“Dinner” Miranda said as she approached her table, “is served” she smiled and put the dish down. Wincing as the heat travelled to her hand despite using a towel to carry it across.
Despite the fact that it was burnt on one side, Max smiled at her, “looks lovely”.
She placed her hands on her hips and stared him down.
He cracked, “okay maybe it looks a little burnt but this is what your fourth time trying to make a meal?”
Miranda huffed and sat in her seat, “I can’t cook Max just face it”.
Max smiled and shook his head, “you can cook. Your food hasn’t killed me off yet. You just gotta take it out a bit earlier…don’t always go with what the recipes say go with what you feel”.
“But the recipes are there to tell you how to cook Max”.
“Didn’t your Mum teach you how to cook?” Max asked as he served them both generous portions of the dish. Miranda had tried to cook lasagne, but the pasta definitely looked more like sheets of charcoal now.
Miranda shrugged, “she didn’t like me all that much so I just kept to myself…more of a Daddy’s girl if anything and even that link was tenuous”.
“Your Mum didn’t like you?”
Miranda shook her head, “she said I ruined her figure or something…I just mostly kept to myself as a kid. Didn’t really bother me until I was a teenager and realised it wasn’t really normal”.
“Ja no kidding…I was definitely a Mama’s Boy” Max smiled before it fell slightly, “she was the best”.
“Was?” Miranda asked hesitantly.
“Yeah…she uh died when I was 20”.
“o-Oh Max. I’m sorry” she said, hating how pathetic the words were for the seriousness of the situation.
Max shrugged, “it was a long time ago”.
“Yeah but still, if you were so close to her it must still hurt?”
Max put the fork down and looked at her, “very much” he whispered, his voice cracking slightly.
She reached across and squeezed his hand, “it’s okay to feel”.
“Feeling advice from you?” he smiled softly and kept their hands locked, rubbing the back of her hand with his thumb.
“Hey I might not be comfy with my own emotions but you’re a walking ball of them” she smiled, “and this sort of stuff…family stuff…is important. Not to me, but to you”.
Max smiled, “you have family out here y’know. You’ve got Inés; she’s like a Godmother, y’know like The Godfather but Mother…Carmen she uh well that’s a bit complicated but if you ignore the fact that we broke up she’s like a sister-“
“You broke up?”
Max let her hand go and moved to eat some of the food, “Rico is an annoy little brother” he continued, “for that matter so is Christian”.
“Max go back, you and Carmen broke up?! When?”
Max looked up from his food, “a few weeks ago”.
“Max what the hell?! Why didn’t you tell me?! W-we’re supposed to be compañeros isn’t this something you-“
“Because you were in hospital at the time” Max said softly.
Awkward silence covered them. Miranda had been in the hospital nearly a month ago, she’d been hurt on one of their cases and had been forced to stay in hospital for a week.
Max had been there as much as he could, staying from once he had finished work to when he had to leave for it. Watching over her. The Nurses who looked after her had always told her how sweet it was her boyfriend wouldn’t leave her side.
When she had been discharged Max had made her stay at his for a few nights, ensuring she ate properly.
She hadn’t stopped to think about how Carmen was feeling with Max’s attentions all on her. She was just too tired to do anything more than let Max take care of her. He’d barely had to insist on it. Now finding out that they had broken up was all making sense now.
“I never said thank you for looking after me” she said, “i-I mean Carmen breaking up with you and you had-“
“I broke up with her” Max said, “well we sort of came to a mutual agreement. She came to visit you and well you were out of it”.
Miranda fiddled with her fork and took a bite of her food and grimaced, “I give up on cooking”.
Max smiled and pushed his own plate forwards, “I didn’t want to be rude”
Miranda glared at him, “be rude…I need to know how to cook something more than a ready meal”.
Max laughed, “I’ll teach you”.
“So, in our odd little family what does that make you then? Daddy?” she teased.
Max rolled his eyes, “keep it in your pants Blakey” and he took her plate, “right, it’s not too late to start something else. Your dog will be the only thing that’ll eat this”.
“If I feed him too much he’ll get comfy with me. Start staying over”.
“You talking about me or the dog?” Max grinned.
“Oh behave” she replied and shoved his arm.
Max smiled, “so food…let’s see what ingredients you have left…Aha!” he pulled out a few items of food from her fridge and piled them up on the side before he grabbed a knife. Handing it to her, “chop the veg” he ordered.
“Blakeee” he grinned.
Miranda huffed but did as he said. As she chopped Max diced the meat and put it in a pan, adding oil he twisted some salt and pepper.
“All chopped” she said.
“Right, in a few minutes we add the veg. Peppers first, they take the longest then we’ll add that really weird chopped onion. Blake” he laughed and took her hand holding the knife. Guiding her hand to the onion he chopped with her.
“See, chop it this way and it’ll cook quicker and release the sweetness”.
“You know a lot about cooking”.
“My Mama was the best. Her dinners would rival anything you’d get at the best restaurants”.
“If you don’t mind me asking how did she die?”
Max moved the knife to one side and turned the meat before he added the peppers.
“Cancer” he said after a while, “she discovered a lump and then a month later she was gone”.
Miranda nodded and touched his elbow, “I’m sorry”.
Max nodded, “I miss her a lot…m-my Dad he’s not good with emotions. Christian, his Mama cooked me a lot of meals…I couldn’t bring myself to make food for a long time. Hated it, reminded me too much of her. But I learnt to love it again. It gave me a connection to my Mama and I loved her…so…cooking is no longer painful”.
Miranda placed a hand on his back, “it’s lovely. Having that connection to your Mama even now”.
Max smiled and looked at her.
She blushed and removed her hand, “so when can we add the other veg? Now?”
“So impatient Schatz” he tutted, “no we don’t add them just yet” he stirred the pot again, “do you have rice?”
Max laughed, “okay that’s a no”.
“No I do have something…I think it’s rice” she said and reached up to her cupboard. She pulled out a packet and looked at it, “see rice”.
“And it’s microwaveable” Max said, “Mama would cry at that but given how badly you dealt with pasta it’s safe. So, we won’t put that on until the food is nearly cooked ja? Make it nice and hot for us”.
Miranda nodded, “What are we making?”
“Stir fry” Max smiled, “it would’ve been fajitas but you have no spices; food is partly the flavours you can bring to it Blake”.
“Well you tell me what spices I should get and next time we can have fajitas”.
“For starts you need some wraps. And some sort of dip; maybe sour cream or mayonnaise…guacamole is good though, or a hot salsa sauce”.
Miranda touched his waist and moved him as she moved to the bread bin and fridge. Pulling out wraps and a jar of mayonnaise, “no guacamole or salsa but there’s these”.
Max smiled at her, “your food store is getting better and better”.
“Yeah well if you keep coming over it’s going to have to be”.
Max smiled and added the last of the veg to the pan, “I’m not your stray dog Miranda”.
She eyed him and then ruffled his hair, “mm yeah you are”.
Max laughed and shook his head at her. She smiled and got two fresh plates ready for their new meal.
As she put the ruined lasagne to one side she missed the look Max shot her. He stirred the food as Miranda put the rice on.
“This is quite an easy recipe to do so you won’t starve” Max smiled, “and it’s healthy quick and…what?” he smiled and put his hands on his waist, “whaaat?”
“Nothing” Miranda smiled before pausing and shaking her head, “rice is done”.
She got it out and put it on the counter, Max plated up their veg and added the rice before handed her one plate.
She grabbed a wrap and added the stir-fry to it, she put some mayo into it and folded it.
He smiled at her, “I defy you to not bow down to my cooking skills. Take a bite Blake”.
“Yeah give me a second” she replied laughing, she held the wrap in her hands and bit into it.
Max grinned as she smiled.
“Okay I’m employing you as my personal chef” she replied.
“We did this together Schatz” he smiled.
“We seem to do our best work together”.
Max nodded and made his own wrap, “best thing is you’ve now got leftovers for lunch tomorrow. No skipping lunch”.
“Blaake no skipping lunch we’ve discussed this”.
“Oh stop nagging” she retorted and moved to the table, “I can cope without lunch”.
“Cope without isn’t encouraging” he said and sat on the seat near her, “you worry me sometimes Blakey”.
“You worry me” she replied, “please tell me next time something major in your life has occurred? I can’t be a good compañeros to you if I don’t know what’s going on in your heart”.
Max shook his head with a jaunty grin, “as long as you do the same for me. You get my heart I get yours. Only fair”.
Miranda looked at him and bit her lip, “okay”.
Max smiled, “you’ve gotta look after it?”
“Okay Max” she laughed, “I’ll look after your heart and you look after mine”.
“I’ll keep your heart here” he said and touched his chest.
Miranda turned her face to hide her blush behind her wrap, choosing to eat rather than admit where she’d keep Max’s heart.
Max finished drying the plates and handed her them, she put them away and leaned against her fridge, “so when did you last go home Blakey?” he asked.
“Nearly 10 years”.
Max looked at her, “what?”
“Well, I went back after I finished uni and then moved to London. I was 21… spent a few years on the beat, didn’t want any time off…then I was transferred to the sexual crimes unit. Before I moved on to Vice. I was undercover on and off for 3 years. After…after Amy I had six months off…they contacted me but I didn’t want to know. They hadn’t wanted to know me in all that time so I didn’t want to have them back in my life”.
Max nodded, “and now you have us. A misfit family who care about you”.
Miranda nodded, “mi familia”.
Max smiled and handed the last of the dishes to her. She put it down and smiled at him, “I’d keep your heart here” taking a deep breath she took his hand in hers and placed it against her chest.
He kept their eyes locked, not daring to speak or say anything. The intimacy she had given him. He didn’t want to break it.
Miranda let her grip on his hand drop and he left his hand against her chest for a few more seconds, feeling her heart beat against his palm.
“We uhm,” he began and dropped his hand, “probably I should go home”.
“Or you could stay?”
Max looked at her, “Stay?”
“Well it’s late. We’ve got to be up early and it’s not like we’ve not stayed at each-others before”.
Max nodded, “my uhm... yeah I’d like to stay” he said.
Miranda nodded and put her plate away, “did you want a coffee or something stronger?”
Max shrugged, “coffee sounds good”.
Miranda nodded and got down two cups before turning her kettle on.
He smiled at her, “let me”.
“Max you made us dinner I’m making coffee”.
“Miranda” he grinned and moved to pull her back.
“No!” she laughed and moved away from him, he laughed and chased her over to the sofa where, quite by chance he tripped over his foot and sent them both onto the sofa. Miranda laughed at him despite now being trapped by his body.
“If this is your roundabout way of telling me to get out of the kitchen” she began.
Max smiled and looked at her, things felt different tonight. Perhaps admitting he would hold her heart so close to his had changed their dynamics.
“If Inés is Godmother,” Miranda whispered, “a-and Carmen is a sister…Christian and Rico are brothers…what are you?”
Max looked at her lips and was about to answer when the kettle boiled, “do you want milk with your coffee?”
She nodded as he got off her, “p-please”.
As he turned to go back to the kitchen she touched her lips, Max had looked directly at them as she asked what he was to her.
Unbeknownst to Miranda, Max was watching her out of the corner of his eyes. He smiled as she smiled. Touching her lips.
He finished making the coffee as she turned the tv on for him, knowing how he like to catch up on news before he went to bed, just in case they were needed.
Max handed her a coffee and sat beside her, sitting so close that their arms were brushing. She didn’t move aside which was encouraging.
He sipped his coffee and wrapped his arm around her waist, testing the waters. She sipped her coffee and looked at the tv, “one day I’ll be able to understand all of what they are saying” she stated.
Max laughed, “it’ll come Schatz”.
She nodded, “there’s a spare charger for your phone if you want to charge it up”.
Max nodded and rubbed his thumb against her side, “thanks”.
She looked at the news reader and could just about work out that a dog had been found. She sipped her coffee and chose to focus her mind on the fact that Max’s arm was around her waist, holding her. He still hadn’t answered her question, but she chose to overlook that, there would be time for answers another day.
She put her cup on the side and leaned back, partly against Max, partly against the sofa. He put his own cup down and kissed her head.
She stilled at his actions.
“I uh” he breathed.
“Tell me about your Mama Max” she said, changing the subject.
Max smiled across at her.
“Uh she uh was, her name was Doro…Dorothea but everyone called her Doro. She was born in Austria but moved to Munich for my Dad. I was sort of a miracle baby so she doted on me. But before I came along she was a school teacher and she made bread for the poor people. She would just go out of her way to help them. It was difficult for them both I think, what they went through after the War”.
“I remember the Wall coming down and my Mama crying. She said she had lost a lot of friends because of the travel restrictions… I had never seen my Mama cry before then…I tried to make her biscuits to cheer her up and nearly burnt the kitchen down” he laughed, “she taught me how to make these Austrian ones first…Vanillekipferl but it was so bad”.
He smiled at the memory, “instead of 20 dainty little cookies we had one giant one. Mama and I shared it over ice cream”.
Miranda nodded as her eyes drifted shut.
“She then decided if I was to learn anything worthwhile it would be to cook. From that day on she would research baking recipes and dinners to cook. It was….” He trailed off as he saw Miranda had fallen asleep against him.
“It was the best of times” he breathed and stroked her hair from her face, “okay Schatz” he said softly and lifted her into his arms, “bedtime”.
He carried her through to her bedroom and shifted the covers back enough to get her into them. He pulled the covers back over her before smiling as she shifted, bringing her hand onto the pillow.
He kissed her head and moved back out to tidy up the coffee mugs and put their phones on charge.
After answering a text from Christian who had messaged him to see how he was doing. He found himself overwhelmed with fatigue. They had done a lot of work today and tomorrow would be more of the same. He looked at her sofa and rubbed his neck.
He had spent lots of nights with her, some nights even in the same bed when Inés had helpfully booked them accommodation for long cases. Whenever Inés was in charge of booking, the bed was always a double. So, they could sleep together. There was always a slight amount of awkwardness in the morning, but they brushed it aside with ease.
He turned the kitchen light off and moved towards her bed.
Getting in on the opposite side he looked across at Miranda’s head, she was fast asleep now. Dead to the world.
“In our little family” he said softly, “I’d be your husband”.
When Max didn’t show up to work one morning a few weeks later Miranda became moody. Inés put her on desk duty, knowing the reason she was cagey and not wanting to subject her other officers to her foul mood.
It was nearing 7 when Miranda moved from her desk. She’d skipped lunch as she became engrossed in going over the files. Partly for her obsessive need to know everything but also because they were all written in Spanish and she wanted to know if her tapes were teaching her anything.
“Blake. Go home” Inés said from her doorway, her detective looked exhausted, “and by home I mean Max’s”.
“He’s in a mood with me” she replied, “not answering my texts”.
Inés rolled her eyes, “dios mío, just because your boyfriend-“
“Not my boyfriend”.
“He is” Inés said plainly, “go see him. I don’t want you in the office tomorrow scaring everyone off again”.
“You sent Rico running”.
“He deserved it”.
“And what did he do?”
Miranda sighed and rubbed her head, “asked me where my boyfriend was?”
“Go vamanos! Go to Max”.
Miranda nodded and grabbed her phone, it had since died and she’d left her charger at home. She grabbed her purse as she looked across at Max’s desk.
“Now Miranda” Inés said sternly, hands on hips. She looked at her and grinned as Max’s words of calling Inés The Godmother, replayed in her head. She left Inés before the woman could fire off a retort in rapid Spanish.
Max groaned from his position on the sofa as he was aware of someone in his apartment.
“Whoder?” he grumbled before pressing his face back to the sofa.
He looked up and saw her staring at him, “you could’ve told me it was the anniversary today”.
Max’s face crumpled as she raised a bag of treats she’d clearly just bought.
“Beer. Lays crisps…chocolate, biscuits. And I made-“
“You made?” Max cut in.
“Coffee. You look like shit”.
“Ja well excuse me for not wanting to make an effort on the anniversary of my Mama’s death Miranda”.
Miranda sighed, “I didn’t mean it like that Max” she said and put the bag down, “you just look like you’ve spent the day crying” she sat beside him as he sniffed.
“Ja well… well…” he sniffed as tears fell again.
“Okay come here” she said and opened her arms, “one time offer of a hug. Use it or lose it”.
Max immediately crushed himself to her as sobs wracked his body. She kissed his head and ran her hand through his hair in an effort to calm him.
He cried something she knew was German the sobs muffled them. Instead she chose to use her other hand to rub his back.
“mae'n mynd i fod yn iawn fy nghariad” she whispered and kissed his head again, “Rydw i yma i chi bob amser”.
Her speaking Welsh calmed him somewhat which made her smile, “you like me speaking Welsh?”
Max sniffed and nodded.
“Okay then, fy nghalon i yw eich un chi Max”.
He sniffed again and looked at her, “s’that mean?”
“I’ll let you know when you tell me what Schatz means”.
Max shook his head and rested it back against her chest, “nein” he said stubbornly. Miranda chuckled, “okay can I guess it’s meaning?”
“Does it even have a translation?”
“Ja of course” Max grumbled, “you just won’t guess it”.
“Does it mean…friend?”
She tilted his chin and made him look at her, “how about sweetheart?”
His eyes shone with love despite his sadness, “j-ja” he breathed.
“I think I know what part of the family you’d be for me Max…question is…d-do you want me to be?”
Max nodded, “m-Miranda-“
“My Dad had a saying…a sad day needs some light, otherwise it’ll be trapped forever”.
“He sounds wise” Max whispered.
“He is” she replied, “let me be your light Max?”
“You are my light Schatz” Max replied and pressed his lips to hers, bringing his hand around her neck, slipping it up into her hair as she deepened the kiss.
Miranda found Max’s other arm around her waist as he pulled her against his body, she moaned against his mouth as a sharp squeeze sent her hips rocking against his.
He pulled back and brushed her cheek with his fingers, “sorry” he muttered, “I just…I think it’s time to stop mourning the day. She would never have wanted me to be sad… she would’ve wanted me to celebrate life. Her life”.
“Before we keep kissing” Miranda said and rested her hand on his chest, “let’s get some food in you”.
“Mmm I would rather kiss you but I don’t think you’ve eaten lunch”.
Miranda nodded and grabbed his hand, “come on you. I put pizza in…I bought your favourite”.
“Ja you are definitely my girlfriend now” he said as she pulled him towards the kitchen.
Miranda turned quickly so Max’s arms wrapped around her waist, “girlfriend am I?”
“Oh ja” he grinned and kissed her, “that is what part of the family we’d be…the couple. I mean you can’t kiss me like that and expect me to not want to have you as my girlfriend”.
Miranda rolled her eyes, “fine. We’re a couple. You happy now?”
“Ja…but I will show you just how much I love it later”.
Miranda pulled him close and stroked her hand up his chest, “good job I packed some clothes for tomorrow then”.
Max smiled at her and took her hand in his, “I should be sad more if it means you come over with a clothes bag”.
“Yeah I didn’t come over to sleep with you to cheer you up Max” Miranda stated.
“So you did come over to sleep with me then?”
Max grinned, “you came over here to sleep with me…admit it”.
Miranda put her hands on her hips, “fine. I admit it. I decided I might cheer you up with a few kisses and if it led to more I wouldn’t be too upset about that”.
As the oven went off signalling the pizza was done she looked at him, “besides…I think we nearly ended up…well…”
Max chuckled and nodded, “I love cases we have to be couples...makes me see just how much I can touch you”.
“Just because we’re a couple now doesn’t mean we’ll be displaying it all over work. I want to keep this between us…besides Inés practically begged me to go to you today so I don’t want to give her any indication that she is correct in her assumptions”.
“Ohh Schatz. By Friday everyone will have guessed what we have been doing after seeing the marks I am going to make on your body” he grinned and pulled her close.