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cede with grace

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Robbie watches the two of them from a distance: James standing ramrod straight with that little smug curl to his mouth that says he’s just had a chance to show off his knowledge, and her, lovely and genuine like the earth clinging to the knees of her jeans, like the plants she tends to.

She’d suit him, Lewis thinks. This lady botanist. Liv. She’s clearly smart and has a forthright approach to life and unashamed positivity about her that quite reminds Robbie of Val. Yeah, she could be good for James.

That is, if the lad is smart enough to ask her out. Robbie hopes so.

Well. Mostly he does.

With a familiar, dull ache in his chest Robbie turns away, waiting James to finish his conversation. The gardens are beautiful but he’s too focussed on telling his foolish old heart to stop wishing for the impossible to really admire the scenery.

When Robbie had first realised exactly why seeing his Sergeant flirting or involved with someone bothered him so much, he’d been disgusted with himself. Oh, not because of the gay thing – although that had been something of a revelation – or even really because James was his subordinate. No, Lewis had been disgusted because of how selfish he was being, wanting to keep James for himself, even if only in his mind.

Determinedly Robbie pushes his feelings aside, making sure his face is arranged in its usual expression of grumpy amusement by the time James comes back, looking flustered and pleased in equal measure. Or at least to Robbie he does, most people wouldn’t be able to tell.

He teases James a little, fulfilling the expectations of male camaraderie, and they go about the rest of their day. And all the while, at the back of his mind, Robbie is wondering if this Liv will be the one for James. He hopes so for James’ sake.

And he dreads it for his own.