This is for Didget - because I didn't give you a happy ending, here's a happy beginning instead - and for Hannah because she's always harrassing me into writing more!
Rachel knocked the open door of Gill's office as she leaned on the frame. 'I've finished that prep for Jordan.'
Gill looked up, struggling to focus as her eyes adjusted to the darkness outside the brief circle of light from her computer screen and desk lamp.
'Good,' she nodded, taking off her glasses. 'We can go straight in with him in the morning as soon as his solicitor gets here.' She gave Rachel one of those almost smiles, a softening around the eyes and slight pursing of the lips. It was hard to define but it was the sort of look that Rachel lived for. She fought down a little grin.
'Thanks kid.' Gill continued. 'You didn't have to stay.'
Both Gill's office and the main one were almost in darkness. The only two pools of light were her desk and Rachel's, with everything else rendered orangey-dim in the glow from the street lights. Rachel leaned against the door, enjoying the sensation of being in Gill's good books, hoping for a little more. Gill had turned back to her computer but Rachel thought that tonight she might just push her luck.
'What you working on now Boss?'
'Your transfer papers you nosey cow.' Gill didn't even hesitate. Rachel blinked, unsure whether she had gone too far. Then Gill pulled her glasses off again and looked over at her properly.
'Collating the various reports we got in today. Cross-referencing, that sort of thing. Fascinating stuff.' Rachel wasn't sure if she was being sarcastic or serious so she gave an uncertain sort of smile. The lamplight on Gill's face was softening the angles and catching glints in her hair and it was really very distracting. Rachel had to blink again when Gill suddenly changed tack.
'What did you think of his wife, Jordan? You met her didn't you, when you went in with the arrest team?'
'Yeah,' Rachel said. Her forehead creased as she called up her impression of the woman in question. 'Dog rough but terrified. Kept trying to tell us reasons why it couldn't be him but she was blatantly making them up on the spot. Scared of him. I wouldn't be surprised if he abuses her.'
Gill tapped her fingers on her desk as she considered Rachel's words. 'Was she scared of you lot, or just of her husband?'
Rachel moved over towards the desk. Gill was on to something, chasing a line of thought. Not a hunch, it wouldn't be with her, it had to be inspired by something she had picked up in those reports. Rachel felt a buzz starting deep inside that banished her weariness. She wanted to be part of this.
'I think, both. In fact, I think she might know a lot more than she's letting on.'
'Why?' Gill tapped her glasses on her desk, considering. Rachel hesitated, aware that she was about to say something that might get her into trouble.
'I er... I put some questions in for the interview with Jordan, about his wife.' She watched Gill carefully and was reassured by the fact that she didn't immediately get her head bitten off. Gill looked cautiously interested so Rachel hurried on.
'Nothing much, nothing direct, just trying to find out where she was and what she does know. Or what he thinks she knows. I don't know why but I get this feeling that she's keeping something back.'
Gill nodded. Rachel held her breath. She waited. She almost broke and asked why again but, just in time, Gill spoke.
'Female DNA on the murder weapon.'
'And you think?' Rachel leapt at it. Gill gave her a look.
'Could be. Got to have come from somewhere.' The two women smiled at each other, sharing the excitement of a new lead.
'Do you fancy a drink?' It wasn't the first time Gill had asked her but Rachel was still surprised by it.
'Uh yeah.' Her smile softened, leaving her face open. Gill's eyes warmed slightly. She got a tiny but distinct flutter every time Rachel did that, relaxing her guard around her. Gill folded up her glasses and reached into the top drawer of her desk. For a moment, Rachel half expected her to pull out a bottle of whisky, then she gave herself a mental slap – only on the telly did senior police officers keep hard drink in their offices. And if any of them did it in real life, Gill Murray would be the last person who would. Instead, she took out her glasses case and tucked them away. Rachel looked at her watch.
'It's a bit late for The Grapes,' she observed. Actually, it was a bit late for most places, local ones at any rate. It was far later than she had realised, she had been that caught up in her interview prep.
'Hmm.' Gill examined her own watch with a frown. She looked distinctly put out. Rachel decided to take a risk, quick before she could think about it and change her mind.
'Err, I've got a bottle of wine in, at my flat, if you like. It's not far.'
Gill held her gaze. Rachel felt her heart thundering in the silent office. If she said no... If she said yes...
'All right.' Gill knew she was crossing a line. It was a line she had drawn between herself and anybody she had been remotely attracted to since the débâcle with Dave. Don't get close. Don't get attached. Don't go looking for trouble. But tonight, she would step out beyond all that. A baby step perhaps, or maybe something more.
'We can talk about your brilliant interview techniques,' she said with a wry smile, not letting Rachel take her too seriously. She could tell herself it was just a drink, one drink.
She could tell herself that.
They drove round there separately. Rachel had to admit she was impressed with Gill's ability to keep up with her. The boss had always seemed like such a sensible driver any time she had been in a car with her but she was right behind her the whole way. Rachel didn't say anything though, just smiled nervously and unlocked the door, led the way. That was when it got awkward. Rachel wasn't used to having people in her space; it made her uncomfortable, hyper-aware of what everything around her said about herself. She was also aware that she was crap at the whole hostess thing. There were rules to this that no-one had ever bothered to teach her. Normally it didn't bother her, but Gill was special. She expected to be treated properly and frankly, Rachel thought, she deserved it.
'Just er, make yourself comfy,' she muttered, waving at the sofa. Rachel dumped her bag and coat on a kitchen chair and reached for two glasses and the bottle of wine she had left on the worktop.
Gill looked around her. It was nice, she thought. Small but very clean and pleasant. If she was honest, she had expected more chaos. Gill took off her coat and, after glancing around, laid it over the back of the nearest chair. She accepted the glass of red wine with the gratitude of a copper at the right end of a very long day. Rachel clutched her own glass in both hands, trying not to show how awkward she felt. This was stupid. It was her house. Oh bugger, she thought, noticing Gill's coat, I probably should have offered to hang that up or something. More nervous than ever, she took a long swig of wine, failing to notice that Gill was doing exactly the same. They had both half-emptied their glasses before even sitting down.
'I think you'd better bring that bottle over.' Gill raised her eyebrows then, when Rachel looked at her blankly, she raised her glass and nodded at Rachel's.
'Oh... right.' Rachel could have kicked herself. Still, if Gill was matching her drinking too, she could hardly accuse her of being an alcoholic.
'Do you want to sit down?' she added, trying to remember how you did this sort of thing.
Gill took a seat on the sofa, secretly hoping that Rachel would join her. It was normal, of course, for a young DC to be a bit jumpy about having the boss round for a drink, but nobody could pretend that that was all that they were. The atmosphere was tense but Gill thought it was at least partly the tension of anticipation. Rachel had been chasing her for ages and, these past few months, Gill had been letting her, encouraging her, letting her in bit by hard-won bit. This was a big step. It had to mean something.
Rachel returned with the bottle and paused almost imperceptibly before taking the other end of the sofa. She leaned over and filled their glasses. Gill could smell her perfume, she realised with a sweet lurch in her stomach.
'So, if we arrest Jordan's wife,' Rachel began abruptly.
'That's a big if.' Gill couldn't help but remind her. Rachel waved her hand dismissively.
'Yeah but if we do, what's our line of questioning?'
Gill cocked her head back. 'You tell me. You're the brilliant young detective.'
Rachel flushed slightly at her teasing but she refused to be put off. 'I'd say, start by taking her through the story she's given us, full of holes.' Rachel waved her hand expansively.
'Then I'd break that down slowly, pointing out all her inconsistencies and what these suggest. Then,' she paused to tuck her knees up. 'I'd put it to her whatever he says, her husband, whatever it is – he's bound to have something to say about her. See what she says, follow up any bullshit she tries to throw at us and bring in the bit about the murder weapon last.'
Gill twisted in her seat, observing the way Rachel's face glowed as she warmed to her subject, the long lines of her body leaning back into the sofa. 'If she is involved, what's her motive?'
'She could have been coerced, under duress even. I'd say he's capable of forcing her to do pretty much anything.' Rachel's eyes sparked.
'Or,' Gill chipped in, 'it could have been her acting on her own, if she had a good enough reason.'
Rachel's face fell into thought and Gill seized the moment to kick off her shoes and curl her feet beneath her. She took a long sip of her wine whilst she watched the cogs clicking and whirring in Rachel's brain reflected on her face.
'I could see her doing it out of desperation and that would fit with the nature of the attack. What was the word you used earlier?'
'Frenzied.' Their eyes met. Rachel forgot what she was saying. The bones in Gill's face were so delicate but her expression was so firm. It sent all sorts of confusing signals racketing through her.
'Errr... yeah. Frenzied. She'd had enough, pushed too far. If we do end up arresting her, it would be interesting to see if she shows any signs of being assaulted herself.'
'Mmm.' Gill raised her eyebrows. Rachel watched her as she stared off into the middle-distance, in her own world for a minute. What was she thinking? What was she seeing? Rachel felt her palms itch with an urge to touch her, just touch any part of her, touch her face, as if that could connect them. She would have given anything to have been able to do some kind of mind-meld thing and see what was going on in Gill's head. She fought the urge for half a minute then her attempt at restraint back-fired and she found herself blurting out a question to get Gill's attention again.
'What about him then, the husband?'
Gill turned her eyes on her and Rachel found that this time she was forgetting to breathe, even though the look was only the same sort of look her boss might give her on any day – taking a moment to gather her thoughts.
'The delectable Mr. Jordan,' she said slowly. 'It is possible that he had nothing to do with it.'
'Like he's been saying all along.' Rachel added, her tone non-committal.
'Just because he's a scumbag doesn't necessarily mean he is lying to us. There's always a first time.' The two of them grinned wryly.
'We'll have to see,' Gill said.
She leaned her head back against the sofa. She was tired. The room was quiet, dim. The wine was humming pleasantly through her veins. Rachel's presence was making her feel relaxed yet alert at the same time. Expectant.
Rachel was watching her again. Gill could feel her eyes on her. She breathed out slowly and heard Rachel make a small funny sound like her breath catching in her throat. With a thrill running through her, Gill turned her head against the sofa-back so that she could see the dark-haired younger woman. They held a long look between them, eyes narrowing as they each weighed up the situation, then their faces softened ever so slowly as they read the growing hope in each others' eyes.
'What are you thinking?' Gill spoke quietly. Rachel looked surprised.
Gill stretched out a hand and touched Rachel's knee. Rachel went very still. For some seconds they only breathed. Until Rachel turned and kissed her.
Rachel turned her whole body in to Gill's, curling around close against her. She cupped her face between her hands and kissed her decidedly. And Gill kissed back with months of hunger in her mouth.
When they did break apart a couple of inches, gasping slightly, they moved only far enough to be able to focus on each others' eyes.
'How about, we forget I'm your boss?' Gill suggested with a smile. Rachel couldn't help her lips curling into almost a smirk.
'Suits me,' she whispered.
'I think,' Gill started to speak but found she was moving her mouth against Rachel's, kissing her again and the words died off into a moan as Rachel's tongue claimed hers. She dug her hands deep into all that thick dark hair, holding Rachel against her, pressing herself forward, trying to get closer. Rachel traced her thumbs along Gill's cut-glass cheekbones then wrapped her arms around her. If she could just get close enough, deep enough into her, if they could just mould their bodies completely together.
Gill broke the kiss with a gasp as Rachel's roaming hands tugged at her shirt, finding skin.
Rachel froze, thinking for one awful, world-sinking moment that Gill was going to say they should stop.
'I reckon,' Gill pull Rachel back close again so she could mutter against her lips.
'I must be over the limit by now.' She flicked her eyes briefly to the nearly empty wine bottle. 'So I'd better not go anywhere for at least a couple of hours.'
Rachel grinned and relaxed. For once she was absolutely certain that they were thinking the same thing.