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Fic: No Bones Broken, No Harm Done

frank/helen/mug/tea, pe - mrs mortimer
Title: No Bones Broken, No Harm Done
Author: lost_spook
Rating: All ages
Word Count: 1395
Characters/Pairings: Frank Marker/Helen Mortimer
Notes/Warnings: None.
Summary: The last thing Frank wants is tea and sympathy; it only complicates things.

For the [community profile] hc_bingo square “assault”. Hopefully, there won't be any more Public Eye for this, but I had ideas for 4 out of 5 squares and then... well, what fictional character do I write who's most likely to get beaten up? (And he spent at least 18 months in Brighton. It must have happened at some point during that time.)

***

Frank slipped in through the front door of number 24 and headed for the stairs, taking care to be as quiet as possible.

It didn’t work. Even as he made it to the first step, he heard Helen call out from the dining room. “Frank? That you, love?” Then at his continued silence, she emerged into the hallway. When she saw him, she stopped and her eyes widened in surprise. “Oh, Frank!”

“It’s nothing,” he said instantly, inclining himself away from her, though his assailant had done too thorough a job for that to work. He’d tidied himself up as best as he could before leaving the office, but his jacket was torn at the shoulder, there was probably some blood on his shirt and he didn’t exactly have a good side to his face just now. “Stupid accident. Argument with a gatepost.”

She raised an eyebrow at the obvious lie, but didn’t comment on it. She opened the door to the kitchen, and said, “Well, come in here, and let’s get you sorted out.”

Frank pressed himself back against the wallpaper. It had been a bad enough day as it was; last thing he wanted was to be an object of pity to her, not any more than he already was. “Doesn’t matter now,” he said. “It’s all right. No need to fuss.”

She watched him with a quizzical tilt to her head. “Who’s fussing?” she said, and held the door open for him.

Frank tensed and hesitated, but then he stepped back down into the hallway and followed her in. He stayed by the door, still protesting.

Helen looked up from searching through the ice box in the fridge. “Don’t you want a bit of ice to put on it? Or does it impress the customers?”

He laughed at that idea, and then winced at the pain. “No, just –”

“Well, then,” she said, and wrapped a tea cloth around a packet of frozen peas. “There. That should help.”

He took it, but ungraciously, sitting down on the nearest chair, but angling it away from her. “Thanks.”

“It’s no problem,” she said, and from behind the frozen peas, he was sure she was watching him. “Want a drink, love?” she asked. “I was thinking of putting the kettle on – or you might want something stronger?”

Frank nodded, and then realised the peas might have got in the way. “Wouldn’t mind,” he said. The ice was helping, at least a bit. “Thank you.”

“Scotch?” she said.

“Yeah,” he said. No point in arguing any further. And if the ice kept the swelling down and he didn’t have to go see Mr Hull with a prize shiner in a few days, all the better. His probation officer wouldn’t be impressed. He’d have that worried look on his face and suggest that Frank should find something to do that was less likely to get him into trouble. He’d manage somehow, as well, to imply that much as he wanted to believe Frank, he thought it was his own fault.

Helen passed him the glass of scotch. “And when you’re ready for it, your dinner’s in the oven.”

“I’ve been busy,” he muttered, hunching a little, feeling vaguely guilty.

She moved across to the door. “Yes, well, I must get on – I was in the middle of clearing the dining room when you came in.”

As soon as she’d gone, Frank felt illogically disappointed, and then tried to drink the Scotch while keeping the peas in place, which was easier said than done. The packet seemed to have a determination to fall out of the cloth she’d wrapped round it.

Helen returned with some of the plates, and sat down at the table, opposite him. She played with her fingers, twisting her ring about, and glanced up again, about to speak, when he dropped the packet of peas and was left holding nothing but the damp cloth.

“Here,” she said, sounding amused. She rescued the unfortunate frozen vegetables and wrapped the cloth round them again, more tightly. “Let me,” she said, and held the makeshift ice-pack against his cheek, then pressed his hand in place, where it would hold the cloth together. She was closer than usual; their fingers touching in the process, and Frank blushed.

Helen sat back down. “Frank,” she said, and then hesitated. “I won’t pry – but this isn’t likely to happen again, is it? Because if it is, maybe you should tell someone. I might have to tell someone!”

“Think they got it all out of their system,” he said, abandoning all thoughts of the imaginary gatepost. “Don’t worry.”

“You’re sure?”

He nodded, and tried not to snap only because she sounded concerned. He didn’t want her to be, didn’t need her to be, but some buried part of him liked that she was, at least in some ways, and that made it worse. “Some people don’t like it when they find out you’ve been following them about,” he said. He shrugged. “Can’t blame them.”

“Oh,” said Helen, so carefully he wasn’t sure what she thought. “I see.”

He glanced up sharply. “I didn’t start it!”

“Of course not,” she said with a smile and his momentary tension eased. He wasn’t sure how he felt about it, but he was still hanging onto her belief in him, despite himself.

Helen got up and crossed over to the sink to make a start on the washing up. She looked back at him, and shook his head. “You’re worse than Nick,” she said.

Frank lifted his head slightly and raised an eyebrow in mute enquiry.

“My son,” she reminded him.

He thought about that. “Bit of a live wire?”

“No, not really,” said Helen. Then she gave a wry smile. “Well, not as far as I know. No, didn’t happen often but – well, you know what people are, and children are just as bad. They hear their parents talk.” She shrugged.

Frank said nothing, taking in the implications while he turned his glass around on his table. He knew what people were like, and separated parents, yeah, that’d cause enough talk, and, like she said, the kids would pick it up. Always went straight for anyone who was marked out as different, the reason didn’t matter.

“And this client of yours –?” She cut herself short, and looked at him warily, as if she thought she might have said too much.

He would have smiled if it wouldn’t have hurt. “Ditched the case. Can’t do much once someone knows I’m there. Told my client what I’d got so far, which wasn’t much. It’s over.”

He wasn’t reporting the incident, either. There was no point. He wouldn’t have thought there was much before, but now, well, now they’d take one look at his record and him being out on parole and chances were, he’d be right back inside before they’d even asked who the other bloke was. Besides, you couldn’t blame someone who didn’t like being spied on. Nobody did, did they? But somebody had to do it, so Frank did. He just wasn’t supposed to have anyone back home worrying about him; it made things awkward. Somebody took their anger out on him, he didn’t have to like it, but it didn’t do anyone any harm in the end. But if it caused Helen distress, that wasn’t true any more. It made him angry – at himself, at her, because he’d never asked for any attention.

He was going to go as soon as his parole ended; he’d be out of here, on his own again, like he ought to be. That was what he told himself half the time. The other half he told himself he’d give it a go, try to stay, see if it could work out. It wouldn’t, of course, but, like he’d said to the prison governor months ago, there weren’t many chances like this came his way. His gaze strayed back towards her involuntarily. There weren’t, when you came down to it, many people like Helen.

“If you think you can manage it,” Helen said, “you’d better have your dinner before it goes dry, don’t you think?”

He managed a small, careful smile. “Thanks. You didn’t have to.”

“It’s no problem,” said Helen, and gave him a full smile in return. “Wouldn’t do it if it was, would I?”

***


Crossposted from Dreamwidth -- Comments there: comment count unavailable

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
eve11
Jul. 26th, 2014 11:00 pm (UTC)
This is a lovely scene. Even if you don't know the fandom, it tells you enough that this could really be an original piece very easily, with the serial numbers filed off :)
lost_spook
Jul. 28th, 2014 06:53 am (UTC)
Aw, thank you! :-)
oonaseckar
Jul. 27th, 2014 07:26 am (UTC)
Oh, poor Frank - and his runaway peas! And blushing, the sweetheart.

And Mrs Mortimer and her womanly wiles. *clucks tongue* I think Frank is doomed, really. Aw, makes the reader want to just coax Frank along very gently, right up the aisle...
lost_spook
Jul. 28th, 2014 06:55 am (UTC)
He blushes even when old ladies kiss him unexpectedly. :-)

Aw, makes the reader want to just coax Frank along very gently, right up the aisle...

Ha, thanks - I must have got something right, as this is pretty much how I feel watching S4. ♥
dimity_blue
Jul. 28th, 2014 11:16 pm (UTC)
“It’s no problem,” said Helen, and gave him a full smile in return. “Wouldn’t do it if it was, would I?”

Yeah, you would. You would for Frank. ♥

I love this. Helen being concerned and trying not to show too much concern before it frightens Frank off for good, and Frank - poor beaten up and beaten down Frank - downplaying his injuries and trying to be all stoic. I'd smack him upside the head except he doesn't need the extra pain.

Thanks for sharing this. It really was sweet.
lost_spook
Jul. 29th, 2014 12:15 pm (UTC)
Aw, thank you! :-)
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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