“What did you do?” she asked warily when he entered the living room. She sat curled up on the couch with a case file and a glass of wine.
“What makes you think I did anything?”
“This,” she pointed at the bag he was carrying in his hand, “is a take-out bag from my favourite restaurant. A restaurant that is not on the way home from your meeting. You had to make a detour for that. Which means you had reason to do that,” she explained her reasoning. “So, what did you do?” During the course of the argumentation, the captain had started to push aside the girlfriend.
He was a bit hurt that she would think he thought she could be softened with a bribe. Years of experience had taught him better, and he told her so as he dropped the bag on the kitchen counter before walking over to the couch.
The backrest between them, he leaned down to kiss her gently. “Hey.”
“Hi.” She smiled at him, still not completely convinced of his intentions.
“I didn’t do anything, except worry a bit about my girl,” he said, tenderly massaging her scalp. “I have it in good confidence that she had a bad day at work. Make that a bad week, actually. And I thought she deserved something nice. Something like her favourite dessert from her favourite restaurant.”
As he spoke, her eyes became watery. She wasn’t unaccustomed to his caring side, but she was still unused to having somebody look after her. She felt bad for having suspected him of ulterior motives when he was just being a perfect boyfriend.
“I’m sorry,” she said, her voice thick with emotions. “I just...”
He shushed her. “Have good reasons. I’m not offended. Well, not much. I have met me.” His eyes twinkled with amusement.
“Thank you.” She leaned her head back and grabbed his arms to pull him down for a kiss. “After today, I could use a piece of Antonio’s cheesecake.”
Their current case was gruesome, and getting worse with each turn it took. It was hard on the entire team. However contrary to her, they didn’t have Winnie Davis riding their asses about the budget, overtime and what not at the same time. She had told them to just do their jobs and not to worry about it, but of course, they did worry, especially he. He saw more than the others the toll the situation took on her, how much Davis’ behaviour grated on her. She pretended to be okay at work – and did a pretty good job at it, except they were seasoned detectives who saw right through it and just played along for her sake – but wouldn’t, couldn’t keep it up at home where he was her boyfriend, not her lieutenant. So yes, he worried about her. A lot. He tried to look after her the best he could, but he, too, was running on empty.
When his partner had told him to take care of her earlier, though, he had taken a closer look at her and found that she looked even worse – more tired, more exhausted, more stressed – than he had thought, than he had noticed due to spending the majority of the days with her. He had decided then and there to suck it up and find something to brighten her evening at least.
He lacked the energy for a massage, but driving a couple of extra miles to grab her favourite guilty pleasure food had definitely been in the realm of the possible – and it was totally worth seeing her smile for the first time since they had caught this particular case.
Although tainted by exhaustion, the expression of bliss was clearly recognisable on her face as she slowly spooned the cake, too tired to care about not eating on the couch, leaning against his chest, occasionally feeding him a bite.
It couldn’t be denied that the cake was sinful, delicious, heavenly, but it was her happiness that he relished more.
Despite the years they had spent (not) dating, random acts of kindness still took her by surprise. She didn’t expect to be looked after by a partner, to be cared for or about. Decades with(out) Jack had taught her to always stand on her own feet, to not rely on anybody else in her private life. She was slowly letting go of this frame of mind, unlearned that habitude. She had never not trusted Andy, had always known she could count on him, but old habits died hard.
He accepted that about her. He didn’t take it personal. He had his own problems adjusting to the changes brought on by sharing his life and living space with a partner again. It was a learning curve for both of them. Fortunately, age had mellowed them in this regard. They were patient with and accepting of each other.
Hugging her close, hearing her hum in pleasure, he was content, able to finally shake the day and relax. The meeting had helped a bit, but she soothed his soul. They were good together, for each other.
“Remind me to thank you when all this is over, and we’ve caught up on sleep,” she said, licking the spoon clean after having taken the last bite.
He took the plate and the spoon from her, put them on the coffee table and gathered her in his arms. “You already did thank me.” He pressed his lips against her temple.
Humming, she snuggled closer.
When he answered her yawn with one of his own, she giggled. “Bed?”
“Does that mean we have to move?”
“Yes, but it’ll be worth it.” She slipped out of his embrace, pushed herself up and off the couch. Once standing, she held out her hand to help him up. “Let’s get some sleep.”
Taking her hand, he got up. “Go, get ready. I’ll turn off the lights and will be right behind you.”
He muffled her protest with a peck. “Go.”
“Thank you.” Her walk reflecting her exhaustion, she crossed the living room.
He watched her vanish into their bedroom as he started to clean up, doing so at his own tired pace. He put the dirty dishes in the dish washer, switched off the lights in the kitchen and living room as he went, checked the door, then went to join her.
Entering the bedroom, he found her already curled up in bed, fast asleep in her favourite spot – the one that left him enough room to be comfortable, but was close enough he would unavoidably end up pressed against her one way or the other. Obviously, she wanted him close tonight.
Raw as he was, he became teary-eyed at the sight. She would probably never know how much her trust and love meant to him, but he had sworn to himself to do everything to be worthy of them, of her.
As fast and quietly as he could, he changed his clothes and went through his nightly routine before slipping under the cover behind her, wrapping himself around her as if he could shield her from all evil. And maybe for the next few hours, he actually could. He always slept better with her next to him. Hopefully, the reverse would be true tonight.
Feeling her relax further in his embrace gave him hope that it might be, and with that thought, he allowed himself to surrender to exhaustion himself.
= End =