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Out of Excuses--Franklin & Bash fic
damien listening guitar
Inspired by last night's episode, this damn thing wouldn't let go of me. It's all about the kiss and you folks who disapproved, please read.

Rating: R
Summary: A bit of good news arrives for Damien.
Spoilers: Season 3 and the end of Season 1.
Disclaimers: The toys are not mine but the idea is.

“Do you have a minute?” Damien Karp asked, wincing slightly at the mountain of work arranged, undoubtedly in a ruthlessly logical manner, on Rachel King’s desk.

“Of course.”

Wanting more than a polite expression of mild interest, he blurted, “I’ve been appointed to the bench.”

What looked to be a genuine smile lit up her face, as she rose with an eminently feminine form of grace. “That’s wonderful, Damien. Congratulations.” Rachel came around her desk. He took a step back, but she kept coming. Deciding further retreat would be unmanly, he held his ground and submitted to her hug for about three nanoseconds before returning it. “Champagne is definitely in order,” she announced upon releasing him. “Come on. I’m buying.”

He gestured toward her desk. “You look swamped. You don’t have to—.”

Rachel looked at him as though he’d lost his mind. He was very familiar with that; Franklin and Bash employed it routinely and Stanton had his own particular version that Damien had faced his entire life. “Do you really think I prefer to review motions prepared by summer associates mentored by junior partners over drinking champagne to celebrate a fellow senior partner’s elevation to the bench?”

“You’re kind of a stickler,” he ventured and got the exasperated yet pleased reaction he’d hoped for.

She insisted on driving and conducted a thorough interrogation pertaining to the particulars of his judgeship on the way to an elegant establishment that Damien had only been to once. With Stanton. The memories weren’t good, but she had no way of knowing that. Once she’d ordered vintage champagne, which cost God knew what at this place, she turned her full attention on Damien. The rush he’d felt when he’d kissed her returned full force.

“So?” Rachel said, a slight smile tugging at her lips. “How does it feel?”

“I don’t know yet. It’s not really sunk in. Not completely.”

“Stanton told me you’ve wanted to be a judge for a long time.”

Her perfectly neutral expression changed his response from a question to a statement. “He wouldn’t have without mentioning the Halloween costume.”

Much to his liking, she ignored the observation and tabled the topic of Stanton Infeld. “Achieving such a long-standing goal has to be fulfilling for you.”

“Maybe it will be, once I have some time on the bench under my belt.”

Rachel nodded slowly. “You’ll have to find a new excuse, though.”

The segue between achievement and excuse proved to be a chasm Damien couldn’t leap. “A new … excuse? For what?”

“For not doing this,” she murmured, while leaning in to kiss him feather lightly on the mouth. Rachel King smirked at him while their waiter made a show of opening the champagne and pouring from what struck Damien as a dangerous height above the rims of their flutes. Once the young man retreated, the smirk transformed into a bright smile and she raised her glass. “To the honorable Damien Karp.” They drank. She smirked again. “You know Franklin and Bash are going to call you Judge DK and pronounce it as though there were and i and a c in between.”

“They wouldn’t be them if they didn’t.”

“Will you recuse yourself if they appear before you?”

Damien did not want to talk about Franklin and Bash. “It wasn’t an excuse.” He watched her take a sip of champagne with a hand that shook slightly and, inexplicably, he became angry, not at her, at himself, that he’d caused this woman a moment of pain. “I intended to apologize for kissing you, but I couldn’t. I wasn’t sorry, even though I know I should’ve been. I refused to be sorry for something that felt like that, proving that I inherited the family selfish gene after all.”

She silently mouthed the word selfish and sighed softly. “You don’t have to answer this question, but I’m curious. When I told you to forget the kiss, why didn’t you just agree? That would’ve been simplest, wouldn’t it?”

He laughed. “I’ve asked myself that same question.”

“And the answer is …?”

“Given that I didn’t apologize, isn’t a blithe agreement to forget the whole thing … hurtful?” Damien shrugged. “Dismissive at any rate? I’d done enough damage without piling more on top of it.” Downing very good champagne too quickly, he forced himself to take a deep breath. “I didn’t want to lie. I didn’t want you to think it meant nothing when it did, even if it couldn’t go any further without the bullshit of sneaking around and lying. You deserve better than that.”

“So do you.” Smiling, she poured them both more champagne. “What happens now that our days of being coworkers are numbered, Damien?”

“What do you want to happen?”

Suddenly, Rachel looked as stern as any school marm in a dated Western movie. “Why do you keep trying to make this solely about me?”

“Ladies first?” Her laughter inspired him. “Besides, I think I’ve tipped my hand.”

“I think I have too.”

“Ok. Let’s order an appetizer and consider next steps.”

Something very interesting but unrecognizable flew across Rachel’s face. “Or …,” she said, “we could order something to go, put it in the warming drawer at my place, have sex and then eat.”

“That’s another option,” he allowed, working hard to manage all of the thoughts and feelings flowing through him. “But I am kind of hungry.”

“I knew it!”

Unnerved, Damien asked, “Knew what?”

She tapped his chest with a perfectly manicured forefinger. “Beneath the callous and sarcastic façade beats the heart of a romantic. I knew it!”

Amused, despite himself, he asked, “Are you planning to out me?”

“I see little benefit in freely disseminating such interesting information about a man I might decide I want to keep all to myself.”

He couldn’t help but smile. “I like how you think, Rachel.”

“Would you like anything else?” asked the waiter.

“Kumamoto oysters,” Damien said, winking at his companion, knowing a woman as sophisticated as her would know of the aphrodisiac properties of this particular food. “Six or an even dozen?”

She winked back at him. “Bring us a dozen … to start.”

Damien’s phone vibrated. He fished it out of his pocket and noted the caller. “Stanton can wait.”

“He’s probably already purchased a sculpture for your chambers.”

“He doesn’t know yet.” He closed his eyes briefly before meeting Rachel’s. “No one does, other than you.”

Even incredulous looked beautiful on this woman. “Why?” she asked.

“I got the news and I just … I just wanted to tell you.”

She took his hand, under the table but still nice. “Stanton’s family, Damien.”

“There is such a thing as too much history.”

“While we don’t have enough.”

“Not yet.”

Rachel kissed him again, not just a peck this time either. “Promise me we will,” she whispered.

“I promise.”

“Not a moment of hesitation.” She sounded impressed.

“You inspire me.”

“God damn it, Damien, are you absolutely sure about the waiting on sex thing?”

“What’s your hurry?” He lifted their clasped hands to his lips and kissed the inside of Rachel’s wrist. Her eyes drifted closed and she made a very interesting sound. “Rachel?””

“It’s … it’s been a while.”

“A while for what?” When she didn’t answer, he reviewed what had gone before. “Are we back to excuses again?”

“Damien?” Her fierce, yet vulnerable expression called to him, demanded his attention.

The ducks dutifully aligned themselves in a row. “You’ve not had sex in a while. Why wouldn’t you? How is that even possible?”

“How can you deem it impossible?”

“Because you’re gorgeous. Surely, some guy must have been good enough. Jesus.”

She blinked rapidly and Damien refused to think it was to keep tears at bay. “People think I slept my way to the top.”

“How the hell did you become acquainted with people stupid enough to think you’d have to?”

Rachel smiled slowly. “You make one more comment like that and I swear I’ll have you tonight.” The kiss that ensued was as mutual as it was devastating.

“A few more kisses like that and I’ll beg you for it,” Damien murmured.

The arrival of the oysters broke the tension. However, the visual of Rachel King swallowing an oyster returned it in spades.

“Is our investigator the best of the best or what?” Franklin, Bash, Phillips, Infeld and two partners Damien despised with every fiber of his being descended upon their small table. “Carmen tracked down our judge to be and the woman who stole him away to celebrate.”

“Oysters and champagne,” Stanton noted. “Damien always did appreciate tiny things.”

Franklin and Bash, judging—yes, indeed, judging—by their subsequent banter, clearly didn’t know that Stanton referred to the size of the oysters and Damien didn’t have the will to enlighten them, particularly when Rachel was smiling at him.

“Party at our place tomorrow night,” Bash said, “to bring this celebration to the masses.”

“We expect both of you to be there,” Franklin intoned.

“Really?” Rachel said.

“Damien’s the guest of honor. You are a rare form of eye candy and the more of that, the merrier.”

“He meant eye candy in a most respectful way,” Bash offered. “Obviously.”

“I thought it went without saying,” Rachel said anyway. “Wouldn’t miss it and I’ll take personal responsibility to ensure that your guest of honor puts in an appearance.”

“Appreciated, Ms. King.”

The best thing about Franklin, Bash and Stanton being present was that no conversational obligations fell to anyone else. Damien felt free to eye Rachel surreptitiously, as she did him. She’d never relinquished his hand beneath the table and he hadn’t made any effort to free it. They drank, ate and hoped Carmen was less observant than she’d proven thus far. Even if she wasn’t, Damien felt confident of a certain level of discretion. Even if he was wrong, Rachel was interested in pursuing this attraction. If he had to deal with Franklin and Bash making snide remarks every step of the way, he suspected Rachel would be worth it.

“Good night, all!” Stanton finally decreed, breaking up the party.

“I’ll give you a lift home,” Rachel said, taking Damien’s arm once they were out of view of everyone else.

“If you’ll stay.” To her artfully raised eyebrow, he said, “I want you to be safe.”

“Next time,” she advised, “leave off to be safe.”

“Duly noted.”

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I hope that when Damien gets appointed to the bench, that this is exactly what happens!

I actually liked the kiss in the episode, and impulsive!Damien too. They make a pretty perfect couple in this fic, and Rachel would absolutely take him out somewhere discreet and classy, only to have the party crashed by the rest of the team!

I tried to make Rachel vulnerable but not weak. Damien too for that matter. I can actually see many interesting ways they could go/things they could do, if they make these two a couple.

Yes, Rachel would take over the celebration to set up her observation about him finding another excuse. She strikes me as liking to take on challenges on her turf and I think this classy restaurant served that purpose. I'm not sure I'd want to be Damien to face Stanton over not being told first, though. I'm trying not to think about that.

It was interesting, in the week before this latest episode aired, I'd asked myself if Damien had even looked at a woman twice the entire season. And I'd wondered why there wasn't a scene between him and Colleen Bash. Then he kissed Rachel which left me wondering if this had been in the works all along in the let's make it clear that both of these people are verrrryyyy single.

As always, thanks for taking the time to read and comment!:)

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