Ellie was exhausted. The current case and endless list of suspects and guys to interview were draining her down and she found herself still deep in paperwork and cross-checking facts past midnight.
She was properly fed-up now and needed a break—or better else, go home. But she couldn't, custody clock was running down and they were going to be short of two or three hours if they weren't putting in the work now. She headed to the break room, mumbling to herself, eyes dropping shut.
She managed to avoid the collision with the door frame by creeping an eye open but moaned more openly when she eyed Hardy inside. She didn't moan because of him, no, she moaned at him in a sort of basic and neanderthal sort of communication. Words were hard when you've been sleeping less than five hours per night for two weeks.
"You okay, Miller?" Hardy acknowledged her. He was no better than her, but that was practically his way of living so he seemed almost normal in the yellowish light of the break room.
Ellie just grunted louder in response and walked straight into his shoulder, burying her forehead there. She stayed there without moving, arms dangling by her side, mind oscillating between full overload and blissfully blank, completely unable to form a coherent thought. It was bad.
A bit baffled by this sudden physical contact, Hardy carefully closed his arms around her and patted her back awkwardly. She didn't seem to mind and just grunted something else, that closely resembled 'exhausted' and 'why' and 'fuckers'.
"Come on Miller, just one more hour," he said, now holding her still. It was probably more around two hours, but he needed her back on tracks. At least, she'd stopped swaying now.
"Uuugh, just kill me please" she mumbled in his shoulder.
"Sorry, can't do that. I still need you."
"No you don't."
"Yes, Miller, I do," he sighed. "But even if I didn't, killing you will send me to jail and then there'll be no one to coin those fuckers."
"Shit. There goes my plan" she muttered, shifting her head to lay it more comfortably on his shoulder, now talking to his chest, eyes still shut.
"It was a shit plan anyway" he murmured while his arms seemed to strengthen their grip around her on their own volition.
"Then come up with a better one."
Hardy's mind was sadly as blank as hers was and he let the silence streched between them for a minute, closing his eyes and revelling in the wonders of thinking nothing and doing nothing apart from holding her.
They had never hugged like that—if you could call it a hug, when one's arms were still dangling lifelessly on one's side—but the exhaustion on both their parts made it incredibly easy. No overthinking, no real awkwardness. Just relaxing.
They could fall asleep standing, right there.
"S'what I thought, you're useless" she finally mumbled, bringing them both back to the present.
Hardy's brain seemed to rewire itself in maybe a few more seconds than it usually takes and he remembered why he was in the break room in the first place.
"I made coffee?" he said in a flatter tone than he intended, while reaching behind him to grab his mug from the counter, offering it to her.
"'kay, forget what I said, you're a Saint" she said and ignored his scoffing. Ellie finally found enough force to lift her arms and push herself away from him, just enough to take the mug and sip it. Hardy let his remaining arm fall from her shoulders and put his hands away in his pockets, but otherwise stayed where he was, just a few inches from her.
"Oh thanks Heaven, it's perfect. Thank you. It's so much better than Redbull."
"I still have no idea how you do to chug that thing."
"It's not really a choice. I can't drink too much coffee so it's either that or my snoring self in the custody room, and I assure you, no one wants that."
Hardy slightly noded but didn't bother replying. Her words have brought him back on the case, on all the things they still needed to do and find in a too short time.
"Okay, hurry up now, we still have to find what they're not saying to us. The statements still feel odd, and if we can't actually prove otherwise these brothers will never... uh, Miller?"
"Hum? Yeah, don't mind me, continue" she said, eyes closed again, swaying dangerously on her feet, mug still in hand. "Give me a minute for it to kick in. Tis slower than in a can."
"Uh... Miller, you're not making any sense."
Hardy sighed deeply, a tad annoyed, but not as much as he would have expected. He supposed they weren't on the minute and if it could help with concentration, it was better than nothing.
He poured himself the rest of the coffee pot in another mug and drank it with her in silence.
He barely noticed his hand had automatically found its place on his DS' upper back, rubbing soothing circles, as if to aid the coffee spread its warmth and wakefulness inside her.
The hot beverage eventually reconnected enough of their neurones back in a functionning state and it was time to go back to work. Ellie was the first to put her mug down on the counter.
"Come on now. Time to nail the bastards."
He couldn't have agreed more.