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Good Tidings

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If the set of the man's shoulders and purposeful stride hadn't been so familiar to him, Richie never would have been able to pick Scorcher out of the crowd at the market. For one thing, Scorcher was casually dressed (but still well dressed), and for another, he was with a woman who wasn't either of his sisters. He hadn't realized it until he'd been surprised by it, but he'd expected Scorcher to be doing errands alone. In fact--and it made him ashamed to think it--his default mental image of Scorcher's non-work meals was a split one that involved a meticulously laid out table for one on the one hand, and food that he couldn't take the time to taste because he was worried about Dina on the other.

The meal Scorcher was shopping for looked like it was going to be fully enjoyed by two. This dinner would involve candlelight, music, and cuddling both during the food preparation and after. When the woman--well turned out with her hair immaculately done, even for a market Saturday--turned to examine a red pepper, Richie saw that though food was being selected for two, it would be feeding three.

Richie wanted to rush over and slap Scorcher on the back, buy him a cigar. He was so happy for Scorcher he could skip. What he wanted to do and what he should do were potentially different things here, though. The case had gone to trial and been won. Jennifer Spain was still alive and received regular visits from Fiona and her mother, no thanks to him. Scorcher hadn't punched him, gossiped about him, or even demanded his good tie back. He'd even fixed it so that Richie could transfer to DV rather than being reverted to uniform. So it wasn't as though Scorcher would make the sign of the cross and back away from Richie if he saw him. But he hadn't made any effort to keep in touch, either, and slapping him on the back as though he were an old mate probably wouldn't be welcome.

Still, he would go over there, even though he was wearing the world's filthiest trainers and a hoody, and hope against hope that Scorcher would introduce the woman, fill him in a bit about what was happening in his life. All Richie knew was that he'd left Murder, but Cassie had told him that Sam had told her that he'd heard Scorcher was still a detective of something or other.

"Detective Curran," Scorcher said after he'd looked Richie up and down and apparently thought better of giving him a bollicking because a.) he wasn't supervising Richie and b.) they were in a market rather than in Dublin Castle. "I've heard good reports about your work in DV."

So no introduction to the woman, then. Richie wondered whether it was Scorcher's policy to never introduce people to women he was with. Richie was touched that Scorcher had been keeping tabs on him, but hurt--unreasonably, he knew--that Scorcher hadn't introduced the woman or asked Richie directly about how he was getting on in DV. "Thank you, Detective Kennedy. I heard you were in a new department, and I'd love to know how you're getting on. You were right about O'Malley in DV. I wish I could have told you about our first interview together."

Some of the hurt must have come through in his tone, because Scorcher's "We're not exactly on one another's Christmas card lists, Old Son," sounded sad rather than sarcastic.

At that, the woman, who had been tactfully texting someone while Scorcher and his work colleague chatted, looked up. "Mick. You've told me about Detective Curran before and I've seen you perk your ears when he's mentioned. And the detective here is clearly in need of a good home-cooked meal and a chat."

Turning to Richie, she said "You've any plans for this evening?"

At Richie's shake of the head, she nodded. "Alright, then. See you at seven. Mick will give you the address. I'm Laura, by the way."

And so the dinner Scorcher and Laura had been shopping for fed four that evening.