She stood gracefully in front of her hallway mirror and applied another coat of dark fleshy lipstick. Her slightly scray, almost colourless blue eyes were framed with long, black eyelashes, which had become even more prominent once she had added a lavish lashing of mascara. She had little, not-really-but-similar diamond studs in her ears and wore a long silver and sapphire necklace. Her jewellery matched her knee-length dark cobalt dress and heels, and her straw coloured hair was tied up in a loose ponytail like it normally was for work. It had been a while since she had had the opportunity to dress up nicely to go out. In all honesty, it hadn't been out at all for a while. Adrian recently hadn't really been as enthusiastic (polite way of saying 'not giving a shit') about doing stuff as a couple. Except arguing, they did a hell of a lot of that. Every single day, whether it was over something tiny and insignificant, like whose turn it was to wash up, or over something quite big, like whether or not Aide was acting like a jerk. She sighed out in annoyance: why could he never even try to care about her job? It had taken five years of hardcore training for her to even get any sort of interview for the M.I.T, and now she was a DC, but could the lazy arse be bothered to get off the sofa and come to her Christmas do? No, was evidently the answer to that.
'Aide, I'm going now!' she shouted, almost hesistantly up the stairs. He had gone off sulking earlier after yet another fight. He didn't appear on the landing to say goodbye, and she could not hear him making any movements upstairs, 'Remember to pick the girls up after Guides!' Still no response was made and when she reluctantly yelled, 'Love you!' up the stairs, yanked the front door open, walked out steadily in four inch heels and then slammed it shut, Adrian remained exactly where he was, ignoring the fact that he had just caused his wife to do the things that she did later on that night…
Janet sat down in the driver's seat of her car and smacked her head down on the steering wheel in frustration. She leapt up in shock when the horn screeched loudly and she put the keys in the exhaust and began to drive. Soon enough (she did live in England to be fair) it started to absolutely pound it down. Rain smashed against her window pane and she swerved violently on a corner and almost crashed into a tree. Her phone began to ring loudly and, pulling over quickly, she fumbled around in her bag before looking at the caller name that had popped up on her screen: Andy. A gently, subtle smile appeared on her lips, and her mood lightened strangely, for unknown reasons, before she flipped it open and said,
'Hey Andy. I'm on my way…I'm on North Street…Yeah…Yeah…Okay. See you in about ten minutes.' She hung up, dropped her phone back into her bag and stepped down on the accelerator. She had always liked Andy, maybe not in that way anymore (or so she thought) and he was a good guy. He really seemed to care about her, unlike anyone at home. When she was with him, she just felt relaxed and comfortable, whereas when she was at home with her family, she felt constantly on edge and totally unappreciated. She didn't know what that meant, but she almost certainly wasn't going to test anything out anytime soon. Supressing all these thoughts and extraordinarily confusing emotions to the back of her head, where she normally buried anything that didn't fit in her perfect, average, normal life, she continued driving, sniffing back tears that formed rapidly in her crystal eyes.
X – X – X
Stepping out of the taxi (having left her car outside the restaurant – she would go and get it tomorrow morning) Janet stepped towards the pub. Compared to everyone else (save Rachel and Andy), she was the only one who was only slightly sober. The boss was almost completely pissed after they had lost another court case because of the utterly ridiculous jury and defence (not Nick this time – but a close friend). Janet however wasn't really in that much of a great mood for a party and a drink. Why could Adrian be the slightest bit supportive? Not even once?
She followed Rachel into the bar and, after ordering a drink and chatting in general about the crappiness of today, she went to sit down at one of the tables. She laid her head on her arms and leant on the table, hitting her forehead against the table. She had enjoyed the meal, making small talk and drinking a bit, but Andy had kept sending and giving her strange and really quite disconcerting looks, like he was analyzing her or something. Everytime she had looked over the table at him, she had caught him staring intently at her. At one point, she had raised an eyebrow, searching him for an explanation, but he had just smiled neutrally and continued eating.
Groaning in exhaustion, Janet was surprised when she heard a glass clunk on the table next to her and a hand rubbed soothingly on her shoulder,
'You alright Janet?' Andy asked comfortingly, a hint of sympathy and empathy in his tone. She raised her head from her arms, her eyes rimmed with red, puffy and irritated. Janet never normally cried, he had only seen it twice, the times when she either got very passionate and emotional, or when she was falling completely apart. He knew this because he was the person who had caused it – both time for both reasons.
She looked at him painfully, a tear slipping down her pale cheek, 'Do I look fucking alright?' she asked, sarcasm dripping from her words. He was taken aback and did not say anything. She sniffed back the tears and croaked out, 'Sorry Andy, just having a few problems at home.' She raised her glass of red wine and gulped down well over half of it. He half smiled,
'Anything you want to talk about?'
'If you know how to get an ounce of respect or even a little bit of support out of my jerk of a husband, then yeah sure, let's talk,' she muttered out, sipping plentifully again. Andy chuckled drily and also took a gulp of beer. They sat in an awkward, but not totally awful silence for several minutes, listening to the music blaring from the stereo and speakers. Andy left the table for a few minutes and arrived back with two pints of Carlsberg. She took it gratefully and raised it, 'Cheers Andy, to another fan-bloody-tastic year.' They crashed their glasses together and downed their pints. Ten minutes later, another round arrived and each time, it got easier and easier to drink, like the alcohol didn't even weigh anything.
'Are you trying to get me pissed?' Janet asked, slurring slightly, answering her own enquiry. He half smirked and then replied, still stirring a child's straw around in his glass,
'What if I am?' He raised his eyebrows inappropriately and all too suggestively.
'Well you shouldn't,' she said sternly, attempting to reprimand him in a serious way, which was really not possible in her current state. She waved a finger at him accusingly, and took yet another huge swig of beer. Andy shifted uncomfortably in his seat, stammering out nervously,
'Dance with me.' He tried to make it sound authoritive and demanding and confident, but it failed rather miserably. She hooked her right eyebrow, but her lip curved upwards into a large, humurous grin,
'Okay then, but only this once and only because I'm hammered and I don't know better,' she warned, allowing him to take her hand and gracefully lift her to her feet. In full view of everyone from the office (they saw everything that followed - but couldn't remember the next morning – the M.I.T know how to "party") Andy led Janet over to the kind of dancefloor, his hand callously wrapping itself around her waist. She knew and realized this but, for some reason, she did not attempt to prise him off of her, or give him a telling to like she normally would, no, she allowed him to proceed.
The floor was filled with young couples, dressed in scraps of material that could not even be described or identified by clothing. But she did not feel out of place, she felt like she was in the perfect place. Here, half a pint away from being totally drunk, in the arms of her ex-boyfriend, dancing around to ABBA in a pub. It just felt kind of right.
Janet very soon discovered that Andy's dancing had not improved much in the pats twenty years – in fact, his "talent" seemed to have deteriorated even further.
'Do you remember?' he whispered suddenly, holding her hands and swaying ridiculously, dragging her along with him, 'This used to be our song?'
Janet's ears pricked up, and she listened hard to the music, just vaguely hearing it in the din of the overcrowded pub.
Voulez Vous. A-ha! Take it now or leave it. Now is all we get. Nothing promised, no regrets. Voulez Vous. A-ha! Ain't no big decision, you know what to do. La question c'est voulez vous.
'I always loved this song,' she said dreamily, staring flawlessly into his eyes, searching for something, like an answer to a question she had yet to ask.
He gently pulled her body closer to his and lifted his hand. Tentatively, he placed it on her cheek in a loving and romantic manner. She could've run away. She could've slapped him. She could've shouted and sworn until he let go, but she didn't. Main reason being that his grip on her was only slightly too firm for her to escape, but the second was altogether more disturbing. Something, some tiny little thought was poking around in the back of her sub-concious, telling her that this was okay. Clearing his throat, an insanely crimson blush forming on his cheeks, he murmured,
'I always loved you. I always loved you Janet Scott, I always will.'
And with that, forgetting about all his work colleagues there, watching them with piercing beady eyes, Andy leant down and kissed her. He kissed her like he used to kiss her, like there was no one else in the world, like there was no one who could ever take her place, like she was the owner of both his heart and soul. He kissed her gently, furiously, passionately, sadly, joyfully, painfully, beautifully. He kissed her with every breath, every fibre of his being, like his life depended on it.
She was shocked, to put it both bluntly and politely. She didn't quite know what to do. It had been years since anyone had kissed her like this. Years since someone had made her feel wanted and appreciated. Years since anyone had bothered to look after her, instead of her having to be the strong, motherly one. So that's why she didn't just let him continue, but she kissed him back with a serious, solid intent. She ignored the guilt searing in the pit of her stomach, running her fingers up his arms and then resting them on the back of his neck.
Not having realized this was how she would respond, playfully tugged on her bottom lip, teasing and playing with her. She did not anticipate how much vigour she would put into that kiss, but she knew that it was the thing that was going to make her happy, and why couldn't she be happy? Just for one night, why could she not be happy spending time with him?
The rest of the night passed and although she has streams of alcohol pouring through her system, she remembered every detail. She finally found someone who would look after her.
One Year Later…
She stood in front of her bedroom mirror, gazing uncannily at her plain appearance. Her unsually pale eyes sunk into their sockets, her lips the same colour as her skin, unnoticeable almost. She wore a long sleeved, open collared purple silk shirt with black material trousers and small black heels. Her reflection stunned her in a way she did not believe was possible. She looked so futile, so fragile and weak, like if she had one more hit she would just shatter like a smashed window. She did not hasten to apply any makeup, or do her hair. She just left it to fall, in little wisps onto her shoulders. Her body was trembling and shaking ever so slightly, and she just needed a really strong drink to calm her nerves. It was the eve of the M.I.T Christmas do, and Andy was going to be there, obviously. It was exactly a year since the last do, and that had ended just…peculiarly. She wasn't going to dress particularly nicely, she wasn't going to attract attention to herself, and she wasn't going to stick her tongue down his throat and then go back to his appartment like last time. And the awkward thing was, everyone had seen them kiss, they all had the memory of it somewhere, but it was currently hidden by alcohol. But one little action could cause that memory to reawaken and that would be very, very bad.
'Aide, are you almost ready?' she shouted through the hallway into the bathroom. Yes, she was taking her husband with her, that way she couldn't be tempted. For weeks now, ever since Andy's revelation of how he really felt about her, she didn't know how to feel around him. But all she knew was that she was deeply attracted to that man – partly because he cared when no one else did, he made her happy and, best of all, he knew how difficult her life was sometimes. He could feel empathy for her, and he understood her; he understood her like no one else ever could.
'Yeah, stop complaining you grumpy old…' He was cut off by the sound of the loo flushing loudly. It was lucky, for him this was, that Janet had not heard the end of that sentence, seeing as she had recently taken a course in 'Self-Defence'. She groaned in annoyance and stomped angrily down the stairs. Adrian had not changed one bit since this time last year. It was exactly the same situation as well, but she couldn't use the same method to cheer herself up as it were. Not that she had used Andy as a means of revenge, no, she wouldn't do that to him. She knew how much it killed him every time he saw her with Adrian, how every time they were on a case together he so desperately wanted to be with her again. She wouldn't cause him pain on purpose, but what was she supposed to do? She was married, she had daughters, and she couldn't just leave them all behind even if she did lov…No, even if she did like Andy the tiniest bit. It was like a little girl crush, it would soon pass, and if it didn't of its own accord, she would beat it out.
'I'll wait in the car, you've got ten minutes or I'm going without you!' she shouted up the stairs, before slamming the front door loudly behind her. For a few moments, she just leant against the wall of her house, thinking, simply breathing. And there was one word, one name that kept popping up: Andy. Andy. Andy. Andy. Andy…
X – X – X
Dinner at the restaurant this year was a lot longer than last time, simply because Kevin had managed to get them all barred from the pub (a small incident involving a big punch up) they were forced to stay at dinner for longer. Adrian was being a complete obnoxious prat, bragging about his new job and the fact that he now earned thrice as much as Janet, oh she felt like slapping the bastard. But she just contained her anger and her eyes soon glazed over, oblivious to the sympathetic looks that Andy was shooting in her direction.
Her husband is a total jerk, he thought blandly and boldly. He kept chatting himself up, talking about how his job was so much more important than Janet's, how he did all this rubbish that somehow made him better than her. Andy found himself wondering why Janet was still with the idiot, but he found the answer almost immediately after asking the question. She had a family but she always played things safe. He did too, normally, but she had such a profound effect on him that when he looked at her, he just felt so euphoric and amazing. She was such a beautiful person, and what really crushed his heart was that she would never realize it whilst she was with Adrian. But he, he would talk to her, love her, do all he could to please her. Her life with him, oh it would be so simple and perfect, but when as life ever directed us down the idyllic and happy path?
Two hours, four cigarettes (which was a point this was bad – she hadn't smoked in over fourteen years) and three and a half pints later, Janet was feeling worse than ever.
After the dinner had finished the boss, Kevin and a couple of others had left to go get 'pissed properly at home' (Gill's words, no one else's) but Adrian had insisted that he, Janet, Rachel and Andy stay behind for another drink or two. But the thing that was really amusing Janet right now was the fact that Adrian seemed to get on really well with Andy. Well, so Aide thought. Andy truthfully spent every second of the time he spent talking to him resisting the overpowering urge to reach out and punch him. Instead he half listened to his meaningless words, and spent the rest of the time keeping an eye on Janet. She didn't seem to be enjoying herself that much.
Halfway through another of Adrian's announcements that because he now earned more, he could buy himself a better car, Janet asked Rachel for her packets of cigarettes and left the restaurant, a look of exhaustion on her face, grey bags underneath her eyes. She shed a tear when she left, her normally stable emotions cracking and changing at the click of a finger. Andy saw this immediately and made up some excuse (that he now couldn't remember) that made sure he could go the same way as her without arousing suspicions. However as he left, Rachel glanced at him and something in her expression was warning him. Of course she knew, he had anticipated Janet would tell her, but Rachel was not about to let her best friend get hurt by her husband, or by Andy. She allowed him to continue walking and engaged Adrian in a conversation to distract him from the two meeting outside.
She quickly lit the end of the cigarette and cherished the disgusting taste that overpowered her mouth. At least the taste was distracting enough for her attention to divert away from Andy. The moment he had finally been driven from her mind, he appeared in the door leading out to the back of the restaurant. She took another drag of her cigarette before removing it from her dry, cracked lips and murmuring, 'Hey Andy.'
He took this as permission to approach her and did so with a great swiftness, reaching her side in less than two seconds. 'Hey Janet, you alright?' he asked generally, not realizing this was exactly the same way he had started their…conversation last year. She turned to look at him, thick tears drooping unhappily on her face, spilling off her chin and jaw and splattering so quickly to the ground that he could actually hear it when they collided together. She shook her head depressively, and she dropped the cigarette and choked lously when he pulled her into a hug. His arms wrapped around her slender form and he kept one hand on the back of her head, his fingers gently stroking through her hair. Her arms clutched at his jacket, pulling him closer to her, not doing this deliberately, but out of a wish for comfort.
'No one has the right to make you feel like this,' he said in her ear, trying to calm down her hysterical sobs. Eventually, when she was done and Janet wiped the tears from her face, she looked up at him, 'Andy, what happened last year, I can't let it turn into some annual thing. He's my husband, and whether we love each other, I can't leave the girls.'
'Listen to me,' he commanded, gripping both her shoulders and staring scarily into her eyes, 'I can't sit here and watch you get hurt by him anymore.'
'Andy, nothing is going to happen again. As much as I wish it could, it really can't,' she said remorsefully, making her way back inside. She had reached the doorway when she was suddenly pressed against the wall and Andy's lips met hers. She tried to protest at first, but they were halfhearted protests, she didn't want to stop it. She had waited a whole year to be kissed like this again, and if this was the one time of year that it happened at, then she was definetly making the most of it. Firmly holding her by the waist, he continued to kiss her, growing to love the tobaccoey taste on her lips. It just made her more irresistible than ever before.
'What the hell is going on here?' a voice violently shouted, causing a nearby bird to fall out of its nest in fright. Andy quickly removed himself from Janet's lips and prayed to God that he would live to survive this evening. There stood Adrian, an apologetic looking Rachel standing behind him, his face alive with anger and sheer fury.
'Oh shit,' Janet said breathlessly, attempting to straighten out her hair and clothing. She blushed ferociously and gazed awfully at Adrian, who had a look of utmost hatred and vemehence displayed on his face. Adrian stood, fuming, and walked up to Andy, smashing him up against the wall, causing him to smack his head violently.
'Adrian, you don't want to do that! You can't assault an officer!' Rachel yelled, runnning forward to pull him off. Rachel shot a look towards Janet who was just stood there blankly, paralysed bu shock. She was ever so clearly trying to say what the hell have you done? and trying so hard not to be judgemental, but she couldn't help but shake her head in disappointment.
'What did you do, you bastard!' Adrian shouted at Andy, holding him by the collar, ignoring Rachel. Janet finally snapped out of her daydream and calmly walked over to Adrian, using the techniques and tones she used when talking to suicidal people, 'Aide, he didn't do anything. It was my fault.'
Adrian smirked and shook his head madly and drunkenly and slurred, 'No, because I know you wouldn't, because you love me and you just wouldn't do that to me.'
'Oh get some perspective Adrian! This is your fault!' Janet cried passionately, 'I try so hard to be appreciated. I do everything for you, but sometimes I just need to feel like I matter,' she said tearfully, standing by herself, almost cut off from everyone else, like she was in her own little bubble. Adrian looked at her in shock and sheer disbelief, but did not look angry anymore, 'Has this happened before?'
Janet and Andy shot a look to one another. This was going to be a long, messy night…
X – X – X
'Oi the boss is coming!' Kevin hissed to the office, everyone scurrying around immediately, pretending to look very busy. DCI Gill Murray walked in, eyes rimmed in grey from a rather extreme hangover. Gill stared intently at everyone in the office,
'What are you all looking at? Get back to work!' she said obviously, waving and flapping her hands madly. She scrutinized Janet, who was standing tiredly next to Andy, who was gently hugging her, whispering in her ear reassuringly, and motioned for them both to follow her into her office. They followed grudgingly, Janet only hesistating for a moment to tell Rachel to, viciously, 'shut it' after she raised an eyebrow.
Andy closed Gill's office door quietly and went to stand next to Janet. He fumbled around in his pockets, not having the guts to look at his DCI.
'Now, I was very, very drunk last night, but a little birdy told me about,' she removed her glasses and waving them accusingly at the two, 'You two. Now, I know it's not my business who my officers sleep with, buuuuuuut, when it's two officers both from my regiment, and one of them is married, well, would you care to explain youselves?'
'Oh not again,' they both said in unison, slapping their hands on their foreheads.