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Introduction to Alphabet Soup

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The first time he stays with her in DC she can’t apologise enough for the state of her apartment; the dryers don’t work so her laundry is hanging from every available edge and surface; the aircon broke the week after she moved in and her landlord is in Mexico for the summer. As a result every inch of her new home is stifling and he regrets the shirt that he changed in to after he landed. She is fidgety and fussy and he swears that the temperature in the room creeps up with every fluffed pillow and nervous question about his flight.

Eventually, he stands in front of her and holds her hands steady, pulling her flush against him.

“Annie, stop worrying,” he half scolds, but his smile breaks through, “What’s really going on?”

“I just wanted everything to be perfect,” she says finally, “This was supposed to be the start of something for me and it’s all going wrong!” She throws her hands up in the air and his grip falls to her elbows. She doesn’t step back though, so he rubs her bare arms and kisses her on the forehead.

“So what if the internship isn't everything you expected. That’s one of the perks of being young- you get to live and learn-”

“No, no, the internship’s great. It’s just…” she sighs and bites her lip, “I wanted this to be perfect. You being here. And then everything started breaking and everything’s a mess. You were supposed to see me thriving here, not falling apart like a little kid.”

For a moment he studies her carefully; the way her brow furrows in thought; her hair pulled back from the nape of her neck; the mismatched top and shorts that she clearly pulled off the line at random. She’s perfectly unpoised, and he loves her a little more for it.

“You know… I spent three hours shopping yesterday to find the perfect cool shirt to change in to once I landed today.” She raises an eyebrow at him and he laughs quietly. “I had this great idea that I’d turn up and we’d go to drinks with your cool new FBI friends and none of them would notice that I’m seventeen years older than you and fast approaching the end of my prime just as you reach yours. As if a shirt could fix all the insecurities that I have about us.”

He kisses her lips once, gently, before he pulls back to look at her. She’s staring at him with those doe eyes that melt him and he leans back in, capturing her lips again and cupping a hand against the back of her neck.

“So I guess we’ve both got a few things to work out?” she whispers finally as they break apart. He laughs in to her hair, presses their foreheads together and sighs.

“What say we forget about all that, just for a little while,” he kisses her gently between words, “And just sit around in our underwear until morning. This heat is ridiculous.