‘Think you’re good enough to fill my size 10s? You’re nowhere near good enough.’
Liz well remembers what she’d said in response – thick socks and all. But what she’s doing now, eying Finn darkly across a crowded hall, jam-packed with people at a press party…
Not quite what she meant by filling his shoes (though, knowing him, this probably is as close as she’s ever getting).
To be precise, she isn’t actually looking at him. Rather it’s the woman he’s speaking to; Finn appears to her know very well. Until this point, Liz had assumed that every member of the female sex – excepting herself, apparently – would rather ingest a cactus than to voluntarily interact with him.
Which is of course naïve, because Finn hasn’t always been at Scotland Yard, no matter how prehistoric his office looks. Or the fact that his fax machine should really belong in a museum (her Indiana Jones quip had merited the exact “what the fuck” expression she’d given his Godfather references).
Liz frowns. But not as much when she sees a hand suddenly being laid upon Finn’s lapel. The touch is probably featherlight, even fleeting, but the weight isn't quite proportionate to the unpleasant, sinking thump Liz gets in her insides.
She doesn’t see his reaction because a gaggle of reporters decide to move right in front of her. Her mobile starts ringing, too. She steps outside to take the call – it’s Inglis, so it must be important – but can’t help feeling that she’s fleeing from something.
Her frown remains.
It’s still there when they later return to the flat. Once inside, she crashes onto her couch and shuts her eyes.
‘Migraine?’ says Finn impassively from somewhere behind her.
A non-committal ‘hmm’ is all she offers.
She opens her eyes and there’s a glass of water on the coffee table along with some Panadol. For some reason it makes her want to tear up. Damn his occasional lapses of inconsideration.
He settles down at the other end of the couch, watching her drink.
When she sets down her glass, he asks: ‘Okay, Liz, what’s up?’
Whatever she’d been expecting him to say, it wasn’t this. And hell, she thought she’d be the one interrogating him.
‘Forget about me, what’s up with you?’
‘Don’t try changing the subject. You’ve been quiet all the way back home.’
‘As you so kindly pointed out, Captain Obvious, I have a fucking migraine.’ She kicks off her heels, willing as much fury into them as she can. They lamely flop onto the floor. Huffing, she turns on her side.
‘If you’re thinking of getting some tonight; well, tough, there’s the door and try not to hit your oversized head on your way out.’
‘What the fuck are you talking about?’ Although she buries her face deeper into the cushions, she can almost see him gaping at her.
Sighing, he scoots closer. ‘Liz, come to bed.’
He gets up and for a moment, she’s certain that he’s about to leave. She peeks over her shoulder then quickly turns around when he emerges from the bedroom.
She doesn’t react when he drapes a blanket over her. He turns out the lights.
Despite everything, she quickly falls asleep. When she wakes up, somewhat rested but feeling distinctly rumpled, it’s the middle of the night and pitch dark. Where Finn is, she has no idea.
Until she swings her legs over the side and nearly steps on him.
‘Jesus Christ, Finn,’ she snaps, hastening to turn on the nearest lamp. ‘What the fuck are you doing on the floor?’
‘Sleeping,’ he deadpans, but his voice muffled by the blanket he’s still struggling to throw off.
‘You are aware that there is a perfectly good bed back there.’
‘Which I was trying to tell you –’ He catches her steely gaze. ‘Never mind.’ They eye each other warily. ‘Now, are you going to the bathroom or did you just want to try stomping over me?’
‘Please, I already stomp on you everyday, didn’t you know?’
Grey-green eyes flash irritably. He growls.
She ends up spending twenty minutes in the bathroom, rather wishing she had handled things differently after they’d got back (pretty much the story of her life, she thinks glumly).
Finn is still on the floor and inexplicably staring at the ceiling when she returns. It must be therapeutic or something, because he’s unusually calm.
‘FYI,’ he says without preamble, ‘that woman I was talking to was a former colleague. From my journo days.’
It evidently produces the desired effect, because he sits up when she halts mid-stride.
‘Fuck, Liz, you really thought –?’ titters Finn. ‘Were you...’
God knows why, but Liz’s brain suddenly decides it’s a good idea to make a beeline for her bedroom. He clambers to his feet and is immediately in her face. As per usual.
‘Were you?’ he persists. If she didn’t know him better, she’d say that he’s getting a bizarre thrill out of this.
‘Was I what?’
He shrugs. ‘Jealous.’
She scoffs, but it’s merely an excuse to break eye contact, if only for a few seconds. ‘Don’t be ridiculous.’
Apparently he can read far more into her intonation than she does because his jaw drops. ‘You were.’
She says nothing. Finn scans her face, with discomfiting intensity.
‘Were you jealous when I mentioned Sarah?’
His question is more curious than crowing, but the sound of that name riles her regardless.
‘She’s fucking fictional,’ she intones flatly.
‘Yeah, but in those 24 hours when you thought I had a wife?’
Liz bites her lip. Honestly, she’d taken his word for granted, simply treating it as a (surprising) fact. Now, seeing where they are, she wonders whether she’d have still ended up with him even if he was married. (Forget it, she knows she would.)
‘Maybe,’ she says cautiously. ‘Though I don’t think it was jealousy. More like...irritation.’ His eyes widen.
‘Didn’t take you to be the type,’ he comments.
‘And you aren’t?’
‘I know I am because I’m honest with myself. Unlike some people.’
‘This is like listening to Satan giving lessons in comportment and morality,’ she groans then shivers. They’re both still standing around in their work clothes and she’s dearly missing the warmth of her bed.
‘Look,’ she exhales, trailing a hand through her hair. ‘You can crow about this all you want in the morning.’
He glances at the window. ‘It is morning.’
‘Fine, later at work then. Can we please just clock some hours in?’
He nods, unfolding his arms. ‘I’ve done crowing anyway.’
She rolls her eyes. ‘So glad.’
They quietly prepare for bed, silence punctuated only by yawns which are maddeningly infectious because they keep staring at each other.
‘You really didn’t have to be, by the way,’ says Finn when they finally slide beneath the covers.
‘Yes, I know that now. Because I don’t know what I was thinking wasting my time –’
‘Liz, seriously. You don’t have to be. Ever.’
‘Okay.’ She gives it some thought before she adds, ‘In that case, you don’t have to be either. So, maybe give Tom a break sometimes, or –’
He stiffens behind her. ‘Right, can I make an objection really, really loudly at this point?’
‘Or I could do it quietly, in my head. Bypass your –’
She lightly swats his hand which has been lingering uncertainly about her waist.
‘Fine.’ His breath puffs against her nape and she shivers, this time not from cold. ‘Liz?’
‘Did you genuinely think I’d go back to the party earlier?’
He starts when she turns to face him. ‘There was a moment when I thought you’d go, but back to your place.’
The corners of his mouth quirk. ‘Wouldn’t have been the first time, would it?’
‘Melodramatic jerk,’ murmurs Liz.
‘Well, I won’t do that. Not anymore.’
‘Let me guess; because it’s your job?’ she echoes tiredly.
‘No, because three’s company and two is none.’
It takes a few seconds for her to process this and her eyes glint with amusement. ‘What is that? Shakespeare?’
He groans. ‘Wilde, Liz.’
‘And so are you,’ she jibes gently. ‘Nerd.’
His hand trails tenatively downwards. This time she lets him, letting it rest on her belly, palm melding against the soft, raised curve.