The new guy was a pain. He kept talking about how he used to be a spy, and how he was just doing the private eye thing until he got back in the CIA's good graces.
"I don't think you're supposed to go around talking about being employed by the CIA," she said to him over papers for her latest case. She was carefully not looking at him, even if his desk was right in front of hers. Every time she did look up, he winked or made a lewd comment. So delightful, this Winger guy. Even his handsomeness was annoying.
After his first day she had tried to talk to Nadir about this. Because really, they were fine being the Nadir-Perry Detective Agency, and why the hell did they need someone else, again? Nadir talked about being overloaded with cases, and about Annie being pregnant with twins which would lead to him being constantly busy. (He also made a comment about how two people did not make a satisfying ensemble, but she just rolled her eyes and didn't argue.) Britta liked her colleague, and liked his wife, and she supposed that being there for your baby boys was important, so she stopped whining. But still. It sucked that Winger was the only one who applied when they opened a position.
Of course, he takes all the adultery cases ("Don't worry sir, I'll be able to tell if your wife is faithful just by giving her my number!"), so she doesn't have to deal with the extreme anger she usually felt at husbands with lingering hands and their tearful scorned wives who weren't able to stand up for themselves. Of course, it's kind of hilarious when he puts "Private Eyes" on and air-keyboards, trying to make Nadir and her join in. She doesn't, but maybe she smiles a little bit when he closes his eyes to throw himself in the chorus as Nadir sings the back-up vocals.
When Winger stumbles upon a murder case and needs someone to back him up, she looks at him haughtily before saying "My specialty is technical surveillance counter-measures."
"Ooh, fancy," he answers. "How about some real detective work for a change?"
"Murder cases aren't 'real detective work', Winger. Any police officer can work them out. Now, technical surveillance, that's-"
"Yeah, I'm sure you look very sexy in your leather clothes when you roam around a room looking for bugs, but come on, I need someone to tag along on a stakeout. I promise quality junk food and good conversation."
Maybe it's because for a moment he looks friendly instead of predatory. Maybe it's because sometimes, yeah, okay, technical work isn't super rewarding. In any case, she nods curtly and doesn't even sigh when Nadir says that stakeouts are contrived plot points to develop relationships.
"So, that's why Agent Slater dumped me," Winger says.
"That's what you get for trying to get into a relationship with a superior officer," Britta answers. "Although, you getting chubby-hubby for Law & Order night? And Glee? The mind strains."
"The continued existence of Glee is a head-scratcher indeed," Winger says, "and I'll gracefully ignore the comments on my relationship abilities. Mostly because we are still looking at around six hours of hanging in a car, but also because your obvious jealousy is kind of cute, Perry."
"The only thing I'm jealous of is how easy it seems to have time to watch TV when you don't have a real job."
"Oh, really, that's what you're going with? The CIA isn't real work? Have you seen my resume?"
"Please, acting a little and waving a gun around? Anybody could do it, Winger. Now, investigating real crimes, finding clues, without even being allowed to carry a sidearm? That takes talent."
They bicker back and forth, not stopped by Nadir's comments on will-they-won't-they as they usually are. (Really, Britta has been working with Nadir for years and she likes him a lot, but he's much better at investigating crimes than relationships.) The only thing that finally shuts him up is the suspect leaving his place. Britta silently starts the car and they follow him to his lair. He ends up being part of some kind of mafia organization. Britta insists that they go and get higher instances ("We don't even carry guns, Winger, I'm not jumping in a mafia building, let's just gather the info and get out of here"). Winger won't hear a word, though, and that's how they end up face to face with the suspect.
Winger immediately jumps into character. The bastard must have done his research, because the "Mr Grotti" he impersonates seems to be a name just known enough to invite trust, but not too much that Winger's recognized as an impostor. Of course Britta is just supposed to be some bimbo, and Winger will hear about that later, but she goes along with it as he wraps an arm around her waist. They talk, and then Winger asks bluntly about the suspect "taking care of" the victim who's murder they're investigating. She gets a hand in his back pocket to hit the record button on their portable recorder in order to catch the suspect's answer, all the while pretending to get impatient at their discussion. Winger holds her a little closer, all tough guy entertaining her womanly desires. She gets butterflies. She hopes they're from the solving of the case and not because she's wrapped around her coworker.
Winger thanks the guy for his good work. Then he grabs her ass and says "Now if you don't mind, Alphonse, I've got this lady to take care of". She's about to cut off his head with her bare hands when he kisses her. It's a good kiss. He goes slow at first, his eyes open with a warning in them and some kind of apology too. His arms are around her in a strong embrace, and she supposes she needs to go along with it, so she wraps her arms around his neck and gives in. She dimly hears Alphonse coughing and excusing himself. She stops kissing him as soon as they're alone, and for one moment it seems like Winger is wondering where she went, his hands still in the air where her face was a second before. Like he's surprised she's gone.
"Come on, we've got to go," she says, not looking at him. They get in the car and drive, not talking, his stupid stakeout mix the only sound.
Because Britta is the luckiest person alive, Nadir, her beloved colleague who breaks tension like he was born to do it, leaves on parental leave two days after she kissed Winger. At least he seems kind of sad to leave them alone, but apparently, babies kill storylines.
"They also kill libido," Winger remarks, and she once again wonders why she's thinking about that kiss whenever he's not talking.
Nadir must be confident in his sexual life because he doesn't pick up on the comment. "Perry, I'm leaving you in charge of the copyright infringement case I've been working on. There's also that Veridian Dynamics business case that's probably bigger than it seems. It even has the potential to turn into a story arc for several weeks. You should both take a look at it."
And then he leaves, and just like that, Britta is back to being part of a two-people ensemble.
She's not sure if it's because he's new at being a private detective - "I used to have analysts gathering evidence for me," he whines. "And then I got to kick ass and arrest people. Now I hand over evidence and let the police get all the credit." - but he sure seems to be tagging along in a lot of her cases, and he asks for her help on his also. The cases seem to merge more and more, with nothing staying on either of their desks for long before the other helps hatch a scheme. (Well, mostly Winger is the hatching one. Britta does constantly provide solid intel, though.) He helps her spot bugs and traces in industrial espionage cases. She finds herself lending him a hand in ludicrous cases all the time, pretending to be a new employee or somebody's mistress or a missing relative.
She puts the kiss in the back of her mind. It was one time. They pretend to be different people all the time now, and this was just necessary to Winger's character. It's probably for the best that it happened, too, resolving whatever sexual tension there could have been between them. Leaving them more comfortable, putting this kind of weird physical trust between them. They seem to be constantly in sync now, pieces of evidence seamlessly passing from one to the other, their characters playing off each other, their cases solved faster and faster.
Winger gets better at subtlety, Britta gets better at acting. Nadir is impressed when they call him to list off the cases they're making headway in. There's a lot of time in Britta's car, talking about their lives, listening to Radiohead, arguing. (Maybe he has better intentions that she first thought, but Winger is really kind of a douche.) They help a guy get back his rights on moist towelettes. They follow an unfaithful Mr Bennett around and Britta is happy when his wife talks about divorcing his ass on the spot, all proud-like, instead of the usual tears. They get a fake Spanish teacher fired, though Winger feels bad about that one and ends up uncovering a weird dalmatian fetish story when the teacher hires him in revenge. Winger's name ends up on the office wall, right after hers.
After several weeks, they finally crack the business case that Nadir was talking about. It was indeed a hell of a case, or more like a case wrapped in a case wrapped in another case, the business having a great legal department covering their asses to boot. They get the huge check to go with the solving, so Britta decides it's time to celebrate and takes out her whiskey.
"A private detective drinking whiskey? I didn't know you embraced the clichés so heartily, Perry. Where's your fedora?"
"Shut up or I won't give you any," Britta says, even as she's filling a second glass.
He takes it and raises it. "To the best investigating team ever," he toasts. She clinks her glass as she feels her cheeks color. She drinks just a little too fast, coughing as the whiskey burns the back of her throat. He looks at her with a teasing smile but doesn't say anything.
"I guess you're not that bad, for a CIA guy." She doesn't really think it anymore, but it feels like she needs to say something.
"Again with the insults! Perry, you need to have respect for your partner, it's not-"
And then she's kissing him. She kisses him to shut him up, she kisses him because he just called her his partner, because he looks hot in his stupid too tight shirt, because she didn't put their kiss in the back of her mind at all. He grabs her immediately, like he was waiting for it, his hands on her back and hers around his neck and it's like the first time. Except they're not in a mafia building in front of a murderer. They're alone in their office and his fingers toy with the hem of her shirt and she pushes the case files to the floor, like a cheesy movie. He lays her down on their desk and he's on top of her, and she's not even thinking about how much he'll tease her later.
He does tease her. But he also kisses her and has sex with her on the floor, in closets, all the time, all over the place. A week later Nadir walks in on them making out over a case file. He smiles like he expected it and says "Just don't take her with you when you get back in the CIA." Winger promises.
Nadir's not surprised either when Winger ends up breaking his promise.