I had all and then most of you
Some and now none of you
Take me back to the night we met
- Lord Huron
When he kisses Cassie, there’s a moment where she still might swat him away and tell him to go to sleep. Part of him expects it. When she hesitates and then kisses him back instead, he knows they could be making a big mistake, but in that moment he doesn’t care.
Recklessly, he trails kisses down the side of her throat, enjoying the sounds he elicits from her. Her hands slide up under his T-shirt, the one he always wears when he sleeps over on the sofa. He pulls back and takes it off, dropping it casually by the side of the bed. Cassie smiles and pulls him back down to her.
His hands wander as they resume kissing and he runs his hands over her own T-shirt. When she pushes him back he thinks that’s it, it’s over, but then she lifts the T-shirt over her head.
The next morning he wakes up and finds her still in his arms. He watches her sleep for a while, admiring her long dark eyelashes, the perfect shape of her mouth. Finally he kisses her brow, then her eyelids, then the side of her mouth.
“Get off,” she mumbles sleepily. She opens her eyes and smiles at him. “Hi.”
“Hi.” He feels like his heart might burst out of his chest. Normally he would be running for the door right now after a one-night stand.
”What time is it?” she asks, stretching.
”Early. I couldn’t wait for you to wake up.”
“I’m not awake yet.”
“Let’s see what we can do about that,” he says, and slides down her body slowly.
Six months earlier
Cassie is sitting with her legs stretched out on the sofa, her feet resting in Rob’s lap as she flips through witness statements. She reaches for another slice of pizza, which she crams half of into her mouth while not taking her eyes off the latest statement.
“I’ve never seen a woman eat so much,” says Rob, watching her with fascination. Cassie gives him the finger and opens her mouth to show a mess of pineapple, tomato and melted cheese.
”I can’t believe you’re single,” says Rob.
When the pizza has been demolished, they clear up and get ready for bed. They have a routine now for when Rob stays over, they don’t even have to talk about it.
As always, Cassie is out like a light. Rob has always envied people who can fall asleep easily. He’s still tossing and turning on Cassie’s sofa, trying to find a comfortable position, when he hears Cassie cry out. He sits up to look. Cassie is still asleep, but making distressed noises. Rob gets up slowly, remembering how it feels to be woken while sleepwalking.
”Cassie?” he whispers. He shakes her gently by the shoulder until she wakes with a start.
”Sorry. You looked like you were having a nightmare.”
”Yeah, I was.” Cassie rubs her face with trembling hands.
”Is it the case?” Cassie nods wearily.
”I’ll get you some water,” Rob offers.
”No, just… stay here for a bit.”
Rob settles down next to Cassie, on top of the covers. Cassie curls into him, resting her head on his shoulder, and within minutes she’s asleep again.
Two years earlier
It was that first night, when they met properly for the first time and she stopped being an intriguing new presence on the Squad and became his best friend overnight.
They sit on the roof of the extension below Cassie’s bedsit, sipping hot whiskey and looking at the stars above.
“Quigley thinks your case is the work of a psychopath,” says Cassie. They are still on the ‘bitch about Quigley’ portion of the evening.
”Quigley’s an idiot,” says Rob. “He thinks every murder is the work of a psychopath.”
”I know all about psychopaths,” says Cassie. “I studied psychology for two years.”
”Just two?” says Rob.
”I left college early.” Cassie hesitates, looking like she’s said more than she meant to.
”How come?” Rob asks. He feels okay about asking her personal questions. After all, she’s already shown him her scars, literally.
”There were too many psychopaths there,” says Cassie, looking directly at him. After a moment he starts to laugh and she joins in.
”I should get ready for bed,” says Cassie. Rob takes the hint and gets up.
”I’ll see you at work tomorrow,” he says as she shows him to the door.
”Yeah. Night, hon.” The endearment slips easily off her tongue.
”Night, you,” he says, realising he can’t pull off ‘hon’ in his accent. She smiles as he lets himself out.
On Rob’s 50th birthday, he gets up at the usual time and checks his reflection in the mirror. He still looks good for his age: a few more lines on his face, a few grey hairs, but still recognisably himself. He makes himself breakfast and stirs his coffee while listening to the news blaring from his phone.
It’s been 15 years since he was forced to leave the Murder Squad. 15 years since Katy Devlin was murdered. She’d have been in her late 20s now, possibly a world-famous ballerina.
It’s been 37 years since Peter and Jamie disappeared.
Rob, Adam, would have been the last of the three to hit this age milestone. He tries to imagine his friends at 50. He allows himself to imagine the life he might have had: Peter and Jamie cheering and taking photos for Facebook as Cassie presented him with a birthday cake.
The last time he heard Cassie’s voice was the night he phoned her, drunk, after learning of her and Sam’s engagement. All these years and several phones later, he’s never been able to bring himself to delete her number. Sometimes, when he’s feeling particularly masochistic, he goes on social media and looks at photos of her and Sam together. Cassie still looks the same. Sam is completely grey now, which Rob tries to find comforting.
He knows what today holds for him: a few cards in the post, a polite phone conversation with his mother — she hasn’t quite got the hang of video calls, even after lockdown — and drinks after work with his colleagues at the security firm, who know next to nothing about him. Perhaps he’ll get drunk and maudlin later, and call Cassie. He wonders if she knows what day it is.
His phones bleeps with his first birthday text of the day, from Charlie. He pockets the phone, then grabs his jacket and heads out to work.
I don't know what I'm supposed to do
Haunted by the ghost of you
Take me back to the night we met