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Ready to Forgive, Not Forget

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Patterson knew she should forgive Tasha. She’d almost done it in the elevator. She’d thanked her for saving her life, and she’d almost poured her guts out to her one-time best friend about how awful her date with Jack had been. But she hadn’t. She'd felt awkward standing there, and instead she’d fidgeted with the folder in her hand. Then the elevator opened, and she'd just walked away leaving Tasha alone in the elevator. Patterson felt like a chicken. Like a little baby chicken who didn’t know what to do next.  

And then after everything that had gone down with Dash’s conspiracy theories and the warbles, here was Tasha asking if she needed help cleaning up.  Patterson wanted to scream “yes!” and give her friend some meaningless task just so they could spend a few minutes together that might lead to some meaningless conversation. Conversation that might start to repair things. Conversation that might go a long way to resolving all the feelings that were jumbled up inside of her.  

But no, Patterson thought. You have to be a hard-headed idiot and say noNo, Tash, I don’t want your help. No, Tash, I don’t want to talk to you. No, I never think about you, Tasha. No, Tash, I don’t miss you. You’re an idiot, Patterson. 

She'd seen the slight smile falter from Tasha's face when she'd rejected her help and knew Tasha would have just walked away if the tattoo database hadn’t let out a chirp. Now Patterson stood in her lab next to the one person she wanted to both apologize to and yell at, watching as database hit after database hit filled the wall-mounted computer screens.  

“That’s weird,” Patterson said as her eyes scanned the monitors. “Fifty hits on the same tattoo. Woah. I’m getting hits on a bunch of tattoos. Hundreds of them. Including ones we’ve already solved.” 

“What the hell is happening?” Tasha asked. 

“The internet is being flooded with information triggering every tattoo at once,” Patterson said. “Six hundred now. Two thousand. Five thousand.” 

“It’s Roman.” 

“He’s flooding the database with false positives, covering Crawford’s tracks and now his,” Patterson said, the reality suddenly hitting her. “We’re operating completely in the dark.” 

The air in the room felt thick. With the exception of a couple of her lab techs, everyone had left the office for the day. Reade had gone home to Meg, and Jane and Weller were making plans to welcome Avery to her new home.  

“Should we call Reade?” Tasha asked, turning away from the monitors to face Patterson. She watched her friend’s eyes dart from screen to screen, trying to make sense of everything that was happening. Patterson brought a thumb to her mouth and bit down on the nail, a habit Tasha had seen her do too often when the scientist was lost in thought or stuck on a particularly stubborn problem. Tasha touched her arm and repeated her question. “Patterson? Reade?” 

Tasha’s touch jolted something inside Patterson. Her eyes flitted away from the monitors and looked at the other agent’s hand. She was acutely aware of the light scent of vanilla, grapefruit, and warm oranges. She felt her heart race, and her throat felt tight. It was suddenly tough to breathe. She swallowed hard and forced her gaze back to the monitors. 

“What? No,” Patterson said. She was looking at the monitors but was only thinking about how close Tasha was standing to her.  

“Are you sure?” 

“Not at all,” Patterson admitted.  

 *** 

It hadn't taken long to get the team back in the field office. Jane and Weller had stopped at a pub on their way home and had promptly set aside their beers and returned to the office. They'd left word with Avery's detail to keep her at the safehouse. Avery had had been gathering her few belongings, and her detail had planned to drive her to Jane and Weller's apartment when she was ready to leave. That was on hold now. 

Patterson was already explaining to Jane and Weller why she and Tasha had called them all back when Reade stepped off the elevator.  

"Sorry," he huffed as he joined the group that was huddled around the lab's wall of monitors. "I was in a cab and was almost home. The driver turned around but —" 

"Patterson was just filling us in on the database hits," Weller interrupted.  

"How many are there?" Reade asked.  

"Well, that's what I was just telling these guys," Patterson said, changing the monitors to show the growing number of database hit alerts. "There's literally hundreds of thousands of hits, and they keep coming in." 

Jane's eyes opened wide as she watched the alerts appear on the screen one after the other. "How is that even possible? It's taken us months to just get the few hits we've had." 

"Roman's flooding the database," Tasha said.  

"Zapata's right," Patterson said, purposefully avoiding using the agent's first name. Her fingers flew over her computer keyboard and the image on the monitors changed. "It looks like he's sending out false positives. Hits that trigger the database but don't actually mean anything." 

"He wants to keep us busy," Jane said, an edge to her voice.  "Keep us chasing at shadows." 

"Maybe or maybe he's using the hits so he can buy some time and go underground. You said yourself that he's scrambling," Patterson continued. "But it's impossible to tell if all of these hits are decoys or if there are legit hits somewhere in there. The database is a disaster. It'll take literally forever to go through all of this." 

"We don't have forever," Reade said. "Can you tell if any of these hits are urgent or even legit?" 

"I don't know, maybe," Patterson said, turning her attention from the group back to the monitors. "It's going to take some time and —" 

"We can set up the databases to cross reference police databases and news stories on the internet," Rich interrupted around a mouthful of potato chips. "If the cross-search finds more than, oh like three matches, then we can move the hit to a new database for potential follow-up. We could probably automate it." 

Patterson stared at him for a minute before responding. "Sure, you could do that but I don't think it'll be that easy. You're underestimating how complex this algorithm is." 

"Oh sure," Rich said, stuffing the last of the chips in his mouth and stepping up to Patterson's keyboard. She didn't move. "Excuse me," he said and gently nudged her aside and started typing. The screen changed and after a few moments a progress bar appeared on the screen. "Like that." 

He looked up with a satisfied smile.  

"What? I'm not just a pretty face, you know," Rich said.  

"So now what?" Jane asked. "We just wait for the database to sort through Roman's sabotage?" 

"I don't see that we have another choice," Weller said. 

Jane sighed. "I hate this," she said. "Roman's out there getting ready for something, and we're stuck here playing his game of hurry up and wait." 

A series of beeps filled the lab and the group turned back to the monitors. Rich's progress screen had abruptly stopped. "Error" flashed on the screen in large, red block letters. 

"What was that about a pretty face, Rich?" Patterson asked with a smirk.  

"Um —" Rich said.  

"I'll call my dad," Patterson said abruptly. "He helped write the algorithm for the database maybe he can help rewrite it." 

"Ok," Reade sighed. "I don't see that there's anything else we can do tonight. Let's break. We'll regroup in the morning." 

"Don't worry, Jane," Tasha said, placing a hand on the tattooed woman's shoulder. "We'll find Roman." 

"And I won't make the same mistake again," Jane said between gritted teeth. "He's not getting away this time." 

*** 

The team had left for the second time that day. Reade grabbed another cab and was on his way home. Jane and Weller skipped the pub this time and went home after calling Avery's detail to give them the latest update. Patterson stared at the error message that now appeared on every screen in her lab. She needed to get out. She let out a breath she didn’t realize she’d been holding and grabbed her phone from her desk before heading to her locker. She rounded the corner to the locker room when she banged into Rich.  

“Patty Pats,” he said, a joke seeming to be somewhere right behind the greeting. “Heading out? Calling it quits? Leaving to fight another day?” 

“Hi Rich,” Patterson said, opening her locker. “Yes. I’m heading out.” 

“But the database,” Rich began. “It did that beeping thing and lit up like Fourth of July. All those hits? And then the epic crash?” 

“Will wait for another day,” she said. She wasn’t even trying to mask her irritation. She wanted to leave, maybe get a beer at the dive near her apartment, and collapse on her couch with another beer and load up FarCry 5. Shooting NPCs and bringing an end to a dangerous cult would be far more relaxing than anything else she was dealing with. And the beer would dull all of the rest. 

Rich leaned against his own locker and watched Patterson trade her lab coat for her purse.  

“So, you’re in a mood,” he said finally.  

“Don’t Rich,” Patterson warned. 

“What?” Rich said. “I’m genuinely concerned. When Patterson is upset, Rich is upset. And I don’t really enjoy being upset. I’m an emotional eater. I mean, you wouldn’t believe it with this girlish figure and all, but I can really put it away — ” 

She closed her locker with a bang. She hadn’t meant to close it so hard but there it was; she’d slammed the door and Rich had flinched and jumped back. But he stopped talking so there was that.  

“I really don’t want to talk, Rich,” she said by way of an apology. “Especially not about your emotional eating habits.” 

He nodded and put his hands up in surrender. “Ok. Understood. Just let me ask one thing.” 

Patterson stared back at him neither granting nor denying him permission.  

“Is this still about Agent Grumpyface and Borden and that whole lying thing?” 

“Agent Gru — who even is that?” Patterson asked. “Are you talking about Zapata?” 

Rich nodded. “Yeah, she never smiles. What's with that? It’s weird. She’s Frowny McFrownerson. Agent Grumpyface. Agent double oh no.” 

“Well, don’t let her hear you call her that.” 

“That would probably be bad,” Rich conceded.  

“Yeah. It’d be bad.” Patterson started to leave the locker room and head for the elevators.  

Rich put a hand on her arm and stopped her.  

“Look,” he said, all pretense of jokes was gone from his voice now. “Whatever it is, you can talk to me. I know I joke around a lot and all that but I’m a good guy.” 

“You’re a cybercriminal.” 

“Cybercriminal,” Rich repeated, trying the phrase on. “I like that. It’s sort of sexy sounding.” 

Patterson frowned at him. 

“Ok, ok. You know what I mean,” Rich explained, hurrying on. “If something’s wrong or you need someone to talk to or whatever, you can talk to me. I’m actually a pretty good listener.” 

He waited for Patterson to say something and instead was just met by silence.  

"Alright," he said, stepping away. "But if this is about Zapata and Borden you should know that she feels really bad for lying to you." 

Patterson turned sharply on her heel and started for the elevator. "Good." 

*** 

Instead of heading right for the entrance to the J line at Chambers Street, Patterson found herself walking towards one of her favorite local bars. It was one of the few in the area that didn't try to be anything other than a place for decent burgers and drinks. Tasha had brought her here once shortly after David was murdered. They'd had way too much to drink that night but it was the first time she'd laughed let alone smiled since she'd found out he was dead. She hadn't stopped blaming herself, and she supposed that she never would. Pulling open the heavy wooden door at Whiskey Tavern, Patterson couldn't help but think of David. And Tasha.  

She sat down on a stool closest to the door and ordered a pint of Brooklyn Lager and a shot of whiskey. She never ordered shots of anything when she was alone but she'd nearly ordered one of the Tavern's signature Manhattans. She and Tasha had gotten drunk on these that night after David died. So, she ordered the lager and a shot instead. It was stupid. She enjoyed Whiskey Tavern's Manhattan. But it reminded her of Tasha and she didn't want to think about her. Thinking about her is what brought her here. She just wanted to get drunk.  

The bartender set the beer and shot in front of her, and Patterson threw back the shot before taking a long swallow of the beer. She turned the pint glass absently on the paper coaster, staring through it as if it could solve her problems. It couldn't, but she was certain that it would help her at least forget some of them. She took another swallow. The TV mounted over the bar was talking about a military helicopter crash in upstate New York. Warbles, she thought and took another disinterested swallow.  

The cases rarely bothered her once they were closed. Unless, of course, they became personal and people she loved died or tried to kill her or lied to her. Then, it was a different story. While cases were ongoing, Patterson knew she could be manic with her obsession. They were puzzles, and she loved puzzles. She obsessed over the case and its intricacies and could shut herself off from everything but the puzzle she was trying to solve. She'd worked on being less obsessive and for a while she was. Now, she just shut herself off from everyone. And found herself sitting on bar stools.  

Tasha always had a knack for getting her outside of herself. She'd find Patterson hunched over a keyboard well after everyone had left the office for the night and would gently suggest that she go with her somewhere. A movie. A bar. A weird new shop that was only selling rocks painted in different shades of purple. But she wasn't ready to forgive Tasha. How could she? The one person she trusted more than anyone else in the whole world had been lying to her. For years. Okay, no. She hadn't really talked to Tasha after she'd gone to California and developed Wizardville, but it wasn't like Tasha had called her when she'd gone to the CIA. But still. There were two years there, and Tasha knew that Borden was alive. And she was working with him. Borden. The man who pretended to love her and care about her only to torture her and try to kill her. That was unforgiveable. What else might Tasha be lying about or keeping from her? She wasn't even sure if she knew her anymore.  

Stop, her mind screamed at her. She was doing her job and you know it. This wasn't personal. Stop making it personal 

It sure felt personal.  

But part of Patterson desperately wanted to forgive her friend. She missed the stupid stuff they did together and being mad at her was exhausting. They weren't enemies, but Patterson had a hard time thinking of Tasha as a friend anymore. And it hurt. The whole damn thing hurt. She'd lost her best friend, and it felt like her whole world had been turned upside down. She took another swallow of her beer and tipped the empty glass towards the bartender, signaling for another.  

A second Brooklyn Lager was set down in front of her with another shot as the door to Whiskey Tavern opened with a quiet swoosh. Patterson murmured a quiet "thank you" to the bartender and grimaced inwardly as the newcomer sat down on the stool beside her. There were at least four other open stools at the bar and most of the booths were empty. She hoped her stool mate wasn't feeling chatty. She had no interest in making idle chitchat with a stranger in a bar.  She threw the shot back. It didn’t burn like the first shot. She turned slightly on her stool, putting her back to the newcomer, and took a small swallow from her new beer.  

The door to the bar opened again, and the newcomers' conversation and the airbrakes from a nearby transit bus obscured the conversation between the bartender and the patron sitting next to her. Patterson sighed and started to bring the pint glass back to her lips when the light scent of vanilla, grapefruit, and warm oranges hit her, and she froze. She felt her throat tighten, and her heart started to race. Her palms were sweaty.  

"I wasn't following you, I promise," a familiar voice said from behind her. "I was on my way home and needed a drink.  I didn't know..." 

Patterson turned slowly on her stool and came face to face with Zapata.  Seeing the frown pasted on the blonde's face, Tasha set her beer back down and started to stand.  

"I can go, though." 

"No," Patterson said quickly, setting her own beer back down. "Stay. I want you to stay." 

Tasha studied her friend's face for a moment before nodding slightly and sitting back down. They both stared ahead into their drinks, and neither woman said anything for a long uncomfortable moment.  

"I'm sorry," they both began at once and then burst into laughter. 

"I know why I'm sorry," Tasha said. "I'm a jerk and an idiot, and I think I'm doing the right thing when all I'm doing is making a giant mess out of everything. Why are you sorry?" 

Patterson stopped laughing and looked down at her beer.  

"You're not a jerk," she said softly. "An idiot? Maybe. But you're not a jerk. I'm the jerk. Maybe you screwed up —" 

"I did," Tasha admitted.  

"— but I shouldn't have just frozen you out like that," Patterson said. She felt her eyes welling up and she wiped them aggressively with her thumb. "I missed you." 

"I've been right here," Tasha said simply. She held Patterson's gaze and gave her a small smile. She'd missed Patterson too but didn't want to force things. Patterson had been furious, and she'd had every right to be. It had felt like an eternity without her friend. Every time Patterson had ignored her or turned away from her at the office, Tasha had felt a new pang of guilt. She'd wanted to call her to chat about the latest developments on TV shows they both liked, and she'd almost texted her one morning to ask if she wanted anything at the coffee shop but always decided against it. She wasn't sure she even deserved Patterson's friendship. 

"I know. I'm sorry." Patterson said. She let some silence draw out between them. "I don’t know if I forgive you." 

"Ok." 

"But I want to," Patterson said. "I miss my friend." 

"So do I." 

They fell into silence again and drank their beers. Tasha broke the silence.  

"So, you and Jack, huh? Finally!" 

"Ugh," Patterson groaned. 

"What?" 

"I almost wish that assassin had killed me," Patterson said. "The date? It was a Groupon. He'd bought it with his ex-girlfriend so all night I had to pretend to be named Diane." 

"As in here's a little ditty about Jack and...?" Tasha asked, barely able to contain her amusement.  

"Yes." 

"Yikes." 

"Right?" 

"Ah, well, life goes on," Tasha said this time unable to control her laughter.  

Patterson pushed her playfully. "Not funny." 

"A little funny." 

"Anyway, it's not going to work out," Patterson said, finishing her second beer. It felt good to laugh with Tasha. She couldn't remember the last time the brunette's smile seemed this genuine and warm.  "He didn't even pay for Wizardville, and then he bragged about it. To me." 

"No way!" Tasha said.  

"I told him he had to pay for it immediately," Patterson said. "So, no, there won't be a second date." 

"That’s too bad. He's cute," Tasha said and took a sip of her beer as the bartender set a third Brooklyn Lager and shot in front of Patterson. She slid the shot in front of Tasha. 

"You can go out with him," Patterson suggested. 

"He's not really my type," Tasha said.  

"Right, he's not engaged," Patterson joked and then saw the look on her friend's face. "I'm sorry, Tash. I didn't mean —" 

"No, it's okay," Tasha said. "The whole Reade thing, it was stupid. It's just me making a mess of things. Shocking right?" She tossed back Patterson's shot. She turned her beer thoughtfully on the coaster and then picked it up and drained the still half-full glass. She gestured for a refill and immediately set to downing half of the fresh glass the bartender set in front of her.  

Patterson watched her friend. She knew Reade's engagement to Meg bothered her, and she was mad at herself. While she'd frozen her out, she'd missed out on talking to Tasha about Reade or just being her distraction. She was a terrible friend. 

"Do you want to talk about it?" she asked. 

Tasha put her glass back down. It was nearly empty.  

"Absolutely not," she said. "I shouldn't have told Reade that I love him, and I shouldn't have expected him to be excited by the news. It was dumb. I was dumb. It was all a big mistake." 

The beer hit Tasha hard and the room seemed to go out of focus for a minute. She shouldn't have slammed that second beer. It'd only been in front of her for a few minutes, and she hadn't planned on getting drunk.  She saw Patterson watching her.  

"What?" 

"Are you okay?" Patterson asked. 

"Yeah, why?" 

"You seemed to go away there for a second." 

"I'm okay," Tasha said. "I'm just thinking about the stupid things I did lately. I've done a whole lot of dumb." 

Patterson shrugged. "Nothing new there." 

Tasha feigned hurt and leaned backwards on her stool away from Patterson, clutching at her heart.  

"Ow, Patterson. I'm hurt!" 

And then she slid off the stool and onto the floor where she landed with a thud.  

"Tasha!" Patterson jumped off her stool and went to grab her friend's arm. The three beers and two shots hit her and she lost her footing, falling into a sitting position on the floor beside Tasha. "Are you okay?" She asked between fits of laughter.  

Tasha shook her head and laughed.  

"Oh my god," she laughed. "I'm on the floor. We're on the floor." 

The bartender peered over the edge of the bar at them.  

"Are you ladies okay?" 

"Yes," they said in unison. 

"Sorry," Patterson said. "We'll get it together." 

"Good idea," the bartender said. "I don't need trouble in here." 

Patterson grabbed Tasha's arm to start to pull her to her feet and laughed again. 

"Troublemaker," she said.  

A shock raced through Tasha at Patterson's touch. Her stomach was full of butterflies, and she couldn't get enough air into her lungs. She didn't even think as she reached a hand up to Patterson's face and kissed her lightly on the lips.  

Time stopped for Patterson as she registered that Tasha Zapata was kissing her. It wasn't a friendly kiss. There was something else behind it, and then she felt herself kissing back. Every cell in her body suddenly roared to life. Tasha pulled away, leaving a trail of saliva between their lips. Patterson studied her friend's face for a minute.  

"I have to pee," Patterson said suddenly and jumped to her feet, walking quickly to the bathroom.  

The blonde threw open the door to the ladies' room and checked under the stall doors. Satisfied she was alone, Patterson leaned against the door and closed her eyes. She was confused and anxious. She'd just kissed Tasha Zapata. Or Tasha had kissed her. And she'd kissed back. There was definite kissing. Mutual kissing. It was the beer, her mind tried to rationalize. Yes, that's it. The beer. And the shots. We both drank too much too quickly. I love Tasha but not like that.  

She caught a glimpse of her panicked face in the mirror and covered it with both hands. She needed to calm down. This was nothing. It was nothing. They were good friends who'd spent time apart. And sometimes, with a little alcohol, friends get a little friendly. 

Then why is your heart racing? her mind asked. Anxiety. Terror, she rationalized. 

A soft knock on the door behind her brought her back from her thoughts. 

"P?" It was Tasha. "Are you in there?" 

Patterson took a deep breath, pulled her hands from her face, and stepped away from the door.  

"Yeah." 

Tasha pushed the door open and peered around it before stepping inside the small bathroom. Patterson stepped backwards until her back hit the sink. She crossed her arms in an attempt to seem casual and absolutely, positively not freaked out.  

"So," Tasha began, not knowing really what to say. 

"Yeah." 

Tasha took a deep breath.  

"Back there..." 

"...You kissed me." 

"You kissed me back." 

Patterson said nothing. She had kissed her back. Kissing Tasha was nice. She thought about how soft her lips had been and that vanilla and oranges smell. She could taste Tasha's lip gloss on her own lips. She still felt her hand on the side of her face. She suddenly felt the urge to kiss her again.  

"Look, I'm sorry," Tasha said finally, breaking the silence. "I don't want to screw things up with us again." 

"You didn't screw anything up," Patterson said. "We're friends. It's ok." 

It was Tasha's turn to be silent. She'd known for a long time that she wasn't in love with Reade. She loved him as a friend and maybe at some point she had been in love with him but she wasn't anymore. It wasn't until Patterson had shut her out that she'd realized that she was in love with the blonde. She'd never planned to act on it. Patterson was her best friend, and she didn't want to lose that.  

"We are friends, right?" Patterson asked. "I mean, I know that Borden thing and all but I want to be friends again." She felt panic rising.  

A small smile ghosted on Tasha's lips and then quickly disappeared. She gave a short nod. "Right. We're friends." 

Silence fell between them again.  

"You're not okay, are you?" Patterson asked finally, stepping away from the counter.  She saw the tears welling in Tasha's eyes.  

"I am," Tasha lied. "Really." 

"Liar," Patterson said. She wiped a tear away as it rolled down Tasha's cheek.  

Tasha laughed and sniffed. 

"I missed you so much," Tasha admitted. "I wanted to text you so many times and didn't because you were mad, and then that explosion at the Henning Culinary Center. I thought I'd lost you. I don't want to lose you again." 

"You do know I caused that explosion, right? With Jack's vape pen?" Patterson asked. 

"He vapes?" Tasha asked, getting off topic. Then she shook her head, bringing herself back. "Well, when the windows blew out and everyone came running out of the building screaming I didn't know that. I thought I lost you. For real. Not just you freezing me out but gone gone. And then just now I kissed you, and you ran off. I thought I'd lost you again. Because I'm an idiot." 

"You didn't lose me," Patterson said. "I just, I didn't handle that very well."  

Tasha looked at the floor. 

"What?" Patterson asked.  

"I love you," Tasha said finally.  

Patterson smiled and took her friend's hands in her own.  

"I love you too," she said. "You're my very best friend." 

"No," Tasha said, pulling her hands from Patterson's grip. "I love you." 

She let the words hang there for a minute while Patterson stared at her wide eyed. 

"Please don't run away again," Tasha whispered. "I know you don't love me the same way and that's ok. I just needed to tell you. I don't know when I started to fall in love with you but I realized I did when you weren't there anymore. And it hurt. And I'd rather have you as a best friend than not at all." 

"You're in love with me?" Patterson's voice was small. 

"Yeah." 

Patterson closed the distance between them quickly, wrapping her arms around Tasha's waist and pressing her lips hard against Tasha's. Tasha kissed her back hungrily deepening the kiss, probing Patterson's lower lip with her tongue until she was granted access to her mouth. The brunette was the first to pull away, her chest heaving. She studied Patterson's face for a sign that she was freaking out and saw none.  She kissed her again, fisting her hands into the blonde's hair. Patterson moaned into Tasha's mouth, slipping a hand under Tasha's blouse. Tasha walked them backwards until Patterson banged into the sink, and Patterson finally broke away.  She rested her forehead against Tasha's and caught her breath as the sound of blood roared in her ears.  

"I really do have to pee," she whispered and was rewarded by a loud laugh from Tasha.  

 *** 

Tasha paid both of their tabs. When Patterson returned from the bathroom, they left the bar and started walking towards Centre Street for the nearest Canal Street metro stop. They sat side by side on the subway for the fifteen-minute ride from Canal Street to Tasha's apartment. Patterson found herself fidgeting with her hands until Tasha captured them in her own.  

"Stop, chiquita," the brunette whispered in her ear. "You've been to my place dozens of times." 

"I know," Patterson said, glancing around to see if anyone was watching them. They were alone in the rear of the subway car.  "But it was usually to drink wine and watch TV not whatever this is." 

Tasha kissed Patterson's neck and felt the blonde's body relax slightly and lean into her.  

"This is just us going to my place. That's it. We can drink wine and watch TV if you want." 

Tasha let go of Patterson's hands, and Patterson let one fall onto Tasha's thigh. The brunette rubbed her thumb over the back of her friend's hand, and Patterson felt a shiver race down her spine. Her body was on fire as Tasha kissed her way down her neck before laving her collarbone with her tongue. She heard herself moan and forgot where she was until the train jerked to a stop. Patterson pulled Tasha to her feet and lead her from the car and up the subway stairs. 

The pair walked the short distance from the subway stop to Tasha's apartment hand in hand.  At the door, Tasha felt Patterson's warm breath on her neck. Tasha fumbled the key and nearly dropped it when Patterson sucked lightly on a spot behind her right ear.  Patterson wrapped her hand around her friend's and helped her unlock the door. Whatever anxiety or terror she had tried to convince herself she'd been feeling earlier was gone. All Patterson felt right now was an overwhelming love and desire for her best friend. 

Tasha found the light switch and flipped it into the on position. She tossed her coat on the couch and turned back to find Patterson watching her with hooded eyes.  

"There's the TV," Tasha said, waving a dismissive hand towards it. "Should I grab some wine?" 

Patterson licked her lower lip and nodded. "Sure." She followed as Tasha headed into the kitchen, grabbing a pair of wine glasses from a cabinet as she passed.  

Tasha took a bottle of red from a wine rack and removed the cork before pouring two glasses and offering one to the scientist. They clinked glasses and each took a sip before Tasha lead the way back to the living room. Tasha sat down first, purposefully choosing the center couch cushion. Patterson sat beside her and set her glass on the coffee table.  

"What's on TV?" she asked. 

Tasha shook her head and set her own glass on the table. "I don't care," she said as she turned to face the blonde. She placed a hand on the nape of Patterson's neck, caressing the skin there and stared at her lips. "Do you?" She asked in a voice so soft it was almost a purr. 

Patterson started to shake her head but Tasha was already kissing her. She felt herself being guided backwards and her head hit the arm rest. Tasha was above her, straddling her legs. Tasha's kiss was warm and insistent, and Patterson kissed back. Kissing Tasha felt easy and natural. Much more natural and easy than her disastrous date had been. It occurred to her that she and Tasha had been lowkey dating for years. It was no wonder this felt so right. She tipped her hips up towards Tasha's and moaned softly when Tasha ground down with her own hips.  

Tasha peppered Patterson's jaw with kisses as she worked her way down her neck. She used her left hand to begin unbuttoning the buttons of the scientist's simple blue blouse. Patterson was almost embarrassed by how turned on she was already when she bucked her hips upwards again as Tasha slid a hand inside her shirt and over one of her bra-covered breasts. Tasha chuckled softly somewhere in the back of her throat and kissed Patterson hard on the lips again. 

"Not yet," she whispered, tracing the outline of Patterson's lower lip with her tongue.  

Patterson started to work on the buttons of Tasha's shirt and soon had the blouse open. She pushed it off Tasha's shoulders and tried to slide it down her arms. Tasha stopped her ministrations to help the blonde remove the garment. Patterson sat up and gawked outwardly at her friend. She'd always thought Tasha was gorgeous but now she looked less like the FBI agent she saw every day and more like a goddess.  

"You're gorgeous," Patterson said as she watched as Tasha reached behind herself and unfastened her bra, pulling the cups slowly away from her breasts, revealing her hard nipples. Patterson's hands automatically went to Tasha's breasts, cupping them and brushing the pad of her thumb over one nipple. 

It was Tasha's turn to moan. She tipped her head back and closed her eyes. She'd often dreamed about Patterson touching her like this but never expected it to happen. The warmth of Patterson's mouth over her right breast was unexpected, and Tasha thought she might explode in happiness. She looked down at Patterson and caught her face in one hand, pulling her away from her breasts.  

"No," she said, firmly. And then seeing the confusion in Patterson's eyes, she quickly kissed her lips. "I want to make you feel good." 

"Bedroom?" Patterson asked, understanding Tasha's intentions. Her voice was husky and there was a deep throb between her legs that was almost painful. She was no longer embarrassed. She wanted the beautiful woman in front of her.  

They got clumsily off the couch and Patterson kissed Tasha again as the blonde walked her backwards down the short hallway to Tasha's bedroom. They only banged into the walls twice before the backs of Patterson's legs came into contact with the bed and she fell backwards, legs splayed.  

Tasha was on her again before she could try to get up. Patterson's shirt quickly disappeared and her bra was gone. Tasha leaned down again and kissed Patterson, feeling the blonde arch her back up to meet Tasha's kiss more fully. She purposefully dragged her nipples over Patterson's and felt the scientist groan into her mouth and reach around to cup her ass.  

"Oh my god," Patterson breathed, delighting at the friction caused by their two bodies. Tasha's lips left hers and started down her body.  

Tasha sucked one breast into her mouth and bit down lightly on the nipple. She smiled when Patterson arched her back again. Patterson started to bring her hands to her waistband to rid herself of her remaining garments. She was desperate to feel nothing but skin on skin but Tasha caught her hands. She kissed each palm and then pulled them over the blonde's head and held them there while she returned her attention to Patterson's nipples. Patterson tried to grab a fistful of Tasha's short hair but the brunette applied more pressure on her hands and kept them pinned in place.  

She continued her assault on Patterson's breasts before leaving them and releasing the blonde woman's hands. She kissed her way to the top of the black slacks Patterson had worn to work, pausing to trace a lazy circle around Patterson's bellybutton.  

"You still have on too many clothes," Tasha said softly as she reached a hand between the other woman's legs and caressed the spot at the apex of her thighs. She applied a light pressure and felt Patterson push back against her hand, seeking more friction. Tasha laughed and pulled her hand back. She worked the single button on Patterson's slacks and pushed the offending garment down. She pulled the pants off completely and tossed them on the floor. She shucked her own jeans and panties and tossed them aside.  Her breath caught in her throat. Patterson was lying on her bed in nothing but a pair of black panties. She was more beautiful that Tasha could have imagined.  

Patterson sensed Tasha staring at her and struggled to sit up.  

"What?" She asked, concern creasing her brow. "What's wrong?" 

Tasha shook her head and kneeled on the bed, putting a knee between Patterson's legs.  

"Nothing," she said, stealing another kiss. "You're beautiful." 

Patterson felt herself turning red and tried to cover her face with her hands.  

"Don't," Tasha said simply and kissed her again. "I mean it. You're beautiful." 

She pushed Patterson backwards lightly so she was flat on her back again and returned to Patterson's spread legs. She ran her index finger around the edges of Patterson's panties, purposefully avoiding her core and clit. After a few seconds of teasing, Tasha pushed her hand flat against Patterson's center and began rubbing her roughly.  

Patterson groaned and Tasha was certain she heard a whimper as her fingers passed over her clit. She looked back up to Patterson's face and saw the desire painted there. She watched as her chest heaved and back arched. She focused her attention on Patterson's clit and enjoyed watching Patterson's hips buck upwards. Tasha crashed her mouth back onto Patterson's lips and kissed her as she continued rubbing.  

"Tasha..." Patterson moaned between kisses. "Please." 

Tasha kissed her again and grinned against Patterson's lips.  

"I bet I could make you come without even tasting you," she said matter of factly.  

"Oh my god," Patterson moaned again. "Please." 

"Please what?" Tasha teased, dipping a finger beneath the thin elastic waist of Patterson's panties and tracing her hip bone. "Do you want me to make you come in your little black panties?" 

"Oh Christ." 

"It's been a long time, huh?" Tasha said as she kneeled between Patterson's legs and pushed the thin black cloth down her legs, tossing it in the pile with her pants. "Let's do something about that, shall we?" 

Patterson felt Tasha's warm breath on her thighs just before Tasha's tongue darted out and licked her inner thighs. She kissed and licked around the edges of Patterson's center, teasing the blonde. Patterson grabbed at Tasha's hair, causing Tasha to look up.  

"Please, Tash," Patterson said. She sounded winded. "Just fuck me. Please." 

Patterson barely had the last word out of her mouth when Tasha took a long lick along the blonde's folds.  

"Oh!" Patterson cried.   

Tasha took another long lap with the flat of her tongue, spreading Patterson wide open. She was luxuriating in the warm wetness of Patterson's core as the blonde squirmed against her, seeking more friction. Tasha pushed her tongue between the folds, reaching deep inside several times fucking her friend with her tongue. She dragged it slowly along the center, stopping only when her tongue pushed up against Patterson's clit. She hummed softly as she licked at the bud before wrapping her lips around it and sucking hard. She was rewarded with another buck of Patterson's hips.  

"Tasha," Patterson groaned, shoving a hand in Tasha's hair to hold her in place and pushing herself hard down onto Tasha's mouth.  

Tasha knew Patterson was close. She was dripping wet and the bucking of her hips was coming quicker. She pressed one finger against Patterson's core and let it slip inside her, turning it as she pulled out and adding a second and finally a third finger. She continued sucking on Patterson's sensitive bundle of nerves as she worked her fingers in and out of the other woman rapidly. She reached up with her free hand and pinched one of the blonde's nipples, twisting it slightly and getting another moan in return. She curved the fingers buried inside Patterson's center and bumped up against a particularly sensitive spot and felt Patterson start to come undone.  

Patterson's climax hit her hard and she clamped her thighs tight around Tasha's head. Tasha worked her fingers faster and faster as Patterson's orgasm overtook her. She wanted to watch Patterson fall apart but was unable to look up thanks to the vice like grip Patterson had on her head.   

The scientist stilled finally and didn't move for a moment. Her grip on Tasha's head relaxed and the brunette gave the inside of Patterson's thigh a quick kiss before she laid down on the bed alongside her. She watched as Patterson caught her breath. She knew Patterson's mind was probably racing, trying to make sense of everything that happened. She planted a kiss on Patterson's cheek and pressed herself against Patterson's side.  

"Wow," Patterson said finally. "That was... wow." 

Tasha smiled. She loved the dazed and dreamy look on Patterson's face. She wanted to make Patterson look like that all the time.  

"Good, huh?" Tasha asked.  

"Wow," Patterson said again and then suddenly sat up. "What about you?" 

"There's time for me later," Tasha said. "Right now, I'm enjoying being here with you." 

Patterson blushed again but this time she didn't try to hide her face. Tasha had seen just about every inch of her, there was no reason to try to hide now.  

"So, what do we tell people?" Patterson asked suddenly.  

"What do you mean?" 

"I mean, we're in a fight," Patterson explained. "We haven't been talking. I've been a bitch to you." 

"We don't have to say anything," Tasha said. "I mean, does anyone ask you if you got laid when you go into work?" 

They both laughed suddenly.  

"Rich," they said in unison. 

They fell silent again. Patterson was enjoying lying so close to Tasha. She watched as Tasha threaded her fingers between her own and played with them. She shifted on the bed and turned to face Tasha and saw the big smile there. She studied her friend for a moment.  

"What?" Tasha asked.  

Patterson kissed Tasha softly on the lips and smiled.  

"I was just thinking about a conversation I had earlier today with Rich," she said.  

"You're thinking about Rich now? Wow, Patterson," she said.  

"No, not like that," Patterson said. "He called you Agent Grumpyface." 

"Agent Grumpyface?" 

"Yeah, and Agent double oh no." 

Tasha laughed. That one was creative. 

"He said you never smiled," Patterson explained. "But I was just thinking how much I love seeing you smile." 

Tasha wrapped an arm around Patterson and pulled her closer, kissing her neck. "You give me a reason to."