The first time you meet Gill she's wrapped around your best friend, the new girlfriend he's been chattering on about for months, and the first thing you notice is that she's tiny, surely she's too tiny to be in the police force? Dave seems to know what you were thinking because he's already telling a story about how she took down two men on her own, or something, and when she looks at you her gaze is welcoming but you recognise the steel she has underneath. At some point Dave disappears to play pool or something, and while you are good at pool Gill doesn't follow him, so you stay and the two of you chat about work, about current events, about the big cases that get tracked on TV. You end up talking about politics at one point and instead of turning into a tipsy row it turns into you two nodding fiercely at each other.
That's when you really realise that she's not so tiny at all, that her size hides the strength she has underneath. It wouldn't surprise you if she had taken two men down by herself, if you were honest, and you do think "it's a shame she's with Dave" at one point. Dangerous territory, as always, but you're not sure what pint you're on you just know you've bought her several drinks. You know that the fact that Dave doesn't smother her is probably one of the things she likes about him, but you still think it's rude that he's abandoned her to her own devices, even if she can look after herself. The two of you talk for hours and when you leave you've been given her phone number and a promise that the two of you will become fast friends. You figure that you just have to stick around until their relationship runs it's course and if you still like her you can always try then.
The fifth time you see Gill is her engagement party, and does nobody else think it's odd that she spends so much of the party dancing with you instead of Dave? It's not your place to question her decision, not at all, and every couple is different, you know. A tiny part of you wishes you'd never met Gill, not like this, not through your best friend that she's going to marry.
You're best man at her wedding, and you'd never admit it to everyone but you definitely shed a couple of tears as she came up the aisle, as the part of you that never shuts up wondered what it would be like if she was walking down that aisle towards you instead of Dave, what it would be like if this was your day and not his. She's glowing, though, and you realise that even if they're not necessarily made for each other that she really does love him, and she's grinning at him like this is everything she's ever wanted, like she's literally marrying the man of her dreams. You hope that's true.
You manage to steal her third dance and you spin her round the floor, grinning at her, congratulating her. Right now you're just happy that she's happy, and that's enough.
The first time he cheats on her is when you drop him as a friend, when you let her fully take his place, which she had done in everything but name at that point anyway. You tell him that that's it, that he ruined the best thing he ever got, that she was worth a thousand of him. He yelled at you that you were in love with her, and didn't you know better than to fall in love with straight girls? And you just shake your head and leave, and you never see him on his own ever again, but you don't tell Gill. You were going to, honestly, but Sammy had already been born and she seemed so happy, even while she was working so far away from him most the time.
You're there when she tells him she's divorcing him, and you're there for Sammy as much as you can be, doing school runs and driving him to the cinema and at some point you become a new permanent fixture in their house, even though you both say it's only temporary, just while she gets back up on her feet. The divorce takes much longer than you'd hoped, and it's messier than any of you wanted, but she gets the house and she gets Sammy, and she gets you, too. Because it's been 16 years and you're still in love with her, and no matter how many girlfriends you'd had the perceptive ones had noticed, and they'd left, because as much as you had loved them there was a part of you that Gill had claimed somehow.
Gill, that looked tired as hell and who slept in random places all of the time, that forgot to eat and forgot to sleep, half the time. She was scatterbrained for a while, thrown off by the divorce and suddenly being a single mum, though she always said that you two were the dream team, catching criminals by day and doing all of the paperwork in a rush by night, then somehow fitting childcare in around that.
When she becomes head of syndicate nine you're glad, pleased that she'll be close at hand. You're happy for Sammy but you're happy for yourself too, because it means you spend as much time with her as she'll allow, and she doesn't question it, like she never questioned how all of your relationships seemed to fall apart without there seeming to be much reason behind it. You're not sure whether you're thankful or if you're just worried that it means she knows. She is a detective, after all.
"Rachel seems to have a bit of a crush on you," you grin as you pour her a glass of wine, the pub just shy of being not too loud, people enjoying themselves around you.
"Oh it's just hero worship, she'll realise she's not actually that scared of me eventually."
"I wouldn't call the staring hero worship, but if you're sure," you laugh and take a sip from your glass, considering her for a long moment. She looks tired but she's been working eighteen hour days again, so you're not sure how you could expect anything else. You wonder when the last time she ate was. You would ask but you know she'll just whine about you taking care of her, like you were ridiculous for worrying.
"Do you really think she has a crush on me?" she asks sometime later, a few glasses of wine in.
"Yes it's the only way to explain the staring."
"She looks at everyone like that."
"No she looks at you and Janet like that," you laughed. "Watch out for it next time. You could become one of her bad decisions if you so wish."
She grimaced. "That sounds like a terrible idea, the kind of decision that men seem to make a lot." You both laugh and you roll your eyes at her obliviousness; you can tell she still doesn't believe you.
"People are really obvious when they have crushes on people. You're a detective I thought you were good at this?"
"Oh I'm rubbish at personal life stuff, you know that. Go on, what are the telltale signs then?"
"Well blushing a lot in your presence, looking at you when they think you're not looking, trying to come up with reasons to spend more time with you, that sort of thing."
"Hmm are you sure because that sounds oddly like the way I act around you." You feel your eyes widen as she smirks at you, and you wonder if you've had too much to drink and you're imagining this conversation, if you'll wake up in a minute to your alarm bleeping at you.
"Gill Murray has a crush? Who'd have thought. Rachel will be so disappointed," you tried to laugh your way through it and she leant forwards, resting her arms on the table so she can glare at you properly.
"I'm trying to hit on you you dozy cow."
"Being rude isn't really the way to do it," you reply, but you're grinning. "Are you going to take me out for dinner or?"
"I might let you pick where we get takeaway from, if you're lucky."
"Oh how generous." You're both grinning at each other across the table and the tension that you both usually ignore has been allowed to come to the surface. You absently realise that years have been leading up to this moment, that you've spent half your life in love with this woman that is smiling at you across this sticky table in this nondescript pub. You kiss her, fast and clumsy, but it's a kiss, and she looks like she wants to laugh or something, like she doesn't know what to do. You agree with that, the helplessness of finally getting something that you've wanted for a very long time. But you also want to kiss her again, so you do.