Wine and Candles
“But Guv, you can’t even cook.”
“I can learn.”
“In 20 minutes?”
“I’m worried about yer Tyler. It embarrasses me to say it, but I am. Your scrawny little arse gets scrawnier by the day.”
“What, been looking have you?”
“No I have not! I just ... you’re on my team, that’s all. I look after my team. Even the nancy bender members of it.”
“Well, that’s very kind Guv, but I’m not sure...”
“No-one’s asking you to be sure, Tyler. For God’s sake, just for once let go. Go along with what happens and don’t have to be thinking about everything. Just ... I don’t know, go and ... have a lie down or something, while I sort yer out some food.”
“You’re telling me to go and have a lie down. While you sort out some food. OK, then, I will.”
Shaking his head in disbelief, Sam wandered out of the room. Watching him go, Gene grinned and turned back to the fridge. Butter, mince, onion. He bet the nancy git had spices somewhere as well. He roughly shoved aside bottles and cans on Tyler’s perfectly aligned shelves. Bingo. Cumin, coriander, chilli. OK, now we’re cooking, he thought. Knew I still had it.
20 minutes later the sauce was bubbling gently and the kettle was nearly boiling, so he left it all to its own devices for a minute while he went to check on Tyler. He really had been looking like shit the past few days. God knows why you’d worry about a grown man not eating properly, but ... He didn’t pursue that thought any further, but peered round the bedroom door, careful not to move it in case it creaked.
He smiled to himself as he saw that Tyler actually had obeyed orders for once. He was curled up on his horrible little bed and he looked fast asleep. Gene moved the door experimentally: although it creaked, all Tyler did was twitch slightly. Good. Gene pulled the door to and went back to the kitchen.
OK then, next. Plates – easy, he just knew Tyler would be the sort that always did the washing up straight away. Cutlery, ditto. Glasses. He’d have to use the tumblers he’d brought along himself the day he’d refused to drink one more late night Scotch out of Tyler’s plastic tooth mug.
Slipping silently back out to the car, he rummaged in the boot for the bottle of red wine he’d hidden there. Carling had spotted it and he’d had to make up some stupid story about a darts night raffle. Luckily Carling had gone for it; he didn’t want the story getting around that the Genie drank poncy wine.
Tyler was still asleep when he came back. Resisting the urge to cover him up – didn't want anyone thinking he was going soft in his old age – Gene went back to the kitchen and got the rice on, then opened the wine. There was a corkscrew in the drawer and he winced as the cork popped unexpectedly loudly. The bed creaked, but no further sound, as of an over-tired Detective Inspector waking up and interrupting proceedings too early.
Gene moved purposefully around the kitchen, setting the table, arranging the chairs. He poured a little of the wine and sniffed it. Tasted it, rolling it around his mouth assessingly. Mmm, that should be good enough even for Tyler.
Finally, he served the food, arranged the chopped parsley as artistically as could be expected of a man who didn’t believe in that sort of thing, and – final touch – lit the candles he’d found in Tyler’s cupboard. Well, stands to reason, doesn’t it, he’s got ‘em, he likes ‘em. So use ‘em.
Tyler was still fast asleep, so Gene opened the door and slammed it shut, then crashed the pans back onto the cooker. Sure enough, there he was, staggering slightly as he tried to wake up on the move. “Guv, what the ...”
“ ...bloody hell!” Sam stared at the food then at Gene. “You ... cooked. Food. For me. For ... us?”
“Well, I could bugger off and leave you to dine in solitary splendour if that’s how you’d prefer it, Tyler. But I warn you I’ll be taking the wine with me if I do.”
“... wine. But you don’t...”
“Shows how much you know, then, doesn’t it. Sit down, Tyler, before you fall down. And eat before you fade away completely.”
“You cooked. For me. But you ... wine? Candles?” Sam sat down abruptly, staring at the carefully laid table, the beautifully arranged food, the flickering candles in the newly-polished wooden candleholders.
“Guv? What ... I mean ... is ... are you...?”
“You’re not making much sense, Tyler, now do as you’re bloody well told and eat.”
“Gene, seriously, I didn’t know you could cook. And ...” he swept a hand over the table, indicating the wine and the candles.
Gene moved forward and clinked his own glass against Sam’s.
“Take it as a seduction scene, Sam. Or not, if you prefer. Your choice: I’m yer senior officer, Tyler, I’m not going to force meself upon you if you’re not interested.” He looked away for a moment, pulling out the chair opposite Sam’s.
Sam spluttered his wine and looked up at Gene.
“Well, it’s not what I expected - I had more in mind a good night’s sleep and some aspirin, but ...”
He let the words trail off, and grinned.
“Yeah, I’m interested Guv. When do we start?”
“After the bloody food, you nonce. For the third time, eat. I don’t want you fainting half-way through, do I.”
Continues in Part 2