Summary: Eli. Maggie. First date. Sushi.
Spoilers: Vague spoilers for events supposedly happening in the next episode, Sonoma. Which we may or may not get to see.
January Picture Prompt:
A/N: This is just a piece of nonsense for January prompts, after a throw away line from Maggie in episode 2x05 about sushi. I needed something to distract me because my computer ate part of the next installment of Dream Awake and I'm too annoyed to rewrite it just now.
The doorbell rang and her heart skipped a beat. Maggie checked herself in the mirror for the hundredth time and practically ran to open her front door. She grinned giddily at him, not even noticing the roses he held in his hands.
"Hi," Eli said.
"Hi." Maggie leaned against the door, lost at the sight of him picking her up for a date. Their first date.
"These are for you," he said unnecessarily and she laughed as she accepted them and invited him to come inside.
"So, where are we going exactly? You've been very secretive," she said as she placed the flowers in water.
Eli stood awkwardly in the middle of her living room. He didn't bother removing his coat. "You'll see."
"Am I dressed okay for where we're going?" She walked towards him and blushed when he ran his eyes appreciatively over her black strappy dress.
"Ah, yeah. Yes. Definitely yes," he breathed.
He helped her on with her coat, held the car door open for her, and generally behaved like the perfect gentleman, but it was like they were new acquaintances finding themselves alone for the first time. Their conversation was stilted as they drove through the cool San Francisco night. She was starting to wonder if the whole date was going to be that way when he broke the tension.
"This is weird, isn't it?" Eli said, glancing at her. "I mean, we've known each other for two years. We've spent countless hours together. We've even... you know... But it's like we just met."
"I guess it's first date syndrome," she replied with an understanding shrug.
"Well, hopefully this place will help." Eli slowed the car as they approached a street with several high end restaurants.
He left Maggie guessing which one they were frequenting as he parked the car and opened her door again, offering her his hand.
"Where are we going?" she laughed as they began walking up the street.
"Patience," he said. They only walked a few more yards when he stopped. "Here we are."
Maggie looked up at the Japanese restaurant before them. Its traditional wooden façade was punctuated with windows revealing warm, enticing light and a very full dining room.
The smile froze on her face. "Matsuko's. Wow!"
Eli grinned at her reaction. "Let me guess, you're wondering how I managed to get a reservation at the hottest restaurant this fair city has to offer. Let's just say I know people who know people."
"That's... amazing!" Maggie swallowed hard.
"I know, right?"
Eli couldn't hide his anticipation as the hostess greeted them with a bow.
"Irashaimase," the kimono-clad woman greeted them.
They were ushered over to a step where they removed their shoes before walking onto the tatami flooring. Maggie looked around at the elegant surroundings, the other diners all enjoying their dainty plates of sushi and sashimi. She averted her eyes and didn't look up again until they were shown to their hori-kotatsu seating that was sunken into the floor, and Eli smiled over at her.
"This place is incredible, isn't it?" he said.
"Mmm!" She didn't trust herself to speak.
"You look beautiful," Eli's eyes shone in the glow of the restaurant lanterns.
Maggie felt guilty that all she could think about was the smell of raw fish.
"Thank you," she managed to reply weakly. "Eli..."
A waitress arrived with hot towels, closely followed by another with menus. Maggie blanched as she ran her eyes down the list of offerings – most of which were some kind of uncooked seafood. She also noticed the prices written in small print next to the English translation and was embarrassed that he was going to such an extent to impress her.
"This menu is amazing," Eli said. "I say we order one of everything."
"Oh no, Eli, we can't," she replied, dropping her voice so the waitress hovering nearby wouldn't hear.
He smiled indulgently at her. "Maggie, don't worry about it. Just because your firm has taken most of our big clients, doesn't mean I'm in the poorhouse yet."
"It's just..." She couldn't find the words to tell him.
Eli placed his hand over hers and she was distracted further. Their eyes locked together for a few magical moments until he smiled up at the waitress and ordered the food and an expensive bottle of wine. When his attention returned to her, Eli took her hand again, causing her to blush.
"We should have done this a long time ago, huh?" he said.
"Yeah," she murmured. "Eli..."
When she trailed off he rubbed his thumb over hers.
"What is it?"
"I need to tell you something."
"You're not pregnant, are you?" he joked, then panic flashed across his face a split second later.
She couldn't help but smile at his obvious relief.
"It's just, when you asked me out tonight..."
"Excuse me," said the waitress politely as she returned with the wine.
Maggie waited with growing uneasiness as the Japanese woman went through the painstaking but graceful motions of sampling the wine for Eli then pouring two glasses. She left them with a small bow.
He looked expectantly at her for her to finish what she had been saying and once again Maggie was struck mute.
"We should have a toast," he said. He raised his wine glass and waited for her to do the same. "To us."
She smiled and repeated the words as the crystal clinked together. She took a sip which turned into a mouthful, while Eli watched her with amusement.
"You were saying?" he prompted.
"Oh, right. It's just, when you asked me out tonight I didn't think to tell you… that is, I thought you knew..." She frowned, feeling wretched.
"Maggie, do you not want to be here?" he asked uncertainly.
"Here?" she said, gesturing to their joined hands. "Of course I do."
"Good, because we've already wasted so much time."
"Wait, I need to say something," he said, clearing his throat nervously. "I know a lot of what's happened between us is my fault. I mean, when you said… what you said that day before you left the firm, I didn't even respond. That wasn't right. I should have told you then what I want to say now."
Maggie's eyes widened, while Eli could barely look at her as he gathered his courage.
She swallowed a yelp of frustration when the waitress was back with two plates of food. Eli withdrew his hand and sat up straighter. The waitress smiled politely as she placed the aesthetically perfect portions of sashimi in front of them.
"Thank you," Eli said.
Maggie tied valiantly to ignore the sight of the fish, hoping that Eli wouldn't be deterred from what he wanted to say.
"Service here is fast, huh?"
"Eli, what were you going to say?"
Maggie exhaled in frustration when the waitress appeared at her elbow again and put some dipping sauces on the table.
"Maybe we should eat first," Eli suggested.
"Maybe you should finish what you were saying," she retorted a little more forcefully than she intended. She offered him an apologetic smile. "Please, Eli."
"Is everything to your satisfaction this evening?" asked a well dressed man who glided smoothly up to the table.
"Yes, thank you, it's all wonderful," Eli said, and received a grateful bow in response.
The maitre-d' took a step back but did not move away from them. Eli glanced at him out of the corner of his eye.
"I think that's our cue to eat," he murmured, picking up his chopsticks.
Maggie looked flustered when Eli waited for her to do the same. She picked hers up and eyed the sashimi with mounting anguish. He didn't notice and popped the fresh tuna into his mouth.
"Oh wow. This is incredible. You have to try this."
"Eli, seriously, I–" Maggie's chopsticks clattered to the table.
"Maggie, what is it?" Eli frowned.
"I have to tell you something."
"Okay." Eli set his chopsticks down. He bowed his head at the maitre d' and smiled like everything was alright until he walked away. Eli turned his attention back to her.
"Are you okay?"
"No," she replied miserably.
"Maggie," he said, holding out his hand for hers. "You can tell me anything."
"I love that you asked me out, I do. But..."
"But what?" Eli said gently.
"I... I hate sushi. I can't stand sashimi. The smell of it makes me want to..."
Eli let out a laugh. "Why didn't you say anything?"
"I didn't want to ruin everything," she admitted pitifully. "You went to all this trouble. I just can't bring myself to eat it."
He smothered his smile with a sympathetic expression.
"I've spoiled it, haven't I?"
"I think after everything we've been through, we'll survive this," he said with just a hint of teasing in his voice.
"God, I hope so," she replied. Maggie squeezed his hand.
"Come on, there's a good steak place down the street. Steak is okay, isn't it?"
She grinned. "It's fine. But what about our order?"
"Leave it to me."
Eli got up and walked over to where the maitre d' was checking on another table. He spoke quickly to the man but Maggie couldn't hear what was being said. After a short conversation and several bows from both men, Eli returned and offered her a hand to help her up. He surreptitiously dropped a few folded notes onto the table before they went to retrieve their footwear.
Maggie took a deep breath as they walked back out into the crisp night air, trying to rid her nostrils of the offending aroma of fish.
"Better?" Eli said, watching her with amusement.
"Yes, thank you." She turned to face him. "I'm sorry about the restaurant."
"Don't worry about it."
"And I'm sorry you were interrupted before... You were going to say something?" she asked hopefully.
"Yeah, I was." Eli took a step closer to her.
"Now's a good a time as any, wouldn't you agree?" Maggie said, her eyes hooded enticingly. She took a gentle hold of his coat lapels.
"Our timing is definitely getting better," he said, coming closer still.
Eli leaned in to capture her lips but Maggie suddenly gagged and pushed him back.
"Sorry... the fish," she said, trying to mask her look of disgust.
"Maybe we still have a little way to go on timing," Eli said. But then he smiled and held her hand.
Maggie smothered a grin as they walked down the street together. They could work on it.