When Caitlin opens her front door, the first thing she sees is a bouquet of flowers. The blossoms are bright and colourful and plentiful, the baby's breath and green foliage around them making the bouquet almost as wide as the doorway. Their scent envelopes her and she dimly registers that these were not just grabbed at the nearest Wal-Mart; this is a proper bouquet, professionally made, lovingly chosen.
It lowers to reveal Joe's serious, if a little nervous, face and it takes all of Caitlin's strength not to take the bouquet from his arms and beat him over the head with it.
She crosses her arms over her chest, cocks her hip, takes no pleasure in how he swallows hard. Well, not much anyway. "Isn't this a bit of a cliché?" she asks, her voice frosty and he nods.
"Completely." He meets her gaze, doesn't blink. "I'm sorry."
He's obviously sincere and she feels her heart begin to thaw around the edges. "You should be." She's not about to let him off the hook, but she steps back, accepting the flowers and letting him into the apartment. Turning on her heel, she heads to the kitchen, grabbing a vase from the sideboard on the way. She busies herself with taking the flowers out of their wrapping, putting them in water, even arranging them so that the brightest ones are dead centre. Once she's happy with that, she leaves them on the counter, turns to see Joe standing in the doorway between kitchen and living room, jacket and tie gone, top shirt button open.
"I'm sorry," he says again when her eyes meet his and she sighs as she feels the annoyance flare up again at the memory of the words he'd said, the look in his eyes when he'd said them. She'd been stitching up Iris's shoulder concentrating on that rather than Joe's ranting at Barry for letting Iris out herself in danger - like Barry had ever had a chance of stopping her once she'd put her mind to something. Only when she'd heard Joe say her name had she looked up and she'd seen his face filled with anger. "You knew about this?" he'd demanded and before she'd been able to say anything to defend herself, he'd followed it up with, "I expected better from you," before he'd stormed out, leaving a horrified silence in his wake.
Oh, Barry and Iris had both assured her Joe would calm down, would be horrified by what he'd said, and she hadnt doubted the truth of that.
That knowledge didn't make her any less mad.
"I get you were worried about Iris," she tells him now. "I know you were frightened that something worse could have happened. But there was no time for me to tell you what we were going to do. And even if there had been? I'm not so sure I would have."
Joe's head drops. "Because you know I would have moved heaven and earth to be there."
"And if you'd been recognised..." She doesn't need to continue that train of thought. If the people Iris had been trying to intercept had seen Joe, they would have tried to kill him, possibly Iris too, and there were enough of them that not even Barry would have been fast enough to save them both. Joe sighs as the knowledge hits him, shakes his head as he walks towards her. She stays where she is, grips onto the counter with both hands so she won't reach for him.
He's avoided her for the last two days. She's stubborn enough, pissed off enough, to be a little petty.
"I'm sorry." He says it again as his hands find her hips. His fingers flex gently against the thin material of her dress and a shiver runs up Caitlin's spine. "I should have let you talk... and I shouldn't have avoided you afterwards. I was angry and scared... and honestly? You keeping stuff from me... it brought a lot of stuff from my marriage back." She hadn't considered that and she feels her eyes widen. "But those are my issues... and I should have talked them through with you." He leans in, brushes a kiss across her forehead, lets his lips linger as he whispers, "I'm sorry."
Caitlin sucks in a deep breath, lets it out slowly, the last of two days' tension draining from her shoulders as she does so. "You're forgiven."
Joe blinks, looks surprised. "Just like that? Because I can grovel."
She laughs as her hands find the buttons of his shirt. "Grovelling is good," she allows, sliding one open. "But there are other things I'd rather do..."
He understands her meaning instantly, raises one eyebrow as he looks down at her. Whatever he sees in her face has his hands closing over her wrists as a devilish smile crosses his lips. "That a fact?" Gently, but firmly, he places both her hands on the counter, returns his to her hips before sliding them down to the hem of her skirt. Once there, his hands dip under the material, slide up her leg, pushing her skirt up and making her bite her lip at the swell of desire that courses through her veins. He hooks his fingers in the edges of her underwear, helps her remove them and then he drops to his knees, his fingers parting her folds as his tongue darts out to taste her. She gasps at the contact, at the sensations it causes and she feels his lips curl up into a smile as his tongue circles her clit in slow, steady strokes, alternating between just the right amount of pressure and nowhere near enough. One of her hands maintains its white knuckled grip on the edge of the counter, the other finds the back of his head, moves across his hair and he actually hums at the touch. That's almost enough to tip her over the edge but not quite and maybe he realises it because he does it again, flicks his tongue with just a bit more pressure and that's it. She throws her head back with a shout as white hot pleasure explodes behind her closed eyelids, courses through every part of her and his lips and tongue don't stop until she's shivering and breathing hard, ready to collapse into his arms.
Except she doesn't collapse because when he stands, he doesn't give her a chance to. Instead he scoops her into his arms, carries her into her bedroom. Clothes are shed quickly and then he's on top of her, moving inside her, his eyes locked with hers and she feels herself responding to him, arches her back as she meets him movement for movement. This time, her release is even more explosive, something she would have said wasn't possible and she scores nail marks into his back as she feels him follow her over the precipice.
He kisses her then, soft and long and slow, lets his hands roam over her body with no real intent and it seems like hours later when her head is on his shoulder and she giggles into his chest. "If that's how you grovel," she says, stretching against him languidly, "we should fight more often."
"Nope." Joe's response is quick, surprising her, but when he crooks a finger under her chin, raising her head to look into his eyes, what she sees on his face makes her heart stutter in her chest. "I say we skip the fighting... go straight to the making up."
Caitlin smiles. "Deal."