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Tea and Cardigans

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“Miss Page, what brings you to Homeland Security?” Dinah was happy to see the reporter even if she sent a quick prayer to any deity that nothing scandalous had happened. Karen Page was a reporter after all. With a quick glance, she noticed all that she needed; a visitor’s pass, notebook showing from her purse, and a small recorder-shaped object in her pocket.

“I thought we agreed to drop formalities, agent Madani,” Karen answered with a smile that Dinah quickly returned. As always, she felt at ease when she was with Karen. “There’s a press conference that I need to attend.”

“Oh, that,” Dinah sighed in relief. That meant that nothing catastrophic had happened without her knowing. It was just a standard press release after all. They needed to inform public that the dangerous bomber had been caught. It could not be easy for the blonde woman who had been in the centre of it all. Dinah noticed that she looked quite pale. Surely New York Bulletin could have sent someone else instead?

“You seem relieved. Has something happened?” Karen asked. At least half of the intention had to be professional curiosity. Dinah shook her head and hated that she should not relax completely around the reporter. She genuinely enjoyed Karen’s company.

“Just usual stress,” Dinah lied easily. Karen raised one eyebrow but did not ask anything.

“It’s been hectic after…” Karen trailed off and bit her lip. Dinah wanted to hug the other woman. Karen may have gone through a lot but she was still a civilian. She had not become accustomed to violence like Dinah had. Naturally she would be even more strongly affected by the incident.

“Yeah… The conference is in 20 minutes, right? May I offer a cup of coffee before that?” Dinah changed the topic. Now was not the best time to talk about what happened in that hotel. A mere 20 minutes would not be enough. “I was heading towards the cafeteria and I wouldn’t mind company.”

“I’d love to although I’d rather have a cup of tea.” Dinah noticed a slight hoarse and nasal undertone that she had noticed even in the hotel after the incident.

“Are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” Karen mumbled and sniffled quietly, “I… the stress is just getting me, I think.”

Dinah said nothing. To her, it was clearly not nothing but if Karen insisted, she wouldn’t argue. The reporter was adult and could make her decisions.

Few sips of tea later Karen admitted that she has taken few pills of cold medicine earlier and that it was simply wearing off. Still, Karen had work to do and it seemed like a small cold wasn’t stopping her. Dinah couldn’t help but smile at the stubbornness. She would have done the exact same.

“Is it always this cold here?”

“I don’t think so,” Dinah answered politely, suspecting that the poor blonde was running a fever already. The slight blush on her pale cheeks was supporting her theory. She was surprised to notice that she wished she could grab the reporter, take her to home and nurse her back to health. Normally she didn’t like sick people that much but Karen Page managed to be attractive even with a seasonal cold.

“Oh…” Karen seemed to think for a moment. Her brows furrowed adorably, too. Most likely she had reached the same conclusion as Dinah. “Maybe it’s just my imagination then?”

“I do have an extra cardigan in my office if you need it,” the offer slipped out before Dinah could think it over even once. Karen’s hand froze and the steaming cup of tea was in the mid-air.

“I… you don’t need to trouble yourself,” the reporter protested with a wet sniffle.

“Karen, it’s not a trouble at all. Besides, I wouldn’t want you to suffer through that conference,” Dinah said easily and bit her lip. She couldn’t say that she felt odd need to protect the other woman. If half of the rumours were true, Karen Page would not appreciate it. She had been a woman who had done a lot of things to be able to protect herself on her own.

However, she could always try one thing. There was nothing to lose and Karen had to be aware of the tension between them. Dinah had been from the first meeting when she had conducted the most inappropriate questioning of her career. It had taken focus to not to touch the other woman.

“That’s very kind of you,” Karen accepted.

Dinah faked her best confident smile; “And maybe I just wish to see you again.”

“Oh,” the blush on reporter’s cheeks were not because of the slight fever she may or may not had. Karen toyed nervously with her cup and refused to meet Dinah’s eyes. “Well, I do owe you a cup of coffee, so…”

“It’s a date?” Dinah asked hopefully.

Karen nodded and opened her mouth to say something. Instead, she turned to her side, sneezing twice in her elbow.

“Bless you,” Dinah said sympathetically while Karen opened her purse and found a pack of tissues and some medicine.

“Thank you,” Karen mumbled and popped a pill. She swallowed it quickly with her tea.

“Come on. The conference will start in few minutes and we need to swing by my office.”

Karen followed quietly, only sniffling few times. By the time they reached the conference room, the reporter sounded less sick and Dinah was relieved. Karen looked still pale but she wasn’t shivering anymore.

“Do you mind if I return this cardigan later? I think I want to go straight home after this…” Karen nodded towards the conference room and grimaced. “And maybe sleep a week after I finish writing article on this.”

“Sure. You’ll text me though?”

“Yeah,” the reporter agreed, “I wish I could kiss you without risk of infecting you.”

Dinah grinned and stepped forward. She touched Karen’s lips softly– they were chapped so maybe the woman was dehydrated already. She could see Karen swallowing hard and leaned in to whisper: “Maybe that’ll be an incentive to get better.”

“Y-yeah,” Karen whispered back in sort of daze and Dinah felt a warm wave rushing over her when she saw how much a simple gesture could affect the reporter.

“I’ll see you later, Karen,” Dinah purred, carefully not letting her delight to show on her face. The reaction was instant. Karen flushed and stumbled over her words.

“I… er, see you later, Dinah.”

Dinah could feel reporter eyes on her all the way back to elevator. She didn’t mind the smug smile that scared half of her fellow agents and had the rest gossiping like high school girls.