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The End, or Where It Begins

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In retrospect, they really should’ve seen it coming. It wasn’t like Nate had been subtle about his awkward shuffling, or that Sophie had tried to hide her willingness to go along with whatever he had planned. Or had not planned, as it were…

 

“Dinner.”

“As colleagues.”

“As friends.”

“A civilised working meal…”

“As friends.”

“Yeah… you said that part.”

The smile is blatantly flirtatious, just as much an invitation as it is a challenge. One that she hopes he’ll accept, sooner rather than later. She’s left him in peace, mostly, after San Lorenzo. Once she’d realised he had forgotten her real name, she’d had two choices—well, two she was willing to even consider, anyway: She could have confronted him directly, or she could’ve let him stew in his own juice until he was ready to admit he no longer remembered. With Nate, her default is always the latter. But that didn’t mean she couldn’t have her own fun while she waited for him to get his head out of his—

“Alright, before we go...” comes his voice from behind her, and when she stops to turn and face him, he walks right into her. Not without enough force to knock her off balance, but he still clutches at her hips and pulls her into his body. She does turn, then, and the atmosphere shifts. This is too public for any major revelation, though, as they both know. And they’re certainly not ready to be caught in the proverbial (let alone literal) act by the rest of the team, so she smiles her thanks, and he just nods, finally letting go off her waist.

Under some pretence or another—maybe Nate still needs his wallet, or Sophie her coat—, they make their way up to the apartment. There’s a tension between them, a nervous energy that gets worse (no, better) with every step up the stairs, and from the way they’re bumping into each other, it’s just like San Lorenzo, except she’s sober this time around, and Nate is… well, as sober as Nate ever is on a Tuesday afternoon.

 

The door hasn’t yet closed behind them when Nate pulls her back into his personal space, and this time, all the pretence is forgotten, all the make-believe that he needed cash, that she might be cold in just her thin top, that he’s brought her up to discuss another job, another con—she’s there because he wants her to be. Because he wants her.

He wants her. Has wanted her for as long as he can remember now, and his hands itch with the need to touch her. Finally, finally he can do something about it again; fingers buried in her hair, tongue tangled with hers.

Stumbling upstairs proves quite a challenge, with clothes haphazardly thrown into the most convenient direction. Her bra is soft in his hands, but her skin is softer when it falls to the steps they’re trying to climb. Sophie is naked before him by the time they reach his bedroom, and he stops in his tracks, waiting for her to make the last move. He did the same in San Lorenzo, that much he remembers with startling clarity, and he’s certain now he always will. There aren’t many things he fears, but pushing Sophie too far (too far away, or perhaps too close to the edge) is one of them.

She doesn’t hesitate, but a raised eyebrow and a quick flash of something in her eyes lets him know he’s been caught, and not just literally. Although the literal is all he’s thinking about now that she’s pulling him further inside the room and right into his bed, methodically removing the last of his clothes on the way. And after that, his doubts… Well, they never disappear completely, he’s far too in-control (or out-of-control?) for that, but they’re certainly put as far back into the recesses of his conscious mind as possible.

 

Morning. Nate opens his eyes with a little jerk. He’s awake instantly, but the novelty of the situation still slows his brain function enough that he wonders for a moment why someone else is in bed with him. Then memory returns, of course, and the smile that sneaks onto his face, that is novel, too. Sophie’s still out cold, and although this is only the second time they’ve slept together, he’s slept next to her more than enough times to know that she won’t even notice him getting up.

The sight of the clothes still strewn about his apartment makes him smile again, at least until he hits his little toe on the kitchen counter, and then it’s the usual morning routine: turn on the coffee machine, find a clean cup—make that two this time—, add a liberal dose of whiskey, and see if anything in the fridge is still edible (and isn’t neon-coloured soda or, well, neon-coloured cereal). In-between, he even manages to pull on at least his undershirt and pants—a feat in and off itself, considering where they’d thrown them last night.

He’s halfway through his second cup when he hears movement upstairs, and if there has ever been a sight more glorious than Sophie dressed in nothing but one of his shirts, then he hasn’t seen it. And he doesn’t think he wants to, either. No, he’s happy with what he’s got right here.

“Sleep well?”

She just nods, a soft smile on her face, and steals a kiss before she finds her own cup. They make their way to the couch and just sit in silence for a while. He could get used to this, and that is a dangerous thought if he’s ever had one. Because they won’t keep this up, they can’t. They’re not the kind of people for a casual affair, and it can’t be more than that.

As if sensing his thoughts, Sophie turns a questioning eyebrow his way. He doesn’t know how to explain, and that can’t be filed under novelties. He never knows how to explain himself to her. But maybe he doesn’t need to, not this time, because she’s taking his cup from his hand and setting it on the table, and before he can process that action, they’re entangled again, not even pausing when she sends them flying off the couch and right onto the floor.

Somehow, there’s more urgency between them this morning. Sophie doesn’t even bother undressing him, pulls down his pants just enough, and making a decidedly impatient noise in the back of her throat when he takes the time to rid her of his shirt. But he wants to see her in all her glory, see what is his for at least a little while, and maybe make her forget that she doesn’t want to stay.

 

The floor is just a tad too uncomfortable to go back to sleep after, but it doesn’t keep him from trying. How she can have enough energy to get up, he has no idea, but he sure appreciates the sight of her stretching, not the least bit shy about being naked in front of him. He loses sight of her after that, but he can still hear her rummaging around.

“Nate?”

“Hmm?” he hums, close to drifting off into a sleep they both know she’ll have to wake him from again in just a few minutes, once she’s freshened up a little.

“We suck at this whole ‘friends’ thing.”

He just chuckles.