It’s already past eight o’clock on a Saturday morning, the sun is streaming in through the windows, and Kate sees no reason to vacate her bed just yet. For the first time in weeks she hasn’t got a case to close, she’s not one of the detectives on call for the weekend, and the inviting day laid out before her does nothing to sway her into action just yet.
Her companion helps. He more than helps, in fact, though she’s reluctant to admit out loud exactly how much he does. That isn’t the sort of thing that they do. She turns her head, checking the time.
“Espo, if you don’t call in soon Gates will have your hide.”
“Can’t have that, I guess,” he huffs. He shifts closer to her, bare skin touching bare skin in more places than before.
She lets out a long breath as she turns, blinking herself awake as she faces him. It’s been a long time since she woke up next to anyone like this, let alone Espo. There had been a few times in the early days together at the 12th, of course, and another few that summer after she walked away from Demming and Castle walked away from her. But then there was the shooting, her latest summer away and her recovery, and then Lee Travis, and she found herself exchanging the occasional glance with him more often at the end of the day. And then there they were again, conversation waning after a few drinks after shift, lips and bodies pressed against each other once her door closed behind them.
Of course, in the early days there was no waking up next to each other, to speak of – that wasn’t how it was. Now it’s become part of the equation, something she can’t help but think has something to do with her, and last spring and summer, and the way her mother’s case seems to have stalled around her, and now she’s got Javi sleeping next to her and waking up next to her and it unsettles her in a way she can’t quite place.
It’s not that doing this is strange – if anything it surprises her how effortless this is. They’ve had each other’s backs in the field more times than is worth counting, and there are no expectations pulling their strings. But sharing just isn’t something they do either. He’s the one she’s not supposed to need to explain things to, and she’s not supposed to be the one he has to question about whether she’ll back him up.
And then he cornered her in the evidence locker, forcing her to find a direction forward even if she hated him a little bit for doing it.
She lets out another breath, trailing one hand up the muscles of his arm, down the smooth lines of his chest. Her hand lingers above his sternum, tracing the unmarred skin.
“You were smart, Espo. Managed not to get yourself shot in all of this.”
His lips part, something sinking in him as she flinches at her own words; She pulls her hand away, realizing the sheer stupidity of what she’s said only after she’s said it. And really, what exactly is all of this? She doesn’t even need to ask to know that he’s got his battle scars, ones that have nothing to do with someone’s mother getting stabbed in an alley more than a decade ago. Damaged goods.
He grasps at her hand, squeezing it to prevent her pulling away.
“It’s not about smart, K. You know that and I know that.” He brushes his fingers along her cheek, lifting until her gaze finally meets his again. “If it were, you’d whip me every time.”
She quirks a half-smile at that, and something relaxes in him – both of them – tension and diffusion having escalated and dissipated before she fully realized what was happening.
His hand drifts lower, fingertips brushing the curve of her breast before pausing above the crumpled circle of skin in the centre of her chest.
“Let’s call it a fair fight,” she says, before his lips meet the corner of her mouth and her eyes close, her body already sinking back against the pillows. His hand curves around her breast and drifts ever lower, her arms coming to rest around him.
* * * * *
An hour later, he’s late calling in to the station and can hear the impatience in Gates’ voice as she directs him to the unit needing backup somewhere where Manhattan meets the Hudson.
He couldn’t concern himself less about being late.
* * * * *