Set just after the end of the last episode. One shot. For Miss Puppet.
"You alright, love?" Martin asked her, as the dormobile joined the stream of traffic on the main road.
The sound of his voice surprised her, and Ann was jerked very suddenly from what she had not realised, up until now, was deep thought.
"Yes, I'm alright," she replied, giving him a little smile in the overhead mirror to assure him.
"You're very quiet," he remarked, not taking his eyes off the road.
"Am I?" she asked him, not really surprised if she had been, "I'm just thinking. Just thinking, just thinking."
She smiled at him again, less completely this time. It was true, she had been thinking; thinking very particular thoughts; particular thoughts she hadn't had in quite a while, such a while, in fact, that she'd forgotten she'd ever had them. She'd been thinking about Paul. And, if she was honest, a little bit more than Paul, Paul as she knew him, too. And her thoughts weren't making much sense, even to her.
What he'd said, just before she got into the dormobile with Martin. That he would get married, if he could...
"If I could find someone like you."
He had wanted to marry her. Was that too much of an assumption? Possibly, knowing Paul. But then, it was always Martin, or Howard or Hilda whose leg Paul had enjoyed pulling, never hers. And it wasn't as if, if she was going to be honest about it, she had never considered- purely hypothetically- the idea of herself and Paul, together. In fact, during that mad time when she thought that Martin had been unfaithful to her, in Bruges, she had even considered that she might, if they did spilt up, one evening, go next door and see if he... Of course, it had all been a misunderstanding, and she and Martin were alright and still together.
But what she realised had thrown her was the idea, the very concept of marrying Paul, marrying Paul. Anything she had ever imagined between the two of them had been very much along the lines of every other relationship Paul seemed to have; active and passionate, and above all things quick, and quickly finished. She had never imagined a marriage.
"Three times again, love."
Martin's voice brought her sharply back down to earth again.
"What did you say?" she asked, caught a little unawares.
"You said that three times," he told her.
"Oh. Yes, I imagine I did. Sorry."
She remembered that night that they went to the Festival Hall together. He didn't really take her to the Festival Hall, she supplied the tickets. It was quite soon after he'd moved in, they certainly hadn't known each other very long. She was so happy that night. A little uneasy at first, having left Martin at home, but listening to the music, sitting next to Paul she soon forgot about that. At times, she had to admit, she had even forgotten about the music. An innate consciousness grew in her of him in his suit, and her in her going-out frock. She had just supposed that was how Paul made all women feel.
"You don't have to apologise, love. You must be feeling very tired."
She smiled again. Tired. Why did Martin always think she was bloody tired? But even as she thought that, she gave a little yawn. She supposed this time he might be right, she was pregnant, after all.
"Yes, just a little bit."
She shouldn't be thinking of Paul. Not like this, anyway. He was just a friend. And she had known it, truly accepted it, for years now. He was just a friend who had the rather alarming habit of flirting with her, quite severely at times. It was just the thought of marrying him had never come to her before, and it had irked her, thrown her a little bit. She was truly happy with Martin, and they were going to have a baby, something she'd long given up the hope of having. She stroked her stomach, tenderly. Sitting like this, the bump was just about visible under her jumper.
"I know what you're thinking."
Martin was smiling at her, the way he did when he was convinced that he was right about something.
"What?" Ann asked, interested to hear what it was.
"You're thinking of what to call him."
She paused for a second, and then she caught on.
"Or her," she amended quickly.
"Or her," he agreed.
She could not help but smile at that too. Even though she hadn't been thinking about it, it was nice to hear that Martin was. Up until now, with moving and everything, they had been too busy to broach the subject.
"Did you have any ideas?" she asked him.
"Well, one or two," he admitted.
"Let me guess," she watched him fondly out of the corner of her eye, "Howard if it's a boy and Hilda if it's a girl?"
"Well, not quite," he replied, "Though it did cross my mind too, a very sensible suggestion. No, I was thinking more along the lines of, if it's a boy... well, Paul."
She turned to him rather incredulously.
"Have you had a brain transplant?" she wanted to know, almost laughing.
"No, well," he looked a little flustered, "I've been thinking, now that we don't live next door to him any more, he's not a bad chap, really."
Ann grinned, biting her lip.
"I think he'd like that," she told him, "If Howard and Hilda are godparents, I think he'd like that very much indeed. When we get there I'll have to ring him up and tell him."
"I wouldn't do that if I were you, love."
"Why ever not?"
Martin shifted slightly.
"I'd rather he didn't think the idea came just from me. It should be from the both of us, I mean."
"Alright, then," she agreed, "From the both of us."
It had better be, a little voice in the back of her head told her. Whatever happened, the idea couldn't possibly come from her alone.
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