Patterson was in a good mood even before she met the man of her dreams. She was ecstatic actually: two of her best friends were getting married. She'd gotten herself ordained in between the time Kurt proposed in Italy and the wedding day, and though she'd been unable to keep the big ear-to-ear grin off her face, she'd performed the ceremony and officiated the marriage of her two friends. She'd come to Jane and Weller's wedding perfectly sober even though Tasha had been carrying a flask that she and Reade had been passing less than discretely before the ceremony began. It was afterwards at the reception that she'd had the help of some magic in a bottle to amplify her good mood.
She was beyond being simply buzzed when she passed a shot of whiskey to Eleanor Hirst while the director was recording her congratulatory video message to the bride and groom.
"Shots!" Patterson yelled as she video-bombed Hirst's greeting and handed a full shot glass to her boss. "I met a man named Jonathan Walker Blue, and we are in love!"
She skipped away from the video booth and returned to the bar set up along the far wall.
"Have you see the rest of the wedding party?" Patterson slurred at the bartender, leaning slightly onto the bar. "There's Tasha and Edgar and me. But I know where I am so I don't need to find myself. S'okay. Have you seen them?"
"No," the bartender replied. "Sorry."
"Oh, totally. S'totally okay awesome," Patterson babbled. "But hey! You're the bar guy. Can I get a double of my boyfriend Mr. Jonathan Walker Blue? Neat in a glass. Because how else would you serve it? In a bowl?"
The bartender gave her a polite smile and set about pouring the whisky into a rocks glass. Patterson chuckled to herself as she waited. In a bowl, she giggled silently at her wit and took the glass from the bartender.
"Neat!" She laughed and toasted the bartender. "Oh hey, that works both ways." She took a sip of the amber liquid and turned away from the bar. She scanned the room for Zapata and Reade. She found them on the dance floor and watched them for a few moments before stumbling her way back to the table and sitting down.
A waiter with a tray of Champagne appeared at her elbow and she snagged a flute as he passed. She watched Reade spin Tasha, and she polished off the rest of her Johnnie Walker. The duo looked extremely happy to Patterson's blurred eyes. They were both laughing at something, and Tasha was grinning broadly. Patterson smiled and pulled her phone out, snapping a few pictures of them as they danced. She texted one of the better shots to Tasha as she sipped at her new drink. When the song ended, she held up her glass towards them, and Tasha dragged Reade to their table.
"Where have you been?" Tasha asked, dropping inelegantly into the chair next to Patterson. "You should have danced with us."
"Oh here and there. More there than here but..." she trailed off, seeming to forget what she was talking about. "I made a new friend!" she declared suddenly. "His name is Jonathan Walker Blue. We are going to get married."
Reade laughed. Tipsy Patterson was always lots of fun. "Mazel tov, Patterson. How much have you had to drink?"
Patterson considered the question for a minute. "I had shots, and Champagne of course, and my friend, the bar guy, poured a few of Mr. Blue," she laughed and hit the table with her open hand. "'A few of Mr. Blue.' That rhymes!"
Tasha patted Patterson's hand, and Patterson felt a chill race up her spine. "Yes, it does," she said patiently, arching an eyebrow at Reade. "But how many is 'a few'?"
Patterson twisted her lips and thought again. "More than one and less than four."
Reade slipped the Champagne flute from Patterson's hand and slid it just out of her reach. They'd only been at the reception for a little more than 90 minutes. "Ok, then," he said. "Let's take a break from this for a bit."
"No, Edgar, Ed, Eddie," Patterson said and started to reach for the glass again. "Hey, that's like that cartoon. You know? Do you remember that? Ed, Edd, and Eddy. You're an Eddie!"
Tasha stifled a laugh behind her hand and claimed Patterson's Champagne for herself. She sipped at it in an attempt to get her laughter under control.
"Oh my god, Patterson," she said, and then threw a look at Reade and smirked. "Eddie."
"Ok, let's find you something else to do," Reade said, helping Patterson to her feet. "You okay?"
"Better than ok," Patterson said. "I'm good, Eddie, great."
Tasha laughed again and received an annoyed look from Reade.
"Ok, W-" Reade began before earning a hard warning slap in the arm from Tasha. "Have you recorded your greeting for Weller and Jane yet? I think they need to see this."
Patterson grabbed another Champagne flute from a server's passing tray and dropped onto the bench in the video "booth." She sipped at it before toasting the camera enthusiastically.
"Weller and Jane! It's my turn," she began cheerfully before adopting a more serious and pensive tone. "Okay, so, if life was like Dungeons & Dragons, Jane, you would be an elf paladin; and Weller, you are a dwarf monk. That does make you like four feet tall, but you know what, I just thought you would think wizard is just like a little bit too nerdy. So, okay. What I'm trying to say is, you guys are amazing warriors on your own, but together, you can defeat anything."
Reade and Tasha stood slightly off camera watching as Patterson recorded her greeting. It seemed to go on forever, and Tasha was sure she'd already caught at least three references to D&D already. There were probably others that she'd missed. She glanced at Reade and rolled her eyes dramatically but Reade's attention was elsewhere.
"What are you staring at?" Tasha asked. She elbowed him when he didn't respond. "Reade? Hello?"
He nodded in the direction of a brunette woman standing at the bar looking towards the head table where Jane and Weller sat. "Do you know who that is?"
Tasha followed his gaze to the bar. She shook her head. "Um, I think Weller's cousin Jessica or Jamie or Michelle. Melanie maybe? Something female. Jane told me earlier but I don't remember."
"It's that flask," Reade admonished her. "More powerful than ZIP."
"Oh, like you didn't enjoy the flask, too," Tasha said. She gave him a friendly shove in the shoulder. "So, go meet her if you're so interested."
Reade watched the woman at the bar for another moment and then looked back at Patterson who was still going on, comparing Weller and Jane to RPG characters.
"Go," Tasha insisted. "I've got Patterson."
Reade hesitated for a moment and Tasha shoved him forward. She watched him walk away, straightening his tie as he went. The smile fell from her face as he reached the bar and started a conversation with the woman there. A few seconds later he was leading her away towards the dance floor. She turned around and found Patterson standing next to her.
"You okay?" Patterson asked. She suddenly seemed very lucid.
"Yeah," Tasha said, putting the smile back on. "What about you, the future Mrs. Walker Blue? How are you feeling? Still in your honeymoon phase?"
Patterson smiled at this.
"I think I should introduce you to my new boyfriend," she said and led Tasha towards the bar.
A row of empty shot glasses lined the bar in front of Tasha and Patterson. Somehow Patterson had convinced Tasha it was a good idea to do a "shot race." She'd had the bartender line up 10 shot glasses filled alternatingly with water and Johnnie Walker Blue. Tasha had started taking shots from one end of the line while Patterson began at the other. The first to finish three shots of whisky and two shots of water "won." Tasha was unclear if there was actually a prize but it sounded like a good idea at the time.
"That's five, and I win," she said as she slammed her fifth shot glass back down onto the bar. The room swam before her eyes, and she gripped the edge of the bar until she regained her balance. "And that was a terrible idea."
"The worst," Patterson agreed, tossing the final shot. She asked the bartender for the largest glass of water he had and drank half of it immediately. "I need to sit."
The two agents made their way back to their table and sat. Tasha looked for Reade. He was sitting at a table across the room with the woman from the bar, the one he'd been dancing with. She scowled at this and grabbed her phone. There was a text message notification.
"When did you text me?" she asked.
"What?" Patterson asked. "I did?"
Tasha held her phone out and showed Patterson the notification.
"Oh, I did." She thought for a second and remembered. "You were making moon eyes dancing with Reade."
"Moon eyes? I was not." Tasha pulled up the text from Patterson and saw the photo of her and Reade dancing. She stared at it for a few minutes. It was a really nice photo of the two of them. She put her phone down with a sign. "Moon eyes."
"Told you," Patterson said, sipping her water.
Tasha considered Reade one of her best friends but she was caught in the middle of every complex emotion you could have. It wasn't that long ago that Reade had kissed her and she'd freaked out but denied the actual freak out. She'd spent days, weeks even, trying to convince herself as well as Reade that it was nothing and that their friendship was unchanged. But it had been changed. She was irrationally jealous when he talked to other women or they showed any interest in him. She constantly encouraged him to meet people but watching him with other women was eating her alive inside. It wasn't right. He wasn't hers and never would be. She wasn't even certain that she wanted him like that. But still...
A wave of anger flooded her. He'd ditched her, even though she'd encouraged him to. She'd pushed him. Literally. He'd been staring at a woman at the bar who, barring complexion and ethnicity and wedding party garb, could have been Tasha's double. He'd gone and talked to her and they danced. Now he was over there laughing at whatever inane and certainly stupid thing she was saying. The room seemed too small suddenly, and she pushed her chair out abruptly.
"I need to get some air," she told Patterson, scooping her phone off the table and heading towards an open door leading to a small garden where Weller and Jane had been taking pictures earlier. She tripped on her heels and stopped to take them off before walking barefoot into the garden.
Patterson watched her go and took a look around. No one else seemed to have noticed Tasha's abrupt departure. She saw Reade sitting across the room flirting with Weller's cousin, and she instantly knew why Tasha had gone outside. It wasn't exactly the best kept secret that Tasha was in love with Reade. Patterson loved Reade. He was like her brother. But the way he and Tasha kept this back-and-forth platonic flirting thing going made her crazy. He'd act like he was interested in Tasha and then throw her away again. Not that Tasha wasn't equally guilty. But it hurt Patterson to see Tasha riding this particular emotional rollercoaster. She deserved to be treated better. She swiped two Champagne flutes from a server and headed out to join Tasha in the garden. Tasha was sitting on a concrete bench, staring out into the garden. Tears glistened on her cheeks.
"Scoot," Patterson said, sitting down and handing her friend a glass.
"Thanks," Tasha mumbled and took a sip of the Champagne.
They let the silence spin out before Patterson spoke again.
"You should just tell him," she said finally.
Tasha turned and levelled her gaze at Patterson. "Tell who what?" She wasn't dumb. She knew what Patterson meant.
"Oh, come on, Tash. I'm super, super drunk, not stupid. I know you're in love with Reade," Patterson said and gestured into the garden with her glass. "I'm pretty sure that rose bush knows you love Reade."
Tasha shook her head. "I don't. Not like that."
"Oh please. Then why are you out here crying?"
"Your fiancé makes me emotional," Tasha replied and wiped at her eyes, smudging her makeup.
Patterson snort-laughed. "He makes me laugh."
Tasha didn't respond for a long minute and drank long from her Champagne flute.
"It's so stupid," she said finally. "I don't want Reade but seeing him with someone else just makes me sick. I want him to be happy. I do. Really. I'm not jealous but I am. He looks at everyone but me. It's like he looks right through me. Like I'm not good enough. And when he did look at me, I freaked out and turned him down. And it's my own damn fault. I tell him to get back out there and meet people. I literally pushed him at Weller's cousin. I don't know, Patterson. I just..."
She looked down at her hands and fell silent. She didn't know what she wanted Patterson to say. There was really nothing to say. She was acting stupid over a man she didn't want while simultaneously marring the memory she would have of Jane and Weller's wedding. She wiped her tears again and turned her gaze out to the garden.
"'S'not stupid," Patterson said finally. She smiled, grabbed her friend's hand, and squeezed. "Maybe you and Reade aren't meant to be. S'okay. Be friends. You're great friends. And there's plenty of people who don't look through you, who think you are good enough, who'd love to be with the Tasha Zapata. Even if she is an emotional drunk."
"You're sweet, Patterson," she said. "But you're a liar. No one thinks that."