While Jack can't view the door from his desk, it is always easy to determine the exact moment Miss Phryne Fisher enters the station.
Collins no longer babbles, but there's a stiffening of his stance on encountering her that is not how he stands to attention for a superior. Jack witnessed the phenomenon several times before he had to be grateful that his desk is likewise not visible from the door; upon realizing Collins couldn't yet hide how he instinctively braced against whyever Phryne was there, Jack struggled to fight back laughter.
This time, Collins calls out, "Miss Fisher!" before she can pass him. "The inspector—"
"Has been avoiding me," she accuses with enough lightness in her voice that Jack only sighs as her heels continue their advance on his office. Collins jerks forward to intercept, but Jack waves him off just as Phryne's head appears around his door.
"Not a very good hiding place, Jack." As always, her mischievous smile invites him to smile back. "The lettering on the door gives you away every time."
"That is its purpose." She enters in a sweep of fluttering fabric while Collins hovers uncertainly. "I'll take it from here," Jack tells him.
"Sir." His relief obvious, Collins retreats to the front, closing the door behind him.
Phryne settles into her customary chair with a small covered basket on her lap and speculation in her eyes. Jack folds his hands together on the desk.
"What service can City South provide you today?"
The glint in her eyes sharpens. "So you are here to serve."
"It is a significant part of our charter."
She rolls her eyes at his dry response. "Then perhaps I should apply to the city council for an explanation of why you have refused to respond to my requests the last three days."
Jack sits back and gives her a flat look. Waiting Phryne out bears fruit often enough that he isn't ashamed to keep that tactic in his arsenal.
She holds his gaze, but her hands aren't still on the basket handle, and she breaks with a hard sigh. "If I apologize again for mishandling your fine police car—"
"'Disabling it' is, I believe, the more precise terminology."
"I feel the need to point out again that the Sarden brothers are once more guests of the penal system."
"Which would have come to pass no matter where they were arrested." Knowing they could circle indefinitely, or, likely her aim, be sidetracked altogether, Jack straightens and raises a finger to stop her response.
"Working an alternate path is one thing, and I have come to appreciate when you do." At her sincere smile, he dips his head in acknowledgement. "But," he points his finger directly at her, "it is altogether another when you sabotage a police vehicle in pursuit of your own agenda."
Jack doesn't believe he's as obvious as Collins, but he can't deny bracing against what is in her eyes now.
"My agenda," Phryne says with some bite, "was to get them to the same location, thereby making your job of arresting both easier."
Jack shakes his head, because while the truth of that can't be denied, "The point is—"
She drops the basket to the floor and leans forward onto his desk, her bright mouth frowning and her eyes turbulent. "That you were so dead set on rushing into what was clearly a trap—"
He mirrors her, trying to get her to understand. "There was support on the way!"
"More than an hour! And all I needed to do was—"
"Call two armed men into your house?"
It's only when Phryne lets out a small, irritated sound that Jack realizes how close they are, how easy it would be to close the last bit of distance...
He pulls back and busies himself with smoothing his tie. She must have caught something in his eyes, because she settles back in her chair and watches him, one of those knowing-but-kind smiles tilting her lips.
"I did, in fact, come here to properly apologize." She reaches down to lift the basket onto his desk. "And now I'm sorry I didn't realize I needed to come bearing more than one."
Jack gives her and the basket a narrow look. "Now I have to apologize, because I have no idea who you are."
She lets out a little laugh, but her eyes are serious. "I am sorry, Jack," she says quietly.
"Not enough to not do it again," he observes, though he does understand better now what drove her actions this time.
Phryne's eyes soften. "No."
He sighs. "Hope will have to continue to spring eternal, then."
It's as though her whole being brightens at that sign of renewed accord. She takes hold of a corner of the cloth, and whips it off the basket to retrieve what's inside and present it to him.
Jack looks at the small cake in her hand, then back to her, brows arched questioningly.
She pouts. "Can't you tell from the horns?"
"The..." He shakes his head, settles on saying, "What?"
"Mister Butler thought to try replicating those delightful little chocolate cakes that are so popular in America." She smiles happily down at the one in her palm. "It was Jane's idea to have some fun decorating them."
The one in front of him is primarily brown, with two large white dots that he supposes are eyes, which makes that small black one the nose, and along with what are apparently horns, that means it's... "You made me a cupcake with an ox on it?"
"Yes!" Phryne says brightly.
He clears his throat and reaches out to take it from her. "Thank you?"
She sits back, folding her hands in her lap with an altogether too satisfied smile. "It felt appropriate, given that you are the most stubborn—and most helpful—man I know."
"Ah." Jack nods, then salutes her with the cake. "I'll have to have Jane teach me how to make one for you."