In some ways, being with Hardy is like dealing with a teenager - except he’s reliable, responsible, has a decent sense of hygiene and is not (entirely) hormone-driven.
In one way, then: Hardy is a man of grunts, nods and shrugs, and will not communicate in full statements unless he feels it's necessary. He usually doesn't. And then sometimes, occasionally, he’ll blurt out a string of heart wrenching sentences that leaves her floating on air for days. She loves it all, the cosy silences and the sudden overflows, and she’s learned to deal with the rest. She does what she does with Tom. She waits him out.
“I’m not.” He says, a whole minute after she’s asked if he was mulling over the burglar case they’re working.
She lets the rest come. Hardy sighs. He shifts on the couch, sips absently at his cold tea, runs a hand through his hair, looks up at her through furrowed brows, then elaborates.
“Do you…? Do you remember the psychic? From the Latimer case?” He says that part softly, as if calling it the Latimer case and only talking about it in hushed tones might lessen the pain behind the truth. It’s Joe’s case. Her case. His too, really, the one that almost killed him. Since it’s also the one that got them together, Miller tries to balance it out in her mind. It doesn’t quite work.
“The technician? The one who told us about the boat?”
“Aye. I don’t get it, love, how did he know? About the pendant? No one knew about the pendant.”
Miller frowns, she doesn’t remember that. There’s quite a bit she doesn’t remember from that case, she’s been trying to forget about it, about as much as she's re-lived every second of it, to try and see if she'd missed something, a sign, anything. Her shrink said it probably wasn’t a good idea. She also said the shock might have triggered some kind of barrier around those days and it’s maybe why she doesn’t remember things well.
“When we interviewed him, remember? He told us about the water, and then he said ‘she says she forgives you, about the pendant’. It got to me and you called me out on it, asked if I knew what he meant.”
“Ooooh, yes!” Miller’s so glad she remembers, she doesn’t consider the implications. “You shut up like a clam, wouldn’t hear another word about it. Course I didn’t know about Sandbrook then, didn’t connect the dots.”
Hardy gets up to make fresh tea.
When he comes back, plants a mug in her hands and a kiss on top of her head, he picks things right where he'd left them.
“D’you believe he was actually psychic? It’s not as if he’d been telling me I’m a broody loner with a troubled childhood, he couldn’t have deducted the pendant from me being... well, me. Could he?”
Hardy looks perturbed, like he doesn’t want to believe the man has actual psychic abilities, but can’t find an alternative explanation. He’s not about to let this go.
“Dunno. Never believed in psychics myself, but you’re right, it is a bit troubling. If not that, then what? He knew things from the Sandbrook case. How?”
“Could have worked on some job there when the pendant was lost?”
“Maybe he knew Ricky, or Sarah?”
“Nah. The Gillesbies never knew about the pendant. Only that evidence had been lost.”
“Lee then? Or Claire?”
“Would they have talked though? To someone as awkward as him?”
“Talked to you, didn’t she?”
“Oi!” Hardy looks up accusingly at her, and she has to laugh. He’d spent quite some time trying to convince her he was awkward and socially repulsive, and was she sure she wanted him? And now he’s offended. Contrary bastard. Miller leans over to kiss him. Not so much a vague apology as a joyous impulse. They’re alright together, they can joke and brood and bicker, and it’s all safe.
Hardy doesn’t seem to mind the change of plan, shifts on the couch to get closer to her. They make out, like teenagers left with the house to themselves, except it’s the exact opposite, for once the teenagers are elsewhere, and Fred is at a play date.
She sneaks a hand under Hardy's jumper, under his shirt too, and finds skin – glorious, soft, warm skin. Hardy shudders against her, pulls her closer to nibble at her neck, burns a trail of open-mouth kisses along her throat, makes it clear he's as interested in getting things heated as she is. She pulls his jumper off, which musses up his hair adorably, and they look at each other for a bit – simply taking their time to enjoy this.
There's a thing Miller loves about Hardy having little to no civilian clothes, and it's the shirts. Nearly every time they make love – because, yes, Hardy will absolutely fuck her if she asks, but usually they make love, and Miller's the kind of woman to actually use the phrase – anyway, nearly every time they make love, she gets to take off his shirt.
There are two main ways to go at it : there's the lustful ripping off, with buttons flying and urgent hands and teeth, and there's the slow way. Today she goes for the slow way. She settles herself on his lap, his hands smugly wrapped around her arse as he watches her work.
Miller takes her time baring his chest, undoes button after button, kissing her way down, but stops before she reaches the softer flesh of his stomach. She runs her fingers through his chest hair, rakes her nails against his skin, raises trails of goosebumps until she can see the buds of his hardened nipples through the fabric of his shirt. She looks up at his face, maybe throws him a cheeky smile, finds that his is just soft. He's not unaffected, clearly, his face is flushed and his pupils are blown, but not enough to mask the tenderness in his gaze. She's still not used to it.
Miller ducks her head, goes back to stripping him. Once she's finally worked the shirt open, she gets off his lap, kneels between his parted legs and slides her hands along his sides, pushes the fabric away so she can look at him. There's a scar under his left collar bone, where they put in the pacemaker, and a much smaller, barely visible one from an appendicitis surgery a lifetime ago – both reminders of his mortality, both evidence of his resilience.
She's sliding her hands down now, is working her way to the waistband of his jeans when Hardy stops her, his hands gentle on hers. He leans down, says “wait,” before catching her lips with his, letting go of her hands to come and grab at her hair – one hand on the side of her head, the other firmly at her nape, and he's eager now, deepens the kiss fiercely, as if to make up for all the time he's patiently let her indulge in him.
“What for?” Miller asks when they part. She blinks up at him, her whole body lit up, very much not about to wait much longer.
“Well. For that,” Hardy says with a smirk, “and also, I'd love to see you.”
She follows his gaze down her body, and he's right, she's still fully clothed. Now that she's aware of the heat of his hand through her jumper, of the brush of fabric against her skin where he's rubbing at her collarbone, she craves his touch on her bare skin. He stands up then, pulls her up with him and tugs both her tee-shirt and jumper off of her. Hardy skates his hands along her back, finds the clasp of her bra and unhooks it, all the while mouthing at her neck, not quit kissing, barely biting, and when her breasts are free, he bends down, licks around one nipple and then the other, just long enough to get them hard. He kisses his way down, and it's his turn kneeling at her feet. She's got both hands in his hair as he pulls her sweats down and starts kissing her through the fabric of her knickers. Miller hasn't planned for this, so she's not wearing anything nice, which would matter if Hardy were actually looking at her underwear, but he's not. He's got both thumbs hooked over the elastic band and he's looking up at her. Asking, silently, for permission. Miller just tugs at his hair, and he pulls down, gently, slowly dragging the fabric along her legs, caressing her skin as he goes.
Anticipation has her wet already, and Hardy biting kisses along the inside of her thighs does nothing to dampen her enthusiasm. His hands have moved up to her ass, and he's about to put his mouth on her when she stops him. He looks up at her curiously, his hands still on her skin.
“Got other plans, Sir.” Miller says and pulls him back up before pushing him down on the couch.
Hardy sits back, watches her kneel between his legs again. “Wouldn't want to ruin your plans” he tells her, just as she unfastens the button of his jeans.
“Oh, don't be smug.” Miller says, pulling the zipper down.
“You're absolutely gorgeous, and also very naked, and on your knees for me, Miller, when else am I going to be smug?” Hardy asks while helping her get his jeans off. Of course he's got decent verbal skills when he's teasing her. She ignores him in favour of his cock. Judging by the damp patch around the head, he's been hard for a while. Miller slides a finger along his shaft, through the fabric, and she hears him take in a breath, feels his stomach muscles tense under her left hand. Good.
“Off with those, I think,” she says, and sits back on her heels to watch him strip. He stands rather than wiggle out of his briefs, and for an instant he's towering above her, and Miller wonders how it would look like to an outsider, her on her knees on the floor bellow him, Hardy gloriously hard, all lean muscle and coarse hair, looking down at her naked body. Would they see her trust? His? Would anyone get how in control she is? She doubts it, the way people talk about blowjobs, she's about to do him a favour here, giving up her pleasure for his. And while it's not exactly the opposite – Hardy is definitely going to enjoy this – Miller is not planning on neglecting herself.
She likes it. She likes the way Hardy's thigh muscles flutter under her fingers as she teases him, likes the softness of the skin as she licks a stripe up his cock. She looks up at Hardy as she kisses his cock-head, and he's already halfway gone. His lips are parted slightly and he's fisting his hands on the couch, his whole body tensed. Miller isn't faring much better, she's hyper aware of the cold hair on her burning skin, feels the weight of her breasts and the wetness between her legs. She smirks at him before bowing her head, takes his cock in as deep as she can, and feels heat course through her when he grunts. Miller's free hand finds his, pushes it through her hair. She doesn't need - or want - him to guide her or set a pace, but she likes to feel him tense when she licks the right spot, loves the feeling of near-pain she gets from his tugging at her hair.
Hardy being Hardy, though, he keeps hold of her hand, sets them both to rest on his thigh, and grabs her hair with his left hand.
“Miller...” Hardy's voice breaks halfway through her name. His grip on her hair has been getting gradually stronger, so has his hold on her hand, and she's pretty sure he's close now, has every intention of getting him to come, so she ignores him.
“Love.” He tries again, a little louder. Miller drags it out, lets his cock out of her mouth only to start stroking him by hand.
“Sir?” She cocks an eyebrow at him, and this time he's entirely gone, his face is flushed, his eyes are shining and he's breathing hard. He leans down to kiss her, apparently not fussed about tasting himself on her, and she moans into it, kisses him back fiercely before letting him go.
“Anything I can do for you?” he asks, even as she twists a hand around him, watches eagerly as he bites his lip in pleasure.
“Come,” she says, and goes back to sucking him in long, slow drags of her lips against his cock, flicking her tongue at the head on every other stroke. It doesn't take long for Hardy to get panting, and soon she can feel his entire body tense as he tugs urgently at her hair.
Miller snakes a hand between her thighs, gathers the wetness there on her fingertips and gets working on her clit, rubbing herself firmly as she swallows him down, tastes the bitter, salty taste of him on her tongue. She comes right after he's done, pushes herself over the edge, panting and moaning around his spent cock as he runs a hand through her hair, gentle where he's been rough, soothing the pain of his pulling. She tenses up one last time before her whole body relaxes and she lets him go, lays her head gently against his thigh, watches the lights dance behind her closed eyelids. It's different coming on her own fingers, just by stroking at her clit, but it's no less thanks to him than when she comes on his fingers or his cock, the build up hot and slow and gentle, the release bright and intense.
When she feels she can move again, Miller finds his tea at their feet, miraculously unspilled, and washes the taste of come from her mouth. Hardy slides down to the floor next to her, gathers her up in his arms, and they kiss again. It's a lazy kiss, without urgency, without lust, they take their time cooling down, Miller enjoys the feeling of him against her, the closeness of their bodies, as if they'd just spent time apart.
“Hi,” he says, smiling softly at her, and maybe he's missed her arms too, or maybe his brain's back online and he's letting her know.
“Hi”, Miller replies, and kisses him some more.
“Whose fault is that, then? I was making a very valid point about some fairly troubling possibly psychic creep, and you just had to have me. I swear Miller, you’re insatiable.”
“Would you like me to refrain myself, Sir?” She smirks at him, and he loves her for it. She's one of the rare people he's met who's not afraid of him, of his moods and his brooding, she actually stands up to him, goads him on when he's being ridiculous, and apparently that's what works.
“Don’t you dare.”
“Thought so.” Miller gets up, puts his shirt and her knickers on, and goes to make more tea. Hardy watches her go, enjoys the way the shirt doesn't quite fit, makes it clear that she's wearing his clothes. It's absurdly possessive of him, and, knowing she's doing it on purpose, absurdly hot.
When Miller comes back with tea, he's put his jeans back on and has gone up on the couch and back to his train of thought.
“Could have been Claire, she was around already and she did like messing with me.”
“Yeah, but why would she?” Miller asks as she sits next to him.
“To stop me trying to solve the case? Maybe she thought I’d give up if I believed Pippa’d forgiven me.” Hardy frowns, in a vaguely disgusted way. He’s offended Claire might have thought so.
“Dunno. How close were you then?” Miller asks him, and he feels himself tense up at the implication.
“Never like that”, he tells her, gesturing vaguely at their state of undress. Claire had accused him of rape, once, as a last resort to get herself free, and the idea that Miller may as much as consider the possibility makes him sick.
“I know, Hardy,” she says, laying a hand on his knee, soothing. “Sorry I ever asked.”
“Nah.” She hasn't actually accused him of anything. “It made sense for you to check, I’d asked you for fresh eyes on the case, you thought I might not see her as a suspect, and she’d implied it a lot, of course you’d ask. You’re a freaking good detective Miller, don’t apologise for it.” He looks at her then, finds that she's smiling softly at him in a way that he thinks means love, although neither of them has had the courage to say the words yet.
“I could have, I suppose”, he goes on, for the sake of honesty, “she did let me know it was an option, probably thought it’d help keep me on her side…” Hardy shrugs, but looks her in the eye, hopes that Miller won't mind him telling her that. He knows that his relationship with Claire, whatever it had been, had not been entirely healthy, and he needs Miller to know that what they have is as far from that as it can possibly be.
“Probably,” Miller sounds like she does when they're working a case : thoughtful, focused, but not worried, or jealous. Hardy finds her hand, brings it up to his lips, brushes a soft kiss there. Miller leans onto his side, and he doesn't let go of her hand after that.
“Lee would have killed you, though.”
“It's not really her style either,” Miller says after a while, “hiring someone to pretend to be a psychic to get you off the chase. Claire is impulse driven, lust driven maybe, I can't quite see her putting up that sort of scheme.” They've both finished their tea this time, and they're enjoying the last bit of quiet they have before Fred comes home.
“See, what I don't like about you being right, is that if it wasn't Claire, and we're going to assume it wasn't Lee either, he would have told me, wouldn't have passed up on a chance to gloat – if it wasn't Claire, how did he know, Miller?”
It's been four years since that case, and it's been nagging at his brain all that time. He'd caved then, faced with a stalling investigation, hours from seeing his team reduced to the bare minimum, and the guy had given them usable intel. Hardy still can't figure out how, probably never will, and it is not sitting right with him.
“I don't know.” Miller says, and kisses his cheek. “People are unknowable, remember?”
He does. He'd told her that when she was trying to make sense of Joe. He doubts it helped. He doubts anything helped, really.
“Yeah, I remember.” He plants a kiss in her hair, holds her against him and decides that maybe, some things don't need to be explained.