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Perks

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“Miller, wake up.” Hardy shakes her gently. It's early, too early for the sun to be up, so probably a little before six, but they've got to sort things out before Fred wakes up. He remembers Daisy at that age, it probably won't be very long, kids don't care about Saturday morning lie-ins. Also, she did talk of round two, and – he's not going to lie – he wouldn't mind if they had time for it.
She's grumbling, turning around in her sleep, exposing her breasts to him, and the idea gets even more appealing.
“C'mon Miller, I'm sorry it's early, but you've got to wake up.”
“Nah.” She smirks, and he knows she's awake, can't help but smile fondly at her making fun of him.
“Yes. There's perks, though.”
She blinks her eyes open. “Oh? Perks, are there?” The eyebrow's back as well, rising sardonically into the tangle of her hair. It's glorious like that, all messed up and bushy. He likes that she's let it grow, it means she doesn't have to keep it tied back all the time, and he finds it wilder, less severe. He's starting to suspect he likes her wild side.
“Yup.” He pops the p, then leans down to kiss her.
She laughs into it, right until she slips a hand through his hair and flips them over. She's on top again, and he's not complaining. Neither of them got dressed last night, so it doesn't take too long for them to get back into the heat of things.

She's rubbing against him, working up into a rhythm that has him fear he'll come before they even get to putting on a condom, when she just stops. She rolls off him and flops onto her back, eyes closed.
Hardy freezes. He can't think of anything he's just done to make her do that and there's been no sudden noise from the kids' rooms.
“Miller?” He asks, uncertain.
“You're freaking out, aren't you?” She pops an eye open.
“'m just a bit worried, things seemed to be getting on alright...” He trails off, tries to school his erection back down. It's inappropriate to be that hard if they're going to have a serious conversation, he thinks.
“Oh yeah, they were.” She smiles, trails a hand down his arm, scratching her nails against his skin.
“But?” Hardy's confused.
“Well, Sir, I seem to be doing an awful lot of work around here, and it is very early. Also, I'd like to remind you I'm a single mother of two, and my boss kept me up indecently late last night.”
He probably doesn't look too bright right now, because she's openly laughing at him. He likes it. He's never been the most playful, but he can see that happening, given a bit more time, he could play into this, the teasing, and the poking fun at each other. She doesn't mean it maliciously or sarcastically, and that's refreshing too. Not that she can't be sarcastic, because she's about as bad as him on that front, but that's not what's happening here. What's happening is, she looks genuinely happy, and he thinks he might be, too.
“Must be a right bastard, your boss, keeping you working all night.”
“Oh, I don't know, there are perks after all.” She says, then she rolls on to her side, pushes her ass against his cock, and it's the end of that conversation.

---

Hardy slips an arm under her, flushes her back against his torso and starts roaming his hands on her skin. He's teasing her now, and she can't even blame him. Fair's fair, she had him on the edge and she cut him off, a little pay back was to be expected.
Still, if he doesn't get his fingers either lower down her belly or fully up on her nipples soon...
“Go on then, touch me, you absolute bastard.” She's losing it. Anticipation is building up, her nipples are hard even though he's not laid a finger on them, and she's already wet from when she's rubbed herself on him, except now she's getting desperate, she can feel the blood cursing through her, a light throbbing between her legs, and his cock against her ass, but he's not doing anything about it.
“Patience, Miller,” he rasps straight into her ear, right before he licks down her throat, biting and sucking on the flesh of her shoulder, fingers dancing on her skin, one hand playing on her hipbone and the other on the soft part of her breast. “And I am touching you.” He adds, much too smugly, she thinks.
“Do not get technical with me now, Hardy.” She bites off, grabbing his left hand and pulling it firmly down where she wants it. He chuckles a little, but complies, swipes his thumb across her clit, sending sparks coursing through her, rubbing at it as his other hand finally goes to her tits, and she stops thinking. He still takes his time with it, does not go any further down until she's shaking against him, clutching at his arm like it's a life line.
“Would you like to come now, Miller?” He whispers into her hear, voice so steady he might have been doing anything else, except she can still feel his cock against her, and he's very much not doing anything else.
She's close, she's so close it wouldn't take much more than a slight change of rhythm or pressure for her to get to orgasm, but that's not what she wants. Yet.

“I want you to fuck me into it.” She sounds spiteful to her own hears, and maybe she is a bit, because he's way too collected and that's just not fair. Her crudeness seems to work though, for Hardy bites a grunt into her shoulder before withdrawing his hands.
“Condoms are just in the drawer under the bed.” She says, so he doesn't lose time looking for them, and gets back to her soon. She can hear him getting ready, hears the drawer opening and closing, the sound of the wrapper, and then he's back against her, a little lower than he was, so he can slip his cock between her thighs.
“Yes?” he asks, even though she's just asked him to fuck her, and in those terms, too.
“Yes!! Would you stop being so fucking gentle with me?”
“Never” he says, but still pushes into her firmly, finally giving into what she wants. What they both want, if the way he's going at it now is any indication. He flips her onto her front so he can set a harder pace, and that's exactly what she's been asking for. He's not harsh, not really, just relentless.
The push and pull of his cock inside her brings her back to the brink in no time, and she pushes back into him, lifts her ass off the bed so he can slip a hand under her. The change of angle has her screaming into her pillow, legs shaking as he ruts into her a few more times before he keels over next to her. He takes care of the condom quickly and lies back, both of them breathing hard, watching as the dawn starts to light up the ceiling.

---

“Well fuck me, Sir, that was nice.” She says, panting a little next to him.
Hardy tries and fails not to smile in satisfaction, and snakes a hand into hers, unwilling to let her go. She squeezes it.
“Maybe tonight, Miller, I'm not twenty anymore.”
“Oh don't be so smug, it's unbecoming.” She turns her head to glare at him, and she's gorgeous. Her face is flushed, her eyes are shining, and if he thought her hair was wild before, it's nothing to what it is now, loose locks falling over her face, a few strands stuck under her, the rest of it fanned out on the sheets. Hardy runs his free hand through it, ends up caressing her cheek.
“I like that you're so bossy.” He says, in a tone much too soft for what they've just done.
“See, I should have had that job.” She retorts, but she runs her fingers softly along his arm, then plants a kiss on his cheek.
“God's sake, Miller. It's been four years.”
“Seems like more, somehow. Feels like it was decades ago.” Hardy hates the quiet sadness in her voice. He knows it will never leave, knows that losing her husband that way is not something that'll ever rest easy with Miller – hopes he can help her live with it, a little better every day.
He doesn't know what to say, so he just turns to her, pulls her hand up to his lips and hopes she knows what he means.

They stay quiet for a while, holding hands in the growing daylight, and then Hardy remembers why he's gotten up so early, and how much there still is to discuss before Fred gets up and finds him naked with his mum.
“So,” he starts, “we've had round two.”
“That we have.” She smiles.
“Should we talk, then?”
“We really should, shouldn't we?” She doesn't sound very keen.
“At least a little? Before Fred gets up? I'm not asking for the drafting of a contract here, just, what do we tell your kids, if anything? And maybe what do we do at work?”
“Right. No, you're right, I just...” She snuggles up to him, and he lets his arms fall around her, automatically, like they've been doing this for years. It all feels very right.
“What?”
“Just liked having you for myself.” She mumbles into his chest, and it would be excellent teasing material, but his heart is melting a little, so he just kisses her hair.
“You have me, love.”
“Good.” She hugs him a bit tighter before relaxing into him. “I think you should go before Fred gets up, give me time to talk to them before we just spring it all on them. Don't think Tom's going to be that surprised, but Fred...”

---

Fred is a bit unclear about his father, is what she doesn't say, because he knows she hasn't talked to him about Joe, and now might be the time to do that, because he needs to be clear on what Hardy is to him, and to her. She can't have that conversation with Hardy around, and even if Tom isn't surprised, he might not like the idea of her having someone very much. Especially not when the someone has had his father arrested for murder.
Miller sighs.
“You don't have to do it right now, you know. Take a day or two to think it over, maybe? Rehearse what you're gonna tell them?” Hardy offers, his hand softly untangling the mess of her hair.
“No. We're going to have to tell the Chief Super on Monday, and once people at work know, it might get back to Tom. He'll be properly mad if he doesn't hear it from me first.” That she's sure of. Tom and her have had it hard – he's still mad at her for smashing his phone, and she might still be mad at him for the porn. Not to mention the whole year he's refused to see her. She needs to be straight with him, establish boundaries now so it doesn't blow up in their faces later.
“Right. Okay. So, is this me off, then?” Hardy sounds quietly reluctant, and she gets it. They're very comfortable here, tangled in her sheets, his skin warm against her, and she doesn't really want him to leave, but it's important they get this right.
“Yes.” She says, and she leans up to kiss him, makes it last long enough that he'll not think she's pushing him away. “Come back tonight?”

“You just try and stop me.” He says as he slips away from her. He stands up, gloriously naked in the sunlight, stares at the room as if he hopes it can be frowned into surrendering his clothes. Miller laughs and gets up too, finds her bra first and puts it on, fishes in a drawer for a fresh pair of knickers and a clean t-shirt, and when she turns back he's half dressed. He's holding his socks in one hand and his belt in the other, and it all feels a bit clandestine, a bit forbidden, and she likes it nearly as much as she hates it. It's a nice thrill, yes, but she doesn't want him to have to sneak out in the early hours. She wants him to leave clothes in her room and a shitty plastic razor in her ensuite, so he can pretend he actually shaves everyday, when she knows he doesn't. (Not that she minds, the stubble on his jaw is very appealing, if a bit scratchy. She can't wait to feel it on her thighs.)
She walks around the bed and kisses him again, feels the muscles of his back and the smoothness of his skin, holds him close a little longer before she has to face her life again.
“Come back tonight, I'll text you when, depending on how it goes with the kids.”
“Right. I'll talk to Daisy, yeah? So maybe you can come over too, sometimes?” He looks so damn hopeful, she kisses him again. It makes him smile, and she still feels privileged about that, that he smiles for her, freely.
“You do that.” She says. “Have a nice day at Ikea.”
Hardy actually grunts. “Good luck with the boys.” He plants a kiss on the top of her head, then he walks to the door, and she hears him go down the stairs, stop midway before coming back up.
“Miller.” He says as he walks back in.
“Sir?”
“I...” He stops, and her heart goes still. “I...” Hardy tries again, breathes in deep, shakes his head. “You've got me”, he says, then nods, and turns back.
Miller just stays there, listens to him go all the way down the stairs, and does not start moving again until she hears the front door click. She's got him.

Chapter Text

Hardy finds his shirt where he's left it – crumpled on the floor by the couch, puts his shoes on and grabs his jacket, all the while trying very hard not to over-analyse what he's just said. He hopes. He hopes they'll make it work, he hopes she wanted him to say what he couldn't. Mostly he hopes she loves him back, because even with quite a bit of evidence in that direction, he'll feel even more elated hearing it for sure. His brain needs hard evidence and confessions. Still, Hardy feels unusually good about the world.

It's not yet seven on a Saturday morning, and the weather is uncharacteristically nice, so he decides to go walk along the cliffs – better to have them under him than looming over his head.
Hardy fully intends to think things through as he walks: prepare a strategy for work, figure out how to tell Daisy, how to interact with Miller's boys, Tom especially, work out how their lives can sync up, how they can balance out working together and being together – except his mind is absolutely quiet.
He'd freak out about that, seeing as he's usually at least mulling over a case, thinking about Daisy and pining after Miller, but he draws another blank. He's just content. Quietly content. He's got no idea how things will work out, but as long as Miller wants him, he's confident it'll be fine.
Hardy rides out on this new-found optimism and goes to fetch Daisy from the Latimers', buys pastries on the way for Beth and the girls.

“What's wrong?” is the first thing Beth says to him, and he frowns.
“Nothing, I've just come to get Daisy, we're riding over to Ikea, apparently I need new bedsheets”. He shrugs. Beth is gawping at him from her front door, which she's still not opening for him.
“It's seven thirty. The girls are asleep, they're teenagers, they'll be asleep another two hours at least.” This dampens his enthusiasm a little more.
“Right. Sorry, didn't mean to wake you. I'll be off, then. Sorry.” Hardy's about to leave when he remembers the croissants. He shoves the bag at Beth, who takes it, more out of reflex than anything else. “Breakfast. For you, and the girls. Tell Daisy I'll be home when she's ready to go, yeah? Right. Thanks. Sorry. Thanks for having her.” He concludes, then turns around and leaves.

Maybe it's a good thing he's not found Daisy up, Hardy muses as he walks home, because he hasn't changed clothes or even taken a shower, and he probably smells like sex.
Most of the time he's in the interview room, Hardy wonders at the never-ending stupidity of people – he listens to suspects' justifications and everything sounds idiotic. People refuse to explain the simplest of their actions, or struggle to come up with a motivation for their unusual behaviour, and it makes him mad, and suspicious.
Right now, though, he'd be hard pressed to explain what's gotten into him. He replays the scene on Beth's porch – her, obviously dressed for a morning run, him, absurdly certain he'd find his daughter up and about at the crack of dawn on a Saturday, pushing croissants at her. No wonder she'd been worried, why else would a cop turn up on her doorstep? Her husband's left after attempting suicide, her son's been killed, and he's never once before called on her socially. Shit. He hopes she isn't too shaken. He'll make sure to ask Miller about it, see if this warrants an apology. Beth's her best friend, he wants to try and get along with her.

Hardy gets home and takes a shower, gets dressed in the few casual clothes he owns and settles on the couch to wait for Daisy. He gets restless after about five minutes, eats a vague piece of toast for breakfast – vague, because he's got no idea what he put on it, tries to focus on a crossword puzzle for all of three minutes, resolves on tidying up a bit, wanders about the house moving things around, adjusting books in their shelves, and generally making everything that less organised. Daisy's never going to be able to find anything anymore. He just wants to go back to Miller.
They've finally gotten things right, when he hadn't even thought there were things to get right, and it's seems unfair that they can't just get lost in each other for a while.

---

When she checks her phone after breakfast, there are two texts waiting for her.
One's from Hardy.

Hardy:Went out walking, thought I'd think things through. Turns out I'm all thought out, there's just you

For someone whose whole brand is being uncommunicative, he's not that bad at this, she thinks.
She doesn't know what to answer. She's got no doubts either – she's told him she'd thought about this and she has, but it's easier for him, Daisy's grown up, and she wants him to have someone, the boys... Well. That's one thing she'll be clearer on tonight. For now though, she goes with cheek.

Hardy:Sure hope it won't be just me tonight.

The other text is from Beth.

Beth:Did you finally get your way with DI Hardy?!!

Miller: What? Why?

Beth:He turned up smiling like an idiot on my doorstep about an hour ago

Beth:Brought croissants

Beth:Got very confused when he understood no one was up.

Beth:Also that's not a no.

Beth:What did you do to him? Shagged his brains out?

Miller: Must have ;)

Beth:ELLIE!!!
Miller: What?! You started it.

Beth:Yeah, but ...

Beth:Well done. Tell me about it soon?
Miller: Sure, don't say anything yet though, gotta tell the boys first.

Beth:Right. Good luck with that.

“Mum?” That's Fred, through the door he's pushing open. She'd sent him to get dressed after breakfast. He's six now, he'll start proper school in September, so she's decided it's time for him to learn how to dress himself. It makes for interesting colour schemes.
“In here Fred, come on, let's see what you picked.” Miller calls to him and he runs in, bare feet tapping on the floor boards, and jumps on the bed where she's been checking her phone. He gets himself up and spins around to show her his green shorts and purple t-shirt combo before settling next to her. He's brought a book for her to read. It's their weekend morning ritual, reading in bed waiting for Tom to emerge.
She'll have to delay it a bit today.
“Fred.” She says, and there must be some tension in her voice because he immediately stops running his fingers along her arm and looks up at her.

“Do you remember much of your dad? He left when you were still just a baby.”
Fred shakes his head no. They never talk about this. He'd asked after his father when he started kindergarten, but she'd told him not to. It's not something she's proud of, but she always felt he was too young to know. He's still too young to know, but when is the right age to learn your father is a murderer and a possible child molester?
“Well. His name is Joe, and he left because I told him to. He's done something very bad, and he's dangerous, so I didn't want him to see you or Tom, do you understand?” She 's trying to keep her voice soft, hopes he won't ask what bad thing exactly.
“I thought mums and dads were in love.” Fred frowns up at her.
“They are, usually. And we were, but I didn't know about the bad thing, and when I learned, I didn't love him anymore. Sometimes that happens, people stop loving other people.”
“Because they do bad things?” Fred asks, and he sounds scared.
“Not always no, sometimes love just... fades away. But not parents' love, it's a different kind, you don't have to worry about that.” She kisses the top of his head, and he seems to relax a bit.
“Okay.”

“What did my dad do?” Fred asks after a minute or so. Miller takes in a deep breath.
“Well. You know Beth, right? She had a son too, along with Chloe and Lizzie, his name was Danny. Danny was a friend of Tom's, and Joe...” She closes her eyes. Opens them again. “Joe killed Danny.”
“Why?” Fred asks, because death is not yet a thing that scares him, or that he makes sense of. Miller packs in all the emotions that resurface every time she has to think about Joe, and tries to answer that. Why?
“I'm not sure, Fred. Joe said he was in love with Danny, and Danny wasn't so it made him mad and he attacked him. But... You know grown-ups can't be in love with children, right? Not the way they're in love with other grown-ups.”
Fred is nodding very seriously through all this, taking all this information in stride.
“Yeah, I know, Miss Thompson told us.” He shrugs. Of course, the teacher told them. Since Danny, all sorts of prevention programs have been implemented, some of them at Beth's initiative.
“Good.”

“Can we read the story now?” Fred asks when she doesn't go on.
“Not yet, love, I've got something else to tell you.”
“Okay.”
“So, I just told you sometimes grown-ups fall out of love, and it's sad. But the good thing is, most of the time, people who've fallen out of love, well... They find someone else and they fall in love with them instead.”
Fred is listening, she knows, because he's pulling at his shorts' hem, and it's something he does to concentrate.
“And you know Hardy? Uncle Alec? Mum's working partner?” Hardy's her boss, but Fred just knows they work together, and she doesn't see the point in complicating this any further.
“Yeah?” Fred frowns, like he can't see the link between the two.
“Well, that's who Mum's fallen in love with now.” She tells Fred, even though she hasn't told anyone yet, barely admitted it to herself. He won't get how momentous the occasion is, but he will understand it better that way, and it still feels good to say it.
“Why?” Fred asks, because of course he does. Why? Miller knows, and doesn't. Hardy is... Hardy's solid. Trustworthy. Inflexible and stubborn, sharp-focussed and distracted. Hardy is soft, she now knows, and generous. He's hurt, and righteous, and angry. But mostly, maybe, Hardy understands her, and doesn't judge her.

“He's nice.” Is what she tells Fred. He's not. Hardy is not nice, generally speaking. He's nice to her, but most of the time he's too focussed on some greater goal to be nice to people. She briefly thinks that this might mean he's focussing on her, and it tugs nicely at her heart strings.
“He got me ice cream that one time he came to get me from school.” Fred tells her, nodding his assent.
“See?” She says, too cheerfully. You over compensate, four-years-ago Hardy says in her mind, but she shushes him away. “So, that means we're going to see a lot more of Hardy around, and maybe sometimes Mum'll kiss him, or hold his hand.” Fred nods some more. “Is that okay with you then?” Miller asks, just to make sure. Fred is an easy child, nothing seems to faze him much, but still.
“Okay.” Fred shrugs and presses his books into her hands. He's going through an obsession with Where the Wild Things Are, and she'd recite it for him instead of reading, but he corrects her when she misremembers, so she's got to go at it seriously.

---

“Beth said you came by early?” Daisy asks as she comes in. He's finally settled down, reading the paper on the couch, and she steps right up to him, through the open veranda doors.
“Yeah, lost track of time.” Hardy says, and it's true, in a way.
“That's for when you're late. Not for when you stop by before eight on a Saturday.” Daisy frowns curiously at him. Is he like this? Does he have mutliple frowns? Miller would say yes, probably. He'll ask her.
“Just wanted to get going on that Ikea trip.” Hardy tries, knowing full well she'll call bullshit, but he's embarassinlgy giddy about it all and he doesn't know how to express it.
“Really, dad?” Daisy puts a hand on her hip and raises an eyebrow at him. She looks freakishly like her mother, and his mother, and possibly every mother in the world trying to get through an obvious lie. It still works.
“Nah.” Hardy gives up. “I. Huh. Sit down Daise.” He thought it'd be easier. Daisy knows about Miller, or at least she knows that he likes Miller, so there's no reason why she shouldn't be thrilled by the news, but talking about his feelings has never been his strong suit. Daisy sits down, looking a little worried.
“So. You know how we talked about me dating?”
“Yeah.” She lits up, sits a little straigther next to him. Hardy straigthens up too.
“Well. You were right. Turns out I was not that interested in the women I went with.”
“Because of Miller?” Daisy smirks at him. She's earned it, he lets it pass.
“Because of Miller.” Hardy nods. But doesn't go on.
“So... Does that mean you're together now? Wait. Did you come get me at Chlo's directly from Miller's?”
“Aye.” Hardy smiles up at her, his daughter. She's an adult now, technically, but right now she looks like an over-excited kid on Christmas morning.
She squeals, then hugs him. Hardy smiles uncertainly, she hasn't been that joyful in a while, and he's got no idea what do with it, so he hugs her back. He's happy for her, mostly, glad that she's regained some of her liveliness.

“Can I tell Chloe?” Daisy asks him as they stroll through Ikea, marking down references with their too-small wooden pencils.
“About you and Miller?” She clarifies when Hardy fails to respond. He's been trying to understand the difference between all the lightbulbs. He needs lightbulbs, the screw-on kind, why are there so many? Used to be screw-on or bayonet, now it's all about Lumens, and Hardy feels old.
“Daise. I can't with the lightbulbs, pick one, I give up. I'm old.”
She laughs at him. “I think you need a meatball break.”
“Maybe I do. I think I had toast for breakfast, but this place is wrong Daise, it sucks all the energy out of you.”
“I like it.” Daisy says, but stirs him away from the lights and through the maze, somehow honing in on the cafeteria.

“So can I?” She asks again, dragging a meat ball through some sauce.
“Can you what?” Hardy's lost the plot, he's been texting Miller about the lightbulbs. She sympathises.
“Tell Chlo about you and Miller.” Daisy rolls her eyes at him. Again.
“Not yet, darling. She needs to talk to the boys first. Well. Fred's alright about it apparently, but she hasn't spoken to Tom yet.”
“Oh.” Daisy nods, like she understands. “Yeah. I wasn't too keen on Dave at first. I had a point though, considering.” She shrugs. They've never talked about this. She hadn't even known about Tess cheating until a year ago. He suspects her finding out has a lot do with her coming to live with him.
“Let it go Daise, let your mum be happy, yeah? You can't live with the maybes and the what ifs. Chances are, we would have broken up anyway, eventually.”
“Right.” She looks a bit sad now, and he's sorry.
“Hey. It's alright, okay? I'm all fixed, and Tess's doing well, and I'm doing well. We're both happier now, that's what matters.”
“I guess.” She shrugs some more. “It's just. Everybody seems to break up all the time, like Chloe's mum and dad, or you and mum, and I... I don't want to have to do that.”
He frowns at his plate.
“Hold up Daise. What do you mean? Is there a boy? Or a girl? Someone you don't want to break up with?” Hardy can hear himself go into full protective mode, but he can't really stop.
“Nah, dad. Calm down. I was just saying, it's sad.” Daisy shrugs some more, then smiles at him. “I swear, the day there is actually someone I'm going to have to hide them from you.”
“Right. Sorry. I'll work on that, please don't hide, I'll rein in the detective.”
“Yeah, like you can.”
“I'm trying Daise.”
“I know. It's alright, at least I know you've got my back.”
“Always.”

---

“You can't.” Tom crosses his arms in a definite sort of way.
“I can Tom, and I will. I wish you were happy for me, or at least okay with it, but I'm not asking for your permission.” Miller tries to keep her calm. Tries not to feel too hurt. Mostly she fails. She's sat Tom down after his breakfast, when she judged him awake enough to have a talk. She thought it'd be easier to tell him straight, and so she has, and there they are.
“Why would I be happy? He's the worst!” Tom seems oddly earnest, like he really doesn't understand.
“No he's not! Look, I understand things are a bit tense, because of Joe, but I thought you'd finally come round. You know your Dad is guilty, Tom, you can't be mad at Hardy forever because he's the one who found out.”
“What? No. That's not what I mean.” He looks at her, confusion clear in his eyes, and quite a bit of hurt too. Shit.
“Oh. What did you mean?” Miller forces the harshness in her voice to subside, they've been fighting more than enough lately.
“I mean...” Tom bits his lip. “I mean, Hardy's... Look. I know you're sort of friends, because you work together and all, but he's a dick.”
“Language!” Miller says automatically, but a part of her is relieved. If that's the gist of Tom's objection, they'll be fine.
“And no, he's not.”
“Yeah, Mum, he is! He never smiles, he barely talks to people, he's never nice to anyone that's not Daisy, he yells at you all the time!! He's mean to you, he's got your job, and he doesn't like anyone! You can't be with that guy, Mum. You just can't.” Tom deflates a little, looks up at her with big eyes, and she can see him as he was, a little boy eager to please and slightly over-caring. He's worried. He's worried Hardy isn't going to treat her right. Even after all the yelling and grounding, and smashing of computers, even after what Joe did to them, Tom is trying to look after her.
“Okay. I see where you're coming from.” She really does, from what he's seen of their interactions, that's a very fair conclusion for Tom to draw. “But you're wrong.” Tom tries to speak again, but she cuts him short. “No, you are. Hardy may not be the easiest person to be around, I'll give you that, but he's not mean, he's mostly just a big bear. Grouchy, grumpy, slightly terrifying, but also very soft and cuddly.” She must make a face then, because Tom goes, “Huh, Mum! Gross.”
“Oh hush. I mean it, Tom. I know he seems hard, but I know him better than you do, and you've got nothing to worry about. I trust him. I really do, and there's not a lot of people I would say that about, not anymore.”
Tom nods.
“Alright.” He doesn't sound too enthusiastic about it, or very convinced either, but it's as far as they're going to get today.
“Alright.” She smiles up at him and he shrugs, then goes up to his room, to do whatever teenagers do with no phones and no computers. Maybe he's reading. He used to read a lot, before Joe.

As the afternoon goes by, Hardy texts her. He tells her about the apparent hell that is Ikea on a Saturday, about Daisy's choice of curtains, about how he wishes she were there. He asks if her day's going well, and if she needs something from Ikea. She says lightbulbs.

Chapter Text

Hardy is blushing. Properly blushing, like an embarrassed high schooler. And yes, it's probably due to the fact that she's been snogging him against the door for the last two minutes, but it's still adorable.
“Right.” He says, tugging at the hair on his nape. “Haven't changed your mind, then?”
“I might if you keep asking.”
“Sorry.” More rubbing of his neck.
“It's alright, Sir, acclimation time, I suppose.”
Hardy just nods. He's still blushing, his left hand still rests on her hip. Miller grabs it and drags him to the couch, then leaves him there to go make tea.

When she comes back he's typing on his phone, sitting sideways, bare feet on the couch. He looks decidedly domestic, even more so because he's not wearing a suit. The last time she's seen him without a suit – apart from last night – was after his surgery, and he'd looked so frail then, so exhausted, and they'd been so deep into the Sandbrook case that she hadn't noticed how good he looked in civilian clothes. She does now. He looks great, soft and relaxed. He's also putting down his phone and smiling tenderly at her, and she hands him his mug to avoid having to deal with it.
“There. Tea.”
“Thanks Miller.”
“Thought you didn't like tea.”
“Why'd you make me one then?” He frowns at her, it's a gentle one.
“Spite?”
“Alright.” He nods, then takes a sip, and maybe he does like tea after all, because he sighs contentedly and nestles further into the cushions, like a giant gangly cat. She plops down next to him.

“How did it go, then? With Tom?” He asks after a few minutes of silent sipping. His free hand is on hers, his thumb tracing idle patterns on her skin. He moved it there gradually, like a teenager working on a move. It's endearing how tentative he is with it all, even as he's clearly all in. Miller suspects he's giving her time, even though she hasn't asked, and some part of her baulks at being handled so carefully. A bigger part of her is lucid enough to admit that she needs it.
“Huh. Well. He thinks you're a dick.” Hardy's thumb stops moving. “But he's not against me dating in general, and he's said 'alright' so... Could have gone worse, I guess.” Miller looks at Hardy. He's frowning, obviously, in what she thinks is a vaguely worried way, but he's also smiling, and she doesn't quite know what to make of it. He resumes his petting.
“Aye. Might have a point, too.” Hardy says finally, and sips some more tea.
“Not to me.” She tells him. It's important that he knows this.
“Not on purpose.” He shifts on the couch, puts his mug down. “I know how I am Miller, especially working cases, you can't deny I get...”
“Snappy?” She offers when he trails off, because, yeah, he does.
“Dickish.” He says. “And we'll need to find a way around that. Wouldn't want the job to get to us.” Hardy is not looking at her anymore, and there's tension in his voice.
“It won't. Look, sir, I do know how you get, and it didn't stop me from wanting you. I'm not saying we won't argue, or even fight, because let's be real, you're about as headstrong as they come, and I'm not so far behind. You'll get grumpy when I'm over-cheery and I'll get mad when you're being a grumpy knob. So, what's new, really?” Miller delivers this entire speech to the TV, because he's still not looking at her, and she doesn't want to push it. He lets her escape vulnerability, she can give him this.
“Everything.” He brings her hand to his lips, ghosts a kiss on it. Miller's heart melts.
“See. I'm not worried about you getting harsh with me, didn't know you'd be a romantic.” She looks at him now, and their eyes meet briefly before he looks away.
“Me neither.”

“Tell you what,” she says, since he still looks concerned about their tempers clashing, “things get bad, there's always make-up sex.” That makes him look up. He's smirking at her now, and that's easier to deal with.
“Oh, is there?”
“Yeah, but not now, we haven't had a fight, have we?” He laughs then and plants a kiss on her temple before he gets his tea back from where he's left it on the floor.
“Fair enough.”

“How was your day, then?” She asks, and is once again hit by the domesticity of this, even if she's not yet comfortable about having him around the kids, even if it's barely been twenty-four hours.
“I'm never going back there Miller, it's just too big. And skyless. And endless. Endless bits of fake homes, Miller.” He shakes his head, possibly in disbelief at the very existence of Ikea. She smiles at him. “Daisy liked it though, got loads of stuff for her room, and some new things for the kitchen. We had meatballs. It was nice.”
“Good. Where's she tonight?” She's not a Beth's, Miller knows, because Beth has agreed to take Fred for the night, and Tom is sleeping at a friend's. A friend whose parents she knows.
“Home. She says hi, and also, I quote, 'don't mess this up, dad.'” He looks actually worried, and Miller briefly curses Daisy, who doesn't really deserve it.
“Well, at least she's in favour.”
“She's more than in favour, love, she predicted this. She's invested, like I'm a bloody soap opera. Very embarrassing actually, she's taking an active interest. Insisted I got new bed sheets.” He shakes his head again. “She's eighteen. Can't know about bed sheets yet.”
“Oh, come on! She's more than old enough.” Eighteen is actually a shade older than average to get wondering about bed sheets. She laughs at his scandalised face.
“She's a wee girl, Miller.”
“She's an adult. Technically.”
“Does she have to be? I missed so much of it, she was fourteen when I left Sandbrook. Doesn't seem that long ago.” There's regret on his face, and she doesn't think it's something she can help with. She's lost a year with Tom, and there's no making up for that.
“Tell me about it...”

Four years ago, Miller's worked out, about at the same time Tess was screwing up the Sandbrook case, Joe was starting to meet with Danny in private. She must tense at that because Hardy puts a hand on her shoulder .
“Sorry.”
“Don't be. We can't just pretend it's never happened. At least you know why I shut you off.” At least she doesn't have to explain. How would that even go? 'So... My ex-husband, who I know for sure was guilty, has been acquitted of the murder of a child, and it really gets to me sometimes. About twice daily.' Smooth.
“Miller,” Hardy tells her, “it's alright. I mean. It's not, but it doesn't have to be.”
“Right.” Miller shakes her head. “Yeah. Moving on, then. Has Daisy never had a boyfriend?”
Hardy takes the change of subject in stride, goes straight back to his protective stance.
“I suppose she has. Why else would she take that picture?” He clenches his jaw at the thought, and she's ready to slap those boys right alongside him. “Never met anyone though, she seems to think I'd scare them off.”
“Can't think why.” Miller grins at him.
“Aye. 'Suppose that's fair.”
“You're being ridiculous, how old were you when you had your first serious girlfriend?” Miller asks, and finds that she's actually curious, she knows very little of his childhood, apart from the fact that he'd come here for the holidays, and that she hasn't missed much by never meeting his father.
Hardy's not answering. He's looking shiftily away from her.
“You bloody hypocrite. How old?”
“... Fourteen.” Hardy pushes a hand through his hair. “But see, that was different, I didn't ... I was... I...”
“If you say you were a boy, Sir, I hope you know I will kick you in the shins.”
He closes his mouth somewhat guiltily. “Yeah. Okay. Can I at least hope she gets a good one?”
“Would also kick you in the shins if you didn't.”
“What is it with you and shins?”
“Painful. Easy to reach, no lasting damage. Genderless. Perfect kicking spot, really.”
He huffs a laugh at that, pulls her into his side. “You can tell Tom he's got nothing to worry about, you clearly have it covered. I'll behave.”
“I know.”

“So, fourteen?” She can barely picture him at fourteen. Hardy doesn't seem like he's ever been a kid. Maybe that's sad, but it feels reassuring to her, makes him safer somehow, reliable.
“Her name was Sian. Her dad used to get drunk with mine, 's how we met, fetching them smashed from the pub. Real fairy tale.”
“Sorry.”
“Nothing you can do.” Hardy shrugs against her. “She was nice though, a bit older, very patient.”
“So, not like me.” Miller teases.
“Nah. But I'm not fourteen anymore, I should be alright.” He plants a kiss in her hair.
“Can't imagine you ever were a kid.”
“Didn't like it much, Da got drunk, Mum got mad, it was all before people got divorced, so I just endured. Got worse when the pits closed, obviously.” Hardy tenses like every miner's child in the country. Miller makes a note of asking him about Thatcher, if she ever needs a distraction.
“Of course. Tell me more about Sian, then.” What she wants to know, really, is how Hardy was at fourteen, but it'll be easier for him to talk about someone else, and she can deduct the rest. Miller feels briefly guilty about using interviewing techniques, but he knows them as well as she does, and he'll dodge it if he wants to.
“Sian was... Sixteen, I think, or maybe she just seemed older, her Ma was dead, see? So she sort of stood in for her with the rest of her siblings. I guess I was a nice bit of escape from that. Anyway, she had plans, wanted to get a degree, get out of there and never come back. She's the first person I met who made it sound possible.”
“That's nice.” Miller shifts a little, he's warm and strong against her, and she's considering falling asleep to the sound of his voice.
“Aye. We got talking waiting for our Das to pay up, and after a while we'd just give them time for a last one, clear up some time to go on a walk or something.”
“Or something?”
“Are you angling for the juicy details there, Miller?” He asks, laughing into her hair.
“Maybe. I'm just thinking, Daisy would love to hear the story of how you lost your virginity on a walk behind the pub, at fourteen.”
“Don't you dare tell her that. And also no, she was a classy girl, I'll have you know, we had a picnic, with an actual blanket. Sian brought the blanket, I was put in charge of condoms, it was all very proper.”

“Oh, well, if it was proper then...” Miller goes for teasing, but she's also thinking of Tom, and the porn on his phone, of Leo Humphries and Michael Lucas, and it's hard to see this story as just a cute teenage romance, and it probably shows in her tone.
“I know.” Hardy says, “I know fourteen's young, I know it all sounds a bit sordid form here, desolate mining town and drunk fathers, but we were in love I think, and we didn't rush into it, just seemed right. Stayed together until she left for uni. Sometimes it is, you know? Right.” He shifts a little to look at her, lays a soft hand on her cheek.
Miller tries not to tense, her brain has gone to the place where every man is a potential predator and she doesn't want to add Hardy to the list. She knows he's right, she does, but the statistics get to her, and the case, and Joe. She feels the tears come, and her first instinct is to stop them. She bits her lip and she wipes her eyes, determined to just push through, but Hardy is not having it. He pulls her into his chest, and she lets go, cries silently into his jumper as he pets her hair, murmuring sweet nonsense into it.
“Right.” She says, some time later, once she's regained some composure. She wipes at her eyes and Hardy hands her what's left of her tea.
“I'm sorry, Miller”, he says, like he's the one who just had a meltdown in the middle of a normal conversation.
“What for?” She snaps, she doesn't want him to feel sorry for her.
“Sorry I can't help.” He looks at her, and she can see her own exhaustion reflected on his face: the bags under his eyes, the worry lines on his face, the sorrow in his eyes. The sadness. He's angry, yes, but he's also genuinely sad, about Danny, about Peppa and Lisa, about Trish and about Daisy, about Miller too. He's sad for all the victims he thinks he's failed, and all the ones he doesn't know. Miller fell for Joe because he was lively and enthusiastic, and now Hardy gets sad, and she loves him for it. Compassion, she thinks. Maybe that's what she craves.

---

“Where's your dad, by the way?” Hardy asks, after he's gone and made fresh tea. Miller has calmed down, and they're back snuggling on the couch. “Have you finally sent him home?” He should have asked about that earlier. Like, yesterday earlier, when she'd got him half-naked in the living room.
David has been staying in his daughter's spare room for months now, riding the fine line between being useful as a live-in baby sitter and driving Miller crazy with his conservative horse shit. Hardy is actually relieved he's not around, there's very little chance that David would approve of this. Fathers, he thinks, hypocritically.
“Yes. I love my dad, I do, and I know Mum's death hit him pretty hard, but Tom cannot grow up hearing what Dad has to say about women. Or gay people. Or foreigners. Or unemployed people. Tom cannot grow up thinking like his granddad. Or his dad.” Miller gets agitated, sits straight up on the couch, turns to face him and says. “Shit. Tom cannot grow up.”
“See? Told you. They're better off as bairns.” As long as they don't die. Being a father is the hardest thing Hardy's ever done, every instinct he has screams at him that the world is dangerous, that no child should be brought forward into it, that if they are anyway, they should live in padded rooms, for their own protection. Every logical cell in his brain fights back. He knows Daisy needs to grow up, see the world, get hurt, push back and learn. He'd rather keep her home forever.
“Are they?” Miller asks, and the spectres of all the children they couldn't save seem to pass between them.
“Things don't seem as bleak, do they? When you're a child?” He tries, despite his own memories of boredom and entrapment.
“Ignorance is bliss, you mean?” Miller pauses to sip at her mug. “It really was.” And here's Joe again, and everything they've got to learn to live with. Hardy doesn't know what to say.
He knew, going in, that there would be times like these, where the past and the cases would weigh them down. He wants to hold her and hole up until the world disappears, until she can forget, and he can rest, but that's not how things work.
“Tell me about it?” He asks, and hopes that's not a terrible idea.
“Joe?” She frowns.
“If you want.”

Miller scoots away on the couch, until her back hits the armrest and her feet are on his lap. “Alright.” She looks away from him, speaks to the black square of night through the window. “It was easy. We met, and we kept glancing stupidly at each other, until he asked me out, and of course I went. I couldn't not go, you know? Nothing else made sense.” Hardy nods. He knows, he's felt like that before, long ago with Sian, and with Tess. He feels like that now, too.
“Things went pretty fast after that, moved in together, after what, three months? We were absurdly in love, we were friends. Best friends. Told each other everything.” Miller's voice is heavy with feeling. “Well. Not everything, clearly.” She bites out, and the feelings are gone.
“I know.” He says, and he'll keep on saying, for as long as she needs to hear it. He knows she hadn't known. He believes her.
“About a year in, I said I thought we should have kids, and so we did, and he said, we should do things properly, and we got married. I was six months pregnant on the wedding day, it rained like hell and we had a great time. I loved him so much, I didn't think twice about saying yes, or about taking his name. I mean. You've met my dad, I wasn't that keen on his either.” She shrugs, and sips some more tea. Hardy does too, it gives him something to do as he wonders how he's ever going to live up to that.
“Even after Tom was born, deep into the sleepless nights and the nappies, we barely ever argued. I mean, we did, like everybody else, but it wasn't ever serious, and it never lasted. I took some time off work for Tom, so when Fred came along – bit of a happy accident there – Joe said it was his turn, and I was angling for that promotion, so it just made sense.”
“Aye.” There's not much he can say, but it's not needed, Miller's on a roll, she just keeps going.
“He was always supportive, no bullshit about being a stay at home dad and feeling diminished by it or anything. He loved to cook, and we had big dinners with friends, and we went on holidays, and...” Miller looks aways from the window and turns to face him, and Hardy can see she's about to cry again. He extends a hand towards her, lays it palm up between them. She takes it. “We were happy, actually. Happily married, twelve years in. And I miss it sometimes. I miss him sometimes, and I hate myself for it. He's a fucking child murderer.” She's gripping his hand hard enough that it hurts now, but he doesn't move. He looks at her, and he's in awe. It's a miracle she's still standing, fighting for herself, and her boys, and for all the people she tries to help through the job.
“Don't.” He says.
“What?”
“Hate yourself. Don't. None of it was your fault, your whole normal was snatched away from you. I'd be concerned if you didn't miss it sometimes.”
“Right. Doesn't it worry you, though? Shouldn't I be telling you about how great I think you are and how good you make me feel?” There's a hint of teasing in Miller's voice, as much as there's actual concern and guilt.
“Nah.” Hardy shrugs.

“Want to know why I got back to Tess?” He offers, hopes it might even things out.
“I assumed it was for Daisy.”
“It was, mostly, but not only. I... I loved Tess, you know. I was bad at it, got lost in the job, got obsessed with cases, even before Sandbrook, but I did. Even after Dave.” He can't help but grunt. Cheating is beyond him. “And when I got my heart fixed, and you'd solved the case...”
“We solved the case.” Miller says, but she's wrong. He'd been at it for near on two years and he'd missed what she found.
“After you solved the case,” he persists, “I thought I might have a chance to start fresh, thought I could do it better this time. I was wrong. I'm meant to be here.” He's convinced of this. He's not religious. Hardy was raised vaguely in the Kirk, but feels that if there's a god, they've got a lot to answer for, and not much reason to be worshipped. Still, he's never been as certain of anything, he's meant to be in Broadchurch, working petty crime and the occasional hard case under those bloody great cliffs. With Miller. “I'm meant to be here, with you, doing this job, taking care of Daisy. Taking care of you, if you'll let me.”
“I'm not fragile, for Pete's sake! I don't need taking care of.” Miller lets his hand go.
“I know.” She's not looking at him, she's glaring at the night, jaw squared, mouth set. Hardy sighs. “I'm not saying you'll break without me Miller, I'm just saying, I'm here, if you want me.” He slides a tentative hand up her leg, rests it on her knee. She joins him there, still looking out of the window.
After a while, maybe a few minutes, Hardy isn't sure, Miller relaxes. She moves back against him, kisses his cheek and says. “I do. Want you, I mean. Sorry.”
Hardy hugs her closer. “Don't be.”

Chapter Text

“Bed?” Miller breaks the silence. It's not tense anymore, they've been cuddling on the couch for the last quarter of an hour.
“Sure.” He entangles himself from her, picks up their mugs and takes them to the kitchen to rinse them out. When he comes back to the living room, she's already gone up. Hardy takes his bag upstairs and joins her. She's brushing her teeth in the ensuite when he gets to the bedroom, and he suddenly feels like an intruder. That's Miller's nightly routine, and he doesn't know how he fits in it. He pretends to be busy retrieving his own toothbrush, but his bag contains only that and a change of clothes, he can't really play for time long.
“Don't be shy, then, come on, plenty of room for the both of us to spit.” Miller calls from the bathroom. The phrasing is a bit crass, and that's what helps. It's just Miller. Miller in a new capacity, but just Miller. They're friends. Are they friends? Hardy isn't sure, he doesn't have friends anymore, he's left everybody behind. But Miller does, and she used to be friends with Joe, and he wants them to have that too. Not to replace him, of course, but he wants her to be as happy as she was, if differently, and being endlessly awkward won't help. He goes in to brush his teeth. Miller has pulled her hair up in a loose bun, and changed into a baggy t-shirt, she has toothpaste foaming at the corner of her mouth that she's trying to rinse out. She's gorgeous.
“There you go” she says, and hands him the toothpaste before going back to the bedroom.
Hardy brushes his teeth, then dithers about what to do with his toothbrush. Does he take it back to his bag? Does he leave it there? Isn't that a bit presumptuous?
“Are you investigating my bathroom?” Miller calls from the room, and he snaps out of it, leaves the toothbrush on the edge of the sink, not in Miller's glass by the mirror, and calls it a night.

She's already in bed, pretending to read. He knows she's pretending, because the tension in the room is absurd. They've had sex twice already, and she'd been quite intent on having him against the door earlier, and he might have let her, only he'd found he also wanted to talk to her, sit with her and have a normal quiet evening, for once. Either way, they're not blushing virgins, and they've already crossed that line, so why does it feel so strange to get undressed now? Hardy wonders as he sits on the bed, pulls off his socks and undoes his belt. Maybe because he's doing it alone, while she's feigning indifference, and they can't put any of it on raw lust anymore. Or maybe because he'd love for her to get involved, and he doesn't know how to ask.
Hardy finally gets his jeans off, and slips under the cover next to her. He's barely settled down that she's rolled onto him, laid her head on his chest.
“Didn't think you'd sleep with a t-shirt on.” She says, as her bare legs meet his.
“Didn't want to assume.”
“Really?” She pushes herself up to look at him. She's smiling at him like he's endearingly stupid.
“Really.”
“Maybe Beth's right, maybe I did fuck your brains out.” Miller teases, as her hand snakes up the plane of his stomach. It's warm, and soft, and it leaves a trail of goosebumps in its wake.
“You told Beth about this too?” He asks, somewhat petulantly, even as he slips a hand through her hair.
“Guessed it herself. What were you thinking going to fetch Daisy at the crack of dawn?” Bloody small town talk. Hardy's about to make some snarky comment on the subject, but she's raking her nails around his left nipple, and it feels too good for snark.
“Wasn't thinking, that's the point. I'm glad Beth's alright, I was afraid I'd scared her.”
“It was rather stupid of you, Sir, showing up so early. You're just a cop to her.” Miller tugs on his t-shirt, and he obligingly lifts off the bed so she can pull it off. She throws it away somewhere. “For now.” She adds, and bites down on his flesh, where his shoulder meets his neck. Hardy grunts – she's not being tender, and he's not complaining, it sends heat straight down to his cock.
“Right.” He says, as he slides a hand up her side, “maybe don't make it bruise, love, still need to talk to the boss on Monday.”
“That's what ties are for, Sir, anything under that is fair game.” She says, but eases up, licks at the spot before kissing her way down to his pecs. Her mouth finds his nipple, and he has to stifle a moan.
“Kids are away, Sir” Miller says, “no need to be quiet.” She's pinching at the bud now, which makes him bite off another moan, on principle, and because he's not used to being vocal in bed. Or anywhere.
“You're enjoying this way too much, Miller.”
“Rather thought it was the point, but I can stop if you want.” Miller withdraws her hand, goes so far as taking his hand out of her t-shirt. Hardy puts it right back and pulls her into a messy kiss.
“Don't.”
“Thought so,” she smirks, and straddles him before leaning down to resume her suckling. She pushes his arms down on his sides, in a way that makes it clear to him that she wants them to stay there, and he's happy to let her have him. He's not just happy, he's also incredibly hard, his cock's twitching with every flick of her tongue, every scratching of nail against his skin, and he's panting hard by the time she leaves his nipples alone and licks down to his navel. She looks up at him, openly smug. Her own tits are showing through the thin material of her worn out t-shirt and she's got both thumbs hooked into his boxers. Hardy pushes himself up on his elbows, and she leans down, takes his mouth fiercely before asking, “Are you clean, Sir?” Fuck.
“Probably. Can't say for sure.” He says, and entirely regrets that one night stand. Miller frowns at him, then smirks.
“Oooooh. That date you went on! You did kiss her after all! No condoms?”
“Of course yes, but still, we shouldn't risk it, you never know.”
“Right. Shame. I was looking forward to getting a taste of that.” She says, like it's a perfectly mundane thing to talk about.
“Could taste you instead.” He offers.

“Not today, Sir, I quite like being the boss of you, can't do that if I lose my ability to think.” Miller pulls his boxers down, and starts running a finger up his cock, except running is the wrong word, because she does it as slowly as she can, watching him as he watches her touch him.
“Right.” Hardy's own brain functions are shutting down. When she finally gets to the tip and fists a hand around him, he closes his eyes so he can focus on the feeling.
“Didn't work out then?” Miller asks, as she settles into a slow rhythm, “your date, I mean.”
Hardy opens his eyes. She's doesn't seem jealous, she's just making conversation, like she would by the coffee machine at work. It's infuriating, especially because it does something for him, this strange normalising of sex. She's focussed, he knows, because her hand doesn't falter and her cheeks are flushed red, but she's playing at indifference, and he suddenly wants her to lose control.
“Nah.” Hardy bites off, it's getting harder to keep his hands to himself.
“Why not?” She swipes her thumb across his cock head.
“Wasn't you, was she?” Miller's hand stills. She comes to lie next to him, and he rolls on his side to face her.
“I think you should kiss me now.” She says, but she's lost her aplomb to softness. He obliges, finds her lips soft against his, takes his time deepening the kiss. He can move now, so he does, wraps an arm around her waist and finds her face with his free hand.

It's a different kind of heat, less pressing, less urgent, but possibly more intense. Miller is scratching through his hair as he sucks on her left tit. He's only pushed her t-shirt up, not off, her other breast is still covered, and he rubs at it through the fabric. She's pressing his face to her chest, urging him on, and he's not sure who's enjoying it more, but he wants it to be her so he slides a hand down her side, gets under her knickers and stops just above her clit. He can feel how wet she is from the dampness of the cotton and the slick that's smeared in her pubes, but he waits for her to buck her hips into his hand before he pushes his fingers down and inside her.
Miller rolls on her back, spreads her legs wider and kicks her knickers off, so he can move better. As he slides his fingers slowly in and out of her, trying to hit the right spots, Hardy takes a moment to look at her. Her hair has mostly slipped out of its bun, her eyes are wide and glassy with pleasure and she's panting slightly, mouth open, lips reddened and plump. Her right breast is still clothed somehow, and it's obscene, more so than if she'd been fully naked. He loves it. She looks wild, unhinged almost, and he sees it as an act of trust. She feels good enough around him that she can let go, and it's everything he'll ever want from her. Hardy drags two fingers down her cheek and along her bottom lip. She bites at them, then gets sucking and he can't help but rut his cock into her side, tries to find some relief in the friction he gets. It's not enough, and his arm is bent at a vaguely painful angle, but seeing her like that is worth it, and he can wait. He'll be patient for her, always.
He slips his fingers out of her, uses the wetness on them to rub at her clit, and Miller tenses, grabs at his arm to keep him still.
“No.” She says around his fingers – he withdraws his hand, “Not yet. More.” She makes a vague but explicit grab for his cock. Hardy takes his hand off her, and rolls to the edge of the bed for the condom box. She comes after him, moulds her body to his back. She peppers kisses along his spine as he rolls the condom on, and when he's ready he turns in her arms, lifts her right leg over his hip. It's not the easiest position but this way he can kiss her, and he does exactly that as she guides him in, both of them shuddering when he bottoms out.
They drag it out – Miller rolling her hips languidly against him, his hands roaming along her back, grasping at her ass, clutching at her hair, her nails digging into his shoulders, her mouth hot and wet against his neck, him grunting, her panting and moaning– until he can't hold it any longer and he lets go with a groan, stilling deep inside her. She kisses him through it, then disentangles herself from him long enough to take the condom off. Hardy watches her through the fog in his head, he's utterly spent. Miller considers the tied up condom in her hand and tosses it off the bed. He wouldn't have dared, but it's her bedroom and her floor, and he's got more important things on his mind. She hasn't come yet.
“C'me here, Miller.” He mumbles as he pulls her back against him. He slips an arm under her waist, snakes his hand up to her right tit, under her t-shirt, and the other down over her hip, and back on her clit. He rubs his thumb over it, and this time she lets him, cants her ass against his still sensitive cock and pushes his other hand more firmly against her breast, so that he's not pulling at the bud anymore but squeezing it hard enough that he's afraid it might hurt her. If it does, it's the right kind of pain, because Miller comes apart in his arms with a shudder and a scream, gets rigid against him before melting down on the sheets.
He takes his hands off, careful not to overstimulate her, and pulls back so she can lay on her back next to him. He kisses her again, deep and slow, before settling next to her. Her hand finds his just as he hooks an ankle over hers, and they stay quiet for a while, long enough that he thinks she's asleep.
“I told Fred I was in love with you.” she whispers just as he's drifting off. It wakes him right up.
“Yeah?” He asks, even as his heart misses a beat.
“Yeah. Might tell you soon, too.”
He pulls their joined hands up to his lips, kisses her knuckles.
“Sounds like a plan, love.” Hardy answers – he might tell her soon, too.