"I was hoping that you might have time to discuss last week, Ph…" she stopped short when she saw not only that he wasn't alone but who it was seated on the opposite side of Phillip's desk. Her heart sank at the sight of him, even not seeing his face.
"Agent Dunham?" Phillip Broyles asked. If she wasn't mistaken, there was a hint of amusement in his voice.
"Files," she said, coming up with a word that could have been coming out of her mouth next. It probably served her right for taking the risk of addressing him by his first name instead of his title or sir. They hadn’t talked outside of work-related conversations since that night, but since she'd been coming to him for a personal reason she thought it would be okay.
There was a hint of a smile on his lips. He was so very amused, and enjoying it, too. He couldn't have planned this because she hadn't known she was going to come talk to him today.
"Dr. Bishop's financial files from last week that you have," she added.
"Ah, Agent Dunham, what a not so lovely surprise. You told me she was in the field, Phillip," Sanford Harris said. She didn't have to see his face to know he was snarling. The man didn't know how to do anything but. She still couldn't believe the decision had been overturned. She'd done her job and done it within the letter of the law, but she imagined someone higher up had seen fit to interfere with the decision.
She knew he and Phillip were friends, but what was he doing here? On work time? She'd never expected their paths to cross.
"I thought that she was," Phillip said, his eyes never straying from her. He didn't look unhappy or surprised to see her. And if she wasn't mistaken his eyes lingered just a little too long in places they shouldn’t have if he had just been looking her over as her boss.
"Finished your day early, Dunham?"
"Yes, I was just trying to clear my desk before going home."
"All right, I'll get the paperwork to you as soon as I can. Dr. Bishop very rarely gets anything he requests denied so I don't think there will be any issues."
"Thank you," she said, leaving the office then. She shut the door behind her, hand gripping the knob. What if she hadn't seen Sanford Harris before it was too late and she'd said something damning? In her line of work, with the stigma of prosecuting a high-ranking officer and being a woman to boot, she'd be ruined if even a whisper of the rumor that she was trying to sleep her way to the top came out.
She wouldn't put it past Sanford Harris to do that very thing. If he'd known about John Scott, she was sure that he wouldn't have stopped at hiring out a skywriting plane to broadcast the information to whoever would listen. And think less of her as a result.
She glanced over her shoulder at the closed door once before returning to her desk. She gave a passing thought on her way to wondering what they were talking about. Would he talk about her? She knew that to some people what had happened that night would be no big deal, but she didn't think he was one of those people. And didn't think he believed she was either.
She was going to ask him to meet for drinks, dinner maybe if he was open to the idea. And talk about that night. While nothing had happened in a physical sense, she wasn't the type of woman who slept with just anyone. It didn't matter that sex hadn't been a part of the equation that night. It very well could have been if he hadn't been the one to put the brakes on their kiss.
She glanced up at his windows from her desk, unable to see anything. She could go home. She had nothing to stay for, which was why she'd chosen this moment to finally approach him. It was the end of the work day and things were surprisingly quiet.
"Hey, Liv," Charlie said.
"Charlie," she said, relieved to have someone come along and distract her from her thoughts.
"Why are you still here? I thought you were clocked out?"
"Oh you know, this and that."
"A few of us are heading out if you want to join us."
She didn't really. Now that she'd gotten her courage up to talk to Phillip, she wanted to get it done with. Of course, that was assuming he wanted to talk to her and that he wasn't busy doing something with Sanford all evening.
"Sure, sounds good," she said. "Let me call Peter and Astrid, maybe they'll want to meet us."
"Great, we'll see you there."
"Anytime, Liv, figured you could use the evening out."
"Yeah," she said, eyes darting again to Phillip's office once Charlie had left the area of her desk. "I could."
Maybe it was a sign that she should just go on acting as if last week hadn't happened. Why else would Sanford Harris be here today of all days?
She called Astrid, assuming correctly that Peter was nearby, and invited them both to join in on the afterhours drinking. She had no plans on getting drunk, but a couple of drinks did hold appeal. She turned off her desk lamp and ensured that everything was tidy on her desk. She wasn't the type that could leave things haphazardly when she left for the day.
She switched over to the other line as she disconnected from Astrid.
"Agent Dunham," she said, grabbing her jacket and taking one last glance at Phillip's window. Sanford Harris was standing at the window, looking right at her.
'Yes, this is Phillip Broyles returning your call.'
He was what?
She looked away from Phillip's window and continued with what she had been doing before the phone call.
"You're either brave or very stupid," she said softly, pressing the cell phone to her shoulder as she slid her jacket on.
He gave a soft chuckle and she had to fight the urge to look up to his office again, wondering if he was laughing at her or something Sanford had said in the background.
'I'm sorry I didn't get back to you before you left for the day. Call when you're in.'
"Tonight?" she asked, putting distance between her and the office. She was not sure if that's what he was suggesting.
'I look forward to hearing from you then.'
She hung up then and she stared at the phone for a second before flipping it shut. So, he wanted her to know he wanted to hear what she had to say. That meant he'd been completely aware of the fact she was there to talk to him personally. She wasn't sure if she was glad or sorry he called. She imagined she'd find out later.
The drinks - and the camaraderie that went with them - were welcome. She couldn't remember the last time she'd let her hair down. Long before the warehouse and the night John died. She'd been so caught up with hiding her relationship with him from everyone that she closed herself off, afraid that she'd let something slip.
The downside of a relationship that had to be kept secret. Neither of them were married, they weren't having an affair, but a relationship between them would be frowned upon by the Bureau. Likely, one or both of them would have been transferred to a different city. Very possibly a different task entirely. That hadn't sat well with John. Or Olivia really now that she'd had some time to think on it harder.
Not wanting to think about John or anything else along those lines, she tried to keep focused on her fellow agents and what they were talking about. She'd missed so much, she realized as she listened. She and Charlie were talking, their heads practically touching so they could hear one another over the music and other conversations going on around them.
She stopped at a touch to her elbow, meeting Peter's eyes when she realized he was touching her. He leaned toward her. "I never thought I'd see Agent Broyles here," he said against her ear.
She turned her gaze to the door then, seeing him as he glanced around the bar. She supposed he was looking for her because when he saw her he lifted his hand in a slight wave.
"I'd better go see what he wants," she said.
"A roomful of agents and you assume he's here to see you," he said.
"Well, it was me he looked at, so yeah."
Peter glanced at her sharply, and she could read the question in his eyes. As if it was any of his business.
"I'll be back in a minute. He had someone in his office when I was leaving, so he probably would have talked to me then except he couldn't."
"And that would stop him from talking to you there?"
Olivia grimaced a little. "Yes, this person would stop him from talking with me."
He arched an eyebrow, waiting for her to provide more information most likely. She wasn't going to. She'd thought too much on Sanford Harris today as it was.
"I'll be back," she said, standing then and making her way to the doorway where Phillip was still standing. He hadn't even set foot into the bar more than he'd had to. Peter was right, he stood out here, but that was mostly because he never joined his agents for after-hours drinks.
"Hi," she said, ducking her head a little as she tucked some hair behind her ear.
"Problems with Peter Bishop?"
She glanced over her shoulder at the table where Peter sat, still watching her.
"No problems. He was just curious why you're here."
He smiled, clasping his hands in front of him. "And you told him?"
"That I'd be back I was just going to see what you wanted."
"Ah," he said. She saw what she could only identify as a flicker of disappointment pass over his face and she wondered what that was about.
"You came to me, Agent Dunham."
"Well, yes, I did, and you told me to call later." She looked over his shoulder. "You're plans with Harris fell through?"
"I had no plans with Sanford. We had a late lunch together to discuss some things and it ran long."
"I apologize if that was uncomfortable for you, seeing him in my office. He is, however, my friend and he's also a part of Homeland Security."
"I know what he is," Olivia said softly, afraid if she raised her voice he'd hear the venom just the mere thought of the man brought to the forefront.
"Did you want to go somewhere and talk?"
He smiled again. "Unless you had another time that was more convenient."
"Well, no," she said, trying to remember what exactly she'd planned on saying when she'd burst into his office earlier. She'd had a couple of drinks since then.
"Unless you changed your mind and no longer need to speak with me."
"No, I do," she said. "Let me say good night so they don't think I just bailed on them."
"All right. I'll be in my car."
She returned to the tables the group of them had taken for the night. She said good night to Charlie first. He was really the only one she owed anything to, he'd invited her to join them.
"Is something going on?" Peter asked when she moved to say good bye to him and Astrid.
"No," she said simply.
"All right," Peter said, seeming as though he didn't quite believe her.
"Glad you could make it. I'll see you tomorrow."
She gave a wave to a few other agents she hadn't really talked to that night and walked toward the exit.
Sanford sat in his darkened car, surprised to see Agent Dunham leave the bar. He'd assumed Phillip was meeting someone. His long-time friend had seemed somewhat distracted and had turned down Sanford's offer of continuing their conversation over dinner. He had not envisioned his friend meeting the bitch who'd ruined his career.
He watched Agent Dunham as she walked to Phillip's car and talked through the window. The two didn't look as if they were dating or in any way together. Maybe Sanford had it wrong. And, yet, why hadn't Phillip told him he had to meet someone about work?
He grabbed his binoculars from the passenger seat and held them to his eyes. Olivia was leaning toward Phillip a little too much, but they didn't appear to be saying anything. And they weren't falling into one another's arms.
Was she going after Phillip Broyles now? Setting him up to take a fall similar to his own. He wouldn't put it past her. She didn't know how the game worked, how to play by the rules. The conniving bitch hadn't seen the things he'd seen, gone through what he had. He had an unblemished career until she got done with him, ruining everything.
He gripped his steering wheel with one hand, having to calm himself or he'd be liable to get out of his car right now and deal with her. That would be messy and sloppy. Not to mention foolish. Most likely, the bar she'd just come out of was full of agents just like her. Do gooders. Following the letter of the law, never stopping to realize that the lines you toed in his world were blurred. Yes, there was right and wrong, but there was a grey area where things were forgiven, looked past. Those, like him, who served his country deserved that.
Agent Dunham walked from Phillip's car to another located in the parking lot. Her own, he imagined. He quickly fell into line behind them as they drove off, curious as to where they were going this late at night.
"How did you know I wanted to meet you?" Olivia asked as soon as she joined him in his car again. He'd followed her to her house. She obviously wasn't sure about letting him in, which was fine with him. He wasn't here to push her into anything.
"I have no files outstanding on my desk, certainly none that I owe you," she gave a little smile that said he was on the right track. "It's been about a week, and I figured it wouldn't be much longer now and you'd want to talk about that night. The more I thought about it, the more I wondered if perhaps you were going to say my name."
"I was," she said with a nod.
"I'm sorry Sanford ruined the moment."
"Very much so," he said.
"I was so shocked at seeing him in your office, I'm surprised I sounded coherent at all."
"You did fine. Any stumbling I'm sure he will attribute to just that, your surprise at seeing him. This was the first time?"
"Yes, I haven't seen him since the trial."
He leaned toward her, sliding a hand to her cheek. "I'm not him, Dunham. He may be my friend, but that doesn't mean I'm like him."
"Oh, I know that."
"Just so we're clear."
She smiled, meeting his eyes finally. That's what had worried him, talking about Sanford had caused her to distance herself from him. He'd waited patiently for her to seek him out. He assumed she would. It would have been funny if it hadn't been so odd to have her choose the moment he had his long-time friend in the office.
He leaned closer, doing what he'd waited for a week to have the opportunity to do again. He kissed her. She'd kissed him first that night at his house and he'd hesitated in responding. She didn't do the same in return tonight. She kissed him back immediately as if she, too, had been waiting all week just for the chance to do it again.
"Say it," he said, looking into her eyes when they broke the kiss to breathe.
"Phillip," she whispered, kissing him again.
They passed over fifteen minutes that way, sitting in his car kissing. She'd said his name a couple of more times, and he wondered if getting turned on by the almost breathless way she murmured it fresh from kissing him was wrong.
"Did you want to come in?"
"If you're sure you want me to."
She opened the door, closing her eyes almost immediately at the brightness of the dome light.
He followed her to the door, which she unlocked too slow as far as he was concerned. She let him in, closing the door behind him, and picked up where they'd left off in the car. She felt perfect pressing her body against him as she was. A part of him had deeply regretted putting a stop to anything happening between them last week. It was a small part of him, but still it was there.
Feeling the difference in her enthusiasm toward kissing him tonight, though, that regret was gone. Last week, she hadn't been kissing him. She'd been trying to fight a ghost. She could have kissed anyone. Tonight, there was no one in the room but the two of them.
Sanford drove slowly past the house, somehow not surprised to see the image of a body pressed up against the window near the door. He stopped and watched for a moment, trying to get over the betrayal he felt in knowing that body belonged to his friend.
He tried to see Agent Dunham as his friend might see her, but all Sanford saw was a woman who couldn't see the forest for the trees. She hadn't done her country, the Marine Corps. she served any favors. She hadn't kept him down, but always there would be a blemish on his record. She hadn't suffered anything as a result of her overzealous prosecution of him.
No, there was nothing positive he could see about Agent Dunham.
The figure against the window moved and a light came on elsewhere in the house. He didn't have to be a brain surgeon to know where they'd moved to. What his friend was doing at this very moment. He was tempted to call him, interrupt the mood, except if Phillip was anything like him he'd turned his phone off the moment he stepped inside the house.
He watched for a few minutes longer until the light was turned off and he could no longer see any movement. He sped off into the night, wanting more than ever to get her away from here. Away from the FBI, away from Boston, away from his friend.
Phillip wasn't completely taken by surprise to see Sanford waiting for him near his car the following afternoon. He'd been in meetings most of the day and had gotten a message that Sanford had been by. He hadn't gotten much sleep the night before and while not complaining was still ready for his day to be over.
"Sanford," he said, opening his door. He'd stopped at his house before coming in, so at least he wasn't wearing the same clothes he'd been wearing yesterday. The fact that he was tired probably hadn't been concealed, but he'd deal with the consequences if it meant more nights like last night.
"She's going to take you down, too."
"I saw you last night."
"I don't know what you think you saw, Sanford."
"You went to her house."
"You were following me?"
"I was curious. She seemed entirely too comfortable walking into your office yesterday."
"That's just the way she is." It had rubbed him the wrong way the first couple of times she did it, but now he just came to expect it from her. It was just her way.
"I'll say it again. She's gunning for you just as she did with me. She's probably got the complaint all ready to go in her head."
"Just as she did with you? I'm sorry, did she make you get drunk and sexually assault three Marines?"
"You know what I mean!"
"Or are you referring to the fact that Agent Dunham did her job. What her country was paying her to do?"
"You're taking her side now? Is that all it takes? A pretty girl to spread her legs for you and you betray your friends?"
"I'm not betraying anything, but my relationship - both personal and professional - with Agent Dunham is none of your concern. You don't work here. I do. And you know, it's funny. When she first came here, I treated her like she was worse than a piece of dog crap on a sidewalk for that very reason. I was siding with you. She'd done a good friend of mine wrong who hadn't deserved it. I quickly learned all Olivia Dunham cares about was doing the job. And doing it right. She wasn't out to get you. She simply prosecuted the case she was given to the best of her ability. And she won."
"It was overturned."
"You and I both know why it was overturned. It's still a man's world out there and they were willing to turn a blind eye because they need men like you as part of the rank and file."
"Are you going to see her again?"
"As if it's any of your business."
"I could report it."
"And who would believe you, Sanford? It'd be your word against hers and mine. She prosecuted you, cost you your career with the Marines, you don't think they'd see through that for what it is."
"To protect her from your vengeance, yes."
"When a man…"
"Don't even go there, Sanford. I'm not choosing anyone over anyone."
"By spending time with her you are."
"If that's how you see it. Now, if you'll excuse me I have things to do."
"I'm going home, Sanford. You might do well to do the same thing."
Phillip started his car, backed up and drove away, glancing only briefly at Sanford in his rearview mirror. To think he had harbored as much resentment against Olivia in the beginning as Sanford did? It was easy to do when she was just a faceless person, a name spoken between them after they'd shared a few drinks. Both had spoken over the years of what fate they'd like to see befall Olivia Dunham.
He knew her now, though, and the thought of anything happening to her the likes of which he and Sanford had discussed made him ill. They were none too kind to her in their means of disposal or disgrace.
He imagined it was possible that Sanford would inform someone of their relationship. Sanford had more in his closet than he'd want exposed, and Phillip knew about a lot of them. So, he liked to think that they were at somewhat of a standoff. At least for now.
He stopped at the store on the way home to get a few things he needed for the evening. He smiled when he pulled up in front of his home, saw her car there waiting for him. She'd used the key he'd given her that morning, he'd have to remember to get it back from her or he'd be locked out the next time he needed to use it.
He set the paper sack full of groceries for their dinner on the counter and welcomed her kiss. He had to tell her, he knew that. She had the right to know that the one person in this world who was gunning for her finally had something to hold over her head.
She didn't seem to have talking on her mind. Or dinner either for that matter as she worked his suit coat off, draping it over a nearby chair before continuing to his tie and his shirt.
Later. He'd tell her later.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com