A slammed door startled Phryne in the kitchen, nearly spilling her tea and she turned her head towards the noise.
“Jack?” She called out but got no response. When she made her way around the corner, she could tell that he was livid. “What happened?!” She asked, concerned.
“The Commissioner brought me in today to scold me about professionalism in the workplace. Apparently, the publicity surrounding our relationship is causing problems for the force, as if it’s any of his goddamn business what happens in my own home.” He scoffed as he threw his jacket down on the chair with a force that Phryne had never seen. “He called us working together an ethical liability!" He nearly spit the phrase as he stormed down the hall to his bedroom.
“What did you do?” She had to fight to keep pace with him.
“I reminded him that the entire point of having an investigator was to find enough evidence to close a case, and that my ability to do so relied on listening to anyone who may have valuable information, private citizens included. And as long as that information was accurate, empirical, and legal, I would continue seeking any and all avenues of keeping the city safe, their propriety be damned.” He slammed a drawer closed in anger.
“Jack! You know that won't win you any favors.”
“I don’t care.”
“You should. Those men are accustomed to loyalty for loyalty’s sake. The way that they see it, you were willing to turn your back on your colleagues, the Mayor, even your own father-in-law for the sake of doing the right thing. That makes men in power nervous and they will use any tool at hand to cut you out if you get too close to them. I don’t want it to be me.”
“I will not hide my life away as though it’s shameful, Phryne. And I certainly will not base my life choices on the opinions of every bloody person with a connection in this town,” he glared.
“I’m not saying that we need to hide, Jack, but we could certainly stand to be more discreet.”
“Why? We’re not doing anything wrong,” he defended stubbornly.
“That’s not the point!”
Jack growled and slammed the bathroom door closed, locking himself on the other side.
“Fine, you know what? You’re right. It’s your career, do with it what you like," she called through the door as she threw her hands up in the air. She took a deep breath, gathering herself before sitting down on the bed in exhaustion.
There was only a moment of silence before Jack opened the door to her, looking guilty for closing it on her in the first place. He held his arms out to the sides in a silent apology before taking a step back into the room.
“I’m sorry. It’s not your fault that I want to throw my badge into the Yarra right now.” He sat down next to her.
“It would be much harder solving cases without it," she acknowledged.
“That’s never stopped us before."
“No. It hasn’t,” she agreed with a small smile.
“We could open an agency of our own, be true partners for once. Dot could be our secretary,” he suggested hopefully and she rolled her eyes at the thought.
“Jack Robinson: private detective,” she tried the name out. “No, I don’t think so. It just doesn't have the same authoritative ring as Senior Detective Inspector.”
“Is that what this is? Authority?” He asked, pointing out his helplessness.
She chuckled sadly at his plight before watching him fall backwards onto the bed in self-pity. She smiled and fell backwards beside him in solidarity. She turned onto her side and rested her hand over his heart.
“I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but this city needs you,” she spoke quietly. “You’re the only one strong enough to take down the people who try to use their power for evil. I know that it’s a burden for you and I’ll never know the full cost to bear it, but you can’t quit. Because as helpless as you feel right now, you would feel even more helpless without that badge, having to watch people get away with terrible things and having no way to intercede. It would kill you. And that would kill me.”
“There are other ways to help,” he replied, mostly out of stubbornness.
“Not for you, love," she shook her head, knowing better. “You’ve wanted to be a policeman since you were a child. I have your original badge to prove it. You need the law and more importantly, it needs you.”
The sigh that came from him was more resignation than release but his shoulders relaxed and she took that as a sign in the right direction.
“But if one day, you decide that you are truly unhappy, then of course, we’ll find another way to do what we do best,” she promised. “But only if that’s what you want and not because some man in a blue suit decides it for us,” she scowled in annoyance.
Jack’s tired eyes began to sparkle with appreciation as he took in her sour face.
“I would, you know,” he informed her as he turned onto his side, “choose you.”
"Well, you said it yourself: you don't always do the right thing," she used his own words against him.
"Don’t tell the Commissioner,” Jack joked.
"It's not funny, Jack," she said as a small wave of guilt lapped at her conscience for all of the times that Jack had strayed from his duty on her behalf. “You can’t blame him for feeling threatened. He's no match for our combined power and he knows it.”
“Even when we only use that power to share a bottle of wine, a hot bath, and a bed?"
"Especially then," she smiled.
"Mm, we'd better wield it carefully then," he agreed as he leaned in for a kiss.