'The Annie Arc'

Episode 4:

'I am Furious... David'

Waking after a short and restless sleep, David found himself on the familiar armchair beside Maddie's bed. He immediately jumped up, annoyed for allowing himself to sleep, and bent over her motionless body. Her breath was slow and regular. He sighed. Somehow, absurdly enough, after their mean showdown at the parking lot, and his close yet distant encounter with Maddie's cousin, he had the feeling that the previous night had brought them closer. He had the impression that, for the first time in months, they had been communicating with each other instead of drifting steadily apart. The distinct notion that she had been on the verge of opening up had been apparent but that could be blamed on the influence of painkillers and sedatives of course.

He touched his hand to her warm cheek, and she stirred slightly in her sleep. He looked down upon her with a distant smile which spoke the words that he had so much trouble expressing. Turning around, he left the bedroom as quietly as he could so as not to disturb her rest.

In her kitchen, he found the usual breakfast items, in their familiar places, and made a jug of hot, strong coffee. He poured a cup for himself and stirred it for a long time; lost in thought - until an unwelcome voice broke this solitude between David and his dreams.

'What a surprise to see you here.'

He flinched when he saw Maddie's cousin in the doorway, fully dressed, arms folded and, he noticed, two suitcases by her feet. He had been hoping to leave before she woke up.

'Morning,' he replied in a monotone, not offering the slightest explanation for his presence. He turned back to his coffee, not offering any to her. She was the last person he wanted to see right now.

Slowly, like a greedy alley cat smelling a freshly opened can of fish, she strolled into the kitchen. 'Do I smell coffee?' she asked in that light and bubbly tone.

'Sure.' He motioned to the coffee jug, obviously having no intention of serving her any, or talking. She pouted.

'So what are you doing here anyway, come to surprise me?' she finally asked cheerfully, ignoring his present mood.

'Long story.' He was not in the mood for detail.

'Is something wrong with Maddie?' she attempted to sound concerned whilst she helped herself to coffee.

'She'll be fine. It was just something to do with our current case. We were called in to the office late last night and we found ourselves up to our necks in bad guys. Maddie got hurt, she got hit on the side of the head and her lights went out - we had to call an ambulance,' David summed up the events of the previous night.

Annie didn't seem bothered by this revelation, she just managed a pretty indifferent 'M-hm.' although, she was smarting with the concept that David had been out with Maddie in the middle of the night.

David frowned at her indifference and continued: 'Anyway, the doctors said I could take her home so that's what I did.'

'Well. As you said, I'm sure she'll be fine,' Annie said casually and added, motioning to her suitcases: 'I'm moving out and into a hotel.' She deliberately avoided the subject of why David was still here if he'd merely dropped Maddie back home after the hospital.

'M-hm,' David replied.

'Don't you wanna know why?' she asked, clearly annoyed now.

'Well, I think it's really none of my business, and besides – honestly, I have other things on my mind right now.' His voice was cold and devoid of emotion.

Annie pressed her lips together and started to rummage in her purse. Finally finding what she was looking for, she grabbed at a piece of paper and a pen. 'Well,' she said while she started to scribble something down, 'I was gonna call you anyway, to give you my new address.' She finished her scribbling and forced the piece of paper into his reluctant hand. 'This is where I am going to stay. I think it's better to avoid any further stupid discussions with my dearest cousin. I had enough of it yesterday.'

'Don't you think you should explain...' David started.

'I left her a note,' Annie interrupted and shrugged, annoyed at his sudden concern for the welfare of Maddie. She tried one final and desperate time to get David's attention. 'Would you mind helping with my... stuff sweetie?' She threw him a lewd smile that made him sick, whilst motioning towards her suitcases.

'I'll call you a cab.' Her smile faded. 'I told you I had other things on my mind right now... and please don't call me sweetie, I'm rarely into pet names.'

'Right,' she said stiffly, 'well. I'll call you later.'

'Do that.'

She stood there for a moment, confused, and then grabbed her suitcases, turned around and walked towards the front door. 'Call that cab,' she said over her shoulder. 'Please.'

On opening her eyes, the first thing Maddie noticed was that the armchair was empty but had obviously been slept in. So it had not been a dream – David had taken her home, and he had put her to bed and watched over her whilst she slept. Her head ached. She closed her eyes again, and her mind floated back, involuntarily, to the previous night and its variety of assorted events – the awful row in the parking lot, the telephone conversation with Catherine Robinson (that had hurt her more than she had anticipated), the absurd chase scene in the Blue Moon building, her injury and the even more absurd dream she had experienced during her unconsciousness - she had embarrassed herself on waking by shouting out 'kiss me, kiss me'.

When she had awoken at the hospital, and found David at her side, it had been a relief, a joy and left her with a feeling of just-how-it-should-be. She remembered vaguely that he had carried her up the stairs, notwithstanding her protesting, and tucked her in like a forlorn child, but she remembered also that it hadn't made her feel uncomfortable. It had made her feel safe and protected and just-how-it-should-be. The only thing that could have made her feel any more safe would have been if he had laid down beside her, to cradle her in his arms and hold her like... well... just-how-it-should-be.

'You're awake,' his voice came from nowhere. David was standing in the doorway, looking at her with undisguised affection and concern in his green eyes. It startled her how he had detected, easily, that she wasn't asleep - her eyes had been closed. Only one shift in her facial features and a slight tensing of her body had been enough. It was obvious that he knew her inside out – just-how-it-should-be.

'Kind of,' she replied in a croaky voice and tried to sit up.

He raised his hands. 'No, no, no, Blondie,' he averted, 'you stay right there for a bit. You got pretty well conked in the head, and you got pretty well pumped with pain pills and sedatives. You take it slow, you got me?'

She let her head sink back on the pillow. 'Well, another ten minutes maybe,' she replied gratefully.

'I've made some coffee,' he said, 'for later.' He came over and sat down on the edge of the bed, right beside her. He touched her forehead lightly. 'How you feeling?' he asked gently.

Maddie swallowed. 'Bad weeds...'

'...grow tall, I know,' he interrupted. 'And you are a quite tall piece of blonde. But this is me, Blondie – you don't have to hide your weakness.' The irony of that phrase escaped David completely at that moment. Except for a few single occasions, she had always been very eager to hide her weakness – especially from him.

'I'm okay,' she replied finally. 'My head feels like a worn-out punching ball but nothing a few Advil can't take care of.'

He nodded and scrutinized her in silence for a moment. 'Hey, you scared me,' he finally continued, 'when your lights went out, it really creeped the hell outta me.'

'I'm feeling much better,' she reassured, 'really.' Her tone resorted to cool again as she was struck by the memory of last night's altercation in the car; she had been so blinded by the insight that David had slept with Annie, that she had failed to hear his plaintive call for help. She had been questioning him about his feelings for her cousin, had demanded to know whether he was in love with her, and the answer she had received had been crystal clear. What I do with and what I feel for whomever, is none of your goddamn business, pal. She had felt like all the breath had been sucked out of her, leaving white hot and all-consuming pain. It was obvious. He no longer cared about her, no more than a mere pal might. Her self-protection-locked in place, mind conveniently blanking out the soft and almost pleading urge in David's voice. After hearing Maddie's ridiculous declaration to protect her innocent cousin, he had asked her 'Is this really the only thing you're concerned about?' All she heard, in her already throbbing head, was 'none of your goddamn business pal.' He was right, wasn't he? She just wished he would go away; instead he was sitting right beside her on the edge of her bed, so within reach that she could have...

Maddie pulled herself together and with some effort managed to sit up again. 'You can leave me alone now, David,' she stated, and David raised his eyebrows.

'I have nothing more important to do,' he declared, 'I can stay and take care of...'

'I said I'm fine,' she interrupted, 'and I don't want to be treated like a child, and I don't need your help!'

'Hey, cool down!' he replied with the slightest tinge of exasperation in his voice. 'Won't you get it into that thick skull of yours that I just want to...'

'...And I don't want you to,' she snapped, repeating herself. 'Listen, David, I appreciate your concern, I really do, but I'm fine now, and when all's been said and done, there's nothing left to do but ...'

'All right, already,' he interrupted, the cold tone back, shaking his head. Rising from the bed, looking down at her, he appeared unconvinced. 'You call the shots, Blondie. You want to be left alone – fine, I'll leave you alone and won't bother trying to take care of you. I'm receiving your signal loud and clear: you're coping with everything perfectly well; all by yourself.' He was clearly aggravated now and turned away, taking a few decisive steps towards the door, desperate to reinstate that safety distance between them. Maddie stared at his back and drew a deep breath. They weren't talking about her injury anymore. When he had reached the door, he paused and turned around to look at her again. 'You know,' he went on in a softer voice, one that was full of sadness, 'sometimes, I just forget about all that independent crap and think that maybe, just maybe, you've reached a point where you might find it natural, normal, human, to turn to another person for help, to let somebody take care of you, to let him come near you. But we all know, right, that I've never been one for deductive reasoning,' he snorted. 'I guess that's just not in your nature, as you obviously seem to think you're super natural.'

Before she had the time to answer, he turned around and swiftly departed her bedroom. She made no effort to call him back; she'd done irreparable damage. She closed her eyes against the throbbing pain, and couldn't stop the tears from prickling at the corners of her eyes.

'Great,' she whispered after several minutes of tears, 'I'm the iceberg again.'

With intensity, she threw back the sheets and put her feet on the floor to stop the dizzy sensation threatening to send her back to oblivion. Her head was still hurting but it was bearable. The distant sound of the closing front door wasn't.

Forcing herself to go through the motions of showering and preparing for the day ahead, Maddie heaved her body up from despair and made it into the bathroom: step one. After showering, she felt a little more alive again and endeavoured to try step two: breakfast, or at least some coffee. David had said he had made coffee. Thoughtful. No. She didn't want his coffee, or anything else. She didn't want to be reminded of how sweet and caring he could be, when all this was only addressed to her as a friend, a pal. What he had done for her, he would have done for anybody else in need. I don't need that, not that.

Furious at him, or her (she wasn't sure), she stomped through to the kitchen and opened the fridge. Fresh, cool orange juice greeted her. Yes, that was good. She threw an anxious side glance at the coffee jug, the only reminder of David's presence in her house just half an hour ago. It was both steaming and inviting. Maddie slammed the fridge door, walked over to the kitchen counter, grabbed the coffee jug and poured out its whole dark, strong and deliciously scented contents into the kitchen sink. 'There you are,' she hissed, 'see if I need anything from you!'

Departing the kitchen, putting distance between herself and the damned coffee, she headed back up to her bedroom. She was lacking direction, motivation and the world seemed fuzzy around the edges.

Her head continued to throb, and she no longer knew why she remained saddened. She thought if she took another rest she could blank out these unwanted feelings - what else was there to do? It was when she passed the guest room door that she noticed a little note attached to it. She had thought, and gladly, that Annie was still asleep. Frowning, Maddie snatched the little piece of paper and unfolded it with impatience.

'Maddie,' it read, 'I think it's better if I move to a hotel, so neither of us will be disturbed by the other. I'll get in touch. A.'

'So neither of us will be disturbed, huh?' Maddie repeated aloud and crumpled the note with disdain. 'Oh, I won't disturb you, cousin, don't you worry about that,' she snorted. 'This is ridiculous!'

Storming into her bedroom, she slammed the door behind her, switched the radio on and threw herself on the bed, eyes closed, thumbs pressed to her temples. 'Damn you, Addison,' she hissed, 'you're not even here and you make my head explode!' She took a cushion and pressed it over her face, trying to breathe slowly and calm her racing heartbeat down. She tried to breathe with the rhythm of the music that was playing. She heard low-key guitar tunes and a strident female voice that tugged at the area deep within her chest.

'When will this aching pass
When will this night be through
I hear the breaking glass
And I only feel the steel of the red hot truth'

She pulled the cushion away. 'Not you again!' she hissed.

'I'd do anything to get it outta my mind
I need some insanity of that temporary kind'

'I don't believe this,' she said to herself and tried to cover her ears, but it was too late, Melissa sang out her own pain to Maddie, not knowing what devastation she was leaving along her path.

'Tell me how will I ever be the same
when I know that that woman is whispering your name?'

'I don't give a damn, a damn, a damn! Do you hear me?' Maddie yelled in response, and then she released a tormented sob while Melissa finished her angry, desperate lament that mirrored Maddie Hayes' private hell.

'Somebody bring me some water,
Can't you see I'm burning alive?
Can't you see my baby's got another lover
And I don't know how I'm gonna survive
Somebody bring me some water
Can't you see it's out of control?
Baby's got my heart, and my baby's got my mind
but tonight a sweet devil, sweet devil's got my soul...'

It was still way too early to head in to work but David was hell bent on avoiding his own home -where he would have to confront his conscience and stare at reminders of last evening's mistake. Easier to hide behind a file or two at Blue Moon, alphabetize his emotions and pretend like it was business as usual...

It was that magical moment when the moon is setting whilst the sun is rising; rays of the cool blue past meet the warm orange streaks of the present, across the room, like passing strangers. They co-exist for a fleeting moment that is beautiful and rare. Most people, caught in the humdrum cocoon of sleep, miss this rare display.

For David Addison, it was a blue and orange crossroads and he was as lost as he had ever been. His body had wilted over his desk in half sleep as lights danced warnings and eternal hopes across his broken shape. It was a sleep of physical necessity, for surely a mind as wracked as his was with confusion, could never truly rest.

Agnes DiPesto, regular witness to this rare combination of light, was arriving at her place of work to begin setting up for the next act. She liked to arrive before anyone else; it gave her time to water the plants, gather the daily papers, and to take stock. She often came up with her most inspired rhymes at this ungodly hour. To her, it was the precious time before the hustle and bustle of the day, the slow hour of possibility. She was not expecting to see David Addison, slumped over his desk...

Headphones firmly on head, singing aloud to her favourite tunes, and blissfully unaware, she pushed open his door ready to altruistically deposit the daily newspaper on his desk, his mail in his tray and a fresh supply of chocolate milk in his fridge...

'Mr. Addison?' she asked, startled, pressing stop on her Walkman.

David, on hearing his name, automatically assumed he was in some kind of trouble and blurted: '...but I've never been in that movie, it couldn't possibly have been me!'

'You've been in a movie, Mr. Addison?'

'Shhh,' he put his fingers to his lips. 'That's between you and me.'

David, yawning and stretching, was automatically plunged straight back into that cold bath of reality. He rubbed his eyes and slapped his own cheeks to help him gain full consciousness so he could meet it head on. He moaned aloud.

'You okay, Mr. Addison?' Agnes looked at him with concern - he was still wearing the sweat pants and t-shirt that he'd pulled on in a hurry last night.

'Is that chocolate milk?' He perked up.

'This?' Agnes looked at the chocolate milk carton.

'No, the other carton you're holding...' He held out his hand in anticipation.

Agnes regarded her empty hand and shrugged. She passed him the carton and placed his paper and mail down in front of him, all the while observing him with fretful curiosity.

Without hesitation, David tore open the carton and drank it straight down. He wiped his mouth with his sleeve and stared at the carton for inspiration – why wasn't it working today? Chocolate milk had never let him down before.

'Mr. Addison, excuse me for asking but you're not exactly dressed for the office, what exactly happened to you last night after the parking lot?' she sounded deeply worried about him.

He chuckled and pressed his thumbs into the craters of his eyes. 'You want the whole story or just the blurb on the back of the paperback? I've been in restaurants, restaurant car parks, home, here, chasing criminals, hospital; Maddie's and back here again...' He sighed as he remembered - deliberately omitting the part where he had slept with Annie.

'You get around,' Agnes smiled, trying to brighten his mood.

'You could say that, Agnes,' he sighed, trying to sit up straight.

'Did I hear the word hospital in there?' she recalled with anxiety. 'Is everyone okay? You okay?'

'Yeah everyone's okay... now. It was just the Wright case at the wrong time, Agnes; in fact, this particular case took an unexpected nose dive into another genre: homicide thriller! So, of course, I had to engage in a little compulsory chase scene with the big blonde and it all ended in tears, s'what always happens when you let the extras play with guns! Miss Hayes took a bit of a whack to the side of the head and I took her to hospital but it's all okay now.' He was aware how hollow that last statement sounded.

Agnes took a tentative step towards her boss, he was a man who made her laugh, and on occasion cry - but at this moment, he was exacerbating her. Both of them were. 'What really happened, sir?'

'That's what really happened, Agnes,' he explained. 'What exactly do you mean by what really happened?'

'Well, I hope you don't think me rude, Mr. Addison, but you look like you just crawled out from under a rock,' she observed.

'Thanks,' grumbled David, pulling his hands through his hair, 'it's a look I've been trying to perfect for awhile now, kinda early Rolling Stones – before they got famous. I've found the rock, now all I need is the roll. '

'Mr. Addison, I...'

'Don't worry, Miss DiPesto, I'm fine,' reassured David. 'Miss Hayes is also fine.'

'But you're not! And she's not! I was there in that car park – I know that you're far from fine, in fact you're as far from fine as is humanly possible to be,' warned Agnes.

'Fine,' complained David. 'Agnes, it's too early to be having this conv...'

'Too early?' she yelled. 'Too early! Don't you mean too late?'

'Look Agnes, I need a shower, I need cof...'

'Now you're out from underneath that rock you need to listen up!' She pulled the earphones resolutely out of her ears, as if to make a firm statement. 'Do you love her?'

'Miss Hayes?' he answered without thinking.

'I meant Miss Charnock, but I think I just got my answer,' stated Agnes. 'You need to clean this mess up, Mr. Addison.'

'Me?' he sounded angered by this revelation.

'Who else is gonna?' she snapped, waving her finger at him. 'I'm sorry, I don't mean to sound mad but I've been watching you two for five years now, just like them (she motioned to the readers) - and you owe it to us all to sort this out!'

'I do? Why me? Why not her?' He sounded enraged now, and his face was beginning to redden.

'We both know the answer to that, Mr. Addison,' Agnes stated simply and without emotion. 'Do you really wanna look back at this time in your life and always wonder about what could have been?'

He just stared at her, open mouthed. A minute ticked slowly by, thousands of seconds, before he eventually reached for the piece of paper. It was the scrawled note that was waiting patiently in his back pocket: Annie's new hotel address and telephone number. He knew what he needed to do with it; it had been burning a hole in his pocket since she had given it to him.

He slapped his forehead with the heel of his hand, looking full of self-reproach. He reached for the telephone and began dialling so fast you'd think his life depended on that call.

'Hello, please can you put me through to Miss Charnock in room 265? Thank you...' He looked up at Agnes, who looked expectant. 'When did you get to be this wise, Agnes?'

'I'm not wise, I'm just good at noticing what's directly in front of my nose,' she replied, not budging from the position in front of his desk. 'I do know that you two have always been crazy in love.'

David cleared his throat when the call was answered. 'It's Dave... look, I need to meet you for breakfast, I have to talk to you, it's important... yeah... Nine is good... Can you swing by and pick me up at Blue Moon? ' He replaced the phone without saying goodbye.

'If Miss Hayes should drop by the office or call, should I tell her you're gonna be late today, Mr. Addison?'

'You do that, Agnes. I will be late, but for all the right reasons for a change.'

He disappeared into the office bathroom to shower, change and greet the day. He no longer resembled that broken man.

Maddie's hands clenched the steering wheel like it was her safety harness, as she made her familiar journey to the office. Her red, sore eyes were safely hidden behind dark sunglasses. Surely there were no more tears left in her. This inability to drive her car in a relaxed manner was becoming an unwelcome habit. She had found trying to rest at home impossible so decided, for her own sanity, to go to the office. But for the first time since she had started to run Blue Moon, it didn't feel right, it didn't feel like a place she wanted to go, the place that she should be, the place she wanted to spend her time. She felt shocked and confused - she had always been able to rely on the familiarity of the workplace to banish the blues. Nothing has changed, she told herself. It's just another day. I'll go in, pick up my phone messages, then I'll go to my office, check my mail, do some paperwork, and after a few minutes the door will be thrown open, and David will burst in with some stupid suggestion and a smirk on his face, and I will be mad at him, and we'll fight, like we always do, and we'll... she interrupted her own thoughts. Nothing will be like it was before! And you know it! Nothing! It was that old devil talking again.

Maddie abruptly swung the steering wheel to the left, pulling the car into the nearest parking spot with a screech. She reached for her sunglasses and tossed them onto the empty passenger seat, pressing her fists to her eyes, moaning. She had the strangest sensation that there were two confrontational voices in her head this morning, and she was merely the audience. She sat back, mute, and listened.

Voice of reason: Nonsense.

Voice of passion: Nonsense?

Voice of reason: Nonsense.

Voice of passion (clearly upset): Bullshit. Are you honestly saying you're gonna sit in that office and calmly watch your cousin waltzing in and throwing herself at him? Or, any other woman, of course?

Voice of reason (nervously): Sure I am, we're pals, why wouldn't I?

Voice of passion: I sincerely hope that rhetorical question stays rhetorical!

Voice of reason (cornered): That's just what I told him he should do – to move on. We're through. There's nothing left between us. I'm fine with it.

Voice of passion (in disbelief): Through? Nothing? Fine? You're completely off your rocking horse, Blondie!

Voice of reason: No, I'm not. I'll tell you what I am. I'm calm. I'm in control. And I am...

Voice of passion (blankly): ...crazy about him, still are, always have been, always will be – and you know it. Did you hear me? You know it.

Voice of reason (futile come back): I...

'Enough!' shouted Maddie, a pedestrian passing by glanced at her, frowning with concern. She noticed that tears were streaming down her cheeks again so she wiped them hastily away and saw the mascara stains on her knuckles. 'Great!' she hissed and put the sunglasses on again. 'Big events.'

For a brief moment, she closed her eyes and rested her forehead against the steering wheel. 'I heard you,' she whispered soundlessly. 'Damn, I heard you.'

When she started the engine and headed for the office, she was calm again. Empty.

Maddie was sitting behind her desk, gazing into space, her mind blank, her heart numb. She was unaware how long she had been sitting there, when a short knock at her door brought her back from her dull grey parallel universe, to the present. Which was worse?

Agnes opened the door and announced: 'Miss Hayes, here's your...'

'Hi, Maddie,' interrupted Annie, simply slinking past Agnes into Maddie's office.

Maddie's eyes widened; her cousin was the last person she had expected to see – or wanted to see. She also noticed that she was not alone with this feeling, Agnes was stabbing Annie's back with the most venomous look she had ever seen coming from those usually soft brown eyes.

'It's okay, Agnes,' she reassured.

Agnes turned around and muttered something; Maddie could have sworn on her life that she heard the words 'Some people emerge right from out of the gutter...'

Obviously, Annie had heard something too, because she turned her head abruptly, but the door had already been... slammed! In spite of her misery, Maddie couldn't suppress a smile. She thought go La Dolce DiPesto! As she turned back to her cousin however, she was immediately driven deep down in to her pool of hopelessness. The sound of those words lodged in her mind - David's words of course: Always him, she thought angrily, why can't I get him out of my head? Worse, why can't I get him out from under my skin?

Annie turned back to face Maddie, frowning now. 'That woman is really...'

'Why did you leave my house?' Maddie interrupted, rising from her chair and meeting her eye to eye.

Annie was slightly daunted by Maddie's confrontational pose. 'Well,' she started, 'after that scene yesterday... I considered it was better if we got out of each other's way for a while...'

'Yes, I saw your message,' Maddie said coolly, 'but I don't think...'

'Listen,' Annie interrupted in a bored tone, 'I really don't fancy being slapped on the wrist by you every time I lay a finger on your pal David.'

Maddie literally winced at her words, spoken in such a casual tone. 'This has nothing to do with him' – she couldn't bring herself to say his name to Annie – 'I'm just worried about where you're headed, Annie! You are married, for heaven's sake!'

Annie took a step in the direction of Maddie's desk, her eyes narrowing. She pointed a finger at Maddie. 'You don't give a damn about my husband or my marriage, you're simply envious!' she threw these words in her face and put her hands to her hips to accentuate. 'Well, you had your chance, and you let it slip away, and now you can't have him because he chose me.' She bent forward and looked Maddie directly in the eyes without flinching. Maddie was speechless for a moment - there was a discernable venom attached to this message. 'He's mine now. I can keep him fully satisfied. He doesn't want you, and he doesn't need you - move on, Maddie -and let me be happy for a change.' Annie sneered, obviously pleased with herself.

Maddie, with deliberation, repressed the urge to throw something at her. Instead, she clenched her teeth and spat: 'You really think you have him figured out already?' No, clenched teeth didn't work this time. She flared her nostrils and exploded. 'Ha! You can't imagine how wrong you are, sweetheart. You know nothing about him. Nothing!' She paused, her breath racing. Annie's jaw dropped. She went on regardless, almost shouting: 'Unlike the Neanderthal guys you obviously used to date before you were married, this man actually has a personality with as many layers as a French onion, and it would take you a lifetime to understand what makes him tick.' She drew a deep breath: 'and believe me, you're not gonna be able to keep his interest long enough to even scratch the surface.'

With defiance, Annie folded her arms, a malicious pout surfacing from the red hot lipstick she had freshly applied. 'Maybe I'm fine with just scratching his itch!'

Maddie pursed her own lips in utter disgust. 'I never knew you were such a bitch.' she snapped, underlining her last word with a poisonous glance and a brusque movement of her head. Before Annie could invent a response, she bent forward and propped her hands on her desk, now it was her who was scrutinizing her cousin. 'Take this advice from me,' she said slowly, 'to keep this man turned on, it takes brains and a beautiful soul, not just a pretty butt and a pair of fake boobs.'

Annie shrugged. 'I haven't met a man yet who wouldn't go for the latter.' She added smugly, clearly with the intention of firing a low shot: 'And Dave hasn't complained so far.'

Maddie shook her head in utter disbelief. How could it be that David had been so blind that he had managed to fall for her cheap tricks? He must have been out of his mind. Not his real self. Suddenly, Maddie heard herself say in an urgently serious voice: 'Leave him alone, Annie. He's too good for you. He deserves more than this.'

Exhilarated by her own daring, she discovered her heart was racing and her hands were shaking. Her last words were still ringing in her ear. He's too good for you, bitch, she thought. He's a good man. He really is. Damn, who's the one who has been blind here? She raised her right hand to cover her eyes and saw the mascara stains still on its back. She clenched her fist and buried it in her left hand.

Annie was watching her, calculating, waiting for her moment. Sensing a vulnerable opportunity, she sneered and went in for the kill. 'You know what, cousin?' she finally said. 'Jealousy doesn't become you. Makes you look as old as you are.' With this, she offered Maddie a spiteful glance, turned around, and threw a catapult of viscous and flippant words in her direction: 'As much as I enjoyed our chat, now I gotta go.' She added triumphantly: 'Dave's waiting for me.'

And she turned on her heel, pout and all, leaving Maddie's office, leaving her standing there like a pillar of salt.

Immediately on hearing Annie enter Maddie's office, David had came out of his; all alert and curious beyond measure. He sought Agnes out as his guru of knowledge.

'Did I just hear the voice of Miss Hayes' cousin?' he asked, checking his watch.

Agnes nodded, and he noticed at once that her lips were pressed together forcefully, and that she had a grim look visiting her face. 'Miss DiPesto!' he exclaimed. 'Anything wrong? Is she...' his gaze wandered to Maddie's office door.

'She's in,' Agnes confirmed, 'and she' – she spat the word out like a foul grape – 'is in there as well.'

David raised his eyebrows in a questioning manner, and Agnes nodded again. Instinctively, David went to Maddie's door and raised his hand to knock, when he heard Maddie's voice, very loud, very shrill and surprisingly tinged with despair. He hadn't understood exactly what she had said to her cousin, but it certainly hadn't sounded friendly.

David's eyes fixed once again on Agnes, they widened, and Agnes nodded fiercely towards the door. She put her right hand behind her ear, clearly signalling for him to go nearer and to listen to the conversation going on behind that door. Agnes made a hissing noise and threw menacing glances to the round, and all the wobblies, that had begun to notice that something of significance was going down, fell silent. They immediately ceased their various office activities, so that it became so quiet in the main office, you could have heard a pin drop. David turned to the door again and took a step nearer.

'...bitch!' he heard Maddie's voice loud and clear, and it shocked him. He had never heard her use that word and that meant she was really, really upset. Deeply distressed. His heartbeat quickened as he listened more closely. Maddie was snapping at her cousin now, 'to keep this man turned on, it takes brains and a beautiful soul, not just a pretty butt and a pair of fake boobs.'

David drew a deep breath and leaned his forehead against the wood of the door. 'You nailed it, Blondie,' he murmured for his ears only. 'Glad you finally understand.'

The voice was getting lower now, and he had to press his ear against the door to understand the following words, spoken by Maddie, in an almost pleading tone, and they took his breath away: 'Leave him alone, Annie. He's too good for you. He deserves better than this.'

'I can't believe this!' he murmured, almost swept off his feet by the raw pain and fervor in Maddie's voice. He's too good for you. She had finally, once and for all, betrayed herself. He was reaching for the doorknob, when his whirling thoughts were interrupted by a short but sharp whistle that made him jump. He turned around and saw Agnes slowly shake her head.

'First things first,' she said quietly. 'Miss Charnock is here to pick you up, Mr. Addison. You wouldn't want to keep her waiting for what you've got to say to her, right?'

David looked at Agnes as if he saw her for the first time. 'Blast away the iceberg and the Titanic will safely reach the harbor?' he murmured. Agnes smiled and gave him a barely perceptible nod in response.

He took a few steps back, casually standing at Agnes's desk and snapped his fingers at the wobblies, who immediately started their chatting and pseudo working routines again. When the door opened, he quickly grabbed a few papers and flipped through them. He looked up. Annie breezed out of Maddie's office and had a beaming smile upon her overly made-up face. She looked around for him.

'There you are!' she twittered and raised her arms as if to hug him, but David quickly took her elbow and put his hand through her arm.

'Can we go?' he asked instead of a greeting, ushering her past the curious wobblies and towards the door.

She smirked. 'Sure, if you're that impatient,' she remarked smugly and strolled towards the main office door with him, swaying her hips. Nobody was looking at her though; all eyes were fixed on David. They were waiting for the final act.

Before addressing Agnes, he threw a longing glance at Maddie's door. 'I'll be back in...'

'Go now,' Agnes interrupted, 'and finish your business, Mr. Addison. I'll check in on Miss Hayes for you.'

He sighed. 'I owe you, Agnes.' He then hurried after Annie, who was already at the elevator doors – leaning on them provocatively.

Agnes nodded grumpily and muttered under her breath: 'So what else is new?' Then she drew a deep breath, looked around at the now worried wobblies, and went over to knock at Maddie Hayes' office door.

When Agnes entered Maddie's office, after a short respectful knock, she found Maddie still standing behind her desk like a statue, complete with granite face; her left hand clenching her right fist in a tight grip; her gaze lost somehow, and eyes staring into the vastness. It reminded Agnes of a striking line from a particularly melancholic Elton John song:

'Blue eyes holding back the tears, holding back the pain Baby's got blue eyes, and she's alone again.'

Not good, thought Agnes. Or maybe it is? This woman was obviously going through fire and brimstone. Without success, Agnes deliberately cleared her throat to make herself noticed.

'Miss Hayes?' she finally enquired, her voice full of concern. Maddie blinked and briefly shook her head. She looked down at her hands and unclasped them, looking awkward and embarrassed.

'Maybe you should have stayed home after what happened yesterday...' Agnes started hesitation in her voice. When she saw Maddie's eyes widen in pain, she explained: 'I mean, after your injury. I mean, after your head injury,' she added hastily. 'Mr. Addison explained what happened last night... shouldn't you be home resting?'

'Oh you know me, Agnes; I like to keep busy, busy, busy...' Maddie muttered. She let herself sink back on her chair.

'...when you have a lot on your mind,' Agnes couldn't help but finish this sentence with a sigh. 'I know; you forget I've been there through all the thin as well as the thick.'

'I know,' Maddie replied with a tinge of sadness in her voice and folded her hands on the desk in a deliberately slow manner in order to stop them trembling. 'But I couldn't possibly stay away for long, right? I mean, somebody – except for you of course – has to be in to work, right?' She felt the bile rise in her throat and couldn't do anything about it.

Agnes immediately understood the hint. 'Please don't worry, Miss Hayes,' she soothed, 'Mr. Addison said he'd be back in not more than thirty minutes. He... he had to take care of something truly important. I think he'll explain it to you later.'

'I'm sure,' Maddie breathed, 'that he's taking care of something real important.' Images of David and Annie interrupted her thoughts and she immediately fought to block them. She couldn't do this any longer. She was worn out with it. Frought.

'Miss Hayes?' Agnes spoke softly. 'Do you want me to get you an Advil? You don't look too hot.'

'I'm fine, Agnes. Believe me when I say that this pain in my head does not come close to the pain in my ass that is David Addison.' Maddie sounded candid and like she was in the mood to confess more.

'Oh?' Agnes hesitated between fetching an Advil and listening to her boss.

'Can you believe that guy? He gets in the way of our stake-out, gets us kicked out of an expensive restaurant and washes his dirty laundry in the middle of a public car park!' she fumed. 'I guess that's all in a day's work for him!'

'I... um...' began Agnes, 'he had someone spurring him on I seem to remember, Miss Hayes.'

Maddie stared straight at Agnes, making her shrink further towards the door again but then her face softened. 'I guess,' she admitted. 'We said some horrible things.' Agnes didn't trust her ears. Good. Someone is having a desperately needed flash of self-insight here!

'You did, Miss Hayes,' agreed Agnes. 'You both had a lot to say.'

'That we did,' Maddie shuddered, recalling some of the most horrible lines that she had ever delivered to a fellow human being.

'Did you mean it all, what you said to him last night?' questioned Agnes, sadness in her voice as she looked hopefully across at her boss.

'Oh Agnes,' stated Maddie, 'don't think I don't know what you were up to last night after the restaurant; the fight in the parking lot. I appreciate your concern, your devotion to seeing us work things out...'

Agnes looked shocked at her boss's confession; her boss was moving faster than she had anticipated here, but ironically, she did not have a good feeling about it. She had the feeling she should slow down this frantic pace, before Maddie's cathartic mood made her overstate her case. 'Sorry, Miss Hayes?' she calculated that the naive card was the best one to play when her boss was on a roll.

'And you're right, you've been right all along,' sighed Maddie. She was confessing. 'I still love him, Agnes, but God, do not ever tell him I said that, will ya?' Agnes was so perplexed, she could only stare at Maddie with her brown eyes wide open, and Maddie stared back with the same expression in her blue eyes. Agnes knew she was indeed holding back the tears, holding back the pain, and this scared her. Something was about to go wrong here, terribly wrong.

'You see,' Maddie went on, 'it's all too late. After the baby,' she paused on this word, and her sadness was almost palpable, 'I pushed him so far away, and with a one-trip ticket pushed roughly into his back pocket, not really caring where he or I ended up.' Maddie looked down at her clasped hands again. Agnes's mind was racing. She had to do something, to say something, before it was... argh, Miss Hayes had said too late! Not good! Not a good word at all! But she had never been good when put under pressure. 'Oh, he kept trying to get back here,' Maddie went on in an almost broken voice, 'but each time I changed the station name, or the train didn't stop or it was full... every single time.' Maddie paused and closed her eyes for a moment. Agnes could almost feel her pain and had, just like the previous evening, the overwhelming urge to hug her employer and tell her, like she would tell a forlorn child, that everything, everything was going to be okay and that she would soon be home where she belonged. But, of course, with Miss Hayes that was not an option.

Maddie opened her eyes again and sighed, and the sound of it almost broke Agnes's heart. 'Well, the train has reached the terminus now,' she finally went on, much to Agnes's horror, 'we've run out of stations and he's had as much as David can take, which, evidently, is a whole lot more than I ever gave him credit for...' Maddie paused again; apparently it took her great effort to continue: 'and who could blame him? He's moving on, but I just wish it wasn't with my cousin. My traitor of a cousin,' she added sadly.

'Oh, but Miss Hayes,' began Agnes, finally having found her speech again, but Maddie interrupted her; it was like she could not hear her.

'...oh, it took me some time to figure it all out again,' she sounded almost angry with herself here. 'The therapy ending, seeing him with Annie, that ridiculous dream... but it's all too late,' she repeated with a dreadful tone of finality. 'The horse has bolted. The paint has been spilt. The eggs are well and truly cracked. And I'm here with a broken heart and a detective agency... what happened to me, Agnes? I'm 38 years old and I've learned nothing, gone nowhere - I almost wish I'd never stepped into this office and met him and his full suit of wise-cracking armour.'

'Miss Hayes, you don't mean that,' interjected Agnes hastily. 'You have changed, both of you have changed together and in a good way... in fact Miss Hayes, he...' She was blocked again.

'Ha, I bet the house you were a Miss March - you love jazz, your favorite movie was Jonathan Livingston Seagull and you wanted to help under privileged kids... am I right or am I right?' Maddie sputtered, laughing, as she reminisced, mimicking David's voice. The voice that had her from day one. 'Agnes, I can remember every goddamn word from that day...'

'It was a special day, Miss Hayes, but it's okay because he...' Agnes bit her lip as Maddie continued with her liberating monologue.

'Agnes? I've loved every minute of working here... every one: the hard times, the lean times, even, dare I say it, the fun times.' She was smiling through tears now. 'But I can't keep walking into that office, wishing him a good morning, solving cases with him when I know I've irrefutably lost him. I can't do it. And I'm so sorry for that.'

'What do you mean, Miss Hayes?' Agnes was beginning to sound worried.

'Well Agnes, after much thought and deliberating, I've decided that there's only one thing left for me to do. I'm going to sell my half of the agency to David,' Maddie declared with a determination set in stone, even if this was a conclusion that had sprung to her mind parallel with the moment she was saying it. 'He's the real detective... I need to go away and find out who my real me is.'

'But Miss Hayes, he...' She was ready to implode with knowledge.

'Please don't interrupt, Agnes, this is hard enough.' Maddie rose from her chair. 'I hate goodbyes, so I'm probably just going to... disappear, but don't worry, I'll call, I'll write...' Agnes's jaw dropped. Her mind was spinning, and she thought for a moment that she was being catapulted into a gruesome parallel universe. 'Agnes?' Maddie's voice was taking her back into the greater dreadful present. 'It won't be like Chicago. Not this time. I'm not temporarily running from my problems, this time I won't be coming back at all. What's there to come back for?' Her voice suddenly gained a hard edge as she regained composure. 'Don't worry, I'll tidy things up here over the next few days – I'd never leave you in a mess and so, I'd really appreciate it if you didn't breathe a word of this to anybody. Not even Bert. Now if you'll excuse me, Agnes, I think you're right, I made a mistake and came back into work far too soon.'

'But Miss Hayes, Miss Hayes, Mr...'

'I'll see you tomorrow, Agnes,' Maddie managed as she desperately fought back the tears threatening to escape the confines of those icy blue eyes. With that, she scooped up her briefcase, grabbed hold of it like it was a life buoy and headed out of her office door.

'... Addison loves you too,' she finished to the empty air and added, in disbelief and despair: 'The ice berg has melted but the currents surrounding it are lethal.'

David and Annie had left the building and were now walking along the street at quite a pace - much to Annie's irritation (she wasn't wearing the right heels for a hike and since when did anyone walk anywhere in LA?). David anxiously kept a constant distance between them. He was heading for a coffee bar right around the corner. Annie was chatting continuously, but he was zoned out until, at a certain point, she cleared her throat very loudly. He slowed down his pace and looked at her.

'What?' he barked.

'I said: where are we going?' Annie asked. 'Where do you want to go for brunch?'

He assumed a faster pace again, and she followed him like a greedy blow fly. 'I don't fancy brunch,' he said curtly.

'Okaaaay,' she purred, 'then we could go to my hotel and...'

'I don't fancy that either,' he interrupted in a decisive tone and stopped dead in his tracks. Annie almost ran into him.

'What's the matter?' she snapped. 'You're behaving very...'

'Look, I didn't call you because I wanted a date,' David declared, much to Annie's dismay. 'I just wanna talk to you.'

She pouted, but then said with a false smile: 'Whatever you want, handsome. We all know where talk leads...'

David ignored her flirtatious comment, just as he ignored the pedestrians passing by on both sides of them. He drew a deep breath. 'Listen, I really don't fancy repeating what happened yesterday.'

Her eyes narrowed. 'Are you saying it was a mistake?'

He scrutinized her for a moment, and then he shook his head. 'No, Annie.' He cleared his throat. 'I don't want to be rude, but... it wasn't important enough to be a mistake.'

Annie folded her arms. 'This is about her, right?' she snapped and added with venom in her voice: 'Maddie. Miss Purity.'

David was almost relieved about her bitchiness; it made everything so much easier. He shook his head again, but more about himself, about his own stupidity. 'I won't discuss Maddie with you,' he finally said. 'You could never hold a candle to her.'

Annie snorted and shook her head in disbelief. 'This is a sordid ménage a trois that I'm frankly bored of now - You two really deserve each other,' she spat.

David smiled which made her furious. Then he nodded slowly. 'That's exactly what I think.'

And with that last remark, he turned his back on her and left her standing in the middle of the street. As he walked swiftly back in the direction of the Blue Moon building, he was softly whistling. An angry, recently dumped Annie was left seething on the streets of LA.

A deflated Agnes wandered despondently out of Maddie's office, head down and shoulders slumped. This did not go undetected by Herbert Viola, who was, as always, looking out for his Agnes. Sometimes that woman just took on too many of the world's problems and it was his job to protect her from caring too much.

'Agnes, would you like a coffee?' he asked, a voice full of concern.

'Huh?' Agnes looked perplexed.

'I'll fetch you one - extra strong; you look like you need it. We can chug and chat.'

'It's gonna take more than just coffee and chit chat to stop the Titanic from sinking, Bert,' she declared.

'Do we need to plunge in and swim with the sharks?' he asked, handing her the unwanted coffee to make himself feel better.

'We may have to, the warning bell is sounding and if we're not careful we're gonna sink with the ship,' Agnes warned. 'I've been sworn to secrecy but seeing as you'll, no doubt, find a way to drill it out of me - here goes nothing. The big boss is leaving again... only this time she's not coming back! Without her at the helm, we're all destined for the bottom of the deep blue sea Herbert - I say grab hold of what you can and start praying!'

'Then we're like the musicians who kept on playing?' suggested Bert as he cast a protective eye over his fellow employees, until his eyes met with McGillycuddy.

'Exactly, Herbert,' she sighed and took a sip of the extra strong espresso.

'None of us want that! Agnes, this is serious.'

'No kidding, Herbert, and they say you're just a 'booger'.'

'I'm hurt by that, Agnes, but I'll choose to ignore it for the sake of momentum, progress, the turning cogs of a finely tuned plan as it's about to spring fortuitously into action...'

'Herbert, you're using your scene to flout your verbal diarrhoea so cut it out and expend some verbal prowess in the direction of Miss Hayes and Mr. Addison! Unless - you're happy for this show to be cancelled, for them to dissemble our set and for the execs to cease our time as these lovable television characters... well, some of us are lovable.'

'I grow on people,' defended Bert.

'Yeah, and in areas that they least expect it,' smiled Agnes.

'Agnes, I don't doubt that you've been figuring, every which way to Sunday, on how to get these two hopeless hearts back together and save our show but maybe it's time to bring in the big guns!'

'The big guns? 'She looked lost.

'It's time, Agnes,' he declared in a solemn tone.

'Time for what?' She was still perplexed.

'To bring out the rescue boats! This is bigger than the both of us now,' he stated looking directly out at the loyal readers. 'We know that, they know that, the executives know that...'

'Bert!' gasped Agnes. 'You mean, if we don't get them back together, they really will pull the plug on us? No more episodes, no more cases, no more us?'

He nodded with drama and thumped his little fist down on the reception desk, causing her to flinch and everyone else to look up from pretending to perform their daily jobs.

'People!' he announced as everyone looked up from their distractions; then they realised it was only Bert and went back to them 'People!' He tried again.

Agnes placed two fingers in her mouth and whistled, loud and piercing - that did it; every pair of eyes darted in the direction of Agnes's commanding noise. She smiled in secret triumph.

Bert fluffed out his plumage and began: 'I declare a state of emergency,' he coaxed, 'one that needs every single one of you to rise from your cabins and onto the deck! We need blood, we need sweat and above all we need tears. You may or may not be aware, that our ship has steered into turbulent waters of late, that our captains have been somewhat distracted? Well have no fear, the rescue boats are manned and ready to set sail - with Captain Viola to steer us all to safer waters...'

Agnes coughed and projected a look of thunder in his direction.

In response, he smiled awkwardly, looked around, through fear of losing his crowd, he continued '...I am quite sure, being the astute employees of Blue Moon that you are, that you have come to the same realisation as m... us.' He looked at Agnes and smiled with reassurance. 'I'll put it candidly: if our bosses don't sort out their relationship, we're all for the can! In the eye of this storm, we must be brave, resolute and fearless. Each and every one of us must pull together in these trying times - every time we spot an advantage, a life buoy, a friendly current we must ride that wave to its bitter end in the name of love. '

'What Bert's trying to say,' explained Agnes 'is that we've been trying hard, to no avail, to show these two knuckleheads that they're both still crazy about each other. So we need you to play your part too and help us to get our bosses together once and for all.'

'I was getting to that, my sweet,' Bert attempted to sound understanding but he hated being interrupted. 'So we're asking for your help now, even you, McGillycuddy, to be our eyes, our ears, our mouths in this final quest to open their eyes and save the show.'

'Oh, why didn't you just say that?' asked Jamie with a shrug.

'Are you all with us?' asked Agnes.

'Yey!' cried all the employees as one, united on this front: to save Blue Moon, to save the story of Maddie and David, to save their own necks - and this was one of the best darn extra jobs on the planet: no work and pay!

The elevator doors opened with a flourish and spilled David Addison out onto the Blue Moon corridor in a whirl of singing, smiles and exuberance - he was almost back to his old self. He pushed an imaginary vacuum cleaner up the corridor, terrifying an employee from the solicitor's office who was on his way to the vending machine, as he sang 'I want to break free, I want to break free from your lies, you're so self satisfied, I don't need you... I want to break free!'

He didn't just enter the office through the Blue Moon door; instead he burst through like someone who only had a few seconds left to claim his winning lottery ticket prize. The staff, who were all gathered around Bert for the emergency meeting, all jumped as one, startled by their boss's alarming entrance. They had been caught in the act.

David froze and looked around at the self-conscious employees whose mouths were gawping and whose eyes were agog - they remained gathered around Bert, unable to move. It was too late for them to pretend they were busy. They looked to their hairy leader for guidance. Bert looked at Agnes. Agnes looked at the ceiling.

'Is there Limbo going down without me?' he looked around, paying particular attention to Agnes whose face was distinctly red. 'Annual meeting of the hobbit king?' It was silent. 'Right, that's it. I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask you all to file back out into the corridor; line up and when you learn how to behave you may come back in.'

Marching dutifully out of the office, the Blue Moon staff hung their heads in shame. They walked one after the other, despondency flocking around them like an edgy sheepdog. They muttered in embarrassed tones; one tripped over his own feet and another bumped into the one just ahead of him causing a pile up. Eventually, they were lined up in height order, outside the office with looks of reprehension on their faces. David marched, slowly, up and down the line - displaying his disapproval.

'Okay,' he began, 'who's gonna tell me what the Sudoku is going on here?'

The employees looked everywhere but in the direction of David.

'Alright,' he deliberately waited for a dramatic pause to pass before sauntering up and down the row of employees, looking into the face of each and every one of them. 'Stand up straight, Jorgenson, hands out of your pockets, Symonds, eyes to the front, Bertie Boy. Now, who's your leader of the pack?'

Everyone, without a second of hesitation, pointed at Bert. Bert still had his eyes facing front, arms by his side and chest out. A small droplet of sweat made its way down his forehead; he daren't wipe it away.

'Mr. Viola?'

'Yes, Sir?' Bert stood as straight as possible; he was trying to gain an extra inch by doing so.

'Mr. Viola, are you the rebel leader of this unruly pack of office worker hounds?' demanded David, stopping right in front of him, crouching down, and directing his command right to his face.

'Yes, Sir, Mr. Addison, Sir!'

'Straighten up, Mr. Viola, tuck your shirt in and look at me whilst I'm talking to you!'

Hurriedly tucking in his shirt and straightening his tie, Bert cleared his throat and received a warning look from Agnes who was stood to his left.

'Miss DiPesto?' questioned David. 'Don't think I didn't see that side-ways glance...'

'Sorry, Mr. Addison,' she whimpered.

'Now, class,' he stated. 'I'm very disappointed in you. Clearly you've been having fun without me and I am not amused. Now who is going to tell me what was going on, or you will all stay out here, lined up against the wall, until the end of the working day. Speak up; spill the beans, empty the trash can...'

The employees all looked at one another, rolling eyes, shrugging shoulders. In silent agreement, all faces turned towards Bert, who looked like he was trying to contain the secret of eternal youth.

'I... er...' spluttered Bert.

'Cough it up, Bert, it's better out than in.'

Agnes kicked Bert's shin, leaving a painful warning where her foot had been. 'Ouch.'

'Bert,' warned David, stepping closer to his trembling form. 'As an employee of Blue Moon, it is your obligation to share with me, your boss, what was happening in the reception area of Blue Moon. Any business that goes down in the office arena is my business.'

Agnes shook her head and shot warning looks at him but all to no avail - neither Bert was never good under pressure. He was beginning to show the first sign of crumbling, erupting. Everyone knew this and prepared to take cover.

' I... er...' Here it came.

'Yes, Bert?' pressed David, knowing that he had the upper hand.

'Mr. Addison, Sir, we were having a meeting, Sir,' stuttered Bert, looking sheepish.

'Snitch!' spat McGillycuddy.

'A meeting?' David declared. 'What are you trying to pull here? When has the Blue moon staff ever willingly embraced the concept of work, let alone the notion of a meeting which would involve a planned agenda, a purpose, a proposed outcome...'

'It was an emergency meeting, Sir, no agenda, Sir.'

'What was it for? You want even more pay for doing nothing? You want music in the restrooms? Two hour lunch breaks?'

'No, Sir,' Bert muttered, turning red and sweating profusely.

'What is it then, Bert? 'David knew he had the bull by the horns, or in this case, the hobbit by the short and curlies.

'Miss Hayes is leaving, Sir...' All eyes were fixed on Bert, eyes wide and bodies slightly stooped as if expecting an imminent storm.

'What?' David could not believe his ears.

'Leaving, Sir,' repeated Bert, 'as in packing her bags, turning in the keys and walking out the door forever, Sir. The head bird is flying the coop.'

'Thanks for nothing, Bert,' growled Agnes, 'you were meant to steer away from the ice-berg, not straight into it!'

David was on a collision course with destiny. Couldn't this heap go any faster? He tried pumping up the volume on the stereo in accordance with his foot hitting the gas pedal – fast and furious: just how he was feeling.

The red light flashed, stopping him dead in his tracks. He punched the steering wheel with both fists, releasing pent up fury and stared intensely at the galling light, willing it to change.

'Come on; come on,' he growled, 'for the love of Mike!'

Why the hell didn't you see this one coming, Dave? No trophies for astute observation coming your way, but here's a booby prize with your name permanently carved on its side! What were you thinking of? Wearing that blindfold, wearing those ear plugs... the alarms were sounding, the sprinkler device activated and the building evacuated, but dumb Dave just sat through it all. How could you be so stupid?

The harsh beeps of drivers queuing behind indicated that the lights had now turned green. He popped the car into gear, stepped on the pedal and took off with a screech. He took a glance in his rear view mirror and met the crazy eyes of the guy in the car behind - he was slipping him the finger. This was fuel on the already fanned flames and David pushed harder on the accelerator, the resulting noise was heavy and reverberating.

'Alright already!' he yelled, experiencing a wave of road rage.

You did it again, David! He slapped his forehead. She laid those traps and you went ahead and fell into each and every one of them. She even invested in therapy to get over me - who needs therapy when you're only pals with someone? Oh excuse me Doc; I just can't seem to get my pal out of my head - really? Have you tried cutting off the electricity supply and stealing all of his mail? He slapped his forehead again. She told Annie she was confused about us - so what do I do? I go ahead and sleep with the cousin! And the real answer to this bonus question folks is: pals do not get confused about each other. That knock-down-drag-out of the century in the parking lot? Pals certainly don't engage in that level of furious, people who care deeply about each other? That's what they do!

Excessive beeping alerted him to the fact that he had just run the next stop sign.

'Oops,' he uttered as he experienced two near misses and several bouts of verbal abuse for his mistake. 'Sorry!'

Who was I trying to kid? This a mess! My mess. Just brainless... Annie, Annie- why did you have to turn up in the middle of all of this, honey? If she wasn't such a bitch, I'd actually feel sorry for her. Some cousin she turned out to be. God... He could feel his eyes stinging so he turned his music up even louder and furiously wiped those bitter tears away. ...God Maddie, when I saw your lights go out. He pulled his features together, attempting to control his emotions. I realized what I was losing, what I'd lost! Please help me to put this right. If there is a big man up there, I promise I'll never ask for anything ever again, just please help me sort this out! He looked up towards the sky as if searching for this so called big man and was rewarded with almost running his car into the one directly in front. He slammed on his breaks just in time. Another red light.

Maddie, Maddie, Maddie... I swore I'd never let myself fall into this situation twice, yet here I am, swinging off that ladder with no safety net below. My gut's saying you still care, but I don't mind telling you baby, that my memory of pacts, pals and all that perfect crap is making me nervous! It's your turn to impress me with the dance moves, partner. Can't you see I'm lonely for you?

The lights changed and he, once again, stepped on the gas, impatient to reach Maddie's house and confront her about these feelings. If she still wanted to leave and not face them; well that was her show. He'd turn up, he'd be there but she would have to kick start the scene, suggest the action, and force him to stay. This was too familiar.

He was doing 60 in a 45 zone.

My God, Maddie – I confessed, presented my heart on my sleeve, downright declared my love for you to your father, told him I wanted to grow old with you and would die for you; these are not emotions that just disappear one night, you can't turn them off like a convenient tap; or brush them under that carpet of yours – I was always in it for the long haul but I wasn't counting on picking up so many bruises along the way. You better not give me any of your crap tonight, Maddie Hayes - oh no – none of it - just plain truth and honesty, baby.

The sirens were getting louder, he could even hear them over 'The Rolling Stones': 'Can't Get No Satisfaction', in fact, the blue flashing lights were invading the car and making it hard to see the road ahead. It took all of one minute to realize that they were intended for him, he had been speeding. He sighed with exasperation and, resigned, pulled the car over. He wound down the window, a look of exasperation pulling at every feature.

'Sir, do you have your license and registration, please?' stated an officer, in his regulation voice - he looked a little familiar to David.

David, after fumbling in the glove compartment, passed over his documentation and waited for the onslaught. 'Is anything wrong, officer?'

'You could say that!' The officer smirked. 'Were you aware that you were doing 60 in a 45 zone?'

'Yup,' stated David, seeing no point in lying. 'You could say I am in a hurry. Officer, I'm begging you - can you please just give me a warning tonight?' He looked at the police officers with a fraught and pleading look.

'And why would I do that?' he asked, drawing out the words.

'Well, you see, the whole future of a major television show is wrapped up in whether I get to Maddie's house and sort out five years worth of fiascos!'

'Hey, I thought I recognized you,' said the other officer, who had remained silent until now. 'You're that 'Moonlighting' guy... the one with no hair.'

'No flies on you...' came David's automatic reply.

'...Whatever that means,' finished the officer, who was clearly a fan. 'Hey, the first three seasons were the best, even season four had its moments - where you really went wrong was season five!'

'What do you think I'm trying to put right!' screamed David, out of sheer frustration. 'Sorry, Officers Yin and Yan – I'm just a little aggravated.'

'No yelling, Sir,' warned the first officer. 'Hey, haven't I come across you before, in another episode, down town at the lock up?'

'Wasn't me, Officer Yin!' David stated.

'Hang on here, fella, it was about two years ago – you'd been arrested for murder – there was some mix up and you'd been following the wrong blonde around town and you ended up being framed?' He looked pleased with himself.

'Oh that,' sighed David, 'yeah, that was me.'

'Are you telling me,' declared the officer, 'that you still haven't told that woman you're in care with that her?'

'No, he did, but they screwed it all up,' answered the second officer.

'I stopped watching after series three - the itch had been scratched so what else was there to tune in for?' explained the first officer. 'So what do you plan to tell her tonight? It better be good or we won't let you off with just a caution.'

'I'm going to tell her I love her of course!' yelled David, getting irate again. 'That she's the only woman for me! Although she's gonna need to say it first!' He looked desperately at them with earnest eyes.

'So you think this will save the show?' asked the second officer.

'Save it, Officer Yan? There may even be a season six and a chance for syndication if you let me go!' cried David.

'Okay,' sighed the first officer, 'consider this a caution but next time...'

'Thank you!' David smiled ecstatically. 'Can I go now?'

'Hey, maybe I'll even tune in for tonight's episode,' suggested the first police officer, 'if you think it's gonna be a good one.'

And with that, David sped off into the distance, towards Maddie's house...

Maddie this is it, D-Day! Drop all your bombs, shoot all your arrows, at the end of the day it's just you and me left standing. You spill that old heart or it's the end. Just you and me in the wasteland, talking foe to foe, no hiding behind that barricade of yours and absolutely no cowardly acts of running away ... I cannot believe that you were going to pull the disappearing act on me again, Maddie! I can't even begin to tell you how that makes me feel... it's insulting... Not even a good bye note? You were just going to fly outta here on your broom stick, leave the chaos, leave the agency, and leave me? There will be no I love yous honey until you apologize, and mean it!

By the time he arrived at her house, he had worked himself into a devilish fury that could not be abated; he strode purposefully up to her front door with flames in his green eyes; intent on one thing: the truth.

When Maddie opened the front door, she was so shocked, that she backed away a few inches. This move disturbed him.

'What... what are you doing here?' she stuttered, this was not in her evacuation plan.

'Well... I was carrying out surveillance in the neighborhood and thought I'd just drop by to see if the closets are already emptied,' he replied sarcastically. He had that frown creasing his brow, the one that suggests that he is overwhelmed by thoughts.

Maddie's eyes blinked compulsively, and then narrowed. 'Go away,' she said and attempted to slam the door, but David stopped it with firm, resolute hands.

'Tell me something new,' he demanded snidely. 'I'm already intimate with your patent remedy.'

Snorting scornfully, she turned her back on him, stepping away from the door, and into the living room without a word. In response, he slammed the door furiously which made her jump. He was soon upon her, having followed her like a shadow.

'So?' he called angrily at her back. 'Are those closets already emptied? Bags packed? Called your parents to announce your happy return?'

Maddie whirled around to face him and snapped angrily: 'This is none of your business!'

He folded his arms in order to provoke her further. 'Beg to differ, Blondie,' he replied with resentment. 'Agreed, the last time you played that trick on me, I was nothing but your employee' – he stretched the word in a sarcastic tone – 'and only a bad habit of yours, as you clarified it so nicely, but this time it's different. This time it's about something that really matters.' He took a step nearer and looked her directly in the eyes, the green piercing her conscience without mercy. 'This time it's about business, honey. We're partners, remember? And anything you're doing will affect our business, and thus me.' He scrutinized her closely, looked for the effect his words might have on her.

It was as if she had been slapped in the face; the sting causing her to back away. She swallowed with difficulty but somehow managed to compose herself enough to discover her lost voice; it sounded husky, hollow and somehow feeble. 'Don't worry. I'll take care of Blue Moon. I won't leave anything in disorder.'

'Oh, I see,' his voice was dripping with deliberate, cutting irony, 'already made a list to check off before your departure, huh?'

In weariness, Maddie rubbed at her eyes. David immediately noticed that her mascara was smeared over her pale cheeks. Mascara. She had been crying. There was hope. Automatically, he bent forward, he did not want to lose anything she was about to say. But when she opened her eyes again, they pierced him with an immeasurably icy stare.

'What are you doing here?' she asked again, a cold edge to the words. 'Isn't Annie waiting for you?'

Interesting change of subject, Blondie. 'She was,' he confirmed. 'I told her not to waste her time with somebody like me.'

This statement surprised her, throwing her off course for a moment, but only for a moment, then up went her armor: fury and sarcasm. 'Really? Then I convey my congratulations to her. I'm asking you again: what are you doing here?'

'We have to talk,' he declared.

'Talk?' she echoed. 'I wouldn't know why.'

'You wouldn't?' he asked in disbelief.

'No, I definitely would not.' Maddie folded her arms in that stubborn gesture she had perfected; and they faced each other like two opposing chess players, penetrating each other's minds; foreseeing each other's next gambit.

'Don't you think we have some... things to settle?' David finally asked in a softer voice.

'Things?' she repeated aggressively. 'Like what exactly, David?"

'Things like: just lately, you seem to be taking an obsessive interest in my less than private, private life... more than say, in the last two years? I daresay I'd like to know why that is!' he unfolded his arms. Not a good moment to look rejected.

She snorted with disdain. 'Well, you're royally mistaken!' she declared with outrage. 'I already told you that I don't care about who you're fooling around with, as long as...'

'Yeah,' he interrupted in an ironic tone, 'I know – you only want to protect your innocent cousin.' He paused for a moment and went on quietly: 'Except, Houston, we have a problem here coz I just don't believe you, Maddie.'

Maddie also let her arms drop out of their defensive pose, placing them on her hips, now suggesting attack and aggression. 'Are you saying... ?'

'...That you're a liar,' he interrupted again, finishing her sentence for her, perfectly aware that she hated this. 'Yes, that's exactly what I'm saying. And you're not half as indifferent about me as you pretend to be.' Come on, yell at me Maddie. Throw it all in my face: All that's been bothering you for the last two days.

'Ha!' she exclaimed, her voice sounding shrill. 'How narcissistic you are! I can assure you that it's absolutely of no interest to me if you're chasing every tramp between here and Rodeo Drive...'

He gate-crashed her rant once again, only this time, it was in a deliberately soft voice, taking her by surprise as he disclosed those critical words: 'But you know that to turn me on, it takes brains and a beautiful soul.'

Maddie's eyes widened as she instantly comprehended - he was referring to her earlier fight with Annie. That he had been ear-witness to her self-betrayal caused shame to sweep over her. She felt the blush rage across her face and neck. 'You... you...' she stuttered. 'You were spying on me! You were eavesdropping! You're the most repulsive...'

'Oh believe me, honey, there was no need for eavesdropping!' he interrupted angrily, because, again, like so many times before, she was blaming him for her loss of control. God, that woman was a control freak beyond help. 'You were yelling at your poor, innocent cousin when you told her she was a...'

'...That meant nothing!' she shouted. 'I said what I said just to make her back off, to spare her from being treated like...'

'Maddie, just stop it!' he barked. 'That's bullshit, and you know it! I heard what you said, and I know what it meant! You're not in the least bit indifferent. Why do you go on hiding your feelings until it's too late?" There was that frown again.

'What are you talking about? What feelings?' With despair, she threw her hands in the air, her voice coloured with desperation. Her sharp voice betraying her.

'About me,' he said quietly.

She endeavoured to sound sarcastic and scornful, but it sounded more like pure self-defense to him. 'Oh, would you please drop it, you're making a fool of yourself!' she snarled. 'I don't have any feelings about you. I don't give a damn about you!'

How many times do I have to take this? He drew a deep, anger fuelled breath: 'Fine.'

'Fine!' she snapped.

His jawbone tightened. 'Good.'

'Good!' she shot back.

There was a heavily weighted silence hanging between them like a black hole, sucking out every ounce of life. Both breathed heavily and punctured one other with terrified, wounded looks, green eyes versus blue eyes. Their eyes betrayed them both, overflowing with feelings that neither would admit: hurt, disappointment, pride, despair, pain, fury, fear... and something else, something old and grand and strong that was bubbling underneath the surface, something good and promising, a force that was yearning to be permitted release.

Without knowing, and in unison, both experienced a strong sense of déjà-vu; there was a time, in the past, when they had stood here, in exactly the same spot in Maddie's living room, same setting; same feelings. For one short moment, both stopped breathing. The revelation was alive and sparkling on the surface of their eyes, and it was truly frightening. Both felt like they were standing on the precipice of a deathly gorge. The word 'Bitch!' shot through David's mind, a voice from a past life, but he knew that it would be terribly wrong this time. That path had crumbled away an age ago.

Finally, he broke the silence. 'You're the weirdest person I've ever met.' He paused to think about his statement. 'I don't know anybody who delights so much in feeling as miserable as you!'

Almost thankful that he had broken that revealing connection between them, Maddie fired back angrily: 'And I don't know anybody who delights so much in making others feel miserable!'

More reproaches. But he wasn't ready to give up yet. 'How come I possibly make you feel miserable when you don't care about me?' he interjected.

'You're damn right, I don't!' she insisted, assuming a stubborn tone.

David ruffled his hair, and seeing this familiar gesture almost took her breath away. Why can't you just go away and stop bothering me?

'God, it can't be good for anybody's mental or emotional health to be around you!' he moaned.

'Fine!' she snapped. 'Then go! Why don't you just go ahead and butt the hell out of my life!' She clenched her fists and stood there like a fighter, as if she were ready to throw a real nasty punch, but her voice had quivered; he noticed this.

Slowly, he approached her. 'So you can go on telling yourself we're through?' he shook his head. 'Nothing doing, Maddie!'

Maddie backed off another few steps. "But we are!"

He followed her with determination; he was not going to let this go. 'No, we're not!' he contradicted.

'Go away!' she almost shouted. She was standing with her back to the wall now; he had her emotionally cornered - no way out.

David was standing only inches before her now and looked her directly in the eyes, not allowing her to avoid his gaze. 'Wake up, Maddie!' he demanded urgently. 'I didn't come here to hurt you!'

'No, you came here to make me sick!' she snapped in retaliation.

A new surge of anger welled up inside him and he grabbed her by the shoulders, establishing the first physical contact between them since he had left her bedroom that morning. He shook her slightly, hoping to bring her to her senses. 'Now just shut your trap and listen to me!' he barked. 'You know why I'm here! We gotta stop pretending that there's nothing left... we're nothing but pals! We've never been pals!'

She wriggled furiously in his grip. 'Take your hands off me! Let me go!'

'No!' he objected and tightened his grip like a vice; something in his voice made her stop. She felt paralyzed by those green eyes. 'Not again. I won't let you push me away again, like you did when we both needed each other more than anything.' He paused for a moment and swallowed hard, a shadow slithering across his face, while she blinked back buried tears. 'I made a terrible mistake,' David went on, 'yes, I allowed you to push me away instead of holding you, even if it meant doing so against your will. We both nurtured our pain alone instead of helping each other...' His voice broke, and he was breathing hard. Maddie's eyes were opened wide, fixated on his mouth as he spoke each of his words. Agony plagued his natural speech rhythms, betraying the truth he had kept hidden so well.

'Why are you looking at me like that?' he asked, upset. 'Didn't it ever occur to you that I was in pain too when you lost our baby?' The sparkle of unshed tears in his eyes was almost too much to bear. Yes, it did, she thought desperately, oh it did, but I couldn't move, I was numb, empty. I needed you so much, but I didn't know how ...

'Well, I was, Maddie,' he interrupted her thoughts, 'I am.' He took a deep breath. She was still hanging onto every word he was saying. Why, why didn't we talk about this before it was too late? She wanted to scream, but she was unable to utter a word, unable to move, almost unable to breathe.

David's voice was barely audible. 'Unfortunately,' he went on, 'back then I was too consumed with my own grief to appreciate that it was me who had to hold you. You needed me.' Again, his words hit her like a traffic accident. 'And I am so sorry for that, Maddie, I am so terribly sorry. But now, I won't make the same mistake twice. I won't leave you alone - unless I'm sure that deep, deep down you really are convinced that we're better off apart.' With these last words, he finally let go of her shoulders, feeling worn out to the point of exhaustion.

David hadn't intended to say all of this, and he hoped it hadn't been too much. Somehow, he knew he could not have born it any longer, to hold all of this back: what he had thought safely and deeply buried under a pile of delusion. What he had thought long forgotten; filed away as a feeling that even he even hadn't been able to define. Now he knew. And he knew that Maddie must have felt the same - even worse. God, he wanted to take her in his arms, but he knew better than to make this forward move. He could only open them wide – she had to come to him, had to step into his arms all by herself, and he hoped, more than he had ever hoped for anything in his life, that she was finally ready.

Right now, all he could see was the woman he loved, desperately fighting to regain that damned composure, and a chilly finger poked right into his conscience - persistent and unwelcome. Their fragile connection had vanished, and he knew she wouldn't give in without this ridiculous fight she always subjected herself to. This was the point when his courage began to dwindle, his hopes with it.

Maddie straightened herself up. 'You heard me,' she finally said, her voice sounding tinny. 'I asked you to leave, David.'

He stared at her in utter disbelief. Her eyes held his gaze firmly, in an almost superhuman effort. Blue steel, he thought. Where did I lose you? I know you were here with me just now. At which point did I lose you? He felt anger and loss welling up, filling the hole in his stomach with a consuming heat. Well, if you wanna play tough... He finally cleared his throat and asked in an almost too casual, conversational tone: 'Anyway, Maddie, what exactly did you mean by pals?'

She was breathing hard and her discomfort was written all over her face. However, the alteration of pace, the change of the subject helped her to regain her composure. 'Exactly that,' she stated firmly.

God damn her stubbornness. 'Well, let's see now... is a pal less than a friend?' he asked sarcastically, stretching the last word in a low voice. 'Cause that's sure how it feels!'

Maddie was getting annoyed again. 'A friend?' she repeated icily. 'I'm not sure if we have ever been friends, David.'

That was a real low blow, Blondie! 'Well, you tell me exactly what we are, since it seems that you've always been the one to call the shots with regard to the nature of our relationship – if we ever had one, that is!'

'A friend wouldn't do this!' she replied sharply.

'Do what, Maddie?'

'This!' she repeated.

'Define this!' he insisted.

She clenched her fists. 'Torturing me!' she spat. 'Saying hurtful things, making me feel miserable inside!'

You're still here, he regained his grit, you are, and you're not ready to leave yet. 'And I'm asking you again: How come you feel that way, Maddie?' he quietly probed. 'Why does what I have to say bother you if we're just, as you say, pals?'

She shook her head, stumbling between fury and despair. For the first time, she allowed her voice to show the slightest tinge of helplessness. 'I don't know…' She shrugged.

David narrowed his eyes. 'Not good enough, Maddie!'

She couldn't hold back her tears which made her furious. Too late, she thought, damn you, Addison, why do you have to torture me when it's already too late? Why didn't you come earlier? She was struggling with herself as if her life depended on not showing her devastation to him.

'Come on, Maddie,' he pressed, 'is there something that you want to say to me, huh? Something, that's probably been niggling away at your over-cooked brain? Something that might even resemble the truth?'

Wrong button. She bit her lip. 'I don't know what you're talking about.'

'Oh, but you do!' he stuck fast to his guns. 'And you also know that if you don't say it now, you're going to mess up what's left of your already messed up life forever…'

She raised her clenched fists again, not noticing that her nails cut into her palms. 'You're out of your mind!' she declared, her voice faltering on the edge of madness. 'I hate you."

David slowly folded his arms again and replied calmly: 'Who do you think you're fooling? Not even yourself.'

She was taken aback. 'You're the most arrogant, self-centered jerk that I've ever met!' she threw in his face.

He was scrutinizing her closely, his face not showing what was going on in his mind. 'That's all you have to say?' he made sure.

Her lips were pressed together. Not one single wrong word was going to slip out, not one single word that could betray her, could allow him to get the better of her. 'You're damn right.'

Maddie endeavoured to sound firm, but something in her tone whispered to David that she was not convinced. Well, he should have known it from the beginning; hell, he had known it; that had never been the problem. The problem was – she needed to know, to recognize, to realize. Right now, they were dancing an endless dance, a barbarous exchange that led to nowhere. No, he had to do something to interrupt this vicious circle, this deadly routine. He decided to go for broke.

He nodded with ugly comprehension, barely moving his head. 'Well, then...' he began. 'You call the shots, Maddie.' He paused for a moment to look at her. 'Good night.' And then he turned around and walked away.

Maddie was left standing alone, centre stage, a solitary ray of light streaking its way across her face. Her fists were clenched, and time stood still. She stared at his back in disbelief. The distance between them grew as he slowly walked away, and she knew that a part of her was disappearing with him. She knew that if he walked out now, she would never be the same person again. She heard the words of her former client, Catherine Robinson, whispering in her ears: This man is my other half. I'm not complete without him. - Nonsense! - Sure, Miss Hayes. If you say so. - Have a nice life, Miss Hayes. - Nonsense? Who do you think you're fooling? Not even yourself.

These voices in her head were becoming tangled, Catherine's, Agnes's, Dr. Donadio's, her own – and David's. David. She knew she would never be able to block that voice out, to rid herself of him – it was that space, the one that was roughly the shape and size of one thirty something, wise-cracking, slightly balding guy.

He was almost out of her living room now, and a thought invaded from nowhere: Stop it. Now. Before Maddie could even try to analyze it, the words were out: 'Don't go.'

David immediately became rooted to the spot, as if he had only been waiting for her to say something, to say that, but his back was still turned.

'Please,' she added and unclenched her fists in a hopeless gesture.

He turned around slowly, carefully, to look at her, but remained silent. Her tone had changed from angry to broken.

'I can't do this anymore, David,' she managed. 'Don't go… if you go it's the end, the end of everything that we've ever had together.' Tears began to converge in the corners of her eyes again and her mascara started to inevitably run. 'If it's all over, I couldn't face seeing you every day in that office, knowing everything we've been through doesn't mean a thing. I've run out fight. I'd have to give you my half of the agency; that's why I was going to leave – because I'd have to leave… it would hurt too much.' She shocked herself with her honesty and took a step in his direction. 'So you got me. You're right. We're not pals. We've never been pals. And I don't want us to be pals.'

He was still looking at her in silence, his expression inscrutable.

Once she had started, oddly enough, she couldn't hold herself back, didn't want to; didn't dare. She drew a deep breath and took another step in his direction. 'And no – I don't want you to be with Annie,' she went on. 'I really don't want you to be with Annie. For what it's worth, I don't want you to be with anybody else.'

David simply stood there; without saying a word, examining her with intensity. She clenched her fists out of habit again and felt that familiar anger towards him welling up. 'Oh, damn you, Addison – won't you meet me halfway?'

He slowly shook his head. 'I did that already, Maddie, several times, and on every single occasion you were very eager to point out to me we were nothing, that we were through, that you didn't care about me. The last time was actually.' He looked at his watch. '... Ten minutes ago! I tried to meet you halfway by coming here. Now it's your turn alone to take the final step.' I deserve this much.

'What do you want from me?' she gasped.

He shrugged. 'You told me what you don't want. But I still don't know what it is that you want!'

For a brief moment, she closed her eyes. 'I don't believe this.' She looked exasperated. 'You know exactly what!' She saw, to her dismay that he wouldn't jump in this time: 'I want you! There, I've said it.' And it didn't even hurt.

The silence that followed dictated that he wouldn't let her off the hook that easily. 'What for?' he demanded. 'As a friend? Partner? What?'

Maddie narrowed her eyes; she was feeling cornered, and rage surged through her body. 'Don't push it, Addison', she warned. 'You know damn well...'

David shook his head. 'I don't know anything,' he objected, interrupting her. 'You've been constantly confusing me. You're gonna have to lay all your cards on the table. Come on, come clean, Maddie – say it!' he demanded.

She stared furiously into his eyes, but could not fight the pull of the invisible string. She took yet another, almost menacing, step in his direction. 'I hate you!' she snapped.

There we are. We're almost there. Come on, Maddie, here I am – only one more step. 'It's not enough this time, Maddie,' he replied quietly. 'No denial, no avoidance.' He looked deep into her eyes. 'No codes,' he added.

'Fine! Okay!' she hissed. They were standing there again, facing each other like two boxers, electricity pulsing. They were literally staring each other down. For a moment, his hope almost gave way to anxiety – he knew she was almost ready to open up, but with Maddie Hayes, there was always the unexpected. Was she really going to take the final step?

There was a prolonged pause as she stared into his green eyes, looking for the slightest offering of forgiveness, the slightest chance that he might jump in and let her off. Nothing. He merely stared back into her eyes, like he was looking right inside her. And she knew he was. The silence invaded the room. You could touch it.

Finally, Maddie took in air to fill her lungs to capacity, like a pearl diver right before plunging deep into the open waters, and yelled: 'I love you! Okay? I love you. Truly – madly – deeply. I can't do anything about it. Two entire years of therapy couldn't do anything about it. Nothing in the whole damn world could do anything about it – never ever.' She gasped for new air, still unable to believe she had said this. She was steaming, red cheeked, but somehow she felt the relief of a heavy, suffocating weight that had been pressing down on her chest for a long, long time. 'Are you satisfied now?'

David could not believe what had just happened. Her words were still ringing in his ears like the sweetest tune. His mouth curved into a pleased, genuine and loving smile, and he nodded slowly. 'For starters.' He chuckled a little, unable to disguise his delight.

She stood there on the periphery of happiness, peering into his hopeful eyes; contemplating a fall into that black well. She was unable to move but stood, swaying, on the edge. The pool of hurt, she had been steadily filling, burst its banks; gathered momentum and swept fear away. A tear escaped, and she let it trace a path downwards over the course of her face - once familiar territory to him. The whole time she could not take her eyes from his.

He stared, with equal intensity, back, noticing that tear, wanting to brush it away. He also became aware of the shadows playing on her face, accentuating the soft curve of her cheek bone, the sculpted edges of her lips. This had once been his to know, that familiar landscape that he could traverse in the dark... how easy it is to lose something once deemed so precious. How often we disregard what we love most, undignify it with coarse and ugly decisions we make along life's tougher roads.

'I've been a fool,' she whispered to the man she loved, who stared back at her across the ravine. 'I love you.' She had to say it again; it was like those words released all of that defiant sorrow.

'I love you too, Maddie,' he whispered back, voice breaking on the last word. It was time to meet her halfway now. 'I always have.'

'So here we are,' she smiled.

'Here we are,' he repeated; eyes full of longing.

'Is this the part where I have to slap you?' she asked, eyes full of feigned innocence.

'Or tell me I smell awful?' His voice oozed bedroom tones.

'C'mere,' she played with him, the words coy, yet deliciously inviting - melting him where he stood.

He, at long last, bridged the distance, the golf, and the high seas that existed between them. It was the collision of magnet and immovable force; the sun and the moon. He brushed that tear from her face, fingertips lingering over her skin which felt creamy soft to his gentle touch.

She responded to this familiar touch by allowing her eyes to close, she had longed to feel this intimacy again, his skin on hers.

'Look at me, Maddie,' his voice cajoled.

She was always a slave to that voice and automatically opened her eyes in response to the request. She found his eyes staring straight into her own and the feeling of complete and utter intimacy was overwhelming. She held his gaze, blue on green, light on dark.

He ran his fingers through her hair, the half light creating a blue shimmer on its surface, and remembered how soft it felt, how silky, how warm. 'Do you remember how my lips felt on that spot just below your hairline?' he breathed, the heat penetrating her skin, causing goose bumps to appear like flowers opening. She sighed at the memory. 'The baby kisses?' His voice teased and he brushed his lips against her neck, taking in her sweet scent and enjoying how she felt to his touch. 'Caressing your back with my fingertips?' He traced his hand down her back in playful steps, hand stopping at the base of her spine, lingering, feeling her body through the fabric...

They momentarily pulled away from each like they had been stung by the concentration of their desire. Mouths were open in shock. This heat was building like a furnace between them, unbearable; scorching, sighing, longing. Both went in for the kiss as one...

Warm lips found warm lips, tongues found tongues in a desperate, hungry kiss that went spiralled onwards indefinitely. A kiss that quenched the pain of two broken hearts. When the lips finally parted, it was only to devour in other directions, kissing all exposed flesh that they came across as if their lives depended on this contact.

Her hands reached up under his shirt to feel the familiar hard chest, the hair soft and irresistible. His hands ran along the discernable shape of her body under those clothes, pausing over his favorite curves, stopping as they reached his lustful destination, enjoying, lingering, toying...

Hands grabbed, pulling on belt buckles; fumbling with buttons; tearing at material that stood in the way of flesh. Maddie, determined to rid David of his t-shirt, was pulling it over his head whilst still kissing his stomach; his chest; hell, anywhere she could find him. He had tired of fumbling with her buttons, the passionate kissing was too delightfully distracting, so he had resorted to tearing the dress down the back, clawing at the material so that it finally gave and he could make contact with the hot skin on her back, find it with his lips, hands travelling to secret, and recently forbidden places. They pulled each down on to the floor, giving in to the fever - shedding the last few garments that lay in their way. It was skin on skin, heat on heat, desire on pure desire. They did not make it to the bed...

...That time but did make it to the bed for a softer, more languorous and tender second time. He gently placed her on the soft folds of the silky throw that covered the bed. He had kissed her on every single step up that winding spiral staircase; they nearly hadn't made it to the bedroom, once again giving way to their repressed desires. He had been the one who was adamant; he wanted it to happen on the bed - he wanted to show her how much he loved her, slowly, comfortably, seductively... They were kissing again, slower now, like they were trying to eliminate that void that had existed between them. It was like they dare not part, even for a second.

'I love you so much...' It was David whispering the words into her ear as he kissed the hollow her of neck and she sighed in response. This is where she wanted to be right now, nowhere else but here. David meant those words from the depths of his heart and began to express his feelings through gentle, yet sensuous actions, paying attention to every possible pleasure that he could give this woman.

'David,' breathed Maddie. 'Don't stop, never stop...'

Tonight you're mine completely

You give your love so sweetly

Tonight the light of love is in your eyes

But will you love me tomorrow?

Is this a lasting treasure

Or just a moment's pleasure?

Can I believe the magic of your sighs

Will you still love me tomorrow?

Tonight with words unspoken

You say that I'm the only one

But will my heart be broken

When the night meets the morning sun?

I'd like to know that your love

Is love I can be sure of

So tell me now, and I won't ask again

Will you still love me tomorrow?



David: Gotcha!

Maddie: Addison! that's cruelty to readers!

David: It aint really the end (he chuckled). Although I'm quite happy to cease existence as a television character with a smile on my face!

Maddie: I bet you would, Mister (she smiled).

David: So did we do well? No, wait, I retract that question... I'm not asking you to rate our performance here, you dirty minded...

Maddie: ...David!

David: ...absolutely, Miss Hayes, couldn't have put it better myself.

Maddie: What David is trying to say, and not very well, is that we hope that this is the ending you would have liked to see for Season 5!

David: Maddie, if Season 5 had ended like that we would never have been cancelled!

Maddie: No but we would have been moved to a more adult channel that gave away free fire-extinguishers with every show!

David: Oh hindsight, hindsight... (He sighed and chuckled). Okay - so you got what you wanted: us two bone heads finally getting it together...

Maddie: ...but...

David: As nice as it is, can you get your but off this page... you're ruining the best ending to a Moonlighting episode since 'I am Curious... Maddie'.

Maddie: But the but is what they are all thinking... we can't end it there because of the but...

David: Buts are us!

Maddie: They are!

David: They are? Can you shed some light on this for us Maddie... all I can think about is your b...

Maddie: They're all worrying about the morning after: sheets, pacts, pals...

David: Maddie you sure know how to kill the mood!

Maddie: You can't deny the truth, David, and, well, if we're going to end Season 5 properly then we need to show them what happens next...

David: We do? (There's a pause)...we do. Okay -

Maddie: Good! I'm glad you've seen the light!

David: Does this mean?

Maddie: It does.

David: Well folks (he looks out at the eager, slightly flushed readers), I guess this episode is to be continued...

Songs: Bring Me Some Water by Melissa Etheridge

Blue Eyes by Elton John

I Want To Break Free by Queen

Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? by The Shirelles