Gregorio could refuse Sonja's offer to take her out only so many times. Especially when she was all dolled up and wearing the most illegal dress in all of New Orleans, Gregorio thought, and then mentally scolded herself for thinking of her colleague like that. But if she'd been able to say no before, when Sonja showed up like that, she could not think of a single good excuse not to go. Hell, what harm?
And it wasn't like she did not think of seeing Sonja outside of work, outside Pride's pub where they always were surrounded by friends. No, this was precisely why she'd declined all the times Sonja had asked. She wanted a new start in New Orleans - it was her second chance, and she didn't want to screw it up. And falling for your colleague, no matter how much you thought you saw her checking you out, would certainly screw it up. She was happy with her new team, at ease with them. She really didn't want to put that in jeopardy for something that would definitely not work. Gregorio never had much luck in the relationship department. And friends with benefits? Well, those always got complicated.
But right then, in the office's kitchen, when Sonja showed up in that dress, like she was there especially for her? Gregorio was a different person. Didn't she just put behind her the worst part of her life? the burden she'd been carrying with her all the way to DC and back? If she were honest, that's what had always been between her and proper relationships - Hannah had made her the reproach often enough. But now? She felt like celebrating. McKinley was out of her life for good, and it was truly liberating. Worth another drink and a night out with a friend. And it didn't hurt that said friend was gorgeous, and always looked at her with shining eyes.
She followed Sonja out into the French quarter. They were both walking at a slow pace side by side and enjoying the street music. Sonja didn't seem to be going with anywhere particular in mind, and in the end Gregorio couldn't help asking.
"Where are we going?"
"I don't know!" Sonja smiled.
"What do you mean you don't know? I thought we'd be joining some of your friends like you planned the other day?"
"Oh! Nah, they weren't up for it tonight. Besides," Sonja wrapped an arm around Gregorio's shoulder, despite the height difference, "this is about you! C'mon, this is big, you gotta celebrate!"
Gregorio would not blush under Sonja's attention, she would not! She could not help the big smile that spread on her face, though.
"C'mon, drink's on me," Sonja went on, dragging Gregorio into a bar.
She tried not to focus too much on Sonja's hand in hers as she followed.
A couple drinks into the evening, they were sitting at a small booth at yet another bar, Sonja having decided she'd had enough of walking around in heels on the cobbled streets. She'd been talking of going clubbing later, but Gregorio liked the relative quiet of the bar better. She was starting to feel tired, the good kind of tired that came from a nice evening, the buzz of the city, of music and of alcohol in her veins. She was sitting close to Sonja, and they were both sipping on their beers, just enjoying each other's company. Gregorio had stopped trying to prevent herself from staring at Sonja's lips when she thought she wasn't watching.
She couldn't remember when she'd been this content. Of course, there had been good times - and frustrating times too! - since she'd joined the NCIS team, and the evenings at Pride's pub after they'd closed a case were always a cherished moment. Especially when he'd handed her her new badge. But it was nothing compared to this feeling that she had now. With her ex on his way to prison, emptiness mixed the relief of finally having closure. She wasn't sure what she was going to do now, finding him and bringing him to justice had been such a big part of her life... but she had a new team now, and a whole city to rediscover. And most of all, she no longer felt ashamed.
Sonja nudged her with her elbow. Only then Gregorio noticed she'd finished her beer. "Everything alright?"
Gregorio smiled at her, and nodded. "Perfect!"
"You're not gonna go all mushy on me, are you?" Sonja asked, as she mirrored her smile. She didn't leave her time to find a proper answer. "You done?" She pointed to Gregorio's beer with her chin, and Gregorio nodded again. "Alright, then, let's go!"
She promptly got up, and took Gregorio's hand again, forcing her to follow.
"I want to dance!" Sonja shouted over the noise of some revelers partying in front of the bar.
Gregorio wished she remembered the streets of New Orleans better, because Sonja was leading her through backalleys and small lanes, and she figured if Sonja wasn't holding her she might get lost and have no idea where the hell she was. Sonja knew what she was doing, though, and it wasn't long before they found themselves in front of a nightclub. As soon as they'd paid their entries and their hands were stamped, Sonja turned around to face Gregorio, still holding her hand, and she walked backwards to the dance floor, an eyebrow quirked in challenge. As Gregorio followed she gave her hand a sudden tug, so that she was pulled closer. It sent a thrill up her spine. This was dangerous. This was Flirting With My Partner territory. But Percy was initiating it, and she wasn't about to push her away.
... Did Percy even realise she was gay? The thought occurred to her, but she brushed it off. Now wasn't the time to wonder if Sonja's behaviour was purposeful or if this was just what a girl's night out was for her.
"You're too serious!" Sonja yelled in her ear to try and cover the sound of the music as they were dancing. She put her hands on Gregorio's shoulders. "You need to relax!"
Gregorio's shoulders stiffened at the contact for a second, as if to prove Sonja's point. Sonja frowned.
"You okay? We can leave if you want!"
"No, I'm good." She was aware her tone wasn't very convincing, but she really didn't want the evening to end.
So when the music suddenly shifted to a slow dance, she tried to show it by pulling Sonja towards her. It seemed like they were already in the perfect position, with Sonja's hands already on her shoulders. Gregorio put her hands on Sonja's hips, though she did not dare properly hold her. She smiled at her with an eyebrow raised in challenge, much like Sonja had done earlier. So this was the new game they were playing?
She was surprised to hear Spnja speak over the music: "I didn't know you had it in you, Gregorio!"
Gregorio smiled to herself. Maybe it had never been a game after all. Maybe there was no point in finding that out now, and she should rather enjoy her night. There'd be time enough later to find out if this was just for fun or if there was meaning behind Sonja's words. She did not want to let herself hope. She just tried to live this moment.
Sonja's face was bathed in the slow moving neon lights of the club, and it all seemed so surreal. The past few days had been so surreal. But this was her life, now, apparently. For better or worse. Right now, she'd definitely rank it somewhere on the "better" part of the scale.
Especially later on, when Percy walked her back to her hotel, as daylight started to give the city its colours, and she stood on her tiptoes to place a small kiss at the corner of her mouth, before disappearing into the night with one of her signature winks. Oh, this was definitely for the better! And Right when Gregorio thought her life was gonna get boring...