Disclaimer: I own nothing. If i did, Jen would've said yes when Matt asked her out. City Homicide and all related characters etc belong to Channel 7
Matt grimaced as he passed by a flyer advertising the upcoming Police Ball. Usually he avoided it at all costs. Being forced to socialise with people from work he did not particularly like was not his idea of a good time. Unfortunately, this year he had no choice.
Senior Sergeant Wolfe was going to receive a commendation in recognition of 25 years on the force; so his squad had agreed that they should be there to honour their boss's achievements. It was with the greatest reluctance that Matt had accepted this plan and as a result, he had spent the last half-hour brainstorming various avoidance techniques. So far, he had come up with nothing better then a bout of faked food poisoning or a 'family emergency.'
Grumpily, he stalked across the office to his desk. "Good morning sunshine," came Simon's annoyingly jovial voice from his own desk. Matt simply grunted in response. "Geez, what's got your panties in a pinch?" Simon asked indignantly. Matt ignored him.
For the first time ever, he looked upon a large pile of paperwork on his desk with relief. With luck, he could bury himself in it all day, and keep his mind off the stupid ball. Luck however, did not seem to be on his side today. "So Matty, the big ball next week. Who are you bringing?" asked Duncan, smirking. Matt's hatred of the event was well known among his colleagues and they could never resist sticking the boot in, just a little bit.
Matt sighed, not seeing a polite way to get out of this conversation. "Haven't asked anyone," he admitted sourly. "Well you'd better get a move on, mate or you'll be going stag…again." Matt scowled. "You'll be taking Claire, then?" he asked, changing the subject. Duncan nodded. "She's been dress shopping for weeks; with my credit card." That got a laugh out of Matt, and Simon who had been listening.
"How about you Si?" Duncan asked, once the other two had finished snickering at his misfortune. "Who's the lucky lady this week?" Simon grinned. "I should be receiving a call in regards to that, right about…now." Right on cue, his mobile rang. Matt and Duncan rolled their eyes as he pressed the answer button. "Amy, honey," he purred into the phone. "How are you?"
The others ignored him as he chattered away for several minutes. Shutting the phone with a snap, he turned back around to face them, positively glowing with self-satisfaction. "I'm all set," he informed them smugly. "Oh yeah? And how much are you paying this one?" Duncan quipped, causing Matt to chuckle and the smile to be wiped off Simon's face.
"At least I've got a date," he said, some minutes later. "Which is more then can be said for our dear Matthew over there." Matt preserved what he hoped was a dignified silence, refusing to rise to the bait. "Seriously Matt, there's got to be someone you like enough to ask," Duncan chipped in. "Trust me, there isn't," he responded shortly. " Well, maybe Simon can spare you one or two of his girls for the evening." Duncan suggested slyly. He was rewarded with a glare from both Matt and Simon, and the latter proceeded to unleash a stream of insults on his friend.
Under cover of the argument, Matt was able to retreat back into his paperwork and his thoughts. He had lied through his teeth to Duncan just then. There was in fact somebody who he would like to ask, somebody who was never very far from his thoughts these days, somebody whom, as luck would have it, had just walked in the door.
Jennifer emerged from the lift, carrying a tray of coffee. She raised an eyebrow slightly at the sight of Simon and Duncan bellowing at each other, both red in the face, but otherwise gave no sign that she had noticed them. Instead, she walked right past them, over to Matt's desk. "Morning," she smiled as she reached him. "How long have the children been fighting like that?" she asked him, handing him his coffee. "A while," he said disinterestedly, taking a sip. "Thanks." He flashed her his best smile. She looked over her shoulder at the other two, and sighed. "I'd better go break it up."
She walked right up to them and placed herself in between them. "Ahem!" She cleared her throat loudly. Both men were cut off in mid-shout as they turned guiltily around to face her. "Morning Jen," said Simon sycophantically, attempting a charming smile. Her stern expression was unchanged and he soon gave up on the idea.
She held up the coffee tray. "Now I have two good cups of coffee right here and as far as I know, it's bad to give caffeine to children under five." The men looked ashamed of themselves. "Now grow up, apologise, and act like the two grown men you claim to be," she ordered.
Matt burst out laughing as Simon and Duncan meekly obeyed, then retreated sheepishly to their desks. "Jen, you're going to make a great mother someday," he told her as she finally sat down. "Well if it ever does happen I'll have had plenty of practice with those two," she said. Her tone was light but Matt knew that there was pain behind the joke. He knew that she wanted to be a mother more than anything.
They fell into a comfortable silence as she set to work on her own paperwork. Once he was sure that she was totally absorbed in her task, Matt glanced over at her surreptitiously. She was the kind of woman he had always seen himself marrying, beautiful, smart and fiery, but he knew she deserved a lot better then what he could offer her.
Still, he couldn't help thinking about how much more pleasant the dreaded ball would be with Jen on his arm. There was no harm in asking, right? The worst she could do was say no. He took a deep, calming breath. "Jen?" She looked up at him. As soon as her eyes connected with his, his courage failed him. "Can I borrow a pen?" he covered lamely. She handed him one. As she returned to her work, he fumed at his own gutlessness.
The rest of the morning passed without incident and one by one, the team headed off for lunch. Matt returned twenty minutes later to find Jen eating a sandwich and looking annoyed. "What's up?" he asked. "Oh you know that guy Paul, from the tech department?" she asked. "Well he just asked me to the ball." "What!" he exclaimed. "He's not even a cop!" "I know, but it's not that," she sighed. "How many times do I have to tell him no before he gets it?" "Don't be too hard on him, Jen," Matt said. "Any guy would have to be insane not to want to go out with you."
His eyes widened as he realized what he had just said. He didn't dare look at her and focused on opening his lunch. He almost didn't hear her quiet response. "Really?" He rubbed his temple and sighed. He'd already made an idiot of himself so he might as well finish the job. "Absolutely," he said.
She was silent for a moment. He once again screwed up all his courage and glanced over at her. He was pleased to see that she was smiling. "Thanks Matt." Somehow, the two words seemed to fill him with confidence. "I think I can fix your Paul problem, too," he said, before he could stop himself. "And how can you do that?" she asked. "Come with me instead," he blurted out, surprised at his own boldness.
It was the longest ten seconds that Matt had ever experienced, between his garbled offer and her response but finally she spoke. "I'd love to."
All of a sudden, the prospect of the ball didn't sound so bad after all. Intriguing possibilities that he had never allowed himself to consider before began presenting themselves to his thoughts. He let them play, making no attempt to stem the flow.
The rest of the day passed by in what felt like a matter of seconds. Luckily, there was no new case that day as Matt's mind was far more pleasantly occupied. At five o' clock sharp he bade a cheery goodbye to his colleagues, winked at Jen and all but danced out the door.
Duncan and Simon watched him go with matching expressions of amazement on their faces. "What's put him in such a good mood?" asked Simon. "Did someone slip something into his coffee?" Duncan simply shook his head, lost for words.
Jen smiled to herself. "Goodnight gentlemen," she said, walking out the door herself.
It was long after the doors slid closed behind her, that Simon and Duncan were finally able to pull themselves together and call it a day.
Out in the lobby, Matt happened to pass by Paul, the tech that he and Jen had been discussing earlier. "Detective Ryan," he said. "Is Detective Mapplethorpe still here?" Not even this could spoil Matt's good mood. "I think so," he said. Paul nodded and headed for the elevator. Matt called him back. "If you're going up there to ask her to the ball again, don't bother. She's going with someone else."
The man looked visibly crushed, so much so that Matt almost felt sorry for him. "Well who's she going with then?" asked Paul.
Matt smiled his biggest smile all day. "With me."
This was meant to be a one shot but I will post a second chapter if anyone's interested. Should you be inclined to review, it will be much appreciated.