It's not till the roundabout that Gill makes a decision, indicating at the last minute and swinging right, toward the centre of town. She tries to pretend that it's just a matter of convenience, of where she can find a closer bed, but she can't even fool herself with that one: at this hour she's nearly the only car on the road, yes, but whatever little time she gains now she'll lose twice over fighting traffic in the morning.
This isn't about convenience; it's about a day where nothing went right, a day where none of their leads panned out and even the perps they could track down were unhelpful or uncooperative. The moment Janet gave up on an interview, Kevin was in her office about missing evidence, or Rachel was on the phone saying they were caught behind a pile-up on the motorway and would be stuck for ages.
The only person who'd been at all reliable was Zalinski, ringing Gill every hour on the hour for increasingly unsatisfactory progress reports. Gill hadn't needed the reminder, not when every failure, every non-starter, had wound her gut tighter. She'd sent the team off around half eleven, when she could feel her ability to motivate them flagging; she'd stayed at her own desk until the thought of more tea made her want to be sick.
Now, she can't face the idea of going home, of cold leftovers – or, more like, a glass of wine – in her kitchen with the moor glaring down at her, reminding her of other undiscovered graves.
Rain spits across her windshield, drums on her roof, and she swears, fingers whitening on the wheel. Fuckit. So much for any evidence we haven't found. It's pissing it down but good by the time she parks up in front of Julie's and she makes a mad dash for the door, feet splashing in puddles that appeared from nowhere. She's in such a hurry to get inside that she doesn't think twice – and then she fumbles the key and almost drops it, because.
This isn't picking up the post when Julie's on holiday, or even following her in, desperate, hands clasped in their eagerness to touch each other. This – coming over without calling, bringing the spare suit she keeps in her office, assuming – this is new. And she's done it without even wondering what Julie will think.
For a moment she stands in the hall, dripping, fighting the urge to walk back out the door and lock it behind her, get in the car and drive home anyway, moor or no moor. Around her Julie's house is silent save for the swish of tyres on the wet road outside. As her eyes adjust, her surroundings come into focus, familiar as her own office; in the kitchen, she can see half-drunk mugs of tea lined up next to the sink, abandoned by Julie halfway through and left to go cold until she makes a new cup. Gill's always giving her hell for it, picking up the dirty mugs before they can grow mould, refusing to make her a new brew until she finishes the first; Julie's always apologizing, never changing. "Serve you right if I let you turn all your mugs into science experiments, slap," Gill mutters under her breath, lips twitching into a tired smile.
She's never going to stop clearing dirty mugs up, though, just like Julie's never going to stop leaving them around, and that realization frees her to kick off her heels and pad into the hallway and up the stairs. It's no different, is it, than her bringing over fresh fruit and veg to supplement Julie's takeaway-based diet, or Julie turning up at hers and chivvying her out for fresh air. It's no different than before, for Gill to show up like this, needing.
The bedroom door is open and Gill slips in quietly. Julie's lying on her back, breathing rhythmically, the covers askew, and this time Gill smiles for real. Already she can feel her shoulders relaxing, sending sparks of pain along her nerves; she towels her hair dry, sighing as Julie's scent surrounds her, familiar and reassuring. She's too tired to do more than clean her teeth and splash her face with water, and she leaves her clothes where they drop, careless of wrinkles. There's a pile of folded laundry in the corner, waiting for a spare moment to be put away, and Gill grabs a t-shirt from it and pulls it on to cover her knickers. It's huge on her, of course, but the old, thin cotton slides over her skin gentle as a whisper.
Gill tries to slip into bed unnoticed, but Julie wakes as the mattress dips, sitting up with a startled intake of breath. "What – what's wrong," she splutters, unfocused.
Gill winces, but something inside her softens at the sight of Julie, hair flat and eyes barely open, one strap of her vest top sliding down her arm. She looks a ridiculous mess, and Gill wants her, suddenly and with a desperation that brings her out in goosebumps. She fights it down, guilt over waking Julie warring with the frustration zinging through her veins as she wiggles under the covers. "Just me, slap," she says, aiming for reassuring. "Didn't mean to wake you. Go back to sleep."
Julie doesn't ask questions, just lets Gill pull her back down to the mattress. "All right?" she says thickly, curling around Gill. She's warm and sleep-soft, her touch driving the last of the rain's chill from Gill's skin.
"All right," Gill answers. "Just... a long day." She twitches, shuddering as her muscles fight relaxation. Julie rubs lazy circles on Gill's belly, radiating heat against her back, but it's not nearly enough to break through the stress she's carrying. Julie's fingers draw the soft cotton of her shirt against Gill's skin and Gill feels raw, sensitized, like a cat with its fur ruffled the wrong way. She wants to shake herself back into complacency – and she wants Julie to keep touching her, wants it so badly she nearly says it out loud and damn the late hour anyway.
Julie's drifting closer to awake; her next questions are less drowsy. "Not going well, then? Any progress?"
Of course she's been following the case, Gill realizes, either on the telly or internally. All the weight of the day settles back on her shoulders, driving everything else out of her mind. "It's not, and there's fucking not, or you'd know," she snaps.
Julie stills behind her and Gill instantly regrets her anger. "Sorry, love," she says, rolling onto her back so she can see Julie's face. "Waking you up and being a total shit, it's a wonder you don't kick me back out into the rain."
She's not looking for reassurance, not really, but Julie's soft laughter and softer kiss soothe something inside her anyway.
"I'm glad you came," Julie says, brushing Gill's hair back from her forehead. "Better here where I can keep an eye on you, you mad bitch."
Gill rolls her eyes. "I let everyone off before midnight," she protests.
"And you've been doing what the last two hours?" Julie asks pointedly. Gill snorts, but doesn't answer. "Come on, then," Julie says. "Turn that overworked brain of yours off for a bit, hey?"
Gill huffs. "I wish I could," she says. "I bloody wish I could." Not much point trying at this stage in a case, especially one going so badly. It's a toss-up whether she'll be able to sleep at all or be awake till all hours. She tries not to complain, because more than once she's teased out a linking detail in the middle of the night that's gone somewhere next day, but they have so little information now. No telling her brain that, though.
"I should know better than to ask. Early days and all that." Julie grimaces in sympathy. "You'll think I'm bad as Zalinski."
Gill snorts. "Forgot what it's like to be SIO already? Climbing the ladder so fast the altitude's gone to your head?"
"Oi!" Julie pulls back, affecting anger. "That any way to speak to a superior officer, DCI Murray?"
Gill's first impulse is to laugh, but Julie shifts above her, face somehow going stern even though her hair is still mussed, and Gill bites back a sudden surge of desire. She licks her lips, quirks an eyebrow. "I can think of other things I shouldn't be doing to a superior officer," she offers. Julie's hand is still warm on her belly; Gill covers it with her own, interlacing their fingers.
Julie blinks for a moment, then her lips twist smugly. "Care to expand on that?" she asks, casual as, only that hint of a smile to give away that she's in on the game.
"Ask me again." Gill takes a breath, pushing just a little, hoping Julie will push back.
She doesn't, not right away; she bends down for a kiss instead.
Gill sighs and lets her eyes drift closed, leaning into the kiss. Julie's hand holds her to the bed, heavier than it should be, so that she can't get as close as she wants. She wants Julie's weight on her, all of it, pinning her in place so that her brain will stop its spinning. Winding one hand in Julie's hair, she crooks the other arm around Julie's shoulders, urgent and desperate.
Julie pulls back, just far enough for Gill to feel the cool air rush over her skin, and then Julie's settling above her, her long legs framing Gill's hips and her hands skating along Gill's arms, moving so skillfully Gill doesn't have a moment to react. It's not fair, Julie's height, her reach, the way she can press Gill's wrists down against the pillow with one hand and still stay far enough away to smirk down at Gill's frustration.
"Oh, don't," Gill says, twisting her face away. She wants to move, to touch, wants to feel Julie's skin slick against hers – she tugs at her wrists, but Julie's hold doesn't give. She knows better than to expect it to; her bone-deep sense of Julie's strength has its roots in nights not long past, in Julie's unexpected love of teasing Gill, holding her down and touching her, drawing her out and leaving her taut and trembling and far past rational thought. If Gill wants, she knows, Julie can hold her in place indefinitely. Now, though, she's buzzing, wanting to reach out – but part of her remembers those nights, remembers Julie and her painstakingly cruel focus. Gill shivers all over, heat prickling through her. Reflexively she tugs again – but she is well and truly caught, now, isn't she, here in the dark of the night in Julie's bed, at Julie's mercy – and again, and this time her wrist comes free so suddenly it's startling, like tearing off her mask at a scene and getting a breath of fresh air.
"No?" Julie asks. She's still holding Gill's other wrist, but loosely, and her face has lost that arch look she gets when she's sure about something. She's poised, waiting, her free hand drumming a tattoo above Gill's hip the only sign that she's at all impatient. Her hair is still half stood on end; it's been less than fifteen minutes since Gill woke her.
Gill reaches up and smoothes that one perpetually unruly strand of hair down behind Julie's ear, forcing it flat. Her fingers track along the side of Julie's face, along her jawline, and then she stretches for the bedside table, eyes never leaving Julie's. She finds Julie's clock by touch and shoves at it clumsily. Finally it shifts, its green glow disappearing from Gill's peripheral vision.
She doesn't want to know what time it is; she'll just start worrying about how soon morning'll come. She doesn't want to be distracted.
"All right," she says, deliberately stretching her arm back over her head, putting her wrist within Julie's grasp. When Julie's fingers close around it again, she takes a shuddering breath.
To her credit, Julie doesn't ask any more questions. She lets the moment stretch, though, not touching Gill anywhere save hips and wrists until her heat seems to burn, a sharp contrast to the chill elsewhere.
"Fuck's sake, slap," Gill says at last. She squirms, pressing her legs together, and tries to come up with the right words to tell Julie just how much she needs her.
"Hm," Julie murmurs, leaning in, breath ghosting over the sensitive skin below Gill's ear. "Still no way to speak to a superior officer. That what you mean? That the worst of it? Hardly worth my time." She undercuts her words by pressing a bite of a kiss to the side of Gill's neck. The combination makes Gill gasp and laugh all at once. She sounds ridiculous, even to her own ears, but between Julie's mouth and Julie's hand she can't put a thought together to refute the charge. All her glibness has disappeared, narrowed down to need.
Julie picks up on her inability to speak, somehow, and continues kissing her way down Gill's neck, nudging aside the overlarge shirt to lick at her collarbone. "Think I can guess," she says conversationally. "Want me to guess? Show you how a real detective does things?"
"Yeah," Gill answers immediately, because that she can say; apparently she'll say yes to Julie no matter what, right now, because she doesn't even need to think to know the answer.
Julie chuckles. She leans down further, her breath hot through the thin fabric, her hold on Gill's wrist lessened to just the merest suggestion of restraint and yet just as powerful as ever. "Don't need to be SIO to know what you need, do I, love, you're subtle as a sneeze in church." She closes her mouth over Gill's nipple, her tongue dragging the dampening cotton against Gill's skin.
Gill jerks in Julie's hold, but Julie stops and pulls back.
"None of that," she says, sounding for all the world like she's watching an interrogation, closed off in a separate room behind a monitor. If it weren't for the way her fingers tremble – "Stay still, now," she adds.
That shocks a breathy snort out of Gill, but Julie ignores it. Her hair falls forward and now Gill can't see, can only feel where her mouth is, can only guess where she'll touch next. So much for Julie's stay still; Gill arches unrepentantly, her body urging Julie on.
It's not, quite, like those nights when Julie holds Gill down and draws her out of herself. Gill is hyperfocused, aware of every move Julie makes, every shift and breath. Her skin tingles everywhere Julie touches and she strains against Julie's hand. Part of her is still, somehow, thinking about work, but the rest of her spirals inward, away from rational thought. She can feel herself slipping down, but Julie's hand is the one, grounding constant, holding her to herself. "Slap, god," she groans, knowing she's making no sense but unable to keep quiet. She twists up into Julie, suddenly frantic, surprised by the desperation in her voice. "Don't stop, just – let me touch you, I want to touch you..."
That gets Julie's attention; she lifts up and Gill whimpers at the loss of contact. Julie's eyes are dancing and her cheeks are flushed with mischief or desire. "I think not," she says, and bends again, driving Gill to plead her case anew.
Eventually, endlessly later, Julie moves again, easing further down the bed and hooking her fingers into the edges of Gill's knickers. She pulls them off and tosses them aside before Gill properly registers that Julie has let her go. Gill tenses, shifts, but Julie's already sliding between Gill's legs, urging her thighs open, and then Julie's got one arm under her and one holding her down and a smile like sunshine in February.
Gill's fingers are clumsy, but she reaches out anyway, and Julie kisses the tips of her fingers and the inside of her thigh. "Takes a bit of effort," she says, her voice ragged, "hope you're paying attention," before lowering her head to Gill's cunt.
And god, Julie's mouth – Gill digs her heel into Julie's back, pulling her closer, and wraps one hand in her hair. "God, Julie," she says, "how, how – " How do you know, she wants to ask, how do you always know? But she's already beyond words, beyond any language except Julie's tongue against her skin.
All the stresses and frustrations she's been carrying through the day, all the need that slipped into Julie's bed with her, it all gathers deep in her belly, pulsing hot in time with Julie's tongue, Julie's breath. And when Julie moves one hand, slips one then two then three fingers inside her, all that heat is trapped between Julie's mouth and Julie's fingers and Gill can't help but rock up off the bed, needing. "Julie," she begs, barely audible through the rushing in her ears, and Julie presses closer, filling her until she bursts.
When her hearing comes back, her throat is raw, and she has to swallow to moisten her mouth. "Bloody – you – " she manages, still scrambling for her voice.
Julie laughs at her from between her thighs. "Not thinking about the case any more, are you?"
It actually takes Gill a moment to remember the case at all, dim and distant in the back of her brain, and she can see Julie growing ever more smug as Gill gropes for words. Better attack than defense, she thinks, unwinding herself from Julie's grip. "Yeah, and I'm not gonna for a while yet, so shut it and get your arse up here, you – "
Julie takes her time, easing back up over Gill, but Gill's not having it, she's not. She pulls on Julie's top and tugs her up, letting her other hand slide down between Julie's legs. Julie's cunt is hot against her fingers, liquid, slick; it's Gill's turn to laugh as Julie falls forward, braced above her.
"Let me see," Gill says, voice soft even as her fingers find Julie's clit. "Subtlety, was it, you valued? Or was it effort?" She bites her lip and blinks innocently, watching Julie fight a smile. Her fingers slide across Julie's skin, wet and messy in the silences between Julie's breaths. She loves these moments when she's still soft and blurry with endorphins, when she can catch Julie off her guard and watch all her focus turn inward.
Julie with her eyes shut, her brow furrowed, is such a different beast than Julie during the day, snapping orders; Julie silent is rare indeed. Gill's wrist burns and she stares up, watching Julie's eyelids flicker. "Got you right where I want you, slap," Gill says. "Finally got my hands on you, been wanting to touch you like this all night." She presses a finger inside Julie, curling into her heat, and moans softly. "I fucking love touching you," she says, breathless herself as she feels Julie's cunt clench around her finger.
Julie's breath catches, and Gill holds her own. "God, yeah," Gill urges. "Come on, Julie, let me – show me – " Her other hand is on Julie's hip and she can feel the strain running through Julie's muscles. "Come on," she says again, her voice thick with desire.
The pauses between Julie's breaths get longer, more ragged, as she holds her breath and forgets to exhale and then gasps for air. Her hips are shuddering into Gill's hold and she grabs for Gill's shoulder, clumsy and rough and urgent in her need to touch. She comes with a whimper, her face softening, her body open and yielding to Gill's demands.
"Jesus, Gill," Julie sighs, letting herself go limp. She collapses half on top of Gill, pressing her into the mattress, and Gill winds herself around Julie, kissing the side of her head. She breathes in – sweat and salt and the scent of Julie, warm and comforting. Julie's weight is solid and real, banishing the imaginary weight of the job; Julie's heartbeat pounds against Gill's chest, deep and slow. All of Gill's senses are filled with Julie, there to drive out the last of the day's tension and keep it from returning. Gill inhales again, exhales, calm at last.
After a moment, she prods Julie in the ribs, making her jump. "Get off, you fat cow, how much do you weigh?" she says. "I can't breathe."
"Oh, very romantic," Julie groans into the pillow, but she wiggles over until they're next to each other.
Gill pulls the covers up over them and snuggles back against Julie. In the morning, there'll be tea in Julie's disgusting mugs, fights over the shower and crankiness from too little sleep. There'll be worse days to come at work, more dead-ends and more pressure from the top. But for now, there's Julie, holding Gill together with one broad hand on her belly. For now, Gill thinks, she's got what she needs to get through the days to come.
"Stop thinking," Julie mutters, half-asleep.
Gill smiles and tugs Julie's arm tighter. "Love you too, slap."