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(not) a laughing matter

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“Come on, Mom! Stop being such a downer!”

Jane raises her eyebrows. The content and tone are familiar, of course—anyone with kids, and especially anyone with precocious teens has heard it a million times—but the setting is new. And the person saying it.

Jane’s at work, not at home, and while the person sprawled out across the couch whining at her isn’t much larger than her ten year old daughter, she’s not one of Jane’s actual children.

“Let’s go somewhere!” Lucy moans. “It’s so boring here!”

Jane tries to swallow back her smile. Jesse politely coughs to cover his laugh, but Kai—childless and thus unpracticed at this—looks at both of them with something on the verge of panic. “How long until the drug wears off, do you think?”

Jane shrugs. The EMTs had cleared Lucy at the scene, saying she seemed fine. Chipper, even. And at the time Jane hadn’t been worried—Lucy is usually chipper. That seemed like a good thing. But whatever modifications this week’s bad guys had made to the laughing gas they’d forced into the tiny agent, it’s lasting much longer than anyone had expected.

“Hopefully not too much longer.”

“What’s not too much longer?” Lucy asks, snapping her head over to Jane in what was probably not meant to be quite so exaggerated a motion. “Us being stuck here?”

“Yes,” Jane says, deciding to play along. “Pretty soon we’ll be all done here and we can go run around outside.”

“Score!” Lucy pumps her fist in the air, narrowly avoiding giving Jesse an enthusiastic black eye. “But not on the beach, okay? Don’t tell anyone, but I’m scared of the ocean!”

She probably means to whisper the last part, but she’s positively shouting. Kai rubs his ear and Jane bites the side of her mouth so hard she’s worried it’s going to bleed.

It’s never good when one of your team members is taken by a bad guy and drugged up to their eyebrows, but god damn if this isn’t the funniest shit she’s seen in years.

They manage to distract Lucy for a few minutes by having her teach Kai the hand game “Miss Mary Mack,” but halfway through Lucy stops slapping at his hands and starts slapping at his shoulder and the back of the couch, clearly trying to get everyone’s attention.

“Kate!” Lucy’s practically bouncing off the sofa at the first sight of the uptight DIA agent, and Jesse has to push down on her shoulders with both hands to keep her from levitating.

“Oh my god!” Lucy practically yells. “You guys, look! Kate is here! Kate is here, and so pretty!”

Jane can’t help the sound that comes out of her mouth.

Whistler, neither blind nor deaf, is staring through the glass walls of Jane’s office, clearly trying to make sense of the scene in front of her. Jane tries to picture it through Whistler’s eyes: Kai and Lucy sitting on the couch, Lucy clearly held in place by Jesse, Jane standing over to side watching them, all trying not laugh while Lucy bounces up and down in her seat, her eyes glowing but slightly vacant, babbling about how pretty Whistler is.

It's quite an image.

Whistler slowly pushes open the door, like she’s not sure if she should be there or not.

“Kate!” Lucy yells. “Hi! Did you know that you’re like so pretty?? Like the sun??”

Whistler blinks four, maybe five times, her big brain clearly spinning in its tracks trying to make sense of what she’s seeing. She finally looks over to Jane, her jaw slightly slack. “What…”

Jane steps forward, knowing her efforts to draw Whistler’s attention away from the drugged up puppy on the couch will be futile. “Lucy had a little run in with a modified laughing gas this afternoon,” she says softly. “She’ll be fine, but she’s still a little…um…”

She trails off, and Whistler hums her understanding.

“Got it.” She looks back over at Lucy, who is still positively beaming at her. “Well, Special Agent Tara, I hope you have a quick recovery.”

Jane expects that to be that, but Lucy rolls her eyes. “Special Agent Tara,” she scoffs, like her name is a hilarious joke. “Well I hope YOU have a quick recovery, Special Agent Whistler.”

“Not a special agent,” Whistler mumbles at her, but Jane can see the corners of her mouth twitching up.

Good to know not even DIA Officer Kate Whistler, with her rigid ponytail and pressed skirt and that enormous stick up her ass, is immune to how fucking cute Lucy is right now.

Whistler turns then, nodding to Jesse and Kai, but Lucy is clearly not done with her. “Wait!” she calls, half standing up. Jesse pushes her back down to the cushion with a small thump, but Lucy doesn’t seem to notice. “Kate Kate pretty Kate, with the hair and the eyes and the jaw thingy majiggy, where are you going?”

Whistler drops her gaze to the floor for a second, hiding her face. Jane assumes she’s trying to keep it together—this must be massively embarrassing. Being called out for her looks over and over, basically sexually harassed, honestly, by a stoned member of a team she doesn’t get along with and barely knows…yeah. Not ideal.

“You can go,” Jane says quietly, sidling up to Whistler. “We’ve got her.”

Whistler looks up at Jane, and this is maybe the closest they’ve ever stood together. Jane can’t help but agree with Lucy—Whistler is extremely pretty.

She gives Jane a tight almost smile, but she doesn’t walk out the door. She turns back to Lucy, looking her square in the eye. “I’m going back to my office to work,” she says, like Lucy is a rational adult who can understand things.

Lucy stares at her for a second like she can’t quite make heads or tails of any of it. “Where am I going?” she finally asks.

Whistler’s lips twitch again. “I think you’re going to stay here with your team and rest.”

Lucy screws up her face like Whistler has said something horrible. “But Kai doesn’t smell good, like you!”

Jesse bursts out laughing and Kai yells, “hey!” so only Jane notices the way Whistler seems to choke a little bit.

“You don’t have to rest on him,” she says quickly, making her way through Lucy’s drugged up logic much faster than Jane can. “You just have to rest.”

“Hmm.” Lucy’s eyes are narrowed as she takes in the information, slowly looking around the room like she’s seeing it and them for the very first time. “Okay.”

“Okay,” Whistler repeats. “I’ll, uh…I’ll see you all later.”

“Thanks, Whistler,” Jane says, opening the door for her. She hopes Whistler can hear the rest of it without her having to say it in front of Lucy—thanks for humoring her, thanks for not reporting her to HR for saying you’re pretty like the sun.

“WAAAAAAAIT.”

So close.

Jane is tempted to shove Whistler out the door—maybe this is an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ situation for Lucy—but Whistler seems to be in no hurry to extricate herself. She turns and looks back at Lucy again.

“How am I supposed to rest without a good night kiss, Kate Whistler?”

There’s a stunned silence in the room. Jesse looks like he’d prefer to sink down into the floor never to return, Kai looks impressed at laughing-gassed-Lucy’s game, and Jane really, really wishes Whistler had never walked by. The comments were one thing, but she can’t have employees asking each other for kisses. It’s an HR nightmare.

“Not appropriate,” Jane starts, but Whistler is staring hard at Lucy, something jumping in her jaw.

“Come on, babe,” Lucy says, dramatically flopping herself down on the couch, neatly kicking Kai off onto his ass. She’s lying down now but thrusting her chin up in the air, like she’s presenting herself to be kissed. “Lay it on me.”

Jane can count the number of times she’s been well and truly speechless on one hand, and now she has to add another finger. What the fuck is happening in Lucy’s brain right now? And why is Whistler staring at her like that?

Jane knows she should be playing interference—better for Lucy to be calling her "mom" than sexually harassing the fucking DIA officer—but it feels like it’ll take a hundred years before she’s collected herself enough to think.

Kai and Jesse seem equally frozen, but Whistler somehow manages to move. She strides over to the couch, but something is different in how she’s walking, how she’s holding her hands.

She bends over, lightly brushing Lucy’s forehead with her lips. “Goodnight, Agent Tara,” she says, and that’s different too.

Jane feels her eyes narrow, her spy senses kicking up in her brain.

Something is happening right now.

“Nuh uh, babe,” Lucy says, shaking her head against the cushion. Jane winces at the tangles that must be forming back there. Lucy points to her lips. “You know the rules, Kate Whistler of the DIA.”

Whistler huffs out a laugh, and some fundamental, integral piece of who she is, or maybe what holds her up, leaves her body with the laugh. It’s like what Jane thought was a part of Whistler was actually a flimsy prop wall and now Jane can see right through the scaffolding to something very different underneath. Her posture is less rigid, her smile is wider, her eyes are softer. Even her ponytail seems looser. She leans forward again, bracing herself with one hand on the back of the couch and one hand on the arm, neatly bracketing Lucy below her.

“I do know the rules,” Whistler says.

But no, that’s not right.

“I do know the rules,” murmurs Kate, affection oozing out of her pores and beaming out of her eyes.

This person, the one bending over Lucy, wearing Whistler’s clothes and Whistler’s face, is certainly not DIA Officer Whistler, resident mean girl with a rampant ambitious streak who probably jacks off to the idea of red tape. No, this is someone else entirely.

And Jane has a sneaking suspicion Lucy has met her before.

Whistler—no, Kate—softly presses her lips against Lucy’s, for all the world like a loving wife after a long day.

“Sweet dreams,” she whispers into Lucy’s hair, and Lucy’s eyes slip closed, a goofy grin on her face.

Jane looks over at Jesse, hoping for confirmation that she’s not hallucinating. His eyes are wide and Kai seems like he’s forgotten how to breathe, so, okay. Not a hallucination, in fact. Lucy remains the only member of the team high as a kite, and the rest of them did honestly just watch…what?

Whistler and Lucy…kiss?

Whistler completely change personalities?

The little joke about the rules?

It all adds up to one, impossible, irrefutable fact.

Kate dons Whistler in the few steps across the room to the door. She turns back, almost chagrined, her Whistler mask still askew. “Text me when she comes down?”

Jane nods at her, still dumbfounded. Whistler finally walks out the door, and Jane can only stare at her retreating back.

Lucy and Kate Whistler are totally a couple.

 


 

Lucy’s rest doesn’t last long. She’s back up and ready to rock in less than twenty minutes, and doesn’t seem any more sober than before. Kai pulls out his phone and distracts her with baby animal videos for a while, but then there’s a blonde woman holding a tiny kitten, and Lucy says, “Oh my god, she looks like Kate, and she’s holding a baaaaaaaaaaby,” and Kai clearly can’t hold it in for a second longer.

“So Luce. Are you and Whistler, like…” He waggles his eyebrows until Jane smacks him.

“Shut up,” she mutters. “Not while she’s high.”

But the damage has been done. Lucy has heard the name of her…girlfriend? Lust object? Fuck buddy? Honestly Jane would rather not know. But Lucy has heard the name Whistler and the same look of utter rhapsody as before comes across her face.

“Yes, my good Kai. Me and Whistler are like…” She tries to waggle her eyebrows back but somehow the motion ends up mostly in her shoulders, making her look like she’s trying to shake off a spider.

“But!” Lucy yells. “It’s a secret!”

“Got it,” Jane says, trying to shut it down. “We heard nothing.”

“I SAID,” Lucy clears her throat, full on shouting now, and Jane drops her head into her hands. This one’s on her. “I SAID ME AND WHISTLER ARE A THING BUT IT’S A SECRET.”

Jesse gives up, dropping down onto the couch on Lucy’s other side. “What kind of a thing?”

A beatific smile comes across Lucy’s face. “Everything,” she beams. “All of the things. We do all of the things. And all of them are very good.”

Jesse’s eyes bug out again. “Not what I asked, for the record,” he says quickly, holding his hands up. “But good to know.”

“How long has this been going on?” Jane can’t help it. She’s a fucking CIA agent, for god’s sake, how did she not know that her agent was boning Whistler?

Lucy pinches up her forehead in what Jane is quickly coming to recognize as her thinking while off her rocker face. “When is now?”

Jane’s confused. “Six…fifteen?”

But Kai shakes his head. “April,” he says easily. “Now is April.”

Lucy nods. “January. Me and Whistler since January. And now is April.”

“How’d it happen?” Jesse is a shameless gossip and Jane is honestly never going to let him live it down. But she doesn’t shush him because fuck if she isn’t curious and a little bit of a hopeless romantic at heart. Something about the way Whistler was with Lucy those last few seconds, the way the walls slipped off and she was simply Kate—something about that makes her believe in feelings again.

“I mean, I saw her with my eyes,” Lucy says, waving her hands to show them where her eyes are. “And she was like…KAPLOW!” She claps her hands together shockingly loudly and everyone jumps. “KAPLOW!” she says again. “Beautiful! And she was so mean but also like, so nice on the insides. Like a warhead, you remember those candies? All sour at first but then all sweet and shit after like a second?”

Lucy closes her eyes for a second, and Jane actively choses to believe the expression on her face is because she loves the taste of warhead candies, not…anything else.

“And she thought I was very small and cute and I thought she was so tall and beautiful that I attacked her face!” she beams at all of them. “With my face!”

Kai snorts.

“And now we’re like…” she trails off, clearly lost in some very pleasant memories.

“That’s really nice, Lucy,” Jane says softly. “We’re happy for you.”

It takes Lucy a second to click back into the conversation, and when she does, her eyes are even more fogged than before.

“What’s really nice?”

Oh boy, Jane thinks. Goodbye short term memory.

 


 

It’s late, and they all want to go home, but Lucy is zonked out on the couch and no one has the heart to wake her up.

“I can stay,” Kai offers. “I know you guys have to get home to your kids.”

“No, I can stay,” Jane says. “She’s my responsibility, and I want to make sure she’s okay.”

“I can stay too,” Jesse says. “I can carry her to the car if you need.”

“I can stay,” Lucy mumbles. “Wait, stay where? What’s happening?” She pushes herself up into a sitting position and instantly sways a little bit. “Oh god,” she mutters, one hand on her head, her eyes slamming shut against the lights. “What happened to me? Why does my mouth taste like old death?”

Fucking finally. Exhausted, hungover, and very much sober—Lucy might not be having fun anymore, but Jane is thrilled. “Welcome back, Luce.”

Kai hands her a water and she groans her way through it as Jesse and Jane alternate telling her about the day she had.

“I don’t remember any of that,” Lucy says, dropping her head back onto the couch. “I remember them taking me, and putting the oxygen mask on me, and then nothing until now.”

“That’s…probably for the best,” Kai says, trying and failing to hide his smile.

Lucy might be hungover, but she’s still a great agent, so she clocks it immediately. “Why? What happened?”

“Um, you know the video ‘David after dentist?’”

Lucy groans, closing her eyes. “Oh no.” She drops a hand over her face, shielding herself from the team. “What did I say?”

“Nothing bad,” Jane says quickly, staring daggers at Jesse and Kai. “You were very happy.”

“Okay,” Lucy says slowly. “Happy seems fine…but you guys look weird.”

Kai redirects her back to the animal videos for a minute, which seems to do the trick. But just when Jane thinks they’ve maybe gotten away with it, just when she’s about to gather up her things to drive Lucy home and away from this entire situation, there’s a knock on her door.

“Hey,” Whistler says, poking her head into the room. “I just wanted to—oh. You’re awake.”

Whoops. Jane definitely forgot to text Whistler.

“She just came to.”

“Officer Whistler,” Lucy says, sitting up way too straight. Jane catches her wince, and tries desperately not to laugh. “What are you doing here so late?” Lucy’s enunciating like she’s at a formal event, like Whistler is some foreign dignitary. Whistler—who of course does not yet know about Lucy’s drug-induced amnesia—is looking more confused than Jane’s ever seen her, and honestly it’s fucking incredible.

Lucy is clearly trying to maintain their standard of secrecy, absolutely unaware of her shouts to the contrary mere hours ago. It would be funny if it weren’t—no. No, actually it’s hilarious no matter what.

Whistler tilts her head a little, clearly taking in Lucy’s condition, and Jane can tell that she’s deciding which person to be. “I wanted to make sure you were okay.”

So, Kate then.

Jane approves.

“Me?” Lucy’s eyes are wide open, the very picture of innocence. Jane wonders how they kept it a secret for so long if this is the best Lucy can do.

There’s a long moment where Jane can tell Kate is trying to decide what to do, trying to figure out how much they guessed. She’s about to take pity on her and step in, but then Kai snorts. He’s turning away from Lucy, silently laughing so hard that his back is shaking.

Kate’s lips twitch in that way that is quickly becoming familiar to Jane, the way that says her smile-at-Lucy instincts are fighting with her neutral-bitch-face-at-work instincts. The Lucy-related muscles seem to be winning, because Kate steps fully into the room, leaving Whistler out in the hallway.

She strides confidently towards the couch, and drops down next to Lucy, easily crossing one impossibly long leg over the other. Her arm falls around Lucy’s shoulders like it belongs there, and something inside of Jane quietly screeches at the way Lucy unconsciously leans into it before realizing what’s happening.

“Whistler,” she hisses, “What are you—”

But Kate just grins at her, something soft and purely affectionate, something that everyone can see but that’s only between them, and Lucy lets herself sink into Kate, just a little bit.

It’s the first time Jane’s ever seen Kate smile without trying to stop it.

“I’m afraid the jig is up, Agent Tara.” Kate’s voice is soft and Jane can tell she’s not upset about it in the least.

“What? How?”

“Well,” Kate says, leaning back, the very picture of a relaxed girlfriend. “You kept yelling about how pretty I was—very flattering, by the way, if not wildly inappropriate—plus you called me babe twice, and insisted I kiss you. On the lips. In front of everyone.”

“Oh my god.” Lucy buries her head in Kate’s shoulder, and Kate laughs, dropping a kiss into her hair.

“Kate, I’m so sorry.”

Kate waves her free hand in the air, looking a little chagrined but not embarrassed. “Don’t be. You were…what’s that thing you always say? Off your face.”

Lucy looks up at Kate, and this moment—more than when Lucy was yelling their history into the office—is when Jane feels like she’s intruding. There’s something about them when they lock eyes, something so private and intimate that she finds herself staring hard at the floor.

“I’m sorry,” Lucy says again, so softly this time. “I know how much this mattered to you.”

There’s a bit of a pause. Jane wants Kate to say ‘you matter to me’ but that might be too much, even for this evening of oversharing.

“The secrecy was always temporary,” Kate finally says, still staring at Lucy like she’s madly in love with her. “And I guess temporary ended tonight.”

“Uh, in the interest of full disclosure, after you left Lucy told us that you’ve been together since January,” Jesse says, scratching his neck. “Felt weird for us to know but neither of you to know that we know.”

Jane watches as Lucy puzzles her way through that complicated sentence. “Got it,” she says slowly. “Did I say anything else?”

“No,” Jane says quickly, at the same time as Kai says, “Just that the sex is great.”

“Kai!”

“OH my god,” Lucy moans, covering her face with her hands. “Someone sedate me. That’s it. I quit. I’m moving. To like, Antarctica. Or outer space.”

Kate is furiously blushing, even the tips of her ears and the base of her throat a brilliant red. “That’s…a lot.”

“It’s forgotten,” Jane says, which is absolutely impossible and they all know it.

“I am never doing drugs again,” Lucy vows, vehement and clearly humiliated. “I swear.”

Kate stands up, holding out her hands to help Lucy up. “How about, I’ll try not to get kidnapped and drugged by rogue sailors again? Seems more doable.”

Lucy lets Kate pull her to her feet, swaying just a bit until she leans her shoulder into Kate.

She’s so tiny next to Whistler, and Jane can’t help but find it adorable.

“Okay,” Kate says, looking around the office. “Um, I’m going to take her home and make sure she’s alright.” She pointedly doesn’t look over at Kai’s laugh-turned-cough, and it’s like she’s a hybrid, half-Kate half-Whistler. She’s not the Whistler Jane knew before this afternoon, but now that she’s on her feet, Lucy no longer in danger or begging for affection, she’s certainly not the heart eyes emoji anymore either.

Jane wonders if this will be the permanent state of things from now on, if all interactions with DIA Whistler will be a bit smoother, just a touch softer and easier than they were before.

“Good,” Jane says, going to hold the door open for them. “Lucy, take tomorrow off. I don’t want to see you until Monday.”

Normally she knows Lucy would protest that—she loves to seem tough—but Jane can tell that she’s barely going to be ready to look any of them in eye before Monday as it is.

“Yes ma’am.”

Whistler nods to Jane and the guys before guiding Lucy out into the bullpen and towards the elevator.

“I can’t believe you told them the sex is good,” Jane hears Whistler say, and she wonders why neither of these women can talk at all quietly, ever.

“I mean, I wasn’t wrong…”

Jane hurriedly shuts her door. She’s heard quite enough for one day, thanks.