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Dueling Parades

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This takes place at the end of S3 E3 (aka Murder & Mozzarella) and some takeaways Jack may have had over the previous few months (from his semi-declaration that he would like to be liberal for Miss Fisher to the jealous feelings over Compton and finally they Concetta proposal). I hope you all enjoy this little ditty.

XXX

He looked into Concetta's eyes as their lips parted and they leaned back. He felt is instantly, or rather didn't feel it. The kiss was nice enough, she had soft lips. Their personalities were well-suited for one another and she was certainly attractive, but there wasn't the chemistry he had expected from the months of flirtation and subtle touches. As he stared back at her trying to find the words to gently let her down, she spoke "You don't need to say it….your heart is…it's taken."

He shook his head, "I care for you. You deserve to be happy."

"Shh, shh…I will be fine. Roberto will hang and when I marry again it will be for love, but you are taken."

With that Concetta got up from the table and began to walk away, Jack grab her hand. She rested it on his shoulder and they shared a knowing glance. He had known that his heart was taken by someone else, but he feared that it would never know the love that Concetta was offering him. He was willing his heart to let go so that he may have happiness and some love. After all he cared for her and with time may grow to love her. Concetta released her hand from his and continued to walk up the stairs, Jack turned back to the table eyeing the half full glass of wine, which at the moment felt half empty. Concetta paused and looked down at Johnny, he would be hard to get over, so kind and gentle, with her heart letting out a deep sigh she willed herself to walk away. She too deserved to be happy.

Jack downed the glass of wine as if to steel his nerves and buy time to come up with an argument for why Concetta should try to make it work for him. He stood up and turned toward the stairs having just missed her. "Enough, enough already." he mumbled to himself. He grabbed his coat and walked out of the restaurant, pausing to look back one more time. A chapter was closing and it frightened him to no avail not knowing what was around the next corner.

He needed to clear his head and opted to walk back home, when he found himself on her street. While he felt the best thing would be to go straight home, clearly his heart had other intentions. He knocked quietly on the door, it was late and he was hoping everyone was in bed, but he could hear the faint sounds of Figaro opera music coming from the parlor. She was up. Mr. Butler answered and showed him into the parlor.

"Not eating Italian tonight, Jack?" She said not moving from her chair. Her eyes were dark and her face looked a little morose. He had noticed that she seemed different during this case, a bit on edge with him. Perhaps a hint of jealousy, he quickly shook the idea out of his head. Miss Fisher isn't jealous of anyone or anything.

"Stranos is closed." Hoping she picked up the metaphor, there was a subtle change in her eyes for just a moment he thought it was relief.

"It looks like you'll have to make do with me." More metaphor he wondered? Or rather hoped. He decided to match her bold statement with one of his own.

"Looks like we will have to make do with each other." To his surprised her smirk turned into a smile. Perhaps it was a metaphor after all.

She gestured to the bottle in his hands, "You come bringing gifts now?"

"Well this may be the last bottle of wine I'll have from Stranos, so I thought we might share some together."

"Last bottle, hmm….well I'll never say no to a little nightcap."

"Well this has become our post-case routine, only fitting to end this one with a fine Italian wine. Don't you agree?"

"Oh yes certainly a fitting ending. I think I may need to lay off Italian for awhile."

"Is that why you're listening to opera?"

"Well I suppose so. I mean I didn't think you were dropping by this evening and I didn't feel like drinking alone so I decided to play some music."

"Real happy music." He joked.

The enjoyed their nightcap and bantered for a little while longer before Jack bid goodnight.

"Goodbye Miss Fisher."

"Don't you mean until our next case?"

"Yes certainly, but you see I'm taking a trip up to Sydney for a few days and won't be around for the next murder."

"Oh I didn't know you were taking time off. Business or Pleasure?" She said seductively.

Not missing a beat, "A little of both I suppose." With that he put on his hat and walked out, leaving her mouth agape wondering how the tables had begun to turn.

Chapter Text

She thought perhaps he was joking, he hadn't taken time off for himself since she met him. Well with the exception of the divorce from Rosie. Business and Pleasure. She was wracking her brain. What business and whose pleasure?

Meanwhile in Sydney, Jack was enjoying some much needed R&R. It had been a long time since he had taken time for himself and after the past few months of up and down emotions with Phyrne and Concetta he found himself needing some distance. He was staying with a good friend from the Army and his wife who had moved into a new place near the harbor. Jacob was a fisherman and their previous flat was miles from the docks. When Jack woke up and stepped outside and smelled the sea breeze he felt utterly at peace.

"Tea Jack." Asked Jacob's wife Eleanor.

"Yes please. This is so wonderful Eleanor. Truly. Thank you and Jake for letting me stay here for a few days."

"Of course, mate! It's been years since we had a proper visit with each other."

"I am curious why no Jack. I don't think we've heard much from you since the wedding two years ago." She asked

"Yeah mate you should have come up after all that fuss with Rosie."

"Believe me I wish I could have gotten away, and certainly after the divorce, but crime never stops it seems."

"So why now." she pressed sensing more than just usual tiredness from work had brought him up.

"I just worked a case that got a bit too personal and I needed to get some space, rest, clarity. That sort of thing." He took another sip of tea and continued to look out.

While he seemed in the talking mood and somewhat distracted Eleanor decided to see how much she could get out of Jack.

"Personal. In what way? Did you know the victim?"

"Oh no, nothing like that" shaking his hands. She let out a sigh grateful it wasn't something tragic, and he continued, "I didn't know the woman that died, but she was involved a feud between two restaurants, really a feud between families."

"So how was it personal? You were going to loose out on your fettuccine?" she chuckled.

"No, no, but I suppose now I have lost out on the fettuccine." He said cryptically. Eleanor's womanly intuition jumped into overdriving making the leap that perhaps that was a euphemism for lady friend. She was about to prod him when he continued willingly, "I was friends with a woman that worked in one of the restaurants. She proposed to me." She nearly choked on her sip of tea. She couldn't believe what she'd just heard him utter, proposal?!

"So you're engaged then?" She asked. Before he could respond her husband jumped in, "Jack why didn't you say so he should be out celebrating!" She glared at him willing him to get the hint to shut his mouth.

Jack turned realizing what he had just uttered, "No. No I'm not engaged. It wouldn't work out."

She could feel his walls go up. That was all she was going to get out of him for now. Jack walked back inside and Eleanor followed, but stopped to poke her husband, to which he gave her a look of 'what I didn't know.'

Chapter Text

Back in Melbourne Phryne was keeping herself occupied with the usual pursuits, the case of the missing necklace and the women's adventures club. She hadn't thought about going to the station since he left, there wasn't a point really. As much as she loved solving a good murder, he was in large part the reason she had remained so tied to investigations of that nature. She missed their bantering, the way they finished each other's sentences, and most of all his presence. She hadn't realized that he was having that much effect on her, but without him she had taken on a melancholy disposition that those around her had begun to notice.

"Mr. Butler have you noticed how much she seems to sigh lately?"

"I suppose a bit more than usual."

"I think she misses him."

"I'm sure, but perhaps this is a case were the heart may grow fonder." Mr. Butler said with a gleam in his eyes. Dottie smiled back, both hoping that would be the case.

XXX

A few days later, Eleanor decided to delicately revisit the proposal discussion with Jack, this time while Jake was out fishing and couldn't interrupt again. Jack had offered to help her peel some potatoes for dinner, she figured while he was idling about it might be a perfect window of opportunity.

"So Jack, why wouldn't the engagement work out. Was it the family?"

"No, while there was plenty of family drama to go about, I think we could have worked around that. She was the one who rescinded the offer of marriage. I did care for her, but we kissed and…" his voice ran off and Eleanor nearly dropped the potato she was peeling.

"So she changed her mind after all?"

"Well yes, I mean no. I mean she still loves me I think, but yes she called it off. She said I was taken and if she married again it would be for love." He had kept his head down as they spoke, but suddenly looked up and stared into Eleanor's eyes welling up, "I did, I mean I do care for her." He seemed to be in need of affirmation, "I'm sure you do Jack, and I'm sure she knows that. But maybe she decided that you weren't right for her after all." She tried to add encouragingly. Then she recalled the "taken" remark. "What did she mean by your taken? Did she not know you've been divorced for awhile now?"

"No, I mean yes she knows that I'm a divorcee, but that's not what she meant. I think she was referring to taken in a figurative sense. I'm not seeing anyone at present.'

AH now we are getting somewhere she thought to herself. It was beginning to make sense. This woman loved Jack wanted to be with him and he acted like that's what he wanted, and maybe part of him did, but when they kissed she felt no chemistry sensed that he hasn't head over heels in love with her and so she called it off.

"So if you aren't courting anyone then why would she think your heart is taken. Is there someone else in your life?"

"Yes" he said in a near whisper, she nearly didn't hear it. She let the room stay silent for a moment waiting to see if he would expand.

"Yes there is." he said in a stronger voice. "But I have no idea if she feels the same way and even if she did she is quite the modern woman. She has no desire to settle down." Before she could say anything the flood gates opened, "Not that I want her to settle down necessarily. Like I told her I am a liberal minded man, maybe not as liberal minded as she would like me to be or I would like to be for her, but I do need certain things. I don't think it is too much to ask for a monogamous relationship, we don't have to marry or have children but I would like us to be faithful to one another."

Eleanor's head was spinning she couldn't believe what she was hearing. Jack was in love and clearly this was no ordinary woman.

"Oh Ellie, I don't know what to do. My heart will break without her and it will surely break with her." He put down the potato, she grabbed the peeler and gestured for him to take a seat. She wanted to get some more information on this woman before she would share any advice.

Chapter Text

"Miss…Miss…Miss." Dot said several times gradually louder each time hoping to get the attention of her employer.

"Miss Fisher." Finally she turned, clearly her mind was elsewhere.

"Sorry Dot, what do you need?"

"There's a call for you." Her eyes lit up, perhaps it was Jack. She immediately hated herself for getting so excited at the thought, she had never been one to pine over a man in such a way. Even with Lin Chung she hadn't allowed herself to get that emotionally involved, but to be fair he was honest about what he could give her and she kept the boundaries to protect herself from diving in too deep. Most of her liaisons had been fun but she always knew temporary, he had been the possible exception. She jumped towards to the parlor door, "Who is it?"

"It's Constable Edwards on the phone, looks like there might be a case if you're interested." Her face suddenly turned to disappointment. The idea of a case to distract her was the only joy in that statement. "Thanks Dot, I'll take it from here."

XXX

"So it seems to me Jack that to get this lady detective to swoon for you, you need to play a little dirty. Play by her rules."

"Like what?"

"Well you already came up with the idea."

"I did." Jack was befuddled at this point, women could be so mystifying sometimes.

"Yes, well you told her that you didn't want to be another name on the parade list. The parade of men 'french artists, russian revolutionaries' so it would seem to me that you should play a little parade of your own."

He was beginning to follow, he thought, but had no idea how to execute such a thing. "I'm beginning to follow but how?"

"Well you need to start going on some dates. Be busy, keep busy. Even if you are available don't be for her. Show her that you are a liberal minded man and you can keep your own company."

He liked the idea but was still unsure of its execution, "I follow, but where am I supposed to meet all these women to go on all these dates of yours?"

"That's where I come in. A few friends from my school days are still in the area, I could phone in some favors. Explain the highlights and say they were doing a good turn. Trust me after a few weeks of you being otherwise engaged will make her crazy, if she really loves you and cares for you then you may get a similar declaration of wanting to be together without the sharing."

He smiled and nodded, "It could work. But it could backfire she could get disinterested and move on."

"Jack, if she does then you have your answer you were never more than a flirtation for her and then you will be free to move on."

XXX

Miss Fisher looked at the calendar and realized that today Jack was supposed to return to work. She hadn't heard from him the entire time he was gone. Not that he had any reason to telegram her, it seemed strange that they'd gone more than a week without talking. The last time they'd gone that long they were fighting, she'd hoped that the reason for the trip had nothing to do with her.

She decided to dress in her white trouser and red blouse, and headed to the station to greet him.

She flung open the station door and felt the excitement build once more knowing that he was back, and they could get back to their routine.

"Jack!" She yelled flinging his door open. He was standing with his back turned to her putting something into the filing cabinet. He was glad that in the moment his back was turned, it would be easier to collect himself without her observant eyes. He had missed her, but was resolved to giving Ellie's plan a shot.

"Miss Fisher. What brings you by? There hasn't been a murder yet, or has one of your psychic friends sent you a message of what's to come." He chuckled finally turning around in time to see her give him a sneer.

She was a bit put off by his suggestion, why wouldn't see come by to see him without there being a need for it to be work related, but she opted to dismiss it as she was glad to see him.

"No Jack, I just wanted to come by and invite you to dinner. I want to hear all about your adventures to Sydney!"

"Oh, well as enticing as that sounds I must decline this evening."

"Oh."

"Yes, I have prior engagement this evening."

"Oh Okay, I understand, maybe tomorrow night then?"

"Maybe. Why don't I call you? Nice to see you Miss Fisher." He said looking back down to his files. She realized that was his way of saying good day. She couldn't understand what had just transpired. It was certainly fine for him to be busy, but she had been caught off guard by it. He didn't seem upset or even cold with her, just preoccupied. She turned out of the office and walked away. Jack finally looked up and let out a breath he didn't know he had been holding. It hadn't been easy but he was determined to stick this out.

Chapter Text

Four days had past since Miss Fisher had stopped by the office inviting him over for dinner, and still she hadn't received a call from him. She was beginning to wonder if something was wrong, that maybe he did take the trip because of her.

She walked into the kitchen to find Hugh speaking with Dot about a new case that had come in and that the Inspector was letting him take a big role in solving it.

"That's quite exciting Hugh!" She said, knowing that Hugh had the making of a fine Inspector one day. Also realizing that this may free up Jack's time to finally pay a visit. Almost as if reading her mind the phone rang. It was Jack.

"Miss Fisher, would you mind coming to the station this afternoon, say 1?"

"Yes of course Jack." Well this may be progress she thought.

Later that afternoon she walked into the office and towards Jack's office, only to find it empty. She peered around but didn't see Jack or Hugh, she was going to wait in his office when she suddenly heard a woman's voice.

"I had a wonderful time last night."

"Me too." Phryne jumped up and peered around the corner to see Jack facing a woman but blocking her view.

"It's a shame that I leave tomorrow for Perth. I'll be gone for three months. Maybe I could call you when I get back?"

"It is a shame, perhaps you can swing by my flat tonight before you go. One last farewell?"

He kissed the woman's hand and then behind her ear.

"If I can swing it I'll be by, I wouldn't want to miss an opportunity to recall a night of passion on the long train to Perth…" With that the woman gave him a kiss and walked out the door. Phryne couldn't believe what she was seeing. Jack was turning back towards his office when he heard a small thud. She was rushing back to his desk and had bumped her elbow making a thud in the process.

He had known she would be here before he got here with Judith, Ellie's friend. He was hoping she would see or at the very least hear the conversation and it seems she had.

"Miss Fisher. I hope I didn't keep you waiting long."

"No, I only just got her…I mean here." She was flustered and he tried to keep the grin off his face. "Just getting back from lunch."

"No actually, just coming in for the day. I had a prior engagement this morning." She was beginning to gather that prior engagement may be the same as old friends.

Before she could say anything he went into business mode, as there was a real reason he had called her down here. "I'm formally informing you that you will be required to testify in an upcoming trial against Roberto."

"Oh." Quickly shifting gears, "yes of course." They spent the next hour discussing the case and what would be required of her in the coming weeks as that moved forward.

XXX

The next several weeks were much of the same. Jack stopped by Miss Fisher's a few times to discuss the trial, but always leaving before dinner explaining he was expecting someone, or had plans, or was meeting someone for a drink. She had never recalled him being as busy, and was reaching a frenzied state of it.

After another declined dinner invitation it boiled over. "Jack, I do believe that you have a busier social calendar these days than I."

He chuckled and inside he smiled, here we go. "Well I suppose I have been busy lately, but I'm not sure I could ever reach the fullness of your calendar."

"Well not that you have been around to notice, but my calendar hasn't been full in weeks."

"Oh." he paused waiting for the right moment, "I guess I just assumed that you would be otherwise engaged since I went to Sydney."

"And why would you think that Jack? I thought we had decided to make do with each other and then you took off and now you only have time to talk trial and nothing else. You're always previously engaged. The parade of women you've been with lately is shocking" She was almost shouting, her arms gesturing heavily. He looked down to hide his smile, it had worked she was jealous that I wasn't available to her. And more importantly she brought up our last conversation about our relationship. Well it wasn't really a conversation, more just heavily veiled innuendo as usual.

"Well with the parade of men that are usually coming through this house, I had assumed if I wasn't here to keep you busy that you'd find some other, some one to keep busy."

"Is that really what you think of me Jack? That I am that cold and callous that I would be with anyone else. How could I be with anyone else but you. I love you." She was yelling at this point, fuming and hadn't realized what she had let slip, but he didn't. He stood up and walked over to her. Her back was turned as she was trying to collect herself, when he saw her tense realizing what she had just admitted. Before she could take it back he made his move.

He grabbed her around the waist and turned her around. Her eyes were still wide and wild, she opened her mouth to speak and he closed it with his. She was about to protest, still angry with him when she finally gave into the kiss. There was time to be angry with him later, but right now she wanted to enjoy the moment.

She reached for his back and moved her hands to his waist. He moved his hands from her face down her slender frame taking time to memorize each curve. They moved backwards towards the chaise and she stumbled down onto it never break from their frenzied embrace. Phryne moved to take off his jacket, wanting to be even closer to him. While we wanted that, now was not the time to be swept up there would be plenty of time for that later. He pulled back. Her eyes were closed, lips still searching for his. His face was still an inch from hers. He grazed his nose across hers. Bit and tugged on her bottom lip causing her to groan. He smiled and let his teeth stop their assault. Finally she opened her eyes staring at him. He moved his hands back to her face, he wanted her full attention.

"Phryne I love you too."