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The Road Not Taken

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It started innocently enough. Well, as innocent as anything could be when the man who isn't your husband has his hand on your breast.

The scene was pivotal to their first episode, and if she was ever going to prove that she was not a female knock off of Sam Tyler, just an empty headed bimbo for Gene Hunt to lust after when he wasn't bashing skulls in, then this was that moment. John set the bar, and she knew she could meet it, exceed it even, but that didn't mean she didn't feel the pressure. And he was well aware of her nerves. He was charming and personable, determined to set her at ease. He reminded her that this was Alex's story, not his. Which was nice, really.

Better than nice was the look on his face when she came out of wardrobe the first time, with that ridiculous mass of curls and the dress cut all the way up to hell and gone. He was gobsmacked. Sure, they all hooted and cheered and no one could miss Montsie's wolf whistle. They liked the look of her flying v's so much, they worked it into the script. But the look on his face made her cheeks flush and set the butterflies in her stomach dancing lower than was really called for. Gretchen had warned her, sure, but it was an entirely different thing to be standing here, basking in the heat of that look.

But it all came back to that scene in the radio room. It wasn't exactly Shakespeare, but she instinctively knew that this was a scene that would make or break the entire run. She said as much to him, over read through.

He'd taken his glasses off and nibbled on the earpiece, his eyes narrowing as he thought about it. "I think you have a firm enough grasp on the character, it won't be an issue. The question is, will you let him have a firm enough grasp on her?"

She'd laughed so hard, she'd nearly spilled her tea all down her front. It was a ludicrous idea, but it was so perfect, she couldn't help but agree. Matthew thought it was brilliant as well, and so they ran it a few times, trying to work out just how it would play. Timing was everything.

As would happen so many times during the shoot, they ended up in his trailer, running lines.

"Go on, grab it."

"You do know I'm a married man, yeah?"

"So? You're an actor. And I'm married, too, for what it's worth."

"Kids and all."

"Yeah, the works. Go on."

"It can't be for too long, and it can't be anything complicated."

"What do you mean, complicated?"

"Well, you know, anything -- involved."

She cocks an eyebrow at him and stands up, taking the script out of his hand and tugging him to his feet.

"You'll have a suit on, so I'll be resting my hand here."

"No, no. Inside." He takes her hand and brushes his lapel aside, placing it on his chest.

"Yeah, simple. So what do you mean, 'involved'?"

"Well, just a -- may I?"

She rolls her eyes at him, laughing a bit. She's not some young thing. She's a well-known talent in her own right. "Phil, please, just..."

He palms her breast then, ignoring the little gasp she makes at the sudden intrusion. "It can't be involved, because he's not a sophisticated man. So not like this." His palm curls underneath, fingers turned to the side, his thumb resting on her nipple. And just as she thinks she's got her breath back, the touch becomes a caress and her body responds, purely involuntarily. "Oh see, there we are."

She sighs, feigning exasperation, but she doesn't pull away. She's a professional. "Do get to the point, please."

"No, it can't be like this." His thumb circles the hardening nub, teasing her now. "Because the line is 'are you gonna punch me or kiss me?'" He's stepped in too close, and she already has a hand on his chest, but she's not pushing him away. "And then she smacks him away."

She tries to keep her voice level. "So, no, it'd be more like -- a quick grope. To make his point that if she can touch him, then he can touch her." Maybe her hand is slipping a little, her own fingertips exploring. When she finds his nipple, a rush of air escapes his lips and she can feel him leaning into that touch. His head drops until they are temple to temple. She swallows hard, barely believing what she's saying. "So it can't be complicated."

"No, it'd be brief. A one time, fleeting thing." His own voice is gravelled, a lush tension running through it like the edge of a knife.

"He knows they have to work together, that their colleagues can't ever see..."

"He's not stupid," he whispers, his nose nuzzling in her hair now. "He's got too much to lose. And she does too, he knows."

"So why risk it?" She turns her face up to him, her heart in her throat, her hand now keeping that last remaining distance between them. It doesn't matter. He has the most amazing eyes.

"Because there's chemistry there. Can't deny that, can you?"

She loves her husband. Loves her kids, there's never a moment of doubt that she has so much to lose. But yes, standing here, caught in his gravity well, she knows it would be pointless to even try to deny the pull she feels. "This is stupid," she says, and then a sharp gasp fills the air as he drags a nail across that sensitised bit of flesh, standing up so shamelessly for him.

"It is," he agrees, his voice the barest whisper. These trailers have thin walls, he knows. "Doesn't mean I'm not going to think about fucking you senseless."

She pulls back, her eyes wide, just as someone knocks and opens the door of the trailer. She lashes out, pushing his hand away and he smirks, deep in the character again, just that quick.

"Fandabydozy. Now then, Bollinger Knickers, are you gonna kiss me? Or punch me?"

"Oh, sorry. I'll come back later!" Marshall, ever the gentleman, excuses himself without another word.

As if the grin on Phil's face wasn't mad enough, he waggles his eyebrows at her and she breaks down in a fit of giggles. (Not for the last time, either.)