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Love is the Law

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Some delightful facts might never have come to light, about Alec Hardy and about herself, if Ellie Miller hadn’t made an impromptu traffic stop on her way home from the station one Wednesday evening in Spring. Since her time in Devon she’s found it difficult to turn off the part of her brain that scans for moving violations, even when she’d really prefer to. Most of the time a little invective is an adequate scratch to the itch, but this bleeding idiot peels through the pedestrian crossing at 50kph right in front of a playground. The horrified look on a mum’s face as she hauls her toddler back from the kerb is enough for Miller to pop the siren on her roof and call in to the station.

Not for nothing; the Land Rover had been reported stolen in Yeovil three days prior, and the stolid teenage occupants match descriptions from a series of recent shop robberies that trace a jagged line to the coast. The vehicle is heaped high with trash and treasure. She follows the officers’ caravan back to the gated lot under the station where Hardy is waiting with a trolley of cartons and collection kits, wearing shirtsleeves and a grimace that would turn weaker mortals to stone.

“I’m happy to take this in, sir,” calls the uniformed officer as he climbs out of from behind the wheel of the stolen car.

“Nah, s’alright, Daniels. Go see to the impound locker, we’ll need some shelves cleared.’ Daniels blinks twice at the mildness of his dismissal, casts a quick eye at Miller by her car, then bustles through the heavy station doors.

When the doors clack shut they stand in silence for a moment before the tightness in Hardy’s face dissolves into a cheeky grin and he closes the distance between them.

“Almost made it home this time, didn’t ya?” he chuckles as he kisses her lightly on the corner of the mouth.

“You know me, can’t stay away.” She slides her hands around his narrow waist and rests her head against his heart. “And I’m so glad you’re here, don’t get me wrong, but isn’t bagging a bit beneath your station, Inspector?”

“I heard y’were on yer way back and I wanted to see ya. Anyway, I can bang this out wi’ ya twice as fast as Daniels, then maybe ye’ll make it home tonight before yer children forget you.”

“Chance’d be a fine thing.” She smiles a kiss into his neck before pushing him lightly away and turning toward the stolen SUV. “All right, shall we? Can’t wait to see what we’ve got on these criminal masterminds.”

Hardy tucks his tie into the front of his shirt then grabs the box of gloves and holds it out to her. He dons a pair himself before opening the boot of the Land Rover and letting out a long, low whistle. An overturned shopping bag of 20 sealed iPhone cartons sits under a mulch of open crisp packets, filthy laundry, empty bottles of plonk and, movingly, an oversize Mothering Sunday card.

They work in quick rhythm, Miller dusting and bagging while Hardy catalogues the evidence and files it in cartons. The agreement they’ve arrived at, largely without discussion, is that a stolen kiss or a passing touch makes office life more agreeable, but nothing between them will interfere with their first commitments: to the work and to their children. So although they’ve been falling deeper and deeper into something frighteningly like love since a fateful day in winter, it has really only been every other Saturday, after Daisy has taken the train to Sandbrook and Lucy or Dad has taken the boys for the day, that they’ve been able to just…be. Together.

Things she never dreamed she’d see— Hardy in blue jeans, Hardy in her bed, Hardy laughing til he’s crying, or gasping til he comes— still shock her when her mind alights on the memories. Working side by side, skillfully, efficiently, and with the easy jab of wits, is the second best thing. Honestly, Miller is fairly sure the secret is out at the office, but Hardy doesn’t seem to know, and that touches her.

On the floor of the backseat, the plunder has a more raunchy character. In addition to a handbag full of prescription bottles and two more shopping bags full of electronics and video games, there are several used condoms and wrappers, and a shoebox that contains cheap novelty sex toys. Or at least Miller thinks that’s what she’s looking at. Handcuffs, a blindfold, a kind of french tickler with neon feathers, so far so obvious.

“Kinky little shits,” she grumbles. Then she picks up a mysterious purple object between the farthest tip of index and thumb, and dangles it for Hardy to see. It’s a bit like a rubber dog toy, with a ring on one end and a series of balls that get smaller til it reaches a tip.

“What I don’t understand is how they’re clever enough for all this bizarre sex stuff, but they can’t observe the posted speed. I mean, what even is this bloody thing?” She laughs, waving it around. She was looking at Hardy’s face already or she would have missed the flash of anxiety that passes across it before a mask of calm drops down. He looks quickly down at his notes and scribbles something, but a high color is rising in his cheeks. Miller knows in that instant that she’s done something wrong. She casts about for a change of topic as she drops the whatever it is into a bag and hands it to him. He takes it from her like it might burn and flings it into a box.

“At least I know what these are!” She says too brightly, too loudly, as she bags the soiled condoms and holds them aloft.

“Christ, Millah.” He rolls his eyes to the ceiling, but there is a hint of a smile in his voice that tells her she’s steered them back to safer waters. They finish combing through the car in relative silence. Miller halfheartedly offers to stay and help with the interviews, but Hardy sends her home with a stern kiss.

“Will I see you on Saturday, then?”

“Yill see me tomorrow, Millah.”

“You know what I mean, Hardy.”

“Oh aye, I do, El,” he mutters close in her ear. His hands linger on her hips for a beat before he nudges her toward her car and rolls the burdened trolley for the station doors.

***

The whole drive home Miller puzzles over Hardy’s reaction to the chew toy. He must have known what it was. Does he have one? Does he like it? What do you do with it? It couldn’t be that embarrassing, could it? He’d certainly never mentioned wanting anything…unusual in the bedroom. And why had she had to say bizarre sex stuff? He probably never will mention anything if he thinks she might mock him. He’s defensive at the best of times, and in the years she’s known him, life has forced her to adopt much the same stance. As she passes the playground for the second time that evening she has the coldly reassuring thought that whatever secret thing Hardy might like to do with a string of balls, at least it won’t be Joe’s secret.

When Miller thinks about herself and Hardy, she sometimes pictures two wounded dogs, circling slowly. But all that wariness falls away in a touch-starved frenzy whenever they manage to lay hands on each other. Miller can count the number of lovers she’s had on one hand, and the good ones number fewer still. She knows she is inexperienced, and now has cause to question much of the experience she has had, and yet instinct tells her that Hardy’s desire is sincere. Else why on earth would he invite her to his house time after time and seem so happy about it, in spite of the obstacles and inconveniences, the obvious bad idea-ness of the whole thing? Why else would he keep peeking under the covers at her naked body and sighing contentedly, even after they’ve both been satisfied twice over? The idea that Hardy is embarrassed about a sex thing fills her with an almost painful tenderness toward him. And a fiery curiosity.

Chapter Text

That night, after the boys are settled and the takeaway containers have been swept into the trash, Miller brings her laptop to bed and begins the mortifying project of chew toy identification.

She enters:

Sex toy balls

into the search bar, and with a hand half-covering her eyes she clicks ‘images.’ Immediately she closes the tab with a burst of laughter. A woman who has managed to fit an entire baseball in her vagina is one image among many. That some men like to have their testicles in a vice comes as unhappy news. When her heart calms down she goes back to the search bar and writes:

kinds of sex toys

and is confronted again with a page of spread legs and alarmingly pink labia engulfing enormous dildos. She realizes belatedly that the safesearch is off and narrows her eyes at the closed door, shooting rays of maternal scolding across the hall at Tom’s sleeping form. When she returns it to moderate, the page reloads with a much less shocking display. She scrolls through pages of objects, some self-explanatory, some confounding, until she sees something that could have been a cousin to the chew toy, and clicks.

Anal beads! They go in your bum! she whispers to herself, relief washing over her. That she can handle. It instantly seems clear to her that Hardy must want them in his bum, or he wouldn’t have been so flustered. What bloke would think twice about wanting to put something in a woman’s read-end? Now that she thinks about it, he’d paid more than passing attention to hers on a couple of occasions, but never pushed it farther than the tip of his finger. She’d been surprised, but liked it well enough, and had made noises to say so. No, that couldn’t be his secret desire.

No, Hardy must want to have his arse played with. Right. An image flashes through her mind of him on his hands and knees with his skinny legs spread wide, and she feels a rush of heat directly to her cunt. She breaths out slowly. She has never in her life touched a man’s arsehole in a sexual manner, and she isn’t even sure he would permit her to, but she resolves right then to find out how it is done.

Somehow the moderate safesearch results for anal sex are even more disturbing than the unfiltered ones. She wikipedias it and begins to read, a smile tugging at the corner of her lips. I’ve got you pegged now, Hardy, she thinks to herself as she clicks onward down the rabbit hole.

***

Over the next several nights Miller watches more pornography than she’s ever seen in her life. During the day Hardy sometimes looks up from his computer to find her staring at him through his office window. He’ll glare at her and lift his chin minutely to indicate ‘get back to work,’ but then he too will seem to get lost in a bit of a fog. Their passing breakroom and hallway flirtations are developing a charge that won’t dissipate; instead of bickering they are growing silent around each other. The other officers begin to cut them a wider berth.

On Wednesday night Miller had barely endured a video of a musclebound young man in a cheap maid’s costume getting perfunctorily fucked by a leathery ginger woman who kept calling him a sissy. But she persisted, and by Thursday she’s found a few videos of people a bit more like her and Hardy, who seemed to be having a genuinely good time. She even has a favorite: she’d never considered that a man could lie on his back to be fucked. Watching this couple look into each others’ eyes with his hairy legs hooked over her shoulders, and seeing him roll his head of dark messy hair from side to side as he moans, makes her suspect she’d like to be on top of Hardy, pushing into him, making him cry out with pleasure. The third time she watches it, well past midnight with the door locked and a chair under the handle, she slides a lotion-covered hand down the back of her pyjamas and begins to practice her technique.

***

Friday morning finds Miller with dark circles under her eyes, but a smirk she can barely keep submerged. Luckily, the finer functions of her mind aren’t required today. The Yeovil shoplifting spree has turned out to be mostly a paperwork headache after the teens confessed all and were remanded to the custody of their irate parents. She focuses on not spilling coffee on their written statements, taking the occasional break to eye-fuck Hardy through his office window when no one is looking. A little before lunchtime he storms out of his office and down the corridor.

“Millah!” he hollers over his shoulder, then rounds the corner without a glance to see if she’ll follow. So of course she takes her time, and stops for a refill before sauntering after him, sipping from her overful mug.

Their meeting place is the stockroom on the far end of the floor. They’ll usually take a handful of pens or a bottle of hand-sanitizer as an alibi when they leave, though obviously no one would ever ask their senior colleagues why they hold private meetings in the supply closet. When she slips into the dim room, Hardy is leaning against a shelf of cleaning products, running a hand through his hair and staring at her. The look on his face nearly causes her to drop her mug as she hastens to rest it on a shelf.

They collide as if intending to pass straight through each other, and his hot mouth consumes hers. He groans as his arms bind them tight. She tries never to think of him as anything but Hardy unless they are safe at home, alone, but this is Alec through and through. The nakedness of his expression, the warm smell of his body, the hardness pressing against her hip, all make it easy to forget where they are, at least for a long moment.

“What’re ya doin to me,” he mumbles breathlessly as they break their kiss.

“Nothing detrimental to your health, I hope,” she says lightly, seeking out the telltale little bump under his left lapel with her fingertips.

“Nope, no. Right as rain there.” He meets her hand with his and grips it to his heart. “There’s a reason I called you in here.”

“Or course there is,” she laughs as she presses her hips against his more tightly. He peers to the ceiling with an embarrassed smile as his cock jumps, but doesn’t move away.

“Well, abou’ that, Daisy’s leaving early. They’ve got a half day. I’m takin her to the station at lunchtime. I’d like… I’d really love to see ya tonight, if yer able.”

“Ooh!” Her eyes light up as her brows furrow, and he smiles at the battle of hope and logistics on her face. “I think I can work it. I’ll just need to make a couple phone calls.”

“An’… ya think ya might be able ta… spend the night?” He says it like it’s a feat never before accomplished, but in truth it nearly is. Once before they’d managed it, about two months ago, with the end result of Lucy finding out about them and teasing Miller almost to death. The upside of this is at least if Miller gives her some juicy details (real or invented), Lucy is usually game to help. It has spared them a few lies.

She sighs and pulls his mouth briefly to hers again. “I’ll try. You know I’d like nothing more.”

“I do know. Ye’ve been eyein me like a piece of meat all morning.” They grin at each other. “Well, make those calls an’ let me know, Millah.” He moves her to arms’ length and speaks in his DI voice, but the lopsided smile on his face somewhat undermines its effect.

“Oh, I will, sir.” She turns and picks up her coffee, as well as two legal pads, before winking over her shoulder. She almost makes it out the door before spilling coffee down her blouse. It’s a good thing too, because when she reroutes to the bathroom she sees her rumpled, snogged face before her colleagues do. By the time she’s gotten most of the stain out, her glow has subsided from radioactive to nearly workplace-appropriate.

***

Lucy is a goddess. A living saint. All debts are cancelled, new promises made. Miller waits til she’s kissed the boys goodbye before frantically showering, shaving her armpits, searching for her matched pair of bra and knickers, applying —then wiping off— an entire faceful of makeup, wrestling into a pair of stretchy jeans and topping it off with a loose jumper that she thinks says ‘I didn’t spend all day thinking about this,’ despite the fact they both knew she did. The hum of anticipation between her legs grows louder with every movement. Almost as an afterthought she pulls out her laptop and watches the first two minutes of her video one last time, then grabs a travel-sized hand lotion from her dresser, slips it into her pocket for good luck, and heads out the door.

Chapter Text

She’d texted him that she was on her way, but Hardy still answers the door looking surprised and harried before his expression softens into something closer to befuddlement. His tie is gone. He’s changed since the office, though a more casual observer mightn’t have noticed the faint blue lines on this new oxford shirt.

“Hello Ellie,” he says, clearly and awkwardly, like a beginning student of a foreign language. 

“Evening, Alec,” she replies, testing the ‘c’ of his name against her tooth. 

He looks both ways down the lane as a force of habit once she steps inside, and doesn't touch her til the door is closed. He moves slowly, as if afraid to startle someone; her or perhaps himself. His hand hesitates on her elbow. His feet are bare and pale against the hall carpet; she toes off her shoes.

“Eh...can I offer ya somethin to drink?” 

She shakes her head, stepping into his personal space. If Hardy is feeling cautious tonight, Miller is feeling bold. She slides her hands around his hips and grabs his arse, pulling them flush. He lets out a breath that might have been a laugh, but his hands are still light and tentative as they move around her. Sometimes she finds him like this, almost shy, waiting for her to break down the barriers that arise between them out in the world.

“Take me to bed, Alec.” She punctuates each word with a step toward his bedroom, causing him to walk backwards, trusting her to steer them.

“Alright darlin, to bed wi’ ya,” he concedes with a smile, turning her like a waltzer through the doorway.

His room had first struck Miller as empty, unfinished, especially in the context of his finally home-like home. Aside from a globe lamp, a dish with loose change, cufflinks, and assorted pocket scraps, and two framed photos —one of Daisy as a baby and one of a clean-shaven Hardy embracing Daisy in a primary school uniform— the surfaces and walls are clear. When she’d asked about it, after he’d determined that she wasn’t taking the piss, he’d confided that it was for sleep.

After the Winterman case closed he’d seen a doctor about his sleeping problems (she still wasn’t sure if he’d meant a physician of some sort or a psychiatrist) and the recommendation had been to make himself a sanctuary: no computer, no mobile phone, no clutter. Even his alarm clock was angled away from the bed so that at night his wandering eyes would have nothing to snag on. The view from the window was toward the cliffs; a car on the dirt lane the only occasional distraction. Nowadays she finds it a great relief to step into his refuge; inside it they have no histories, no families, and no responsibilities. She’s known him so long and yet not at all, she finds, as they peel away their layers together.

“Ya look lovely.”

She smiles up at him. His hands are carding her hair, stroking her face as she works the buttons of his shirt. Their kisses stay light and sweet. When she moves down to loosen his belt he reaches for the hem of her jumper, but she stills his hands.

“You first,” she whispers, and he acquiesces with a caress of her spine. He steps out of his trousers, and she peels his vest off him so that he is standing before her in just a pair of tenting grey briefs. She takes in the welcome sight of his rangy body before meeting his dark eyes. The look he gives her is both soft and defiant; the trust between them, so deep already, is growing to encompass these new intimacies, but fear of pain is an old habit. She has found, though, that what they struggle to say out loud can sometimes be passed directly from one body to the other.

Her hands soothe his skin in long strokes as she brings her mouth to his, deeper this time. She maneuvers him to the edge of the bed and sits him on the blue duvet without breaking their lips apart. Then she begins to lean into him til he is scooting backward up the bed, and she is crawling over him. She lies between his parted thighs and turns their kiss into a full-body affair, rocking their hips together. His hands cup her bum and squeeze, but otherwise he seems content to sink into the pillows and be ministered to.

“Oh God,” he grits out as she drags her mouth from his throat down his chest, catching a nipple between her teeth before continuing on. She holds his hips down as she continues across the plain of his belly. Gooseflesh is rising on his pale freckled skin. The front of his briefs is wet already when she begins to lick him through them. She can feel herself grow wetter in sympathy, and she ruts against the rise of her jeans. He groans and hardens against her lips, wet cotton rough on her tongue. She lifts off and tugs his briefs down, which sets his cock springing free. He shakes them off his ankles onto the floor.

Miller suddenly finds herself almost overwhelmed. In unguarded moments like these, forces rush in to pull her in different directions: the distant past, with naive satisfactions in her seemingly ordinary marriage bed; the ruptured years of pain that could scarcely be borne, except through hardness; and this, the strongest pull, toward the open future that she and the man spread before her are forging, from dented materials and a burning desire.

She’s tempted to make a crude joke to break her own tension; the material’s right in front of her after all. But she has the sense not to air the discomfort she’s feeling. Her hesitancy around of sex talk galls her: she always has something to say. Each day in this room she resolves to speak more, which still means she says very little. But today she’s decided to get to the bottom of her little mystery. She takes a breath for courage.

“Alec.”

“…Enh?”

“I’m going to put your cock in my mouth.”

“Oh Christ yes, Ellie.”

She grips him tight then swallows him, and he whimpers, thighs spreading wantonly. She eases his foreskin down and traces around it with her tongue. She hears a soft hiss. Her mouth, his hips, and the circle of her fingers and thumb set to a complex rhythm punctuated by his quiet sounds— not quite words, but full of feeling. The scent of him here is his, but moreso. He is freshly showered, but something animal still rises. Her free hand strokes his bollocks a few times until she feels sufficiently bold to slide under and caress new, soft, darkly curled territory. He stiffens for a moment, pressing into her mouth, and then speaks a word, still unintelligible, but louder. Lustier, even.

Her fingers explore as she tries to hold a steady rhythm on his cock: first the ridge behind his balls, then to his cleft, lightly stroking. Now his legs part magnificently. Their eyes meet and she smiles around him. The look on his face is beyond words. She lets one finger trace his cleft, then explore it more deeply, til she finds his hole. The feeling is different to hers, much thicker hair all about, and actually, it doesn’t feel quite as tight. When her fingertip rests on it, it seems to almost… invite her in. She’s accidentally stopped sucking his cock. She looks up, and his eyes are boring into her. He speaks the word again, and she hears its meaning this time.

“Please.”

“Please what, love?” She asks, sweetly. With a frustrated huff he throws his head back on the pillow, but looks back up at her immediately.

“Mmn…Please, El…do it….”

“Tell me what you want me to do.”

There’s a breathless pause while Miller admires her own daring and Hardy dismantles another snare in his defenses. Then:

“Will you please just put yer finger in my arse, Millah?”

And they explode with laughter. She buries her face in his groin and he throws an arm across his eyes and laughs until tears are rolling down his cheeks. As the crisis subsides and they begin to catch their breaths again, she sits up and fishes the lotion from out her pocket. His erection had begun to lean a bit sideways, but when he sees what she’s holding, his eyes go wide and he’s restored to full tumescence. “Ye’ve been schemin on me, gal!”

“Och, aye, that I have,” she teases in a poor approximation of his accent, which has thickened like custard. She sweetens her tease with a lotiony stroke that sets him shivering. In her own voice, quieter, she says “I’ve never done this before. You’ll have to tell me how I’m doing.”

He nods solemnly. “Ya had it righ’ just then. Gentle, is all.” He bends his knees and plants his feet on the mattress, and now she can see where she’s going. She begins to smooth lotion all along the cleft of his arse, letting it swirl and slick his curls, revealing his arsehole. It looks little and sweet, like the man’s in the video, and she feels a rush of giddiness. She traces it lightly with her fingertip and he throws his head back again, this time with a high, thin sound. Her finger starts to press, and suddenly she’s inside his body up past the knuckle, and she can feel him gripping around her.

Oh no, is that all right?” She exclaims, barely refraining from pulling out in surprise.

“Better ‘an alright,” comes the grunted reply. What follows is surely the strangest and most intimate thing they’ve done in a long, strange intimacy. She barely has to press at all, as his body seems to want her deep inside it, though there are moments when he asks her to wait with a light touch to her wrist. When her finger is buried in him as far as it can go she starts to stroke his cock again, and he begins to make sounds she’s never heard. She hears the word fuck several times before she realizes it’s an instruction, not just an interjection, and she begins to thrust, gingerly at first, then with more force as he goads her.

“…Please, El…. Put another….” And she adds more cream before plunging back inside him with index and middle. The inside of his body is searing as it squeezes around her. He is almost unrecognizeable to her in this moment, pinned open and begging, praising, writhing under her touch. And she wouldn’t know herself either, soaking through her knickers at the sight of her fingers vanishing into a man’s arse. But that’s no stranger, she thinks. That’s Alec Hardy. The thought loosens her tongue.

“I wanna fuck your arse, Alec Hardy,” she growls at him, surprising herself as she presses in deep. His eyes snap open and his spine arcs. He freezes for a long moment, clenched around her fingers, before collapsing with a long vowel sound and coming across his stomach in a thousand hot pulses. When his body quiets down, she tenderly extracts herself and steps into the bathroom to wash her hands. She returns with a washcloth and offers it to him, but he is suddenly up and upon her, yanking the jumper over her head before tackling her to the bed and unpeeling her jeans from her legs. He vanishes her knickers and buries his face in her aching cunt without hesitation.

Usually she is shy about this and given to ticklishness, especially where his beard is concerned, but tonight she feels like a dam about to burst. No pressure is enough, and his deft fingers quickly join his clever tongue as she rubs against his face in shameless demand. She’s still wearing a bra, and has to slide her hands inside the cups to pinch her nipples. She pinches much harder than she’s used to. Everything feels different and new. He’s lifting her arse off the bed, pulling her into him as he licks harder and his fingers drive deep. The thing that’s been rising in her for so long starts to boil over, and she’s shouting, what is she shouting? She could swear he is shouting too, deep into her, is it her name, Ellie, Ellie, Ellie?

Chapter Text

His face is glistening when he lies down next to her, sharing her pillow. She touches his cheek. He touches hers; her cheek is also wet. Then a fat tear rolls down to pool on her nose and they smile at each other. A very bashful smile. They take a shuddering breath together, which causes them to chuckle before descending into silence for another lingering moment.

“Alright, Alec?”

“Mm hm, you?”

She nods. He looks away briefly, and when his eyes return to hers, there’s a question in them. “Ellie, yer... brilliant. An’ I wasn’t expecting that. But can I ask wha’ brought it on? Don’t think I didn’t enjoy it, am jus’ curious.”

It’s Miller’s turn to look away in embarrassment. She’d anticipated so much of tonight in detail, but the inevitable debriefing always remained a bit fuzzy in her fantasy.

“Right. This is a bit weird, but… d’you remember on Wednesday night when we were clearing out the Land Rover….” She can tell by the color of his ears that he knows exactly what she’s referring to, but she soldiers on. “Ok, that thing I was waving around at you like an idiot, I had no idea what it was, but you did, didn’t you?”

Hardy nods slowly, a hand sliding over his mouth, but the corner of a smile is peeking out.

“Well, I went home and I looked it up, and come to find out it’s for your bum!” She flashes him her cheekiest grin before continuing softly. “I realized maybe you enjoy that, but then I’d gone and made it awkward. Sometimes I feel so…naive, and I hate it. I feel old, and there’s so much I never did before, never even thought about, if I’m honest. But once I started to think about this, and thinking you might like for me to do it to you, well… I couldn’t stop, really. And I just don’t want there to be secrets between us, Hardy. We’ve each had enough of that for this lifetime, haven’t we?”

He tucks a loose curl carefully behind her ear before speaking.

“Oh aye. That we have, El.” Then, with sudden impishness, “Now just outta curiosity, where’d ya learn to do such a naughty thing all by yerself?”

It’s Miller’s turn to blush.

“I did my research, alright? DS Miller to you.”

“Oho, an wha’ kind a research?”

“If you must know, I googled it. And then I practiced!” The second statement has the desired effect of rendering Hardy speechless. “And do you know what else I discovered, while I was looking at illicit things on the internet?” He shakes his head, eyes wide in anticipation.

“On Monday, when we go to do our Yeovil interviews, you and I will have to visit Bridgewater as well, to meet with the parents’ solicitor, won’t we?”

“…Eh….” He furrows his whole face at the sudden left turn.

“Do you know what’s in Bridgewater?”

He shakes his head again, at a loss.

“The Lovers’ Garden!” Then, sotto voce, “It’s a sex toy shop!” She waggles her eyebrows to make him laugh. “We’re going on a work excursion. Interviews could take all day, and we’d have to stay over, would we not? Get a hotel?”

She sees his wheels start to turn, and he nods.

“Would you like us to buy you some anal beads, Alec?” She is beaming. He chuckles, then frowns again.

“It’s not…The thing abou’ the… beads was….” He is searching for something. She waits. “Don’t get me wrong, am not embarrassed abou’ this. I jus’…it’s been a long time, an’ not everyone is so…delighted at the prospect.”

Miller is instantly outraged on his behalf. “Did Tess make you feel ashamed of this, Alec?”

“Ah, no, nothin like tha’.” He sighs. “It jus’ wasn’t her bag, ya know? She’d be a good sport from time ta time, bu’ I always knew she didn’t really fancy it, so over the years… an’ there were things, too, that I coulda been more… it jus’ wasn’t the righ’ match. We weren’t suited, tha’s clear as day now. An’ I shoulda known, really, because…”

Hardy pauses, and Miller can see him drift back in time. She knows well enough not to interrupt what might be the only extended discourse on feelings Hardy gives all year, but she is biting her lips hard against a half-million questions.

“I’ve been lucky, in a way. My first girlfriend… we got together in sixth form, an’ she was… she was very …she’d jus’ try all kindsa things. Not jus’ sex stuff; we were goin to concerts an’ foreign cinema and that. Then she went to Manchester for Uni, and I’d go down on the train at the weekend an’ we’d have a ball, us an’ her mates. Go out an’ see music in a warehouse, dance all night, do things…” Hardy rolls onto his back and rubs his eyes. “When I think Daisy’s almost that age, an’ what we were up to…” He groans, though without much force. “Bu’ it just felt safe then, ya know wha’ I mean? Like we were all lookin after one another, explorin wi’ each other, an’ we’d find our way home together. Anyway, we stayed together a year or two more, me in Glasgow comin’ down, her comin’ up, but less an’ less when her parents split an’ moved away.”

“What made you break up?” Miller risks a question.

“Eh… you know. We were young, it was far. I’d decided to start the academy, but….I don’t really remember, to be honest. An’ it caused me some trouble after, because I didn’t know any different, an’…” He snorts, turns back to her. “Not every aspiring constable wants to see yer sex toy collection, lemme tell ya.”

“Oh, you poor lad,” Miller splutters through laughter as she leans forward to kiss him on the forehead.

“Nah, s’alright,” he says, though he accepts her kiss and returns one, “had to learn wha’s best kept private eventually…bu’ sometimes it was…good. People can surprise you.” He kisses her more, til she’s sure he’s talking about her.

“So whatever happened to her, your first love?”

“Ah, it’s been ages, bu’… She moved abroad. I think she’s still in America. She got married, too. Married to a woman. I had a pint wi’ her sister a few years back, remember, when I took Daiz to Scotland?”

“Wow, yeah. What was her name?”

For the first time, Hardy looks distinctly uncomfortable.

“Does it mattah?”

“Oh, now you have to tell me!”

Alrigh’, alright. It’s Eleanor. We called her Nora, but… Eleanor.” He peeks up at her like he’s bracing for something, but she looks back with a bit of wonder.

“Oh, I like her. Your first Eleanor.” A long look passes between them, at once peaceful and brimming over with…the pressure in Miller’s heart becomes almost unbearable, and she grabs at a passing thought. “So. Can I see your sex toy collection?”

He honest-to-god guffaws, and buries his face in the pillow. When he resurfaces, his smile is rueful. “It’s been years now. I haven’ got any. I useda have a little…” he gestures lewdly with a finger in a way she can only assume means dildo, “an’ some of the beads an’ whatnot, bu’ between me an’ Tess never findin the time an’ little Daiz toddlin around lookin in all the cupboards, I jus’ threw ‘em away one day.”

“But Hardy, that’s so sad! All this time! We’ll buy you some new ones right away!”

“We-ell, it’s no’ like it’s been … I mean,” he’s scratching the back of his neck, looking sheepish, but with a happy flush. “I have hands, ya know.”

“Yes, you have, you lovely thing,” she grabs one of them and pulls it to her lips. What begins as sweet kisses on his fingertips becomes something else as fingertips slide between her lips. They’re lost in play for some time before he speaks again.

“Aye, Ellie. I’d like ta go wi’ ya to Bridgewater an’ buy sex toys.”

Chapter Text

Hardy pulls his reading glasses out of his breast pocket and slides them up his nose. He’s squinting at the fine print on the back of a vibrator’s packaging like it personally insulted him, and he looks so much like her ornery boss that Miller struggles not to laugh. She’s already a bit flushed just from standing in this small, brightly lit shop, surrounded by a rainbow of silicone shapes and leather…equipment. Mannequins are modeling cheap underwear with crucial pieces cut out, exposing nippleless plastic breasts and undifferentiated crotches. The clerk is a peaceful, pierced presence who hasn’t looked up from their reading material since the detectives first walked in.

“You ever use somethin like this, Millah?”

His tone is remarkably matter of fact. He pockets his glasses and holds the box up for her to see: it’s rosy pink, and its shape doesn’t immediately explain itself to her, but she likes the look of it. She shakes her head. Tonight she is the shy one, it seems.

“Lucy gave me a vibrator one Christmas,” Miller is practically whispering, “called it my stocking stuffer, the slag! It had one setting: liquefy. I only turned it on the once, it nearly shattered the windows it was so loud. You couldn’t have paid me to put it anywhere near my privates.”

She does not mention that it was the first Christmas after…after everything, when she had to relearn how to sleep alone for the first time in more than a decade. Hardy avoids questions that would force her to conjure Joe’s presence, though on the rare occasion she does anyway he’s a valiant listener.

“I’d like to get this for ya, if ye think ye’d enjoy it.”

She nods and steps closer so they can look together.

“The thick part goes inside ya, an’ the wee petal is for yer clit,” his voice drops til it’s just a rumble, and her body thrills. Yes she loves to hear him say clit, but it’s his tongue leaping over the ’t’ in petal that really does it.

“I think I’d enjoy it, yeah.”

They share a look that would set a kettle to boil, then he nods once and wanders down the aisle, box in hand. She shakes her head to clear it and looks about the shop, confirming again that they’re the only customers. This outing was a lot less overwhelming when they were shopping for him, as originally planned.

Around the corner, he’s in front of the full array of cartoon phalluses, and somehow managing to stand there all casual, as if he were comparing detergents. His mussed hair and the black overcoat that exaggerates his lean form makes her think of a crow ruffling its feathers. They’ve come directly from the solicitor’s office, and a day of fieldwork before it. He is the usual degree of bedraggled after work; it’s the familiarity of the sight of him, in this public place that people only visit together when they are having sex, that keeps knocking her off-center. They are always together, in public and private: everyone knows they are partners. And the odds of anyone recognizing them here are almost nil, but at this moment they have no cover story or alibi. They are… a couple? Her mind boggles.

“Look, Hardy: anal beads!” She holds up a display model at random and jiggles it at him. He huffs a laugh and walks back over, laying an arm around her shoulder and pulling her against his side.

“I was thinkin…” he leads them back over to where he was standing, “…if ye’d be game, we could buy you a cock an’ a harness.”

She looks up at him and nods vigorously. This she has pictured. “Which one do you like?”

“Ah, well. I’ve go’ opinions, but it’s to be your cock, Millah. You decide.” He steps back so she can see the whole selection. She reaches out to touch a pretty, clear one and finds it hard and cold to the touch.

“Not very forgiving, this one.” He shakes his head no.

There’s something slightly repulsive to her about the ones that are made to look too much like the real thing: the veins and whatnot…no. Some of the bright colors and swirling patterns are appealing, like sweets, and she touches and prods, getting used to the give and bend of them, but sets them back, looking for something a bit more… sober?

“Ooh, I like this one! …. Bit big, though, innit?”

He’s behind her, stepping in close, sliding his hands around her waist. His body feels even warmer than usual. Anyone passing by —and luckily there is still no one— would have thought he’d just cleared his throat, but what he mutters into her ear is:

“S’not a problem.”

Miller’s mouth drops open. Is he…bragging? She picks it up, hefts it in her hand, turns it over. Her fingers barely close around it. His hands join hers, and together they bring it to its intended position, jutting from the front of her work slacks. She can feel his own cock hardening against the cleft of her arse. They look down together at their hands laced around the burgundy shaft. A breathless moment passes in their obscene tableau before she shakes him off gently and exchanges the sample for one of the boxes behind it.

“Right. This one, then. What else do we need?”

He points his chin toward a wall of what look like leather knickers, and she briefly covers her eyes. When she can look at him again, his face is asking if she’s all right. She pauses and asks herself the same thing. Yes, she is completely embarrassed to be standing in a shop discussing the kinky undergarments in which she will shortly be buggering him. Also, she is so aroused she feels faint. A grin spreads across her face and she can see its progress mirrored on his. His smiles, formerly such a rare treat, have been in superabundance since the weekend. Even if she hadn’t just soaked her knickers at this evening’s prospects, she’d do it all again to see him beaming at her like this.

“Oh my. All right. Well, what do you think?”

“I think ye’d look stunning in any a these. Bu’ it may be best wi'out all tha’ extra…” he gestures dismissively toward a pair that’s more like a proper pair of shorts, before picking up something that’s not much more than three straps and a metal ring. “Wi’ this kinda thing I could still touch you properly. An’ I could see a bit more of ya, too.”

“How do I know if it fits?”

“Ya try it on.”

“Here!?”

“In the fitting room, Millah.”

There is, mercifully, a fitting room. The clerk gestures them toward it without looking up, but Miller stops Hardy as he tries to follow.

“Not yet! You’ll see soon enough.”

She pulls the curtain closed and collapses with an exhale against the wall. In the overhead light her face shines bright red, but the rugged joy of it is unmistakable. She sets her purse down and takes several steadying breaths. Then she untangles the harness from its little plastic hanger with care, and puzzles her way into it over her trousers. As she tightens down one leg, then the other, she takes in its incongruity, cinching her best pantsuit, rumpled from a day’s work. The effect is both absurd and deadly serious. She straightens up to her full height and looks squarely into her own eyes. Fingers play lightly with the tight straps, and those little shifts of tension send jolts to her cunt. For all that she feels like a hormone-drunk teenager, she finds an unfamiliar kind of adulthood in herself. What ever else has she chosen to do for pure pleasure and curiosity? Has she ever stepped this nakedly into someone else’s heart, or allowed another to do the same? Nope. This is all new. And for a new game, new toys.

“Hardy, it’s perfect,” she calls.

***

Hardy insists on paying, saying she can buy their supper.

“You know work’ll pay for meals,” she says, but lets him have his way. In addition to the harness, dildo, vibrator, and a cheap string of anal beads for old times sake, he’s dropped two different bottles of lubricant and a carton of condoms on the counter, as well as quite a lot of cash.

“Easier for cleanup,” he explains when she raises an eyebrow at the condoms, which they’ve never used on account of their recent sexual non-histories and her post-Fred IUD. She’s impressed, again, at his practiced confidence in this situation, which she has found unexpectedly overwhelming. How had she expected it to be? The clerk looks up briefly and offers Miller a small, mischievous smile as Hardy grabs the bag and heads expeditiously for the door.

It’s properly nighttime when they step outside, and a light rain has made all the surfaces glint under streetlight. She climbs into the driver’s seat and turns to face him when he’s shut his door.

“So, supper, then?”

“Naaahh.”

Chapter Text

The tension in the car was a public safety hazard; he’d slid his tie off while staring at her, and she’d almost driven into a row of bollards in the car park. As Hardy checked them in at the front desk, Miller was sure that the entire hotel could tell they were about to tear each other’s clothes off. Now, when the door finally shuts, he drops his things and crowds her up against it. In point of fact, the kiss is softer than she’d braced for, and she sighs back, digging her fingers into his hair. She tugs, he whimpers. He’s moving against her in this sinuous way he has, and...

“El, I don’ think I’m gonna last two minutes like this, can I…make love to ya first ta take the edge off?”

She’s nodding furiously. They shuck jackets off each other’s shoulders and toe off their shoes, stumbling toward the bed. Frantic fingers fuss belts open and trousers off before their bodies tumble together. He crawls over her and buries his face in her neck as one hand snakes down her body.

“Oh god,” he swears when his fingers find the soaking gusset of her knickers. He rubs her with the heel of his hand and she gasps, pushing up against him. She drags his pants down to free him, and he rushes to do the same to her as she grips his cock. He is panting as she slides the head of it between her slick, swollen lips twice, three times before pressing him against her entrance. She watches his eyes lose focus as he sinks inside her, and she feels herself pulse around him involuntarily.

When he reaches her depth their mouths meet again, muffling helpless sounds. She wraps her legs around him and he stays deep inside her, rocking them together for a moment before abruptly rolling onto his back and pulling her on top. His hands tighten on the fullness of her hips. She spreads a palm on his chest for purchase as she sets to a deep, thrusting rhythm. Her other hand finds her clit and rubs hard. She is so close it’s painful. He grabs the front of her shirt to pull her to him.

“This is how…I want ya ta fuck me…I wanna ride yer cock… Just…. Like…. This.” He whispers through heaving breaths. The sound of his voice, and the images he’s conjured, are too much. She tips over the edge just as she sees his face crumple, then release. She falls against him, and they cling together til the shaking stops.

“…”

“…”

“…Alec?”

“…Henh?”

She props herself up gently, caresses his sweaty fringe from his forehead.

“That was brilliant.”

“Yeaahh.”

He cranes his neck to kiss her.

“How you feeling?”

“Bloody fantastic,” he drawls, grinning.

When Hardy’s cock softens and begins to slide out of her, she startles and lifts off, easing over to the bed beside him. He looses the last of her buttons, then fiddles with the clasp of her bra, eventually needing both hands to undo it. She sits up so he can slide it all off her shoulders, then lies back and watches as he neatly undresses himself. Their warm skins meet and they are soothed. He caresses the outer curve of one breast as he kisses the other languorously. His thumb catches a nipple and taps it til it peaks. Heat stirs in her again, and she arches her back, but feels the need to say:

“If you’re tired now, we don’t have to…. Just because we bought all that doesn’t mean we have to use it tonight.”

“Oh, bu’ I want to. An’ I know you, yer jus’ gettin started, aren’t ya?” He pinches her nipple, first gently, then harder til she squeals. “This is good. Jus’ takin a wee rest. It’s easier, ya know, to take it when I’ve come already.”

“God! The mouth on you!” She is teasing, but she is also genuinely shocked by the filthy things he’s begun saying. He responds by latching that mouth to her nipple and sucking with the threat of teeth. She huffs and reaches between her legs to rub a quick one out, but he pops off.

“Here, let’s try out yer new toy, see if ya like it. Then I’ll get ready an’ we can… try the others.” He clambers off the bed and roots around in the bag before hurrying back, box in hand. The whole front of her body is tingling with the vulnerable excitement of lying exposed. He quickly tosses the box to one side and squints between the instruction manual in one hand and the soft pink object in the other. Then he presses a button and she hears a quiet hum.

“Bless ‘em, it’s charged already.“

Hardy turns back to her and runs a sure, slow hand from her ankle to the back of her knee, then pulls her leg wide. His palm moves up her inner thigh, followed by the lightest buzzing touch of the foreign object. Her muscles tighten in anticipation, and he hums approvingly as she spreads her legs farther. His empty hand circles widely around her thighs and across her low belly before he drags the back of his fingers lightly over her lips. She bucks.

“This is mad,” she pants. “I just came, you saw me.”

“Aye, I did. You ready to come again?” His tone is light and teasing as he passes the toy over her lips, barely touching.

“God yes.” But he makes another hovering pass, and she groans in frustration.

“Are ya sure?” He’s laughing.

Yes, you knob, do it!” At that, he sinks the toy into her, and she can feel what she couldn’t see before —the way it slots into her perfectly, thick inside her cunt and humming tight against her clit. He holds it to her with the palm of his hand and she rocks against him. Things escalate quickly. She can feel an obscene wetness between them, his and hers, spilling down. She is coming, loudly, before she realizes it, and he’s murmuring to her, gentling her with a warm hand down her flank.

“Tha’ was beautiful. Ya want another?” She shakes her head, holds up her hands in temporary surrender. He slips it out of her immediately and turns it off, tossing it onto the bed.

“Bu’ ya liked it.”

“I liked it.”

She makes a quick trip to the loo, then they’re tumbling again. Her body feels unfamiliar: light and free, as if there’s nothing left inside her to hold her down. She can feel his cock start to stir against her thigh, and she grasps his arse to get closer.

“It may be a bit longer yet,” he laughs against her mouth, “bu’ I feel so…hopeful wi’ you.”

“No pressure, of course,” she says as she continues to exert steady pressure against his groin. They stroke and snog, toss and tumble. The tempo picks up slowly, until she’s rutting against his thigh, and he’s half-hard again.

“Alrigh’, El. Here’s what. Le’ me go get myself ready, quick wash an’ I’ll be back.” He rolls to one side and picks up the remote control for the television, turns it on. He gives her an apologetic shrug as he flicks through the stations. “Fancy a little…noise.” A familiar tune causes him to pause. She lifts her head.

‘Oh, I love this song!”

‘Ya do?’ he is beaming.

“I haven’t heard it in ages!

“Me neither! Did ya know they’re Scottish? from Glasgow! We used ta see em play!” He looks like a little boy. She’s never seen him so lit up.

“Hardy…” there’s mischief in her tone now, as ever when she’s piecing clues together. “Hardy, did you used to go to raves? Were you a little raver, Hardy? Did you wear enormous jeans and a Reni cap, and dance around with glowsticks? Come on now, tell me….” She moves on him with grabby hands.

“Ge’ away from me Millah!” He’s laughing as he squirms away and makes for the bathroom. “I was never a raver, I was a young music lover who happened ta go ta raves!” The door slams behind him, but she can hear him singing along as he turns on the tap.

I'm movin' on up now
Gettin out of the darkness
My light shines on
My light shines on
My light shines on

She hums along, still sprawled lazily across the synthetic coverlet. She can’t stop smiling at the sound of his tuneless, happy voice. It’s like Hardy’s come uncorked. She supposes she may have as well. Her image of him as a sad little boy has begun to evolve; she’s glimpsed a tender, lively young person who is re-emerging on the far side of a long, dark path. The Hardy she’s known has always been a Hardy in progress: difficult and slow progress, just like her own. Now its as if they’ve arrived at a clearing together, somewhere brand new, and yet it feels like…. The video ends and a startlingly young veejay appears.

“We’ll be back in a flash with the Happy Mondays, James, and more Madchester Mondays, tonight til midnight!”

“Get tae fuck, Madchestah Mondays!” Hardy shouts incredulously from the bathroom as the toilet flushes. She can’t tell if he’s indignant, excited, or more probably both. She laughs, takes off the socks she’s inexplicably still wearing, and picks up the vibrator. She hefts its funny, fleshy weight, idly turning it on and testing its settings. They’re all gloriously quiet. She hears him turn on the shower, still humming Movin' on Up, though the television is lost to adverts for the moment. She gets up and brings the bag of treasures back to the bed.

Chapter Text

The shower shuts off just as Miller is tightening down the last strap of her new harness. She can see her whole figure in the mirror on the back of the bathroom door. Hardy’s enthusiasm for her naked form has caused her to notice it a bit more lately. She’s never been a very self-conscious person, she doesn’t think, nor a very style-conscious one, but this looks good. Her hair, which has gotten long, tumbles around her shoulders, and her breasts hang full and low. The only thing out of the ordinary, and it is quite out of the ordinary, is the massive erection she’s sporting. She rather likes the way the harness cinches into the flesh of her hips and the tops of her thighs. She’s turning sideways to see how her bum looks when she hears the opening chords of another song from the ancient past, and the opening bathroom door as well.

“This tune?! This is per-fect…” he’s saying before he catches sight of her and freezes in the doorway. “Oh Millah, look at you.”

They stare at each other, just out of reach. He holds a towel around his hips, wet hair dripping on his shoulders and tracing down his chest. Her hand grips the base of her cock. Even despite the evidence of their intent, the opening verse of the song embarrasses them both with its candor and accuracy.

This bed is on fire with passionate love
The neighbours complain about the noises above
But she only comes when she's on top

Suddenly they’re starting all over again. A bashful look, and Hardy walks to the bed. He unwraps the towel from his hips slowly and lays it across the coverlet. Then he climbs hesitantly onto the bed and holds his hand out to her. She joins him, movements rendered slightly awkward by her new appendage, and they lie facing each other.

Moved out of the house, so you moved next door
I locked you out, you cut a hole in the wall
I found you sleeping next to me, I thought I was alone
You're driving me crazy, when are you coming home?

“Would ya like me ta turn off the telly?”

“Absolutely not! It’s Madchester Monday, Hardy!”

He looks down as if to hide his smile, then meets her eyes as he takes hold of her cock. He strokes it.

“I…eh…started already while I was in the shower. Ta get myself ready.”

Her eyes widen fractionally.

“Bu’ I could still use yer help, if yer willin. Ta get the rest of the way.”

Miller nods. Yes, absolutely. His hand moves up her cock, and then beyond it to slip a finger between her lips. They moan together at the wet contact. He teases the length of her slit until she’s on her back and in danger of forgetting the mission. One last moment of indulgence and then she sits up.

“All right, enough. Your turn.”

“How d’ya want me?”

She thinks for a moment.

“Hands and knees, there’s a good lad.”

He scrambles up to comply. She looks about for the lubricant, finds it on the bed behind her knee. It takes her a moment to break the seal and pop the cap, and when she looks up from coating her fingers she finds Hardy waiting, arse in the air. He’s down on his elbows and she can’t see his face, but he is radiating eagerness. With his legs this wide she can see that yes, he’s begun to get ready. She drags her fingers down his cleft to his bollocks before doubling back and circling his hole. It…winks at her?

“C’mon Ellie, please.”

“Yes, love, here you are,” she finds herself cooing as she slides a finger into him. He takes her easily, and she works it in and out in gentle movements.

“…mmn…more, El.”

“Of course, love.” She can’t seem to stop calling him love, suddenly.

The second finger meets more resistance, but when she’s fully slotted into him she sees his cock jump between his thighs. She presses in against his prostate and he buries his face in his hands. They’re here for what seems like a very short time before he’s pushing back and demanding another.

“Three fingers, Hardy?”

“Yeah, course, Millah. Look at the size a yer cock.” He’s making altogether too much sense, so she pulls out, drips a dollop of lube on her hand, and presses back in with three, a little less gently.

“…ye-e-es…” He draws out the word to the length of her slow thrust in. She can feel the lower vibrations of his voice through her hand. He’s pushing back against her, so she grabs his hip for leverage, and pushes harder. He hums with satisfaction. They play here, a slow back and forth, until she can feel him ease up and her fingers gain deeper access.

“Tha’s good now. Am ready.”

Hardy’s already rising and turning as she pulls out of his arse. He lays her down, so gently, and runs his hands over the planes of her body. His cock is full and heavy between his thighs as he kneels and bites open a condom packet, rolls it tenderly down the length of her. He spills an absurd amount of lube over her cock and strokes to coat it. The unconscious, practiced pump of his hand, and the way it rocks the base of the dildo against her mons, floods her with heat. His other hand finds her slit again and teases at penetration. The leather straps of the harness press her lips together, and the way his fingers move against that resistence is overwhelming.

“Ya want me ta….”

“I want to fuck you, love.”

Their eyes meet and they take each other in. The situation is surreal, but his scarred and supple body, his ragged breath, the naked expression in his eyes, have never been more real to her. He slips his fingers out of her cunt gently and straddles her hips with his long legs. Coarse hair gives way to smoothest skin around the tops of his thighs, the indentations at his hips. He leans forward and reaches behind himself, arching his spine shamelessly as he begins to…. She can’t actually tell what’s happening, because she can’t feel more than the pleasing, shifting pressure of the dildo’s base against her. She bends her knees so he can rest his thighs against hers. The way he’s tipped his hips forward, the head of his cock is rubbing insistently against her belly, scrawling thick lines of wetness as he shifts.

It’s the transformation of his face that tells her she’s inside him: he looks suddenly, blissfully stoned. His mouth hangs open and his eyes squeeze shut as he sways above her. She holds on tight to his hips so he doesn’t float off or fall over, but otherwise she lays perfectly still and watches him lose himself in sensation. When his buttocks reach her thighs she realizes he’s been taking her deeper this whole time, but it was so slow and smooth —and his face was so entrancing— that she didn’t even notice.

He stirs from his dream with a guttural sound, and leans forward to take a hand to the headboard. He’s looking down at her with vulnerable eyes as his hips start to rock a little, then a little more. She wraps a hand around his cock and he fucks into it with obvious relish for a few moments before pausing.

“Best not ta… I wanna last.”

She takes her hands back to his hips and realizes: she can thrust too. She starts to push up into him —just a little— matching his tempo, and he gives her an encouraging smile and grunt. The movement feels good, powerful. They move together, intensity building.

“Ah…no’ quite so deep.”

She shallows her thrusts. His instructions, in this context, are wonderful to her. She wants to give him the best fuck he’s ever had, and there’s something so…familiar about what he wants. She knows what he’s asking, because she likes the same thing. It’s all about the entrance: she focuses on the beginning of the thrust, and helps him keep the rhythm he’s obviously loving. He pushes off the headboard and stretches toward the ceiling as he rocks on her, almost dancing.

He’s started to whisper “…yes yes yes yes…” and then his lips are moving along to the song from the telly, something Miller’s never heard before. She runs her hands up his flanks and feels his muscles glide as he moves on her, serpentine, to the beat of the music. Until his own rhythm starts to outpace it.

“Alright… touch me now, El,” he breathes, and she grips him again.

“No’ the head, jus’…” She adjusts her hand. “Aye, tha’s it, jus’ like tha’!”

This time he falls more than leans forward, catching himself with both hands on the headboard as she jerks him in time with their thrusts. He hunches forward, breath coming fast, and then as if it’s drawn up from the very bottom of his being, he begins to come again. He doesn’t shoot far, or much, but the depth of feeling as he calls out to God tells her that this is a very different kind of pleasure than any he’s shared with her before.

Their lips connect and it closes the circuit; their mouths exchange the things they do not say, because they’re not quite ready, or because there are no words. His chest is heaving, and she rests her hand at its center to help him settle. After some time, without breaking the kiss he lifts himself elegantly off her cock. She can tell because it suddenly springs free. Then he sits back on his heels and pulls the condom off her, tossing it to the floor. His fingers quickly unsnap the straps from the ring that holds the dildo in place, and set it free. She understands what he means to do and spreads her legs eagerly, suddenly aware of her own immoderate arousal.

He studies her face as he sinks it into her, and she watches back, eyes widening helplessly. It is so full, so thick, almost too much, but just exactly right. Without looking away from her, he pats a hand around the bed… it returns with the vibrator. She can’t help it, starts to laugh, but when he pauses her head pops up.

“Don’t stop, you’re bloody brilliant! Fuck me six ways, I don’t care if I ever walk again!”

He’s got it buzzing against her clit before she’s done speaking, as the dildo exerts its inexorable pleasure on her. Time seems to bend a little. When release arrives, it’s quick and total, marked by a single shout. Every last thing in her that was holding on lets go all at once. Her body goes still, as if she were floating in clear, sunlit water. She can feel the pulsing in her cunt slow and eventually cease. She opens her eyes and finds his scruffy face, closer than she was expecting. The same smile spreads across both their faces. I see you now.

Chapter Text

Some time later they’ve showered, dressed for bed, and argued over the takeaway menus until Hardy prevailed by expressing hunger for possibly the first time in their long acquaintance. They’re shoulder to shoulder, leaning against pillows and idly watching more Madchester Mondays music videos as they wait for their very late supper to arrive.

Of all the new things they’ve shared this evening, Ellie realizes with surprise that her favorite is the abundance of time. She has never felt this satisfaction before, that they can make love and talk and rest all in one night without cramming it in, needing to rush off, or fearing discovery. Suddenly the future she imagines is no longer composed of late-night exhausted tumbles and furtive texts. If they can be like this together, what else might be possible? She is feeling quiet now, while Hardy has been chattering happily at her in a striking role reversal.

“This one’s some years later than the others, no’ really the same era. An’ frankly it’s a wee bit stupid, but ye’ve gotta admit it’s another perfect tune for tonight, eh?”

“I think it sounds familiar, but that’s all I’ve got. How d’you mean perfect?”

“Ah, wai’ for it…”

Strap on Sally chased us down the alley
We feared for our behinds

He’s laughing at the expression on her face.

“Always thought the Seahorses were wankers, bu’ the next bit’s actually properly sweet.”

Now, we know where we're going, baby
We can lay back and enjoy the ride
Take in the sights and drown in our senses
Love is the law, so, take me deep inside

His expression goes soft as they listen along, and she’s compelled to kiss him for the thousandth time. Their foreheads rest together as they nuzzle, spent and happy.

“Alec?” She asks against his lips.

“Mm?”

“I don’t mean to sound soppy, but.”

He meets her eyes and waits.

“Has it always been like this for you? When you’re with someone? I mean, even in the early days with…anyone, I don’t remember feeling this… this mad, really. Have you, I mean… usually?”

“Ah, well. There’s never been a ‘usually’ in my life, darlin.” He’s lost in frowning memory for a moment, eyes unfocused. Then they snap back to hers. “An’ I haven’t felt like this… in a very long time.”

Her stomach flips. They haven’t said it yet, not as such. Not if you don’t count the pet names, the slips of the tongue, or the countless times they’ve pressed it wordlessly from her body to his, his to hers. She doesn’t say it now, and neither does he. But they know it. And she finally knows for certain what she already suspected: that anybody is capable of real love, given the right circumstances.