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I was only looking for a human to reciprocate

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"Holy shit!" Clonsky cracks a grin. He's been assigned as their chauffeur back from the airport, unfortunately for everyone. "You two look like a couple of--"

Fuller, exchanging a quick look with Hart, takes the liberty of kneeing Clonsky in the groin. "Better for all of us if you don't finish that sentence." They're in slacks and button-downs, hair pulled back, sunglasses on. They know what they look like a couple of.

"Winners, Clonsky," Gracie finishes for him instead. "We look like a couple of winners."


A few weeks later


Fuller's apartment is above a small, independent cafe. The kind frequented by the kind of people Fuller takes great pleasure in beating up, and the kind that makes the whole block smell of coffee grounds. "Sorry about the smell. I think there's some atmospheric caffeine, too. I have ibuprofen if it gives you a headache." She opens the door and reveals a space not unlike Gracie's own apartment.

Spotless, but sparse. It validates something. Like the things they have in common so hugely outweigh the occasional differences.

"I love ibuprofen!" Gracie replies, knee-jerk. Coughs. "I'll let you know." There are no pictures up on the wall. Gracie can't stop smiling.

Sam shuts the door behind them, and Gracie can see her smiling too. She knows now that "Beers at my place?" was, in fact, Fuller's way of asking Gracie out. "Hell yeah," was, (and she already knew this), Gracie's way of saying yes.

Fuller leads them to her living area -- an unadorned futon in front of a bookshelf and a television set. She gestures for Gracie to sit down, so she does, but doesn't bother hiding the way her gaze rakes over the titles, her head tilted to read better. Not much fiction, not surprising. What does surprise her is the bottom shelf of VHS tapes. "Homeward Bound? Andre? Fuller, you sure we're in your house?"

From the next room comes a noise of indignation. "What are you even saying, Hart?" She pops open one beer, and then another. "Not sure you can judge me when your blouse alone cost over two hundred bucks. We gonna have a conversation about taste?" She emerges, puts a bottle of beer in Gracie's hand and sits down opposite her on the futon. "We're gonna start with your shoes."

She's wearing heels, new ones, courtesy of Joel. "You're about to launch into something about how impractical they are, right? For a mission, absolutely. I just didn't figure I'd end up running down any dark alleys tonight. I mean, I thought that would be a safe assumption."

"And here I thought you read my file, Hart."

Gracie smiles and taps the lip of her bottle. "Top to bottom."

Fuller shakes her head, the shadow of an answering smile on her lips. "Shut up and drink your beer, Hart. You're too wound up for me to kiss you sober."

Hart's heart does calisthenics, but she manages to squeak out "Not true!" and meet Sam halfway in a kiss. Tentative, searching, then deeper.

Agent Fuller kisses like she's sparring. She's powerful, owning this, but in the most sensuous way. Gracie doesn't stop herself from making small noises of pleasure.

Gracie expects the sex to be like that too, if they have it. She's not presuming, just preparing. That kind of athletic session isn't something she's had with any sort of regularity, but judging by the intensity of Sam's mouth on hers, she feels the need to train. She and Fuller are such an even match -- what if she can't keep up in the bedroom? All of the anxieties that she's shoved down so far, in order to get this far, bubble up, like little burps, garlic flavored. Fuller, of course, can sense it.

"Checking out, Hart? This not okay?" She sits back, but not far. They still share the same air, and Sam's hand is cupping the back of Gracie's head, thumb gently moving back and forth. "If you need a minute, that's more than fine."

"Nah," Gracie smiles, not having to work too hard to convince herself. "I'm here. I'm with you."

"Well, quit thinking so loudly then. This isn't a chess match. I can hear the gears turning."

Brute force will quiet the anxiety, surely. Gracie leans in for another kiss, but in the seconds before contact, blurts out, that nervous flutter in her chest ready to explode, "What do you like in bed?"

Fuller is amused, pretty endeared, actually, but she can't resist the opportunity to tease. "Oh, I'm useless unless hardcore mutilation is involved. You?" Gracie doesn't laugh -- panic spreads across her face and settles with a flush onto her neck and chest. Sam takes pity. "I have broad tastes. I like giving my partner a good time. And," because Gracie is still stiff with anxiety, "we're not doing more than this, more than kissing, tonight. You don't have to worry, Hart."

"I'm not -- I'm not worried, exactly. It's just. You're so confident! And I don't. I don't have a lot of experience."

Fuller's eyebrows rise. "With women?"

"With anyone!" Gracie takes a long swig of beer. "My last… partner, he didn't stick around. Agent Matthews, and he isn't exactly forth-coming with details, so I'm pretty sure that I'm…"

"Better than his ass? Look, Hart, if you're half as good in bed as you are in the field, you're more than enough to take me down."

Hart perks up. "So, you're saying that I could take you? Want to repeat that? I think I have an audio recorder in my bag… let me see here." She rummages around at her feet, giving the flush a chance to clear. She's relieved, and now Fuller is smacking her on the shoulder and smiling, and everything is gonna be okay. "I do want to," Gracie adds, quiet. "Do more, I mean. With you." She chances a glance up. "Tonight, if that's what you want, too. Which you probably don't, shit."

"Don't start those gears again, Gracie. I'm down for more. With you."


The next morning


Fuller is awake but still lying in bed when Gracie comes back in, wearing underpants and her blouse, buttoned up half-way. "Smells good," she murmurs, still languid on her pillow, sheets half-off. Sam Fuller is sumptuous against cream sheets.

"I should have asked first, but I didn't want to ruin the surprise," Gracie admits.

"Hey," Fuller says, lazily, "I'm not one to turn down breakfast in bed. Even if the breakfast did come from my pantry." The bedroom is starting to smell faintly of maple syrup in addition to coffee beans.

Gracie sits down on the edge of the bed and carefully sets two plates between them. "L'eggo my Eggo," she says, her voice soft. Sincerity holds for a moment, then quickly devolves into a bed-shaking knee slap and loud snorting laughter. "There's coffee, too, but I didn't have enough hands."

"Waffles is good." She bought them last week. Sam takes a bite, lifting the warm waffle to her mouth with her hands, foregoing the fork Gracie has so carefully included.

Hart just watches, smiles. She leans over and touches her fingertip to Sam's lips, and then brings it to her own. "Syrup," she explains. "I wanted to do something special for you, because, well, okay, this is a little sudden, but--"

Sam swallows, giving in to the urge to pull the sheet up over her body. This isn't going anywhere good, not if her instincts know anything. "Got something you want to share with the class, Hart?"

Gracie shrugs, smiles, and says "Happy anniversary."

"E-excuse me?"

"I know we just slept together, and like, this is technically our first date, right?" Fuller was supposed to laugh, give her a kiss. Maybe even say something sexy, because, they could actually, maybe be future girlfriends. Couldn't they? "You got assigned to me a month ago. It's the anniversary of our partnership."

"I think you mean you got assigned to me. Assigned to be a pain in my ass." It isn't a declaration of love, but Sam lowers the sheet and takes another bite of her waffle. "You gonna bring the coffee so we can toast this occasion?"

"Absolutely. Partner."