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A Kiss (Is Nothing Short of Bliss)

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  1. the angry almost-kiss

 

 

“I’m telling you — This is HARASSMENT!” Sid fumes as he’s manhandled into Kembleford station. “First, he arrests me on charges that don’t exist, and then he PUTS ME IN THE BACK OF A CAR WITH A MURDERER.”

 

“Mr. Carter, stop shouting,” Sullivan says wearily.

 

Sergeant Goodfellow holds the door open to an empty cell, and Sid is swiftly deposited inside.

 

“I’ll check him in, sir,” Goodfellow slings over his shoulder as he heads back towards the desk.

 

“Thank you, sergeant,” Sullivan leans against the doorframe of the cell and takes a steadying breath.

 

“What is your problem?” Sid hisses, folding his arms. “You’re not charging me with anything,” he adds haughtily.

 

“I have plenty of grounds on which to arrest you, Mr. Carter. It is in your best interest to sit quietly until we process you.”

 

“Right. Of course.” Sid laughs mirthlessly, leaning back against the wall, “Haven’t you noticed this happens a lot, Inspector? You arresting me, and then me inevitably getting let out because you haven’t got any evidence? It’s a waste of police time, is what it is. You could arrest Father Brown too, but you never do, it’s only me you pick on. Why is that, hm?”

 

Sullivan steps hesitantly in to the cell. “Mr Carter if you don’t—“

 

Sid grins, his tone picking up as he feigns a sudden realisation. “You a little bit sweet on me, Inspector?”

 

Mr. Carter.”

 

There is a warning in Sullivan’s tone.

 

Sid chuckles and strolls forward leisurely. “You can tell me, you know, if you are. I won’t mind.” He has the audacity to wink.

 

Sullivan’s heart is thudding at sledgehammer pace, and it traitorously skips a few beats. “I—“

 

“I could see you liking a bit of rough, actually,” Sid cocks his head to the side, “Pretty city boy, prim and proper, wants to walk on the wild side.”

 

Sullivan scowls.

 

“I’m telling you, Carter, stop trying to play mind games,” he grits out.

 

“Or what?” Sid smirks devilishly. “You’ll kiss me? Go on, you know you want to.”

 

Sid is very much in Sullivan’s personal space.  The proximity forces Sullivan’s eyes to flit to Sid’s lips.

 

The air around them is inexplicably thick and heavy. It’s making it hard to breathe.

 

For one second, Sullivan almost does kiss him. It would be so easy, he’d barely have to move, and within seconds he could be pressing Sid flush against the wall and giving him no option but to shut up.

 

But then Sullivan’s rational side gets the better of him. He absolutely cannot do that.

 

He retreats quickly into Inspector mode, fixing Sid with a steely glare. “Sit down, Mr. Carter.”

 

With that, Sullivan turns on his heel and leaves the cell, letting the door slam shut behind him.

 

For the rest of the day he tries to ignore the still-fluttering heartbeat in his chest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ii. the clumsy almost-kiss

 

 

“Come on, sir! You’ll be fine, don’t worry!” Sergeant Goodfellow enthuses. 

 

Quite why Sullivan allowed himself to be talked into ice-skating he really does not know.

 

He clings to the edge of the rink with white knuckles, his knees shaky.

 

The rest of Kembleford seem to be having a whale of a time, and Sullivan thinks they’re all positively mad.

 

Father Brown, it transpires, is a shockingly good skater. He whizzes round the rink with considerable speed and when you factor in the cassock, well, it’s really rather impressive.

 

Sid and Bunty are also near-professional, and they race each other around the rink enthusiastically.

 

“I’ll hold your hand if you like, sir?” Goodfellow smiles, only just short of teasing.

 

Sullivan grits his teeth. Goodfellow is being far too kind, but Sullivan is embarrassed.

 

He can’t decide if it’s reassuring or not that at least Mrs McCarthy is in the same predicament. She too grips the side of the rink, shaking her head and whispering a few Hail Mary’s under her breath. Lord knows how someone (probably Sid) managed to persuade her on to skates in the first place.

 

“Honestly Inspector,” Lady Felicia says, wobbling up beside him. “It’s quite easy if you have someone to hang on to!” She indicates to Flambeau, who is skilled enough to skate backwards while holding Felicia’s hands to steady her.

 

Flambeau only grins as he passes, and Sullivan feels the familiar hatred bubble up inside of him. That man is irritatingly smooth.

 

Nevertheless, Sullivan does feel slightly emboldened to try. Gingerly, he lets go of the side of the rink and totters forward, seizing hold of Goodfellow’s arm.

 

“There you go, sir! You’re doing alright.”

 

Sullivan keeps his eyes firmly on the ground, and focuses on shuffling his feet forward as best he can.

 

Father Brown and Bunty draw up beside him and grin at reassuringly, giving him a thumbs up.

 

Sullivan blushes but manages a little smile. As he starts to pick up a rhythm he concedes that this is actually, maybe, fun.

 

He’s starting to get the hang of it when someone skates up beside him. Sid Carter.

 

Sullivan’s face flames as Sid grins, his nose red from the cold.

 

“Come on, you can go faster than that!” Sid cries, resting his hands on Sullivan’s back.

 

“No I cannot —“ Sullivan’s eyes widen.

 

“It’s ok, look — I’ll push you!”

 

Sullivan feels the disaster unfolding in front of him.

 

“Carter I don’t —“

 

“Don’t worry, it’ll be—“

 

“I really don’t think—”

 

“Go on, keep skating and you’ll—“

 

Carter!

 

Sullivan topples over on the ice.

 

He lands heavily, wincing. 

 

He’s also particularly winded, because dratted Carter has landed on top of him.

 

Sid’s eyes are wide as they stare down at him. “Oops. Sorry.” He smiles sheepishly.

 

Their faces are close. Uncomfortably close, as it happens. The only coherent thought Sullivan can produce regards Sid looking ridiculously cute with rosy cheeks.

 

“Are you ok?” Sullivan whispers. He can feel the heat of Sid’s skin radiating onto his own.

 

“Yeah. I’m fine.” Sid smiles a little more comfortably. “Are you?”

 

In truth, Sullivan’s wrist is hurting a little. His back is also becoming rather soggy as the ice below him melts and seeps through his jacket. But somehow his head empties of all complaints as he stares into Sid’s eyes.

 

The spell cast between them is broken as everyone skates over to check on them.

 

“Sidney!” Felicia cries, swatting Sid on the back of the head with her gloved hand. “I told you to be careful!”

 

“Inspector? Are you alright?” Father Brown says, crouching beside him.

 

Bunty helps to heave Sid up from on top of Sullivan, and Sullivan sits up on the ice. “I’m fine, thank you, Father, I just— It’s fine, I’m fine I—“ His teeth chatter a little, and he can feel Sid’s eyes burning into the side of his face.

 

Nurse Jeffries, on her night off from the local hospital, skates over and immediately notices how delicately Sullivan is holding his wrist.

 

After a brief check up she announces that it’s most likely sprained and Sullivan will need to come off the ice immediately and get himself warmed up.

 

Within minutes, Sullivan is positioned comfortably in a chair outside the rink, with a thick blanket over his shoulders and a steaming mug of hot chocolate.

 

Mrs McCarthy retires from the ice to keep him company. “I knew it,” She shakes her head, “I knew it would only be a matter of time before someone got themselves injured doing this wretched thing.” 

 

Sullivan nods, only half listening, and watches somewhat jealously as everyone else returns to zooming round the rink.

 

He wishes he could stop looking at Sid Carter, but he can’t.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

iii. the teary almost-kiss

 

 

Inspector Sullivan is crying.

 

He’s crying horrible, weeping sobs that he muffles into his fist because the walls of the office are thin and Goodfellow is in reception.

 

He should be used to this by now. He’s had well over thirty years of being a disappointment to his father. He should be used to the screaming phone calls, the put downs, and the insults. Yet even after all this time, it feels no different to taking several punches to the gut.

 

Sullivan doesn’t allow himself to cry often. Sometimes, in bed at night, he’ll weep into his pillow. It’s safe there, and no one will see him.

 

It’s not safe to cry in his office, as in all likelihood someone will walk in on him and see all of his weaknesses laid bare.

 

It’s his worst nightmare, being so exposed in that way.

 

And because life is cruel, today is the day in which it inevitably happens. 

 

Sid Carter strides into Sullivan’s office without knocking, and announces his presence with a loud, “I’m telling you, Inspector, it wasn’t me!”

 

The door slams shut behind him, and Sid falls silent when he sees Sullivan’s face.

 

Sullivan's eyes are red raw and tears still track down his cheeks.

 

Sullivan can’t bring himself to say anything. He snivels helplessly, realising it’s already too late to try and play this off as allergies. God, he really is pathetic.

 

Sid moves to his side almost instantly, rushing round Sullivan’s desk and crouching on the floor beside his chair. “Hey? Hey? What’s the matter? You— why are you—?”

 

Sullivan collapses into tears again, burying his head in his hands. He wishes he could just disappear.

 

A warm hand lays itself on Sullivan’s knee and the thumb brushes over the bone rhythmically.

 

“Please don’t cry.” Sid mumbles quietly.

 

After a few moments, Sullivan forces himself to meet Sid’s eyes and finds a softness there that he’s never seen before. It makes his chest ache.

 

“Do you want a fruit pastille?” Sid says, rummaging in his pocket. “They always stop Bunty crying when it’s… you know… womanly time.” He waves his hand vaguely in the air.

 

Sullivan sniffs, eyeing the packet offered to him, before nodding shortly. It’s been so long since he’s had a sweet.

 

Sid rips the paper open and pushes the first few pastilles into his palm. “You can arrest me, too, if that’ll make you feel better, you know? Name the crime and I’ll confess.” He jokes. “I’ll make sure you’ve got plenty of evidence as well — I’ll let you get a conviction! Just please don’t be upset.”

 

Sullivan raises a shaky smile as he chews, the sweetness washing over his tongue.

 

“See? That’s better.” Sid says soothingly.

 

Sullivan wipes under his eyes with the back of his hand, his chest feeling wheezy. “I’m sorry Carter, I— I don’t want to arrest you. I only called you in because I…” He picks up a thick envelope from his desk. “Just pass this on to Father Brown, will you? He might be able to help.”

 

Sid takes the envelope with a grin. “You? Asking the Father for help? Well I never.” He’s teasing, clearly, but his voice is still soft and gentle.

 

Sullivan snuffles, and even manages a little laugh. “Don’t rub it in.”

 

“I won’t.” Sid sounds sincere.

 

Sullivan gazes down at him.

 

He feels safe, here with Sid. His brain idly wonders what it would be like for Sid to pull him to his chest and kiss him. He wants to kiss him so hard that he forgets all about his stupid father. He wants to forget that the entire world is outside the door.

 

Sullivan doesn't realise that he's actually leaning in slightly.

 

It’s only when he notices that Sid's eyes are hooded and watching him intently that jerks back with a sharp inhalation of breath.

 

“Thank you, Carter, that’s— that will be all.” Sullivan busies himself by moving things round his desk, trying to look purposeful so that Carter will leave and stop doing funny things to his chest.

 

Sid nods without a word and gets to his feet.

 

Sullivan tries not to look at him, his mind still swirling with all kinds of embarrassing thoughts and daydreams.

 

There’s a metallic rustle, and then Sid is gone, with the office door clicking shut behind him.

 

Sullivan looks up to see the rest of the packet of fruit pastilles placed on the corner of his desk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

iv. the drunken almost-kiss

 

 

It’s probably unacceptable for a Police Inspector be drunk in public.

 

Sullivan tries to relax as he downs more of his whisky, feeling the alcohol burn at the back of his throat. He deserves to celebrate, after captaining the Kembleford side to a storming victory in the annual cricket match against Hambleston.

 

The Red Lion has been the gracious host to their victory celebrations, allowing them to push all of the tables together to have a real party.

 

But now the hour is late, and Sullivan is more than a little tipsy.

 

He’s also feeling hot and bothered for more reasons than just the alcohol. He’s crushed beside Sid Carter as half of Kembleford try to squeeze around the one big table they’ve created. The sides of their bodies are pressed together and it’s doing funny things to Sullivan’s heart-rate.

 

Sid is quieter now, having been rowdy and leading the victory chants earlier. He’s leaning back, his arm stretched along the line of the soft seats against the wall.

 

Sullivan, emboldened by victory and liquor, leans back to join him. “You’re not drinking anymore?” He slurs, pointing to Sid’s empty beer glass on the table.

 

Sid smiles softly and shakes his head. “I was done for the night about an hour ago. I’ve had so much… ’m drunk.”

 

He looks sleepy and Sullivan has an inexplicable urge to pull him into his lap and rock him until he falls asleep. He flushes, although whether from the alcohol or the thought he can’t be sure.

 

Sullivan rests his head against the back of the chair, feeling the soft fabric against his cheek. He watches Sid, and Sid watches back.

 

The loud chatter and roaring laughter from the rest of the table seem to fade into the background. There’s just a little bubble with the two of them in. Bliss.

 

Sid blinks lazily, his eyes dropping to Sullivan’s lips. “Do you know how often I think about kissing you?” He hums.

 

Sullivan chuckles softly, feeling featherlight and yet a dead weight at the same time. “I wish you would.”

 

“Do you?”

 

“Mmhmm.”

 

“Don’t look at me like that.” Sid warns, his voice throaty.

 

“Like what?” Sullivan says innocently.

 

Sid closes his eyes and takes a deep breath in through his nose. “We can’t. Not here. Not in front of everyone. You’re making it difficult.”

 

Sullivan doesn’t think much of it. He’d been entirely truthful with his answer - he does wish that Sid would kiss him, quite often, in fact. But he knows that Sid is far too drunk, and probably doesn’t know what he’s saying. They’ll both have forgotten this in the morning.

 

They sit quietly for a few moments more, breathing each other in.

 

Sullivan is called back into the table’s conversation by Bunty, asking something or other about the legalities of ball-tampering. The table erupts with innuendo-laden jokes.

 

The rest of the night is a blur. Nothing eventful happens, Sullivan is certain of that, and he walks himself home at 1am as everyone leaves the pub.

 

He was right, about the next morning.

 

Sullivan wakes up with a pounding head and a dry mouth. He remembers very little of the conversations and the jokes shared the night before.

 

Yet as he drinks his coffee, steaming from the pot, he can’t help but shake the feeling that he’s forgotten something important.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

v. the indirect almost-kiss

 

 

There is a headache brewing behind Inspector Sullivan’s eyes.

 

Lady Felicia’s parties are always fascinating, but endlessly tiresome. Socialising is not Sullivan’s strong point.

 

He needs some air.

 

Sullivan politely finishes up the conversation he’s having with some frightfully important politician and makes for the doors that lead out on to the patio.

 

He slips out into the night and breathes a sigh of relief as the fresh air hits his face.

 

Loosening the knot of his tie, Sullivan leans back against the wall of Montague House and presses his fingers to his temples. He hasn’t been sleeping well these past few nights, and a number of tricky cases have upped his caffeine intake by tenfold.

 

“Well, well, well…” A voice pipes up from his left, “Fancy seeing you here.”

 

Sullivan startles momentarily, before recognising the familiar flash of green in the shadows.

 

Sid Carter strolls towards him leisurely. The top few buttons of his drivers’ uniform are undone, and his hat is tucked carelessly under his arm.

 

Sullivan swallows thickly. “I didn’t know you were out here,” he says by way of greeting.

 

“Are you tired of the party already? It’s only getting started.” Sid teases, coming to a halt and leaning on the wall beside Sullivan.

 

Sullivan scowls, choosing not to answer.

 

Sid laughs throatily. He fishes a hand in his pocket and pulls out a packet of cigarettes. “You want one?”

 

Sullivan doesn’t smoke often. He knows it will only make his headache worse in the morning, but he finds himself accepting anyway. “Please.”

 

Sid nods shortly, plucking two cigarettes from the packet. Rather than handing one over to Sullivan like expected, he puts them both between his lips.

 

Sullivan’s heart somersaults.

 

The lighter strikes into life instantly, and the quiet hiss of the flame is the only sound to disrupt the still and silent air around them.

 

Sid lights both cigarettes deftly. He puffs on them experimentally, checking that they’re both alight, before passing one to Sullivan.

 

Sullivan’s hands are shaky and their fingers brush. “Thank you,” he whispers, not daring to speak any louder in case his voice breaks on him.

 

Sid is watching him closely, but Sullivan doesn’t dare to look back. He feels self-conscious as he takes a drag of the cigarette, closing his eyes as he exhales.

 

He’s thought about Sid Carter’s lips often. Too often, in fact, to the point that it’s starting to be a cause for concern. Now he has to deal with the fact that this is, indirectly, the closest he’s been to feeling Sid’s lips on his. It’s almost too much.

 

They smoke in silence, and Sullivan is even more discomfited at the realisation that he is enjoying Sid’s company.

 

Once he’s burnt his cigarette down far enough, Sullivan stubs it out in a conveniently placed ash tray until it’s reduced to glowing embers.

 

“Good night, Carter,” he murmurs, risking a glance at Sid’s face.

 

There is something intense written there, but it’s an emotion Sullivan can’t place. If anything, he’s too scared to try.

 

Sullivan nods uncomfortably as he leaves, not daring to say anything else in case he blurts out the mess of complex feelings flooding his brain. He was hoping this little trip outside would clear his head, but it’s done quite the opposite.

 

Just before he ducks back inside, he hears a gravelly reply.

 

“Good night, Inspector.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

vi. the kiss

 

 

Inspector Sullivan usually curses the lack of any real police work in Kembleford.

 

Today, however, he would do anything to have his biggest problems be a kitten up a tree and an old lady who’s convinced her strawberries have been stolen.

 

Sullivan checks his watch. 3:37pm. He’s been here for five and a half hours.

 

Kembleford Constabulary had received a panicked phone call from the Gloucestershire Savings’ Bank at around 10am. There’d been a raid, apparently, and several armed gunmen had burst in demanding the vaults be opened. They’d made hostages of everyone in the building at the time, around thirty or so people. Amongst them was a Priest, the caller had said, and Lady Felicia Montague.

 

Sullivan had paled when he’d heard.

 

They’d driven at breakneck speed to get the bank but as it happened the rush was probably rather unnecessary.

 

The police negotiators have been trying to convince the perpetrators to release the hostages for hours, to no effect.

 

Sullivan and Sergeant Goodfellow are placed on watch around the back of the building. Sullivan hadn’t been keen on handing the case over, but when they’d called the higher-ups for reinforcements the job had been deemed a little above the pay grade of two village bobbies.

 

Sullivan looks up helplessly at the bank, wishing he could be more involved.

 

Suddenly, a flash of movement catches his eye.

 

For a moment he almost thinks he’s imagined it, until he sees it again. A flash of pastel pink.

 

Someone is prising the first floor window open.

 

Lady Felicia’s head pops out.

 

Her suit is dusty, and - Sullivan’s heart sinks - looks like it has a smattering of blood on it.

 

“Lady Felicia? Are you alright? Where are the other hostages?” Sullivan stage whispers.

 

Felicia grimaces, leaning out on to the masonry cautiously. “We’re as alright as we can be, given the situation. We’ve a couple of slight injuries from broken glass but nothing more serious.” She pushes the window up further, and swings her legs out, spotting an easy way to climb down using the brickwork. “The men have gone into the vaults but they—“

 

“Let’s not worry about that now, let’s get everyone out.” Sullivan says hurriedly, gesturing to other officers for help as she scrambles down.

 

Sergeant Goodfellow appears with some more officers and a wooden ladder, and one by one the hostages creep from the building.

 

“No, Inspector, you—“ Felicia says once her feet are on solid ground.

 

“Lady Felicia, please, come and sit down over here, you don’t need to worry.”

 

Inspector.” Felicia hisses, fixing him with a glare.

 

Sullivan stops up short.

 

Felicia gives him an unreadable look, her mouth drawn into a tight line. “The men… They took two hostages into the vault with them.”

 

Sullivan’s stomach drops. He feels he already knows the answer to the question he’s about to ask. “Who?”

 

“Father Brown,” She looks at him almost sympathetically, “and Sid.”

 

Sullivan’s breath is stolen from him in a heartbeat.

 

“I’m sorry I— we tried to stop them, but they insisted on taking Father Brown with them and you know what Sid’s like… He wouldn’t let him go on his own. That was at least ten minutes ago and we haven’t heard from them since.” She squeezes his arm in an almost motherly gesture.

 

“Th-Thank you, your Ladyship… I don’t — We’ll sort it out.”

 

She nods and allows herself to be taken away by a Constable.

 

Sullivan takes a moment to steady himself.

 

He’s known that he’s had… certain feelings for Sid Carter for quite some time. He hasn’t acknowledged them, and he’s done his best to bury them deep within himself, but sometimes they’re so overwhelming Sullivan finds he can’t help but dream.

 

He doesn’t know if they’re reciprocated but he… he wonders. There have been moments, definitely, where Sullivan was certain that Sid was flirting with him. There were moments that were so laden with tension he thought they might even kiss. He wonders if it’s all just in his head, and if it would ever be possible for someone like Sid to fall in love with someone like him. He resigns himself to simply living with his feelings, for the most part, which he can tolerate as long as he doesn’t allow himself to get too carried away.

 

With the present situation, Sullivan’s head is spinning. The gut fear he feels forces him to acknowledge that perhaps his feelings for Carter run much deeper than he realised. It’s terrifying.

 

But now is not the time to be having a crisis. There are two hostages in the building, and he has to treat the situation like he would any other, no matter how hard it may be. He has to keep going, even though it feels his world might be splitting apart at the seams.

 

When the call comes through from the negotiators stating that they’re preparing to force entry to the building, Sullivan isn’t sure whether to be relieved or petrified.

 

There’s a humming tension in the air as everyone waits, desperate for a resolution.

 

Sullivan stands glued to the spot, his heart thudding in his ears. He needs to hear something, anything.

 

The radio crackles into life, “Two men, running eastwards.”

 

“Sir!” Sergeant Goodfellow calls, pointing in the direction of two shadowy figures trying to steal away into nearby shrubbery.

 

Reluctantly, Sullivan turns away from the building and gives chase.

 


 

It only takes around half an hour more before the men are captured.

 

Sullivan feels bone tired as he and Sergeant Goodfellow head back towards the hub of activity outside the bank.

 

The local WI had teamed together to provide a rapid-response marquee on the village green opposite, and as they duck inside Sullivan is more than looking forward to a cup of tea.

 

There are several slightly dazed former hostages dotted around the tent, shakily sipping drinks and scoffing sponge cakes.

 

Sullivan scans the room agitatedly.

 

Lady Felicia and Mrs McCarthy sit in the corner and murmur quietly to each other. Sullivan’s heart clenches.

 

A tea is pushed into his hands by a sweet old lady, and although it’s scalding hot he gulps it down anyway. He’s so very thirsty.

 

Sullivan’s nerves are fraught, and he’s lacking in much subtlety when he approaches Lady Felicia.

 

She smiles knowingly as he walks over. “You’re looking for Father Brown and Sid, I presume?”

 

“Y-Yes I’ll um— I’ll need to question them.”

 

Sullivan invents the excuse on the spot, and he’s certain Felicia sees through him instantly.

 

“They’re in the big medical tent out there,” She hums, sipping her tea and pointing to the back of the marquee.

 

Sullivan’s feet move before his brain can register what he’s doing. Medical tent, medical tent, where is the dratted thing?

 

The field outside is littered with small tents and people hurrying about. In the centre, however, an old Red Cross tent is propped up beside an ambulance, and Sullivan makes a beeline for it.

 

Sullivan tells himself he isn’t running to get there, he’s just… picking his pace up.

 

The horrid, unsettled feeling in his chest won’t dampen until he’s seen that everything is alright for himself.

 

He smacks the fabric of the tent back as he enters, startling a young nurse who’s just leaving with a bowl that smells strongly of disinfectant.

 

Inside, leaning back against the ambulance, is Sid. He’s a little bruised, with a cut above his eyebrow and his arm in a sling, but other than that he looks fine. He’s alive. He even looks a little bored, puffing his cheeks up with air.

 

A wave of pure relief crashes over Sullivan.

 

He’s shaking, but his feet take one, two, three strides across the tent until he’s close enough to take Sid’s face into his hands, pull him close, and kiss the living daylights out of him.

 

Sullivan’s heart sings in his chest. All of the stress and tension of the day dissipates into a fuzzy warmth that shudders all the way to his toes. In one moment, everything dissolves into pure bliss.

 

Sid’s mouth is so warm and so soft and he pushes back with no hesitation. He hums pleasantly, albeit with surprise, into the kiss, and uses his one free hand to angle Sullivan’s jaw as he likes.

 

Sid kisses with purpose, and Sullivan can feel the frustrated frown on his face when the arm in its sling can’t wrap around his waist to pull him closer.

 

Sullivan’s usually mile-a-minute thoughts mellow out into just one. Oh, this is nice.

 

He’s starting to think he could spend a lifetime like this, held firm in Sid’s embrace, until he realises what he’s actually doing and pulls himself away with a gasp.

 

Sid chases his lips for a second, before pulling back to look at Sullivan clearly. “Hello,” he says, with his voice thick and his eyes hooded.

 

Sullivan’s own eyes are wide. “Sorry.” He squeaks.

 

Sorry?” Sid chuckles, his smile soft and teasing, “You’re saying sorry for that.”

 

Sullivan’s stomach flips. “I didn’t— I wasn’t thinking I—“

 

“I don’t mind,” Sid says in a voice so carefree it hurts, “Quite enjoyed it actually. We should’ve done that before. Are you alright?”

 

“Am I alright? Are YOU alright?!” Sullivan hisses. How absolutely absurd of Carter to be thinking of him in this situation.

 

“Yeah, I’m fine,” Sid says with a grin. “A bit bruised, and this wrist’s sprained, but other than that, business as usual.”

 

Sid indicates to the other side of the tent with a nod. “They think the Father’s ankle might be broken, but he’s in good spirits.”

 

At the mention of Father Brown, Sullivan whips round.

 

The Father is sitting in the other corner of the tent, one heavily bandaged leg propped up on a chair. He’s reading a book. “Hello Inspector,” he says cheerily.

 

Sullivan wrenches himself away from Sid and turns a vivid shade of scarlet. “Father Brown— I didn’t realise you— uh, I— I just came to… interview Sid,” Embarrassment floods through Sullivan’s body, and he desperately wants to melt back into Sid’s embrace and never be seen again. “And, erm, I’ll also need to interview you, of course.”

 

“With a little less passion, I should hope?” Father Brown grins cheekily, raising himself onto a pair wooden crutches.

 

Sid snorts and Sullivan feels his cheeks darken even further.

 

“Hey,” Sid says gently, squeezing Sullivan’s arm. “It’s ok,” He reassures, studying the anxious lines drawing themselves across Sullivan’s forehead. “It’s been a long day, hm? We can talk later if you’d like.”

 

Sullivan’s heart flutters. “Would you— Will you stop by the police cottage after… all this? I feel I should… explain myself.” He murmurs, clenching his fists by his side.

 

“I’d love to.” Sid smirks. “But if it means anything to you I think you explained yourself quite well earlier.”

 

Sullivan glares at the floor, feeling irrationally angry at the butterflies erupting in his stomach. He adjusts his hat to redirect some of the nervous tension, and finds that addressing Father Brown is a safer option that looking at Sid’s pretty, pretty mouth. “I, erm, sorry for the intrusion I’ll… Sergeant Goodfellow will call you down to the station when you’re recovered.”

 

“Oh, that’s no trouble, Inspector,” Father Brown smiles warmly, “Now if you don’t mind I’ll be heading off to the tea tent, I am in need of a hot drink after all this excitement.”

 

“Oof, me too.” Sid says, rocking back on his heels. “I am parched.

 

Sullivan watches anxiously as Father Brown finds his feet on his crutches, and holds the tent open so he can duck out with ease.

 

Sid falls in behind with a teasing cry of “Race you to the cakes, Father!”

 

Father Brown, never one to shy away from a challenge (nor a slice of Victoria Sponge), immediately picks up speed. “Ah-ha!” He calls, “You’ll never catch me!”

 

Sid grins, but doesn’t start sprinting across the green like Sullivan had expected.

 

Instead, he ducks momentarily back into the tent. He gently grasps Sullivan under the chin and tilts his head up, pressing a short but sweet kiss to his lips. He hums contentedly before pulling away with a satisfied sigh. “I needed that. I’ll see you later?”

 

“Y-Yes,” Sullivan stammers, entirely giving up on trying not to blush.

 

Sid’s smile is blinding as he heads off, clearly going no faster than a jog to let the Father have his moment of glory.

 

Sullivan watches them go, and although a little dazed, he grins so hard his cheeks hurt.