Present For/Prompt: yorkshirewench | Toys
Word Count: 1000
Summary: “You know it’s not just a drink,” Ros reminds him softly. “It never is.”
Author’s Notes: Spoilers up to and including 7x05. Set vaguely around that time period. No, I did not go down the “sex toys” route ;) It should probably be noted that I wrote this while my temperature was so high I was only a couple of degrees off hallucinating (because I’ve got to entertain myself while flu-ridden, haven’t I?).
“Drink?” Lucas offers, a careful lightness to his tone to detract from the offer itself.
Ros’ lips curl slightly, something that isn’t quite a smile. “Careful,” she warns.
The problem is that once upon a time Lucas North liked people; since then he’s forgotten how to do that. Or he lost it on the twelfth day, ragged cigarette pressed against his lips like a reprieve and still the word Sugarhorse spat at him, mixed with the water. He’s not as precise as he’d like to be about that time, things have been folded away into dark dusty corners and it might be best to leave them there; so of course he can’t pinpoint exactly when anything other than thin tolerance became impossible.
“It’s just a drink,” Lucas points out.
“You know it’s not just a drink,” Ros reminds him softly. “It never is.”
“Don’t worry,” Lucas tells her with a wry smirk, “I wouldn’t dare step over the line from colleagues to friends.”
Ros smiles; there are memories, suspicions there beneath the twist of her mouth, but Lucas can’t begin to guess at them and so doesn’t.
“When was the last time you slept?” Ros asks, voice steady. There isn’t a shred of concern in there, and that’s a relief too.
Lucas chooses to shrug rather than reply. Sometimes he wishes his memory wasn’t quite so photographic, wasn’t quite so accurate. It would be nice to be able to switch it off for a while and try to feel like a person; though no one at MI5 really feels like a person any more, that much is evident. And if Harry wants all the details on Sugarhorse at the cost of Lucas’ meagre peace of mind; well, at least he can say it isn’t a surprise.
“Worried about me?” he asks. Besides, if you want to get technical, Ros looks like she hasn’t really slept for at least two days either.
“You look dreadful,” Ros tells him, amusement threading through her voice.
Lucas already knows.
The paperwork is piling up, apparently even if the economy hasn’t come crashing down around their ears there’s still a hell of a lot of explaining to do. Lucas has been drinking instant coffee for around three hours and is starting to remember that there are some things that even an eight-year absence can’t improve.
And really, there are only so many ways to write well, Ben Kaplan and I should have run faster, and it’s just as well our Section Chief can take care of herself.
Lucas imagines that Ros’ paperwork is a little more complicated; the fine line between bravery and recklessness, just how far she took the game to ensure its success, and the personal jeopardy she placed herself in to push the pieces into place.
Finally, she sighs, looking up with her desk lamp casting gold through her hair.
“One drink,” she says.
Lucas stands up, picking his jacket from the back of his chair and shrugging it over his shoulders, snapping his own desk lamp off.
“And I don’t want to talk about your ex-wife, your eight years in a cell, or what your tattoos mean,” Ros adds as they’re walking out.
Lucas permits himself the first trace of a smile; he would never have brought up any of those things, and he thinks Ros knows that anyway.
“I don’t want to talk about Adam Carter,” he replies, just to sting her in return.
The curl of her lips is definitely rueful.
It’s harder, now they’re not faking it. A pretty couple for the CCTV cameras once; now they’re left to alcohol and too many untouchable topics. People around them chat and laugh; Lucas entertains the possibility and realises that that, too, is out of their hands now.
“They don’t tell you that joining the Secret Service robs you of smalltalk,” he observes.
“I never had much patience for it,” Ros replies lightly.
“No.” Lucas tastes a smile on his mouth as he swallows vodka. “I can imagine that.”
“Well.” Ros’ eyes are lit with something approaching real amusement. “We could talk about tasers.”
“Not really a neutral conversation topic,” Lucas points out, and ends up ordering more vodka than he means to.
Another glass of wine. “Meynell was trying to achieve something, you know. In amongst the destruction.”
Lucas shrugs. “Well, you believe that.”
Ros smiles at him, an edge to it. “Russia made you cynical,” she observes.
Lucas shakes his head. “Russia made me tired. I was already cynical; the divorce finalised long before I was taken.”
Ros tips her head to one side, and repeats: “Lovers leave, friends annoy you, family…”
Lucas considers open skies and grass and pray for it and his fingers tighten slightly around his glass.
“…isn’t worth talking about.”
“Are left with nothing at all to talk about.”
They both smile, though it isn’t funny.
“Lovers, friends, family, colleagues.” Ros counts them off on her fingers. “The dire little categories.”
“We’re all pieces in someone else’s game,” Lucas points out. “It comes down to who’s playing with you and who you’re playing with.”
It’s both a relief and disheartening to see his world view reflected in Ros’ eyes.
“So whose toy are you?” she asks.
It’s a very personal question, Lucas reflects. He waves a hand.
“Take your pick.”
Ros isn’t drunk because she’ll never give him that piece of herself, but she’s definitely tired and that’s really enough.
“Adam was… a mistake,” she decides, on the wet pavement waiting for a cab. “I don’t know how your toy theory works with him.”
“Gnothi Seauton,” Lucas replies. “Know yourself. Which is often more trouble than it’s worth.”
Ros considers this, pale beneath the streetlight. “I told you,” she observes dispassionately. “I told you, it’s never just a drink.”
“It’s all right,” Lucas tells her, “I still don’t think we’re friends.”
Ros smiles. “So who is playing with who?”
Lucas smiles back. “I wouldn’t worry. I’m sure we’ll find out soon enough.”