Gideon sighed as he closed the door of his apartment behind him. How could a day of sitting on his ass in Board meetings and press conferences be more tiring than one of car chases and adrenaline rushes? He was wiped, the combined emotional and mental toll over the last few days of the Board vote, almost losing Murphy in that warehouse, and Lauren's betrayal leaving him feeling like he'd been awake for a month.
Glad to finally be home, he headed towards the kitchen, tossing his suit jacket and tie over the back of the couch as he did. Stepping into the large room he paused, his eyes momentarily taking in the view of the city through the floor to ceiling windows - God, he loved that view - before he was moving again, stepping up to the central island just long enough to plunk down the bottle and piece of paper he was carrying. He paused to stare at them for a minute and then moved over to the fridge, pulling out a bottle of water and opening it. He had drained two thirds of the bottle in a single long draw before he'd even closed the fridge door, his frustration adding an unusual abruptness to his motions.
Sighing, he took the couple of steps back to the counter, untucking his shirt as he went, and looked down at the bottle and note. After another sip from the water bottle, he picked up the note that Lauren had sent with the Balvenie 40 year - did she know his soft spot or what? - and read through it for what felt like the hundredth time. He didn't know why he bothered, it didn't get any better. If anything subsequent read throughs had made the whole thing seem so much worse. He tossed the card back on the counter, staring at it and the bottle of scotch as he finished his water.
That note, well it's contents, was exactly why he had been avoiding Lauren all day. He'd even gone so far as to sleep at a hotel the night before so that she couldn't ambush him at home before the vote today. He'd shown up just in time for the meeting to begin and had barely looked in her direction as he'd laid out the deal that he'd struck with the FBI regarding various elements of the technology he'd developed at the 13th, especially the part where the deal was dependent on his continued presence both at the head of the company and at the 13th. He'd felt the eye daggers she'd been throwing at him the whole time, but refused to acknowledge her. The vote had been quick enough after that and he hadn't bothered to hide his disgust at even having the issue of his removal brought to the table, leaving as soon as the Board was dismissed, pushing past people with only the barest of courtesy, stating an important meeting as his excuse. He'd seen Lauren heading his way as he stepped into an elevator, but had quickly hit the door shut button, uninterested in either a shouting match or her attempt to play the whole thing off as though she'd been on his side the whole time.
When he'd read her note the first time after arriving at the precinct, he hadn't been surprised. In fact, it was almost precisely what he'd expected: no acknowledging that he was right, nothing about how she should have given him the benefit of the doubt about the 13th, not so much as a single 'sorry'. It was all just her trying to play him, again. Trying to convince him that she had been in the right from the get go, just protecting him. It had worked in the past, for lesser offenses on her front: scheduling meetings behind his back, authorizing a new hire he was against. But this… He was done with it all. He had the proper read on her now, no longer blinded by the prospect of her in his bed. The only positive he could find in the whole thing was that it certainly sounded like she'd given up.
He was just about to pick the note up and read it again when the doorbell rang. He sighed heavily, sure that his hopes about Lauren giving up any chance of getting back in his good graces had been premature. He left the kitchen, detouring briefly to drop his empty water bottle in the recycling bin, and headed into the entryway. He took a few deep breaths, preparing himself for the battle he was sure was coming, before opening the door.
Every opening line he'd come up with fell from his mind as he took in the sight of Detective Theresa Murphy. Before he could really process that reality, she was speaking.
"Hey. I hope you don't mind me coming by. I just…" She trailed off suddenly looking unsure of herself. He was quick to reassure her.
"No, not at all. I'm always happy to have your company." He stepped back with an inviting smile and gestured for her to come in.
She looked good, he thought, as she stepped past him and into his living room. Her hair, which he usually only saw in a ponytail, fell gently around her shoulders and the pretty blue blouse and jeans she had on gave her a softer, more feminine look than her uniform afforded.
"So, what's up?" His tone was upbeat, the surge of happiness at finding Murphy when he'd expected Lauren wiping out his previous exhaustion.
"Nothing. Not really, I just… I just wanted some company. It's been a long couple of days and my mom is visiting my brother and Mateo is at practice and-"
He cut her off before she could ramble further which she was glad of, "Ah, say no more. You're always welcome here."
With a gentle hand at the small of her back, he guided her towards the kitchen, "You hungry?"
She shrugged and shook her head slightly, not really sure what had compelled her to come over to his place and not sure what to do now that she was there. She hadn't wanted to go back to the empty house after dropping Mateo off and this had been the first place she thought to come, especially as she hadn't had a chance to congratulate him on the Board vote or FBI deal.
As she stepped into the kitchen, and stopped in the doorway, her eyes immediately landed on the bottle of scotch. The label didn't mean anything to her, but it seemed out of place in the otherwise clean and uncluttered room. Gideon, who'd been glancing through cupboards with little apparent success, turned back to her. Noticing her focus on the bottle and card, he spoke, answering the unasked question as he stepped towards her.
"Lauren." When she looked up at him with a confused expression, he pointed to the bottle and elaborated. "It's from Lauren. It was waiting for me at the 13th after the Board meeting."
She nodded briefly and then glanced again at the bottle before speaking, "She couldn't give it to you at the Board meeting?"
He shrugged, "She might have wanted to, but I didn't give her any kind of chance." He didn't miss the vindictive smile that passed across her face as she realized what he meant. She spoke before he could elaborate further.
"Is that her way of apologizing for trying to steal your company?" He could hear the snark and dislike in Murphy's voice, worse than it had been even when the two first met. He took a little bit of pleasure in how much Murphy had taken offense on his behalf at the attempted company takeover, it had been nice to feel like someone was honestly on his side throughout the last days.
In response to her question, he gave her a sarcastic smirk before answering, "Uh, kind of." At Murphy's confused look, he continued, "I'm certainly supposed to take it that way, but Lauren doesn't apologize for things. Ever. Not even when an apology is richly deserved." His voice held a mild bitterness as he picked up the card that had come with the bottle and handed it to Murphy to read.
She moved further into the room, stopping when she was leaning against the counter, facing the large windows, before she looked down at the card. She read the words through twice, not sure what she had been expecting, but knowing this wasn't it. When she finally looked up from the note, her expression was incredulous.
"Wow." She didn't know what else to say. It seemed impossible to her that Lauren could think so little of Gideon and so much of herself as to either believe the words or to think that he would somehow believe them. The woman had deliberately tried to take his company just because he was trying to do a little good in the world. Murphy couldn't even begin to understand. "Just… wow."
"Yeah, crazy, right?"
He moved across the kitchen as he spoke, moving deliberately toward a corner cabinet. He reached up a hand towards the cabinet door, but stopped partway through the motion and turned back to her.
"You know, up until a few days ago, I had thought that even with the company, and the money, and the…" he paused, "the complicated." His lips curling slightly in a wry smile as he referenced he and Murphy's conversation following the convention a few weeks earlier, "Despite all that, I honestly thought that the important part was that we were friends, just like when we were at MIT. Now…"
His voice trailed off as he reached up once again to the cabinet, opening the door and pulling out a bottle identical to the one on his kitchen island. Setting it on the counter, he reached in again and pulled out two glasses, holding them up to Murphy in question. When she shrugged and nodded in response, he picked up the bottle and moved back over to where she stood. As he set the glasses down and opened the bottle to pour, he continued his earlier thought.
"Now, I've spent the last week desperately fighting against the takeover of my company. A takeover that was largely engineered by someone I never thought not to trust." He pushed a glass of scotch over to her before picking up his own. Turning to face her he leaned sideways against the counter and she mirrored the position, her elbow on the marble surface. He stared into his glass for a long moment, before looking back at her with a small genuine smile. "Well, lesson learned, problem solved, and now we just have to keep moving forward."
He held his glass out to her and she gladly lifted her own to clink against his. Raising it to her mouth she took a cautious sip. Scotch wasn't an alcohol that she had a lot of experience with. Her father had preferred beer over anything hard, Scott's preferred liquor had been vodka for as long as she'd known him, and she wasn't a big drinker herself. She was pleasantly surprised by the smoothness of the flavor as it flowed over her tongue. None of the bite or harshness that she had been expecting; instead it had a warm, rich, oaky taste that seemed to coat the entirety of her mouth in the seconds before she swallowed. She hummed out a quiet sound of approval before taking another sip.
As she lowered the glass from her lips, she refocused her eyes on Gideon and almost dropped the undoubtedly expensive crystal glass in surprise at the sight.
His own glass hovered just in front of his lips, as though he had been about to drink and then promptly forgotten he was even holding it. His eyes were wide and dark as they locked with her own and she could see in her lower peripheral sight that his chest was rising and falling significantly faster than it had just a moment before, as though he'd run a good distance in the few seconds that had passed.
She could feel a blush spread over her face as she realized exactly what she must have looked and sounded like as she took those first couple of sips and burned hotter on her cheeks as her mind flashed through a series of scenarios - all of them involving the man standing in front of her - that would bring similar noises to her throat, scenarios not dissimilar to the ones going through his own mind if his intense expression was anything to go off of.
Desperate for something else to focus on, she spoke, the first work related thing she could think of as she forced her eyes away from his own to look down at the glass in her hands.
"So, I hear Reeves is partnering with the FBI on some new tech." Her tone was steady, she was grateful to hear, none of the attraction or desire that was currently roiling her stomach making it into her words.
Her voice pulled him out of his own thoughts - ones that largely concerned stepping over to her, taking her glass away, and kissing her until she made that little happy sighing noise again - and he cleared his throat loudly and took a long drink from his own glass before responding.
"Yes." His voice was a little raspy and he cleared his throat again before continuing, his eyes flickering around the kitchen as he tried to calm his racing heart rate, "They reached out to me directly after Agent Vaughn filed his report about the warehouse shootout. Apparently the remote controlled armored car caught their eye." He looked back at her with a smile, "And it wasn't too difficult to sell them on some of the other tech that we've developed for the 13th."
He was profoundly glad when she responded with a snarky response about VR glasses and taser-firing drones. The friendly banter about the various police tech that he'd developed or adapted over the last few months an easy distraction from his less than just-friends thoughts regarding Murphy and his revelations over the last couple of days.
Gideon was well aware that he was attracted to Murphy. He had been, in fact, ever since the orientation session on his first day at the 13th when she'd called him out in a room full of cops. That attraction had only grown as he'd gotten to know her better, as he got familiar with her sense of humor and cutting sarcasm, her compassion and loyalty, her patience and honesty. And sometime around when she was shooting through a wall as an act of pure trust, that attraction had morphed into something more. Into a level a caring, regard, and affection that had been both unexpected and incredibly welcome. It had been a long time since he'd truly cared in that way about anyone.
Even his feelings for Lauren couldn't really be described as caring. Maybe back at MIT, when they were truly just friends. Back before things got 'complicated'. They'd fallen into their sexual relationship more out of convenience than any kind of emotional attachment and sometime between their first time together (in his office while the party celebrating Reeves Industries first billion dollar deal carried on without them) and now, the sex had become more important than the friendship. So much so that he had barely noticed as she became more and more obsessed with making money and less interested in making a difference. Until they had been lying in his bed and she'd been talking about monetizing the app that had helped catch Sully's killer. And when she'd told him the Board was considering suspending him and he realized that "the Board" really meant her, he finally had to admit to himself that they weren't friends anymore. And he certainly didn't care about her. Not in the deep, happy way he did about Murphy.
They continued to chat about the 13th and the changes that might come with the new FBI/Reeves contract for several minutes and when the conversation died off neither felt any particular need to restart it, both content to sip their drinks in the comfortable silence of each other's company.
Gideon's thoughts drifted to the future. Not the one of the FBI and Reeves or even the 13th that they had been discussing, but rather to his own. It had been a long time, he realized, since he'd thought about his own personal future - not his company's, just his - and it bothered him how little he actually had of a future plan of any kind. For so long his plans had consisted entirely of the next project, the next problem to solve, the next curiosity to explore. As he stood in his kitchen with Murphy, slowly making his way through a glass of 40 year old scotch, he realized with a sharp mental jolt that it wasn't enough anymore to just move from problem to problem. He wanted more.
He shook himself out of this thoughts as he felt Murphy's hand on his own where it lay on the counter top. He dropped his eyes from where they'd been staring into space to look at her fingers resting gently against his own and smiled. They touched so rarely, almost deliberate in their avoidance of it, trying - at least on his part - to keep some distance for his own sanity's sake. Raising his head, he once again locked eyes with her. Her smile matched his as she spoke.
"I want to thank you again, Gideon, for helping Agent Vaughn." Her voice was gentle and sincere and his smile widened at the affectionate way she said his name. "I know that you had a lot of other stuff going on." He tilted his head at the obvious understatement of her words, but didn't interrupt. "And I know you didn't want to at first, so thank you. We wouldn't have gotten anywhere with this if it weren't for you."
She expected him to make some kind of smart ass remark about the necessity of his presence in things and was pleasantly surprised when he merely smiled and responded simply.
"You are very welcome."
They were both silent for a short moment, then he took a long sip of his scotch - finishing the glass and setting it aside - and spoke, his eyes focused on his glass and the countertop as he did.
"So, Agent Vaughn… Is that…?" He trailed off, not sure what he was asking or if he really wanted to know.
Not quite ready to talk about what Gideon had overheard at the warehouse when Vaughn had been so sure that they were going to die, Murphy decided to start with the relative simplicity of the offer he'd made her just a couple hours earlier.
"He offered me a job at the FBI." She took another drink of her scotch as she watched his reaction. He made no effort to hide the shock and disappointment he felt at her pronouncement. When he spoke his tone was largely teasing, but she thought she could detect a small amount of worry underneath.
"Why is it that every time you've stood in this kitchen it's been to tell me that someone wants you to leave me?" He shook his head slightly at his phrasing, his cheeks reddening slightly, "The 13th, I mean."
She let out a small huff of laughter as she remembered standing in this exact spot just a few weeks after meeting him, holding the transfer papers that Scott had drawn up for her and trying to make him understand why it might hold off a good amount of trouble for the 13th if she did leave. He had managed to talk her out of taking the transfer and for that she was profoundly glad.
"Well," she responded to his earlier statement, "this time you don't have to talk me out of anything. I already told him that I didn't want to leave."
She took the final sip from her glass as she watched a smile spread across his face and then set the glass down alongside his own, reaching over their still touching hands to do so.
"Yeah?" His voice was almost giddy and she laughed aloud at his relief.
"Yeah. He's actually who told me about the Reeves/FBI partnership. About how the 13th might have you around for a good long while to come."
"Well, now that my company is definitely my own, I would say that that is a pretty good bet, Detective." He smiled widely at her for a moment before a more somber expression took over his features. When he spoke again, his tone was wary and carefully neutral. "And will Agent Vaughn also be around for a while to come?"
And there it was, she thought, the question that had been inevitable ever since Gideon overheard Vaughn's confession during the shootout, though it was more delicately phrased than she had expected it to be. For a long moment, she was silent, trying to decide the best way to answer. Finally she decided not to beat around the bush.
"No. At least not with any attachment to me." She paused, studying the relief on his features and the soft smile that he now had. "Charlie and I… I don't regret what we had, despite the circumstances, but that relationship ended - for good reasons - a long time ago. He's part of my past and I think he should stay there." Her gaze locked on his as she finished speaking.
Gideon couldn't help the wide smile that spread across his face as he listened to her. He hadn't wanted to admit, when she first asked him to help the FBI agent, but a large part of his reluctance to become part of the search for the man's informant was the deep stab of jealousy that had shot through him when he realized exactly what kind of past the agent had with Murphy. He had overcome that because she had asked him to and, now, standing in his kitchen he was profoundly glad he had.
Because now he realized that the more that he wanted in his life, the more that he'd been thinking about earlier, he wanted her to be part of that. He wasn't sure what all else was part of that more, but he had a momentary flash of building a volcano with Mateo and doing dishes in her kitchen while her mother teased him about not eating enough. It all seemed damned good to him and he didn't want to wait one more moment before finding out if he was alone in that want.
Looking down at the counter - their empty glasses and her hand still resting next to his, her fingers on his own - he gathered himself and spoke, his eyes still on their hands.
"Murphy? You know how we pretend that there isn't something…?" He trailed off, his courage failing him even as he used his free hand to gesture briefly between them. He wasn't used to being nervous around anyone, but Murphy was different. She was worth being nervous about. And it was entirely possible that he had read the events of the last few weeks completely wrong.
There was a long pause before she responded, her voice barely a whisper in the quiet kitchen.
"Yeah." Her affirmation helped him find his strength and he looked up, his gaze locking on her own as he spoke again.
"How we pretend that we both don't feel…?" Again, he trailed off, not sure how to classify the many emotions he felt.
There was a longer pause as her eyes swept over his face, studying his features, and then she was sliding her hand more fully over his, as her whisper filled the space between them again.
He let out the breath that he hadn't realized that he was holding, intensely glad that she was confirming that he wasn't alone in how he felt. His eyes still locked on hers, he turned his hand over carefully under her own, bringing their palms together before he spoke again, his voice more confident than it had been moments before.
"Can we stop pretending?"
It took her only a split second to understand what he was saying and her gaze dropped fleetingly to his lips as she considered the question. It took her only another second to make a decision.
She had barely breathed out the syllable before he was moving, his hand wrapping around hers on the counter as his other swept across her cheek and into her hair and he leaned down to press his lips tightly against hers. She responded immediately, her own hand rising to his waist, her fingers curling against the material of his shirt as she stepped into him and opened her mouth to run her tongue over his bottom lip.
He groaned low in his throat as she pulled away slightly before he had a chance to take full advantage of her invitation. She grinned at his reaction as she teased him with a brief closed lipped kiss before she pulled away just the tiniest amount again.
"Theresa." Her name was a whispered plea, his voice low and raspy.
She pulled away more fully to look at him, her eyes dark with desire and wide in surprise. It took him a long moment to realize what he'd said and a look of mixed fear and apology crossed his features before she grinned at him saucily before moving back into him.
"Gideon." He'd never heard his name murmured with such intensity before, but he had no time to give it much thought as her lips met his and opened against them immediately. Their tongues danced together and he pulled her fully against him, her chest pressing tightly against his own as they gave in to the sparks that had been flying between them since that very first case together.
As their mouths moved together, Gideon had a fleeting thought that he would happily lose himself in her kiss forever. She tasted of the expensive scotch they'd both been drinking, but underneath that was a taste that was uniquely Murphy, strong and subtle all at once. He buried his hand deeper in her hair, pulling her even more fully against himself, desperate for more of her taste and touch, and feeling an answering desperation in her touch.
Several long, glorious moments passed before she pulled away from him again, the hand that had crept beneath his shirt to stroke his back retreating to her side as she took a couple of long deep gulps of air to steady her breathing.
"I should go."
Gideon could hear the reluctance in her voice, could feel it in the squeeze of her hand against his, but he understood. Where ever it was that this was going to lead, rushing into something more than they already had was unlikely to end well. He dropped his forehead against hers, his panting breath fanning across her face.
"Yeah." His voice was dark with desire and his eyes nearly black as she opened hers to meet them. "I know."
He pulled away from her, stepping back as the hand that he had buried in her hair drifted gently over the side of her neck and down her arm to tangle their fingers together. He studied her expression for a long moment, feeling a stab of pride at her flushed cheeks and kiss reddened lips even as a wave of pure affection washed over him. She was his more. Now he just had to figure how to not screw it up.
"I don't want you to leave." He spoke the words as mere fact, not a request or an attempt to guilt her into staying. He just wanted her to know.
She stepped back into him briefly for a short, sweet kiss. Then she was moving away again, her hands releasing his as she stepped back. "I know." She smiled brightly, "But I have to pick Mateo up from soccer."
They were silent as he walked with her back to the front door, his hand just grazing her back as they moved slowly through his apartment, neither particularly eager to reach the door. When they did, inevitably, get there he reached out for the handle, only to be stopped by her hand on his arm. His quizzical expression was met by her smile as she stepped into him, her hands going around his shoulders as she pressed her face to his shoulder. He responded by banding his arms tightly around her waist, his cheek against her hair.
They stood together for a long time, glad to just be in that moment with one another.
Eventually he released her, stepping away with a sad smile as he reached again for the handle. She nodded in agreement as he opened the door, her hand brushing his side as she stepped past him and through the threshold, turning back to face him once she was in the hallway. He was the first to speak.
She gave him a soft smile and turned. She'd gone only a step before she stopped and glanced over her shoulder at him.
"See you tomorrow, boss."
"Indeed you will, Detective Murphy."
She continued walking and he watched her until she rounded the corner out of his sight. Then he closed the door and moved back to the kitchen. Grabbing their glasses, he set them in the sink, and then moved to put the bottle back in the cabinet. As he did, he caught sight of Lauren's note, lying on the counter where Murphy had set it. Picking it up, he read it one last time, shaking his head at the immense shift that had occurred in his life over the past day. In just a few steps he had moved over to the trash can, opening the top with the foot lever as he tore the note in two and then four before dropping the pieces into the can and letting the lid shut over them. Lauren was the past. A past of wanting nothing of depth or substance. He wanted more.
And Theresa Murphy was the more that he wanted in his future.
He had no small amount of hope that he was what she wanted in hers as well.