DISCLAIMER: Waking the Dead and its characters are the property of the BBC. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This little fic has been in many forms and through many changes. It started life as a conversation between Mel and Grace about the stuff that's now in this fic.
CHALLENGE: Written as part of the 1001 Nights Challenge - belief
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SPOILERS: Set during 'Fugue States' (4.03)

Take you through your darkest hour
By Angie


She stays late, watching hours and hours of court footage, trying to find something that will help the case. Or that's what she tells herself. She doesn't want to acknowledge the fact that maybe she just doesn't want to go home and be alone with her thoughts.

Her thoughts are no longer straightforward. Immediately after the incident it was clear in her head. It was a good shoot. She saw a suspect carrying what looked like a weapon. She shouted for him to drop the weapon. He didn't drop it. She shot him.

But now…she's not sure. She's seen the unspoken questions in people's eyes. Was there another reason you shot him? Do you have abandonment issues? If your mother hadn't given you up for adoption, would that man be lying in hospital fighting for his life right now?

The truth is she just doesn't know. For all that she had a happy childhood and she loves her family, there is a part of her that wonders why she wasn't good enough for her mother to keep her. To love her.

"You trying to outdo me?"

Frankie's voice rouses her out of her reverie. She looks up and stretches her arms over her head, wincing as her back cracks. She smiles tiredly.

"Thought it was the only chance I'd get to spend some time with you."

Frankie comes to stand behind Mel's chair, rubbing her shoulders gently.

"Ah, so this is a date then?"

Mel laughs. She tips her head back so that it rests against Frankie's stomach.

"Some people go to the cinema, we get to watch videos of tribunals from the 80s."

Frankie grins and leans down to press a soft kiss on Mel's lips.

"Lucky us."

She stands back up and puts a hand on her chin in thought.

"Well, seeing as you've caught me off guard with your sneaky seduction tactics, all I can offer you is bloody revolting coffee from the machine and half a Twix. Not quite haute cuisine."

It isn't. But it's just what she needs. Coffee, chocolate and Frankie being normal with her. Frankie's digging into the pocket of her jeans and sorting through the coins.

"Oh, and you might need to go halfers with me on the coffee. I bought Spence an Aero earlier and I've not got much change left."

Frankie's the only one who hasn't looked at her doubtfully since the shooting. She accepted Mel's version of events without question. Mel supposes that Frankie believes that the shot was in defense of Mel's own life. The evidence suggests just that. A dark building, a potential weapon, a disregarded command. Frankie doesn't really question the inner-workings of the mind.

And for that she is thankful.

She knows that Frankie will listen when she wants to talk. She knows Frankie will hold her when she lets herself cry. She knows that Frankie will stay with her, even when it gets hard.

Mel stands up and fishes a couple of pound coins out of her pocket and holds them out to Frankie.

"What the hell, get two Twixes!"

Frankie grins and takes the money, stepping closer to Mel and wrapping her arms around Mel's waist.

"Never let it be said that I don't know how to show a girl a good time. And I even let her pay for it."

Mel pulls Frankie close and they stand in silence for a moment. Mel turns her head, her nose against Frankie's ear.

"I love you," she whispers.

She feels Frankie smile against her neck before pressing a kiss there.

"Love you too."

Frankie lifts her head. Her eyes roam over Mel's face.

"You OK?"

Mel nods, thinking for the first time that she actually might be. She smacks Frankie's arse lightly.

"I thought you were getting the chocolate, woman."

Frankie raises an eyebrow but heads off in the direction of the vending machines. Mel pulls a chair over beside her own and sits back down, rewinding the video footage. She smiles as Frankie comes back in, two chocolate bars dangling from her teeth and a cup of scalding bitumen in each hand. She sets the cups down on the desk and sits down beside Mel, handing her a Twix and ripping into the other one. Wordlessly they watch the screen. Frankie's hand comes to rest on Mel's thigh and Mel covers it with her own.

And all at once, things don't seem as hopeless.

The End

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