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promise me (a rose garden)

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The bar was old and smelled of mildew, but it was still one of her favourite places in New York City. The warm lighting comforted her, and it was a familiar place for Tasha to go when she wanted to clear her head. She was on friendly terms with most of the staff after having visited the bar at least twice a week since she started working in the FBI New York office.

 

Tasha was waiting for a friend, and colleague, to arrive so they could have a few drinks and go out for pizza after, except he was supposed to be there over half an hour ago. Not that she minded being alone. She had spent most of her life alone, so one person not showing up for a drink didn't really have an impact; it still would have been nice if he had told her he wasn't coming though.

 

Picking up the now warming glass of beer she ordered for Reade when she got there, she downed half of it, before placing it back on the counter and sauntering over to the jukebox. “Hey Jimmy, what next?” She called out to her favourite bartender... not that she would ever tell him that.

 

She could have predicted what he was going to say. It was always one of the same songs despite the varied collection of music. Rose Garden – Stevie Nicks. She wasn't complaining though, he could have chose worse. Tasha swayed back to the bar, the familiar lyrics of the song filling the room; you never promised me a rose garden.

 

Tasha finished her drink, sliding the glass over to Jimmy, who was polishing glasses at the other end of the bar. “Same again?” He smiled, warmly. She thought for a second, before answering that she wanted a whiskey. Neat. “Long day, huh?”

 

“Too long,” She replied, returning the old man's smile, and hopping off her bar stool to go to the restroom.

 

Long day? Tasha thought. It's been a long week. Her boss had just been replaced with a hard ass, who wouldn't give her a break. Mayfair calls it tough love; Tasha calls it being a dick. She was good at her job though, Tasha would give her that.

 

Tasha halted in the doorway, when she looked up to find a blonde woman sat in the seat she had vacated only minutes before, with her back to her. Tasha didn't recognize her; she recognized all the regulars. Hell she was friends with all the regulars. Tasha made her way over to the bar, leaving a seat between them. The song finished then, you never... promised me a rose garden.

 

The blonde startled at the sound of Tasha's phone ringing from next to her, obviously not realising she had company. She locked eyes with Tasha, before Tasha jumped to answer her phone. “Hey, I can't come, sorry Tasha something came up.”

 

“Yeah no shit.” She laughed down the phone. “Have fun with your girlfriend.”

 

“I'm not-” Tasha cut Reade off.

 

“Tell Sarah I said hi.”

 

There was a long pause before he sighed and said, “Will do... See you tomorrow Tasha.”

 

“Yeah bye.” She hung up on him. Slightly pissed off that he would ditch her, but she understood. Reade and his girlfriend had been going through some issues recently, and if they were fixing things between them then she was glad for them.

 

Jimmy placed the whiskey down on the bar in front of her, giving her a pitying smile. “You alright hun?” Tasha could feel the eyes of the woman sat next to her, watching her as she waved Jimmy off.

 

“I'm good.” He nodded before going back to polishing the glasses.

 

Tasha nursed her drink for a while, taking small sips. She could feel the beer from earlier had already gone to her head, and she didn't want to end up completely drunk: that was when she made the worst decisions.

 

The bar got quieter as the night grew longer. Soon enough it was just Tasha and the blonde stranger left. “What's your name?” Tasha asked suddenly, breaking the silence that had long ago become awkward. The chatter had gone and no one had put another song on, so the air around them had become heavy.

 

Blondie looked over at Tasha in shock, not having expected her to actually start a conversation. “Me?” She looked around her, realising that they were alone. “Oh, um... Patterson.” She stuck her hand out between them, and Tasha gingerly took it.

 

“Nice to meet you Patterson.” She stood up from the bar, getting a confused look from the other woman, which turned into understanding, as she watched Tasha walk over to the pool table, and rack the balls at one end. Tasha glanced at her with a raised eyebrow, “wanna play?”

 

Patterson tried not to jump from her seat at the offer, pretending like she hadn't been dying to start a conversation with the beautiful woman since the second she set eyes on her. She slowly slipped off her seat, and joined Tasha at the pool table. “Sure,” she murmured finally.

 

“I'll break.” Tasha leant over the table, hitting the white ball and breaking the racked up balls. Patterson watched as they scattered across the table, and a striped ball slipped into a pocket.

 

It was Patterson's turn then. It had been over a year since she had played a single game of pool, and she wasn't sure she would be all that good at it. Momentarily regretting her decision to join this stranger in a game, she leant across the table. Patterson placed her shaking hand on the table, and successfully pocketed a plain ball. She sighed in relief, oblivious to the other woman watching her with an amused confusion.

 

Her eyes slid down to Patterson's chest where a necklace hung, and there was absolutely nothing else she could be looking at. It took her a second to realise what was on the necklace. “You military?” She gestured to the dog tag when Patterson straightened up, looking at her in slight confusion.

 

Patterson's hand came up, resting on the cold metal. “Yeah. Sergeant,” She smiled proudly at the woman opposite her, who nodded back at her, impressed.

 

The smile stayed on Patterson's face but her eyebrows furrowed at the sudden realisation that she still didn't know this woman's name, and here she was playing pool with her. “Sorry, what's your name?” Her face flushed; she didn't mean to sound that blunt but the other woman didn't seem to notice.

 

“Tasha Zapata.” She said casually over her shoulder, bending over the table right next to Patterson to take her next shot. They were so close their hips were almost touching.

 

“And what do you do, Tasha Zapata?” Tasha involuntarily shuddered at the way Patterson's voice lowered as she said her name. And she was struck with the sudden thought that she wouldn't mind hearing Patterson say her name like that many more times to come.

 

The agent pulled the bottom of her leather jacket out of the way, to reveal the FBI badge attached to her belt. Patterson's eyebrows rose in surprise. Looking at the woman in front of her, clad in black leather and jeans, she wasn't expecting her to be law enforcement. She was thinking perhaps a jewellery thief, or a motorcycle sales assistant.

 

Tasha laughed loudly at the sudden look that crossed Patterson's face. “Why does that surprise you?”

 

“You just... don't look the part.” Patterson laughed with her.

 

“That's all part of the job.” Tasha smirked at her, before taking a shot, potting the last one of Patterson's balls on the table. “Shit,” she huffed, straightening up. She half heartedly rolled her eyes as the other woman who was sporting a grin; all Patterson had to do then was get the 8-ball and she had won.

 

Patterson made a show of moving round the table, getting in line with the white and 8-ball. She slowly positioned her cue on her hand, and Tasha had to bite down on her lip to keep herself from laughing. “Just get on with it,” She muttered, feigning irritation.

 

“Loser buys drinks?” Patterson asked, with a small smile, which Tasha couldn't help but return. She said nothing as Patterson took the shot and... missed. She missed. Patterson's mouth gaped open like a fish. “Wh- How-”

 

Tasha burst out laughing, “how did you miss that?” She doubled over at the stunned look on Patterson's face. She had been so sure she was going to win. Sure enough, Tasha took the next shot, potting her last ball, then easily potted the 8-ball. Patterson was still stood to the side of the table, sulking now. “Loser buys drinks?” Tasha repeats her own words back to her, laughing harder at the scowl she got from the blonde.

 

Soon enough, they were sat back at the bar, Patterson ordering them both another drink. Tasha wasn't sure what time it was, but it felt like hours had passed since she got to the bar. Patterson got up, and in a short moment of panic, Tasha thought she was leaving, but she simply walked over to the jukebox and put on some music. She was pleasantly surprised at the choice of song. “The kinks?”

 

Patterson shrugged, sitting back down slightly facing Tasha in her seat. “What can I say, I'm a sucker for the seventies.” She smiled at Tasha over the rim of her glass, before taking a sip.

 

“So,” Tasha started, moving the conversation forward, “you're in the army. That must be exciting.”

 

“At times.” Patterson said simply, getting lost in her thoughts. She loved being in the army. She wanted to help people, and it was one of the only things she had known, but there are times she wishes she could go back and undo it all.

 

Tasha, realising that Patterson looked uncomfortable at the conversation topic, leant forward and placed a hand on her shoulder. She watched as the other woman's eyes slowly refocused on her surroundings, before looking at Tasha. “We don't have to talk about that.” She squeezed her upper arm gently, before releasing her hold and returning her hands back to her drink.

 

“No, it's... it's okay.” Patterson half smiled at her, but it didn't reach her eyes. “Some things are just... hard to think about.” Tasha nodded in understanding. She knew what it felt like to push memories down, and want to forget about them.

 

“Let's not think about that then.” Tasha stood up, pasting a wide smile on her face. She changed the music to something more upbeat and Patterson grinned up at her as a Wham! Song filled the air. “Dance with me?” Tasha shimmied badly over to the other woman, which got a laugh as she was hoping.

 

“Dance?!” Patterson looked around the empty bar. “You want to dance... here... with me?”

 

“Yup,” Tasha's lips popped. It must have been the alcohol they had been drinking all night, that gave Tasha the courage to take hold of Patterson's hand and pull her up from her bar stool. She led her round in a twirl, and Patterson squealed while she tumbled around at Tasha's lead. They seemed to forget about Jimmy standing behind the bar with a small smile on his lips, as they twirled and jumped about their makeshift dance floor. They danced and jived for longer than Tasha ever thought she would in a public place, only stopping when Jimmy told them he was closing up shop.

 

The two women were still laughing as they stumbled out the doorway of the bar. They hesitated in the doorway, not sure what was going to happen next. “How far do you have to go?” Tasha asked, peering at Patterson in the bright lights of New York.

 

It was a stark contrast to being inside the bar, with the warm orange lighting. It was 2am, yet it looked like it could be midday outside. “Not too far, I can get a cab.”

 

Tasha thought for a moment before deciding, “Look, I live like five minutes round the corner, if you wanna crash on my couch?”

 

“That...” Patterson looked like she was about to decline, but then she turned to Tasha with a smile. “That sounds nice, thank you.”

 

As Tasha looked at Patterson then, at the gratitude on her face, she wondered if this was what it felt like to have a friend. Sure, she had Reade, and she could probably include Kurt in the short list she had, but she only knew them through work, so Tasha wasn't entirely sure that counted.

 

They turned in the direction of Tasha's apartment, with linked arms partly to keep each other upright, but also because Tasha had found herself not wanting to let go of the other woman just yet. They walked in comfortable silence for a few minutes, until they were close to Tasha's apartment.

 

Tasha snuck glances sideways at the other woman. Patterson looked even more beautiful than she had before; the bright light made her all sharp lines, and strong edges. She thought she was being subtle, but the last time she glanced over at the other woman, she looked up into blue eyes staring pointedly at her. Tasha looked quickly back head of them, glad when they rounded the corned, and she stumbled up the stairs to the front door, Patterson following close behind her.

 

“Sorry about the mess. I wasn't expecting guests when I left this morning.” She laughed awkwardly as she let herself into her apartment, quickly darting around, picking up discarded clothing. Patterson muffled a laugh in her hand, pretended she didn't see Tasha then chuck the pile of clothes behind the sofa. “I'm gonna order some pizza in, do you want anything?” Tasha stood up straight, turning to face Patterson, who was hovering in the doorway.

 

“Oh uh...” Patterson was unsure how to answer, “no thank you I'll be okay,” she finally replied, despite how her stomach was protesting.

 

“You can't just not eat,” Tasha rolled her eyes, “I'll rephrase that, what do you want to eat?”

 

“I'm happy with whatever.” Patterson laughed at Tasha's exasperated expression.

 

That was how fifteen minutes later, they came to be sat on Tasha's sofa as if they were old friends. They had pizza on the coffee table in front of them, a beer in hand, and an old disney movie (Patterson's choice) playing in the background.

 

They talked into the early hours of the morning, despite the fact Tasha knew she had to be awake for work in a matter of hours. She knew she would regret it when she would be struggling to wake up in the morning, but right then as she sat facing the beautiful blonde woman, she didn't have a care in the world.

 

This woman who was a stranger to her just hours before, had managed to make her forget for a few hours. She had felt happier than she had in a long time.

 

They talked until Tasha realised Patterson could no longer keep her eyes open, her head drooping down onto Tasha's shoulder. She slid out from under the other woman, letting her drop carefully down onto the sofa. She pulled the throw on the back of the sofa, over her sleeping body.

 

Tasha hated to pull herself away from Patterson, but she had to get some sleep otherwise she would be dead on her feet tomorrow. “Goodnight,” she whispered just in case the other woman could hear her. When she got a small murmur in a reply she smiled, slipping into her bedroom and shutting the door behind her.

 

 

Patterson woke up just a few hours after she had fallen asleep, with a neck ache, having slept at a weird angle. When she opened her eyes, she was momentarily confused as to where she was, but then it all came back to her. The dazzling woman she had met at the bar. The pool; the dancing. She had invited her home where they had continued drinking.

 

She had no idea when she had fallen asleep, but the woman- Tasha, had taken the time to lay a blanket over her, which she was thankful for. She sat up slowly, knowing that any sudden movements and she would be right back down again. Her head throbbed as the early morning light streamed in through the living room window.

 

Her jeans lay in a crumpled heap on the floor by the sofa, which she slipped on as she stood up. The top she was wearing wasn't her own, and as she looked down at it, the memory of spilling almost a whole glass of wine down herself during their excited conversations came back to her. They had laughed about it for a long while.

 

Patterson scrounged around the kitchenette for a pad and a pen she could use to write a note. She knew it would be less awkward for both the women, if she wasn't there when Tasha woke up. She left the note on the counter, and grabbed her jacket from where it was laying over a kitchen stool. The blonde took one last look around the apartment, her gaze glancing to the door that Tasha was sleeping behind before she slipped away, shutting the door with a quiet clickbehind her.

 

 

It was only a few hours later that Tasha awoke, with a splitting headache and a silent promise to herself never to drink as much as she had the night before, again. She practically out of bed, making her way through to the living room. She wouldn't say she was surprised to find the sofa empty, but she was a little disappointed.

 

Sighing, Tasha went to her kitchenette, to make herself some coffee. That was when she noticed the white square of paper sat on the counter, which definitely wasn't there the night before. She picked it up and smiled as she read: It was nice to meet you, see you around. -P x