Fandom: Law and Order: UK
Pairing: Matt/Alesha, with mentions of James/Alesha
Warnings: Spoilers for 1X7 “Alesha”
Summary: He wishes she didn’t mean more than the rest of them combined.
A/N: Betaed by blackmamba_esq. Lingering mistakes are mine.
She would never admit to anyone how long it takes her to get ready for a date. Three hours is too much time; there’s not much to it really, clothes, a little makeup, maybe some perfume if she remembers. But those are the easy bits; it gets harder once her thoughts butt into what should be a clear cut either or situation. Alesha’s a planner; she makes lists and ticks off every possible outcome of the evening before the doorbell rings. Neurotic. She’d never wish herself on anyone in this state.
There’s another thing. Matt Devlin’s not just anyone; he’s a friend—well, as much of a friend as someone can be when you work together. They may not have met otherwise, having such divergent social circles, interests, not much in common besides liking each other. Friends with flirting—real friends don’t chat each other up that much do they, not unless that “friendship” wasn’t actually one at all, just a cover for whatever he’s really after.
The ins and outs of courtship are confusing. There are too many rules, too many parts of the equation that never logically add up. The smallest decision can be big enough to alter the entire course of your life. It can happen; she knows that better than anyone.
The navy dress wins out over the red. She doesn’t realize why until Matt smiles in the doorway, ends his quick onceover with an appreciative, “You look nice.” Apparently this was her intent, to look nice, not stunning, or God forbid sexy. Capped sleeves, hem just above her thighs, a modest cut that doesn’t pull when she bends over or lifts her arms. Nothing a woman would wear on a third date, THE third date with a friend she trusts implicitly.
Alesha smiles back and gives a soft “Thank you,” that she hopes doesn’t let on how deeply disappointed she is in herself.
He’s a bit out of it; they’ve finished off the bottle of the wine he brought for her, not for him because he’s fond of lager. It makes her smile, whenever he brings her things, and this one is her favorite. “You remembered,” she says, the bottle pressed between her breasts. Of course he remembered.
“I remember everything.”
The words come out cockier than they were in his head, but he just smiles and goes with it because that’s what she expects. It’s the way she keeps them light, uncomplicated. And he lets her. This bothers him more than he’ll ever admit.
Two hours pass before she brings up James. Yes, he’s counting, though he doesn’t want to. He’s made up his mind that they haven’t slept together, that her admiration is just that and not love, lust or—he can’t get much further than that, but you get the idea—that its more like a student enamored by her teacher. Even that brings decidedly low brow connotations, her in a plaid jumper, Steel bending her over, paddle at the ready. He’s a cop; it’s just how he thinks. He always sees the worst in people.
He doesn’t pressure her to do anything that might make her feel uncomfortable. They could have finished the movie, even started another one, she has fifteen of her favorite movies on disc and they’ve only watched three of them together—or they could talk about work, though they promise they won’t, but they always end up doing that anyway. Alesha enjoys seeing things through his eyes, cop eyes, which aren’t quite as cynical as they should be—as he thinks they are. This is what would have happened if she hadn’t planned things out earlier, talked herself up to a point that she couldn’t back out of, not without feeling hopeless. She’s never backed down from anything before she was—and he wants this, she can see it every time he looks at her without looking at her, glances that she could have missed if she chose to ignore them.
His gentleness is comforting at first, each button at her back meticulously pulled apart, one after another, with two seconds in between (yes she’s counting. She wonders if he’s counting too.) His breath is warm on her neck and shoulder and his hair smells of soap, clean. She inhales, breathing becoming more difficult with each button—each second that ticks by. He’ll be better at this than her, more experienced. More sure. She’s never good at letting go, acting on instincts she doesn’t trust anymore and sex is all about that, isn’t it—dear god, she’s no good at this.
Matt rubs his fingers at the small of her bare back and it’s warm, comforting, like the stubble on his chin when he kisses her cheek. He says, “We should stop,” and she closes her eyes, not wanting to cry because it’ll just make it worse. He kisses her again, on the lips this time and it’s so nice, beautiful really.
It’s not fine, but she nods because speaking has become one of those impossible things, like traveling through time or being the woman she was before.
It’s his first night sleeping over and he’s restless. Matt’s never liked sleeping away from his own bed, his own walls. His mum said it was in his blood, that some people were nomadic by nature, wanderers. But they were rooted in tradition, family and home. He has to trust his surroundings enough to shift around the bed, hang off the edge without knowing how he got there.
This implies that he doesn’t trust Alesha, which isn’t true. Not exactly. Or—he feels new to her, more unsettled than anything else, it’s the only time she’s invited him to stay and not murmured something about a big case in the morning. He’s used that excuse himself, plenty of times, and felt guilty afterwards; he’s not heartless enough not to. He wishes he were a bit callous when it comes to women, but he’s not. Their smells, their smiles, that indention above their collar bone, it affects him. They linger, leave their mark, at least that’s the way it feels. He wishes he were indifferent to her. He wishes she didn’t mean more than the rest of them combined.
Alesha chooses the right side of the bed, usually his side. But a gentleman defers to the lady in these situations and it’s her bed after all. It’s not his place to demand otherwise. Matt likes her weight on his arm, the prickly tingle it causes. The ends of her hair brush his skin and make it itch now and then. He doesn’t feel alone.
Alesha wakes up to light and sounds, light because it’s morning and sounds because there is movement—shuffling feet, cabinet doors opening and shutting, her kettle whistling, the television on. She checks her hair and makes sure her robe is serviceably clean before venturing out of the room, the smile already forming on her face before she turns a corner at the end of her hallway.
As woman who’s spent most of her adult life alone, who’s never managed to reach domesticity with anyone other than her cat, watching Matt Devlin aggressively scrambling eggs at her stove is a perfect moment she hadn’t realized she needed until now. His eyes are on the television screen, watching the news that will eventually become their work, which she’ll be late for if she doesn’t hurry to the shower, but then she’s never been late before. She’ll call James a little later. One morning won’t end the world.
Matt glances down at his burning eggs and curses, then looks up as if she’s made some sort of sound (maybe she did) and grins, “Making breakfast.”
Alesha grins back with a nod, “That’s one way to put it.”
She doesn’t feel alone.