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flick your eyes at mine so briefly

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Stevie’s warm, steady breath tickles him under his shirt collar and Smithy’s pretty sure whoever is watching this at the nick is getting one hell of a kick out of it.

Kieran Wallace is saying something in the armchair to his right that he barely hears but hums his agreement to. The events of the football match Kieran came around unannounced to watch in the middle of Stevie’s debrief are also flying right over his head, although that’s arguably less important than the former.

Somewhere, Smithy is sure Max is having a fit at his laxity. Undercover work is supposed to require his guard up at all times, but that resolve disappeared after about forty odd minutes when it became abundantly clear Kieran really was just paying a social call with a six pack of lager and had no new info about anything Cutler was planning.

Still, he’s hardly the only guilty party here.

Stevie had sat close to his side to watch the game, and Smithy threw his arm around the back of the couch behind her for Kieran’s benefit. He’s not sure quite how or who’s fault it was that she came to be curled into him, head in the crook of his neck, and fast asleep to boot. Over the sound of the telly, he can hear soft snores coming from her. And she isn’t even faking it for the sake of their cover: when the ref sent someone off and Kieran let out a particularly loud expletive at the apparently bad decision, she didn’t even flinch.

He knows because he’s more focused on her and her solid weight against his side than anything else going on around him.

It’s awkward mainly in that he’s not sure what to do with his hands, but he can’t waste time deciding as it’s supposed to look like this is totally normal for them. It isn’t exactly the biggest challenge he’s faced as Lawrence so far but still.

After a moment’s hesitation, he settles on her shoulder and opposite knee and tries his best to relax into it.

Which, when it comes down to it, is actually a lot easier than he thought. He can’t remember the last time he did this with someone and he’d forgotten how… nice it feels. Normal. His hand finds the back of her head, stroking her soft hair with the tips of his fingers. Without thinking, he brushes his lips against the crown of her head, nothing more than a passing glance, but it makes Stevie sigh and snuggle closer, her forehead burrowing against his neck.

Then, Kieran puts his can down just a touch too loudly. It’s as though he’s been shocked with electricity- the hyperawareness of where he is and why. The telly roars back into his consciousness – all 20,000 fans in the stadium seem to bellow at him at once- and he takes both hands off Stevie like she’s made of white hot iron. He definitely wasn’t supposed to relax that much.

God, he needs a better work-life balance. And a girlfriend. But in the short term, he really needs to stop cuddling with DC Stevie Moss.

“I’m just gonna put her ladyship in bed, alright? She gets crabby if she wakes up with a crick in her neck,” he explains quickly -probably too quickly- to Kieran, inclining his head at Stevie. “Back in a minute.”

Smithy slides his arms under her knees and around her back, trying to keep her head steady. Very deliberately he avoids looking at where he knows the surveillance camera is stowed- whatever sod has been tasked with watching this is definitely getting a laugh or two tonight. His pride is shot to pieces anyway. At this point, he’s mainly just hoping screengrabs of this don’t end up plastered around the locker rooms when this op is over.

He’s carried boxes heavier than her, but with her in his arms the narrow staircase isn’t the easiest thing in the world to navigate. Bedroom door kicked open, he lays her on his bed, considers taking her boots off but decides against it, and pulls the duvet up and over her. Of course, she chooses this moment to finally show signs of life. She stirs and wakes, bleary-eyed and confused.

“S’appening?” Stevie asks, clearly still half asleep. He sits on the edge of the bed, hand leaning on the pillow next to her head.

“You went and fell asleep on me, that’s what,” he says in a low voice. He means it to sound irritated, but somehow it just comes out fond. “Kieran’s still here. I told him I was putting you in bed.”

She blinks twice, trying to right herself. “Sorry, Smithy, I shouldn’t have- I’ve gotta- I’ll go, Max and the DI’ll want an update.”

She attempts to scramble upwards but Smithy pushes her back down by her shoulder. Stevie stares up at him in vague challenge and it occurs to him too late how intimate this is: leaning over her in bed, their faces close and voices low. Explanation should be sooner rather than later if he’s going to make this look somewhat professional.

“We haven’t got anything to update them on, and anything other intel they would have got through the surveillance.” He looks away when he finds his gaze slipping to her lips, swallowing hard. “Anyway. It’ll look weird if you leave now- Kieran’ll ask questions.”

“Guess so,” she concedes in the middle of a yawn.

“Kip here if you want.”

“Come get me when he leaves,” she says, kicking off her boots with an astonishing lack of grace. They fall off the end of the bed and she sighs happily as she stretches her toes out. If he didn’t know better he’d think she planned this.

He rolls his eyes. “Yes, boss.”

“Thanks, lover boy.”

Smithy stifles a smirk. She’s snoring again practically before he leaves the room.

 

 

/

 

“Sorry if I crashed your evening with her, by the way,” Kieran says when he returns. “She seems alright.”

“Don’t worry about it. We probably would have just sat in front of the telly anyway- always room for one more. And I’m sure Stevie’s glad of some company that isn’t me,” Smithy jokes.

“Nah, she loves you, mate. Anyone can see that,” Kieran says. Not real, Smithy reminds himself when a strange kind of elation squeezes his heart. At least they have one person successfully convinced.

“Couldn’t do any of this without her,” Smithy says. He finds almost to his own surprise that he isn’t lying.

  

/

 

In the event, Kieran doesn’t leave till well after half one. Smithy gets the impression he’s lonely more than anything else- talking endlessly about the girl he fancied who wouldn’t give him a second glance and which of his mates he has beef with. Smithy attempts to remember what he can even while doubting that any of it will come in useful anyway.

By the time Smithy’s going to bed himself, Stevie is utterly knocked out up there with the duvet pulled right up to her chin. Smithy knows she’d slap him if he ever dared describe her as ‘cute’ but that’s the word that comes to mind.

She did ask, but he can’t bear waking her somehow so he doesn’t. Max and Manson, dedicated as they are, won’t be in the station this late and definitely won’t appreciate being hauled out of bed for no reason so there isn’t much point anyway.

He changes into a t-shirt and shorts in the bathroom and heads back downstairs to sleep on the couch.

  

/

 

Smithy wakes up with a start, strongly disoriented by everything till grim awareness sinks in. He’s never had many strong feelings for his own flat because it’s principally a place to crash between shifts rather than a home, and it’s not even that dissimilar to this place. Yet he’s itching to go home, where things feel safe and familiar.

25 Bream Street is actually a lot cleaner than he remembers it from last night – lager cans gone, crumbs wiped, two full black bin liners by the door – and his duvet last seen wrapped around Stevie has been hauled downstairs and laid over him.

On the coffee table, a note in neat and familiar writing has been folded and propped up.

That’s one way to get me into bed, I guess! Thanks for letting me stop over, Sweetcheeks - See you later– S x

Smithy grins, unable to stop himself, and tucks it in the pocket of his shorts. There’s no way he’s letting uniform find it.