A fresh start, that's what this was, Makepeace decided as she got ready for work. She was casually dressed, but smart, her long burgundy jumper clinched at the waist with a belt, very little flesh on display. Just another day in the office, she tried to convince herself.
In reality, she was walking back in, after having handed in her resignation, and she wasn't looking forward to facing Spikings.
"Makepeace" Spikings beckoned her towards his office, before she even had a chance to sit down at her desk. Dempsey shot a sympathetic glance in her direction, and she managed the faintest of smiles in reply. Dempsey was on the phone with his back turned to her by the time she entered Spikings office. She stood up tall, and looked Spikings square in the face
"Sir?" she inquired lightly, the picture of innocence.
"Hummm" he muttered disapprovingly, as he picked up a sheet of paper from his desk. "I presume you are no longer on "sick leave" ? He said the phrase as if it were in inverted commas.
"Yes, No sir, I'm ..." she paused "I'm back on active duty", she said.
"With Dempsey?" Spikings probed.
"Yes sir, and if I could ask.. " she almost tripped over her words, as Spikings held up a hand, to stem the flow of conversation. She stopped speaking, abruptly. Spikings held the moment of silence, the master of dramatic control.
"You want some sort of preferential treatment sergeant? You think we should put out the bunting and lay on afternoon tea, to celebrate your return?" he was angry, but angry with himself. He hadn't wanted to lose one of his best detectives, and didn't want her to see how much her departure might affect him as well as the rest of the squad.
"No sir" Harry replied softly.
There was another pause, Spikings waved his hands in the air, "out with it then" he commanded.
"I'd like to sign up for additional fire arms training, sir"
Spikings frowned, this wasn't what he'd expected her to say. He nodded sagely, "both of you" he said.
Makepeace wasn't entirely sure whether this was a statement, or a question. "I meant myself sir" she clarified.
"Both of you" he said again, more firmly, as if he had reached a decision. "Get him in here" Makepeace opened the office door and was about to speak, as Spikings bellowed "Dempsey!"
A moment later, the pair stood next to one another, in front of Spikings, "Yes boss?" Dempsey said. Spikings bristled a little, he didn't enjoy being referred to as boss or chief, however it was a minor quibble at that point.
"It has come to my attention" Spikings said "that you might benefit from a course of additional fire arms training" Spikings looked directly at Dempsey as he spoke.
"I don't need extra training" Dempsey replied "I can handly my weapon, sir"
"Well, the sergeant here," he inclined his head to indicate Makepeace, "seems to believe that you both need a fire arms training course asap"
"Sir!" Makepeace protested.
"I shall sign you up immediately" Spikings concluded, and he gestured to indicate they should leave his office. Makepeace sighed, this was Spikings idea of payback, she supposed. Dempsey was going to complain about this endlessly, and blame her, and there was no way out for her, without explaining more than she wanted to about her own motivation for seeking extra training. A nice little "catch 22"
With the office door slightly ajar, their conversation had been overheard by the rest of the squad, and Chas was quick to open the betting on whether Dempsey or Makepeace would score most highly in the final fire arms test.
"It's got to be Dempsey" Gallacher said, "he's not gonna be outclassed by a bird".
Chas pulled a sceptical face "I don't know, Makepeace is a pretty good shot"
"For a woman!" Peters chipped in, and there was general laughter.
"She'd outshoot you though" Watson quipped, and there were nods at this too.
"She could always distract him and win that way?" Dave suggested with a smirk.
"How would she do that?" Fry asked naively.
"Sometimes I worry about you Fry" Chas said, shaking his head slowly, as Gallacher mimed the action of bending over slowly and wiggled his arse.
Dempsey and Makepeace placed their own wager, the loser would buy the victor a meal, at a restaurant of their choice. Watching Makepeace study and improve her fire arm technique, Dempsey realised that it would be in his best interest for her to score most highly. He wouldn't flunk the test, he'd just let his concentration lapse a little, and then he'd get to spend an evening watching her enjoy her victory, while he enjoyed the view. Everybody wins, he grinned smugly to himself. He could show her that he was a gracious loser. It was going to be the perfect evening.
He found it difficult not to be annoyed after she won, he was not one of nature's gracious losers, after all. "So, where do you wanna eat?" he asked grumpily.
She savoured the moment, then decided not to torture him unduly. "I know a nice, little Italian place, family run, authentic" she replied. "You don't need to wear a suit" she added gently.
That sounded more like his kind of place. "Alright, I'll make the reservations" he agreed.
Dempsey went to check out the restaurant, Francesca's, and found it to be as described. "I want a nice, quiet table for two" Dempsey told the owner "Put a bottle of sparkling wine on the tab, and a couple of flowers on the table, maybe"
The owner, a plump, middle-aged woman of Italian heritage, with dark, twinkling eyes, smiled at him. "You want to wine and dine her, is it a special evening?"
"Yeh" he held up a hand, "I want it to be perfect"
"Don't worry, she'll love it"
Getting ready for the evening, Makepeace found herself feeling excited and slightly nervous, the way she felt as a teenager heading out to nightclubs, and wondering how the evening might end. It was ridiculous, she told herself, she knew exactly how the evening would end. She'd return home alone, and be back at work the next day, with the clock re-set to zero, and start all over again, to argue and squabble, to face her American sparring partner in the next round.
She almost wore the backless red dress, but she thought better of it, and chose instead a lacy white blouse and a black leather mini skirt (not something she'd wear in the office)
"Hey Princess, you ready to go?" he stood on the doorstep, having actually knocked at the door to announce his arrival, rather than breaking in, this time. They grinned self-consciously at one another, and set off.
Before they entered the restaurant, Makepeace adjusted the collar of Dempsey's shirt, "What are you doing?" he asked
"It's just a little squew whiff" she said
"A little what?"
"Squew whiff" she replied, "you know, twisted/off centre, they don't say that in New York?"
"They don't" he affirmed, dryly, adjusting the collar himself.
"Good evening, sir, ma'am" They were shown to their table by a dark haired, young waiter. "I'm Thomas, I'll be your waiter this evening, I'll bring you anything you need, don't hesitate to ask" He fussed around them, making Dempsey feel slightly uncomfortable, while Makepeace flashed Thomas a wide smile, enjoying the attention. This was not how Dempsey had envisaged the evening, and he scowled at the younger man, who backed away from him nervously.
"Is he for real?" Dempsey mumbled "Nobody's that polite"
Makepeace had to admit, that it had initially seemed to her that the waiter was being sarcastic, but as the evening progressed, she saw that he addressed everyone, customer or staff, in the same overly courteous manner, without a hint of irony. Thomas was also becoming increasingly jumpy, and his hands began to shake as he served them. Makepeace tried to be a reasuring presence. The food was good, and things seemed to have calmed down. They ordered coffees, and as Thomas approached the table, another diner backed into him. Dempsey watched, momentarily transfixed, as the coffee tumbled through the air, then Makepeace screamed in shock as the hot liquid ran down the front of her blouse. "Oh!" she shoke the fabric, trying to prevent it from sticking to her.
Dempsey was on his feet instantly, and grabbed Thomas by the shoulders "What the hell do you think you are doing?" he yelled, his face inches from Thomas's. The young man seemed to visably crumble.
"Dempsey!" Makepeace stood up and placed a hand on his forearm. He felt the soft warm of her touch, "It's not Thomas's fault" she said. He took a deep breath and let go of the unfortunate waiter. Makepeace looked down at the large, brown stain on her blouse, "Would you drive me home, please?" she asked.
He sighed, paid the bill, and drove her home in uneasy silence.