate's eyes had been drawn to rich, dark hair and a 'stay the hell away from me' attitude. Three months later, the attitude was gone, but the hair was still strangely enticing. The hair wasn't the only thing Kate thought she probably wasn't supposed to find so attractive. Emily had gotten to the restaurant a quarter hour after Kate that evening and from her seated position, Kate had spotted Emily as she walked in the doors and then had just watched her walk across the restaurant, distracted by the way her hips moved and the confident strut in her steps.

"Kate?" Emily had said as she reached the table. Kate had blinked and blinked again and dragged her gaze up to Emily's face.

"I'm sorry," she'd said brusquely, "I was just thinking about something that happened at work." That had stopped further conversation - shop talk was off limits as much as possible - and Kate had gotten away with her blatant staring.

It wasn't the first time it had happened, but Kate found she couldn't ignore it any more. She liked Emily, she was attracted to Emily, and maybe, although that was a more difficult idea than Kate cared to deal with at - she looked over at the clock - four in the morning, maybe she wanted more than what they already had.


***

Seven - The Shape Of Things To Come

"...and then I pulled out my badge and said, 'Does it look something like this one?', and JJ and Garcia pulled out theirs, and he pretty much disappeared."

Kate laughed disbelievingly and Emily grinned at her.

"He actually said that?" Kate asked, "That he was a 'real FBI agent'?"

"I swear to god, that was his pick-up line." Emily shook her head. That evening, as short as it had been, had been the first time she'd really felt like Garcia and JJ had accepted her into the team.

"I think that might be the worst line I've ever heard," Kate said, "And I've heard some pretty bad ones."

"I know - what is it that makes some guys think they can say such crap like that and we'll just fall at their feet?"

"An overinflated sense of importance? A gigantic ego?" Kate suggested, draining the last of her beer. She leaned forwards to put the now empty bottle down on the coffee table, misjudged the distance, and ended up knocking over two other empty bottles instead. They rolled to the floor and thudded against the hardwood floors. Emily laughed as Kate reached down and set the bottles upright.

"Someone's drunk," Emily said in a singsong tone.

"Well, someone else is drunk too," Kate countered, pointing at the bottles on Emily's side of the table, "And now we sound like we're in high school, comparing how drunk everyone is."

"God, I did some really stupid things in high school," Emily sighed, twisting sideways to lean against the back of the couch.

"Like what?" Kate shifted to mirror Emily's position and leaned forward.

"I went through a goth phase," Emily started.

"Who didn't?" Kate snorted.

"Oh no, I mean really goth," Emily said emphatically, "My hair was insane and I wore so much make-up. My mother was so horrified she banned me from all her parties - I think that's why I kept it up for so long."

"I dated the worst guys in high school," Kate admitted.

"Really?" Emily raised her eyebrow.

"We moved around so much because of my dad's job and dating just seemed like the easiest way to fit in." Kate shook her head, "It worked sometimes, but god, some of those guys."

"It never worked for me," Emily said, and she was surprised as Kate looked to be by the sudden harsh tone in her voice.

"What happened?" Kate was all sincerity and concern now, resting a hand on Emily's knee.

"I'd rather not talk about it," Emily said, wanting to look away, but instead finding herself looking at Kate, and she really didn't want to talk about it. Not even with Kate who somehow knew so much about her, even the things she never told anyone about.

Kate looked back at her before grinning and launching into a story about a football player she'd once dated. It was funny and so very Kate and Emily felt that familiar heat flare in her stomach, tension coiling low. She realised then that Kate had stopped talking and was watching her again, curious, and there was nothing Emily could do but lean forward and kiss her. She half-expected Kate to push her away but instead Kate pushed her back against the couch. It was, Emily thought, a really bad idea for them to be doing this. She could list a dozen reasons why it was by far the stupidest thing she'd done in a long time, but honestly, she didn't care. It had been building for weeks, this thing between them, and all Emily wanted was for them both to be naked.

Kate sat up, straddling Emily's hips, and grinned. She started to undo the top buttons of her shirt and Emily reached up to the lower buttons, hands working upwards until they met Kate's in the middle. Brushing Emily's hands away, Kate pulled the shirt off and tossed it onto the chair behind her. She unclasped her bra and slid the straps down her arms, dropping it to the floor. Emily lifted her hands, running her thumbs over Kate's nipples and feeling them harden beneath her touch. Kate pushed into the motion, closing her eyes and tipping her head back. Emily moved her fingers down Kate's stomach, along the waistband of her pants, and back up. Leaning forward, Kate slipped her fingers through Emily's, pushing Emily's hands back and behind her head and kissing her hard. Emily groaned into the kiss as Kate shifted and brought their hips together.

"What the hell are we doing?" Emily mumbled, breaking the kiss.

"I have no idea," Kate replied, face still close to Emily's, "Do you want to stop?"

"Really, really not," Emily said emphatically.

"Thank god," Kate said, closing the minimal distance between them and kissing Emily again.

***

Eight - What's Done Is Done

A phone rang, and Kate's sleeping brain recognised it as hers. Blinking hard to try and clear some of the sleep from her eyes, Kate fumbled around on the bedside table and finally found her phone, grateful that Emily had thought to bring their phones up the night before.

"Kate Harper," she mumbled into the received, feeling Emily stir beside her.

Moments out of sleep, Kate didn't quite catch all the details the general was giving her, but she got enough to know that she was needed.

"I'll be there as soon as I can," she said, disconnecting the call and dropping the phone onto the bed.

"Who was it?" Emily's voice was hoarse and gravelly from sleep and Kate was apparently awake enough to register how sexy Emily sounded.

"I have to go in," Kate said with resignation. She rubbed her eyes and tried to convince herself that she was more awake than she felt.

"I wish I could say I was surprised," Emily said, "But really, I'm more surprised one of our phones didn't ring last night."

"That really would've been typical," Kate said with a sigh.

"There are clean towels in the bathroom," Emily said softly, "And I'll find you a shirt."

"You don't need to," Kate protested, forcing her tired body upright and stretching, "I have clothes at work."

"Go," Emily said, "Shower. And if you have to save the world at..." she paused to squint at the clock, "At 4:17 in the morning, the least I can do is lend you some clothes."

Emily's shower was good: strong water pressure and water hot enough to blast some of the fuzz from Kate's head. She washed her hair with Emily's shampoo - vanilla - and rinsed the lather out. She stood under the spray for a few moments longer before reluctantly switching the water off and climbing out of the shower. She wrapped herself in a large red towel and twisted her hair up into a smaller matching one. In the bedroom, Emily had put a black shirt on the bed along with Kate's own jeans and underwear. There was a hairdryer plugged in as well with a comb lying next to it. As quickly as she could, Kate pulled on the clothes. Unwrapping the towel from around her head, she switched the hairdryer on.

She walked quietly down the stairs, the beginnings of a headache forming in her temples. She stopped on the second step from the bottom. Emily stood in the kitchen, a short dark brown robe skimming the tops of her thighs, pouring something into a silver travel mug. Kate moved again and the bottom step creaked, alerting Emily to her presence.

"I made you some coffee," Emily said, fastening the lid onto the mug, "And I got you some aspirin - I thought you might need it."

It'd been a long time since Kate had anyone to do anything like this for her. It inspired feelings within her that she didn't really want to examine too closely at this hour of the morning: affection and trust and comfort (she thought maybe, maybe it might be love; not yet, not four months and one more than slightly drunken night into whatever it is that they're doing, but maybe someday, maybe soon).

Evidently this moment of introspection was obvious on her face because Emily looked at her with concern and asked, "Are you okay?"

"I'm fine," Kate replied. The words came out more harshly than she had intended and Kate continued quickly as Emily's face fell, "Sorry, sorry, I'm just tired. Thank you for the shirt. And the coffee. And the aspirin," she added, gulping down the offered tablets with water from a glass Emily handed her.

"Have you seen my watch?" Kate asked, looking around the kitchen.

"I don't think so," Emily said with a puzzled expression.

"I know I had it down here somewhere," Kate said, turning around to examine the living room.

In silence, the two of them checked all the obvious surfaces - counter, table, the arms of the couch - but the watch was nowhere to be found. Emily got down on her hands and knees and looked under the couch, but couldn't see anything. The phone by the door rang and Emily stood up.

"I called you a cab," Emily said.

"Thanks," Kate said distractedly, still looking for her watch.

"I have a watch you can borrow, if you want," Emily offered, heading towards the stairs, "And I can look for yours some more later."

"That would be good," Kate said, watching as Emily disappeared up the stairs. She reappeared a few minutes later and hurried back down to Kate's side, a small gold watch in her hand. Kate looked at it with amusement: it wasn't something she could picture Emily wearing.

"It was a graduation present from my parents," Emily explained, slipping the bracelet strap over Kate's hand and fastening the clasp, "I don't wear it very often."

As Kate shook her hand, checking the watch was secure, Emily fetched the silver travel mug from the counter in the kitchen.

"Thanks," Kate said again, aware that she seemed to have been saying it a lot so far this morning.

"I'll call you later, okay?" Emily suggested hesitantly, now empty hands twisting together, and Kate realised that Emily felt as awkward and unsure about the whole situation as she did and oddly, that made her feel a lot better.

"Yeah, sure," Kate said, taking the mug from Emily. She looked at Emily and wanted to say something, but she didn't know what she could say, so she just squeezed Emily's hand and left.

***

Kate covered a yawn with her hand and closed her eyes. She understood that getting called in at all hours was part of her job, but sometimes she wished that people would think before they called her. The situation that her summoned her to the White House from Emily's apartment could, had anyone taken the time to think outside the box a little, been sorted out without her presence. It was important that procedure was followed, she was aware of that, but she felt sometimes that people skipped to the part where they were supposed to call the Deputy NSA in before actually evaluating the situation properly. She glanced at her watch: it had been long enough since she took the aspirin at Emily's that she could take some more and she was grateful for that. Her head was pounding and the headache that had been forming as she got out of the shower all those hours ago had rooted itself firmly in the base of her skull.

Checking that no-one needed her for the next half hour or so, she headed out of the Sit. Room and in the direction of the cafeteria. It was still early and the building was fairly quiet, so she made it there without having to talk to anyone. She bought the largest cup of coffee she could, along with a blueberry muffin, and slumped down at one of the tables. She swallowed the aspirin she'd taken from her desk on the way to the cafeteria and took a large gulp of coffee.

"Late night?"

Kate looked up, preparing to be irritated with whoever was trying to make conversation with her, but when she saw it was CJ, she relented.

"Something like that," she muttered as CJ sat down.

"How's the thing?" CJ asked.

"Under control," Kate replied, referring to the situation that had had her in the White House so early. She picked a small piece off the muffin she'd bought, popped it into her mouth and chewed it slowly. The coffee and aspirin combination seemed to be working on her headache, and she felt better just for being out of the harsh lighting of the Sit Room.

"So, hot date?" CJ asked, sipping her own coffee and looking curiously at Kate.

"What?"

"The late night," CJ clarified, "You've been out a lot lately. Is there a guy?"

"There's no guy, and it wasn't exactly a hot date," Kate replied, aware even as she spoke that she sounded evasive so she continued before CJ could hassle her for details, "Look, I don't really want to talk about it."

"Whatever you want," CJ acquiesced and they continued to drink their coffee in silence.

When Kate pushed back her sleeve to check the time, CJ spoke up again.

"Nice watch," she commented.

"Yeah," Kate said awkwardly, running a finger over the face of the unfamiliar watch, "I went to put on my normal watch this morning and the battery had died. This was...uh...a graduation present from my parents. I don't wear it very often..."

One of the junior officers assigned to the Sit Room appeared beside their table and informed Kate that she was needed back there. Picking up her cup, Kate said goodbye to CJ and went back to the Sit Room.

Part Two
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calleigh_j

December 2010

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