“San... dude... talk to me.”

“Go away.”

“C’mon, San! Why’re you mad?”

Sandra groaned; if he didn’t back off, she was gonna hurt him. Bad.

AJ, however, didn’t seem to find her glares threatening. He’d followed her out of the office after her day had been over, asking her to wait up, to slow down, to talk to him, anything. He didn’t know - never imagined - she’d get upset with HIM.

“San!” he called out one final time. “Will you just WAIT?!”

She abruptly stopped, and he heard the annoyed sigh that escaped her as she waited, her back still turned to him. He couldn’t help but smile. Not even two days, and he already knew what made her tick. Kind of. He walked up and around her, facing her. She didn’t seem the least bit amused by the puppy dog eyes and pout.

“San.. what’s wrong?”

“You’re wrong,” she replied. In a sudden burts of anger, she reached out and pushed him back, sending him stubling back a few steps. “I can’t believe you! HOW could you go and do that - and think it’d be FUNNY?!”

She waited for an answer, but when all she got was his laughter, she reached out again and smacked his arm. “AJ! I’m serious! WHY did you do that?! You KNEW, damnit. You knew, and you took advantage of it! And for what? Your own personal enjoyment?!”

“San, I’m sorry...”

“Oh, I don’t wanna hear it,” she groaned, stepping around him and heading toward the bus stop.

“You’re taking the bus?”

“Several of them,” she called over her shoulder. “Us common folk sometimes have to do that.”

“San! Lemme give you a ride!”

“No. I let you do that the day before yesterday, and see where it got me.”

AJ groaned in frustration. This woman was driving him crazy. “I really am sorry!”

“Save it!” she hollered, turning to face him once she’d reached the bus stop. “I’m not in the mood to listen to anything right now!”

“Fine then!” AJ screamed back. “See if I care!”

“Fine!” Sandra shouted back.

“All right then!”

“Whatever!” she called back, moments before hopping on the bus.

“Damnit,” AJ grumbled. Not only had she frustrated him beyond belief; she’d also gotten the last word in the argument. “Why in the hell did she get so damn pissed, anyway?!”

- - - - - - -

If Nick’s curiosity wasn’t piqued then, it surely was now.

He’d watched from the third floor of the building as Sandra stormed across the parking lot, AJ hot on her heels. He’d heard AJ’s muffled cries for her to slow down and wait for him, seen the way she purposely picked up her pace, and watched in amusement as she finally stopped and proceeded to shove AJ.

He was amused, that is, until he saw the angry expression on her face. One laced with a betrayal of some sort. But.. AJ? What could he have done?

When Nick saw her smack him, he knew something was incredibly wrong, and he headed out of the office he and AJ shared to go out there. He’d stepped through the main doors just as AJ yelled, “Fine! See if I care!”

“Fine!” he’d heard Sandra shout, who was, by this time, more than just a few feet away from AJ; she’d been walking quickly toward the bus stop.

AJ hollered back, as did she, getting the final word as she disappeared into the bus. He’d reached AJ just as he muttered to himself, “Why in the hell did she get so damn pissed, anyway?!”

“That’s what I’d like to know,” Nick replied, startling AJ.

“Damnit, Nick! You scared the shit outta me.. how much did you hear?”

“Not much,” Nick confessed. “But I saw enough to know she’s really ticked off with you. What’d you do?”

AJ shook his head. He wasn’t about to let Nick know he’d purposely set up a meeting between them so he could see Sandra’s reaction to Nick. That’d be about as wrong as him thinking it’d be amusing in the first place.

“Don’t worry about it, man. Whatever it is, I’m sure she’ll let me know after she beats me up a few more times.”

“You really like her, don’t you?” Nick asked, apprehension evident in his voice.

“I do, I think,” AJ confessed. “But not the way you’re thinking, Carter. I’m gonna leave that up to you.”

“Me? What’re you talking about?”

“Don’t play dumb with me,” AJ laughed. “I’m better at it. Don’t think I haven’t seen the way you’ve been looking at her all day. Don’t think I don’t know WHY you ran into the damn door this morning, either,” he added, laughing when Nick’s gaze lowered to the ground and a blush creeped into his cheeks. “She was the distraction, right?”

When Nick didn’t answer, AJ knew he’d hit the nail right on the head. “She’s pretty, isn’t she?”

“Very,” Nick agreed quietly. “But she doesn’t seem to like me very much... did you notice how she acted toward me? Cold, man.”

“Yeah...” AJ trailed off. “There’s a reason, too.”

“There is?” Nick asked, surprised. “I did something wrong already?”

“Not you,” AJ said quickly. “But someone did... maybe someone way before she met us.”

“So why take it out on me?”

“Maybe you remind her of that person?” AJ offered with a shrug. “She said something the day before yesterday that makes sense now..” he gave Nick an apologetic look. “She’s got this thing against blondes with blue eyes, man.”

Nick stared incredulously at AJ. He could not believe what he was hearing. “You’re kidding...”

“Nope. Sorry, man.”

Nick was still beyond confused. “But why?”

“I wish I knew,” AJ said honestly.

“Well, that won’t stop me,” Nick said suddenly, with a stubborness that made AJ grin.

“You really do like her, don’t you?” AJ asked, his eyes sparkling with amusement.

“Yeah,” Nick sighed. “I do.”

He’d surprised himself that day, to say the least, when he’d discovered this newfound determination. He’d never before been so willing to go these lengths for someone. Something inside him told him that this certain someone would be worth it, though. Worth every battle he knew he was going to fight against her.

[chapter list | chapter six]