For the record: I do not own the characters or anything else that's related to the PM universe. I just play with it and try to return it unharmed.
We all know the episode so I don't think I have to explain anything. Only that IMO Della and Perry weren't a couple before the Brent case happened. Enjoy and thanks to Molly for her speedy editing!
TCOT Weary Watchdog - Missing Moments
Dawn was breaking when they entered Della's apartment. It had been a long and somehow painful night filled with heated words and accusations. If she was honest with herself, she hadn't expected him to follow her inside. In fact, he was so angry that she had doubted he would even offer her a lift, but in the end he had driven her home.
And there he was. Tall, strong, even handsome in his fury and eagerly waiting for an explanation.
A few hours ago, the police had arrested Janet Brent for the murder of Ed Franklin and she, Della Street, was suspected to being an accessory, because she had driven Janet's car in order to confuse the police after Janet had escaped right after she had hit Franklin on the head an old, expensive statue. A desperate and stupid move and not in the least plausible, although she bravely had claimed so in front of the police.
She knew she didn't sit in jail right now only because Perry Mason, the famous lawyer, was her boss. After all, Burger and even Andy had not hesitated to arrest her.
"So?" Mason asked, a little impatient.
"I know," she said. She dropped her mink on the couch and started taking off her gloves.
"You know what?"
"I made a mistake, but she's innocent. She didn't kill that man!" Her statement didn't make an impression on him. He had heard it too often in the past.
"A pity she has had the hell of a motive and the opportunity to kill him! Why didn't you call me after she had struck him?"
"I don't know… I guess I didn't think… she was so… scared… " she took a deep breath and shook her head. How could she call him, after she had already asked him for the money? Of course, she had sensed the money was meant as payment for a blackmailer, but she hadn't been sure of it. The last thing she had wanted was to drag him deeper into this and now she had caused a real mess. She wanted to cry, but swallowed her tears and said: "Look, I'm sorry. I can understand if you don't want to defend her… or me, in case it should become necessary." Her eyes were glued to her fingers because she couldn't stand to look at him, although his eyes were penetrating her mercilessly.
"You can bet Burger will do everything to make it necessary! He's already had a field day!"
"I know I brought you into an impossible position!" She defended vividly. She bent her head back and bit her lips. She felt so tired, her head ached and she was scared. Scared for Janet, scared for Perry, and scared for herself, because she could lose him over this. She turned her back to him, because she didn't want him to see how close she was to losing her composure.
"Why didn't you come to me when you realized she had problems?"
"Because I had no idea what exactly was wrong with her."
"And yet you asked me to give you twenty-five thousand dollars when she actually needed a lawyer?"
"You got your money back." She knew that wasn't what he meant. He was mainly talking about trust. Her trust in him and vice versa and so she added quickly. "I told her to talk to you, but she was too scared and so…"
"And so you just did what you did," he concluded harshly. "I wish you had come to me earlier. What if I can't help her? What if she goes to jail? Do you know what'll happen to you when she's convicted?"
She swallowed hard: "Yes, I know." Drawing a deep breath she added: "Maybe you should fire me… I'm threatening your reputation."
Now he was the one who had to swallow. Apparently he hadn't expected this. Something in his eyes started glittering, as her words subsided. He stared wordlessly at her. She had wrapped her arms around her; she was slightly trembling. He could see the soft fabric flickering around her long, shapely legs.
"You said Burger is having a field day… maybe I should quit, to spare you the inconvenience of having a criminal secretary."
Searching for the right words, he stepped closer. Before she knew what happened he had placed his hand on her shoulder, squeezing it tenderly. His warm hand lay on her bare skin and sent shivers down her spine. His touch was too much for her and she squirmed under his tender ministration. Her muscles didn't relax and stiffed even more.
"What you just suggested is out of question. You know I don't care about things like this. Understood?" He intensified his grip, causing her to stop breathing.
Silence fell and with the silence came the tears. She nodded quietly and turned to him. He removed his hand and she frowned at the loss of contact. The expression on his face had softened a little and she could detect the concern in his eyes. He stood close. Indeed, closer than she had realized. She smelled the fading scent of his aftershave and felt his breath on her cheek.
His nearness confused her. Her tired mind couldn't grasp all the differing emotions that were fighting for the upper hand while her body reacted to him, as she felt his palm on her cheek. The touch was simple, tender and absolutely arousing. A ridiculous feeling and out of place, considering the circumstances. She knew that and turned her head slightly to avoid him. Only he didn't let her. He held her face with both of his hands and kissed her. First slowly and expectantly then, when her lips parted, with growing passion.
She felt her knees buckling and the only reason she still stood on her feet were his arms that had tightly wrapped around her, pressing her against him. Her head started spinning and she panted for air when he pulled back.
"Listen," he said hoarsely. "I want you to understand how serious this is. You could end up in jail and there will be nothing I can do to save you."
Della nodded, because she didn't know what to say. His kiss had caught her off guard and had naturally intensified her desire for him. He was holding her close to him, his hands on her waist. To her embarrassment, her body had developed a dangerous life of its own. Unable to fight her arousal, she pressed her body against his. With her arms around his neck, she closed the small gab between their bodies and kissed him again.
So far, sex had never been a big issue in her life. The life she lead was a rich one. Not many women had the opportunity to have a job that was never just routine at the side of a man who was nothing but extraordinary and ready to risk his neck for everybody who needed help.
Until this moment she had kept her desire for him in check. She had not tried to seduce him as others in her position might have, but this was different. He had shown her he wanted her, although she had made a foolish mistake.
She heard the sound of the hidden zipper, as he opened her dress. One second later his hands roamed her naked skin. In a state she would later call intoxicating, her trembling hands started working on his clothes. Groping and discovering every so far unknown detail about one another, they stumbled into her neatly tidied up bedroom, leaving a trail of pieces of clothes behind them.
The silence in the room was unbearable. So far the trial had gone badly. On the stand, Burger had torn her apart and there was nothing Perry could do to counter the damage her testimony had done.
He was visibly uneasy around her, quieter than usual, and she had the feeling he was avoiding her. He stood at the window, spending his time staring outside, thinking.
She just didn't know if he was still angry with her or if he didn't know how to face her. They hadn't lost a single word about what had happened after Janet's arrest. In fact, both were tip toeing around it like teenagers who didn't know how to handle a situation like this. Della sighed. But weren't they adults, after all, who had known each other for over a decade? Shouldn't they be able to talk like grown up people?
"What is it?" she asked quietly.
"You haven't said a thing since we left the courtroom."
"What is there left to say?" he sounded angry.
"You don't believe her, do you?"
"That's not the point… the question is what I can prove and fact is I can prove nothing."
Silence fell again. She wrapped her arms around herself, hoping to fight the cold within her, wishing she could lie in his arms. The physical distance he was keeping from her hurt her immensely.
"You regret it, don't you?" she heard her own words and couldn't believe she had just phrased her most secret thoughts. The tension in the room grew instantly. She sensed how he stiffened, although she couldn't see him, and knew she had hit a nerve.
"What makes you think that?" he asked, holding his breathe.
"Well, it's obvious… you don't talk to me, you hardly look at me… and why? Because you made a mistake. Now you don't only have a criminal secretary, you managed to have a criminal mistress. Quite a mess, Counselor, unless you prove Janet's innocence, which seems rather impossible right now."
He remained silent. Maybe the cold tone in her voice was what disturbed him, maybe it was her harsh words.
"Anyway… my offer still stands. I can quit if you want me to."
She meant it. Every word. She would rather leave him and his office, before she continued to live with the feeling of being dropped like a hot potato. A moment later, Paul strolled through the door in his usual, blunt manner.
When Perry stopped the car in front of her apartment house, Della leaned back in the seat and stared at the ceiling. They had spent the trip in utter silence, because both didn't know what to say. Janet was free, Della remained free. Everything was alright now, wasn't it?
"I think I have to apologize," she started in a low voice. "I told you some pretty nasty things."
"Well, you had very good reasons to do so," he replied after a short hesitation.
"So, where do we go from here?" she asked.
"You said you want to quit," he reminded her.
"You know I don't want to quit. But since I can't have what I want, it's maybe the only option left for me." She shrugged and opened the car door.
His hand on her arm kept her from leaving. "And what is it what you want? I'm not a seer, Della. I can only deal with facts."
She closed the door and turned to him. "I want you to follow me into my apartment to make love to me all night, but since you've refused to touch me in weeks I guess it's a rather foolish request. And now let me go, before this becomes even more embarrassing for both of us."
Again she attempted to leave the car and again he stopped her. He grabbed her wrist, pulled her toward him and kissed her hungrily. She reacted instantly and returned the kiss with equal passion.
"I'm afraid you have to explain this to me," she whispered, as she broke the kiss.
"Did it ever occur to you that my feelings for you could hurt my judgement on this case? You were driving me crazy with your behaviour, your dress and your loyalty to someone who doesn't deserve it!"
"But Janet was innocent!" she argued.
"Janet Brent is someone who slept and married herself to the top and then realized living like this always has a price. Her husband is a fool and she didn't have the backbone to go to him to tell him Franklin had used her."
She couldn't deny that one, but still Janet was her friend. "I asked you once how far you would go for a friend. You told me to do anything I could…"
"I just hope Janet would do the same thing for you…"
"I have you as my best friend… haven't I? Are you my friend?" she asked and wiped her lipstick from the corner of his mouth.
"I hope I'm much more."
They kissed again. He wrapped his arm around her shoulder and she sneaked closer against him. Her hand cupped his face, tracing the outline of his cheekbone.
"So… what will happen now?"
"Prove you're not a quitter."
She smiled at him and kissed him again. "Come with me. I haven't been kissed in a car since I was 18, and I have to say, my apartment is much more comfortable."
"I remember that. Vividly." He said, placing his hand on her knee, roaming her with eyes that gave away how much he desired her right now. "I remember every second… and every detail."
"Want me to take on a certain dress?" she asked with a twinkle in her eye.
"From now on, only behind closed doors, Miss Street."
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