It happens about once every few months. They sit in the bar after a case, after Melinda’s gone home, and it’s just the two of them, the partner and the secretary. Mary smiles coyly, a finger twirling in her hair, and suggests maybe getting dinner sometime; he always has some elaborate excuse – family commitments, or it’s just not the right time…
She smiles a little sadly, gives a small “Oh”, and they forget about it until the next few months, or the next year, have passed.
Except this time she doesn’t; instead, she takes a rather unladylike swig of her drink, then regards List over the rim of her glass with hard eyes. “What is this, some twisted kind of hero worship?”
He frowns, uncomprehending – or maybe pretending to be. “What are you talking about?”
She looks into her glass, then at him. “She doesn’t do that. You know she doesn’t she’s not like that, she’s not like us. But you still keep waiting for her, like a puppy…”
He grits his teeth, avoiding her gaze. “No idea who you mean,” he lies.
“Melinda. List, she’s not yours, she’s not anyone’s…” Her glass is emptier than he’d thought it was, and this is…unpleasant.
It’s respect for the boss. That’s all.
“Y’know what?” he says, voice angrier than he intended, chair scraping too loudly as he stands, “I’m not doing this. I’m not. Call me when you’re sober.”
He leaves his cash on the bar and stalks out, his head beginning to pound; the night is drizzling, cold, and his mouth twists at the thought of walking home through it.
Mary fazes into space, something acidic growing in her chest, and orders a double.