Nicholas makes things hard.
There's the scared, giddy kind of hard, when you realise that whatever you've gotten yourselves into has happened right before his birthday, and you have no idea what to get him – just that it has to be good, as good as that fumbled intoxicating kiss that really shouldn't have happened on service property, that turned into a mad press and fumble that really shouldn't have happened – but of course he tells you 'don't get me anything, it's no big deal', but you've pissed off enough girlfriends in the past to know better than to believe that, but it's not like you know much of Nicholas that isn't work-related, because there's not much of him outside the job really.
There's the predictable, perverted type of hard, where he's naked, and you're naked, and there's sweat making skin slick and (despite the mouths and hands and sweat) every cell in your body seems to be focused on how painfully hard you are, and how good in feels to grind yourself into the shallow of soft skin by his hip.
There's the embarrassing type of hard, when you're both in the locker room and he has his shirt off and you have your front buried in your locker because all you can think about is the dim weekend hours when he was laying soft and sticky and spread out like jam across your bed, and – sadly – you're surrounded by your fellow constables and damn sure that this particular Nicholas-related hardness won't be appreciated.
There's a risky kind of hard, that comes after he has a clean shirt on, and has looked up and caught your eye, and his mouth curls because of course he iknows/i exactly why you're looking away, and suddenly it's ten minutes later and you have his hand across your mouth and his mouth biting down on your ear – and surely it would just make sense for him to not have his mouth on your ear, because then you wouldn't be making any of the noises that would require him to clap his hand over your mouth, but where would the fun be in that? – and you're trying not to grind yourself against the door and make a mess of yourself because after all, it's the two of you in a cleaner's closet and you can hear the chief inspector laughing at something just outside that closed door, and Nicholas' mouth is driving you insane.
There's a social kind of hard too: like when the two of you are out together – right on the other side of London, because the service is non-discriminatory in theory, but not quite in practice – and he has your hand in his which is strange and wonderful and you don't even care about the looks until you see your mother staring at you from a shop window, rosaries in hand and her face appalled, and Nicholas is fucking refusing to let go.
Or when you finally manage to drag him out to the pub with your friends, and someone goes and makes a faggot joke and Nicholas is there beside you with those cold blue eyes and that sharp chin up and tense in a way that means he'll jump across the table and damn well out you both if that cunt of a friend of yours doesn't keep his fucking mouth shut.
And there's the next day kind of hard, when your friend from before bumps into you while you're running files from A to B and says 'so what was up with that prat last night then,' and you reply with a shrug and a funny smile and say 'well, you know, Nick's pretty PC and all,' and they say 'he's a bit in need of a fucking shag if he's getting his knickers tied over that,' and they laugh and you laugh – because they're your friend, right, and you need to patch this up somehow – but your laugh is a little uneasy because, even though he's across the room, and has his back to you, and is engaged in some fucking boring conversation with someone else, you can tell by the way he doesn't turn with a puzzled smile to see what you're laughing at that he heard every damning word.
There's the kind of hard where you're alone for the first time after it all, and he's not looking at you and you're trying to explain but he just waves a hand and says 'forget it,' which of course you can't, because he made things difficult first and even if you did go and do the exact wrong thing after how can you both forget it if he won't let you apologise and his shoulders and too stiff and formal under your hands.
There's the even worse kind of hard when it's barely five minutes later, and he's fucking you into the mattress and your head is thrown back because it's never been this bold before, and your mouth is open with these little huffing sounds coming out and he's biting his lip like that will somehow stop those low, hot, needy sounds – sounds just like you were making in that fucking cleaner's closet – from escaping; and really it should be all kinds of prefect, except he has his eyes screwed shut and his head tilted away, and when it's over all you feel is dirty.
There's the confusing kind of hard – which Nicholas unintentionally excels at providing – like when you walk barefoot into his kitchen with the full intent of having it out with him, but you have to stand around while he had his face right up against the fridge and the phone to his ear and is saying incredibly crucial things like 'uh-huh' over and over again, and when he finally hangs up you have your mouth open and your accusation-finger ready and then you can't even do anything with them because you realise that he had his forehead pressed against the freezer section of his fridge and he's crying, and really, there's nothing you can do but stand there with your arms around him and your feet slowly freezing while he clings to you and makes the collar of your shirt damp with tears that you didn't even know he could produce.
And then there's the crushing kind of hard, when you've been giving him space because you're at one another's throats when you don't, but one day you look up from the broken glass you're collecting and packing into neat little tubes to see him talking to some skinny CSI chick and making her laugh, and when you're pointed scowl finally catches his attention, he just raises an eyebrow at you as if to say 'well?' and you have no idea if that's an admission of guilt or a tease for thinking along those lines anyway, not until a week later when you're both yelling and red in the face until he suddenly flops down onto the couch and puts his head in his hands – and it's been nearly a month, maybe, since he's looked so broken in front of you – and his voice comes through kind of muffled when he says 'I think we should take a break'.
Then there's the bitter kind of hard (which isn't so much Nicholas' doing as it is your own) when you pass one another in the halls and even though he congratulates you on your promotion, and you congratulate him on another commendation for fucking his body up again in the line of duty, inside you're really just aching for a way – any way at all – to get him the hell out of your life because, goddamnit, it's not like he even told you what the fucking fridge incident was about.
Finally there's an empty, glassy kind of hard, when you realise that it's years later and he's finally gone, and for some stupid reason you miss him.