Title: Spatial Things - 02/??
A/N: This fic is starting to form more as one big, long fic that doesn't work on a "chapter" basis, but I'd be a complete liar if I said I wasn't eager to get the latest installment out to everyone (well...I think two people are reading this, but either way - EVERYONE). So, yes, it will continue (sort of) where it left off, and YES, smut is on the horizon! Fear not!
He's loosened your tie again, and this time there are no excuses, no fumbling passes, no disguised flirtations (not that they were really disguised or fumbling before – you're the one who dropped the ball on those).
It's 3 a.m. and somehow it's always 3 a.m. when this sort of thing happens. Fever pitch. Invincibility. Flashes of brilliance. Never like this, though. You were thinking out loud, each voice overlapping the other's, and the sedan was hot and he wouldn't crank the engine and he wouldn't roll the windows down. Something about the heat invigorating the brain, something he couldn't actually explain but you understood anyway. This is how things operate.
Breaks, revelations, they're nothing new. But things have been different, these last couple of years. Different and heavy. Breaks and revelations take craftwork now, and when the moments are so exclusive to the two of you, it's just so much better. Settle into it, let the excitement tremble because it might not lead to anything, yet again. The anticipation, the revelation itself, is the best part. It's best that this sort of thing always happens at 3 a.m., because no real action can be called until other people (normal people?) wake up and phone calls are made.
"Dave." you're calling him Dave now, like everyone else, because it's been a handful of years and it's about time.
You could tell a good minute ago that he wanted to say something – the noise he made wasn't a gasp, it was that sharp, lip-smacking intake just before a pontification. He stunted it. Why? His hand was rubbing the back of your neck. It slipped off and it's on the steering wheel now, the stationary steering wheel. So you're prompting him. Sometimes you have to do that. Especially these days, when nothing really seems to make sense and everything runs the risk of sounding like a delusion.
"I'm just thinking – Bill – what if we're right about this? I mean, this time, what if it's really this simple?"
"You wanted something grander." You say it deadpan, because you know it's true.
"Well." The word encapsulates an entire dissertation on the subject, but he moves past it easily enough with one of those tell-tale tics at the corner of his mouth as he looks at nothing in particular. "Rats in a maze, Bill. It just feels like even if we catch this guy it's going to seem like he won the game."
"You know what I mean."
"Is this is a game, what would constitute us winning, if not catching him?" Your voice is so deep when you're tired, and god you're tired. But the adrenaline is refusing to ebb.
He can't answer the question. He seems a bit displeased that he can't, and exhales sharply through his nose. His hand moves off the steering wheel. There's a file between the two of you, on the seat, and he thumbs it shut, closing away the notes and the photographs and the copies of copies. You've been talking about murder and methodology all night, and there seems to be a flow now, instead of a flood. It's all been forged into one calm channel, one that both of you can sidestep, because there's something there, and this isn't just a break waiting to be announced, this is a vacation in the middle of the night, a breath.
"I guess there's no point talking about it right now, is there? Might jinx us."
He draws his hand back from the folder, slow motion toward the steering wheel, the ignition. "Maybe you can still get a few hours' sleep at home if—"
"Let's just go back," you've been practically living in hotels for months. Andrea suppresses the shock she feels whenever she actually sees you, now. Somehow she knows the importance, but she can't fathom the choices you're making, "a few hours is sort of like torture, you know?"
"Yeah." He looks over at you, finally, and there's eye contact for a brief moment. He nods. Sympathy. But underneath that, an apology of some sort, a tone that takes the blame.
Your hands go for your tie. You almost tighten it, but instead you unfurl it, slip it from around your neck, roll your head around. A groan escapes. Too much thinking during the night, too much legwork during the day. And Dave takes the blame. Questions may or may not be flying – are you the only one who can stand to be his partner, or will he not have anyone else? More importantly, does anyone else know yet? Of course not. The two of you have learned to catch peoples' mistakes, every day of your adult lives. Hiding something like this is easy.
You just want to sleep, really you do. Back at the hotel in the company of an eerie headquarters for the investigation (purely temporary, of course), you've learned the feeling of the bed well enough to blink out at a moments' notice. But you don't, not this time. You're practically face-down in the pillow but you're not sleeping. The shower is running and Dave doesn't think he can sleep again (also hasn't eaten since last night), and you're thinking this is where it all started.
He starts singing, and it lulls you. He apologized the first few times, and by now he knows you don't mind. Singing is a habit, singing was a viable career choice for him at one point. You actually like it. It feels comfortable, and it's grounding. It's something pleasant, something that gets under your skin in the right way. His voice is a baritone flirting with a tenor at times, but when he's pitch-perfect he's all Frank Sinatra with a bit more soul. He says his falsetto isn't the best, but he probably only says that because you smile every time he gets lost in a Guess Who song and hits a high note.
God, that song again. You don't dislike it. But it's not a lullaby anymore. "These eyes…cry every night…for you…" it's one of his favorites that isn't old and jazzy and recorded on a scratchy record bought at a shop in Mississippi somewhere. He has an overabundance of natural bravado, and so when he sings in the shower it just sounds like he's crooning a bittersweet ballad in the rain. That's what woke you up that first night, actually. You didn't know he was a singer, at that point. The two of you didn't know a lot about each other, at that point. Just that you worked together, you got along, and you were a fine match of personalities. But a singer…well, that was one of those reveals they made in movies to flesh a character out, wasn't it? Not real, and it wasn't like Dave needed any more bright lights to his name. "These arms…long to hold you again…"
He's deceptively built, Dave is. Almost small, but solid, everything about him some sort of powerful, from his eyes to his voice to his arms. You felt his arms before you even knew he was in the same bed as you, that night, and that night wasn't so very long ago, but it was long enough. Strong arms, and you were your usual awkward self, not quite knowing what to do, answering his questions, his concerns, his caveats with a hushed, almost apprehensive voice. "Do you mind this?" No. "Does this feel weird to you?" …no. (you'd had to think on that one…but it didn't feel weird at all. That was what you had to think about – then you remember he hadn't asked you why it didn't feel weird, but whether it did at all). "Okay." Okay.
And that was just holding you, just kissing the back of your neck and trapping your chest and stomach with his deceptively built arms. You felt caged but also strangely safe. He kept singing, and you didn't ask him to stop, and the vibrations went through you, against your back and up your spine from where they vibrated in his chest, where he clutched you from behind. Nat King Cole, that night. He wasn't sure you'd take so easily to the more serious jazz and blues singers he favored, but either way Nat King Cole was perfect for sharing a bed, for sharing the ebb and fall and breath of his voice, for holding your breath and wondering what was next.
But he didn't sing you to sleep. "Bill."
What followed was a diatribe, mostly. No one really knew him. Not even Carol. Not this part of his life, not the crime scenes and the blood and the never-ending mental hitchhiking into dark territory. It had ended at some point, but the vocal end mark had sort of graduated into the physical beginning, his kisses trailing up your back and to your neck, not taking a great deal of effort because he knew you were going to turn around. He knew you weren't one for speaking but he knew you said what mattered and you always said it when it mattered most. "I want you." You said that night, mostly remembering making love to Andrea and how it had been him in your head all those times, and probably hers, too. You were absolved, you figured. Somehow. And you turned around in his arms, and a hand found his thigh. He was ready for it, ready for you.
"Yeah, funny how that works out, wantin' the same things and all."
His eyes are so dark, and they were endless then, looking into you, past the insecurities and the awkwardness. Your abdominal muscles quivered and you gasped as he touched them. There was a kiss waiting somewhere, and you weren't going to ask for it until he offered it. You'd already done enough. You let him know.
So whose fault was it, whose falter? What stole that kiss and turned it into an "I'm sorry…" on Dave's lips? Was it a backlog of What He Was Really Doing suddenly catching up with him? He even slid your hand off of his thigh, and rubbed his forehead, and looked away from you and chuckled. It was the chuckle that was most gutting. Like nothing was even real, like it was all a joke.
Maybe it was. Grander ones had been played on lesser men.
So he stood up, and walked over to stare at the photos of Darlene Ferrin and Michael Mageau and something that was beyond his grasp, at that moment. Sometimes you wondered – times still, like that night, and then perhaps especially – if that was just one more of those things about him. He didn't like actually holding on. What interested Dave was the reaching. The hunt. Space between himself and what he was looking for, and once he had it, it was on to the next. But maybe not. His marriage seemed stable enough, and his kids. Maybe this was just a professional quirk.
There weren't so many murders, in those days. The cab driver on Washington had been called in only a few weeks ago. There weren't so many red herrings, there wasn't so much chaos. The hotel room was cheap but it had a radio. Dave turned it on and kept looking at the wall.
The Guess Who started playing. It was in the middle of the first verse. "The hurtin's on me…I will never be free, no…"
"You don't have to be sorry." You managed, and you wondered even years later where you got that determination, to say even one word. Perhaps his little disappearing act really had affected you. The ball was meant to be in someone's court, and at that point it seemed like it wasn't even in play.
"Hm?" Dave looked over his shoulder, his eyes a little sleepier than before.
Great, you had to speak again. "I said you don't have to be sorry. It…you know…that wasn't—"
He interrupted you at the moment words failed you, and he waved his hand to get the point across. "Yeah, I know. Just get some sleep, we'll have it out later."
" 'Have it out', what are you talking about?"
Nothing, because these things were not meant to be talked about. In Dave's mind, maybe in yours as well, you just had a momentary lapse, and so did he, and as far as reality needed to be concerned, neither of you spoke those last words and had that first kiss. The first and the last of it. Reality didn't need to know.
The song ramped up to the final verse and Dave leaned back against the little table. "I don't know, what am I talking about?" Defensive. He even crossed his arms, and cocked his head a little bit at you.
Your eyes narrowed, out of curiosity, of their own accord. "What just happened? Why did you stop?" And this is where you took over, and this is where you would always take over, but you didn't know it at the time. He was crafted of guilt and impulse, snap decisions and strange, 180-degree conviction. You had the absolution you talked yourself into, the absolution because Andrea wanted him too and she had practically put the thought into your head in the first place. She didn't mind when you said his name instead of hers, and she tried not to speak whenever you did, because she was thinking, too, imagining it. Things far less complicated and far more primal than what had just happened on the bed.
Damnit, there wasn't supposed to be so much complication to this. This was always supposed to just happen, without words, without explanation. With sweat and silence, this was supposed to happen. Maybe you'd imagined it too many times for reality to ever compare.
You sat up and leaned over your knees as Dave ran a hand through his hair and let out a long breath. "Well, we're married, that's a good start."
"That doesn't have anything to do with this, with us."
"It has everything to do with why I stopped."
"So why did you start?"
You were getting too used to this talking thing, too fast. And you were staring him straight down. He refused to be ruffled by it, and rolled his shoulders, and stuck his chest out a little bit. He glanced away for a moment before continuing, just like The Bad Guys always did before lying. "I don't know."
"Oh, but you do know."
"No, I – Bill! I don't know, okay? Leave it alone!"
"Fine!" You held out your hands, palms up, in the midst of a shrug. At once a show of confusion and a show of peace.
"Fine. Good." He nodded resolutely and bowed his eyebrows in, looking particularly disdainful for only a moment before he just sighed and his whole face fell into exhaustion.
But he didn't move. He stood there, leaning a little on the table, and rubbing the bridge of his nose, like he was staving off a headache. But he didn't get headaches. He was thinking. You pretended not to watch him. You pretended to lay down, to turn back onto your side, and not feel him still behind you, against you, breathing on your neck and kissing it. Remembering the way that, when he spoke in that position, your entire body felt it.
It took him more than five minutes to move, to speak, but he did. "Come on, Bill. We don't want this. It's going to just muck things up."
But Dave was making excuses, because Dave needed relief from his stress before it had a chance to become stress. That's why he'd been next to you, claiming you with kisses and strong arms, and that (beyond your own base desires, ones you couldn't deny or run from anymore) was why you wanted him to keep going. He needed it, in a different way than you needed it. His professional life, his work; it was all spaces between, things removed, and you were one of those things until tonight. When people made the first move, though – a challenge or a proposal or a look on their face to indicate they needed to say something more – you rarely ignored it. You'd pursued Andrea relentlessly in college, just as you'd pursued your career goals. Just as you hadn't pursued David until now, because he'd never made that first move. But now was the time.
"Don't be a jerk, come here." You said it softly enough that it didn't sound particularly aggressive. Just another statement. But it needed something else. You gave that much to him, because it was going to come out eventually. "You know I love you just as much as I love my family, right?"
And I want to have you hold me and talk to me and fuck me because whatever relieves you relieves me, and I just want to be included…
"Stop crossing your arms and looking at the floor. Come here and sit down, damnit."
He shook his head and twisted his lip. "Can't do that."
"Why not?" Your voice was replete with frustration, now.
A tense silence as he stared you down, and even though Cat Stevens was playing, you were still playing the Guess Who in your head. His eyes ("these eyes..") bored into you, examined you, sized you up to make sure you understood that what came next would have magnitude, import greater than he could actually express in words.
You never blinked away from his gaze, not for one second.
"Because if I get on that bed now, with you, I'm now going to talk, and I'm not going to stop."
You cleared your throat, and tried to deny that his eyes alone were enough to make your heart race, your brain focus. Before you really knew it or could respond, his words and his eyes had made you hard.
"Bill?" He had to prompt you. He looked so damned serious.
All you had to do was reiterate what you'd already said. "I want you." You said it louder, and it felt unusual on your lips, while you were looking at him, the real him, not just a conjured figment of your desires behind closed eyes as you came.
He nodded again, and it was a decisive moment. There were so many different wants to ask "do you want to?", so many different ways to answer "yes." You'd just found one more permutation.
David turned off the radio.