A/N: First of all, I am posting a story after so long because a while ago, I'd decided not to post any more. Don't ask why... though I'm sure most of you either know or can guess. But now, well, I've decided there are better ways of maintaining my stand. So here it is. My comeback story of sorts.
Well, I was bored after exams and decided I needed something fun to do. So I just put this together because Adi and Saara (Adira if you want to be romantic) are the quintessential perfect couple. And not just because they're my creations. :D
The settings of the CID Team Z in this story:
-Adi and Kenny are 24 and now sub-inspectors. They never act like spoiled little star-kids (though they are... star-kids I mean), and behave with the same professionalism and dedication as any other officers. In fact, Adi doesn't even have any qualms calling his own father 'sir' while on duty (though he and Kenny both take the liberty of being informal with their mothers).
-Saara is 22 and almost done with CID training. She's highly skilled in two different kinds of martial arts and can by now break doors almost as easily as her father does. Though sometimes during her training she gets less opportunities because she's a girl, she defies stereotyping and proves that she's just as good, if not better, than any of her male peers.
-Kenny is in a committed relationship with Jeanie, who's just turned 23 and is studying forensic science. Though they do miss each other a lot because she stays in her college hostel, she comes home to Freddy and Manisha's place (she's lived with them ever since her parents died in an accident) almost every weekend to spend time with everyone, especially Kenny.
-Saara's had only one relationship all her life, and even that broke up pretty soon because she knows full well that Adi's the only guy for her. It's the same in Adi's case, though one of his two relationships actually broke up because his then-girlfriend was constantly suspecting him of cheating on her with Saara. He and Saara know for sure that they love each other, but they're still hesitant about getting into a relationship because they're afraid to ruin their lifetime friendship (how often that happens).
Settings of the actual CID Team:
-Abhijeet is the ACP (duh). He finally mellowed down a bit after taking up the post, and is now much more sensible and mature about things in general. As a result, he hardly ever has arguments with Tarika, though they certainly aren't beyond the occasional tiff (but then, that's completely normal). None of those last very long, though, not if Adi can help it.
-Daya is still a senior inspector, but his power is almost equal to Abhijeet's simply because of his experience. He never married but is perfectly happy with his life, except that he tends to get very lonely when Saara's off at training. Though he knows she's perfectly capable of taking care of herself, he can't help but worry at times (though that's only to be expected).
-Vivek and Tasha are inspectors, and are married but don't have kids of their own. Like I explained in my first CID Team Z story, this is by their own choice, because they didn't want to raise kids in an environment in which they'd be constantly exposed to danger, plus they didn't want to create added pressure and more causes of worry for the team (their opinion).
-Sachin is still an inspector, and is married to Kajal (who's taken early retirement from CID). They don't have kids either, but that's because Kajal, before leaving the CID, suffered a serious injury which made her incapable of having kids.
-Rajat got himself a transfer and is now the ACP of a special bureau. He's still very much in contact with the team, though, and makes sure to visit every time he's in the area (partly because if he didn't, Tarika would flay him alive). He lost his wife some years ago, and has a nineteen-year-old daughter named Vinithra who's exactly like him except for the fact that she finds it extremely difficult to stay still and keep quiet.
-Tarika now runs the forensic lab by herself, though Niyati often drops in to assist when there's any serious case. Apart from that, Niyati works at the central forensic department of the city.
-Freddy is, of course, retired, and is now spending his golden years in peace and happiness with Manisha by his side and all his friends around him, including his nieces and nephews.
-ACP Pradyuman and Dr. Salunkhe have moved on to a better place, completely free from all pains, worries and suffering.
Now that that's clear, on we go without further ado.
"Easy there... careful... God, just keep it on the table already!" shrieked Manisha.
The large dish finally landed on the table with a soft thud, the gravy sloshing dangerously around. Freddy hurriedly steadied the dish before any of the contents could spill, and leaned against the table, letting out a huge sigh of relief. "Phew! I'll be glad when the arrangements are over and done with!"
"Freddy uncle." An amused voice spoke up behind him, and Freddy turned to meet ebony eyes that were twinkling with mirth. "My girlfriend, as in your only niece, is coming home after two whole months. Don't you think the occasion merits at least some grandeur?"
"Always ready with an answer, this one," Freddy said in a long-suffering tone, and affectionately ruffled Kenny's hair. "Where's your mother, by the way?" he asked, quickly scanning the room for Dr. Niyati.
"Mom's coming with Tarika aunty," Kenny informed him just as the doorbell rang. "That'll be Abhijeet uncle and Daya uncle," he said as he hurried to answer the door. Sure enough, it was the very dignitaries in question. "Sirs," Kenny said with a deep, flourishing bow, and both of them rolled their eyes at him. "Cut it out, Kaushik, we're not your bosses outside duty," said Daya reprovingly, giving Kenny a gentle prod in the shoulder.
Abhijeet, meanwhile, was looking at Freddy with some confusion. "Uh, Freddy, what's with you?"
"Don't ask, sir." Freddy mopped his brow and sat down heavily on the sofa with a weary sigh. "Manisha's been cooking all day and I've been running around since yesterday evening!"
"Running around?" Abhijeet asked, his eyebrows flipping towards his hairline as he and Daya went to sit down as well. "What, did you invite the President for dinner without telling us or something?"
"Excuse me," said an indignant voice from the doorway, and the men turned to see Niyati entering the house with a large shopping bag in her hands and a highly miffed look on her face. "That's my future daughter-in-law you're talking about. Not to mention she'll be accompanied by your future daughter-in-law as well, Abhijeet."
"If all goes well, you mean," Tarika added as she followed, carrying a similar shopping bag. "Here, give me that," Manisha said, hurrying out of the kitchen and sweeping the bag out of Tarika's hands before the latter could open her mouth. "And you girls go sit down!" Manisha called over her shoulder as she swiftly retreated to the kitchen.
"Orders must be followed," Niyati said, grinning as she sank down into an armchair and Tarika perched on the arm of the sofa, next to Abhijeet. He looked up at her questioningly. "Where's Adi, by the way?"
Tarika gave him a look. "Where do you think?" she asked with an exasperated smile.
Adi had never particularly liked train stations, even as a child. Not that he was snobbish or anything- he just found the over-crowded, noisy atmosphere somewhat annoying. At least three people had trodden on his toes by now, and another five had accidentally run the wheels of their luggage over the same toes.
The train he had been waiting for pulled in, cutting through his musings with a resounding cacophony, and he hastened to catch up with it, deftly avoiding bumping into anything or anyone on the way. As the train came to a halt, his feet slowed. It didn't take long for Saara to appear in the doorway, her hair stirring slightly in the breeze.
Her eyes met his, and her face broke out into the most breathtaking smile he had ever seen. All of a sudden, he knew nothing else, and the bustling noise of the crowd surrounding him faded out to a soft murmur. In fact, the railway station was suddenly his favourite place in the world.
Beaming, Saara hopped down from the train, grabbed her bag and ran towards Adi, weaving her way nimbly through the crowd until she was just two feet away from him. They stared at each other for a minute, silly grins adorning their faces, before they both simultaneously stepped forward, Saara flinging herself at Adi and he snatching her up into a tight hug.
"Welcome home, Suckerpunch," he said, smiling broadly as she pulled away from him, her face glowing. "Missed me?" she asked, her voice teasing, and Adi rolled his eyes at her. "No, of course not. And neither did Daya uncle. What kind of a question is that, really?"
Saara laughed, giving him an affectionate poke in the ribs, and his face grew serious as he caught her hand. "Saara, listen, we need to ta-"
"Hey hello!" panted a girl's voice behind Saara, followed by a loud thump. Adi and Saara turned to see Jeanie standing there with her hands on her hips, her luggage at her feet and a very huffy expression on her face, not unlike Niyati's a short while previously. "I know you two have eyes for no one but each other and all, but that doesn't mean you can just forget about me completely, you know!"
"Nice to see you too, Jeanie," Adi said patiently, and Saara gave her friend an exasperated look. "Come on, yaar, it wasn't like we were going to leave you behind or anything."
"Not to mention Kenny would kill us if we did anything of the kind," Adi put in. "Here, give me your bags, I'll-"
"Out of the question!" Saara barked, picking up her bag. "I'm perfectly capable of carrying my own bag, Adi, you can carry Jeanie's if you want." Jeanie gave her a long-suffering look and shrugged as Adi took her bag, making a face at Saara as the three of them went out of the station, to where Daya's car was parked and waiting. Saara's jaw dropped. "Papa lent you his car?" she asked incredulously, and Adi smirked at her. "Yes, as a matter of fact, he did. Looks like he has more confidence in my driving abilities than yours."
"What the- I ruddy well know how to drive!" Saara sputtered, whacking him on the arm indignantly. Jeanie snorted as she climbed into the back of the car. "Sure you do, but you know how Daya uncle is about his car... he's paranoid to such an extent that he doesn't even trust his own daughter with it!"
"But he certainly trusts his neph-" Saara started, but Adi cut her off before the issue could escalate. "Whoa, whoa, save the energy for when you meet the others!"
Later, when the car pulled into the driveway of Freddy's house, it took the three of them only an instant to realise how right Adi had been- Saara would need as much energy as she could muster. No sooner had she stepped into the house, than her bag dropped to the floor as she was attacked by what seemed to be a pink-and-blue missile that was squealing its head off. "Saaraaaaaaaa!"
"Vini... thra!" Saara gasped, disengaging herself with difficulty from the excited teenager, who was beaming like a sunrise and practically hopping up and down on the spot with eagerness, her long wavy hair bouncing around her shoulders. "Oh my God, it's so great to see you! How long has it been?"
"Let the girl breathe, Viny," laughed Rajat as he emerged from the living room, and Vinithra obligingly turned her enthusiastic attentions to Jeanie instead. Saara beamed at Rajat just as a grinning Adi came into the house, Jeanie's bag slung over his shoulder. "Could that possibly be the dulcet tones of my favourite little sister?"
Vinithra let out a shriek of delight as she ran headlong towards him and flung her arms around him. "Adi bhaiya! I missed you so, so, so, so, SO much!"
"So did I, Vin," Adi assured her, slinging an affectionate arm around her shoulders as they all went into the living room, where Saara was already having a joyous reunion with her father. Daya was practically crying tears of happiness, and Abhijeet was standing behind him, half laughing in exasperation at his best friend's sentimentality. Jeanie, however, had eyes only for one person. Grinning from ear to ear, she rushed into Kenny's waiting arms full speed ahead.
Once all the reunions were finally over, everyone gathered in the living room. The seating arrangement was the standard family-gathering one. Adi was sitting at Tarika's feet and she was perched on the arm of Abhijeet's chair. Daya sat across from them, Saara on the floor with her head on his knees. Vivek, Freddy and Manisha took the sofa, Tasha and Jeanie perched on the arms. Across from them sat Rajat and Niyati, with Vinithra and Kenny on the floor beside their respective parents.
"Too bad Sachin sir and Kajal couldn't come," remarked Tasha. "But Kajal had her routine check-up today." She sighed, and straightened up. "So, Saara, how's training getting along?"
"And how's forensics treating you, Jeanie?" Niyati asked.
"Great," both the girls answered in unison, and exchanged smirks before turning to the boys. "And how are you two doing?" Jeanie enquired, raising her eyebrows in a 'Do-I-really-want-to-hear-it' way.
"Papa?" Saara looked up at Daya, a mischievous twinkle in her eyes. "Did Adi break any doors yet?"
"Oh, shut up!" Adi retorted across the room as Daya started laughing. "That's your area, not mine. Right, Dad?" He turned to his father for support, and Abhijeet shrugged. "Well, actually, beta, I broke a lot of doors back in my day too, you know."
"Back in your day, it seems," snorted Tarika. "As if you're retired or something!" She nudged him teasingly. "Speaking of which, for those of you who haven't heard, my husband is still as much of a chick-magnet today as he was before this one entered the world," she said, ruffling Adi's hair. "Only last week there was a girl at the mall... Daya, you know this story, right?"
"Oh, yeah!" Daya snickered as Abhijeet let out a long-suffering sigh. "Really, Abhijeet, the look on your face was just so bloody priceless!"
"Wait, what?" Vinithra perked up eagerly. "What happened, Daya uncle? Dish out all the details, please!" Rajat merely smiled, shaking his head at his daughter's adolescent enthusiasm.
"Oh, God," Adi groaned, burying his face in his hands. "I really don't want to listen to this. Manisha aunty, can I just go make a phone call?"
"Go on, beta," she said, and Adi got up and hurried out of the room just as Daya started the story. "Well, one fine day Saara and I were at the mall with Abhijeet, Tarika and Adi. Adi and Saara went off somewhere with Tarika, and Abhijeet and I were just roaming around and window-shopping. All of a sudden, this girl, who couldn't have been much older than Saara, comes up and starts being a little too friendly with Abhijeet..."
Adi determinedly went further into the house until Daya's voice faded out. Standing on the balcony, he stared out at the street. Stars were beginning to appear.
"Hey, you." He turned to see Saara smirking up at him with her hands on her hips. "Too embarrassing, huh? That Abhijeet uncle still has crazy fangirls though more than half the hair on his head is grey?"
"They prefer to call it 'silver', though," Adi muttered, rolling his eyes. "But seriously, Saara," he said, raking a hand through his own hair in bewilderment. "How on earth does Dad do it, yaar?"
"Never mind how he does it- the real question is, how does Tarika aunty do it?" asked Saara, her eyes widening incredulously. "Why, if it was me I'd have packed up and run off to Jamaica or somewhere ages ago! I don't have the patience to deal with so many crazy fangirls, no way," she said, shuddering slightly and making a disgusted face at the very thought. Adi grinned down at her. "Well, what if some fangirl turns up for me later?"
Saara scowled darkly. "Let her turn up, I'll smash her face in before she can blink. I'm not called Suckerpunch for nothing, you know." The vehement violence of her tone made Adi laugh. "I'd like to see that, all right," he chuckled, and Saara made a face up at him. For a few minutes, they both stood in silence, staring out at the street. Finally, Adi turned to Saara, taking her arm and turning her gently to face him. "Listen, Saara, there's something I wanted to-"
"Hey, you guys!" Their heads snapped around to see Vinithra in the doorway. She was grinning her head off, her eyes shining with glee. "Sorry to interrupt, but Manisha aunty says dinner's ready and we have to be at the table in five minutes."
"Well, orders must be obeyed," said Saara, shrugging, and pulled Adi along by the hand. "C'mon, Adi." As they followed Vinithra to the hall, Adi and Saara exchanged glances, the same thought running through their heads. Maybe later.
A/N: Well, that's the first chapter. As usual, I shall update based on the reviews I get. :)