A Dempsey & Makepeace One-Shot following on from Fruit Punch

"Can you believe this?" Dempsey whined as they joined the end of the queue. "We ain't even gonna get seats at this rate."

"I don't imagine everyone's seeing the same film as us," Makepeace pointed out even though she was almost certain that they were.

The line was made up of couples mostly, couples and young women in pairs and small groups. Mid way down the queue, a gaggle of youths was making a nuisance of themselves , playing up to their captive audience as they passed around a half bottle of Bells whiskey.

"And what about those guys, huh? Think they're here for the Care Bears movie?"

"The Delta Force," she told him confidently.

Dempsey stuffed his hands into the pockets of his cream cotton jacket. "Hey, I was their age once so trust me when I say, that bunch o' dirty-minded little punks are here to get their rocks off watchin' 9 ½ Weeks."

Makepeace gazed down at her shoes as she resisted the urge to laugh. "Really? Remind me again, what exactly is this film supposed to be about?"

Dempsey realised his mistake. "Heard they threw in a couple o' sexy scenes is all," he mumbled and then craned his neck to view the head of the queue in an attempt to deflect further questioning.

"Think we could be movin'," he said cheerfully.

They weren't but it was something to say.

The people immediately in front of them shuffled and the man behind them whispered to his girlfriend, "Sounds like they've opened the doors."

Dempsey squooshed his lips with his fingers.

"I mention you're lookin' hot tonight, Harry?"

"Yes, you did," she responded coolly, thoroughly enjoying his mild discomfort and more than happy to milk it. "It really wasn't necessary though – remember, this isn't a date."

"What, I can't tell my partner when she's lookin' hot now?" he exploded comically.

Makepeace checked her watch. "Certainly not, it's unprofessional."

"But we ain't here in a professional capacity."

"True," she acknowledged, "but a good copper is never off duty."

Dempsey leaned in a little closer. "…and carries a set of cuffs in her purse at all times?"

She gave him a look of disapproval.

"Humour me!" he grinned.

A cheer went up from the middle of the queue and immediately they began moving forward.

"Did you eat yet?" Dempsey asked.

"I had a sandwich before I left. You?"

"Just some cereals. Thought we could grab a bite after the movie."

Perfect! A little wining and dining at an intimate Italian place he knew close by, feeding each other Pasta Puttanesca. And hopefully she'd be 'real' hungry after watching Hollywood do its thing on the big screen. She'd be linguine in his hands!

He smiled to himself; who was he kidding, this was Makepeace he was talking about and the normal rules didn't apply.

"Won't you be filling up on hotdogs and popcorn?" she asked with a touch of sarcasm.

"Sure, and ice-cream too! You tellin' me you ain't gonna drown your sorrows in a lip-smackin', thirst-quenching Pepsi?"

Makepeace was casting a dubious eye over the 9 ½ Weeks bill poster they were slowly edging past.

"I'll bet you know that advertising jingle backwards, don't you?"

"Kinda catchy."

"Oi, Markie!" shouted out one of the gang of youths. "I'm out o' smokes…you got any?"

Markie was taller than the others and they were able to identify him when he yelled back, "Piss off an' buy yer own, you only got paid yesterday."

"Credit where it's due," Makepeace murmured, "at least he's got a job."

Dempsey watched them larking about, a frown on his face. "Yeah, might even be legit."

"Somehow I doubt it," she sighed.

By the time they filed through the doors to the ticket booths, the boys had disappeared off to their Care Bears screening.

"No, no, it's fine," Makepeace assured Dempsey when he protested at her paying for the tickets, "you're buying supper."

He inclined his head in acknowledgement of this minor victory. "Super."

Dempsey felt that the ABC Cinema had let him down badly. That a movie theatre could not offer its patrons even dried sprinkle onions with their hotdogs let alone onions of the fried variety seemed, quite frankly, ludicrous.

Having drawn attention to them both at the Westlers franchise with his views on ungarnished frankfurters, Makepeace thought it prudent to wait in the wings whilst he ordered up a large bag of popcorn which obviously was neither hot enough nor buttery enough. He had also, it transpired, been joking about the Pepsi, only Coca-Cola being the real thing.

"What happens if you don't like the film, Dempsey…a stiff letter of complaint to Metro, Goldwyn, Meyer or will you settle for stringing the cinema manager up by his thumbs?" Makepeace asked casually, taking off her jacket and laying it across her handbag at her feet.

They had managed to secure decent seats and these at least met with Dempsey's approval.

"What can I tell ya? The concession stands are all part of the movie-going experience and the Brits just ain't sellin' it to me. Poor presentation, inadequate selection, bad service…"

"Dempsey," Makepeace hissed through the semi-darkness, "it's Curly-Wurlys and crisps, I'm certain they aren't looking for a Michelin gold star rating."

He pulled the tab off his can of Pepsi. "Good! 'Cause they ain't getting' one off of me. Wanna bite?" He held the hotdog up for her inspection.

"Errr, no thanks."

"Don't blame ya."

He took a bite and scanned the auditorium, searching out the source of the sudden loud, hectoring laughter that had broken out.

"Looks like you were wrong, babe."

Harry too was viewing the group across the aisle to their left, half a dozen rows down from them. "The Care Bear kids. Wonderful!"

There appeared to be five of them in total, all currently tossing peanuts into the air and attempting to catch them in their mouths. It was clear they were annoying those around them as nuts flew about, pinging off the backs of chairs, hitting heads and shoulders and dropping into people's laps.

Loud tutting and murmurs of 'for God's sake' swelled and just as one victim hurled a peanut back with some considerable force and both youths rose from their seats in confrontation, the lights dimmed and darkness descended.

The stage curtains opened steadily and the usual cheer rang out as the large screen burst into life and music blasted across the auditorium.

"Haven't been to the cinema in yonks," said Makepeace, absent-mindedly eating a piece of popcorn from the bag she had carried for him.

"No? So what was the last thing you saw?"

Stills of Indian restaurants and taxi firms accompanied by terrible plinky-plonky jingles flashed across the screen.

Dempsey slurped at his can of Pepsi Cola.

She frowned. "I believe it was Silkwood."

She ate another piece of popcorn. "Or it might have been The Meaning of Life."

Dempsey was astounded. "Those movies gotta be two years old!"

"Oh and what was that last Pink Panther film…Curse of the Pink Panther, wasn't it?"

He took the bait.

"So I'm guessin' you either don't get out much these days or you were seein' some bum who took you out on cheap dates."

The trailers for soon-to-be-released films began and they noticed a queue forming down to the front where an usherette had stationed herself.

"I'm more of a theatre-goer really," she side-stepped neatly.

"What you want, Craig?" shouted one of the Care Bear kids who was at the head of the queue. "They've got Cornettos or them Mivvis."

Craig bellowed out, "Get us a Cornetto, mate," and immediately, the youth at the side of him broke out into song.

"Juuuust one Cornetto…Give it to meeeee…"

The other three joined in and the one queuing let out a loud, baying howl.

Dempsey and Makepeace looked at each other.

"Boys will be boys, I believe the expression goes," she said stiffly.

Dempsey grunted. "Boys that ain't never gonna make it to men, they don't quit their shit."

He stuffed the remainder of the deficient hotdog into his mouth and chewed rapaciously. "Dumb-asses," he mumbled.

Tonight wasn't going to go according to plan, he just knew it. Not that there was a plan as such but he just wanted them to…he searched for the correct word or phrase…to have a nice time together. Yeah, a nice time. And not that anything beyond nice was much of a possibility but he wasn't sure he needed it to be. Getting Makepeace in the sack was a dream and maybe it should stay that way.

She handed him the bag of popcorn back and after a short silence, commented, "Of course, you were never disruptive as a teenager."

"I was a model teen, sweetheart…only I modelled myself on Al Capone."

She laughed and he gave her a sidelong grin as the film titles came up on screen.

For the first twenty minutes, there was only the rustling of chocolate bar wrappers and crisp packets. Plumes of cigarette smoke drifted up to create a thin haze and for a time, all thoughts of the youths were banished.

Dempsey found himself engrossed in the story unfolding on the screen although it wasn't actually so much the story as the actress, Kim Basinger.

She reminded him of Makepeace; Makepeace wearing that hat, holding that big bunch of balloons and shrieking her head off at the top of the ferris wheel.

He glanced over at her. Did she see it too?

There was the suggestion of a smile highlighted in the flickering darkness and then she must have felt him looking because her lips pursed and she sat back, crossing her legs.

Oh, those legs!

Any other woman and he'd have had his hand on her knee by now.

"Something wrong, Dempsey?" she whispered, practically tasting his eyes upon her but refusing to look his way.

"Wanna go get a cup o' coffee?" John asked the ferris wheel operator as Elizabeth screamed to be let down.

Wasn't that exactly the sort of stunt Dempsey would pull, paying someone to leave her stranded like that?

"Nope. Nothin' wrong."

"Why don't you just calm down?" said John, fending off the blows Elizabeth was raining upon him

"Just appreciatin' the similarities here," he whispered close to her ear.

"Don't know what you mean," she smirked.

Dempsey returned his gaze to the screen, settling back into a more relaxed position with his right ankle resting on his thigh and the can of Pepsi in his hand atop his right knee.

To his surprise, Makepeace reached out and took the can from him, taking a small sip before handing it back.

"Take off your dress," said John.

The youths on the left side of the auditorium let out a cacophony of cat-calls and continued with a very loud and very lewd series of suggestions when John began trailing a dripping ice cube over Elizabeth's body.

There were grumblings of disapproval in the audience and one or two short exchanges.

"Yo! Ladies!" Dempsey shouted, unable to contain himself any longer. "Cut the commentary, okay?"

Heads swivelled and Dempsey was happy to identify himself to them.

"People here tryin' to watch the movie," he called, lifting his hand to indicate those around him.

Makepace folded her arms and slunk down in her seat.

"Get stuffed, Yank," shouted back one of their number.

The others sniggered and Harry waited for Dempsey's retort but none was forthcoming – he just made an arrow of his fingers to point to his eyes and then to the youths in an 'I'm watching you' gesture.

He wasn't happy. These morons were killing the mood.

"Yeah, it was," he said tightly.

Makepeace turned her head. "I'm sorry?"

"You was about to ask me if that was really necessary and the answer is yeah, it was. When I got an itch, I need to scratch it and that bunch o' flea bags is makin' my hind leg pop."

She didn't respond; she had been about to ask that exact question.

All was quiet again until Elizabeth began flicking through a series of arty images on a projector screen in an atmospherically darkened room. He had to admit that had he not been in a movie theatre of three hundred people, like the little gang to the left, he too might have been whooping and hollering at the sight of Elizabeth pleasuring herself. In fact, there was a gentle ripple of titillated humour running through the entire audience it seemed.

But jeesaz, if he let his mind stray just a fraction it was Makepeace up there on the silver screen, sliding her fingers up over black stocking tops and on to some place just out of camera shot.

Whilst he shovelled popcorn into his mouth to keep his tongue from hanging out, Makepeace remained unmoved.

Like stone.

She re-crossed her legs and placed her elbows on the armrests of the seat, her hands resting casually on her upper thighs.

Like ice.

Part of her forearm pressed against his, skin on skin.

He could feel that ice like a lump in his throat as he tried to swallow.

Again, she took the can off him and he couldn't help himself, he had to watch her press her lips to the rim and drink.

"I asked you if you wanted a Coke when we were in the lobby," he complained.

"I can't drink a whole can," was her excuse.

Their fingers brushed as she gave it back and when her hand returned to her lap, she smoothed down the skirt of her black dress.

It didn't register until his eyes were back on the screen but then he did a double-take.

Captured in the illuminating flare, the subtle outline of a suspender fastening.

Dempsey quickly looked away again, flaring a little himself.

He unconsciously crushed the cola can in his fist.

"Lie down on the floor," said John and warily, Elizabeth complied.

A cat-call rose up from their friends on the left. But then, thankfully, an upbeat, fast-paced song burst out, taking the edge off the sexual connotations of the kitchen floor feeding session.

"I like bread and butter, I like toast and jam, that's what my baby feeds me, I'm her loving man…"

Laughter rang out at Elizabeth's reaction to biting into a fresh green chilli.

Makepeace snuck a look at Dempsey, seeing his hand tapping on the arm of the chair in time to the music.

Dempsey snuck a look back and they laughed together.

"She's got milk all down 'er jugs," yelled out one of the gang as Elizabeth literally threw a glass of milk down her neck to neutralize the effects of the burning chilli.

Dempsey scowled.

"Let's see ya eat a cucumber then, darlin'," called out the one named Craig and they saw him gesturing lewdly with his hand to his mouth.

The others fell about giggling stupidly, their alcohol consumption quite evident.

John dribbled honey into her mouth, squeezing the bottle until it overflowed down her chin.

"Hey, c'mmon you guys! I've asked you real nice but now I'm tellin' ya – can it!"

"Dempsey!" Makepeace warned quietly. "I'm sure the cinema manager will have a word."

A torrent of abuse was being hurled back as she spoke but she hoped her words would at least distract him if not pour oil on troubled waters.

"When?" he asked, not bothering to keep his voice down. "When they roll the credits?"

He shuffled in his seat, annoyed and tense.

Makepeace reached out to still him, her hand falling mid-way between his knee and his thigh.

"If my night is going to be ruined, I'd rather it wasn't by you, if you don't mind."

He kind of liked that sentiment – he also liked her hand being on his leg.

Honey cascaded down onto Elizabeth's legs and the music morphed into something slow and sensual as John began massaging the sticky golden liquid over her thighs.

Harry eased her hand away.

More whistles and cat-calls from the boys and then thankfully, the scene cut.

To Dempsey's mind, this was all getting a bit too much. He could handle pressure but it felt like he had it coming from all angles what with holding back from setting those scumbag hoodlums straight and the combined effect of the movie and Makepeace.

His gaze drifted to her lap again.

Yep, stockings and suspenders for sure.

It was now half way through the film and the usherette appeared again, standing with her tray of snacks and drinks at the front and within seconds, a queue began to form.

"I think I want an ice-cream," said Harry.

She stood up. "Can I get you anything?"

"Thanks, I'm good."

Dempsey sat up, pulling his knees in as Makepeace squeezed past him into the aisle, her almost irresistible rear end very close.

"Excuse me," she whispered politely, pressing against him no more than was necessary yet feeling his desire to reach out and grab her like a physical force.

"No problem."

He raised his hands instinctively to guide her past but managed to refrain from actually touching her.

She walked off down the sloping aisle to tag onto the end of the queue.

Sixth in line, Dempsey noted – he also noted that Markie and Craig were seventh and eighth.

"Alright, darlin'?" Craig asked, leaning around to get her in his sights.

"Fine, thank you," she answered with the minimum requirement of civility.

She heard the two of them sniggering behind her back.

Markie took his turn next. "Film's good, innit?"

She smiled.

"Bet it's givin' you some ideas, innit?"

More sniggering and then Craig asked, "Is that American bloke your 'usband then?"

"No, he isn't."

"Is 'e givin' you one though?" he shot back.

They burst out in high pitched laughter, leaning on each other for support.

Makepeace kept the smile on her face with difficulty. "Why would I be discussing something like that with you boys?" she answered calmly. She didn't take her eyes off the screen, knowing that eye contact would only encourage them.

Craig was undeterred. "But 'e'll be stickin' 'is face in 'er fridge tonight," he smirked loud enough for her to hear.

Harry grimaced, feeling each word crawl over her skin. There were now only two people in front of her in the queue.

"If 'e don't, I'd be more than 'appy to oblige," giggled Markie."

"Give me strength," hissed Makepeace through gritted teeth.

There were a few moments of respite until Markie thought up another way to engage her in conversation.

"You look like 'er, yer know." He nodded to the screen. "Only your arse is better."

Harry got the impression he was actually using that as a serious chat-up line.

"Is that so?" she asked musingly.

Only one person ahead of her now, a large lady with a particularly awful poodle-perm mullet hairstyle.

"Have you got any dry roasted peanuts?" she wanted to know.

"Just the salted," came the reply.

"No, I only like the dry roasted ones really."

At the back end of the queue, Dempsey began pushing his way down the line, apologising as he went.

"I ain't buyin'," he assured a hefty looking gentleman in a rugby shirt who turned to confront Dempsey as he squeezed past him. "Seriously, I don't wanna buy nothin'."

Meanwhile, at the head of the queue, the mullet lady was still deliberating.

"I don't suppose you've got any Nibbits, have you?"

"No madam, just Walkers crisps," the usherette replied with forced politeness.

"Smokey bacon?"

The tray swung a bit to one side as the usherette transferred her weight over onto her left hip impatiently. "No. All there is is what you can see in the tray."

The woman tutted and sniffed before finally deciding, "I'll have a choc-ice then."

Harry could hear coarse laughter behind her and the sorts of vocalizations that would probably go hand in hand with obscene gestures from the likes of these two.

When the mullet lady moved away, Harry gratefully stepped forward.

"A tub of ice-cream, please," she said, looking down into the backlit tray of goodies."

"Scuse me, comin' through," Dempsey apologised, pushing his way through to the front, eyes fixed firmly on his target. Craig seemed to think he was being incredibly funny by simulating sex behind Harry.

"Vanilla or raspberry ripple?" the usherette asked.

"Errm, raspberry ripple please." She held out a pound note and received a commiserating roll of the eyes from the usherette when Markie and Craig started making slurpy, licking sounds.

Harry took her change. "Thank you very much."

As she turned, slipping her purse back into her handbag, she felt a hand grasp her right buttock and squeeze. Involuntarily, she yelped.

"Give us a lick of your raspberry ripple then, blondie," Craig tittered smuttily, staring at her chest.

"Okay you pair o' little shits…"

Dempsey loomed up in front of them, cool and menacing. "You think this is acceptable behaviour, hah?"

"Dempsey, for heaven's sake, just leave it, it doesn't matter."

"You kiddin'?" he asked, astounded by her willingness to trivialize the situation. "This bunch o' punk kids has been cruisin' since they arrived,"

He clamped a hand around the upper arms of each of them. "And if the theatre manager ain't got the balls to kick their asses outta here, then I guess the pleasure is all mine."

By this time, the entire cinema audience was agog, 9 ½ Weeks relegated to the back burner and the rest of the queue had backed off down the aisle.

"Get yer friggin' 'ands off me, you twat," Markie blustered, shrugging him away.

Makepeace felt the situation was quickly escalating out of control.

"I think we should all just calm down," she said, raising her hands in adjuration.

The other three youths, having seen what was going off had sprung out of their seats and shoved their way up to the front.

"Hey, how 'bout that," Dempsey grinned, "the gang's all here."

"A film and a curry, Dempsey. Was that really too much to ask?" wailed Harry.

He swung away from his prey to look at her. "A curry?" he asked with surprise and turned back again just as Craig slammed him forcefully in the chest.

"You got a problem with us, Yank, let's take it outside, aye?"

Dempsey rounded on him. "Now see, it's little boys like you, with the smart mouth and the shocking lack of respect for the rest of society who really make me wanna…" He slowly drew up a clenched fist. "Ya know?"

The five youths came together around him in a semi-circle.

"Oh yeah?" asked the short, stocky one with a smattering of soft, dark down on his upper lip. "You and 'ose army?"

Grinning broadly, Dempsey slowly pulled open the side of his cream blouson jacket. "Me and my pocket army right here."

The holstered Magnum came into view.

"Nooooooo, Dempsey," Makepeace wailed.

"Shit! He's got a bloody gun!" Markie exclaimed loudly.

Somebody screamed which triggered a chain reaction around the auditorium and pandemonium ensued. Within moments it seemed, the whole place was on its feet and scrambling for the exits.

"Was it somethin' I said?" Dempsey asked of no one in particular

He reached out and grabbed the back of Craig and Markie's collars as they attempted to make a run for it too.

"Not so fast, wild boys. I got a feelin' you're gonna have some explainin' to do for me later."

The cinema manager had polled up at exactly the moment Dempsey had seen fit to 'flash off his hardware' as Makepeace had put it to Chief Superintendent Spikings when he arrived twenty minutes later.

The cinema was now empty, save for them, the usherette, three uniformed police officers and no less than six armed police officers who had been despatched to the scene after a member of the public had telephoned the emergency services from the foyer. Two more policemen had already taken Markie and Craig down to the local station to be interviewed about the evenings events. It was doubtful they'd be charged with anything but at least a caution and a night in the cells would knock the wind out of their sails.

Derek Hazelford, the cinema manager looked quite ashen.

"Nothing like this has ever happened before," he repeated for the third time.

"No Sir," Spikings agreed with a degree of obsequiousness he reserved for occasions such as this. "I'm quite sure it hasn't but you can be sure that my officers were acting in the best interests of the general public."

Hazelford nodded in ready agreement. "Oh yes, I don't doubt that, it's just that what I can't understand is what an off duty police detective would be doing bringing his gun into the cinema." He raised his eyebrows in anticipation of some plausible explanation.

Spikings stroked his moustache gently with his forefinger.

"Well obviously he's…errrm…not one of ours, Sir. The New York Police Department work to a rather different set of rules…more liberal minded you understand."

"I see," although he still wasn't quite convinced. "It's just that I would've expected our gun laws to apply over here…when in Rome and all that."

Spikings refrained from comment.

"Anyway Sir, as we've already discussed, Lieutenant Dempsey didn't actually draw his weapon and in the absence of any security presence," he added pointedly, "he was merely attempting to keep a volatile situation under control."

"But as I said, I had just come down from my office…I wasn't informed about it until…"

"Never-the-less Mr Hazelford, maybe if your staff had been given firmer guidelines, it could have been nipped in the bud that bit sooner. And when the gentlemen of the press come sniffing round which they undoubtedly will, I think it would be prudent for all concerned to keep schtum if you catch my drift."

Hazelford smiled tightly, tossing his foppish fringe out of his eyes. "Quite. I don't think the ABC's regional manager would care to see us making the pages of the Evening Standard."

Spikings concealed his relief with a firm handshake. "I'll get my men out of your hair and you can shut up shop for the night then, Mr Hazelford."

He strode purposefully across to the large group of idling officers and all but Lieutenant Dempsey who was perched up on the stage with his legs dangling, stood to attention.

"Sergeant Twells, thank you very much for your assistance here this evening." He levered himself up and down on the balls of his feet. "If you'd like to take your men, I think we've about done here."

"Yes, Sir," said Twells. "Always nice to find out it's just a false alarm." He cast a stern look at Dempsey, the words burning with irony.

Raising his little wooden spatula, Dempsey gave a mock salute with a dollop of raspberry ripple ice-cream.

"G'night, Sergeant Twells. Thanks for all your advice on firearms procedure. It's been a blast." And infuriatingly, he grinned.

Twells practically marched his men out of the cinema.

"And you lot," Spikings told the woolly suits with a jerk of his head.

"See ya boys," Dempsey waved the spatula at them.

Uniform were more forgiving, with murmurs of 'Cheers Dempsey' and 'Don't call us, we'll call you'.

"Has he paid for that?" Derek Hazelford asked the usherette, loud enough to be just within Dempsey's hearing.

He jumped down from the stage area and dragged a handful of loose change from his trouser pocket, dropping it into the snack tray that he had been sitting next to.

The usherette gave him a sympathetic look. She had actually been quite impressed by this policeman's bravado. He'd made a stand, taken on those little hooligans and defended his girlfriend's honour although she actually wasn't too sure whether the attractive blonde woman was his girlfriend or not. They were both police detectives apparently but if they'd come to the cinema together it looked like they were romantically involved too. Although, looking across at Detective Sergeant Makepeace sitting all by herself on the front row, sullen and uncommunicative, maybe she was wrong.

Spikings remained where he stood but crooked a finger at both his officers on either side of him.

"Shall we go, children?"

Hazelford lead them out to the foyer where he unlocked one of the glass double doors.

"So maybe we'll come back next week," said Dempsey, "catch the second half."

"Shut it, Dempsey," Makepeace ground.

He received a tight little smile from Hazelford.

Once outside, bathed in the glow of the cinema signage, Spikings turned to Dempsey.

"If you ever, and I mean ever pull another stunt like that again my son, I won't be booking you a flight back to New York, I'll be peppering your sorry backside with shotgun pellets and making you swim for it."

"I'm assuming you'd have a license for that shotgun, Chief."

Spikings pointed a finger at him, incandescent with unspent rage.

"One more word, Dempsey…I mean it, just one more is all it would take…"

"Aww, c'mmon Boss! I'm sorry for the way it turned out, you know that but those ass-wipes had it comin';drunk and disorderly, breach of the peace, affray, assault…"

"Assault?" questioned both Harry and Spikings together.

"Sure, goosin' an officer of the law."

It was then that Gordon Spikings saw the whole picture. This alone had been the catalyst for Dempsey's action; he had felt compelled to defend his female partner's honor.

"I beg your pardon," said Harry with forced calm.

Dempsey had been sensing the storm for some time.

"Saw him feelin' you up Harry."

She was astounded by his naivety – and perhaps, she conceded, just the tiniest bit touched.

"I'm a seasoned, experienced police officer!" she shrilled. "Do you seriously think that some…some.. kid, pinching my bum is something I wouldn't be able to handle?"

Spikings smirked, smoothing at his moustache. A dressing down from Makepeace on the subject of his perceived chauvinism was really the last thing Dempsey needed after the bollocking he had given him earlier. Absolutely perfect!

"Did I say that?" returned Dempsey. "I'm just sayin', what he did was strictly speaking, assault."

"See you both bright and early then," Spikings interjected.

They barely registered his departure.

"Rubbish!...Goodnight, Sir… And to be honest, Dempsey, if you think for one minute I would entertain that notion then your awareness of my integrity as a police officer is very sadly lacking."

"All I'm sayin' is, he laid a hand on you where it didn''t oughta have been laid…Yeah, night Chief…less of course, you get your jollies off of strangers feelin' you up."

"What?!" she exploded.

"Think there's even a specific term for that but it escapes me right now."

Makepeace put her hands on her hips and faced him squarely on.

"You know, Dempsey, if I thought the reason you'd shown the boy your gun was because of some ridiculously misplaced protective male instinct thing, I'd be demanding a transfer first thing tomorrow morning," she raged.

It was actually rather sweet in a distorted sort of way.

"We ain't on duty, sweetheart," he fired at her, "and I find it especially hard to supress my natural instincts with you lookin' like that."

"You chauvinist pig!"

"Spoken like a true ball-breaker."

He hurled his empty ice-cream tub with frustration at a nearby concrete street-side bin.

But then he turned around to face her with an angelic flash of enlightenment lifting his features.

"Hey, I just got it!"

"Got what?" she asked suspiciously.

"What that kid said to you – raspberry ripple is Cockney rhyming slang…raspberry ripple…nip…"

"Quite correct, Dempsey," she cut him off quickly, "but no cigar."

"No?" He sidled up to her, throwing a friendly arm around her shoulders. "We'll stick with the Ruby Murray then, hah?"