“Here we are.”
Ellie found an empty space and parked the car in front of the Dorset Police Headquarters.
Hardy got out of the passenger seat and stretched his legs.
“I’m warning you Miller, if they ask us to do bloody trust falls, I’m out of here.”
“As you should. I’d have to almost hug you. No way, we’re doing this.”
Hardy had had a permanent scowl plastered on his face since Jenkinson had come to inform him he’d had to assist a team building seminar with Miller the next day. Ellie hadn’t been impressed either but she’d pointed out that he could probably learn a thing or two about “communicating with his partner”. Her comment had been met with a roll of his eyes.
Ellie locked the car and turned to Hardy with a beaming face and an over-cheery tone.
“Oh Hardy, maybe we’ll get to build a furniture tower together! It could be fun!”
He looked at her with utmost disgust.
“You’re killing me, Miller. “
They made their way towards the entrance as Ellie went on.
“You’re such a grumpy knob!”
“I’m a Detective! That’s how I’m supposed to be! Perps wouldn’t be impressed if I was a bloody Care Bear”
Funnily enough, instead of shouting back at him, Ellie stopped in her tracks.
“Let’s make this a challenge, then. If you manage to be on your best behaviour this afternoon, to do everything they ask of us without complains, I promise I will do all your
paperwork for a week.”
Hardy pulled the door open for her.
“You want me to pretend to be nice?”
“Yes. Be nice, take part in the activities and I’ll do your paperwork.”
He seemed to be considering her offer but looked at her suspiciously.
“But, what’s in it for you?”
“I get to have a quiet, drama-free afternoon and I’ll enjoy watching you restrain yourself from insulting people and strangling them. Heaven!”
Hardy took a deep breath.
“Alright, Miller, but I’ll up the challenge. It’s got to be worth at least a month of paper work. I’ll even be smiling.”
“You’re on! This is going to be epic! Do you even know how to smile?”
“Don’t ever doubt me, Miller.”
He gave her a blazing smile, with dimples and all and left her standing there with wide eyes.
“Oh my god…I’ve created a monster…”
Ellie had to say she weirdly missed Hardy, the antisocial, raging bear. He had been nice for a couple of hours now and she couldn’t get used to it. He looked almost cheery and it was creeping her out. He had listened intently to the most boring man making the most boring presentation about “Communicating your feelings” and had even nodded his head at several key points such as “explaining your theories to your partner”, “taking into account your partner’s feelings on the matter” or “listening to your partner’s ideas”. The bastard. He’d even had the cheek to give her pointed look on the “knowing when you’re too emotionally involved” part. The wanker was taunting her and enjoying it!
Finally, it was time for a coffee break. Ellie stood up.
“I’m going to the loo.”
Hardy stood up too.
“Splendid. I’ll go get a cuppa. I’ll grab one for you too, partner.”
He grinned and made his way towards the break area.
Ellie shook her head incredulously and went to the ladies’.
When she came back, Hardy was chatting animatedly with a group of people. Two women were clearly flirting with him and he looked totally comfortable.
He caught her eye as she approached them.
“Miller! Here’s your tea. I saved you a couple of chocolate digestive too.”
Well, two could play this game, the smug bastard was having too much fun.
“Bless. You’re so thoughtful, Hardy. Thanks, partner”
And she patted his arm lovingly as he gave her the mug of tea.
His trademark frown appeared for a second but it was so fleeting Ellie thought she’d imagined it. And then, to her horror, he stepped up his game.
He put his arm around her shoulder in a half-embrace and turned to their colleagues.
“My pleasure, Miller. I hope you feel better. Her stomach was growling so loudly during the presentation, I could only hear half of the speech!”
The group erupted in laughter as a chocked Ellie gaped at him incredulously. Bloody wanker.
He winked at her and she elbowed him in the ribs as she moved away from him.
He winced but gave her a full-on smile.
Ellie was gobsmacked. The tables had turned on her, she had to wipe this damn smile off his face. But she had to admit he had the greatest dimples in the world. She wouldn’t
mind seeing more of those...
“Oi, Miller, stop daydreaming about my dimples and give me your hand.”
Hardy was watching her expectantly, his right hand reaching out to her left.
“What? I’m not!”
She flushed red and tried to look busy.
“You’re not giving me your hand?”
He raised one of his eyebrows and grinned.
“You’re such a prick! There!”
She took his hand forcefully.
“You’re being rather grumpy, DS Miller.”
Both their hands and feet were tied together for a “cooperation exercise”.
“You’re scaring me, Hardy. You’re too… nice!”
“My “niceness” is scaring you? You were the one to ask for it!”
“I know! I know! You’ve been lovely and I know it’s daft but I can’t bear it! It’s not you!”
At last, he lost his cool and exploded.
“Are you bloody kidding me? Make up your mind, woman!
They were shouting at each other while tied together and going effortlessly through an obstacle course. Everybody in the room had stopped to watch them in bewilderment.
“Alright, then! I’ll say it: I like you better when you’re a grumpy bastard!”
“For god’s sake, Miller! You’re bloody insane! You’re the most aggravating person I’ve ever met!”
“And you’re the most aggravating person I’ve ever met!”
They’d reached the end of the course and were shooting daggers at each other. They attempted to stomp away in opposite direction but realised their hands were clasped
together tightly and they were tied together.
The situation was so comical that their anger dissipated instantly and they burst into laughter.
The room was completely silent except for their dying laughter.
“2 minutes and 43 seconds. That’s amazing. You’ve broken the record of the exercise!”
The officer holding the timer was watching them in awe.
“I… You… You… were screaming your head off at each other and not even looking at the obstacles! There’s total trust and coordination between you too. You’re the best team
we’ve ever had.”
“Yes! Nailed it, Hardy!”
He growled and turned to the officer.
“Make sure you put that in our file for Jenkinson. We’re done with this shit. Come on, Miller. Let’s go home!”
Ellie waved them goodbye as they left the building. They were still tied together but walked out without any trouble.
Back at the car they freed themselves and they were half an hour out when a thought came over Ellie.
“You lost, by the way. I’m not doing your paperwork.”
Hardy was flabbergasted.
“Don’t be daft! I did it, I was nice all day! I smiled and you enjoyed it, Miller!”
“You screamed at me during the last exercise! You completely lost it! You had to be nice ALL day. You lost, Hardy. No paperwork for me.”
“You’re killing me, Miller. I was doing great until we had to be tied together. My efforts have to be worth at least 2 weeks of paperwork.”
He was looking at her with his happy, dimpled face and Ellie knew right then she wouldn’t be able to say no.
“Alright, alright! Stop that right now. Two weeks. But you better not be thinking about using those dimples of yours too often.”
He sniggered and crossed his arms.
“You WERE daydreaming about my dimples! Got you there, Miller.”
“Shut it! I know exactly how to wipe them off your face. I’ll give your number to Barbara. She seemed quite taken with you during the coffee break.”
“She was the most boring human being I've ever met! You wouldn’t dare! And you love the dimples, Miller.”
He showed them again just to rile her up.
She flushed beet red.
“You’re such a knob.”
“Your dimples are not so bad either, Miller.”