Title: Overnight Therapy
Spoilers: Season Seven
Summary: Lucas North has someone to confide in and take care of him when the nightmares and bad flashbacks happen.
Disclaimer: All Spooks Characters are the intellectual property of the BBC.
The Inspiration for this story was taken from the song "South City Midnight Lady" by the Doobie Brothers
(Time Line for chapter: Just Prior to Episode 7.04)
“Just give me a second to slip on my boots and I’ll be good to go,” Lori answered Lucas as she came down the hall with her coat and boots in her hand. She discreetly gave him the once over as she came closer to him. She thought, “Looking good Mr. North. You seem to have started to fill out your clothes a bit more. That’s a good thing.”
Lucas smiled and asked, “Would you like to go to a department store to get the pillow or do you prefer a boutique type of shop?”
“Oh a boutique for sure, I find department stores a pain to navigate and they are so impersonal,” Lori answered sliding on her boots and zipping them up. She detested going to big department stores and much preferred the personal service afforded one in a boutique.
“Then a boutique it is. There’s a street filled with all kinds of boutiques and shops not more than five streets from here. And they are in the same area as the Chinese place,” Lucas reported as he extended a hand to help her up.
Lori smiled up at him as she took the hand that had been offered. Still being in her ornery mood she couldn’t resist quipping, “You are such a kind young man helping your elders out of chairs.”
She wanted to chuckle as Lucas rolled his eyes at her and noted that he was trying hard not to give in to a smile but the corners of his mouth did twitch slightly. Lucas said “I’ve always considered age to be more a state of mind and how you feel physically rather than a chronological progression.”
“I like your way of thinking. If that is the case, some days I feel like 110 and others like I’m a little kid again,” Lori sassed grinning at Lucas. It was nice to know that he didn’t see her as someone who was his elder but just another person.
“And by your current demeanour, I would say today you are definitely leaning in the younger direction,” Lucas said as he gave her a lopsided smile.
What was it about that half smile? It always seemed to make her heart skip a beat when it was bestowed upon her. She thought she should explain why she was in such an ornery mood in case he thought she was being nothing more than a smart ass. Lori said, “You would be correct. That’s what happens when I get to take a nap in the middle of day. I pity you having to deal with me tonight”
“Oh, I think I’ll be fine. Remember, I rested too. I do alright holding my own, even against a minx such as you,” Lucas said as he picked her coat up holding it for her. He gave her shoulders a short rub after she had slipped it on.
“If only you knew what rubbing my shoulders does to me, Lucas. Stephen could always get me to do or agree to anything with one simple massage. I’m total putty in your hands when you do that,” Lori thought but said out loud with a wistful sigh, “That feels nice. You keep that up and we won’t get going any time soon. I’ll give you an hour to stop.”
Lucas said patting her shoulder, “Tell you what, we go now and I’ll give a massage when we return.”
“Lucas, you strike a hard bargain, but I accept,” Lori said thrilled he’d given her a chance at a massage. She turned sticking her hand out to shake on it.
He grasped her hand and brought it up to his lips for a kiss before releasing it. He crooked his arm saying, “Shall we?”
“We shall. You’ve got the keys right?” Lori said hoping her voice had come out nonchalant as she put her hand on his arm. She about melted right through the floor from his gallant gesture.
He held up the keys jingling them before sliding them in to his coat pocket. As Lucas opened the door, they were momentarily held up from leaving by two moving men carrying down furniture from the third floor. Lori said, “Hmmm, looks like we are losing an upstairs neighbour.” She thought, “What do you know, Harry is good to his word. Good for him.”
“So it would seem,” Lucas responded. Stepping out in to the hall once it was clear, he shut the door and locked it before taking up Lori’s hand putting it back in the crook of his arm and left his hand covering hers. They only had to wait a minute before they could descend the stairs and out of the building.
Both of them paused on the front step to take a deep breath of clean crisp air. Then turned to each other and smiled. Lucas asked, “Would you rather take a taxi than walk?”
“Oh no, I love to walk,” Lori said giving Lucas’ arm a squeeze. She wondered why he would think they needed to take a taxi just to walk such a short distance. Then it struck her, he might still feel she was a bit weak from last night. She’d show him she was good to go.
Lucas nodded then inclined his head in the general direction they would be heading. He said, “It’s over in this direction.”
They set off at a sedate pace. As they walked Lori remembered she hadn’t properly thanked Lucas for tending to her the past twenty-four hours nor apologized for being such a pain. She said, “I’ve been remiss in thanking you for taking such good care of me yesterday and today and for apologizing if I seemed ungrateful. Lord knows, I’m terrible when it comes to having someone look after my comfort. It’s not something I’m accustomed to, as if you couldn’t tell.”
“You are quite welcome. It was the least I could do to repay in small way all the kindness you bestowed on me this week. Perhaps, you will allow me to help you in becoming accustomed to letting someone dote on every now and again,” Lucas said what she heard to be a note of affection in his voice.
“I think the kindness was mutual, Lucas. You bestowed the great gift of allowing me to monopolize your free time this week. When, I’m sure you could have been doing something much more appealing, like actually getting some sleep in your own bed at a decent hour. Plus, I had the huge extra added bonus of your assistance in obtaining my access pass in an expedient manner for the project and showing me the lay of the land. As far as I’m concerned the only repayment you owe me is allowing me to collect on my twenty question debt and maybe suffer through a bit of my cooking every now and again while I’m here in town,” Lori said sincerely hoping he’d agree to letting her ask twenty questions and cook for him every now and again while she was here.
“Never let it be said, I didn’t honour my debts. And suffer is not the correct term for having the privilege of eating what you prepare. I’ve a feeling if you ever tire of the Project Liaison career, you could open your own place with great success,” Lucas said. Then he asked, “Why are you always putting yourself down?”
She couldn’t remember anyone ever having asked her directly why she was always self deprecating, it caught her a bit off guard. She answered him honestly with a wry smile, “Because it saves the other person from having to do it.”
She hoped that would be end of it but noticed that Lucas seemed to be mulling something over before responding, “There was someone in your past who hurt you deeply on a personal level wasn’t there?”
A little stunned he had been so astute in his observation, Lori simply nodded her head in affirmation as she looked down studying their feet as they walked to keep from having to see the look on Lucas’ face. She was sure it would be pity because he gave her hand an encouraging squeeze as he changed topics, “Do you think it will be safe to purchase another feather pillow or shall we go with a foam one? They might hold up a bit better.”
Grateful he wasn’t going to delve further in to who had hurt her and happy he was the one to bring up a reference to the pillow fight, Lori raised her head and grinned at him. She said, “Oh but the feathers are so much more fun when they give way.”
“True,” Lucas answered returning her grin as they turned the corner on to street lined with boutiques and shops.
Lori took in all the store fronts at once. This street had everything she was looking for and then some. She let out a squeal of delight, “How charming! Do we have time to do a little exploring or must we go straight to the bedding and linens store?”
“We have all the time you’d like,” Lucas said and then asked, “Where would you like to start?”
“How about the one right across the street,” Lori said pointing to a store named Norton & Sons. She could tell by the clothes in the window display this was a class establishment. And if Lucas was anything like the rest of her guys had been, he needed a wardrobe but hated to shop. Perhaps she could give him a gentle nudge. She didn’t miss Lucas cocking an eyebrow at her choice of stores but was relieved when he nodded his consent and escorted her across the street. The bell jingled as they entered the store. An older gentleman in a finely tailored suit emerged from the back room to greet them.
He introduced himself, “Good Evening, Grant Norton, Proprietor, at your service what can I help you with this evening?”
Lori extended her free hand to shake building up his ego and still testing his pride by saying, “Good Evening Mr. Norton. I was struck by your fine window display and couldn’t resist coming in to peruse your goods. I, myself am interested in possibly purchasing a pair of cufflinks depending on your selection. As for my friend, he is indulging me by showing what London’s finest has to offer.”
She knew she had passed muster with Grant Norton when he had finished his assessment of her outfit and took the hand offered to shake and said, “How kind of your friend to think of us as London’s finest. I hope we can meet his expectations. Please, if you will follow me, I will show you our cufflink selection.”
Lori smiled at Lucas as she dropped his arm and followed Mr Norton over to the counter giving Lucas the perfect opportunity to browse through the shelves and racks of clothes. Watching him out of the corner of her eye, she was delighted he seemed to be finding the store’s offerings to his likings. She encouraged Mr. Norton to go see if he needed assistance. She’d be a while looking over the cufflink selection.
Lori heard Mr. Norton ask, “Would you like me to put your selections in a dressing room for you?”
And then Lucas respond, “That would be grand, thank you.”
Spying a navy blue pinstripe that would compliment Lucas’ gorgeous eyes in the suit rack, Lori retrieved it looking at the size. She judged the dimensions to be fairly close to a proper fit for him. She couldn’t resist quietly coming up on Lucas’ turned back and sticking it in front of his face saying, “This is begging to be tried on, care to oblige?”
Lucas took the suit from her hand and turned around to face her. He checked the size tag first before starting towards the dressing room and saying over his shoulder, “Since it spoke especially to you, yes I will oblige. If you see anything else that seems to be begging to be tried on let me know.”
“You know I will,” Lori called after him. It made her elated he had seemed to like what she chosen for him. Mr. Norton came over to compliment on her excellent taste and informed her the suit she had chosen was one he had hand tailored from his private collection. Now the pressure was really on to come up with the perfect shirt and tie to go with it. Finding a pale blue shirt with French cuffs and a burgundy tie, she walked them over to the dressing room Lucas was occupying. She noted looking at the bottom of the dressing door, Lucas seemed to be in the middle of changing out of a pair jeans. She couldn’t resist giggling as she tossed the shirt and tie over the top of the dressing room door. She said, “Thought these might go with the suit.”
A few moments later, Lucas emerged from the dressing room to stand on the little platform in front of the three way mirror. Mr. Norton came up with his tape measure and pins. Looking up from the cufflinks she had been looking at and over at Lucas, Lori noted the trousers would have to be cuffed and hemmed. But the coat and shirt fit perfectly. She couldn’t resist letting out an appreciative low wolf whistle at the striking site in front of her. She wasn’t sure but she thought there might have been a hint of a blush on Lucas’ cheeks but being across the store, it was hard to tell. Picking up the cufflinks she had decided on for him, she crossed the room to him. As she came up beside him, Lucas caught her eye. She picked up one of his wrists and inserted a cufflink in to the cuff. Then walked around in front of him and did the other side. Lucas lifted up the cuff to look at it. Hoping he would be pleased with her selection, Lori quietly said, “They don’t quite match up to mine, but I think they suit you.”
Lucas nodded his head slightly in agreement. While Mr. Norton finished pinning the hems, deciding to make herself useful, Lori removed all the clothes he’d been trying on from the dressing room and brought them over to the counter to refold. She could feel Lucas watching her every move in the mirror without ever moving his head. When he gave her a slight smile, she couldn’t resist giving him a wink to let him know she knew he was observing her.
Having finished marking the alterations, Mr. Norton informed Lucas the suit would be ready for pick up by Tuesday evening. Lucas nodded his acknowledgement before returning to the dressing room to change back in to his street clothes.
As she waited for him to change, the thought struck Lori Lucas would most likely be in need of underwear and socks too. She tried to remember the feel of his leg over hers and whether it felt like he had on boxers or briefs on under his jeans. She was 99% sure it had felt like boxers so that’s what she focused on matching to the clothes he’d selected. If she was wrong about his choice of underwear, it would be easy to exchange. She could feel the moment his eyes were on her and knew he’d soon be coming over to see what she was up to.
With her arms full, she stood up just as he arrived behind her and turned to him holding out her findings. She asked, “Will these help round out the wardrobe?”
He took the pile from her saying, “Yes, very nicely. I’ve a question for you.”
Lori looked expectantly at him waiting for him to ask how she knew he’d be needing what she’d found for him. He did very quietly, “How did you know I’d need all this?”
She smiled kindly answering just as quietly letting him know it was ok and they could talk about it some other time, “I put two and two together and came up with an answer. We can talk about it later.”
“Fair enough,” Lucas said as they went back over to the counter to pay for the purchases. Considering Lucas had just made his sales quota for the week in one sale, Lori didn’t feel the least bit imposing asking Mr. Norton if he could to see it that the clothes and accessories be delivered to the flat in a couple of hours as they had more shopping to do. He of course was quite accommodating and wished them well assuring Lori the clothes would be there as requested.
Lucas looked at his watch as they exited the store and he said, “If shopping could be that painless every time, I’d enjoy it more.”
“Well, I don’t know about painless, it certainly hurt your wallet,” Lori said as she couldn’t resist turning in to the candy shop next door. It was time to indulge her sweet tooth. She was having fun picking out all her favourites. Lucas reminded her of a doting parent standing on the sidelines watching his child enjoy herself. After she had paid for her candy and gum, and stuffed a tootsie roll pop in her mouth, Lucas said to her, “You are going to spoil your supper young lady.”
As they left the candy store, she removed the sucker from her mouth just long enough to playfully say in her best little girl voice, “Oh Mr. North, it’s just one lil’ ol’ tootsie pop. I promise I’ll be good and clean my plate later.”
To her, Lucas seemed to be biting back a retort to her antics when he didn’t joke back and said, “What’s next?”
Lori decided it was time to get down to business and go purchase what they’d had started out to buy. She answered all business like as she took his arm to cross the street to the Bedding and Linens store, “What we came for,”
He held the door for her and she went directly to bins of pillows. He asked, “Should we get a couple of extras?”
“Building up your arsenal for a rematch?” she retorted hoping he was thinking of challenging her to a pillow fight rematch. She was pleased the way he was loosening up around her.
“Possibly,” Lucas grinned as he picked up four feather down pillows. He insisted on buying them claiming he was indeed building up his arsenal.
Lori decided it wasn’t worth arguing over who was going to pay. She laughed at the irony of Lucas having the need to stock an arsenal of pillows to use against her. Thinking what colour would accent Lucas’ eyes, she picked out 1000 count Egyptian cotton pale blue pillow cases to cover the new ones and the ones already at the flat plus a set of sheets to match them. They were in and out in less than ten minutes with Lori once again turning on the charm to get the boutique owner to have their purchases delivered.
Deciding she’d shopped enough for one evening and feeling like the time was right for her to breech a few touchy subjects with Lucas, Lori asked as they left the store, “Would you mind terribly if we get the Chinese to go and eat back at the flat instead of there?”
“Not at all,” Lucas said.
“Thanks, I’m going to run in to the stationery store down the street. To save some time, why don’t you go ahead to the restaurant and I’ll meet up with you there.” Lori said knowing she needed a few moments alone to buy a journal and Mont Blanc pen for Lucas. She hoped she wouldn’t have to come right and tell him she wanted to go in alone. And was relieved when he dropped her in front of the stationery store, only asking about supper, “Still want the same you requested for lunch or would you like to change your order?”
“Perhaps add some hot and sour soup to the order?” Lori requested. She had a feeling that the soup would be the only thing she’d be able to eat later on.
“As you wish, I’ll see you in a bit then” Lucas said as he opened the door for her then took off towards the Chinese place.
Finding the perfect black leather bound journal the moment she’d walked in the door, Lori went over to the counter to see if they had the pen. As luck would have it, it was the first one in the display case. She had the clerk wrap both items in some lovely silver paper with matching bows while she found a card to give him. Lori paid and then borrowed a pen to scribble a quick note on the card, put it in the envelope, sealed it up then stuffed it in the sack with the two wrapped packages.
Lori rapidly made her way to the restaurant and joined Lucas at the bar sliding on to the stool next to him. He told her it would be ready to go in fifteen minutes so she had time for a drink. The bartender had sauntered over by then and Lori ordered a Coke. It was important she keep a very clear head for what lay ahead.
When she didn’t order any alcohol, he asked, “Are you not feeling well?”
“I’m good,” Lori answered wistfully. “Just have some things to talk to you about but would prefer to do it in private.”
He reached over to cover her hand resting on her knee with his. He said in a soothing voice, ‘I’ll be happy to listen and understand your need for privacy. We will be on our way soon. In the meantime, enjoy your Coke.”
As they sat in companionable silence sipping their drinks, Lori thought, “Great, now he thinks I’m probably upset about his question earlier and feels the need to comfort me. That’s really sweet of him but it really isn’t the case. Ah well, he’ll know soon enough. Thank goodness he isn’t one that feels the need to make small talk, gives me time to compile my thoughts.”
When the food arrived, Lucas paid the bill. Lori picked up the bags with the candy and the presents. Lucas picked up the box of food and they set off for the flat. He quipped as they headed out the door, “You just want to carry the candy so you can snack all the way back.”
“Once again, you have managed to uncover my nefarious plan. No wonder you are the best of the best,” Lori sassed back with a grin to lighten the mood.
“Uh huh,” was Lucas’ response as they both laughed. He asked, “Where did you get that quick wit of yours?”
“Well, actually I was sort of trained to have it,” Lori said.
“Trained?” Lucas inquired.
Lori shared the story of why to him, “See when I was a little kid, I used to stutter. When I was five my parents sent me to speech therapy, they trained me to think what I was going to say before I said it. It took about a year to really make a difference. And so, I can compile a response faster than most because my brain processes things faster. That’s also the reason I have trouble remembering names or saying them. They trained your mind not to let you say a name or word if you were going to stutter it. Over the years, the stutter became barely noticeable. But when I get exhausted or very very angry it becomes predominant. That’s also why when somebody teases someone else about stuttering I let them have it with both barrels. It’s not funny to someone who has to live with it.”
“Thank you for sharing with me,” Lucas said sincerely.
“Oh sure, but once again that’s Intel I’d rather not be made public knowledge,” Lori said. After all these years, she was still embarrassed by her impediment and felt it could be used against her in some way.
“Of course,” Lucas assured her.
They arrived back at their building just as she finished her story. Lucas asked Lori to get the keys out of his coat pocket since his hands were full. She reached inside pulling out the key ring on the first try. Opening up the door, Lori cheekily bowed slightly while motioning Lucas in the door. He gave her a nod and a smile as he passed her waiting at the foot of the stairs to accompany her up. They walked up side by side pausing at her door as she unlocked it and pushed it open.