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Burning Down the House

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"You really do look like shit."

Luke turns to look at Gail, the scowl on his face relaxing into something like ironic detachment as he registers her. It suits him, somehow, this new attitude, in a way she never would have figured before.

"Thanks," he says dryly. "I really appreciate that."

"You're welcome," she says, and even around him she can't help the acid in her tone. (She tried getting rid of it, okay? Which worked really great, until it didn't. Lesson learned: Trying to be a better person just to make someone else happy isn't fucking worth it.) "So I guess you really fucked up."

"And you're having a great week?"

Yeah, so maybe they're both fuckups. Or maybe everyone else needs to stop being so fucking judgemental all the time.

"Come on," he says, nodding towards the door. "Let me buy you a drink."

"I'm good," she says. She can hear them even here, talking, laughing; it's really not where she wants to be right now. She's not even sure why she came.

"So you just came here to stand around on the street all night?"

"Beats going home alone." And that's the most honest thing she's said all day.

Something in Luke's expression changes, then, darkens. "You don't have to."

Interesting. She reaches out, places a hand flat on his chest, pushes him back against the wall. He goes with it, his expression sharp, watching. Daring. And fuck it, she's allowed to be self-destructive, too.

She kisses him. Not gently, but he doesn't seem to mind. He kisses her back hard, grabs her by the arms, spins her so she's the one with her back against the wall. She wonders if it's going to leave a mark. Decides she doesn't really care.

He's hard already when she reaches down, teasing, grinding against him. They're in fucking public, and not even in some dimly lit alley. This is the worst idea she's had in a long time.

"So come home with me," she says, finally, and maybe that's worse.

-

(He isn't gentle when they're alone, either, tossing her onto the bed like she weighs nothing, not apologising when he squeezes her wrist a little too hard and she cries out. That's good. She'd probably kick him out if he did.

He doesn't leave afterwards, though, and that's okay, too. As long as he doesn't try to cuddle. Gail is not a cuddly sleeper.)

-

He's still there when she wakes up, and that's less okay.

"Don't you have a home?" she asks when she finds him in the kitchen, shirt hanging off a nearby chair, hair mussed, flipping eggs in a pan. She didn't even know she had eggs.

"I'm surprised you do," he says, ducking the question, and the unspoken suggestion.

She shrugs. "It's temporary." And not technically hers, but at least it beats living with her ex. Or her brother.

"It's nice."

It isn't. Gail doesn't do nice. She's beginning to suspect Luke doesn't any more, either.

"Eggs?"

She ignores him. "Why are you still here?"

He turns to face her properly, then, looking her square in the eyes. "Do you want me to leave?"

"You could at least put a shirt on."

"You could put pants on." His gaze drags up and down her body, and she flushes, but not with embarrassment.

"I could," she says.

And then he's standing right in front of her, like he hasn't even moved. "Or you could take the shirt off, too."

Yeah, that works for her.

-

He definitely left bruises last night; when he grabs her now, she bites her lip, mutters fuck and asshole, pushes him onto his back. It's her turn to leave marks, teeth nipping along his jawline, his neck, but he doesn't complain either. She wonders if anyone will even notice over the whole hobo detective thing he's got going on. Wonders if anyone will care that neither of them were at the Penny last night.

When she comes, she swears louder, and he laughs and holds her down. To her surprise, she laughs, too, through the fatigue and the anger and the aches all over her body.

"Fuck you," she says later, and he grins. Holds up her arm, thumbs gently over the bruises on her wrist.

Well, this is going to be fucking complicated.

-

Also complicated: Having to explain to her father's friend's sister-in-law's daughter that she may have kind of burned down her kitchen.

(Kind of. Slightly. More like ... lightly singed it, but the cooktop's completely fucked.)

"Do me a favour," she says to Luke, much later, over the wails of the smoke detector. Neither of them are fully dressed yet. "Never cook me breakfast again."

"I'll have you know I'm a great cook," he says, as she climbs up on a chair to turn off the ear-piercing siren.

"Yeah," she says, surveying the damage. "I can see that."

"When I'm not being distracted," he says, and looks at her. She's not sure if the heat is radiating from the fire, or from him.

"Do not put this on me," she says. "You're the one who fucked up."

"You're the one who brought me home."

Right. Just great decision-making all around.

"Yeah, and if I could go back and undo that, I would."

"Really?"

No, not really.

"Want me to help clean up?" he asks.

She raises an eyebrow. "No. I want you to clean it up all by yourself while I watch."

"Do you?"

"Yeah," she says. "But I don't usually get what I want. Like, I really didn't want my house to get burned down today."

"The whole house didn't burn down," he points out.

"Yet," she says. "You're still here. We've got time."

He looks at her again, and yep, the heat is definitely all him. "Yes, we do."

So torched wrecks get him hot, good to know. "Seriously?"

He gestures around to kitchen. "You'd rather deal with this?"

Yeah, that's definitely a no. Besides, she's probably still got some unbruised skin somewhere, if she really looks.

She climbs up on the dining table instead. If she's going to trash the place, she might as well do it in style. Leans back. Spreads her legs.

"Why don't you make it up to me?" she says, and he does.

(And really, they're both still totally screwed. But fuck it, she can worry about that tomorrow.)