Judgemental

A bit of Fanfiction for the New Tricks TV show. Nothing belongs to me except the plot and any new characters I make up. Time to put my imagination into words. :D
'It's the Christmas Ball for the Met-she never liked those silly functions. But she guesses she'll have to put up with it because he has to, and he's in much more limelight. Calm and cool is the plan-until something goes terribly wrong, and your little secret gets out the wrong way. People can be very judgemental...'
*Located somewhere in the 9th Series, after they get comfortable with Steve McAndrew, and may be OOC in places, but for a reason*

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1. Chapter 1

1

Overdone.

Posh.

There were many words for it, but as Sandra Pullman stood before the full-length mirror, she knew a word wasn't even required here. Sighing, she ran a hand over the soft chiffon that fell around her.

"Something wrong?" the voice coming from the door brought a secret smile to her face - as did the man leaning in the doorway. A long time ago, she would've cringed at his very presence, but now he brought that extra light to her day. The boys were starting to notice. In Gerry's words;

"You're not usually this cheery, Guv."

 

Two strong, slim arms around her waist pulled her from her thoughts. Their owner brushed a piece of hair out of her eyes and offered her a small smile.

"No, I just... It looks okay, doesn't it?" Sandra asked, looking her outfit over with uncertainty.

"Sandra, it looks more than okay. Stop worrying," Robert Strickland whispered, his lips brushing briefly against her ear. He stepped away, allowing his hands to linger around her for only a moment. "Are you sure you're ready to do this?"

"I..." she began, as she turned to see him, "I'm ready."

 

A smile spread across his lips, and pride and affection blossomed inside of him. Sandra (almost) always put on the tough guy act - but not around him. At first, it'd been strange seeing her weak, fragile side, but it grew on him, spreading through his heart like a fatal disease. Her cheeky ways, her piercing crystal blue eyes, and her shining blond hair were almost the only things he thought about now. They were all his.

The door crept open, and a man peeked inside.

"It's begun," he intoned, before leaving, just as quickly as he came. Sandra smoothed the soft, peach skirt layers and slid her hand into Strickland's. Forgetting completely about fixing his tie, his gaze landed on her.

"Ready?" she croaked out. Her throat was dry from anxiety and nervousness, but it would've happened anyway; what was it with Police and speeches? Someone had it in for her. Strickland gave a slight nod and squeezed her hand. Something others would take an entire five minutes to explain, could be conveyed in seconds with them. They were in it together.

 

Except, it was pretty difficult to stick to that statement as the two stepped through the doors to the ballroom, because all Sandra wanted to do was run and hide. But that'd be missing the point. Both were tired of lying, tired of narrowly evading the stigma of worker-boss relationships. No, this time she wouldn't hide in someone's shoulder (or even dislocate a few to hide). Strickland, on the other hand, stared at his fellow police officers as they chatted and drunk from tall glasses. Few of them were female, and even fewer had retained their humanity in their attempts to climb the ranks.

 

Sandra's hand gently guided him over to the bar, to which he happily followed her. They'd talked about it - he remembered the conversation clearly.

"So, we just go up and...say it?" he had asked, hand running through her hair.

"No, of course not! I'm not stupid," she spluttered. He almost jumped back in surprise, although he really should've been expecting it. She had such a powerful temper, after all. His hand settled back in its previous position and resumed slow, cautious movements.

"Sorry, I know you're not. What were you thinking, then?"

"We'll tell the boys first. Or they'll..."

"They'll what...?"

"Something."

He chuckled.

They were going to inform Gerry, Brian, Steve, and Jack (who Brian had somehow managed to 'contact'), then they'd announce it in front of the whole attending police force...in a civilized way. Their families could wait, which he was pretty sure was what Sandra thought too. She certainly wasn't looking forward to confronting a hall full of people who spent their lives arresting people, much less her mother and half-brother.

 

"Sandra!" Jack's face stretched into a smile as he caught her eyes, as he strode towards her. She quickly pulled her hand away from Strickland's, bringing a pang of guilt to her heart - but it had to be done.

"Jack," she beamed, and pulled him into a tight hug. God, she'd missed him. When he pulled back, he nodded to her 'secret lover' and acknowledged him only with a mutter of,

"Hello, Sir," which Gerry, Brian, and Steve repeated (in their own ways).

"Here you go, Guv. Nice white wine," he smiled and handed her a pristine glass. Passing her purse over to her other hand as she perched on one of the stools, in a sort of juggling act, she took the wine with a grateful nod. "Something up?"

"Don't be daft. Why would anything be wrong?" she scowled. Gerry leaned towards her so he could whisper in her ear, unaware of the irrational jealousy that flared up inside Strickland.

"Because you're usually drinking that stuff in buckets by now - and Slimeball Strickland's on your tail," Gerry reasoned. Although, for once, bucket-drinking alcohol wasn't so appealing, and having him follow her didn't seem bad at all.

 

Lost in those thoughts, she didn't notice that he'd returned to his previous position.

"Guv?" his words pulled her from her mind and back into reality. She placed the wine glass on the bar beside her and glanced at Strickland.

"I...have something to tell you," she spoke quietly, but the way she did it told the four boys sat at the bar with her that this wasn't 'just another make up distaster'. Hearing footsteps behind her, she knew he was here to back her up. Her hand slipped into his. "I've found someone."

"Sandra! That's great, who's the lucky..." Jack trailed off as he (and three other shocked pensioners) registered the symbolism of the hand-holding. A small smile crept onto her lips and she looked away, making brief eye contact with Strickland. His eyes gave away very little, but she could predict the war he was waging inside - a war of his own conflict (an unprecedented fear of not being accepted) and hers, should he comfort her, or just surrpetitiously reassure her.

 

"I'm really happy for you two, how about another round of drinks, on me?" Steve spoke out, breaking their little silence like a knife slicing through butter. Gerry immediately snatched up the excuse to push it to the corners of his mind and shoved his glass over to the other side of the bar.

"Same again, mate," he grunted. Sandra turned away from her four colleagues and took a sip of the white wine she'd neglected considerably already. Now it seemed a little more appealing.

"Come on," Strickland whispered in her ear, his voice low. His finger closed around one of her wrists and she obediently picked up the glass, following him to a table booth in the corner of the room.

 

Hidden from sight, she collapsed onto the soft velvet seating with a depressed sigh. He sat beside her and pulled her towards him, her head resting against his shoulder.

"Cheer up, Sandra, it didn't go that bad," he soothed, as he reached out to stroke her hair. She brushed the hand away and sighed again.

"It did," was her only response.

"They'll get used to us, I can see it," he replied, attempting again to place a hand on her hair, this time succeeding, fingers tangled amongst the pale blonde strands.

"Stop seeing things that aren't there-you know bloody well what they think of us," she hissed. He gave up - she'd convinced herself, and had almost started to convince him.

 

Before he could think of a tactful reply, the room became relatively silent (compared to the previous ruckus). A cheerful voice announced that the speeches were about to begin, and that the first speaker was some guy from the Murder Squad.

What if that was me... First speaker up... That promotion... Sandra thought. She hadn't, for a moment, regretted her decision to deny promotion after promotion to stay in UCOS, but she still wondered what it would've been like if she'd chosen differently. Just like she wondered what it would be like after she pulled this...stunt.

 

And the time for that 'stunt' came all too soon, as those thirteen fatal words were announced.

"And please welcome Detective Superintendent Sandra Pullman and Deputy Assisstant Comissioner Robert Strickland!"

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