Something Liz knows all too well: when it rains, it pours.
And, when it rains five minutes’ walking distance from Scotland Yard, she's forgotten her fucking umbrella.
(She took it out of her handbag because she needed to turn off her smoke detector, and she doesn’t own a ladder or another portable object high enough to step on, or a broom - whatever, she’s a mess, it’s not important.)
She hears a cough that’s so loud, it can't be genuine. Her head jerks up, dread curling her stomach - and what else should she see but Finn fucking Kirkwood walking in the same direction, under a spacious umbrella. Why does he need all that coverage? A holdover habit from his sensationalist journalist days? Accommodation for his gigantic head? Fuck her life.
He stills and smirks upon establishing full eye contact, no doubt amused at her misfortune. Head ducked, she walks as fast as she can in slippery heels, cursing every god she knows, the disfavour possibly bestowed by agnosticism, plus a few folkloric figures and half-recalled saints.
Then footsteps approach. Too close, too familiar, as ominous as the T. rex’s in Jurassic Park. Finn doesn't utter a word, just falls into step beside her, umbrella now covering both of them. Rain splatters onto the fabric.
Liz doesn't look at him as she says, “Thanks.” Her cheeks flush, painfully obvious given the gloomy weather; if he notices, he doesn’t say so.
“At least put some feeling into it, Liz.”
“What do you want me to do, Finn?” She whips her head around to glare at him, the ferocity of the motion startling even to herself. “Suck your fucking fossilized cock on the spot just because you're not being a total dick to me this one time?”
He tenses for a moment before glancing at her impassively. “'Fossilized'?”
“Your stomping reminded me that you're a mutant theropod with an exceptionally short reach.”
“Your hair looks quite nice today. It'd be a shame if it got any wetter.”
“It must kill you a little inside whenever you accidentally compliment me en route to an insult.”
“No, but only because I’m already stone-cold dead there. Fossilized, if you will.”
Rain thickens with each passing second. Liz shivers and burrows further into her coat. Seemingly construing this simple, reasonable action as a challenge, Finn undoes the top button of his own.
“I think this is worth a favour or two, don’t you?” he suggests.
“Fuck off.” She eyes the umbrella overhead, wavering in perfect sync with her anger. “At work.”
Their height difference isn’t significant, so thankfully she's spared awkwardness in that area. And they’ve been this physically close in the past: throughout their brief truce at the beginning of September, shouting at each other, standing together in the control room, debating after the riot had ended. But there'd been work to distract them. Now it's chilly and she can feel the heat of Finn's body, and he likely feels the heat of her body, and that’s making her break into sweat, and...
“This is a pretty big umbrella to fit in such a dinky briefcase,” Liz observes. “Do you store it up your ass?”
“I could ask the same about you and your ego.”
“Do you store my ego up your ass?”
“That’s not what I - ” His protests lapse into frustrated incoherence.
Liz’s raucous laughter is cut short by her heel scraping noisily against the pavement - she nearly stumbles. And he watches, expression devoid of sympathy.
Once she’s righted herself, he picks up the pace slightly and snaps, “Fucking keep up.”
“Literally put yourself in my shoes!”
Finn rolls his eyes. She responds in kind. Then abruptly squishes herself against him.
Panic flashes on his face as quick and stark as the streak of lighting overhead. “What are - “
Liz wraps a hand around the handle, right above his. The sides of their thumbs brush. Electric. Weird. “I'm fucking keeping up.”
A growl, and his pace increases further, maybe out of spite, maybe out of panic. She attempts to match him step-for-step - and loses her footing again, worse in the heavier rain.
In that split second, a hundred possibilities race through her mind: What if she slips and hurts herself? Would he wait? Would he help? Would he laugh and abandon her? Would she kick him in the knee as he stoops to scold her, because if she’s going down in any context, she’s sure as hell bringing him along?
“For fuck’s sake, Liz,” he grumbles, letting go of the umbrella to grab her arm. “Isn’t it a common tip to walk to work in flats and have heels in your office? What's that ludicrous amount of space for, if not to serve as your third wardrobe?”
No comeback is forthcoming. Her gaze has fallen to where he’s still holding her arm. Gently.
Finn notices, too, and withdraws his hand to wring it in the rain as if the downpour is cleaner than her sleeve. “You know what? Why don’t you take this fucking umbrella and leave me to drown?”
The mention of drowning carries unpleasant memories, but he's probably too freaked out to care. “Finn -”
“It wouldn’t be the first time, metaphorically speaking. Or do you suddenly have a moral imperative against shitting all over my life now that I’ve proven useful to you?”
Liz's grip tightens, paradoxically expecting him to snatch the umbrella away. “While I understand that your apparently all-encompassing tunnel vision means it’s difficult to see beyond your hateboner - ”
“Do it.” He releases the handle and side-steps into the rain; for some reason she's unable to determine, she follows to continue covering him, letting droplets splash her own back. “Maybe as a bonus, I’ll catch pneumonia and call in sick for a few days and die - ”
“Finn, we’re almost there,” she points out exasperatedly.
Liz nods towards the front doors of New Scotland Yard, just a few steps away.
“...Oh.” Finn coughs and re-wraps his fingers around the handle. Their thumbs brush again. “I don’t suppose I could convince you to make a mad dash for it, so we won’t enter together?”
“That kind of defeats the purpose of this hellish journey. Also, heels, remember?” She flicks her hair over one shoulder, grazing his cheek. “You're welcome to try it, though.”
Nobody they know personally witnesses their arrival, but they suffer a few curious glances purely due to the indignation radiating from them harder than the rainfall outside. Liz belatedly realises her hand is still right below Finn’s - she yanks it off and shoves it into the pocket of her coat, heedless of the fact that it's sopping wet.
“It's bad luck to have an open umbrella indoors,” she quips.
He snaps it shut. “My luck couldn't possibly get any worse.”
“Well...thanks,” Liz repeats in a begrudging mumble, managing to maintain eye contact this time.
“Don't mention it.” Finn’s affable expression darkens considerably. “Seriously - don't ever mention it.”
She says “fuck you” as he strides ahead of her, though she has the decency to mutter it instead of shouting. This time.