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The secrets we fail to hide

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Gill Murray shut the door behind her as she entered her office and placed a palm to her forehead. What a mess of a case.

"Shit," she muttered, then briskly shook her head and strode over to sit at her desktop. She fished around in her bag and popped an ibuprofen in her mouth. There was a nagging pain in her neck and she found herself absently rubbing it as she pulled up her calendar. Dentist at two tomorrow. She pulled a face at that delightful prospect, then lifted her gaze from her computer and through the office window and found herself eye-to-eye with Rachel Bailey sitting at her desk across the room. Bailey immediately shifted her attention to straightening a pile of briefs at her desk, visibly clearing her throat.

A smirk played at the corner of Gill's mouth. She had seen her fair share of would-be-secret admirers in her time as a supervisor. It was amazing how conspicuous it could be, especially in other women. It was like they were so used to no one noticing a woman fancying a woman that they'd stopped trying to be subtle. Why bother hiding what other people don't think to see? At least, that's the way Gill had always felt. In fact, these days, with the roles reversed, she frequently kicked herself for not having been a little more subtle and self-aware back when she was the underling with the crush on the big boss. It made her cringe just thinking about it, although Julie Dodson had always been a kind and even-keeled mentor, even before they became friends.

At that moment, Gill was jolted from her reverie by a knock on her office door. Julie Dodson herself pushed into the room, not waiting for a response, and sat herself heavily in the chair across from Gill. She leaned forward, dropping her elbows onto Gill's desk and raising her eyebrows comically.

"Well, golly, Slap," Gill said, closing her calendar and leaning primly back in her chair to face Julie.

"You'll never believe this," Julie started.

"Bet I will," Gill quipped.

"--hush, you, until I reach the punchline. Really, if you're going to take that smart attitude, I should bring my gossip elsewhere, where it's appreciated!"

"Alright, alright, don't be daft, just spit it out."

"They've closed it, Gill!"

"Closed what?"

"The pub!"

"No," said Gill shaking her head and tilting it back a bit. "They can't have done, I were just there last night and that bartender were going on about their bloody Christmas special starting next week."

"Right, well, I swung by there to make sure they'd got that room reserved for us and they are boarded up. I asked the bloke with the clipboard standing out there what was on and he told me the pipes had burst in the wee hours last night. Apparently the inspectors came in and they found enough building code violations to create a paper chain to the moon and back. So there's the pub closed for a year and your birthday bash without a venue."

Gill raised a fist in victory. "Good! No, this is good! Now we can just have a quiet do, you and me and Sammy, over at your place and you won't have to embarrass me tenfold in front of all my charges here." Gill gestured out her office window.

Julie cast a glance back at Gill's employees through the window and let loose a single, hearty guffaw.

"As if you're getting off that easy, DCI Murray! No, we'll do it at my place, sure, but I'm inviting the lot and I'm gonna be selling stories about you to anyone for the right price, you mark my words."

Gill's mouth dropped open in mock rage. "You wouldn't dare! No - more importantly - they wouldn't dare." Gill nodded out the window, then cocked her head in triumph, eyes smug.

"Oh I know some of them would pay good money to hear a little more about Godzilla's wild side," Julie said, an all-too-knowing look in her eyes. She leaned her elbow on the armrest, her features alight with mischief. "And I can charge a pretty premium for stories on you from back when you first started under me."

Gill choked on her water, a blush rising over her face. Julie leaned forward, a very mischievous expression on her face.

"You are bright red, Gillian Murray."

"No I'm not."

"Yes you absolutely are," Julie countered. She casually rested her chin in her hand, a grin slowly unfurling on her face. "Now tell me, what deep dark story from your past is it that the prospect of me telling your peers has got you as red as Father Christmas's favorite work suit?"

Gill groaned, covering her mouth with her hands. "Nothing!" She replied, a little muffled.

"Really, you must think I slept my way to the top if you think my detective skills are so poor."

"Okay, okay, fine." Gill paused, straightening a stack of papers on her desk. "So, you know when I first worked for you back at MIT." Gill paused again.

"Yes, I'm familiar," Julie responded, eyebrow creeping up.

"Right. Yes." Gill fidgeted in her seat, tapped her fingers on the edge of the desk. "What I mean to say is, you could tell, right? You saw right through it? Because from where I'm standing, how could you not have, is what I'm thinking."

Julie looked at Gill carefully, an eyebrow cocked. "See right through what?"

Gill cleared her throat and took sudden interest in a spot over the door behind Julie's head. "See right through the fact that, well, that I desperately wanted in your knickers?" Gill blushed furiously, pulling a stray lock of hair behind her ear.

"Ah." Julie breathed, leaning back in her chair and taking stock of Gill's nervous posture, an eyebrow thrust sky high. "Well, yeah. 'Course I could."

Gill's eyes darted back to Julie's, and both of them sat there, a little stiff. Then a rather silly grin bloomed on Gill's face and she threw back her head, laughing so that tears of mirth leaked out of her eyes. Julie joined in in equal measure, both of them leaning into the desk, gasping for breath. Gill slapped a hand over her mouth, glancing through the glass, suddenly aware of the racket they were making and her somewhat disheveled appearance. They hiccupped themselves into silence for a few minutes, mirth still written over their faces.

Julie let loose another chuckle, then rubbed her forehead with the back of her hand. "You know, Gill, I appreciate your appreciation for my killer looks. But I hope that's not the only reason you wanted to be friends with me."

Gill took a big swig of water, then clunked the glass back down on the desk. She snorted. Julie looked at her, a slight frown on her face. Gill's face registered surprise.

"You're serious slap? Silly question! You were brilliant. Are. Just confident, and funny, and grand. I admired the pants off ya, no pun intended. And yeah, you weren't half bad looking. It's no wonder I was mad for you, I mean, can you blame me! But of course I wanted to be your friend, for all those reasons plus the fact that you weren't so high and mighty as to never take the piss out of yourself once in a while."

The smile had returned to Julie's face. "That lot out there might beg to differ," she said, winking. "They think I take myself far too seriously. And they think you're a right killjoy too."

"That they do," Gill chuckled.

Julie lifted an eyebrow slyly. "Don't you think it might ease your reputation if you let me pawn off at least one or two good stories tomorrow night? Bring you down to Earth a little for them?"

Gill groaned again. "Oh, Slap, how much am I going to have to cough up to keep you from sharing that particular tidbit with all and sundry?"

Julie chuckled, reaching across the desk to pat Gill's cheek gently. "Your secret is safe with me, toots."

"Better be," Gill said quickly, eyes darting down to Julie's hand as it left her face.

Julie smirked, grabbing a tissue from the box on Gill's desk and dabbing her eyes with it as she stood to go.

"I'll see ya at mine tomorrow for your birthday then, love." Julie tossed the tissue in the wastebasket and reached for the doorknob, then cast another smirking look back at Gill, who promptly gave her the two-finger salute.

"You don't get to be smug about this, you absolute cow," Gill called after her with some indignance.

"Don't I? You said I was brilliant. And grand!" Julie bowed and then winked before she swept out the door, nodding serenely to a nonplussed Rachel and Kevin standing by the coffee pot.

Gill leaned back in her chair and groaned, laughing helplessly to herself. "Grand like grandmother, you old cow," she muttered to herself, a little smile playing on her lips as she raised a hand to touch her cheek.