by Loretta Greco
Harriet Makepeace was one of London's finest officers. At 5'7", blonde and blue-eyed, she was also one of the prettiest. She had worked hard to get to become a sergeant in the elite detective organization of SI-10. She had endured many a remark about her father's position as Lord of Earlston, and how that perhaps had something to do with her current status. Known as Harry by her friends, she had quickly established herself as a top-notch detective. Her sleuthing skills, and ability to adapt quickly, had earned her the respect and admiration of her co-workers.
Harry's life was full and orderly, just the way she liked it. Then one day last year, her world was sent spinning wildly into chaos. Her boss, Gordon Spikings, had seen fit to give her a partner. Objections meant nothing to the staid Welshman, and Harry found herself not only with a partner, but with one of the most irritating individuals she had ever known. Lt. James Dempsey was a detective from New York City on loan to SI-10. The lieutenant had broken up a drug ring and managed to get a contract put out on his life. His superiors had felt he would be safe in England. Harry remembered that day very well as the beginning of the end.
Harry smiled at the memory. With longish, dark hair and dark eyes, James Dempsey was very good looking. At the moment, she was snuggled contentedly in the circle of his strong arms. It was only the second time they had made love and their new-found relationship both confused and pleased her. Tilting her head, she glanced up at him. His breathing was deep and regular and she marvelled at his long dark lashes. She'd never realized how long his eyelashes were but then she'd never looked at him that way before. These feelings were all terribly new to her. This feeling, this awareness of James Dempsey as more than just a partner. If someone had told her a year ago that Dempsey could be gentle, selfless and loving, she would have died. To her, Dempsey had always been Dempsey - brash, egotistical, and undisciplined. Three days ago, that had all changed. He had literally floored her with his confession of wanting more from her. It was an awkward speech that he delivered with much difficulty, but he had nonetheless.
Now her problem was where to go from here? This new relationship was bound to cause problems. Unfortunately, she could see many of them now in her mind. She hated the idea that she might possibly be a short-term diversion for him. And she really should stop referring to him as Dempsey. The name Jim grated on her nerves, but it's what he preferred. And what about work? While she enjoyed the relationship, she didn't know how to prevent it from spilling over into work. She didn't want it known that they were an item, nor did she want it to interfere with the way the two of them worked. Part of their success was the almost constant sparring between them. It helped them keep things in perspective and helped in their cases.
Perhaps she was being premature about the whole situation. She could be worrying over nothing. Her doorbell rang and she frowned. She wasn't expecting anyone so who would be calling on a Sunday evening? It rang again and she carefully got out of bed trying not to disturb Jim. He moved, but continued sleeping. Pulling on a robe, she arrived at the door just as the doorbell pealed a third time. Holding the robe securely about her, she opened the door.
She stared at the tall blonde-haired man who stood on her porch.
"Robert." She finally croaked, surprised as she looked at her husband.
"It's good to see you Harriet. May I come in?"
"I..." Harry's mind refused to think.
"What's the matter, Harriet? Surely you can't just stand there in your robe gaping at me?"
She moved to let him in and he walked into her living room.
"The place still looks the same."
"There've been some changes, Robert."
"Oh? You've come around to my thinking then?"
"Not exactly," she said nervously. She looked away and saw Dempsey standing in the hallway in his robe. His dark hair was disheveled and his eyes were sleep-filled.
Robert looked up and saw Dempsey. Looking at Harriet, he frowned. "I say, Harriet, things certainly have changed. Who's he?"
"Lieutenant James Dempsey - my partner."
"I see," Robert said, looking at Dempsey.
Dempsey eyed him back but didn't come any closer. "Who're you?"
"Oh." Jim replied, relieved. "Harry's ex." He walked into the room and stood a few feet from Robert.
"Is that what Harriet told you?"
"She told me you were separated. I assumed she'd gotten divorced." Dempsey didn't like the way the situation was developing. The hair on the back of his neck stood up.
"Sorry lieutenant," he said, pronouncing it the British way. "You assumed wrong."
Looking at Makepeace, the American frowned. "He telling the truth, Harry? You ain't divorced?"
"He's telling the truth," she squeaked out. She hated what she saw on Dempsey's face - surprise, disbelief and pain. Dempsey glared at her a moment longer before disappearing into her bedroom.
"Really, Harriet, it's not like you to lie."
"I didn't lie. The subject never came up."
"I'm shocked at your behavior."
"Really?" Harry exploded. "Don't like it when the shoe's on the other foot, is that it?"
"Harriet, let's not air our differences when you have a guest in the house. Shall we wait until he leaves?"
Fuming, Harry went in her bedroom. "Dempsey?"
He didn't look at her.
"Jim, I'm sorry. I never dreamed anything like this would ever happen. Not between us and surely not having Robert show up."
Dempsey looked at her. "I ain't never been in this kind of situation, princess. I don't know what the hell to think." He pulled on his jacket and walked out of the bedroom. Robert and Dempsey looked at each other and Dempsey went out the door.
Dempsey went into work the next morning early, got his usual cup of coffee and sat on his desk. Most of the boys were in even though they had a half hour before starting time.
In his office, Gordon Spikings, Dempsey and Makepeace's superior contemplated the file in front of him. Tall and rotund, he had a no-nonsense attitude about him. At the moment, he was not a happy man. The word on the street was that something big was up, but so far, there had been no leads or even tidbits. It made him very nervous. He looked out his office and saw Makepeace's other half leaning back in his chair, his feet up on the desk. Spikings checked his watch and wondered what the American was up to.
"Dempsey!" When he received no answer, Spikings left his office and snapped a finger at him. "Are we deaf this morning?"
Dempsey blinked and looked up. "Sorry, Chief. Did you want me?"
Spikings looked curiously at his operative. Dempsey? Apologizing? Most disconcerting. The dark circles under his eyes did not go unnoticed, and Spikings' anger flared.
"Rough weekend, old boy? Perhaps a little less gallivanting and a little more sleep would work better."
Dempsey looked at his boss. "Yes, sir."
Spikings' mouth dropped, and he stared at him. He turned on his heel, went into his office and slammed the door.
Chas looked at Dempsey, who shrugged his shoulders.
The door opened and Harry walked in. Chas could feel the tension in the room. Something was definitely up.
"Morning, Chas," Harry said, a half-hearted attempt at cheerfulness.
"Morning, Harry." He watched her sit down across from Dempsey who didn't look up.
Harry put her purse away and shuffled some papers on her desk. "Morning, Dempsey."
The air was thick with unsaid words. Chas buried himself in his filing.
The morning slowly faded into afternoon and the situation between the two of them did not change.
By 4:00, Harry was fidgeting, and Chas thought for sure she was going to jump out of her chair at any minute.
Spikings picked that moment to come out of his office. He'd only been out twice that day, and as he looked about the room, the silence was unnerving.
"Dempsey, Makepeace, in my office."
The two detectives followed their superior into his office. They stood on opposite sides of the room as Spikings sat down.
"Is there a problem I should know about?" Spikings asked quietly. He watched as the two momentarily looked at each other but were silent.
"Well, I think there's a problem. It's obvious to anyone out there."
Harry thought for a moment what Spikings would say if she told him she and Dempsey were in bed and her husband came over. The thought was too ludicrous to even contemplate.
"I don't know what the problem is, but I want it solved. I don't want whatever it is to interfere with the finely tuned orchestration the two of you have. Now both of you shove off and take care of it. I want you both back tomorrow morning and I want everything back to normal. Am I making myself clear?"
The detectives nodded and headed for the door.
On a softer note, he continued. "It can be worked out I assume?"
The detectives looked warily at each other, and Dempsey finally replied. "That's a good question, Chief," he said quietly, and went out the door. Harry followed him to his desk.
"Can we go somewhere to talk?" she asked, her eyes pleading.
"Whatever you want, princess," he said as he straightened up his desk.
After a silent 20 minute ride, they arrived at a pub they frequented. Drinks in hand, they found their way to a corner booth and sat down. It was early, so the pub was relatively quiet. Soft music played on the jukebox, and Harry looked uncomfortably at Dempsey, who nursed his beer. After long minutes of silence, Harry finally spoke.
"Jim, talk to me."
"What do you want me to say?"
"How you're feeling? That you hate my guts? Say something."
"I ain't good expressing my feelings, Makepeace. You should know that."
"It doesn't mean they're not there."
"I didn't say they weren't."
"Don't call me James."
"Why not? It's your name."
"My own mother didn't call me that.
"Are you angry?" she asked, forging ahead.
"I don't know. I'm confused, Harry."
"So am I, but we've got to get through this and straighten it out."
"For me. For us. I never told you I hadn't gotten a divorce because I never thought of it. I didn't know we would end up..."
"Involved?" he asked quietly.
"Well I am. But are you?"
Harry frowned. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"Well, this is me," Jim said, putting his beer bottle in front of him. "And this is you," he said placing her wine glass by his. "And this," he said picking up a salt shaker, is Robert." He placed "Robert" between the two of them. "So, are you here?" he asked, putting her glass next to his bottle. "Or are you here?" he asked, putting her glass next to Robert. "You're still married Harry. As far as I'm concerned, you're with him."
She watched as he picked up his beer bottle from the table. "Do you love him, Harry?"
"Don't ask me a question like that," she snapped.
"Why not? Afraid to tell me the answer? Or afraid you don't know it?"
"I don't know."
"Well I do. I'm out of it," he said getting up.
"Where are you going?"
"But this isn't settled."
"Yes, it is. In your language, Harry, they call it bowing out gracefully. In mine, we call it getting the hell out."
"We're partners. That's all we can be if Robert's on the scene." He leaned down and kissed her on the lips. "It ain't how I want it, Harry, you gotta know that, but it's the way it is. I'll see you in the morning."
The next morning Dempsey was once again at his desk early. Spikings was afraid if the man kept it up, it would be a regular occurrence. He wasn't sure he could deal with that. "Dempsey!"
A moment later Dempsey stood in the Chief's office.
"You wanted to see me, sir?"
Spiking's eyed the bland look on the American's face. "You and Harry solve your problem?"
Spiking smiled. "Then things can get back to normal around here?"
"Yes. Anything else?"
Without a word, Dempsey got up and headed for the door.
"Have a nice day."
After Dempsey left, Spikings knew things were not all right between the two detectives. He would give them until the end of the week, then he'd find out what was going on.
When Harry walked in, she looked tired. Dempsey looked up from his papers.
"Dempsey." She nodded and sat down. An hour passed and Spikings yelled for Chas who quickly went in his office.
"Close the door."
When he'd done so, Spikings continued. "Sit down. What's going on with Cagney and Lacey?"
Chas smiled. "Don't know, guv."
"Are they talking?"
"Do they talk to you?"
Spikings frowned. "I mean on a personal level?"
"No. Harry's always in her own world, and Dempsey, well, he's not close to anyone."
"Not in the department. He's a bit of a loner."
"All right. Back to work."
Chas left and Spikings picked up the report he'd been reading. A moment later, his phone rang. He listened intently, then slammed the receiver down. "Makepeace! Dempsey!"
They filed in and waited.
"I just got word of a snitch who's in a talking mood. I want the two of you to check it out." He handed them a slip of paper. "See if he'll sing for you."
"Do you want me to drive?" Harry asked.
"Yeah, I don't know where this place is," he said as he headed for her car.
Harry was getting tired of Dempsey's I-don't-care attitude. Not once since this fiasco with Robert had he gotten angry. She knew there was an explosion beneath his calm exterior, and she wished it would just happen.
"That was a rather enlightening conversation," Harry said as she and Dempsey went back to the office. "I can't believe that not a month after the Walsh Brothers get out of jail, they're heading up a big job."
"If the money's right, they'll do anything. But who hired them?"
Harry nodded. "Good question."
"Let's check the computer when we get back."
Dempsey nodded. "You, ah, want to get some lunch?"
"I've got plans for lunch. Sorry."
They'd been on the computer for a half hour when someone called Harry's name. She and Dempsey looked up to see Robert Makepeace standing by the door.
"I say, Harriet, are you ready?"
Harry wordlessly got her coat. Robert and Jim sized each other up again.
"Mr. Dempsey," Robert said politely.
Dempsey nodded and buried his nose in the computer.
When Harry came back, Dempsey was still at the computer.
"Did you have a nice lunch?" he asked stiffly.
"Yes, I did, thank you." She thought she detected the tip of the explosion, but Dempsey was still quite cool.
They spent the remainder of the day immersed in printouts and making phone calls to get leads on the Walsh Brothers.
They left separately, the tension level high. It didn't go without Spikings' notice, and he was biding his time until Friday when he'd straighten them both out.
Dempsey sat in the pub lost in thought. He wasn't good at expressing his feelings or admitting he was just a little scared that Harry would stay with her husband. It wasn't something he liked to think about, but after two hours of drinking, he'd had enough. Enough beer and enough of the situation with Harry. He'd wanted to give her some time to see if Robert would fade out of the picture. It didn't look like that was going to happen, so he felt that it was time to do a little soul barring.
Dempsey rang the bell at Harry's flat. To his complete surprise, Robert answered the door in a robe.
"Hello Mr. Dempsey, please come in. I'll get my wife."
"Harriet, darling, there's someone here to see you."
Dempsey stood uncomfortably just inside the door.
"I say old boy, looks like the shoe's on the other foot, as you Americans would say."
Harry entered the room also clad in a robe. "Dempsey!" She took in the situation and knew what he was thinking.
"Jim, it's not what you think."
"I ain't thinkin' nothin', Harry." He was out the door in an instant.
"Wait!" She ran out the door after him, and grabbed him by the arm as he stood by his car.
"Harry, let go of my arm."
"Not until you listen to me."
"Let go of me." He yanked his arm away from her and stared at her, his eyes glittering. The explosion had come. "I don't know what game you're playing, Harry, but I don't want any part of it."
"Let me explain."
"How do we measure up? Was it a good comparison? You make me sick, Harry. If you think I'm going to stand around while you shove him down my throat, you're wrong. Now get the hell out of my way."
He got in his car, slammed the door, and sped off into the night.
Harry watched the car fade into the night. She should be angry at him for misreading the situation, but she knew if the tables were turned, she would have reacted exactly as he had.
Harry stood in her living room with Robert. They'd been arguing for some time.
"Harriet, you don't know what you're saying. We could be good together again."
"Robert, you're not listening to me." Harry's voice rose with each word. "I want you out of my house and I don't want you to call me or come over here again. Do you understand?"
"You can't be serious about this Dempsey chap. He's a barbaric American. What could you possibly see in him?"
"That's none of your business, and I'll thank you to leave me alone. Now, please leave."
Robert stood for a moment, unsure of what to do. "I think you're making a mistake, Harriet."
Robert put on his coat and went to the door. "When you come to your senses, you can call me, you know. I'll understand."
Robert went out the door and Harry sighed. Was she finally ready to close that chapter of her life? Tomorrow she would find out.
The next morning, she went to work, but Dempsey wasn't in.
Spikings motioned to her as she walked in the door. "Harry, a moment."
Sitting down in his office, she looked at him curiously.
"Dempsey called me this morning, he won't be in today."
"I want to know why."
"What did he say?"
"He said, no he told me, that he wouldn't be in and he didn't give a damm if I liked it or not. Then he hung up. I want to know what the hell is going on."
"I don't know if we can work together anymore, sir."
"Is that your opinion or his?"
"Well, it's personal."
"You mean you're involved."
A red stain appeared on Harry's cheeks.
"I'm not blind, Makepeace. Dempsey's been walking around here like a perfect gentleman. He actually has manners. I'm not sure I can deal with him on that level. He's been a source of irritation to me since he got here, but over the months, I've gotten used to it. Now, I'm ashamed to say it, I miss that. So why is he so angry this morning?
"You really want to hear this?"
"Yes. I know it's personal business, but when it affects the way you two work, it's my business."
Harry sighed, took a deep breath, and told him everything that had happened over the past two days. Spikings listened silently until she was finished.
"This is worse than I thought," he replied, getting them each a cup of coffee.
"I don't know what to do," she answered morosely.
"I'm not much on relationships," Spikings said. "My wife will attest to that. You obviously have two choices, Robert or Dempsey. Are you in love with your husband?"
"No, but the feelings are still there."
"What about Dempsey?"
"I don't know. It's all so new and I don't know what he's feeling. He won't tell me."
"Closed mouth is he?"
"Isn't he always?"
Spikings nodded. "Are you in love with Dempsey?"
Makepeace frowned. "I care a great deal about him, but I don't know if I'd go that far yet."
"Take the rest of the day and find out. My guess is Dempsey's pride is wounded, but perhaps not irreparably."
"Thank you, sir."
Harry spent two hours at the Court of Records building, then drove to Dempsey's apartment. Her apprehension grew as she pulled into the parking lot of Dempsey's building. Finally gathering up the courage to see him, she bravely rang the doorbell. She counted to ten and waited. She entertained thoughts that he wasn't home and turned to leave. Unfortunately, reason prevailed as she knew she'd have to face him sooner or later. She gave the button another firm push, and waited. The door opened and Dempsey looked at her.
"Can I come in? Please?"
Dempsey stepped away from the door and she entered the flat. Dempsey leaned against the fireplace, unshaven, tired and somewhat bedraggled.
Harry stood uncomfortably next to the door. "Spikings gave me the rest of the day off."
"To sort things out with you."
Dempsey frowned. "What does he know about all this?"
"Nothing." she lied. She didn't think he would appreciate Spikings knowing the truth. "He's only concerned with our working relationship, and has assumed we have a personal problem."
Unexpectedly, Dempsey laughed. "We certainly do." The laughter was short lived and a scowl appeared on Dempsey's face. "I don't feel like talking, Harry."
She sighed as he moved to the couch and sat down. "Well I do. I can't go on with this between us. Obviously you can't either if you took the day off."
"I asked for a day off."
"The Chief said you hung up on him."
Dempsey scowled. "All right I hate the situation, too."
"Well, that's a start. I want to explain what happened last night."
"No. It's better left forgotten."
"Can you forget it?"
"No," he replied honestly.
"Then let me speak. If you'd come over ten minutes earlier, you would have been part of it."
"That's disgusting," Dempsey growled.
"Damnit, Dempsey. Can't you bring your mind out of the gutter for five minutes?!"
Her anger surprised him, and he held up his hands. "Sorry."
"Robert came over unannounced and he brought a bottle of champagne. He wanted to toast our getting back together. I wanted nothing to do with it but he opened it anyway. It was like a giant, bloody fountain and it sprayed everywhere. What you happened into was not a love tryst, it was a champagne bath."
Dempsey looked at her, and a faint smile appeared on his face. "Honest?"
"I've never lied to you, Jim. Naturally, you misinterpreted what you saw. Much as I hate to admit it, I would have too."
Dempsey smiled. "I guess I did overreact a little."
"No, you didn't. This whole thing could have been avoided if I'd told you more about Robert."
"It never came up."
"I know but perhaps we rushed into things a bit before we knew much about each other."
"Maybe. I don't have as much experience with women as you might think." Dempsey smiled. "My ma always said I was a devil, maybe she was right."
Harry smiled. "Are your parents living?"
"No. My dad's been gone since I was a kid and my ma died six months ago."
"But you were here six months ago."
"You remember that weekend I called in sick? I wasn't sick - I was in New York for her funeral."
She gasped. "You took an awful chance."
"I had to go, Harry."
Harry's voice was soft, sad. "That's why you were so quiet that week. I thought you were still sick. That's why you got drunk the following weekend. I'm sorry I wasn't there for you."
Dempsey shrugged. "It's okay."
"Does Spikings know you went?"
"No, and I want to keep it that way."
They were silent for a moment. "This isn't solving our problem, Harry."
Makepeace reached into her purse and pulled out a folded piece of paper.
Harry sighed. "Something that I hope will help solve part of the problem."
Dempsey glanced at the papers, a look of surprise on his face. "You filed for divorce."
"Just before I came over here. I told Robert there was no place for him in my life now."
Dempsey stood in front of her. "Why did you do that?"
Harry wouldn't meet his eyes.
He pulled her chin to him with one finger. "Why?"
"Because I don't love him." She put her head against his shoulder, and he held her.
"That's all I wanted to hear, Harry. I don't expect you to say the words because I can't say them either. In my arms or not, Harry, I want to know that you want to be with me."
"I do, Jim. I do."
His kiss was gentle and slow. No matter what would happen in the future, they knew they had each other. It was enough for both of them for now.
Friday morning dawned clear and crisp. Dempsey and Makepeace cheerfully left their car, arm in arm, and entered the building. They were unaware of Spikings watching them from his window. Nor did they see the enormous grin on his face as he went out to Chas' desk.
"Chas, old boy, it's going to be a wonderful day."
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This fan fiction was written by Loretta Greco.
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Last updated: 01/12/03