Chapter 1: home office
They’ve just finished at the Home Office and Sharon has returned to Scotland Yard alone. Liz doesn’t blame her and is secretly glad that she’s left one of her phones behind. Which possibly makes things a little less awkward. Or not.
She goes back to the dark panelled waiting room and finds…Finn sitting alone, shoulders hunched and fiddling with his lanyard. The only other time she’s seen him like this was the morning when Richard was found in the Thames. Some ironic part of her observes that she really hasn’t had much luck with police commissioners. In the past ten days, one has ended his life, the second is in cahoots with Finn and is as wary of her as a mouse looking at a cheese-laden, tastefully decorated, but nevertheless deadly mousetrap, and the third…well, she freely admits she could have handled the situation better. Switching horses is one thing, switching them while still entangled in the reins and stirrups of one is not the most subtle way to go.
Finn looks up as she enters, but doesn’t say anything. She retrieves her phone in silence and is about to leave in the same way when he finally speaks.
‘Do the right thing.’
For a split second, she’s taken aback. Not by what he’s saying, more because she was expecting an insult being thrown her way. Her brain belatedly processes this and she turns back to face him.
‘Sky News, Liz,’ he says in slight irritation, as if he’s annoyed that he has to remind her. ‘All that grandstanding about doing the right thing.’
‘I wasn’t grandstanding.’ She bites her lip in an effort to keep herself in check. ‘I meant it.’
‘Is that so? Did you mean it when you tried to use a missing child to bolster your PR agenda and get Sharon to the top?’
Liz is half-tempted to reveal that it’s unlikely that Sharon is getting anywhere near the top now but that thought is promptly jettisoned. ‘Thanks, I’d rather not take lessons in morality from a man who readily smears black teenagers,’ she declares.
If they were back at the office, they’d likely be embroiled in a shouting match by now. But they’re not. Either the fight has gone out of them – for the time being, anyway – as a result of their earlier confrontation in the control room, or more likely, they both recognise that two squabbling heads of Communications does not a good impression make. Finn’s presence here can only mean Inglis is behind the Home Secretary’s door this very moment and Liz has the grace to recognise that.
‘Look, I don’t want a fight,’ he admits. This earns him a raised, sceptical eyebrow.
‘Are we calling a truce? What’s next, we tap into my hippy heritage and whip out the ‘Peace Not War’ banners?’
‘How about taking a leaf out of your own book and instead of sprouting meaningless big talk, put words into action. That’s all I’m ask…saying,’ corrects Finn hastily. ‘Nothing more. Nothing less.’
‘That’s it? No gloating, Finn? No more snide putdowns?’
‘Not when the future of London’s security is on the line.’
The door opens. Inglis is having one last handshake with the Home Secretary and Finn rises to his feet. He shoots her a look which she can only interpret as meaningful as she quietly slips out of the room.
Chapter 2: cooking together
Written for ghoulishmalady, the prompt being "Cooking Together".
‘Don’t you have anything to eat here?’ asks Finn, peering into her mostly empty fridge. It isn’t the first time he’s been in her flat, but it is the first time he’s staying over.
Liz, perched upon the couch, looks up from her laptop screen.
‘I could order some pizza,’ she offers, already reaching for her phone.
He whips around and she half-expects him to be scowling at her, possibly throwing a snide remark about a lack of hospitality. Instead, he seems to be…frowning.
‘You’ve got this kitchen and you don’t use it apart from treating it like an extension of your office?’ he asks. ‘Jesus, are those notes on Metwork?’ She sees him grimacing at the pieces of notepaper taped above the sink and if she did have any regrets putting them there, she certainly doesn’t have any now.
‘If you don’t like them, the door’s that way,’ says Liz, looking back down. It’s meant to be a joke. Or at least she thinks it is until she hears the sound of her front door being opened and slammed shut.
‘Finn?’ she calls, confused, and feeling vaguely (very vaguely, mind) upset. Putting her laptop aside, she goes to the door and opens it, wondering if he’s still in the corridor. He isn’t.
A quarter of an hour goes by and she’s on the verge of calling him (she doesn’t know why but feels like she should) when the doorbell rings. It’s Finn with two bags of groceries. The scene is revoltingly domestic.
Too surprised to say anything, she lets him back in without a word. Dumping the bags on the dining table, Finn catches her staring at him.
‘Nothing.’ She pauses. ‘For a moment there, I thought you’d gone. You know, back home.’ Damn it, did she hear a faintly accusatory tone in her voice just now? Shit.
‘I actually might, if you keep staring at me like that.’
Their eyes fall upon the bags sitting between them. Feeling that they’ve reached the heights of awkwardness, Finn starts unpacking one bag while Liz unpacks the other. She’s not sure what she was expecting…maybe some microwavable lasagne or a deep-frozen Shepherd’s Pie. What she didn’t expect was a whole load of fish, meat, fruit and veg, along with rice and pasta.
‘Didn’t know whether you had any allergies so…’ begins Finn.
‘So you emptied the entire supermarket.’
‘If you want to look at it that way. Any preferences?’
‘Wait, are you cooking me something?’ she asks, narrowing her eyes. ‘Is this a date?’
He bristles instantly. ‘Don’t flatter yourself, Liz. FYI, I’m fucking starving and couldn’t give a shit about your preferences. You could eat gravel for all I care.’
She smirks. ‘You would’ve sounded convincing if you didn’t just ask me about them. Tough luck, Finn.’
He half-heartedly flips her the bird, half-heartedly because he’s already turned his attention to her stove and figuring out the controls. Initially tempted to just watch him, Liz gives up once she sees him measuring liquids at eye level. She doesn’t let him get near the chopping board lest he attempts to chop vegetables into identical shapes and sizes.
In the end, Finn descales and grills the salmon he’s bought while she prepares a salad to go with it. Curious, she has a taste. It’s better than expected. Finn moves behind her, pepper mill in hand, and subconsciously she shoves the salad-laden fork in front of his mouth. They’re both startled when he accepts it without question, Finn only freezing mid-chew when he realises what he’s just done.
Hastily gulping it down, he makes a sound of indistinct approval and returns to seasoning the fish. Neither of them notice that he’s already done so.
Chapter 3: seeking shelter
Written for etave, the prompt being "Seeking Shelter".
And my headcanon of Finn having Celtic/Irish/Scottish roots is shamelessly getting an airing here (hence the Gaelic!).
It’s the last day of a policing conference in the Netherlands and all participants are being given a tour of the Dutch countryside for some unknown reason. The storm which strikes in the late afternoon takes everyone by surprise. The weather forecast had been optimistic and on the basis of that, they had left their umbrellas back at the hotel. Worse still, Liz and Finn find themselves alone in the middle of an open field, having been separated from the others because they had been too engrossed in arguing…whatever the hell they were arguing about. It doesn’t seem to matter much now because it’s currently pouring by the bucketload and Liz swears that she’s seen a flash of lightning in the distance.
‘I think we passed a windmill a mile or so back.’
Finn rolls his eyes, which is pretty impressive seeing that water is dripping into them from his soaked hair.
‘It’s raining, we’re in the middle of a tulip field, and now we’re searching for a fucking windmill. Welcome to Holland.’
‘Stop complaining and start moving.’ Finn grumbles but falls into step beside her. The great thing about windmills is that they’re excellent landmarks and they locate it without difficulty.
‘Don’t tell me it’s locked,’ says Liz, when they get to the door.
‘How’s your Dutch?’ asks Finn as he lays his hand upon the handle. ‘I’m asking because we may have to explain why we’re launching an Anglo-American invasion of somebody’s windmill.’
‘At least 90 per cent of the population are able to speak English.’ Finn stares at her. ‘Or so I’ve read.’
‘So your unilingual brain shouldn’t have to worry too much about it.’
Finn swears at her in Gaelic and she grins. Fortunately, the door isn’t locked and he holds it open, letting her go first.
It isn’t much warmer inside, but at least it’s dry. Apart from the odd grain sack or crate here and there, they’re completely alone. Finn takes out his phone and tries dialling one of their colleagues but isn’t able to get a signal. When he turns around, Liz is taking off her shirt.
‘What the fuck are you doing?’ he splutters, too shocked to even be remotely turned on at the sight of her stripping down to her underwear. She tosses something large and woolly in his direction; it’s an old blanket which she’s presumably found lying around.
She looks at him pointedly. ‘Much as I appreciate the unusual sight of you in jeans, Finn, I think you’ll be better off without them. And I mean that in a totally non-sexual way. Blanket, please.’
He passes it back to her and quickly undresses. He sits beside her on the floor and Liz throws his side of the blanket over his shoulders. They don’t touch.
‘This is…weird,’ admits Finn.
‘I know, we’re both on the floor and we’re not fucking each other into it for once.’
Finn swallows nervously. ‘Would shagging you make things less weird?’
Liz fixes him with a long, contemplative look which is quite a feat because his face is only inches away from hers. She takes in his wet hair, slivers of grey made more noticeable because the rain has made his dark locks even darker. A five o’clock shadow is making its appearance and the scar upon his left eyebrow is more apparent than usual (she guesses she’ll end up asking him about it at some point). She can always expect Finn to draw out the most primordial instincts in her, whether it be lust or rage, but at this moment, sex is the furthest thing from her mind. Instead, the mere sight of him is making her feel things she can’t explain…which is, being the PR director she is, slightly terrifying.
He’s right. This is so fucking weird.
So she goes ‘fuck it’ in her brain and sidles up close to him, loops her arm through his and rests her head upon his shoulder. Finn doesn’t protest and pulls the blanket even tighter around them.
‘Welcome to Holland,’ murmurs Liz against his neck. Finn bites back a small smile, without success.
Chapter 4: tending an injury
Written for sharkie, the prompt being "Tending an injury".
It’s been a shit day, overall. Probably the worst Friday on record. With the weekend just around the corner, Liz and Finn decide to get sloshed. So it isn’t much of a surprise to find themselves stumbling out of the Two Chairmen at a late hour.
What is surprising is when Finn pulls her roughly towards him, possibly for a sloppy (not to mention very public) kiss. Apparently alcohol has an effect on his strength because Liz – already slightly unsteady on her feet – finds herself, in some confusion, colliding not with him but the pavement.
Someone says ‘Fuck.’ It can’t be Liz because she’s laughing even as she rights herself. She stops when she sees the expression on his face; contrite and not a little concerned. (She suddenly has the urge to take a photo of him, frame it and put it on her wall. Which would be an awful idea.) Then the world starts to spin and she lets out a small groan.
‘Easy, Liz. Take it easy,’ orders Finn, but his voice is gentle. He’s crouching beside her, his hands are warm as he supports her head with his left, while brushing the hair out of her face with his right.
‘Ah, shit,’ he murmurs. She raises her eyes to look at him and he looks more miserable than ever.
‘You’ve grazed your forehead.’ A beat. ‘I’m sorry,’ he adds lowly. She reaches out and squeezes his arm. It feels rather nice.
‘It’s okay. You didn’t mean it,’ she says, her eyes sympathetic and sincere. In spite of all the drinks they’ve had, Finn’s mouth has gone dry. It’s an exquisite sort of torture, really, because he doesn’t know whether he’d prefer her like this – soft and pliant – or have her yelling at him for being a klutz and be done with it. (Klutz? When did that ever enter his vocabulary? He’s been spending too much time with her.)
When she manages to convince him that he hasn’t given her a concussion, he helps her up and calls for a cab. She protests, saying that the Tube is still running and her flat is only a few stops away, but he glares at her so hard that she gives in.
In the cab, the combined weight of the past twelve hours, the alcohol and her fall all come together. She finds herself nodding off, trying not to bump into Finn, until he makes an impatient sound and pulls her – carefully this time – to rest against his shoulder. She’s half-asleep when the driver drops them off, and it’s only when she’s standing in Finn’s living room that she says:
‘This is your house.’
‘Yes,’ says Finn tersely, dropping his keys on the coffee table.
‘Why are we here?’ she questions.
A flat ‘Take a seat, Liz’ is his reply as he walks out of the room. Sighing and questioning her taste in men, she flops onto his couch and makes a show of noisily kicking off her heels. She’s about to fall asleep again when she feels the cushions sag under Finn’s weight.
She opens her eyes and sees a small tray of gauzes, bandages and medical supplies on the table.
‘What did you do? Ransack a hospital?’ she jokes.
Finn’s expression is serious. ‘Don’t.’
He takes a cotton ball and dips it into the small basin of warm water he’s brought. He firmly cups her chin, and starts cleaning her wound.
‘Stay still,’ he demands when she winces and wriggles under his grasp. Not at their close proximity, but the fact that it’s really beginning to hurt now.
He seems to know what she’s feeling because he says, ‘If you think it’s painful now, wait until you get antiseptic poured onto your wound. I’d take stitches any fucking day.’
‘You seem to know what you’re doing,’ she observes with interest. Her eyes flicker up to the scar on his eyebrow. ‘Is it because of…?’
He catches her drift immediately. ‘Pretty much, yeah.’
She watches him as he reaches for the dreaded antiseptic. ‘You know I’ve been meaning to ask…’
‘It’s a long story, Liz.’
‘I’ve got time.’
‘It’s a really long story…and anyway, I want to maintain my air of mystique for a little while longer.’
She lets loose a low laugh, but it’s abruptly replaced with a whine when Finn dabs the antiseptic onto her forehead. He wasn’t kidding, she thinks, as she gasps and scrunches up her eyes to hide the fact that there are tears in them. Forget the fact that she’s a grown woman in her early thirties, she feels like a child all over again.
The cushions shift again and it’s a bit of a shock to see Finn’s face so close to hers. What is he doing? What the fuck is he doing? Oh, he’s fucking blowing cool air over her forehead (which is actually soothing) and the terrible thing is that he appears to be completely sober.
‘Better?’ he asks once he’s finished. Funny that he’s only now beginning to look self-conscious.
‘Er, yeah. Thanks.’
Flushing a little, he applies a dressing to her wound and puts some distance between them.
‘Should be good now,’ he mumbles. He’s about to disappear with the tray when she reaches out and yanks him in by his tie. Their lips meet, lightly at first, and then a second and third time.
‘Stay?’ whispers Liz, her fingers weaving into his hair.
Finn nods and bends his head for another kiss.
Chapter 5: heatwave
Suit jackets are being discarded and taken off at the earliest opportunity and coat stands are doing double duty all along the department floor. Air conditioning does exist but apparently only in certain parts of the building. Scotland Yard is as ill-equipped as the rest of London when it comes to summer heatwaves.
The weather appears to be having some negative effect on the city: they’re having to deal with another spike in crime, the second in less than a month after Brexit, with violent scenes unfolding in Hyde Park. Tom’s tentative suggestion that members of the public should perhaps defend themselves with water pistols to cool off possible assailants had not gone down well, drawing a withering glare from Finn. Charles decides to make a brief statement to the press, calling for calm and vigilance, and everyone agrees that he’s a natural at this, his unflappable demeanour very much a balm in these tense times.
‘Should we get Charles to ask people to refrain from jumping into large bodies of water to escape the heat?’ asks Liz as they watch him from the back of the press room. Finn nearly makes a comment about it being inappropriate, what with their former Commissioner meeting a watery end, and looks at her wonderingly.
‘That’s being paternalistic,’ he ventures at last.
‘I call it being proactive,’ Liz disagrees.
‘What’s next? Commissioner Inglis’ Fireside Chats? With an actual fireside, i.e. a burning police van?’
She doesn’t reply. Mildly put out at not eliciting a response, Finn folds his arms, adopting his usual, unapproachable pose but soon gives up. It’s boiling in here and it’s disgusting: his shirt is sticking to his skin and he’s also certain there’s a bead of perspiration trickling down his forehead. He shoots a glance at Liz and fuck it, how the fuck does she still look – and for want of a better word and meant very, very loosely…perfect?
They’ve gone over this before, citing geographical, meteorological differences when growing up, but it doesn’t make Finn feel any more adequate or any less envious. Liz is prone to the cold, wrapping up in multiple layers even in bed and turning up the heating to the point that her flat was a furnace in the winter. She had turned it down after Finn complained and only after he had agreed to be her heating substitute: generally comprising of curling himself around her. He had made a decent attempt at showing his apparent disdain at the idea, which would have gone well had it not been for the fact that she had felt his heart pounding ecstatically against her back.
‘Are you visualising that police van right now?’ comments Liz, watching him drain his bottle of water, his second of the day.
‘Fuck you,’ he says but very softly, not wanting to be picked up by any of the mics in the room.
The conference ends and the reporters sidle out and disperse. Finn goes over to the water cooler on the department floor to replenish his supply. He’s out of luck: everyone else has done the same and the machine stands empty. Grumbling, he walks back to his office, wondering whether he should bother popping down to get something from a corner shop. But that would mean braving the heat and the sun outside, not to mention the crowds milling about (that’s the problem when your office is right next door to the Tower of London)…
So he’s rather confused when he sees a large bottle of water on his desk. It’s cool to the touch, evidently just out of the fridge, and there’s a sticky note on the cap: Stay hydrated. Below is a smiley face. Finn doesn’t know how to react, apart from taking a swig and gasping at how refreshing it is. After some thought, he carefully sticks the Post-it onto the top-right corner of his computer screen.
Liz’s smiley face gazes cutely at him. Finn smiles back.
Chapter 6: commute
‘Just fucking put it on, Liz.’
‘You know, you could have asked me before you ordered it.’ She pauses, resisting the urge to melodramatically plant a hand to her forehead. ‘Oh wait, I forget that asking is a foreign concept to you.’
Finn doesn’t take the bait and as usual, throws it back at her. ‘Yes, like procrastinating, or dawdling, or generally being annoying at 7.45 in the morning,’ he snaps, looking at his watch. ‘We’re going to be late.’
At that, Liz heads out of the door without a word and, more frustratingly, without taking the badge lying expectantly in his outstretched hand. Sighing, Finn shoves it into his coat pocket, picks up his briefcase and follows her.
‘Besides, you travel on the Tube with me,’ she says whilst waiting for their train. ‘Frankly, Finn, I don’t see how a tiny round badge would compete with big old you around.’ As if to shore up her argument, she indicates the considerably wide berth they’ve been given on the platform, an extremely unusual phenomenon for the early London rush hour.
‘This might be news to you, but the people I’m willing to fight this early in the morning boils down to only you and not some hipster nursing a chai tea latte on the District Line,’ says Finn, scowling as he spies one approaching them. The young man, startled, promptly reverses direction. Surreptitiously weaving her hand through his coat, Liz smacks Finn lightly on the arse. He grunts in response.
Their train arrives; the carriage is more than half full, but finding a seat is still relatively easy. Liz smiles triumphantly up at Finn as she quickly settles into one, leaving him holding a handrail.
‘Told you I don’t need it.’ She smirks. ‘Though it looks like you might.’
‘Shut up,’ is his reply but it lacks his usual bite. Mostly because his eyes are currently wandering up and down the carriage, like a man on reconnaissance, his brow furrowed. It’s almost like a routine now. Initially, Liz hadn’t known what to make of it. Then she realised with a jolt that this was how Finn’s protective instincts manifested themselves. It’s deeply embarrassing. It’s deeply endearing.
But he’s outdone himself now with the fucking badge. Liz’s first response was to laugh at the suggestion, only to be struck dumb when he produced one out of nowhere during breakfast a few mornings previously. Had it been an engagement ring, her reaction wouldn’t have been much different (although that particular bridge had already been crossed at another time). Laughter appeared to be the default response, however, even after she managed to get over the shock and had continued to do so for the past three days. Her fervent hope, really, is to play for time until Finn forgets about it…but knowing how infuriatingly persistent he is, she supposes she’ll have to give in sooner or later.
That time does indeed come. And much sooner than she thought. At the end of the working day, in fact. It’s been a long and ungodly one, with one PR clusterfuck after another with the result being that she’s only managed to spend a quarter of an hour out of the past eight hours sitting down. Her entire body aches and her back is killing her.
As the packed train taking them home pulls into the station, Liz’s chagrin doesn’t go unnoticed. Finn whips out the badge from his pocket, behaving as if he’s spent the entire day waiting for this moment, and not arguing with her over police procedures.
It’s her turn to sigh. She finally takes it but not without a half-hearted side-eye at him.
‘You’re welcome,’ says Finn.
Liz puts the badge on, blue text on a white background as obvious as the barely suppressed gleam in his eyes and both proudly declaring the same thing: ‘Baby on board!’
Chapter 7: not your customary coffee order
The working day is nearly over but there’s a possible new crisis on their hands. The rest of the department are chipping in ideas on how to handle the situation and the meeting room is enveloped in a cacophony of noise. Mobiles are ringing off the hook, multiple notifications buzz in every three seconds and the din is enough to set anyone off, even the fucking Archbishop of Canterbury.
But it figures that nothing compares to the sight of Finn leisurely sipping his coffee on the other side of the table to spite her, scribbling notes or ciphers or pentagrams or God knows however the fuck his reptilian kind choose to communicate. Liz is tempted to yell at him. In order to make him yell at her…and Jesus, that’s something she had never expected to contemplate.
(But then again, Liz had also never expected to end up sleeping with him on a fairly regular basis – more regularly than she’d care to admit – so…yeah, the joke’s on her. As usual.)
Much like a child who hasn’t got his way, Finn is sulking. And very much not like a child, he’s drinking a cappuccino. Not his customary coffee order but she knows it’s deliberate. Subtlety isn’t his forte – it never will be – but he’s definitely been reading up on her long game strategy. Fuck him and really, fuck him.
At this disjointed junction in time, someone grabs her attention for two seconds – not because they’ve hit upon something, but because their suggestion is frankly appalling. Liz briefly wonders what sort of calibre the Met’s HR has been recruiting. Then her train of thought is brutally derailed at the equally, or even more, appalling sight of the paper cup slowly leaving Finn’s mouth, a perfect crest of creamy foam sticking to his upper lip.
Jesus fucking Christ.
Her mind alarmingly goes blank, a spike of familiar desire threatens to overwhelm her, and Liz is on the verge of sending everyone home, crisis be damned. Body aquiver, she’s already edging closer without knowing it and she’s this close to kicking his chair from beneath him, pinning him to floor and –
The memory of having kissed and licked the foam off his then-startled face last week returns to her unbidden. To do so again, and this time in public, is a real, wonderful, and terrifying possibility.
Ironically, she’s saved by Finn himself. Perpetrator and idiot, the master of self-sabotage. He commits the tactical error of looking up, locking his smug, smouldering gaze with hers which freezes when he sees her flinty expression.
Scowling, his eyes return to the press release in front of him. Liz nearly cries out when he viciously wipes his mouth with the back of his hand.
Chapter 8: pen fatale
Liz is restless, as she always is when there’s a maelstrom of ideas in her head, and she’s very inconsiderately dropped by Finn’s office. Watching her pace up and down, repeatedly brushing her hair out of her face, is starting to give him a migraine. He loudly tells her so, cutting her off mid-sentence.
She grinds to a halt and leans across his desk, hand raised. He braces for a smack across the head – playful or otherwise. In one deft movement, she instead plucks the pen from behind his ear.
Finn opens his mouth in annoyance but stares, entranced, when Liz uses it to tie her hair, a golden serpent coiling round its prey. That’s weird and horrifyingly endearing and fuck, he better not cave into the sudden urge of gutting the contents of his desk and presenting them to her just so that she can do that again.
Grumbling outwardly, he retrieves a pen from his drawer to replace the one he’s lost. Then sticks another one behind his other ear for good measure.
His actions do not go unnoticed. ‘You look like you’ve grown antennae.’
‘All the better to hear your bullshit with, Liz,’ he fires back on reflex. The analogy hits him far, far too late.
‘You walked right into that one, Finn,’ she says, shaking her head and dislodging the pen from her hair. ‘For the record, I had nothing to do with it. And if you think I’m anyone but the fucking Huntsman in your sad little narrative, let me tell you, you’re very much mistaken.’
Seeing how she’s now rounding on him and wielding that pen like a bloody axe, he doesn’t doubt that for a moment. The most he can hope for now is that she doesn’t stab him in the eye with it.
‘Don’t recall the Huntsman making out with the Wolf on a regular basis though,’ he offers defiantly, but his voice is noticeably smaller than he’d like. Damn. ‘We didn’t get taught that version at school.’
‘Yeah, but you forget that I was home-schooled by hippies and raised by wolves in a cave. Call it a natural affinity, if you like,’ she explains, and with each step she takes towards him, he takes a proportional roll backwards in his chair.
‘Ah, that explains it. God, that’s fucked up.’ He gulps when the wheels of his chair hit the window frame. Trapped with two extra pens to help her deliver the coup de grâce. How considerate of him.
Her expression – steely, unyielding – softens and she ruffles his hair, almost affectionately. He reacts as if she’s slapped him.
‘Here’s your pen back,’ says Liz, dropping it onto his desk with a clatter.
‘Thanks. I’ll have to dump it in a vat of antiseptic now, but thanks.’
She flips him off and heads back to her office, eager to translate her thoughts into words. Finn returns to his computer, eager to receive her inevitable barrage of emails so that he can methodically rip them apart.
In the meantime, however, he rids himself of his “antennae”, save for the one she’s left on his desk which he discreetly restores to its former place. He valiantly ignores how his ear tingles afterwards.
Chapter 9: and then we were three
Written for sharkie. :)
Drabble prompt: "This is the first time I’ve seen you cry".
(Not exactly subtle) lyrics are from "Do You Want To" by Franz Ferdinand.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The day had dawned upon them with a veritable overture, opening with a sharp, sudden cry which had jolted Finn awake. Liz’s gradual progression into a steady, increasingly pained stream of cursing. Then the grumble of an engine as it was roused at an ungodly hour and they had both shouted in shock when the radio exploded into life.
Well, do you, do you, do you wanna?
Wanna go where I’ve never let you before?
So much for his idea about getting away for the weekend.
Navigating down the M25 has never been so terrifying. Somehow, they had managed to crawl into central London intact (to the soundtrack of Liz hissing through clenched teeth: ‘Thirty miles an hour, Finn, are you shitting me?’) and he had miraculously managed to park the car without crashing or throwing up at the wheel out of sheer anxiety.
Twelve hours later, they’ve run the gamut of Liz’s vocal range and exhausted her repository of cuss words. It’s a feat that neither London nor Finn has ever achieved in her time thus far at the Met.
Verbal communication between them has ground to zero after Liz had snapped at him, mid-contraction, to shut up. He’d gone quiet, dangerously so. Just when a twinge of regret had settled in, Finn had left the room to take a call (she might be on leave, but he isn’t), drawing the loud indignation of the midwife. It wasn’t long before Liz was shouting at her, too, perhaps with even greater ferocity.
Finn eventually returns, setting himself down heavily by the bed. It occurs to her that he looks as weary as she feels.
‘Forget it, Liz,’ he sighs when she tries to apologise. His expression is inscrutable but the touch of his hand when he slowly clasps hers isn’t. She turns her head away in shame, in relief, suddenly feeling more vulnerable than she has been all day.
‘I want to go home.’
A flagging whisper, barely audible, but it hits him with the full force of a bullet train. His eyes unexpectedly sting and prickle.
Throwing in the towel. Something which he’s done more times in his life than he’d care to admit. And he’d be lying if he said the thought of doing the same hadn’t crossed his mind when they’d hit the occasional wall in their relationship.
But if reaching the point they’re at now is a mistake, he doesn’t want it to be ever put right.
‘Come on, Liz. One more push…just one more.’ His voice is hoarse with fatigue and…something else he can’t quite identify.
Their grips tighten simultaneously when another contraction bears down on her and she groans and shakes her head. ‘I can’t.’
Leaning close, he smooths back her hair, tangled and darkened with sweat, and takes in her heaving chest, flushed with exertion. He tries to swallow the growing lump in his throat, acutely aware that he’s welling up and hating the fact that they aren’t alone…
‘I love you.’
He only manages to catch a glimpse of widening blue, seconds before she doubles up and sinks her teeth deep into his forearm. Finn is caught between a sob and a yelp, and he’s drowned out by a furious wail which fills the room: insistent, bewildered, and hungry for life.
Much later, Liz will tease him about how their child has evidently inherited his set of lungs and Finn will grouse about her giving him another scar to deal with.
She won’t tease him though about how his tears are now spilling in earnest, the first she’s ever seen him like this.
And when their daughter is set gently in his trembling arms (the right one now bandaged up), Liz smiles so much that it almost hurts.
He doesn’t know that half the reason she’s beaming is him. But he will. One day.
Now I know, now I know, now I know
I know that it’s you
And yep, say hello to little Sinead Garvey-Kirkwood.
Other than personally liking the name, Sinead was the first to come to mind when I was thinking about names for Liz and Finn’s child and for better or worse, it stuck. As for the double-barrelled surname, Finn often quips that it’s so that their daughter ‘knows exactly who to blame’. :p
Chapter 10: paternal/primal instincts
A follow-up to and then we were three and definitely NSFW.
Apparently watching Finn’s hitherto fossilised paternal instincts coming to the fore does things to her. If it’s not enough to be dealing with motherhood and fluctuating hormones, Liz finds herself beset by waves of mingled affection and outright lust for him throughout the day.
It eventually comes to a head. Tonight, she's caught him in the nursery which is not entirely unexpected (Finn tends to be hands-on in basically everything). What is unexpected is that he’s singing softly to Sinead who wriggles defiantly in his arms. Liz watches from the doorway, fascinated. Their baby is soon asleep, lulled by her father’s voice and gentle rocking. Finn sets her down in her crib, but not before kissing the top of her head.
He starts a little when Liz rests her cheek against his shoulder but quickly regains his composure.
They watch their daughter in easy silence until Finn rubs the back of his neck and asks: ‘How much did you see?’
‘Everything.’ She pauses for effect. ‘You’re now literally a DILTF. I’ll have to keep an eye on you.’
He turns to her sharply which belies the embarrassed pride he feels. She tilts her head and presses her lips to his and they kiss for a long time. They don’t stop when she unbuttons his shirt and slides a warm hand beneath the fabric to stroke his chest. His own hands roam about her body, fuller and rounder than before but no less attractive to him.
This is as far as they’ve gone in the past three months and Finn doesn’t expect them to go further.
That is, until he feels her fingers unbuckling his belt and making to dip beneath his briefs.
With a burst of willpower, he pulls – albeit fractionally – away. ‘What are you doing?’
She smiles at him, innocently enough to the unexperienced Liz-watcher, but he knows better. ‘I wasn’t joking when I called you a DILTF. And I want to. Now.’
He raises a brow to mask his growing arousal…and more importantly, uncertainty. After all, it’s only been a month since Sinead was born.
‘Don’t tell me you haven’t wanted to,’ she murmurs lowly before kissing him again. Finn allows himself to be dragged out of the nursery and into their bedroom. Clothing is feverishly discarded and she squeaks into his mouth when he picks her up and sets her gently on the bed.
‘I’ve missed you,’ she sighs, as he nuzzles her neck. ‘Like this, I mean.’
‘It’s been a while,’ he agrees. He yelps when she suddenly smacks his arse. ‘Ow! What the fuck was that for?’
‘I haven’t done that in ages. That felt nice – ’
‘And you thought now was a good time? Way to kill the mood, Liz,’ he claims, though his cock evidently has no such qualms. He’s so hard his brain is finding it increasingly difficult stringing two coherent thoughts together.
‘As I was saying,’ she continues evenly, ‘that felt nice…but having your dick in me would be infinitely better.’
He doesn’t need further persuading. He retrieves a condom from the bedstand and pointedly locks gazes with her, making a show of lubing himself up which elicits a laugh. And which she finds disgustingly hot. But her momentary confusion is plain to see when he abruptly lies flat on his back.
He stretches out both hands, expectantly. ‘I’ve read that women find it easier to ride their partners after giving birth.’
‘So you were thinking about having sex,’ she says with a note of triumph in her voice as he guides her.
The way he groans and writhes when she sinks onto him only confirms it. It’s a little painful and she’s still sore in half a dozen places but it’s far from unpleasant. On the other hand, it’s clear that it’ll be some time before she gets the hang of this again. Her post-baby body, used to navigating around more inanimate objects around the house, doesn’t quite know how to adapt to the warm, virile presence beneath her. She supposes it’s like relearning how to ride a bike…and she’ll leave that terrible analogy where it stands.
However rusty she thinks she is, Finn doesn’t seem to be noticing a difference. He breathily sighs her name with each swivel of her hips and then moans loudly when she quickens her pace. She covers his mouth in panic.
‘The baby,’ she explains, or rather gasps. Finn – holy fucking shit – actually kisses her palm in reply. The sensation unexpectedly makes her whimper and she swiftly removes her hand and kisses him deeply.
But she can feel herself tiring and she grimaces at the growing, telltale ache in her lower back. She’s about to ask him whether he’d be open to the idea of jacking himself off – with her following afterwards – when he slides out from beneath her.
‘Shh, it’s okay,’ he assures her. He arranges them so that they’re both lying on their sides. ‘Let me take care of you now.’
Spooning has never been one of Liz’s favourite positions. While she has often and very fervently wished that Finn’s face was a punching bag so that she could pummel it out of existence, it’s still, she has to admit, not an unattractive one. Plus he has nice eyes and nothing is more of a turn on in the heat of frantic fucking than that grey-green gaze staring deep into hers.
She doesn’t have time to adequately mourn the loss of seeing his nice eyes, however, because his equally nice cock is now making her steadily incoherent.
‘Finn!’ she cries when he bottoms out and it’s her turn to be gently silenced. A palpable shiver runs through him when she returns his earlier favour. They struggle to strike upon the right rhythm but soon she's rocking against him in time with his thrusts, her initial discomfort forgotten. Breath feverish and coming in gasps against her ear, he fumbles blindly for her hands, clasps them tightly upon finding them. The heat of his chest is radiating against her back, even more so when he wraps both their arms around her.
He’s close but she can sense he’s also holding back, waiting until she’s ready…
The wait isn’t long. She brings his hands to her lips, before tracing the barely healed wound on his forearm with her tongue.
The effect is instantaneous: Finn comes with a groan and buries his face in her hair, babbling a stream of nonsense as Liz keens and tightens about him.
‘It’s been a while,’ she echoes, once they manage to regain their breath afterwards and she can feel the steady thump-thump of his heart. It’s inexplicably comforting. Just like its owner.
‘Fuck yes,’ he pants and she settles back in his arms.
They’re on the verge of dozing off into welcome sleep when he says drowsily, ‘Liz?’
‘Yes?’ She cranes to look into his face (his, yes, beloved face).
‘I’ve missed you, too.’
The Two Chairmen. It’s not the most inspired meeting place, but it should do. The pub rises to its feet when Inglis walks in.
‘It’s all right, guys,’ he says with ease. ‘I’m not here for an inspection. As you were.’
They settle down in a corner.
‘This is all fucking chummy, isn’t it?’ says Inglis. He stares at the contents of a far-off plate. ‘Jesus, I’d forgotten how grey the pies were.’
Liz shoots a look at Finn who mumbles, ‘They’re not half bad.’
Like the policemen at the bar, they’re in the unusual state of being off-duty. Even more unusual is that they have a baby in tow.
‘Is it like usual to bring babies to pubs?’ asks Liz out loud.
‘It’s not that unusual –’ assures a newly-minted godmother Mia until she’s cut off by Finn.
‘Liz, you come from a country where people bring babies to gun shows. What do you think is the less insane option?’
‘Settle down, children,’ cautions Inglis. ‘And I’m not including Sinead.’ Who, frankly, he still has trouble believing exists, regardless of being asked to be her godfather. Or rather, ‘guidefather’. It had been a tortuous morning when Finn had informed him, the younger man looking like he was suffering from a bad bout of constipation until Inglis had asked what the problem was.
‘I, er… Fuck, Liz and I,’ started Finn, through clenched teeth, as if he’d been forced to do this against his will. ‘We were wondering whether you’d care to be godfather, Charles. Sir. Commissioner.’
Inglis hadn’t known what was weirder: hearing Finn stammer or having a deluge of his titles poured over him (Not that he’s complaining. At least Finn is polite and which is always preferable to having racist wankers throwing derogatory terms – and worse – his way).
‘I’m not exactly religious,’ Inglis had begun.
‘Well, neither am I,’ replied Finn. ‘Or Liz, as a matter of fact.’ A pause. ‘If you discount Transparency™ and a propensity for pop culture references.’
‘Okay. And the point of our having this conversation is?’
‘Actually, it’s more of a naming ceremony than a christening. And godparents are more like…guideparents. Absurd name, I know.’ The jaunty PR mask had slipped at the stern expression on the Commissioner’s face. ‘Look, Charles. It would mean a lot if you said “yes”.’
And so he had. Besides, he’d survived their wedding – a surprisingly non-excruciating experience – and frankly, he’s honoured to be asked.
The ceremony had more or less gone without a hitch although by the end of it, all four of them were desperately in need of a drink.
‘We’re not doing that again, right?’ asks Finn when he’s downed his pint.
‘Depends, if the two of you can keep your hands off each other,’ offers Mia primly, exacting her revenge for being interrupted earlier.
She chuckles into her beer as Finn splutters and nearly chokes on his pie. Liz is flushed either with alcohol or embarrassment, it’s hard to tell which, but there’s a smile tugging at her lips as she vigorously slaps Finn between the shoulder blades.
‘Don’t you dare fucking die, Finn, or I’ll kill you myself,’ she says severely and sounding like she bloody means it.
‘That – doesn’t – even – make sense,’ whinges Finn through his coughs.
Meanwhile, Sinead, disturbed by the sudden noise and activity, starts crying.
Pure bedlam, thinks Inglis, forced to bring his own parenting skills to the fore as he gingerly joggles his goddaughter. He looks ridiculous but the guys at the bar know better than to take snaps of their Commissioner like this.
Somehow and to his surprise, it only takes a minute until she quietens down. Liz looks at him, impressed…and with that familiar, excited glimmer in her eye.
‘Charles, I’ve just had an idea to soften your disciplinarian image.’
‘It was worth a try,’ she shrugs, whipping out her phone and before he can stop her, takes a photo.
It turns out better than expected. And hell, he’d take this over the shampoo fiasco any day.
‘Just don’t post it on Metwork,’ he warns.
‘I’ll delete it before she even gets a chance,’ promises Finn, now sufficiently recovered.
‘No, I’d actually like to have a copy.’
They stare at him.
‘Of…course,’ says Liz, taken aback. ‘Of course, Charles.’
‘Good.’ He looks around, suddenly feeling sheepish. ‘You know, maybe I will have a go at one of those pies…’
Written mostly because I've always wanted to have a scene with Inglis and the PR team in a pub. Oh, and with a tiny Garvey-Kirkwood, too.
Chapter 12: a night out in shoreditch
Written for sharkie, for the prompt: "Not sure if you could tell, but I’m not exactly a people person".
It’s a sort of police PR convention, only in a very unconventional setting. And with a hell of a lot more alcohol. Liz’s heart had sunk a little when details of the venue had been deposited in her inbox: she’s been actively trying to avoid places associated with Granger and just her fucking luck, it’s the same bar where they’d met up soon after her return to London.
As the day approaches and her anxiety levels start to escalate, she comes up with a dozen reasons why she shouldn’t go. One main reason being that there’s the real possibility of her ex (or more like her ex twice over) crossing paths with Finn (her…yeah, she’ll figure out what exactly their relationship is later). Which would be awkward and messy and God, as if she doesn’t have enough problems in her life already. But she’s never been one to back down from a challenge and besides, fears go down well with a shot or two. Or three.
It ends up being six. Especially when it’s obvious that Finn is pretending as if they’re mortal enemies and not shagging and sleeping at each other’s places every other day. Alcohol has the desired effect of allaying her nerves. She’s vaguely aware that she’s making a round of the bar, PR goddess that she is, expostulating at length about the state of policing in Europe. Her umpteenth listener of the night beats a polite but hasty retreat at the first opportunity. Liz’s eyes well unexpectedly. Just because she’s used to this doesn’t mean that it stops it from hurting. Her gaze is drawn to the ground swaying beneath her feet, seemingly in time with the beat thumping in the background. Or is that her heart? She can’t tell.
When she decides that she’s had enough of the floor, she looks up, expecting to see no one.
What she sees is a mop of dark hair and an equally dark brow furrowed with some unknown emotion. Terror coils her insides and for a split second, she’s ready to shout, ‘Granger!’ That is, until a very un-Granger-like voice snaps:
‘You done drinking yourself to oblivion yet?’
Finn’s tone is cutting, but there’s definite panic in his eyes. It’s clear that he hadn’t expected to be caught looking over at her. And she might be hallucinating but it looks like he’s trying to blend into the goddamn decor (Finn might have a fucking high opinion of himself, but even he can’t turn himself into a neon sign however much he tries). He’s the first to break eye contact and somehow that hurts her more than the disappearance of her PR acquaintance of oh-so-many-seconds.
Apparently she wasn’t that far from tearing up, because there’s suddenly a wad of napkins she’s burying her face into. By this point, she’s too drunk and miserable to care about the image she’s presenting of the Met.
An undeterminable amount of time later, there’s the nearby screech of a chair being drawn up. Jesus, it’s as if the world can’t decide whether she should be left alone or not. Even the napkins are threatening to abandon her, slowly dissolving into a pulp beneath her fingers. She calls it quits first, throwing the sodden mess aside. Then her jaw drops at the massive pile of napkins placed on the table in front of her. Seated opposite her is Finn who is eyeing her nervously.
‘Here to gloat?’ she asks thickly, once she’s recovered. ‘Or are those to wrap what’s left of you after I crush you into tiny pieces?’
He inhales sharply, then takes a quick sip of his beer. ‘You couldn’t fit all of me into those things even if you tried.’
‘Another night, Liz.’ A pause. ‘And I thought maybe you’d like to finish your rant against the current state of European policing.’
‘You mean you were listening to me the entire evening?’
For the second time tonight, she’s caught him out and he’s visibly flustered when he blurts, ‘Not so much listening as – well – you’re fucking loud when you’re drunk, Liz.’ He nearly mentions that she’s loud on other occasions, but stops himself in time.
‘I wouldn’t have needed to be either if you’d just come over to talk, even it meant shouting how inane I was.’
‘This might come as news to you, but I’m not exactly a people person.’
‘But I’m not people, Finn, I’m your girlfriend!’
Oh holy fucking shit.
‘Girlfriend, huh?’ repeats Finn slowly and damn it, she can even hear the smirk in his voice.
‘Don’t you start,’ she threatens, hackles inevitably raised. Trust him to take advantage of her like this. ‘And if you start calling me that back at Scotland Yard, I swear – ’
‘What? No!’ he starts, genuinely alarmed. ‘I didn’t mean it like that…it’s only that I don’t think anyone’s called themselves my girlfriend before. It’s…nice. Really nice. For want of a better word.’
She gazes at him through narrowed eyes. ‘Finn, I think you’re drunk.’
He sighs. ‘And the pot calls the kettle black.’
‘And I think you’re also my boyfriend.’
‘If these aren’t enough napkins to contain your tears of sorrow, I understand,’ he pronounces solemnly.
‘What makes you think I’m sorry about it? Okay, it’s kinda disturbing, if I have to be honest, but it’s also…well…nice.’ She smiles at his barely repressed gulp. ‘For want of a better word.’
Chapter 13: good morning
Written for fandom-feminist-stiff, for the prompt: "Already? Do I really have that much of an effect on you?"
Fairly explicit smut ahead and NSFW.
It’s dawn when Liz jolts awake. Her eyes blearily take note of the state of her bedroom: discarded clothes strewn across every surface? Check. Laptop still open on the floor after they had angrily wrestled each other into bed? Check.
She turns abruptly and her head nearly smacks into his. Her Deputy of Comms lying against her pillows? Check.
It’s a novel experience watching him sleep. Whatever ill-will she harbours against him quickly dissipates. Finn’s an early riser, both by habit and by fear. Fear of being vulnerable, she supposes, of being scrutinised by her curious blue gaze. Because he can’t hide behind his formidable verbal and physical defences.
So she savours the moment, leaning on her elbow as she ogles him at her leisure in the half-light. And he does have the nicest, pertest ass she’s ever seen on a guy. It’s almost distressing but apt to know that it’s shown to its best advantage in a boring pair of suit trousers. Although that doesn’t stop her peeking beneath the covers because yeah…seeing it bare is pretty good, too. She has the sudden urge to press her lips against it. Which is weird. And which shouldn’t be, knowing that her mouth has travelled the entire width and length of him. Quite literally.
Liz closes the last few inches between them, sliding audibly against the sheets. She’s close enough to see his eyelashes now, the freckle on his right cheek. She realises she’s actually kinda jealous of it, knowing that it will always be first to kiss him there.
Oh Christ, she’s deeper in this than she thought. Jealous of a freckle? On the cheek of her horrendous Deputy? This is terrible.
Liz turns on her side with a huff, determined to go back to sleep. She tosses and turns for a good five minutes. But it doesn’t change the fact she’s here, he’s here, and that…thing is there and she’s made up her mind. She’s fucking taking it to war. Out of spite, out of stupidity, and because she simply wants to, she kisses him on the offending cheek. Finn murmurs something, face turning towards her. Encouraged, she nuzzles his neck and then his chest.
It isn’t long before he wakes up, mid-onslaught, her face by now hovering about his groin.
‘Liz, what – fuck…’ His words are swallowed up as quickly as his wholly unprepared but very responsive cock in her warm mouth. His hips instinctively jerk upwards and a hand comes up to stroke his stomach but also to keep him pressed against the mattress. Finn’s own hand drags over his head, until a hard clang against her headboard announces that he’s still wearing his watch. Unable to look at her, he focuses on his wrist. Amazingly, he’s still able to tell the time.
‘Already, Liz? It’s four-thirty and unngh…’ Is he complaining? Because he isn’t and oh, he better let his body do the talking. Fingers slide through her hair as she pumps him, and clench tightly when her teeth lightly scrapes the underside of his dick.
He squeezes his eyes shut, willing himself to calm down because his chest feels like it’s about to implode. ‘Blowjobs first thing in the morning,’ he babbles. ‘Do I really have that much of an effect on you?’
‘I could ask the same of you.’
The whimper he makes when she lets him slide out with a pop is music to her ears. She also takes that as a ‘yes’. Liz quickly takes him back into her mouth and an abrupt swirl of her tongue against his slit is enough to send him over the edge and gasping her name.
She’s barely released him when he pulls her up and her own chest is pressed flush against his. Their mouths meet hungrily and he makes sure to lap up every last drop of himself before settling between her legs.
‘Allow me to return the favour?’ he asks.
Liz strokes his stubbled cheek. ‘Take care how you go down there, big boy. We’ve got work in four hours.’
He tosses his watch aside, eyes gleaming. ‘Plenty of time.’
Chapter 14: do you know where we're going
Written for ghoulishmalady, for the prompt: "Since when have we ever been friends?"
It’s been a week since the release of the Vas/Coward footage. There’s barely been time to sleep; the days having been propped up by an unhealthy combination of caffeine and stress. Liz can’t even recall the last time she actually sat down to a proper meal.
The Met’s Twitter account is down, either by hackers or the upsurge in traffic due to hate tweets arriving in droves. She doesn’t regret her decision, and nor does Inglis. Or at least, he hasn’t said so to her face: she avoids thinking about the possibility of him talking with Finn behind her back, mostly because the last thing she needs now is hypertension and getting herself hospitalised. What a headline that would make.
It’s not only hate tweets they’re dealing with; there’s also the traditional kind sent courtesy of Royal Mail. Most of it is filtered and security-checked before it even reaches their floor, but some inevitably get through. She swallows hard at the vitriol aimed her way but at the end of the work day, she forces herself to open and read each and every letter. If they can be so described…in the loosest sense of the word. She supposes the experience is akin to data collection with a massive helping of self-flagellation.
‘Not so nice being Head of Comms now, is it?’ drawls a voice nearby. Liz doesn’t even have to look up to know who it is. ‘And before you thought it was all rainbows and unicorns and a spot on the One Show.’
‘Correction: I have never thought that, Finn.’ She grabs and raises the pile of mail on her desk, half-tempted to throw them at his face. ‘Do these people have anything better to do in their spare time?’
His expression is entirely unsympathetic. ‘You’re the one who used to work for Instagram. You tell me.’
She rounds on him, eyes blazing. ‘You know, reading these flaming pieces of shit make me see why you’re so keen to take my job. Feeding off hate is already second nature to you, you’re like a fish to water, a Dementor to a soul.’
Finn barely stops himself from flinching when the letters land with a snap at his feet. ‘Here, take these with my compliments. Material for your evening wank and hateboner. Good night.’
Liz waits and dares him to slink off, papers in hand. Belatedly, she realises she might have made a bad move. For tomorrow morning she’ll probably be greeted with a monstrous, hate-engorged Finn, or another “exclusive” leak about her in The National Sentinel. Well, if she’s going to deal with either, the only thing she can do is fortify herself with a good dinner and an enormous quantity of wine.
She disdainfully turns on her heel to retrieve her coat and handbag. When she turns back, she’s startled to find him still standing there, ruminating over the letters which he’s picked up in the meantime. What the fuck.
‘Didn’t you hear me? I said “good night”…get your fucking cue, Finn.’ She attempts to shove past but loses her momentum when he steps closer.
‘Where are you going?’ he asks, an odd waver in his voice.
‘Home, hell, or the fucking moon. What do you care?’
‘I don’t. But I do care if you’ve eaten.’ Honestly, it doesn’t come as a surprise that he’s been watching (i.e. spying on) her through the glass walls but it’s the implications which do.
Understanding that he is, in fact, giving the impression that he does indeed care, Finn adds with a huff, colour rising in his cheeks: ‘Nothing to do with me. It’s for the sake of the fucking Department. We can’t have a Head of Comms who’s at half-strength, especially in the midst of this shitstorm. Look, Liz, I – I’m saying this as a friend.’
She’s staring at him as if he’s grown horns on either side of his head. His free hand instinctively fumbles for his gum but he’s run out. Shit.
‘You say it’s got nothing to do with you and two seconds later you’re calling yourself my “friend”,’ says Liz sceptically. ‘Since when have we ever been friends?’
Her eyes widen when he begins tearing up her hate mail into shreds. He dumps the mess into a nearby rubbish bin. There’s a heavy silence, similar to the one you get at the end of a funeral.
‘Shall we start now?’ There’s a weird look in his eyes which she interprets as…hopeful? Oh God.
‘How do I know you’re not shitting me?’
‘I could take you to dinner.’
His offer is met with a burst of mirthless laughter.
‘What?’ he says, rather defensively.
‘Fuck no, I am not going to dinner with you. And how do I know the food hasn’t been poisoned in advance?’
‘You don’t. And neither do I because I fucking never did.’
She appraises him, gauging his sincerity. Then…
Whatever Finn was expecting her answer to be, it was definitely not the affirmative, judging by the stunned look on his face. This time she’s successful in side-stepping him and heads towards the lifts.
Liz’s gone as far as his office when she realises he’s still staring after her in disbelief.
‘Well, come on then, friend!’ she calls over her shoulder, deliberately raising her voice for all the Department to hear. There’s a burst of embarrassed expletives as he frantically jogs towards her. She bites back a small smile.
Chapter 15: words words words
Finn has spent his whole life with words. Reading them, immersing himself in them at school and then at uni. Then he’d graduated into work and when people noticed his ability, he’d spun them, weaved them into masterpieces of shitposts. Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel in four years, he can churn out the lexical equivalent in four minutes. There’s no combination which he can’t handle. Figures that words sometimes leave him cold, he’s worked with them so much, it’s easy to become…desensitised.
He realises, however, that what still manages to floor him are the little things. Small packages but packing one hell of a punch. Usually they come in words of two or three, and Liz has been the instigator of all those so far. His mental chronicle is short but noteworthy. She’d dropped her first ‘I love you’ casually on the phone. With bad reception. In the midst of a thunderstorm. And when he and the Commissioner were racing to catch their flight to a Police Conference in Hamburg. He’d been so gobsmacked that the usually unflappable Inglis was seriously concerned that Finn was having a stroke.
It’s fitting that Inglis had also been present when the second combination of words had been pronounced. Finn had been ready that time. Or so he thought. It turns out that watching YouTube videos and reading accounts of other people’s weddings on the internet can’t prepare you for the real thing. Or indeed, your own wedding. Liz beaming as she said ‘I do’ had caused a myriad of reactions; mostly the overriding desire to melt into a puddle and gladly be stomped upon by everyone present. Obviously, that hadn’t happened, but something close to it had. Mentally, anyway. Even now the rest of the day remains a blur. A happy one, yes, but still a blur. (He ignores the fact that it's a perfect description of how his eyes were that day.)
Finn is sure he’s heard them all now, those emotionally-tricky words which come in two or three. And he’s pretty confident he’s prepared for them, too: whenever Liz so much opens her mouth these days, his entire body spurs into reflexive action.
But not that he needs to this lazy Sunday afternoon. Liz is on the couch, engrossed in reading an article on her iPad, but she occasionally steals glances at his backside as he lies on the floor of their living room, mirroring Sinead who is crawling across the carpet. It slowly evolves into a playful game of tag and Sinead excitedly throws a stuffed toy at his head.
Finn makes a face and she squeals in delight.
Their year-old daughter laughs again at his expression, now one of genuine shock. And judging by how Liz’s iPad lands with a thump on the floor, her feelings are likewise.
She joins him on the carpet and after a while, nudges him.
‘I’m kinda sure she was trying to say “dinosaur”,’ she teases – and threatening to pour cold water over the moment as well.
‘She can call me “dinosaur” if she wants to. It’s been done before, anyway.’ He instinctively puffs out his chest – which fails completely – and he only ends up giving himself a crick in his back. He glares at her. ‘If it helps, I feel like one, too.’
Liz pecks him on the cheek, then retrieves her iPad. She shoves it under his nose without explanation and plays back a video. Finn raises a questioning brow at how it begins.
‘What the fuck is this? Gratuitous close-ups of my arse?’
‘Shut up, or you’ll miss the important part.’
He nearly does. But the impact of hearing Sinead’s first word is no less astounding and again causes his breath to hitch in his throat. Liz watches him as he replays the footage a dozen times.
‘Totally on record, don’t you think?’ she comments when he eventually turns his face away. She averts her gaze when he wipes his eyes on his sleeve.
‘Totally,’ he agrees, after he clears his throat. ‘And I’m more than certain she said “Dada” and not “dinosaur”.’ They stare at each other. ‘Your loss, Liz.’
Liz personally doesn’t think so, not when she gets to see him like this. His gaze softens and he leans over, kissing her on the lips.
‘I love you.’
Her eyes glisten in the light and it’s his turn to smile. Words, words, words.
Chapter 16: welcome back (take two)
Things you should know:
- Technically this is the sequel to "and then we were three" and "paternal/primal instincts", although I wrote this before either of those fics existed. My brain is weird, I know.
- Therefore, this has been sitting about my computer for months, waiting for its silly parent to summon enough courage to unleash it upon the world.
- I still don't know whether that was the right decision. *flees*
‘I knew you were a whore for transparency, Liz, but even this exceeds my wildest expectations,’ comments Finn acidly, just when the lift reaches their floor. Liz holds the doors open and motions for him to exit first. He rolls his eyes and she smacks him on the arse, first to him get moving and secondly, because she simply wants to.
‘My, the bar is set punishingly high. Says the guy who doesn’t dare go past 30 on the M25.’
‘Call me a “cautious driver”, so what? I’m a respectable, law-abiding citizen.’ Liz scoffs and he feels obliged to remind her of an important fact: ‘And you were having contractions that day.’
‘Yeah, and at the rate we were going it’s a miracle I didn’t give birth inside the car,’ she hisses.
‘Hyperbole, Liz,’ he calls out. Then he adds: ‘And even if you did, we’d have managed.’
‘Finn, I’m aware you practically get a hard-on every time our fingers so much as touch. But just because the first time I grabbed your hand was in a car doesn't mean that every fucking milestone of our relationship has to happen in one.’
They’re now outside the press room, having purposely delayed their arrival. The room is packed. Finn takes a peek through the glass walls, neck stiff with tension. Liz’s fingers instinctively flex beneath the sheets she’s holding, then clench even tighter. Close call. It would have been weird to rub his neck in public. She makes a mental note of the need to recalibrate their physical boundaries, at least at work, now that she’s back. On the other hand, it’s typical she’s not at all concerned about the thing they’re planning to do in about a minute.
She glances at her watch.
Make that 45 seconds.
‘Remind me why we’re doing this again?’ he demands.
‘Don’t look at me, I was going to do this solo,’ she replies, going through her notes. ‘You’re the one who decided to tag along. You’re officially on leave, or have you forgotten?’
‘I was until this morning, no thanks to you,’ he growls, the memory of nearly choking on his Weetabix painfully fresh in his mind. ‘And don’t think that coming back after three months changes anything, Liz. I’ve still got my eye on you.’
They stare each other down. Then a tiny hand reaches out and swipes at Finn's nose.
Liz laughs at his affronted expression and is hit by a swell of maternal pride which she still hasn’t got used to. And the fact that every day is a learning curve the size of Mount Everest. But she’s not the only mountaineer tackling the summit, thankfully.
She gives his arm a short, conciliatory squeeze…which appears to be the right thing to do, judging by how his shoulders ease fractionally. Then she leans so that she’s eye-level with the baby now wriggling vigorously in his arms.
‘Thank you, Sinead.’
Their daughter lets out an excited gurgle.
At this point, Finn starts babbling. Liz surmises (correctly) that his heart must be thumping like mad. She’d be lying if hers wasn’t either.
‘Can you hear that? She’s speaking your language. You sure you don’t want her addressing the journos instead? Might be considerably more coherent than whatever you’ve got planned.’
‘Good luck to you, too, Finn.’
He bristles, gulps then immediately tries to hide it by kissing the top of Sinead’s head. The girl responds by yanking his tie. Two thoughts make themselves known to him: a) has her mother been giving her lessons, and b) being strangled by a three-month-old suddenly seems like a great prelude to career suicide.
‘I didn’t say that. I don’t do that shit, Liz.’
‘You said that about marriage and parenthood and yet here we are.’ Smiling, she allows his silence to speak for itself. Liz pushes open the door, lets the familiar chatter and din wash over her, and God, it's good to be back. She affectionately tugs at his sleeve. ‘Come on.’
‘Ladies and gentlemen, Liz Garvey-Kirkwood, Director of Communications.’
Unruly dark curls cascade down the girl’s forehead, the latter creased with concentration as she peers at the text in front of her. Eventually, she looks up and expresses her dissatisfaction by sucking intently on her lollipop.
‘This is shit,’ she declares, through a mouthful of artificially flavoured cherry.
Sighing, her mother takes up the sheets of paper, all criss-crossed by a myriad of amendments and fluorescent yellow highlights.
Her father crows, dislodging his glasses in excitement: ‘See? I told you, Liz.’
‘No, the press release is good,’ says Sinead, with a smile at her mother. The blue eyes which settle on Finn are far more critical. ‘This lollipop, not so much. I can’t believe you actually like these.’
Her father looks distinctly crestfallen. Their doorbell rings.
‘Cheer up, Finn. You can’t win at everything,’ says Liz, giving him a nudge as their ten-year-old daughter goes to answer the door.
‘At least Sunny likes Star Wars,’ he mutters.
‘That’s like saying everyone drinks water. We all do.’
Finn begins to slide on his glasses, behind which are suspiciously damp eyes. Liz grasps his wrist, delighting at how his breath catches in his throat. It might be years since their first electric touch, but it never gets old. She hopes it never does.
She studies his face, her own blue gaze contemplative. ‘I like them, though.’
‘Well, yeah, them and your greying temples, whatever I might have said the other day.’ Knowing how touchy he can get when reminded of their age gap, especially with every passing year, Liz can see this cheers him up considerably. He leans over.
‘Glasses off,’ she commands, placing a hand against his chest.
‘Don’t tell me you hate them, too,’ he groans, breath warm against her lips. She shakes her head and ruffles his hair.
‘No, they’ll only get in the way,’ she says, whipping them off, and closing the yawning few inches between them.
I was in the mood for some middle-aged Liz/Finn and this is the end result, apparently. :p
Chapter 18: absit invidia
Apologies in advance for this sorry excuse of a fic. I can't write for my life.
‘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.
So their first Thanksgiving wasn’t a complete disaster.
If, of course, you discount the part where Finn was driving too cautiously and nearly got them run off the road by several impatient drivers before they even got to the house. Then realising that they were locked outside because everyone had gone out to look for them because they were three hours late. Oh, and naturally the multiple times Finn ended up talking about the weather when there was a lull in conversation and kept on giving the temperature in Celsius which slowly drove everyone insane.
Apart from those things, yeah, all good.
‘They hate me,’ says Finn lowly when he runs into Liz outside the kitchen. ‘I know they do.’
He looks so dejected that she forgoes an opportunity to snipe at him. Instead, she pats him consolingly on the arm.
‘I guess it’s the Garvey way. You know from experience, Finn, the whole hate-thing turning into lo…’
He immediately shushes her. ‘Yes, yes, all right,’ he says, looking embarrassed. ‘No need to drill the point home.’
‘I thought you’d always be up for pointy things being drilled –’
He’s annoyed as fuck, but at least he isn’t looking like an abandoned, scruffy puppy anymore. (Well, he still looks like a scruffy puppy, but less…abandoned. Which is a good thing.)
He regains his composure.
‘Your mother wants a quick word, by the way,’ he says, gesturing to the door behind them.
‘Any idea what she wants?’ she asks.
‘None whatsoever.’ He leans against the nearest wall and whips out his phone.
She raises a brow. ‘Aren’t you going to join the guys in the living room?’
‘And endure the agony of watching Thanksgiving football without you? Not on your life.’
Ostensibly she’s been called to help out with the dishes, but no, it wouldn’t be a true family reunion without a verbal bombshell in the form of her mother going:
‘He’s got a nice ass.’
‘Don’t tell me it’s escaped your notice.’
Liz desperately buries her face in her hands, ignoring the fact that they’re covered in soapsuds. This, she reminds herself, is exactly the reason why she’d rarely introduced her boyfriends to her mother after high school. When it wasn’t an awkward comment, it was vaguely inappropriate. When it wasn’t vaguely inappropriate, it was awkward. Or an unholy hybrid of the two.
‘I brought Finn over here to get to know you, not for you to ogle him,’ she hisses.
She finds herself falling under the exact copy of her own judging stare. ‘Uh-huh, and was that the order in which you got to know him?’
‘Not that it’s any of my business,’ continues her mother. ‘But knowing you…’
‘Can I just point out that there was a period of intense dislike before the ogling?’
‘Yup, intense intense dislike,’ says Liz, almost with a hint of pride in her voice. ‘I was this close to firing and drop-kicking him into the void.’ Feeling the urge to illustrate her point, she flicks a piece of turkey back into the sink.
‘And yet you willingly flew 5,000 miles here with him.’ Her mother looks considerably impressed. ‘You must like him very much.’
Liz is eternally grateful that she’s already somewhat tipsy, so that she can’t flush any redder.
‘Is that like code or something?’ she blurts clumsily.
A smile. ‘Take it as you like, Lizzy.’
‘So what did she want?’ asks Finn when she re-joins him in the corridor.
‘Something about the dishes and crap like that.’ She notes that he still doesn’t take his eyes off his phone even when he follows her up the stairs.
‘Oh, and she mentioned that you’ve got – quote – “a nice ass”.’
There’s a satisfying clatter, followed by a stream of interesting curses, and she gets a bonus eyeful of said ass as Finn inevitably bends to retrieve his phone.
He’s rather breathless when he straightens: ‘Right, Liz, should I be afraid of getting hit on by my future mother-in-law?’
‘No, it’s only her way of saying how much she likes you. Which, believe me, is like one in a million, so count yourself lucky.’
‘How reassuring. This is the notorious “Garvey Way”, is it?’
They’ve now reached the top of the stairs and suspiciously right next to where their room is. She watches him swallow heavily when she pushes him against the wall.
‘I think you’ve experienced it often enough, haven’t you?’ she purrs suggestively.
His eyes darken, then fall to her lips. He swallows again.
‘I wouldn’t mind a refresher course. Anything to kill off this bloody jet lag,’ he murmurs and fuck, they’re now so close she can feel his voice rumbling low in his chest. ‘And I take it you also don’t want to join the others to watch football?’
She laughs as she happily pulls him inside. ‘Not on your fucking life.’
Writing as someone who has never experienced Thanksgiving herself, I hope I haven't mangled things too badly (sorry if I have).
And yes, this was entirely the result of a crazy whim I had this evening and which simply refused to leave me in peace until I had written this all down. Oh dear.
Chapter 20: learning the ways of the dark side from the master(s)
‘“Bring Your Child to Work Day”,’ declares Finn to no one in particular and gazing out of their meeting room’s glass walls. Various members of the department, if they dare, gaze right back as they pass by. Tom catches sight of Sinead and valiantly tries waving to her, but is stared down by Finn.
‘We’ve been bringing her to Scotland Yard since she was three months old. She’s practically grown up here.’
Liz lets him drone on about the futility of the exercise, preferring to focus on the job at hand, specifically helping Sinead jot down notes for her school assignment.
But she can’t help murmuring, ‘She’s done a lot more growing than some people.’
He whips around. ‘I heard that. Overall senility and deafness are still far off, you know.’ He puffs out his chest. ‘Besides, I think I’ve grown and matured in my own way.’
‘Sorry to break it to you, Finn, but I’m pretty sure your hard-ons don’t count.’
She hides her smirk behind her iPad while he covers Sinead’s ears with one hand while flipping Liz the bird with the other.
‘Dad, get off! And I’m old enough to know what you and mum get up to, thanks.’ They don’t have time to cringe because their daughter deftly wriggles out of his reach, then flips an impressive bird of her own.
‘Sunny!’ they complain in startling unison.
‘What can I say? You’ve taught me well,’ she responds, blue eyes gleaming with amusement and tilting her chin upwards.
Her parents share a rare and fleeting look of agreement. She also observes that they’re suppressing the urge to throw in an ill-advised Star Wars reference.
‘Practically grew up here,’ sighs her father after a while, though he’s smiling sheepishly.
‘Don’t include this in your report,’ adds her mother in her ear.
‘I won’t,’ she promises…typing every word on her phone beneath the desk.
Chapter 21: conference
*uses klaxon* Shameless smut ahead.
So, it’s come to this. A dimly lit conference hall, a table at the back, some “accidentally” dropped pens and one Deputy going down on her while she squirms in her chair, blouse sticking to her flushed skin.
Technically they’re not supposed to be alone, but all of their subordinates have come down – haha – with a mild case of food poisoning the night before.
‘Did you add “poisoner” to your long list of sins?’ she’d hissed at him when they’d arrived to a virtually empty table.
A lazy glance at his watch. ‘It’s only two-thirty, Liz, don’t get ahead of yourself. Next, you’ll be accusing me of arranging JFK’s assassination.’
‘No, because conspiracy theories are more your thing.’
‘Anyway, what possible interest would I have in incapacitating our own staff?’
Her already narrowed eyes had almost been in danger of becoming slits.
‘Finn, run that through your oversized, vindictive head first before asking stupid questions.’
Opening his mouth to retort, he’d been drowned out by the speakers at the front.
Therefore, it’s understandably somewhat of a shock to have that same mouth up close and personal less than five minutes later. When he’d dipped beneath the tablecloth, she had paid no attention, apart from casually contemplating the pros and cons of kicking him in the face.
Then came the featherlight touch of his fingers trailing up and then under the hem of her skirt, swiftly followed by his warm lips. Liz had barely begun to regret choosing skirt over trousers this morning when Finn decided to lazily stick his tongue up her cunt.
That had got her attention. And it’s a miracle she hadn’t flipped the table over when she’d shot upright in her chair. But maybe that was less to do with an act of God, and more of an act of Finn when he’d quickly grasped her by the waist. (What people would have made of two apparently disembodied hands appearing from nowhere is anyone’s guess.)
Extending a vehement middle finger under the table had done nothing because Finn had merely sucked on that, too, before returning to other things. Namely, her clit. She feels rather than hears his moans – exaggerated, no doubt, for her benefit but no less hot – though her core. Even through the fucking tablecloth. The annoying thing is that he’s pinpointed the exact moments when there’s a lull in the proceedings; so, she does get to hear him moan, but only for a nanosecond before the speakers come to life again.
Liz could kick him now, actually, but it seems her legs have turned to jelly. She lets loose a soft whine, the only sound she’s emitted so far, and there’ll soon be much louder ones to follow if he continues like this…
‘Fuck, Finn, please –’
Half a minute passes – and then the microphone at the front suddenly decides to cut out. Panic and pleasure mounting in equal amounts, Liz tries to push him off, but Finn shows no sign of letting up and the bastard seems intent on making her come loudly in a now silent room and she has no way of stopping…
Never has she been more grateful for audio feedback.
Finn finally emerges from beneath the table, pens ostensibly in hand. To Liz’s irritation, he appears unfazed. Only the light sheen of his forehead betrays…
‘Well, that was a long search,’ he quips, washing her down with now-cold coffee.
She fixes him with a dark look; he can't tell if it’s lust or disdain. Eventually, she leans forward.
‘Hmm, what’s the word? Penetrating.’
He chokes audibly.
Liz is used to waking up alone and this is entirely because she’d preferred it that way. For years. What’s that line from that song? “Old enough to face the dawn?” Well, damn right.
She wouldn’t say she has a warped relationship with sex. In fact, she quite enjoys it. But for years – again – she’s preferred it on her terms. Sex was like a buffet on standby. She’d wade in and out whenever she wished; a voracious bite here; a rough, hungry tug of a cock there. Sometimes she’d even allow the occasional kiss – wherever. Liz honestly doesn’t care, doesn’t keep track, so long as she’s reasonably sated by the end of it. Pretty much like a cheap takeaway.
She isn’t sure if it’s Finn’s hypersensitivity to anything vaguely tactile that’s rubbing off on her. Suffice it to say, even the little things don’t escape her notice lately. The light, tentative grip of a hand. The soft, warm exhale upon flushed skin. How his eyes shine in the dark.
So, it’s hard to tell who’s the more surprised this first morning in her bed. They both wake at the same time…but at differing speeds. Liz finds herself curled around him, breasts pressed against his back. Instinct tells her to retreat, but Finn is still groggy with sleep, normally ninja-like reflexes now sluggish and dampened.
Tick tock, tick tock. (She doesn’t own a clock, so is her overactive brain supplying – ah, no. They’re still wearing their watches. Figures.)
Eventually, Finn makes to scoot away, yet his movement makes her draw inexplicably closer. That elicits a confused, but not unwelcome noise. Although he’ll vehemently deny it later at the office; for now, he’s receptive, he’s pliant, and even leans back into her.
With her advantageous position, it would be all too easy to nip at his neck, skim a nimble hand down his thigh, and set off a predictable chain reaction which would result in a fairly satisfactory morning shag. She’s done it before, after all.
Finn’s soft snores announce that he’s fallen asleep again. She needs to talk him about that, sometime. Somehow. Knowing how they communicate, it will probably be squeezed into a shouting match about police ethics, interspersed with increasingly inane pop references.
For now, she settles down behind him, content (and frankly terrified) to play the long game.
Though not before pressing a light kiss to his cheek.
Old habits die hard.
Essentially a direct result of this post and the legendary Babylon props department. <3
Chapter 23: never have i ever
‘Never have I ever fallen asleep during a press conference,’ says Liz.
They eye each other warily. Then Finn downs a shot. She gapes at him.
‘You’re kidding. When?’
‘Not at Scotland Yard,’ he clarifies, but also without further elaboration. A not-so-subtle reference to his journo days, probably. ‘In my defence, I had been awake for forty-eight hours beforehand and –’
She waves him off impatiently. ‘I wasn’t asking about why you were sleeping, but how.’ At his blank stare, she adds, ‘Because I thought you were always sustained by pure rage and pettiness alone.’
‘Fuck off.’ He’s about to absentmindedly take a sip of his beer when he realises that isn’t in the rules. ‘And why are you so surprised? You’ve seen me asleep often enough since we – you know…’ Finn’s voice drops annoyingly, like it’s some dirty secret. She supposes she should be vaguely upset about that, but it’s six shots too late now.
‘Yes, I know,’ she snaps. ‘Your turn.’
‘Never have I ever…spent a whole day saying “transparency” on a frequent basis,’ he offers with a smirk.
‘You’re doing this on purpose,’ she mumbles through her drink.
‘That’s the whole point. And why I agreed to play this frankly stupid game in the first place.’
‘What, to see me drunk? Nice, Finn, nice.’ She sets her glass on the counter with more force than intended. ‘But remember if I pass out, you’re the one who has to take me home.’
He mulls over this.
‘Or I could call an ambulance.’
‘You would not.’
‘I would,’ he insists.
‘Oh please, you hate wasting public resources. Your entire being rails against it.’
‘Well, I’m flattered you’ve finally acknowledged I have a “being”. And for the record, I would.’
‘Fine, let’s settle this for good. Never have I ever stayed with my girlfriend while she was drunk. Or generally making a fool of herself.’
His brows knit furiously.
‘“Girlfriend”?’ he repeats. ‘Did you just call yourself my –’
‘I was thinking of “boss” but figured that you’ve had a lot of them,’ she cuts in quickly, before regret or reason can sink in. (Shit, she’s wasted.) ‘Girlfriend count, on the other hand: I’m assuming not so many and that narrows the field significantly.’
If there was ever a personification of the “sweats profusely” meme, Finn’s face would currently be it.
‘You – you don’t know that.’
She revels in the grand sight of him mentally flailing a beat longer before:
‘C’mon. Drink or drink not, there is no…’ Her mind draws a blank. ‘Whatever.’
The sound he makes is actually one of deep anguish. ‘Fucking hell, Liz.’
She attempts to lean her elbow on the counter, only to miss it entirely. She's pretty sure she’s on a collision course with the edge of it…until Finn pulls her up. His grasp is pleasantly warm, solid and firm. Not that she’ll admit it, though.
‘Ow,’ she gripes. ‘That hurts.’
He sighs. ‘It would have hurt more had I let you smack your head against it.’
‘Then why didn’t you?’ In the face of his silence – and the fact that his hand is still about her forearm – she nods sagely.
‘I rest my case. Drink up.’
Chapter 24: rise and shine
Written for sharkie who requested 'rise and fucking shine, motherfucker' from the Five Word Prompts meme on Tumblr.
It’s early. Way early before anyone even contemplates of coming into the office, and yet they’re here because Finn had insisted on it.
‘This meeting with the Mayor is a big deal, Liz. If the Commissioner can pull this off, we’re looking at a good chance of greater funding from the Mayor’s Budget.’
Liz can’t argue with that. But…
‘A bigger deal is getting some fucking shuteye beforehand.’ She looks up at him, observes him intently. ‘You look like you’re being held up by duct tape and caffeine.’
‘Finn, I’m serious.’ His heart skips a beat; she’s got that concerned look on her face which shouldn’t drive to distraction, but it does.
‘I’ll manage,’ he mutters. He lowers his voice. ‘Get your couch ready for tonight though.’ If he intended to make that sound sexy, he ruins the effect by stifling a yawn – unsuccessfully.
Her brow quirks. ‘What makes you think you’ll be welcome on my couch?’
‘I’ve yet to hear any objections from both the couch and its owner until now. Plus you let Boudie sit on it so –’
‘Yeah, but at least she doesn’t drag me out of bed at four in the morning!’
He grabs a pile of folders and shoves them under his arm. She gets the distinct feeling that it’s more decorative than anything else.
‘Fine, if you want me, I’ll be in the press room!’
‘As if anyone wants you at this hour. And you’ve forgotten your lanyard, flyboy!’ she calls after him. Turning, he finds her holding it up like a giant, blue exclamation mark. He snarls.
‘Thanks.’ Then snarls again when he nearly walks into the glass wall.
It isn’t even fifteen minutes later that Liz pushes open the door of the press room, coffee in hand. A snore rumbles through the silence.
She isn’t sure if she actually says that out loud. What she is sure about is that he’s fallen asleep because he’s impervious to the sharpest point of her heel poking into his ankle.
To be fair, she’s vaguely impressed that the press room chairs can actually contain his tall frame. But it’s also only 7.30 and she’s already at peak “Pissed-off-with-Finn” levels.
She exhales; her sigh joining his snores. Removing the lid of her coffee cup, she hopes the scent will revive him, but he’s way out of it. She also learns – the hard way – that shoving coffee like smelling salts under anyone’s nose is not recommended unless your wardrobe has a death wish. Just as she tilts the cup away from Finn’s face, it splatters the front of her blouse. Her only consolation is that it’s lukewarm. Finn rolls away from her.
‘God damn it!’
She runs to the nearest bathroom, but the damage is done. Ugly brown splotches glare back at her through the mirror. Dabbing the stains with water helps, but isn’t great.
Minor wardrobe disaster though this is, she might have a spare blouse upstairs. And if she doesn’t, there should be time to nip over to her place, change, and get back. Just.
‘Fucking Finn.’ This time she really says it out loud.
Liz eventually finds her blouse – behind a pile of boxes in a corner of Finn’s office, which is somewhat awkward. (She really needs to think about the worrying amount of workplace sex they clock in.)
Just as she heads for the bathroom, her trench coat catches her eye.
She bites her lip at first, then takes it along with her.
It’s with a sense of déjà vu that she re-enters the press room, only this time it’s with a sense of firm purpose. And with far less clothing.
Finn is still asleep, but he’s inexplicably drawn himself upright so that he’s now sitting on a chair, long legs extended in front of him. All the easier for her, then.
‘Rise and fucking shine, motherfucker,’ she says, gritting her teeth.
She unceremoniously drops into his lap and starts grinding against him. Startled isn’t even close to the expression on his face when he finally wakes up. He hilariously jolts beneath her; she suspects that his reaction wouldn’t be much different had she put 10,000 volts through him.
‘Liz – oh Jesus,’ he says when realises that she’s isn’t wearing anything under her coat.
‘They’ll be here in twenty minutes.’ She shivers as his hands skim over her bare hips beneath the fabric. They forgo unbuckling his belt and go directly to unzipping him.
He nearly topples her over in his haste to get his straining cock out.
‘Steady there, big boy.’ She pauses. ‘I was talking to you, not your cock.’
He flashes an amused grin. ‘I thought you said no one would want me at this hour. Not so it seems.’
‘Don’t flatter yourself. This was brought on by unadulterated rage at you spilling coffee on my blouse.’
‘You can’t pin that on me, I was asleep!’
‘Don’t care. You still owe me a blouse.’
‘Owe you a blouse? Says the person who wears my shirts nearly every – ah!’ He shudders when she rocks her hips hard against his.
‘Well, I’m open to –’ she adjusts her legs just so and fuck, the angle is amazing – ‘alternative repayment solutions.’
Although Finn’s brain is melting, he plays along. ‘Are we talking instalments – or a full-up payment?’ He accompanies this with gentle but pinpoint thrusts which have her grappling at his lapels for support.
‘As you say, there are time limitations –’ He looks at his watch and she moans softly at the loss of his hand on her waist. ‘And are we looking at deposits as well?’
‘I – the terms are –’ she pants, then crushes her mouth against his. ‘Just shut up and fuck me, Finn.’
Chapter 25: other things that go bump in the night
They’re in the midst of a particularly vigorous round of shagging when Finn freezes, mid-thrust.
‘What the fuck, Finn,’ groans Liz. She clenches her thighs about his waist, impatiently spurring him on, but this only lets loose a moan of his own.
‘I can’t – it’s – it’s Boudie,’ he explains.
Liz casts off enough of her disbelief to crane her head around his shoulder. And sees that their cat has indeed landed on his back.
Undeterred by the recent noise and activity, Boudie appears determined to make it her resting spot for the night. She paws experimentally on the small of his back, tail trailing back and forth. She ignores Finn’s gentle efforts to wriggle her off. At the same time, he’s straining under the effort of not collapsing onto Liz, arms trembling against the mattress.
Liz is trembling too, but for an altogether different reason.
‘This is not funny,’ hisses Finn as she turns her head into the pillow to stifle her laughter.
She looks at him, regaining her composure. ‘You’re right, it’s not funny.’ Then it slips. ‘It’s fucking hilarious.’
Boudie purrs audibly. Finn lets out what sounds like an exasperated sob. Liz ruffles his hair, soothingly.
‘Don’t move,’ she whispers.
‘As if I have a bloody choice –’
Ducking her head under his right arm, she manoeuvres herself so that Boudie can see her.
‘C’mon, Boudie. That’s a good girl.’ She perks up at Liz’s voice, but remains where she is.
Liz goes for shock tactics which only ends up alarming Finn: ‘Mommy and Daddy need to get straight back to fucking each other. And Daddy’s hard-on is literally dying as we speak.’
‘She’s a cat, not a novice from the 18th Century. Unlike you.’ She reassesses the situation. ‘Finn, move your ass up a bit.’
It’s a miracle that he manages to give her a side-eye in spite of everything. ‘Is this for your benefit or for mine?’
‘Do you want her off your back or not?’
‘Okay, okay, fine.’ He does as he’s told and – apart from not-so-secretly enjoying the view – Liz is relieved to see Boudie shuffling reluctantly upwards. Eventually she reaches his shoulders, paws secured about the back of his head.
‘Ow, mind the claws, mind the claws,’ he says as Liz lifts her off. She bites back a comment about how hers are sharper.
‘There you go,’ murmurs Liz as she sets Boudie down on the floor, though not before kissing her on the forehead.
‘Don’t I get a kiss, too?’ asks Finn. The grin he receives a split second before her mouth lands on his makes his heart (and everything south) jump.
‘Oh, you’re gonna get a lot more besides,’ she breathes before rolling him over.
Boudie, long-suffering feline that she is, probably didn't want to be part of this, but I insisted on it. Sorry, Boudie. :p
Chapter 26: wrong
Written for phantomdivine who requested 'for once...I was wrong' from the Five Word Prompts meme on Tumblr.
Maybe it’s his journalistic training or his particular brand of cynicism, but sometimes Finn can’t quite believe that they’re in this for the long run.
However, the problem is that he has no precedent to compare it to, at least personally, so he’s unable to gauge whether things are going well or not. They have their ups and downs – if you mean those of a manic-rollercoaster-on-crack variety – but apparently not enough to cause either of them to hand in their resignation, pack their bags and fling themselves into the nearest metaphorical volcano. Or more conveniently, off the rollercoaster.
In the past year, they’ve acknowledged each other’s birthdays in their various ways. Liz had left a shit emoji-shaped cupcake with a single ominous candle on his desk and Finn…well, he’d taken her out to dinner at a surprisingly good ramen place. On that occasion, she’d asked him whether he was aware of having noodles on your birthday equated to longevity in China and Korea. He’d denied it with a flustered ‘I just like ramen, Liz.’ Her knowing grin had remained on her face the entire night. (Even when she’d pushed him into her bed later on, riding him to the point of unconsciousness. Which was both thrilling and unbelievably annoying.)
In spite of this and other intimacies, Finn by habit, doesn’t take these for granted. He doesn’t dare ask if Liz feels the same way. So much for being in Communications.
He’s so keyed about the prospect of them eventually breaking up, he figures it’s just a case of waiting for the hammer to fall.
It falls earlier than anticipated.
‘For once, I was wrong,’ says Liz suddenly, one evening while they’re watching the news.
Finn’s stomach lurches. They’re lounging on her couch, but it feels like he’s plummeting through it. He grabs the nearest edge, bracing himself for impact.
‘About what?’ he coughs. She turns her head and the soft look she gives him is actually anxiety-inducing. Because Liz is supposed to be all fire and spite, firing on all cylinders and taking no prisoners. Not quiet and contemplative and looking like she’s about to hug him.
(He would like that very much, but he’s not quite sure if his body – or indeed his heart – could handle it. Not when he’s pretty sure he’s on the verge of being kicked out of her life.)
Apparently it translates into his body language and the tenderness of her expression gives way to mild bemusement. The more he tenses up, the more her face falls.
‘Jesus, don’t you ever relax?’
‘It comes with the territory, wouldn’t you say? The field we work in,’ he says more grimly than he intended.
‘We’re not at work now,’ she points out.
God, how he wishes they were though.
‘Anyway, you were saying?’ he hedges.
She blinks once or twice, then continues, oblivious to how white his knuckles are around the edge of her couch.
‘I hate to admit it, but I used to put a lot of faith in first impressions.’
‘Used to?’ For some reason, that makes him more uneasy.
‘Do you know what I thought of you at the beginning?’ Her tone is relatively non-combative, neutral even. But Finn latches onto this and takes what he can get.
‘Do I know? You dumped it on me like a ton of bricks the first day we met. Then you threw me into the cement mixer for good measure. Of. Course. I. Fucking. Know.’
She doesn’t rise up to his belligerence. Instead, she edges closer and snuggles against him. He manages to suppress his broken whine.
‘That bricks-and-mortar analogy is suspect, but I’ll let you off this time,’ she says, attention returning to the news. Heart pounding, Finn observes her for a while, but nothing else seems forthcoming. What the hell? A tiny speck of hope rekindles somewhere and then, true to form, emerges as sarcasm.
‘Liz, I know you share a name with Elizabeth fucking Bennet, but if you tell me I’m Fitzwilliam Darcy, you are seriously delu –’
She shudders. ‘In your dreams, Finn. Also, £10,000 a year my ass.’
He laughs, tension breaking at last. ‘How much would that be these days, do you reckon?’
‘Don’t know and don’t care.’
‘Says the person who turned down “serious money” to come to London.’
She tilts her head up, meeting his startled eye.
‘I’m glad I did. Even gladder now,’ she replies. A lump forms in his throat. The meaning in her voice is almost too much to bear.
‘I’m…glad as well,’ he ventures, eventually. Liz beams at him. ‘Even when you’re bloody annoying and nearly burned the city to the ground within a month of arrival.’
Her smile doesn’t slip from her face. ‘I like you, too, Finn.’
‘I didn’t say that!’
‘No.’ She reaches for the remote and turns the television off. ‘But care to show me?’
Chapter 27: curriculum vitae
Parenting had initially flummoxed the both of them, but after sixteen years, they reckon that they’ve gotten the hang of it. Mostly. Because Sunny does tend to throw a curveball now and then.
Which shouldn’t be surprising because, well, she is half-American.
Sixth form is coming up (or twelfth grade, Liz insists) and the teachers think it’s a good idea to have the students submit mock CVs. Uncharacteristically, Sunny asks her parents to have a look at hers beforehand.
Finn goes through it with the jaded eye of a detective in a film noir. Not because he doesn’t care, but because he’s seen his fair share of job applications at the office.
‘Head of debating team, yes,’ he reads out as they sit together on the couch. ‘Languages spoken – uh-huh –’
‘Does she mention “proficient in bullshit and pop culture references”?’ jokes Liz. (On second thought, maybe she isn’t joking.)
‘Unlike you, modesty is one of our daughter’s attributes.’ He adds smugly: ‘But yes, I guess I taught her well.’
‘“You taught her well”? Look who’s being “modest” now.’
His eyes pause at the next sentence. ‘Voted “Most likely to become Prime Minister. Or alternatively, assassinate the Prime Minister.”’ He squints at the page. ‘That’s – that’s not out of character, actually. Highly inappropriate as it is to put in a CV.’
Liz nudges him gently in the ribs. ‘Admit it, you’d put that down yourself if you had the chance.’
‘She takes after you, I think, in this case.’
Finn raises a brow. ‘And which one of us is which, pray? The PM or the assassin?’
She looks at him as if it’s a no-brainer. ‘Aren’t we also both, simultaneously?’
He sighs reluctantly. ‘Agreed.’
Oh, the joy of sports days. Decibel-defying shrieks, excitable children, a loudspeaker droning incoherently in the background. They’re surprisingly at home because if they close their eyes, it’s not far from a riot in full swing. Just minus the excitable children and replace them with angry adults. And more burning cars.
Finn doesn’t see the point of the school splashing out and renting a stadium for the day – unless, of course, they plan on churning out miniature Olympians. It’s fitting actually because his gripes are as monotonous as the loudspeaker which at this point squeals and abruptly cuts out. (Sadly, Finn doesn't do the same.)
It’s a relief, but it means that hundreds of parents are scrambling to keep track of events. Liz herds her unwilling family towards the next one on Sunny’s schedule.
‘I wanna go home,’ sighs their daughter, tugging on her hand.
‘Well, the sooner we get this over with, the sooner we can leave,’ she reasons with probably the greatest amount of concentration she’s had in a long time. She freezes when she sees Finn’s gaze wandering to the far side of the field.
‘Oh, no, you are not hammer-throwing again. Not this time.’
‘Who said anything about participating? I’m merely an…observer,’ he says, waving his hands defensively.
‘You said that last year. Didn’t stop you from nearly putting your back out.’
He regards her seriously. The effect is slightly marred by the school baseball cap he’s wearing. ‘It was a challenge, Liz.’
‘It was fu –’ A mother with her noisy brood passes and Liz catches herself just in time. She steps closer, hissing in his ear: ‘It was fucking moronic.’
‘I thought it was funny,’ comments Sunny, blue eyes bright and looking more entertained than she has been all morning.
Finn ruffles her hair. ‘You would, wouldn’t you?’ If Liz didn’t know him better, she’d say he was proud of her precocious sense of schadenfreude. (So is she, as a matter of fact.)
The loudspeaker blares into life, the volume cranked up along with what is unmistakably the voice of Sunny’s headmaster: ‘Whose bright idea was it to rent this place? I told you this wouldn’t fucking work. Do you know that I’ve been up to here with the school council and – shit, are we live?’
Sunny giggles into her mother’s shoulder. Finn pulls his cap down so low, it looks as if his head has been devoured. Liz blinks, uncertain, until she sees him quivering with laughter.
‘Come on, children, let’s get through this scandalised crowd before it starts moving again,’ she motions, then stares at him pointedly. ‘That includes you, Mr Garvey-Kirkwood.’
‘I don’t envy his PR team,’ says Finn as Sunny races in front, spirits buoyed by the sudden uproar.
‘Does he even have one?’
‘If he doesn’t, he’ll definitely need one within –’ He checks his watch. ’The next five minutes?’
Liz bites her lip, infuriatingly ruminative.
‘Oh, fuck no,’ he groans. ‘Liz –’
‘Why don’t we help him? Check in on him, at least? We’re here anyway.’
‘Liz, I know working for the Met can give you a messiah complex, but we literally can’t save everyone.’
‘Of course not,’ she snaps. ‘But school officials who’ve committed a little faux pas? That’s not out of our range, is it?’
‘Yes, it is,’ he says, folding his arms.
‘No, it’s not. You know I’m right about this, Finn. As right as I am about your ridiculously dodgy back.’
‘My back is absolutely fine,’ he insists.
Liz responds by touching a certain spot on his back. He grunts audibly.
‘I beg to differ.’
He smiles thinly. ‘You’re so full of yourself.’
Finn gets a smack on a considerably lower part of his back. His eyes widen and she’s afraid she’s offended him until he gasps: ‘Do that again.’
The laugh she’s been holding in finally comes to the fore, so loudly that Sunny glances round.
‘You’ll get a whole lot more after we check in on him,’ she whispers suggestively.
Finn sighs, nodding. ‘You're the Queen.’
She grins. ‘You’re fucking right I am.’