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22 September 2011 @ 11:59 pm
Numb3rs Fic: Sunset  
Posted to numb3rs_het


Title: Sunset (Prequel to Siesta)
Series/Universe: Siesta
Pairing/Characters: Don/OFC
Rating: PG13
Spoilers: UP, Counterfeit Reality
Summary: After she lost her fiance Don filled an empty place in her heart
Notes/Warnings: Read the disclaimer on my LJ


Swirling, twirling, the colors spun their way across the dance floor as festively clad couples salsaed and sashayed past where Marisol stood just outside of the circle of bright lights shining down on the band and the dancers reveling in the hypnotic beat.

This wasn't her crowd, wasn't her music; these Saturday night dances at Alejandro's restaurant and club - normally a local hangout the rest of the week - were for the tourists of the resort, but where tourists were, there were business opportunities.

Most of the Americans she sold retirement homes to were old, but most of the contacts that brought her new business weren't. Networking... Word of mouth... That was how she'd become successful. She made every effort to meet tourists in their thirties and forties knowing they were of the age to have parents around the age of retirement. A casual mention of what she did usually led to a few questions and the handing off of a business card - quite a few of which led to leads.

So social events like this were more about work than fun, but she put on a smile, wore the facade and pretended to have fun.

Sometimes though, especially when there were few prospects - too many twenty-somethings allergic to the word retirement and not interested in befriending anyone over thirty - she found herself with little to do and memory started creeping up on her despite the festive nature of the occasion.

She'd danced with Arturo so many nights, under the stars outside Alejandro's. The waves would crash, the torches would flare and the man she loved would spin her expertly then pull her back into his arms for a quick kiss, laughing, always laughing with joy.

She danced now with her business targets, but it was more about effort, not gliding blissfully over the floor, following where able hands led her.

Shaking herself away from maudlin thoughts, not letting the sadness seep in, she gave the crowd one last survey. She'd met just about everyone who looked plausible and handed out a few cards so while it would be a slow night she'd done enough to warrant coming and wouldn't feel guilty about calling it a night so soon.

Skimming the edges of the dance floor her eye caught on a man she'd apparently missed before. Wearing a black shirt and black pants, the dark-haired man had blended so well into the shadows - standing as she was, just outside of the circle of lights, she'd not really registered his presence.

It took her a second to place him. He'd come to the nearby resort two days earlier, catching her eye at the time both for his attractiveness and for how stiffly he held himself. Most people relaxed as soon as they arrived at the resort. This one, she'd thought to herself at the time, was going to need copious amounts of tequila to unwind.

Still, he was handsome and clearly in his thirties so that made him a reasonable target. Putting on a smile, she headed over to him, reaching out her hand to him as she approached him.

"Senor!" she said, mock teasing him. "We have a very strict policy about visitors enjoying themselves and I'm told you haven't made your dancing quota today."

The man's expression went from slightly confused to amused and like the snapping on of a light, his smile brightened his face - so much so Marisol felt a tiny flutter in her chest at the marvel of that wonderful smile.

"My apologies." He took her hand and gave her a little bow. "I wouldn't want to disrupt the quotas."

He led her out to the dance floor and they settled at the edge, putting their hands in place in preparation to dance.

"I'm Marisol," she said, cocking her head and making a faint playful curtsey.

"Don." He settled his hand at her waist, her other hand in his. "Pleasure to meet you."

And with that he began to move.

Whatever Marisol expected, it wasn't this. Stiff as he'd been when he first came to the resort, he was nothing like that now. His dancing was fluid, graceful and energetic, leading her expertly through standard steps, each flowing into the next without hesitation.

Anyone watching them would have sworn they'd danced as partners before, yet from the first step Marisol just followed his lead - trusting implicitly in the direction behind his subtle body movements.

Don clearly had the natural grace, strength and stamina of an athlete and considerable experience with pairs dancing at that. All thoughts of business flew from her mind and she found herself laughing at each spin, feet flying, coming willingly when he pulled her back to him.

When the song ended they didn't even have a few seconds to speak before the band launched into another. So they kept dancing, this time a bit more ambitious.

They worked their way towards the center of the floor and the couples around them gave them more room as they drew appreciative stares.

Another fast song followed then finally one slow enough to allow them to catch their breath.

"You're very good at this!" she exclaimed, flushed, still laughing with exhilaration.

"You're not so bad yourself," Don told her with a sly wink. "So tell me, have I met quota yet?"

"Met and surpassed." She gave him a gracious nod. "Well done."

"Gracias." Don responded with a nod of acknowledgment. They smoothly segued into slow dancing, bodies comfortably close, but not too intimately so. "So are you the unofficial ambassador of Rosarito Beach or do you just like hassling us poor tourists?" he teased.

"What makes you think I'm unofficial?" she joked. "You know I really shouldn't have left my tiara and sash at home."

Don threw his head back and laughed, an open and hearty sound, wonderfully unrestrained.

"Oh, that made for a lovely visual," he told her. "You in a tiara at the border crossing doing the beauty queen wave at all the overheated Tijuana tourists stuck in their cars in the long lines at the border."

Marisol cracked up. "They'd have to put me on some sort of rotating pedestal so I could wave at them all with my plastic smile." She pulled away just long enough to mock herself as a plastic faced robot with a repetitive hand wave as she turned at the waist from side to side, pretending to wave at the imaginary carloads of hot and frustrated tourists.

They both broke down laughing at that point.

"Come on, let's get a drink." Don tugged at her hand, heading over to the bar. "If you're going to make me laugh that hard I need some water."

"If you're going to make me dance that much, I'm going to need cervesa!"

Still her fingers laced tight with his and she followed, the smile that came natural to her face only belatedly a thing to wonder at, a thing she hadn't realized she'd missed.

+

"I thought Americans couldn't buy real estate in Mexico? That it was against the law or something?"

Marisol hadn't even intended to give Don the spiel, but it had just come out when they sat down with their drinks.

"Technically they can't, but it's still done, through bank trusts. It sounds complex, but it's really not a big deal. Most of what I do is reassure seniors they're not going to lose all their money because they think the Mexican government is going to throw them off their land and keep the money too." She rolled her eyes. "So I feel like I'm more in P.R. than real estate." She took a sip of her drink and looked over at him from across the rim. "So, what do you do?"

Don pushed back from the table before answering, something about his body language telling her he was preparing himself for a negative reaction. Marisol was good at what she did partially because she read people so well and Don was clearly positioning himself for rejection.

"Law enforcement." He sat back, saying no more, as if waiting for her to pass judgment before elaborating.

"So, you're a cop?" she said, trying to keep the sentence emotionless, sounding just curious.

"FBI, actually."

Her eyebrows went up at that. "Wow. Impressive." She put her drink down, leaning in just slightly, knowing he'd understand that body language. "I think that's important work, dangerous, but important. I hope people appreciate you back in L.A."

Don cocked his head, eyeing her. "How did you know I was from L.A.?

"San Diegans don't have as far to drive. They'd never stop as close to the border as Rosarito Beach. Only Los Angelenos look to stop at whatever's next after TJ."

Don chuckled, suspicions clearly put to rest.

"Fair enough. Though my ride was headed to Ensenada. His folks live down there," he gestured to her, "retired of course."

She put out her hands in a gesture of pride. "What can I say? The beach property almost sells itself to retirees."

"I'd heard of this place from a co-worker who comes down every year with his family. Figured I needed a nice quiet week at the beach to decompress." His gaze dropped to his drink briefly. "Apparently I wasn't doing that great of a job decompressing when you found me." He raised his eyes to her, a serene and grateful smile on his face. "Thanks for dragging me out of my funk."

"My pleasure." The band, which had been on break, started up a new set - music filling the outdoor patio area. "Speaking of funk... Shall we get back on the floor and show those other dancers how to do it?"

"Sure." Don rose, offering his hand with another of his blinding smiles. "I need to work off that three course dinner."

+

The band's set was long enough that Marisol felt like she'd worked off dinner, lunch and whatever dessert she felt like treating herself with tomorrow. After dancing so long she was out of breath, but far from exhausted. The dancing had made her feel light, exhilarated. It felt more like a shedding of her life for a brief time to be the woman she once was before she lost Arturo.

"Enough?" Don asked, as a song ended and he twirled her back in close.

"Yes," she agreed, fluffing her long dark hair away from her face to cool off. "I'm all danced out! Thank you!" The gratitude was honest; she hadn't let herself go and have fun like that for a long time. "And give my thanks to whatever woman taught you pairs dancing! She clearly taught you well!"

The look of grief that crossed Don's face was both immediate and horribly familiar.

"She's..." he mumbled, looking away, a mask coming up quickly to cover up the emotion. "She's not around anymore."

This was a pain she understood: loss.

"Come," she beckoned, slipping her hand into his. "Let's take walk on the beach to cool off."

He hesitated for the briefest of seconds, then - with a fresh tug on his hand - let Marisol lead him away from the restaurant and towards the waves crashing on the moonlight sand.

+

Marisol's sandals dangled from one hand as the other held Don's, their slow stroll taking them up the Baja California coastline just far enough from the lights of the hotels that they were mostly in shadow.

"Dios mio, Don." She shook her head sadly after he finished his tale. "To lose your mother so young... And to have lost your fiancee as a result of your decision to move home for her? I'm so sorry."

His sole response was a weak smile and a squeeze of her hand and she let him recover in silence as they walked a bit further, giving him time before he was ready to talk again.

"I guess I've missed it," he finally said. "There's something fulfilling about having a female presence around. Now that it's just my Dad and my brother... It's just different, you know? So tonight? Was really nice."

"I understand," she told him, ducking down her head to try to get his attention. "It was nice for me too. I've missed having a man around without realizing it." She stopped on the sand, pointing to a nearby jetty where the waves crashed white under nearly full moon. "That jetty is where Arturo proposed to me. He was so worried about losing the ring he put it on a chain around his neck and refused to take the chain off until the ring was safely on my finger. I told him he never had to worry about me losing it; I was never taking it off again."

"But you did," Don said softly, his fingers skating over the bare space on her ring finger. "What happened?"

Even now, years later, the tears came so quickly to her eyes she was unprepared for them.

"He was killed, murdered by some street thugs for just his wallet and jewelry. We were making arrangements for the wedding and then just one day he was gone. They caught the guys - put them in jail, but it didn't change anything. All our plans: to marry, to have children..." She felt herself start to shake and Don's arms enveloped her, comforting her. She pressed her face into his neck and let the tears fall. "I had my whole life laid out before me and then it was all ripped away. The last couple of years I feel like I've just been adrift like a piece of driftwood in the waves, letting life move me back and forth, from work to home and back again. Everyone tells me to move on, but no one can compare to Arturo. I loved him so much and I can't just erase his memory and settle for a lesser man."

"Shh..." Don rocked her gently and petted her hair, not trying to make her stop, but supporting her as she struggled to get her breathing under control again. "I'm so sorry that had to happen to you," he murmured. "And I know that no matter what sentence those guys got, it's never going to be enough to pay for what they took from you."

The tears burst forth anew, but these were good cleansing tears - the kind she'd been denying herself for a while. She'd been shutting down instead of allowing herself to feel so if this was the gift Don had given her, it was clearly the one she'd really needed.

+

After she dried her eyes they walked back, bypassing the bright lights of Alejandro's and heading into the residential part of town.

Without really discussing it, she'd had him walk her to her place. She normally would never consider letting potential clients know where she lived, only giving them her office information on her business card, but she felt like she could trust Don. He'd been nothing but a gentleman and his status as an FBI Agent meant she had little to fear from him ethically.

He proved it though when she opened her door.

"Stay?" she asked, running her fingertips down his chest, making the intent of her invitation clear.

Don just removed her hand from his body and kissed the fingertips delicately.

"Not tonight," he told her. "I'd be taking advantage."

"No, you wouldn't," she rushed to assure him, but he just hushed her with a finger on her lips.

"You might not regret it, but I would." He pressed a chaste kiss to her forehead, his lips lingering there as he gave her one last caring embrace. "Get some rest."

His hand trailed down her arm as he withdrew, squeezing her hand briefly before finally letting it go.

"Don?"

He paused a few steps away.

"Yes?"

"Please tell me you're not leaving tomorrow. Tell me I'll see you again."

He smiled, his face lighting up as handsome as that first moment she saw him on the edge of the dance floor.

"I've got a whole week left of my trip. And I'm sure you know where to find me since you scope out the resorts for targets."

"Am I that obvious?" she asked, a smile finally breaking through.

"Only to a trained observer," Don countered, splaying his hands out almost playfully. He turned to go, but she held him back one last time.

"One more thing... How am I supposed to call the resort to arrange to meet up with you for brunch tomorrow if you never told me your last name?"

He paused at her garden gate and gave a little bow.

"Agent Don Eppes, at your service..."

=
 
 
 
Emma DeMarais: BlueEyeemmademarais on September 24th, 2011 09:16 pm (UTC)
Confession
I confess I couldn't decide which of these two fic in the same universe to publish first. The answer came in that I realized it would be a tough sell to get someone to read an OFC POV fic without ever meeting the OFC first. Thus Siesta and then the prequel Sunset.

Thanks,

Emma DeMarais
aka DevilWoman, the Thrower of (plot)Bunniesjebbypal on September 25th, 2011 02:02 am (UTC)
lovely. really enjoyed it.
(Deleted comment)
ladygray99ladygray99 on October 1st, 2011 04:07 pm (UTC)
I really love your OFCs. So may people do them so badly but yours always feel like people the could really exist and that you don't mind seeing with the main character. I can't remember her name right now because it's 5am but the woman in Vegas that Billy gets together with is another favorite.
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on October 1st, 2011 06:35 pm (UTC)
Yes! She's a Mari too! (Maricella I think I made her and it was because Marisol was taken by this Series.) Like this one, I like her because I like who Billy is with her.

We've been talking about favorite OCs at home lately since I started working on Don/Diego again. Pretty much Magda and Diego win out, but hey - I even got a lot of praise for a nameless waitress I wrote into an SPN fic about pie! ROFL Who can say what will catch on? But I am glad that my OCs are met with openmindedness and not dread. Thank you!