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Connecting the Dots

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"Did you have somewhere in mind or what?" Natalia had responded to Sam with the most obvious question that occurred to her.

Sam shrugged and grinned, "I don't know."

"Are you into, like, clubbing? I'm really too old for going to a club," she laughed.

"No, it's just that...uh, it's loud and I don't really feel like I fit in..." Her grin turned into a grown. She looked sadly at Natalia and started to worry at her bottom lip.

Natalia hesitated for a few seconds, raised an eyebrow and said, "We can go to my place...if you want?"

She shrugged again and Natalia started to seriously wonder if the younger woman was actually hitting on her. Her earlier comment had mainly been in jest.

"Let me go close my tab," she hitched her thumb over her shoulder and got up. She wasn't sure why she'd suggested such a thing or why she'd even agreed to bail on her friends for the new girl in the first place.

As she rethought it while laying in her bed she realized that this was the moment that things went off the rails. Sam seemed nice enough and it may also be nice to have a quiet evening with slightly less talk about bodies and blood, she believed at the time. When she came back to the table she spoke to the group, "We're going to head out. I'll see you all on Monday."

"It was nice to, you know, see everyone outside of work," Sam said a bit shyly and got up as well.

Everyone said their farewells and Ryan muttered his into his drink and eyed them suspiciously. Walter laughed and clapped him on the shoulder. Horatio nodded to them both and watched them go without even rattling off any sort of pun.

As soon as they were away from the table, Sam said, "Wolfe barely said anything to me."

"That's how you can tell he likes you. I bet he'll get you some sort of present next."

"Should I tell him I have a boyfriend?"

"Do you have a boyfriend?"

"Well, yeah. I wouldn't make up a boyfriend just to avoid another dude."

"Then, yes. You should probably tell him. He's a nice guy. Don't let him waste his time."

She groaned, "God, this is awkward. You do it for me?"

Natalia laughed loudly then bluntly said, "No."

"Fine." She stopped and scratched the back of her head, "You want me to follow you, or..."

"Are you ok to drive?"

"Yeah, I only had that one drink. I know you're a cop, but damn."

They laughed again. Natalia was laughing a lot. She was having fun. Sam Owens was alright and there was nothing wrong with a new friend, right? Harmless.

The entire way back to her place, Natalia wondered if Sam was just taking her ass-kissing to the next level. She didn't know if she cared or not. She liked having someone new and somewhat interesting to talk to. She knew everything about everyone else and it was good to mix things up. The pretty lab tech would be a detective soon enough and they'd be out in the field together, checking things out, poking around crime scenes, dangerous stuff. She figured she may as well get to know her. It was important that everyone had each others' backs. They were a tight-knit group and they'd been through a lot together, but it was no reason to exclude the new girl.

Inside, Natalia tossed her keys onto her counter and sat her pistol and holster down next to them. She started to turn and asked, "Do you want to order some takeout or something?"

Sam was standing close behind her with both of her hands on the back of her head like a perp about to be cuffed. She shrugged. Shrugging seemed to be Sam's new thing. It was being snarky and now it was shrugging.

"You're kind of weird," Natalia scoffed. "No wonder they had you working nights. I always heard they put the super awkward people on graveyard so they interact with fewer humans."

She let her arms fall to her sides and sighed, "Thanks for not saying something about me being incompetent."

"How many times to do I have to apologize for that? You screwed up and you won't do it again, I hope."

Half-smiling, she tucked her hands into her pockets. "I don't know."

"Do you want food or not?" Natalia moved toward the refrigerator. She opened it and pulled out two bottles of beer from the bottom shelf. Sam didn't answer and took the bottle. Natalia grabbed the magnetic bottle opener from off of the front of her fridge and glared at her, attempting to prompt a response. She then said, "I think I liked you more when you were being a smart-ass or rattling off obscure facts."

Sam laughed uneasily and took a step closer.

"What are you doing?" Natalia asked her as the other girl took both the beer and the bottle opener away from her and sat them on the counter behind her. She grabbed the shorter woman's wrists and pinned them to her sides.

Before Natalia could attempt a confused protest, Sam's lips were on hers. Her back was pushed up against the edge of the counter and she found herself paralyzed. In the initial seconds of the contact she was unable to think about much more than the contact itself, the warm lips and then the tongue gently pressing on her own lower lip. When she parted her lips the other mouth became only marginally more eager. It was all cautious and sweet, not pushy, not demanding. She tasted lip gloss and a faint hint of beer. The lip gloss brought her back to some semblance of reality and she twisted her head away, managing to say, "Whoa...just, whoa. Stop."

Sam looked away and the expression on her face was not terribly unlike when Natalia had yelled at her in the lab.

"You have a boyfriend," Natalia spat out.

"That's my problem though, isn't it?" She turned back toward her slowly, sheepishly.

"I...whoa. Did I give you the, um, wrong idea at some point?"

"Yeah, when you kissed me back." She had tried to come off as her usual confident self, but her words fell a bit short and her smile was incredibly forced.

"You caught me off guard and I..." Natalia's voice trailed off and she closed her mouth so tightly her lips formed little more than a line. She exhaled and thought carefully about her words, "I'm not sure what's going on here. I'm not, um, into women." She shook her head, "You're not either. You have a boyfriend."

"Don't make excuses for me. That's seriously my problem. I can go if you want. I'm sure I've completely fucked any sort of professional relationship we had and you're going to have me fired, so I'll just go." She ran her hands through her hair and started for the door.

"Owens, wait." When the lanky brunette turned, Natalia said, "I wouldn't have you fired and you don't have to go." She winced when she completed her sentence.

"Ok, I'm confused." She shrugged yet again, "I realize you were probably just being nice."

Natalia closed her eyes and shook her head. She turned around and opened the first bottle of beer then the second. She crossed the room and handed one to Sam. "Walter said you were just sucking up, but I did get the vague impression that you were flirting with me."

"I don't know what I was doing," she frowned and then gave in and took a beer. "You seemed really cool and I just wanted you to like me. I realize that sounds really stupid, now that I said it out loud."

"Look," Natalia said firmly then took a sip of her drink. "Are you trying to get something to blackmail me or-"

"What? No!" Sam seemed genuinely offended. "Don't tell anyone. I feel like the biggest idiot in the world."

"Let me finish this drink and think for a minute."

"About firing me?"

"Relax. No one's getting fired," Natalia said and returned to the kitchen. She leaned on the counter where she had been and clenched her jaw trying to think. She ended up thinking very little, which was proven by the rapid progression of events. Sam walked to the sofa and sat down, her back to her. After a moment she asked, "So...were you flirting with me on purpose or not?"

"Yeah, I guess I was," she answered without turning around. "I don't want to talk about it."

"I don't either."

"Let's forget it happened."

"You wouldn't be the first person I, uh...from work."

"Oh, my God. Was it Horatio?" Sam turned around and her face brightened.

Natalia grimaced and then rubbed her forehead with her free hand, "No. Jesus Christ. It was Delko and I don't want to talk about that either."

"Do you want to talk about DNA analysis or something? You could tell me the hearing aid story."

This elicited some laughter from her again, "I'm glad you're back to normal."

Sam smiled at her over her shoulder, "For real though, I'm gonna go after I finish this beer."

"You don't have to. Go, that is," Natalia said so quickly that it was out of her mouth before she realized. She looked toward her feet and let her hair fall into her face. Her loose mohogany curls obscured her vision of her shoes. She had no idea what she was doing or why she was doing it. She downed the rest of her beer and sat the empty bottle next to the sink. Point B was rapidly reached after that moment.