Title: Tonight (1/3 of the "Moments" series)

Author: Sarah (aka surrendersomething)

Rating: PG

Summary: (1/3) John&Claire. Vignettes depicting moments in the lives of our favourite detective sergeants.

Characters: Claire Stanton, John Boulton

Disclaimer: I own nothing to do with The Bill, its characters or storylines. The plot of this story however, is all mine. Song lyrics in bold italics taken from "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight", and the version I was listening to was by Norah Jones.

Authors Notes: This three-part story is my first venture into the world of The Bill fiction. Have been a fan for years but this is the first time I've attempted writing John and Claire, let alone any TB characters. So you'll have to forgive me - my mindset might still be in the other fandoms I write for! This is set after they got together, but waaay before he was killed (don't get me started) and I'm pretty much for the purposes of this story ignoring the fact that Claire was working for CIB and that Don was corrupt. Makes the life of an A Level student far easier. Enjoy, and any feedback would be much appreciated.

Tonight

Close your eyes, close the door

You don't have to worry any more

Cause I'll be your baby tonight.

Shut the lights and shut the shade

You don't have to be afraid

Cause I'll be your baby tonight.

Sinking further into the ridiculously comfortable cushions, she allowed her denim-clad legs to dangle lazily off the side of the sofa as she flicked absently through his absurdly large collection of television channels, before settling on a fairly non-descript film. Turning the volume down to a comfortable level, she ran a hand absently through her hair before stretching out an arm to retrieve her glass of wine.

Entering the house at some early hour of the morning, this was how John found her some hours later when his obbo was finally drawn to a close. Finding the ground floor pretty much bathed in darkness, he followed the soft drone and flickering lights of the television to find her sprawled across the sofa, legs dangling off one end, wine glass balanced precariously between her fingers and the remote control wedged between her body and the back of the sofa. Her hair fell across her face in messy strands as her chest rose and fell evenly, and the combination of those factors made her utterly endearing to him right at that moment.

Crouching down next to the sofa, he removed the wine glass from her hand and gently extracted the remote control from its position, muting the volume before discarding it somewhere behind him. Momentarily he contemplated not waking her as she was clearly exhausted, however he knew all too well the discomfort after a night on that sofa and told himself that she'd sleep better in a bed.

Not that he'd ever admit it to her, but he slept better when she was next to him anyway.

Brushing her hair gently away from her cheek, he leant close to her ear, whispering her name before pressing a light kiss just below her ear. She stirred, mumbling something unintelligible before instinctively reaching out a hand for him. He smiled softly, catching her fingers in his and watching for a moment as she struggled to rouse herself.

"Claire…you need to wake up, baby," he whispered slightly louder this time, bringing his free hand up to brush the back of his fingers across her cheek, running his thumb gently along the delicate skin underneath her eye, as her eyelids fluttered open.

"…time isit?" she whispered hoarsely after a few seconds, blinking rapidly as her eyes adjusted to the relative brightness of the room.

"Just after two a.m.," he told her softly, pressing a finger to her lips. "I'm sorry, but I couldn't let you sleep here all night."

"That's sweet," she mumbled, sounding vaguely coherent before breaking her hold on his fingers in order to smother a yawn. Laughing softly, he rested his hands on her waist and helped her into a sitting position, smiling when she draped her arms across his shoulders. Pressing his lips to hers slowly as her fingers brushed across the hair at the nape of his neck, he slid his arms around her waist and drew her closer to him. "How did the obbo go?" she asked as they broke the kiss, resting her forehead against his.

"Pointless waste of time," he muttered, drawing a smile out of her with his typical response before continuing, "Especially when I could've been here," he added, letting her add on 'with you' herself, before continuing, "but Deakin's satisfied, which has to count for something."

"So that's why it took so long," she guessed, referring to the mere mention of their senior officer. "I wanted to wait up for you, feels like I haven't seen you properly for days," she complained good-naturedly, pressing her lips to his again.

"I'll take you out for dinner tomorrow night," he promised, tucking her hair behind her ears. "Then we'll come back here, and you'll have my undivided attention, I promise. But now, I think I need to sleep. And I know that you do." She laughed, willingly accepting his hands as he pulled her into a standing position.

"I'll hold you to that dinner thing," she warned, knowing that he wouldn't need holding to his other promise, before heading towards the stairs as he turned off the television. Laughing to himself, he realised that she would indeed hold him to his words, before following her up the stairs, wrapping his arms around her waist from behind as they reached the top. She laughed softly, tipping her head back against his shoulder to kiss him briefly before giving a gentle tug on his tie and making her way through to the bedroom.

When they crawled into bed some minutes later, they took up an almost automatic position which seemed to always involve Claire ending up half-sprawled across him, her head resting comfortably on his chest. Running his fingers absently through her hair, he reflected on the realisation that in the last few months he couldn't remember a morning when they'd woken up together with no part of their bodies touching – in fact generally, they would wake no more than mere centimetres apart.

He would have expected it to unnerve him, but instead he felt strangely relaxed.

Eventually brought back to earth by her mumbled "G'night", he responded with a similar sentiment before kissing her forehead gently as she slipped easily back into slumber.

His whispered "I love you" as her breathing deepened was a further sentiment he had every intention of communicating to her, when she was in a state less resembling exhaustion.

Because there were some things he had no problems with admitting to her.

Cause I'll be your baby tonight.

fin.