It was the most miserable of Tuesday nights, the sort so grey and damp it could only be found in Britain, particularly the bit near Wales.
I grunted and poked my head out from under my scratchy wool blanket, blinking at the brightness from the streetlight outside the window. Damn. It didn't even have the decency to be rainy, because that would actually be relaxing. No, it was just sort of spitting out, as if the clouds were blowing raspberries at the ground.
I blinked slowly, wondered if maybe I should do something other than lie on the couch in the sediment of my misery, decided I should, then completely ignored my own decision. I sighed, shuffled in my itchy wool cocoon, and let my eyes slide shut.
Distantly, I heard the jangle of keys, the clunk of the deadbolt, and the creak of the door's hinges doing their best arthritic parrot impression.
And then I heard a couple footsteps, followed by a mild voice saying, "Bloody hell, Keira, who died?"
I snickered dryly, which unfortunately was very muffled. "No one's died, Richard." After a pause, I followed up with, "Actually, my good mood's what passed."
He took a few steps towards the couch. "Ah. That's, um, unfortunate. We'll hold it a funeral."
I giggled. "I hope you know how to play Amazing Grace."
He laughed softly. "Unfortunately, no."
I started a bit as I felt a weight on the edge of the couch, the small bit I wasn't occupying. I rolled over and stared blearily at his handsome, worried face. Which, incidentally, look like it was in a constant state of slight surprise, but had a beauty all of its own.
"Keira, Anything you want to tell me, or…?"
I sighed. There was no use in trying to keep anything from him. Especially when he was doing that… that thing, with his eyes. They somehow looked as wide as saucers, as innocent as a puppy with a bow round its neck, and the irises looked as rich as polished mahogany.
"Nothing's really happened, per se. It's just… one of those days. Lots of little things, getting you down, until… boom." I traced a vague shape in the air with my hand, which, in no way indicated "boom", but I digress.
He nodded as if I was making perfect sense, which I probably wasn't. I gave a smile which likely looked sadder than I had intended. "Look, I'm just sort of miserable today. I don't want chocolates, or soft toys, or some other rubbish, which I know is the first thing you were thinking of."
He guiltily rubbed the back of his neck, clinching that it was. "Not that I don't appreciate it, or think it's sweet, because I do," I added hurriedly, "It's just that… well, if you wouldn't mind, I'd fancy a cuddle instead."
He gave me a smile which somehow seemed even sadder. It was definitely the eyes. "'Course I wouldn't mind. If it's any comfort, I haven't had the best day either."
I moved over to let him sort of half-lie on the couch next to me, paying out some blanket. "Oh?"
He nodded, eyes downcast. "Yeah. Some absolute tosser in the office decided to send me out to a load of hills somewhere up near Blackpool to drive this idiotic toaster on wheels that would make a G-Wiz look like the height of luxury."
I nodded, and discreetly tried not to laugh. His voice was getting taut and slightly higher-pitched.* "And then," he continued, "it started raining. Hard. And the damn thing, it was supposed to be a convertible, but the roof was stuck down."
I smiled sympathetically and rubbed his shoulder. His shirt, the stupid poncy red one which I hate**, was still damp. "The hair and makeup crew, which, at this point, was one person with no working hairdryer, made me dry my hair in the ladies toilet in some petrol station outside of a tiny village called Scrant or something." He looked at me and sighed. "At least I didn't have to film anything else today."
I smiled encouragingly. "Well, there's the silver lining in your raincloud."
He yawned. "God, I'm tired."
"Me too," I said, trying very hard not to succumb to the principle of contagious yawning. I leaned over and planted a kiss on the top of his head, nestling my fingers in his tufts of down-soft chestnut-brown hair.
"Oi," he muttered sleepily.
"Sorry," I muttered back, not quite knowing what I was apologising for.
"'S ok," he responded equally vaguely, and dragged his lips up to meet mine. They were pillow-soft, and seemed feverishly warm, and I hoped he wasn't ill, before remembering that I was very cold, and it was probably just the contrast.
Sighing deeply, I curled to surround his body, clasping my arms across his chest. I was at home there, and all my misery began to be chased away by his soft warmth against my skin, his quiet, level breathing, and his familiar scent of aftershave and men's soap***, with none-too-subtle overtones of rubber and engine oil. And, at least for today, damp petrichor.
I could feel his heart beating softly from where I was, curled up around his back. I wish I could've said it was beating with the patter of the rain, or in conjunction with my own heart, but that sort of thing only happens in those soppy romance novels you get in airport shops for five quid at most.
It beat its own rhythm, comforting all the same. I let my eyes settle closed, and listened to the rain as it finally decided to come down properly.
*He was adorable, full stop, but especially when he got mad. And started squeaking.
**You know, the one with the stupid pattern. No, the other one. No, the other other one. Ok, let's face it, the man needs an intervention. And possibly his wardrobe confiscated.
***Which generally smells of a bouquet of lilacs. Buried under several shovelfuls of various and sundry bear glands preserved in formaldehyde.