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As he walked into the party he ignored the loud laughter coming from the pockets of people gathered together in small clusters around the room. There was only one person he was interested in seeing. Only one person he wanted to talk to. 

He strode into the room, his coat still draped around his massive frame, eyes scanning the crowd for a red gold head. He hadn’t seen her in days. He’d been forced to go up to Scotland alone, the first work-related road trip he’d undertaken without her since Barrow-in-Furness, chasing a lead. It had been long and grueling and lonely and he’d had a realization while driving his BMW through the glens and mountains and fog of Scotland, with only Tom Waits on the radio for company. 

He’d missed her presence on the road trip more than he’d thought he would. Her competent hands on the wheel. Her laughter. Her conversation. The way her lips moved as she talked. Her scent and the sound of her voice filling the vehicle. 

He was capable of driving himself, but he preferred the times when she was behind the wheel so that he could look at her to his heart's content without having to give a reason for doing so. As long as they were talking, he was allowed to watch the way her lips shaped words, the way her lashes fluttered as she blinked, the way her nose crinkled when she laughed and the apples of her cheeks swelled slightly as she grinned at whatever quip he’d made.

He’d missed her in many different ways and on the long drive home he’d resolved to tell her. He’d decided to explain his feelings and let the cards fall where they may. As long as they were on the table. Ever since her birthday he’d been struggling to figure out how to take the next step, how to explain that he wanted to see what they could create between them, not just with the agency, but with each other. 

Every time he smelled her scent, saw her figure walking toward him, or even away, he yearned to tell her how he felt, what he wanted, needed, from her, with her. He’d realized on the long, lonely trip, that there had never been, and would likely never be, another woman who suited him so well. One who inflamed his senses at the same time she engaged his mind. One who understood the job and the schedule, the unrelenting need for justice and truth, the driving need to make the puzzle pieces form a clear picture. 

He’d long thought that Charlotte was the most gorgeous woman he’d ever known, and physically that was true, no woman before or after Charlotte had come close to her outrageous physical beauty. But somehow, his partner had overtaken Charlotte in his estimation. Her beauty was a different sort. Physically she was any man’s dream. Curvy and lush in the right places, full lips and sparkling eyes and hair that he sometimes felt his fingers tingle with the ache to touch. 

But the beauty of Robin wasn’t just her physical form, it was the light she brought to the darkness. Her kindness, her decentness. Her calm and ordered collectedness. She was the most organized person he knew, aside from himself. Her case files were always complete and succinct, which was oddly arousing for some reason. She never failed to have exactly what he needed, when he needed it, anytime they were together. He’d joked multiple times that they could survive a nuclear blast with the contents of her bag. 

She could nearly always sense when he was in pain and never made a fuss over him, or even said a word about it. Instead, more often than not, she’d dig in her handbag and pull out pain medication or bring him a cup of tea and an ice pack and continue their conversation as though nothing had happened. 

Her presence in his life had done nothing but enrich it. And he needed her to know it. He needed her to understand that he valued no one as much as he valued her. Wanted no one as much as he wanted her. Cared for no one, indeed, loved no one, as he cared for and loved her.

He’d talked to her multiple times while in Scotland, but she’d refused to talk to him while he was driving, not wanting to distract him. Her voice through the line was soft and comforting, and he knew he could have told her any of the times he’d called her just to hear her voice. But he wanted to see her face as he explained. He just had to find her.

Laughter erupted next to him, a small group of party goers laughing uproariously at a joke or a story one of their number had shared, and he glanced their way instinctively, startled by the sudden noise. But as he turned his head back toward the kitchen he caught a glimpse of hair he’d know anywhere. She was walking out of the kitchen with their mutual friend Ilsa, followed by her roommate Max and his new boyfriend, Tamar. She was carrying a full glass of wine and laughing at something that had been said before they’d rounded the corner. 

He stood where he was, drinking the sight of her in. Thirsty for her scent in his nostrils, for the sound of her laughter in his ears, for the taste of her in his mouth. 

He waited. Unmoving. His eyes never leaving her. 

He watched as her head turned slowly, drawn inexorably toward him, her smile still wreathing her lips as her eyes met his across the room. 

He saw her lashes, dark with mascara, flare slightly as her eyes widened at the sight of him and as he held her gaze he felt heat sizzle between them. Her head tilted slightly, a questioning realization and he knew she could see everything he felt in his eyes. He felt a pull, as though there was a magnet connected to each of them, and without taking his eyes from hers he strode toward her, hardly caring if the people between them moved out of his way. He needed to be near her. He needed to feel her, hear her.

Kiss her. 

He barely registered anyone else around him as he approached her. Barely noticed that Ilsa swept the wineglass from her hand just as he reached her, his hands sliding around her, one tilting her face up, his thumb sweeping along her jaw as the other slid to the small of her back, drawing her to him and bracing her gently against his chest.

He dipped his head, feeling and hearing her quick intake of breath as his face lowered to hers, bringing his lips to her ear, “I’m going to kiss you. That alright?” He ran the tip of his battered nose along the shell of her ear, feeling her tiny nod as he captured the scent she’d sprayed behind her ear, breathing it in deeply and finally, gratefully, feeling he was exactly where he was meant to be. 

Without a thought for who may be watching, he slid his lips along the edge of her jaw until he finally met the plump softness of her lips with his own. His hand slid into her hair, the back of her head cradled in his large palm, his fingers slipping through silky red gold waves as she sighed against him, opening her mouth to him and allowing him to sweep his tongue against hers. 

He felt her hands slide around his waist, under his coat, her fingers clutching the wool of his sweater, tugging him even closer as he slid his tongue from her mouth, clasping her full bottom lip gently between his as he broke the kiss. He rubbed the side of his nose against hers, and unable to help himself, he stole two more gentle sucking kisses from her lips, aroused by the taste of her as much as the feel of her. 

He lifted his head a fraction to meet her eyes, seeing nothing but desire in the blue grey depths, before she stepped into his body, wrapping her arms around him and laid her head against his chest as he met Ilsa’s stunned, but smiling, eyes.

“Go,” she mouthed, her lips curving in a smile that clearly said, “Finally!”

He dropped a kiss on the top of Robin’s head as he turned and, with an arm around her waist, led her to the door, pausing only to gather her coat and handbag as he swept her out into the evening, the taste of her still lingering, wine sweet on his tongue.