Disclaimer- I own nothing I wish I did but I just get to play with the characters.
(Set two months after Jack comes back in season 5)
Errors in Communication
"Sandra I really enjoyed the opportunity to work with you and your team. Feels good to finally close this case." DCI Ben Webster thanked her as he stood in the middle of the UCOS office smiling at her. They had just closed a six year old double murder case, her three colleagues had already knocked off and gone to the pub to celebrate.
"I enjoyed working with you too Ben." Sandra replied honestly returning his smile. It was nice to work successfully with the original investigating officer especially one that was eager to help them. Ben seemed like an easy going nice guy and she wouldn't have minded the chance to work with him again.
"Can I take you out to dinner to celebrate?" he asked her hopefully.
"Ah…" she hesitated. Ben came off as a decent guy and he was a good looker as well but she wasn't sure if this was a wise idea. Her history with fellow officers was terrible. And though he seemed nice they just didn't seem like a good fit in her mind.
"Please, just dinner I promise nothing untoward." He was practically begging her and while she didn't buy the 'just dinner' bit she felt bad turning him down. It wasn't as though she had other plans.
"Sure why not" she agreed giving in. That was how they came to be sitting in an Indian restaurant two hours later chatting over the remains of their dinner. The evening had gone well, Ben was fun to talk to and true to his word he hadn't made a pass at her.
"You know I had heard a rumor that you were looking to move on from UCOS." Ben told her as he took a drink of his beer.
"Really?" she cried taken completely by surprise. "Where ever did you hear that?"
"Actually I would have put it at more than a rumor" he added not answering her question.
"That isn't possible, it couldn't even have been a creditable rumor because there is absolutely no truth to it." She objected emphatically, she couldn't imagine where Ben had gotten this impression.
"That is surprising, you sure?" He pushed her, he seemed confident in his belief and this confused her even more.
"I promise you I have no desire to leave this team. They may be a little unorthodox and down right crazy at times but I truly enjoy working with them." She informed him firmly, regardless of where this rumor had come from she wanted to put an end to it.
"I can tell after seeing you and your team the way the four of you work together." He agreed with her flashing her a smile. "That's why I had to ask you about this rumor because the source was pretty reliable." He added and she couldn't tell if he was trying to be playful or just frustrating.
"I can't even image who would have suggested such a thing." Sandra argued once more. Yet when she found out who had started the rumor she was going to have a conversation with them.
"I also feel I owed it to you to let you know that there were some rumblings about a personnel change on your team a couple of months ago. Nothing recently but Jack's name was mentioned." Ben was apparently a wealth of information and for some reason he was happy to share. It was as though he were trying to gossip with her.
"Jack did take some time off but clearly he came back." She said evenly, she was not about to tell Ben what had actually happened. Only five people knew the truth and it was going to stay that way.
"Yes and he seems very happy working on your team, its great." He commented sincerely and he even seemed happy at the thought.
"Ben where did this rumor come from?" She asked him straight out, she was tired of his gossip, she needed to know the truth.
"See that is the strange part it originated with your boss."
"Strickland?" she cried out. It didn't make any sense and she didn't know if she should be mad or disappointed at the man in question for starting the rumor. If he had actually started the rumor, she knew gossip wasn't always reliable.
"Yes him" Ben quickly confirmed. "And the way I hear it he was putting feelers out there for you, like he was looking for the best job available" The DCI was clearly a knowledgeable source but what he said didn't make sense to her.
"That is not possible" she argued confused and bewildered.
"Obviously because you're still here. You know how the rumor mill is." He agreed smiling at her and laughing. She was getting tired of that smile now it just reminded her that he knew a lot more about this than she did. She hated when other people knew more about her business than she did.
"Rumors are often unreliable" she added tersely not adopting his playful tone.
"Unreliable is an understatement, things get all twisted up. That is why I had to ask you about it. Didn't make any sense especially now that I have worked with you lot. I wouldn't let it bother you rumors are hardly worth getting upset over." He advised her when she shot him a glare, his smile had disappeared which did help her anger to abate some. Ben might have been happy to brush the information off as false but she couldn't do so as freely. Sandra had information that he didn't, he didn't know about a specific fight that had occurred between her team and the DAC. A fight that had gotten a bit heated.
"People really said Strickland was putting out feelers?" she pushed him unwilling to let it go.
"Yes and I'm not going to lie I was excited, the opportunity to run UCOS is very attractive." He admitted, he didn't appear concerned that she would take umbrage with the statement. Lucky for him she was preoccupied with Strickland, any other day and she would have had a sharp rebuke for him.
"You're positive it was feelers he was putting out not warning people off so they wouldn't consider me for other positions?" She asked him, she didn't care what he thought of the question. It didn't make any sense, she and Strickland fought. Why would he try and find her a new job especially after what he threatened? To her it seemed far more likely that he was trying to prevent her from finding a new job.
"No they were definitely feelers and from what I hear he was working people pretty hard to get you a good spot. Not that he really would have had to try very hard you are rather in demand."
"Thank you for the complement but I am sure you are exaggerating." She replied brushing away his flattery.
"No it is true many people would love to have you. Are you sure you're not thinking of moving on?" He inquired with a smirk.
"No I assure you I'm not." She told him firmly leaving not room for misunderstanding. She didn't need another rumor circulating around the MET.
"I don't blame you, after seeing you and your team it would be a shame if you broke up. Still a disappointment to the rest of us who would like to work with your team and those who want to work with you." He informed her complimenting her once more and she had to resist the urge to roll her eyes at him. Yet Ben seemed more entertained by the conversation and not disappointed in the least.
"Sorry to disappoint you but I am not going anywhere" she confirmed once more. "Is that why you wanted to have dinner with me?" She asked suddenly becoming suspicious.
"Not the only reason I assure you. My main reason I confess was to spend more time with you. But I'm not your type am I?" He freely admitted and she was relieved to see that he has correctly accessed her interest in him.
"No sorry you're not" She told him, he was a nice guy but she wasn't about to lie to him.
"Can I ask what your type is?"
"I may only just be figuring that out for myself" she answered him cryptically.
"Fair enough but you can't blame a guy for trying. Plus the food was good just as good as the company. I only hope you agree." He replied and Sandra was pretty sure Ben was the most optimistic, happy go lucky person she had ever met and it made her smile.
"I did have a good evening, thank you."
"Glad to hear it, and I wouldn't worry about that whole rumor thing, just a rumor after all. Don't waste any more time thinking about it." He advised and she dutifully nodded in agreement. Yet it wasn't something she could just forget. Ever after they said their good-byes and Sandra returned home she still couldn't stop thinking about what Ben had told her.
Sandra spent most of the next day filling out paperwork from their case. Yet her mind kept drifting back to the information she learned from Ben the night before. She still didn't completely believe him so she made a few inquiries of her own. By the end of the day she had all the conformation she needed. After her three pensioners left she climbed the stairs to Strickland's office, this was something they needed to discuss.
"Good you're still here" she remarked as she knocked on his open door.
"Sandra" Robert exclaimed removing his reading glasses and looking up at her in surprise. "How can I help you?" She had definitely caught him off guard and he looked slightly uncomfortable which had been her goal. They hadn't talked much in the past two months since Jack's return. He was smart enough to know that her seeking him out unsolicited after closing a case was not a good thing.
"What's wrong with you?" She asked him making her exasperation clear while making sure she did not sound angry.
"I am sure there is plenty wrong with me." He replied dejectedly. She had feared he might get defensive but he just sagged in his chair. She didn't know if this was a better reaction or worse.
"Sometimes you really confuse me" she continued ignoring his statement. "Two months ago when we fought over Jack's absence and I threatened to leave UCOS-Do you remember that?" She asked him walking closer to his desk but she refrained from sitting at one of the empty chairs. Sandra knew she was more intimidating if she remained standing and she wanted to keep hold off the upper hand. They were in his office which gave him an advantage but she was currently in control of the conversation and wanted to keep it that way.
"Ah…yes I unfortunately do, look Sandra I acted very unprofessional that day I should never-"
"Don't apologize—not yet" she cut him off. She wasn't ready for him to apologize yet, not when she hadn't even gotten to the reason she was there.
"Okay" he replied immediately chastised.
"Did you—after that fight—go and put out feelers to find me a new job? After you told me you wouldn't even give me a reference?" She accused him and she could tell by the look of panic on his face that he has not been expecting this question. His eye bugged and his whole face went pale.
"How did you? Uh…it wasn't really-" he stuttered but she cut him off once more.
"Don't try and lie. I've already had confirmation from more than one source. They all told me that is exactly what you did."
"I see…can I explain?" he asked weakly.
"No not yet because from what I hear you weren't just looking for any old job that I could fill but the best job available. Again I ask what is wrong with you?" She cried, her hands were on her hips now and shew as staring him down.
"A lot" he repeated softly.
"Clearly. You do know you are supposed to keep your bad deeds a secret not your good deeds." She informed him with a sigh, he was exhausting sometimes.
"Yes-" he began but she stopped him she wasn't done yet.
"Then you say nothing about any of this when Jack comes back and I have to find out about it from bloody Ben Webser." She cried exasperated once more.
"You said you wanted to stay" he replied surging his shoulders as if that explained everything.
"Damn right I wanted to stay but you let me think you were being an ass, a complete tosser." She lectured him getting to what was really making her mad. For two months he let her think he was a terrible person when he certainly wasn't.
"Am I allowed to talk now?" he asked her seeking permission this time.
"I'm not sure" she replied with a huff. "Why? Why did you do any of it?" she cried out at him once more.
"And why keep it a secret?" she demanded, she was on a roll and she wasn't ready to let him explain till she got it all out.
"No" she shot back. "And how many other things have you kept secret from me?"
"Why? I just want to understand why you did it? What the hell was going through your mind?"
"Sandra if you would please let me talk." He exclaimed in frustration ending her question filled rant.
"Fine, what possible explanation could you have for being nice and making me think you were a total arse." She demanded folding her arms over her chest and staring him down once more.
"Are you actually mad at me? Because I am having a hard time figuring that out?" He questioned her instead.
"I'm not sure" she huffed back at him.
"Okay…why don't you sit down? I would offer you a drink but I don't think that would be wise." He suggested still trying to calm her and accesses her mood.
"Talk" she ordered dropping down into the nearby chair.
"I got mad plan and simple. I was mad at your team for abusing resources to find Jack and then things spiraled out of hand. You threatened to leave and I let my emotions get the better of me and I shouldn't have. You were emotional over Jack I should have been the reasonable one." He explained and she had no doubt about his sincerity. She just didn't understand why he never said anything to her before.
"I can't exactly argue with your assessment of the situation that day but that doesn't explain your actions after our fight. You were mad at me surly that is the point." She pushed him she wanted an actual answer.
"Yes…well I got mad that you wanted to leave. I didn't want to lose such a good office but it was more than that. I didn't want you to leave, I wouldn't get to see you everyday. I suddenly felt backed into a corner and I acted foolishly. I did something extremely stupid—I threatened you. In my stupidity I thought that without a reference you would be unable to leave." He admitted dropping his eyes, he was too embarrassed and unable to meet her look.
"How ingenious of you" she snapped sarcastically.
"Yeah I know stupid doesn't even begin to cover it" he groaned
"I thought you were just doing it out of spite." She added shaking her head.
"I would never do something to spite you" he assured her emphatically and she believed him.
"Good to know" she said and she let her glare relax a little.
"As soon as I left I came to my senses, I knew I had been a fool." He continued with his attempt to explain his actions to her.
"Why didn't you just apologize then?" she cried throwing her hands up in frustration.
"I thought I had messed everything up and I honestly didn't think you would want to hear what I had to say."
"I would have listened" she told him softly and reluctantly he reestablished eye contact.
"I also didn't think it would do much good. It really didn't look like Jack was coming back. That meant Gerry would leave and then you would leave. You felt lost so I decided to try and make up for what I had said and find you a new job you would actually like. The best available if I had my way." He concluded finally giving her a reason why he did it all in secret.
"Ugh what is wrong with you?" she moaned at him once more.
"I'm in love with you, I thought knew that by now." He answered her with complete honesty taking her by surprise.
"You could have just given me a recommendation that would have been enough." She told him softly. She didn't like how close they came to making a huge mistake.
"I needed to make sure you were happy" he replied give her a sad smile.
"How could you think I would ever been happy away from you?" She asked him, just the thought of it made her chest hurt.
"The fighting was a strong indication" he argued.
"Fighting implies passion if there was no passion there would never have been a fight" she corrected him.
"I am sure you would have found someone new to fight with." He commented flippantly.
"No one like you" she shot back.
"You never said anything" he reminded her.
"No I didn't" Sandra confirmed without a second thought.
"Why not?" he pushed.
"I don't know. Jack left, Jack came back, and no one likes change all that much. I guess I thought it was best to keep the status quo for the time being." She replied trying to find some actual reason for her silence other than the hurt from his words.
"When did you realize you had these feeling?" He asked and she could see him beginning to relax.
"When I threatened to leave and I realized that if I left I would have to leave you. But then you upped the ante with the reference and I couldn't back down." She admitted shrugging her shoulders at him she has already told him she was stubborn.
"So if Jack hadn't come back you would have left?"
"I might have, I'm not sure, it felt like things were coming apart. Thought I was going to have to take a shit job in Vice for a while cause we pushed each other too far this time." She said sadly being honest to with him.
"I would have never let that happen. Lead detective in the murder squad no less than that."
"What's wrong with us?" she asked with a laugh amending her original question. She was equally responsible for the situation.
"I'm not sure, communication issues?" he suggested lightly.
"We should fix that" she told him firmly as her eyes twinkled at him.
"How?" he inquired eagerly.
"Come here" she called standing up and he obediently stood as well and came to her side. Once he was close enough she grabbed him by the shirt, pulling him close and kissed him. From the moment their lips met the exploration began and went on for more than a minute.
"I think we might finally be on the same page." Robert whispered playfully once they pulled away.
"Agreed I only have one question, why are we still standing in your office?" She asked him, their lips were only inches apart.
"Dinner?" he offered
"Take away" she countered.
"My place" she confirmed with a grin.
"I'll get the food" he stated as a smile played at his own lips.
"I'll chill the wine" she added seductively.
"Or less" she moaned before kissing him again.
a/n As i have said previously, I am not actively writing New Tricks fanfiction. But this was one of a handful of short completed fics sitting on my computer that I wanted to share. I am posting them just in case anyone is interested in reading them. I hope they are enjoyable and I apologize for any typos still floating around. Additionally I would like to say a heart felt thank you everyone that I has read this and anything else I have written over the years...Thank you.