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Monday

- - -

Bren spooned some food onto the plate in front of her. She was quiet, not really paying much attention to the hustle and bustle going on around her. She was so deep in her thoughts that she didn’t notice a familiar face appear in front of her.

“Hello, Brenda.” It was David from packing. He was tall, blonde and not bad looking actually. He was also quite a ‘smug, preppy halfwit’ as Tony had once called him. Bren had to agree but she always tried to keep an open mind about people but again, there was something that wasn’t right about him.

“Hi, David.” Bren smiled, “What’re you having?”

“Baked potato. Tuna ‘n’ sweetcorn.” David winked as he read the little tag above the food. Bren smiled again, putting the food on his plate. David grinned at the food before moving along. Bren focused on the person behind David when he started speaking again, “Brenda, did you hear that there’s a party at the institute this Friday?”

“Oh yeah? Sounds fun.” Bren nodded. She started speaking to the next person, “What’re you having?” 

“You wanna come with me? A little date?” David leaned over, his hand on his hip.

Tony was just coming in from the fire exit when he overheard the conversation between Bren and David. He frowned, walking around the kitchen slowly. David was not Tony’s cup of tea at all. A smug, preppy halfwit. He always had thought that. The whole time Tony had worked at the factory, he had thought that. He knew that he had a bit of a thing for Bren. He remembered hearing him make a comment about Bren’s ‘luxurious legs’ when he was going to the toilet during the Christmas party. To be fair, David wasn’t wrong about Bren’s legs but that was not the point. Tony kept meaning to ask Bren out himself but he never got the chance. He hoped that maybe she would ask after he came back from his holidays but she had not said anything to him. 

“What do you say, Brenda?” David’s question brought Tony out of his thoughts. David was practically on top of the counters. He nearly had his blonde quiff in the gravy trying to get an answer out of Bren, “I could pick you up in my Peugeot, we could go for a drink beforehand and then…”

“Oi, this is a canteen, not a bloody common room. There’s a queue building.” Jean huffed from the till.

“I’ll speak to you later. You can let me know then.” David winked before going to pay.

“What was he asking, Bren?” Dolly looked at Bren as she handed someone a cup of tea.

“He asked me on a date.” Bren laughed nervously.

“You gonna go, Bren?” Twinkle asked.

“Probably not. He’s not really my type. Isn’t he a bit weird as well?” Bren frowned.

“He does love himself a bit.” Jean nodded, “If he were chocolate, he’d eat himself.”

“I’ve seen him on his motorbike. Maybe he’ll pick you up on that.” Anita said.

“No, he said that he’d be in his Peugeot.” Bren replied. Tony overheard this part of the conversation and assumed that Bren had made her mind up and was going on the date. Tony decided he was not going to listen to anymore of the conversation and decided to busy himself doing other things, “Oh no. I’m not going out with him. I don’t fancy him.”

“Oh go on, Bren. If you don’t get it on with Tony, you can always get it on with David.” Twinkle nudged Bren, “I’ve heard that he’s got a massive-.”

“Thank you!” Dolly interrupted which made Bren laugh.

“We’ll see.” Bren giggled before turning to look behind her. She thought Tony would be nearby but she couldn’t see him. He was usually around so it was strange he was not near them. ‘Probably having a fag’ Bren thought before going back to her work.

- - -

Tuesday

- - -

Bren yawned as she signed for the bread. She had a late night last night and didn’t bother listening to Norman’s droning on about his agoraphobia. Norman soon left and Tony was putting the bread away. 

“Morning.” Anita and Twinkle came in.

“Hiya.” Bren smiled. She looked into the other door and frowned, “That’s strange. Dolly and Jean haven’t appeared yet.”

“There’s a bit of a queue going into the car park this morning.” Anita said as she went into the office.

“Yeah, we had to park at the pub.” Twinkle added.

“Ooh, that’s quite a walk for you.” Bren went into Tony’s office, starting to put her overall on.

“Twinkle, what have I told you about coming to work with your overall on?” Tony said as he leaned on the counter.

“It’s clean! Look.” Twinkle presented herself as Anita squeezed past her. She clearly didn’t notice the tea stain just below her name tag.

“I’m going for a fag.” Tony rolled his eyes as he headed towards the fire exit, “Bren, you making a brew?”

“Yep.” Bren replied, pulling her tabard over her overall as she came out of the office and walked to the water boiler. Tony went out the fire exit as Bren shouted, “Shut the door!”

“Morning.” Stan walked in, mop and bucket in his hand.

“Morning, Stan.” Bren smiled, “You alright? You wanting a brew?”

“I will when I come back. I’ve got an urinal situation on the ground floor.” Stan nodded, “I just saw Jean and Dolly coming up the steps. That car park is absolutely heaving! It’s a joke.”

“Yeah, Twinkle and Anita said it was bad. I wonder why it’s so busy today.” Bren replied.

“It’s a Tuesday, Bren. I’ve figured that people think it will be relaxing when in reality, it’s the most stressful day of the week.” Stan explained, “Everybody leaving at a certain time, aiming for the same space they got on the Monday that they found tucked away in a special corner. It causes absolute chaos.”

“Morning!” Philippa announced herself as she rushed in with her clipboard, “I hope I’m not interrupting.”

“Not at all but I need you to keep an eye on something,” Stan said, “That car park, it’s murder on a Tuesday, it always has been! But today, well, I’ve never seen anything like it. Like the Titanic with all them boats. Poor Andy from marketing nearly had a heart attack the other week trying to park his car on the footpath, there were no spaces for him left.”

“Oh I don’t handle the car park. I could definitely talk to Andy, give him some good breathing exercises that he can focus on when trying to park.” Philippa replied, “I don’t park in that car park really. I usually park at the pub, I like the walk up. Mr. Michael doesn’t like it though, we come in separate cars which I like. He really gets on my wick in the morning.”

“Human resources.” Stan shook his head before leaving the canteen, muttering under his breath.

“You alright, Philippa?” Bren asked.

“Oh yes. I just wanted to talk to you about these rotas, it’s just for after Christmas and so on. I need to keep on top of them but I’ve got them all muddled.” Philippa flicked through her papers.

“I would speak to Tony about that, the rotas confuse me too. He’s out having a fag the now but he’ll be back in a sec. You want a brew?” Bren asked.

“A brew?” Philippa frowned, “Oh tea. Yes please. Me being silly there.”

“What a morning.” Jean sighed to herself as she and Dolly walked in.

“Hi Jean! Hi Dolly! Did you manage to get a space?” Bren asked.

“Finally. We had to park right at the fence, honestly I have never seen anything like that in all my life.” Dolly huffed, “And Bob and I went to Butlins! You know, some of the people in this factory have real issues. Big Willy was nearly having fistycuffs with Madge.”

“That Madge is a manic depressive too. I wouldn’t mess with her.” Jean sighed.

“Well, she could go two ways, couldn’t she?” Bren shrugged. She then handed them their teas. Twinkle and Anita came over too for their teas. Tony came in from his fag break as all the women shouted, “Shut the door.”

“Yeah, yeah.” Tony rolled his eyes. Bren handed him his tea, “Thanks, mate. I tell you, it’s freezing out there. So much for the last days of summer!”

“Is the car park still busy?” Anita asked.

“It didn’t look too bad. I think it’s starting to ease now. Did you manage to get a space?” Tony took a sip of his tea.

“Just!” Jean replied. She went to take a sip of her tea when she noticed someone appear at the door through to the canteen. It was David and it was clear who he was looking for, “Bren?”

Bren turned to see David standing at the door. He smiled when he saw her, giving her a little wave. 

“Go speak to him.” Twinkle nudged her.

“What do I say?” Bren asked.

“Just speak to him. He might be asking about Friday.” Twinkle insisted.

“Yeah, go get your life in order.” Jean gave Bren a light push.

Tony watched as Bren put her mug down at the side and headed over to David. He wanted to tell her not to go over but he couldn’t. He found himself holding back every time the chance came up. He had no idea but he just seemed to brick it every flipping time. Tony could not help but let his heart sink into his stomach when Bren went over to David.

“Hi.” Bren rubbed her hands together, “You alright?”

“Yeah, you? Did you have trouble parking this morning?” David asked, leaning against the door. 

“I don’t drive in. I get the bus. What about you? Did you have trouble?” Bren asked.

“It wasn’t too bad actually. I was on my motorbike so I managed to get a space near the door.” David chewed his gum, “You like motorbikes, Brenda?”

“Well, they’re okay. I haven’t been on one before.” Bren shrugged.

“Oh you should live more dangerously.” David nudged her, “You could maybe come for a ride on mine one day.”

The women and Tony all watched as Bren and David talked. They couldn’t really hear the conversation very well but they seemed to be getting along well.

“Things are going well.” Jean nodded.

“It’s very early days, Jean.” Dolly reminded her, “I would have never put those two together. He’s very different from Bren.”

“Yeah, he’s totally obsessed with himself and Bren has a personality.” Jean rolled her eyes, “Still, it’d be nice for her to find someone.”

“You think he’s the one for Bren though?” Philippa raised a brow. She was aware that Bren liked Tony so she was surprised at her even entertaining David from packing.

“You never know,” Twinkle said, “He might be quite nice. Under all that CK One and hair gel. And I’ve heard he’s great in the sack.”

“Thank you.” Dolly rolled her eyes.

“So am I.” Anita beamed.

“What?” Twinkle frowned.

“Great in the sack.” Anita nodded, “I always won the sack races when we did them on sport’s day.”

“Has she said anything to you about him, Tony?” Philippa asked.

“No. Why would she say anything to me about him?” Tony shrugged. He really did not want to be roped into this conversation.

“Well you are the closest to her out of everyone here. Has she not let anything slip?” Jean asked, “It does seem interesting that this has just come about. Besides, I thought you two were-.”

“We’re not.” Tony cut her off, “I’m going for another fag.”

“You just went for one.” Anita frowned.

“And I’m going for another, now can we actually get  some work started please instead of ogling over Fancy Pants over there?” Tony headed to the fire exit.

“Alright! Keep your scrotum on!” Twinkle huffed.

“He didn’t like that, did he?” Jean raised her brows, “Must have struck the wrong chord.”

Tony was walking to the fire exit when he turned to watch Bren and David who were still talking. David was still leaning against the doorframe, chewing his gum like a pig would with slops. 

“Anyway, I was wondering if you’re free on Friday. We didn’t get the chance to talk about it yesterday.” David said, “It’ll be fun. I hear they’re gonna have a good buffet.”

“Oh really?” Bren tried to sound surprised. She wasn’t sure about Friday with David. She had never really spoken to him properly, never mind taken an interest in him romantically. There was no doubt that he was attractive but there were other things that were standing in her way. His persona, the rumours around him, someone else catching her eye.

“Oh yeah. I hear they do a good pie at the institute.” David grinned, “You like pies, Brenda?”

“They’re alright.” Bren chuckled nervously. She noticed everyone starting to busy themselves with work, “Listen, I need to get to work but I’ll think about it, yeah? I might be busy that night.”

“No problem. Why don’t I give you my number, eh?” David took his pen out of his breast pocket, “Give me your hand.”

Tony watched as Bren gave David her hand and he wrote his number on the back of it. That seemed to boil his blood. He didn’t want to see anymore. He went out onto the steps, slamming the door before any of them got the chance to shout at him to shut the door.

- - -

Wednesday

- - -

Bren wiped down the counter as she looked up at the clock. It was the end of the day and she was getting ready to go home. Dolly, Jean, Anita and Twinkle had already left the factory but Tony was cashing up at the till.

“How you getting home?” Tony asked.

“I’ll probably just get the bus.” Bren shrugged. She looked at the clock again, “I’ve got enough time to get over to the bus stop.”

“I’ll give you a lift.” Tony said, “You don’t want to get the bus.”

“No, no, it’s fine. It doesn’t take long.” Bren smiled.

“Bren, I’ll give you a lift.” Tony walked over to her, resting a hand on her shoulder, “No buses.”

Bren knew Tony wasn’t going to back down. She then smiled, rolling her eyes with a giggle.

“Fine. Fine.” Bren sighed, “You can give me a lift. Only to the end of the road, you don’t need to drive right to the door.”

“Whatever you say.” Tony smiled. He squeezed her shoulder before going back to the till, “Get your anorak on then.”

“Hang about. I need to take off my overall.” Bren went into the office and started to take off her tabard and overall. She hung them up at her hook and put her coat over her fleece. 

Tony was finishing up at the till when he heard footsteps approaching. He assumed it was Stan so he popped his head into the canteen but he was surprised to see it was David instead.

“Oh. Hello.” Tony said, trying not to grind his teeth at David’s arrival, “Can I help you?”

“I was looking for Brenda.” David put his hands in his pockets, “Is she here?”

Tony sighed. He looked behind him to look into the office, checking she was decent enough.

“Bren?” Tony called, “You have a visitor.”

“It’s not my mother, is it?” Bren walked out of the office and noticed David at the door, “David, hiya.”

“Hi.” David grinned, “You alright?”

“Yeah. Yeah.” Bren crossed her arms, “What are you still doing here? I thought you would have been home by now.”

“Working late, you know gotta get those extra hours.” David winked, “I actually came down here to see if you needed a lift home. I’ve got my Peugeot today.”

“Oh that’s kind of you but I’m getting a lift off of Tony.” Bren gestured to Tony who was behind her still though he tried to not listen in on their conversation.

“Well, that’s alright. I can take you, save Tony the trouble, eh Tony?” David said, a little nod towards Tony, “I’m sure you’re a very busy man, Tony.”

“Well-.” Tony went to speak but David interrupted.

“That’s it sorted then.” David clapped his hands together, “Come on, Bren. I’m sure we can beat the rush hour traffic.”

Bren turned to Tony when David walked through the canteen. Bren noticed the sad look on Tony’s face and she couldn’t help but feel bad.

“I’m sorry.” Bren said softly.

“Eh? It’s alright. You go on, I’ll see you tomorrow.” Tony smiled.

“You coming, Brenda?” David asked.

“Yep.” Bren called back, not taking her eyes off Tony, “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Tony gave her a little smile as he watched her leave the kitchen. To tell the truth, Bren wanted to get a lift off of Tony but David was very persistent. She wished Tony would have insisted that she get a lift with him but she couldn’t blame him for not doing so. 

Tony felt his stomach drop when Bren left with David. He wished he had the backbone to tell her to go home with him instead of just pushing her away. He knew he wasn’t going to get any further with her if he pushed her to the nearest man who showed her any attention. 

“Well done, Tony.” He sighed to himself.

- - -

Thursday

- - -

Bren and Jean wiped down the free tables as the other workers at the factory ate at the other tables. David was sitting at the table closest to the door to the kitchen with two other men he worked with. Bren was not paying much attention as she wiped the tables when Jean started speaking.

“Have you decided if you’re going out with David tomorrow, Bren?” Jean asked.

“I don’t know. I haven’t had the time to think about it.” Bren shrugged.

“‘Haven’t had the time’? It’s tomorrow! I think you should go.” Jean said.

“You think?” 

“Of course! It’d be good for you to go. Get your life going.” 

“Well.”

“You never know, he might not be as bad as everyone makes out.”

“That’s not exactly filling me with any confidence right now.”

“Go on, go talk to him. Or are you holding back for Tony?”

“What? Tony?” Bren scrunched up her face. She started to laugh nervously, “No, no. Of course not.” Bren then looked over to David as she noticed the two workers who sat with him leave, “I’m gonna say to him now.”

Tony was coming out of the kitchen as he noticed Bren walking past. He was going to ask her if she was free after work and thought they could go for a drink. He finally was feeling confident enough to at least ask her out for a drink. ‘It’s a start’ Tony thought.

“Bren?” Tony called.

“Give me a sec.” Bren smiled at him. Tony noticed her heading towards David and he immediately backed down. Tony headed back into the kitchen, “Hiya.”

“Brenda. What a lovely surprise. You alright?” David sat back in his chair.

“Yeah. Listen,” Bren joined him at the table, “I’ve thought about tomorrow night.”

“Yeah.” David crossed his arms, wearing a smirk.

“And I’d like to come with you.” Bren said, playing with her fingers, “If the offer is still open.”

“Of course it is. Shall I come for you at seven?” David asked.

“Yeah, yeah. Seven would be great.” Bren smiled.

“Perfect. Better get myself sorted, eh?” David stood up from the table as he winked at her, “Pick out my best polo neck. I’ll see you later.”

“Bye.” Bren smiled. She then got up from the table and headed back into the kitchen when she remembered Tony wanted to talk to her. Tony was standing at the door of his office, fiddling with his packet of cigarettes, “Sorry, Tony. Did you want to ask me something?”

“Hm?” Tony lifted his head. He knew Bren had said yes to going out with David and to be honest, he didn’t want to talk about it, “No, no it doesn’t matter now.”

“Are you sure?” Bren frowned.

“Yeah. I’m going for a fag.” Tony headed towards the fire exit.

“Tony, are you alright?” Bren asked but he didn’t turn around, “Tony?”

“Yeah, I’m fine.” Tony replied as he went out the fire exit.

“Shut the door!” The other women shouted but Bren just stood silent, wondering what she had done wrong.

- - -

Friday

- - -

Tony sighed as he went into his fridge and took out a can of beer. Carling. It wasn’t his favourite but it was all he had. Tony had a splitting headache from today. All he heard at every corner was the other dinnerladies asking what Bren was going to wear to her date with David and what time was she going and if they were going out beforehand. Tony didn’t want to know but found himself overhearing the conversation a little too much. Bren didn’t seem to give a lot away. 

Bren had tried to talk to him throughout the day but Tony was dismissive. More dismissive than he would have been if they had a disagreement which hardly ever happened. He felt bad. The last thing he wanted to do was push Bren away altogether but it was so hard seeing her with some other man. A man that wasn’t good for her at all. David was bad news and he knew that he would mess Bren about.

Tony walked into his living room. He picked up his remote control from the coffee table as he turned on the television. He grabbed his cigarettes and took one out and lit it up. He took a few puffs before going to open his can of beer. The least he could do was relax and try not to think about Bren on her date and wishing she was with him instead. That was when the phone went. Tony sighed, putting the can on the table before picking up the phone.

“Hello?”

“Tony?” It was Bren.

“Bren? Are you alright?” Tony sat up. His mind started to go on overload with worry. Why was she calling?

“Can you pick me up?” She asked, “If you’re not busy. I understand if you are, I’ll just get a taxi if you are busy.”

“No, no, it’s alright. I can pick you up.” Tony replied quickly. Maybe a little too quickly, “Are you alright? You’re not… hurt or anything?”

“No, no. I’m okay. I just had to bail on that date. It was quite painful actually. I’ll explain when you get here.” Bren replied.

“Okay. I’ll be right there. You at the institute, yeah?” Tony asked.

“Yeah, outside.” Bren said, “Thank you by the way. I really appreciate this.”

“Shut up, you lame brain.” Tony laughed before softening, “Always. I’m on my way now.”

Tony left his flat and got into his car. It wasn’t a long drive to the institute and soon, he was pulling into the car park. He noticed Bren in one of the pay phones where he assumed she must have called from. He tooted his horn as she turned and smiled. Bren came out of the phone box and started walking to the car and that’s when Tony got a good look at her. She was in a dark green silk dress that went down to just below her knees, had a v-neck and thick straps. Over the dress, she wore a beige sheepskin coat and black court heels on her feet. Her makeup was light and she looked stunning. Absolutely stunning. Tony was totally in awe by how amazing she looked. Bren finally got in the car.

“Hiya.” Bren said, “Thanks for coming.”

“It’s alright. You okay?” Tony asked.

“Yeah.” Bren nodded, “It’s freezing.”

“I’ll put the heating on.” Tony fiddled with the centre console before pulling out of the car park, “Where’s lover boy then?”

“Oh don’t.” Bren rolled her eyes, “He’s still in the institute, probably gyrating against some poor woman who doesn’t know better.”

“He didn’t leave you for someone else?” Tony asked. He was ready to turn the car around just to punch that stupid David in his face.

“No, no. Quite the opposite actually. He was all over me.” Bren replied, “He picked me up and we went for a drink and the first thing he said to me when I got in the car was that I looked like Princess Diana and I felt like saying ‘and look what happened to her’. So we go for a drink and it turns out, he quite likes a drink and that’s fine but of course, he’s driving.”

“Did he drive to the institute?” Tony asked.

“Yeah but thankfully, it was that pub around the corner. What’s it called again? It’s not the Millennium Falcon,” Bren raked her brain, “The Rusty Acorn.”

“Oh yeah. That’s a dump, Bren. Why did he take you there?”

“Well that’s what I thought but apparently that’s his local.”

“Of course it is.”

“Anyway, not much happened there except for some very interesting characters coming up and talking to us. We went into the institute and I have never been to such a grim party in all my life. It was like the walking dead. Not even Dolly would have enjoyed it, it was that boring.”

“So what happened after that?”

“Well, we went in and got some seats and David said ‘Let’s go for a dance’ and you know I’m not the best dancer but I thought what harm will it do? So we go up and you’ll never guess what comes on?”

“What?”

“Flipping ‘2 Become 1’ by the Spice Girls. So not only am I in the vice grip of David from packing but I have now found out he has an olympic gold medal for bumping and grinding.”

“You know I haven’t heard of that. When do they show that during the olympics?”

“Before the javelins.” Bren sighed. Tony laughed as they pulled up to a red light. Bren noticed him laughing and she laughed too, rubbing her forehead, “Oh God.”

“So how did you get out of there?” Tony asked.

“Well, I decided that was the last straw. I went to the toilet, trying my best to come up with some excuse he would believe but for the life of me, I could not think.” Bren explained, “Nothing came to mind and I almost thought about staying in the toilets for the rest of the night or climbing out of the window but there is no way I could fit through them. They were for teeny weeny people to climb out of. I then overheard two women talking and I heard one of them say that she had just recovered from a very bad case of food poisoning from some Iceland prawns that had her bedridden. So that was my excuse, that I had thrown up and needed to go home.”

“And how did he take that?” Tony asked.

“Surprisingly well. Green light.” Bren pointed when the lights went green and Tony started driving, “He even offered to drive me home but I told him I needed to get some fresh air and then I went out and called you before hiding in that payphone.”

“Did you not get an answer from Stan? He’s usually quite flexible on a Friday.” Tony said.

“I didn’t call Stan. I called you first.” Bren looked at him, “You were the first person I thought of.” Tony looked at her as she wore a little smile on her face. His heart seemed to warm at the thought of him being the first person she thought of. Bren looked back out at the road, “I’m starving. There’s another thing that was a no-no. No good food. They must have got the same people to do the catering there that they used to get for our Christmas parties.”

“Do you want to get something to eat?” Tony asked.

“D’you mind?” Bren asked.

“Nah. I haven’t eaten either, I feel quite peckish too.” Tony replied, “What do you fancy?”

“Hmm,” Bren thought for a moment, “I could go a kebab.”

“Really?”

“Yeah. A big one actually. And chips. I haven’t eaten since lunchtime.”

“Alright,” Tony chuckled, “For a kebab we go.”

Tony drove to the nearest chip shop for them to get a kebab before going to a Tesco car park so they could eat. They sat on the bonnet of Tony’s car, looking over the side of the shop.

“I hate these forks.” Tony said, using the wooden forks they were given with their food, “You couldn’t even stab a balloon with that.”

Bren chuckled as she ate. It was starting to get dark but they didn’t mind. It was nice just the two of them together.

“What are you going to do on Monday? With David I mean?” Tony asked.

“Oh I dunno.” Bren shrugged, “Hopefully he found someone at that party. If not, then I’ll just say that we’re not well suited or something. I’ll figure it out over the weekend.”

“You could always introduce your mother to him, that could scare him away.” Tony suggested.

“Well,” Bren scoffed, “I wouldn’t be surprised if he already knows her. You know how she likes to get about.”

“They do say he is like the walking groin.” Tony nodded. He then turned to Bren, “Why’d you go out with him, Bren? I mean you’ve never shown him any interest before.”

“I dunno. I thought it would be nice y’know. I thought he wouldn’t be as bad as everyone said, how wrong was I?” Bren chuckled.

“I’ve heard too many bad things about him, you don’t want to be messing around with him.” Tony said, “You’re too good for someone like him, Bren.”

“Aww, Tony.” Bren chuckled again, nudging him gently.

“It’s true. He would have messed you about big time. He’s not worth it.” Tony replied.

“I wish you had told me that sooner.” Bren sighed before smiling at him, “But you know what? It doesn’t matter now, eh? I’m not on that date with him and I’m having a kebab here with you so there’s something.”

“You can’t get more romantic than that.” Tony sighed as Bren giggled. They were quiet for a moment, continuing to eat. Tony lifted his head to look at Bren for a moment, “You look beautiful tonight.”

Bren had a mouthful of donner meat when he said this. Bren was quite taken aback that he said that. Beautiful? That was quite a strong word. She tried to eat the donner meat quickly before she could respond.

“Give over.” She finally said with a chuckle. Bren then looked down at her legs, “I don’t know why I chose this dress, I look like Nobby Stiles.”

“Shut up, you poxy lame brain! You look great.” Tony chuckled, “Very far from the Toothless Tiger, trust me.”

Bren smiled, resting her head on his shoulder for a moment. Tony looked down at her as she did this. He smiled too, his heart warming as they sat like this. Tony could not think of anywhere else he would rather be in that moment than with Bren right now.

Soon, they finished their food and were back in the car. Tony was giving Bren a lift home. They pulled up outside the block of Bren’s bedsit. The two of them got out of the car as they walked up to the door.

“You’ll be alright going up to your floor, eh?” Tony asked.

“Yeah. Most people will be asleep so should be able to just slip through.” Bren nodded as she fiddled with her keys, “Thank you again, for coming to get me.”

“You don’t need to thank me, mate.” Tony shook his head.

“I do. You took time out of your night for me. It was really kind of you.” Bren replied.

“Well, you know I’m always here for you.” Tony shrugged, “Like you are for me.”

Bren smiled as she ducked her head, trying to hide her blushing cheeks. She heard a door shut close nearby and that brought her out of her thoughts. She looked back up at him.

“I better head up.” Bren said.

“Yeah, of course.” Tony nodded, putting his hands in his pockets as he took a step back, “I’ll see you on Monday, yeah?”

“Yeah.” Bren nodded. She then stepped forward as she rested a hand on his shoulder. She went onto her tiptoes, kissing his cheek softly, “I’ll see you Monday.”

Tony was too in shock to reply so he just smiled. Bren smiled back before going into the building. Tony watched Bren going up the stairs through the little window next to the door until she was gone. He then quietly headed back to his car and got in. Tony started up the car but sat for a moment, thinking about his night with Bren and especially her giving him a kiss on the cheek. He knew that they were good friends, best friends even, but he never realised how high Bren regarded him. It made him think that maybe she did like him like he liked her. Tony knew he would ask her out at the right time. He just needed that right time to come up.

Chapter Text

It was quiet in their room. Bren and Tony were fast asleep in their bed. Bren lay against Tony’s chest as Tony wrapped his arms around her waist. Bren sighed in her sleep as Tony brought her closer to him. Everything was so peaceful. Until there was a loud bang.

The two jolted awake but they were too tired to comprehend what was going on. Tony loosened his grip on Bren as she sat up slowly.

“What was that noise?” Bren asked finally. Her voice incredibly groggy.

“Dunno.” Tony rubbed his eyes, “It sounded like it came from outside.”

The bang occurred again but now they were awake, it was much clearer what it was. It was someone knocking at their door.

“Who is that?” Tony asked as he got up, “What time is it?”

“Half two.” Bren groaned as she looked at the clock at the side.

“Flipping heck.” Tony rolled his eyes. He put his housecoat on and wrapped it around him, “I’ll go see who it is. If it’s your mother, I’m not letting her in.”

“You better go quickly, it might be important.” Bren got up from the bed as she put on her housecoat too.

“You stay here.” Tony told her as he went up to the door.

“Oh come on, Tony.”

“No, if this is some nutcase then I’m not having you standing right behind me.”

“It won’t be anyone like that.”

“You know what this area is like. We might get the Blender back to take blood.”

“Tony, don’t.” Bren rubbed her forehead.

“Only kidding. Sorry.” Tony nudged her, “You stay here though, eh? Besides, if it is your mother, you’re definitely staying here.”

“How come?” Bren asked.

“Because you’ll let her in.” Tony replied as he went down the hall. Bren stood at their bedroom door as she crossed her arms and yawned. She waited for him to answer the door, “Twink?”

“You took your flipping time.” Twinkle huffed.

“What are you doing here?” Tony asked as Bren left their bedroom and rushed to the front door.

“Twink?” Bren said. She was shocked to see Twinkle. One, because she was at their door at this time on a Sunday morning and two, because she looked in some state. She wore a silver sparkly dress that was short and had a halter neck with black platform shoes and her bag over her. She wore her hair in a half-up-half-down style that had come loose and mascara-stained tears under her eyes. Bren was immediately concerned, “Are you alright?”

“Yeah. Well, kind of. D’you mind if I come in?” Twinkle asked.

“Of course not, come in.” Bren nodded as she guided Twinkle in, “Tony, put the kettle on.”

“Aye aye.” Tony said as he shut the door, “How did you get in without buzzing?”

“There was someone going in and I went in after them.” Twinkle explained.

“Come sit down. You must be freezing, did you not have a jacket or something?” Bren asked.

“How sad are you?” Twinkle rolled her eyes as she sat on the couch, “Don’t need a jacket.”

“I forgot you’re too young to feel the cold.” Bren chuckled, “Were you out clubbing then?”

“Yeah, me and Kelly.” Twinkle nodded with a sniffle, “We went to that club, Fantasy. The one around the corner.”

“Isn’t that meant to be a dump?” Bren asked.

“Yeah.” Twinkle nodded, “It’s manky.”

“Why did you go?” Bren chuckled.

“For a laugh. To get rat arsed.” Twinkle shrugged, “Somewhere we hadn’t been.”

“So why are you here?” Bren asked as she sat on the armrest of the couch.

Twinkle looked up at Bren. She felt her stomach turning to knots but Bren’s kind eyes seemed to soothe that. She felt safe with Bren. And Tony as well, even if they didn’t always see eye to eye. In a way, they were like her second parents. She trusted them so much.

“I, um.” Twinkle itched her head. She didn’t know what to say.

“You’re not hurt, are you?” Bren asked.

“No, no. Nothing like that happened.” Twinkle shook her head before sighing, “I sort of had an argument with Kelly. All her other friends came and she left me on my own.”

“Aw, Twink.” Bren sighed. She felt bad for Twinkle. Under that hard, snarky exterior, there was a kind and sensitive girl there. Twinkle was so young and she could be so naive. Bren had a lot of time for Twinkle and she felt happy that she felt that she could come to her and Tony. It was just a shame it was so early in the morning. Tony came over with their tea, “Thanks, Tony.”

“Thanks.” Twinkle thanked him as he handed her the cup of tea.

“So she just left you on your own?” Bren asked, “She didn’t think to come back or anything?”

“No, she just left. All her new work friends.” Twinkle mocked her friend, “The worst part is that I don’t really know this part of town well. I’ve never even been to stupid Fantasy. It shouldn’t even be called Fantasy, it should be called flipping Nightmare.”

“But you knew we were here.” Tony said as he sat down in the armchair opposite the two women.

“Yeah, well, I remember you saying this is where your flat was.” Twinkle shrugged, “So I came here when I left. It was the only place I knew of.” She then stood up, “Sorry. I better go, I’ll get a taxi. I didn’t mean to wake you.”

“No, no, Twinkle, it’s alright. Sit down.” Bren stopped her. Twinkle sat down slowly, “I’m glad you came here. We wouldn’t want you walking around a place you don’t know.”

“D’you want me to call your mum?” Tony asked.

“No, she’ll be asleep. That won’t be fair.” Twinkle shrugged before getting up again, “I really should get going. She’ll wonder where I am in the morning.”

Bren and Tony looked at each other. They knew they couldn’t let her go out on her own at this time of night.

“You can always stay here.” Bren offered, “You can call your mum in the morning.”

“No. No, I couldn’t.” Twinkle shook her head.

“Come on, Twink. It’s freezing outside.” Tony said, “And flipping dark. You don’t want to be walking around in that.”

“Yeah, honestly it’s no trouble.” Bren reassured her.

“Are you sure?” Twinkle asked.

“Of course.” Bren smiled.

“I don’t have a toothbrush or anything.” Twinkle looked down at herself.

“That’s alright. I’m sure we have a spare lying around somewhere.” Tony said.

“I dunno what to say.” Twinkle played with her hands. She was like a little girl at that moment.

“Don’t say anything.” Bren smiled as she got up. She put her arm around the younger woman, “We’ll get you sorted and you can sleep on the couch.”

“Thanks.” Twinkle said, a smile growing on her face.

“It’s no problem.” Tony smiled as he got up, “Sit down and finish your tea and I’ll go get you a pillow and blanket.”

Twinkle sat down on the couch as she picked up her cup again. She took a sip before turning to Bren who smiled at her. Bren rubbed her back before taking a sip of her tea again.

“Bren?”

“Yeah?”

“Do you have any makeup wipes?”

“Yeah, of course. I’ll go get them for you.” Bren got up, “Actually, why don’t you come through? I can give you some pyjamas if I’ve got any spare.”

“Are you sure?” Twinkle asked, “I can sleep in this.”

“No, no. It’s no bother. Come on.” Bren said.

Twinkle got up and Bren led her into her and Tony’s bedroom. Twinkle stayed at the door of the room, not wanting to overstep her boundaries with her friends but Bren invited her in. When Bren picked out an old t-shirt and pyjama bottoms for Twinkle, she gave her makeup wipes before they returned to the living room. Tony was just finishing up sorting out the couch when the two came into the living room.

“It’s not quite the Ritz but it’ll do.” Tony stepped back with a smile.

“Cheers, Tony.” Twinkle smiled.

“You don’t need anything else. A glass of water, anything to eat?” Bren asked.

“Nah, I’m alright, thanks.” Twinkle said before looking at the clothes in her arms, “Where can I get changed?”

“Oh, the bathroom’s just down the hall.” Bren pointed.

“Thanks.” Twinkle said and left to go to the toilet.

Bren took the mugs that were on the coffee table and washed them whilst Tony plumped the pillows up a little more for good measure. Twinkle then came out dressed in the clothes Bren gave her and her face all bare.

“You alright?” Bren asked.

“Yeah.” Twinkle nodded before she yawned.

“I think we’re all needing our beds, eh, mate?” Tony said as he squeezed Bren’s shoulders.

“Yeah.” Bren giggled, “You sure you don’t need anything else?”

“No, I’m alright.” Twinkle nodded tiredly.

“Right, well if you do need anything, don’t hesitate to come through, okay? The glasses are in that cupboard if you need water through the night. You know where the toilet is, I think that’s us sorted.” Bren sighed with a smile, “We’ll see you in the morning then.”

“Night.” Twinkle smiled as she sat down on the couch and got under the blanket.

“Night, Twinkle.” Tony replied as he headed to their bedroom.

“Bren?” Twinkle sat up.

“Yeah?”

“Thank you. I mean it.”

“Anytime.” Bren smiled, “D’you want this lamp left on?”

“Nah.” Twinkle shook her head.

“Alright.” Bren turned off the lamp, “Goodnight.”

“Night.”

- - -

Twinkle opened her eyes slowly. The radio was on and she could hear some Madonna song playing which wasn’t too painful to wake up to considering she was waking up on a couch. She was aware of the smell of cooking but as she sat up and pushed her hair out of her face, Twinkle didn’t pay much attention to it. She noticed Bren and Tony pottering around in the kitchen. Both washed and dressed.

“Morning.” Bren smiled as she walked over to the couch, “How did you sleep?”

“Don’t ask her that, mate. I think she’s still asleep.” Tony called from the kitchen.

“Oh ha-ha, Baddiel and Skinner.” Twinkle rolled her eyes which made Bren laugh.

“You alright?” Bren asked, “Not feeling sick or anything?”

“No, I’m alright. What time is it?”

“Just after twenty past.”

“Twenty past what?”

“Eleven.”

“What?! You’re joking!” Twinkle scrambled to her bag to get her mobile.

“It’s alright, Twink.” Bren put her arm on her shoulder, “I’ve already phoned your mum. She says there’s no rush.”

“Are you sure?” Twinkle asked, clearly worried about her mum.

“Yeah. She was fine. She said your aunt was popping in anyway so you didn’t need to rush home.” Bren tapped her shoulder.

“Thanks, Bren.” Twinkle smiled as she sat back with a sigh. 

“We thought we’d let you sleep anyways. You must have been knackered last night.” Bren leaned against the back of the couch.

“I think I was actually.” Twinkle rubbed her eyes.

“Hope you’re hungry.” Tony came over with a plate of food. He handed the plate to Twinkle as she looked at the plate with bacon and eggs on it.

“D’you want anything to drink?” Bren asked.

“Tea. Please.” Twinkle said as she began eating her breakfast.

“Oi, Twinkle. Catch.” Tony called to Twinkle as he threw a packaged toothbrush to her, “Found it this morning in the cupboard.”

“Cheers.” Twinkle replied, her mouth full of food.

Twinkle finished her breakfast surprisingly quickly. She then went to have a shower whilst Bren and Tony cleaned up the living room. Twinkle came back out of the shower in her clothes from the night before.

“Bren?” Twinkle held the clothes Bren gave her from the night before, “Where shall I put these?”

“I’ll take them.” Bren took the clothes.

Twinkle just nodded with a smile. She then noticed her bag at the side of the couch and picked it up. She checked she had everything and put the bag around her.

“I better make a move then.” Twinkle said.

“Are you sure?” Tony asked, “We can give you a lift.”

“I can walk, it’s fine.” Twinkle shook her head.

“It’s freezing outside.” Bren came back into the living room. She put her arm around Twinkle, “Come on, Twinkle. Let us take you home.”

“Is that alright?” Twinkle asked.

“Of course it is, ya dingbat.” Bren laughed as she gave her shoulder a squeeze, “Come on. Let’s get going.”

Tony and Bren grabbed their coats. Twinkle was double checking the things in her bag when Bren handed Twinkle her old anorak.

“Just cause you’ve not got a coat.” Bren smiled, “It’s ripped but still cosy.”

“Thanks, Bren.” Twinkle smiled before putting the anorak on.

The three left the flat and headed downstairs to the car. They got into the car and headed down to Twinkle’s mum’s house. They talked in the car until they finally pulled up outside Twinkle’s house.

“Right, here we go.” Tony stopped the car as he and Bren turned in their seats, “You got everything?”

“Yeah. Thanks for everything. I really appreciate it.” Twinkle smiled.

“It’s no trouble.” Bren gave her a smile, “You’re welcome any time.”

“Quite literally.” Tony raised a brow before they all laughed.

“Yeah.” Twinkle laughed. She then sat forward as she gave both Bren and Tony a kiss on the cheek, “Thanks again.” She then went to open the door and returned to her normal, snarky self, “See you later, oldies!”

“Bye, Twinkie.” Bren smiled.

“See you tomorrow.” Tony said, “And don’t wear your overall to work.”

“Alright, keep your scrotum on!” Twinkle called back.

Bren and Tony watched Twinkle as she walked up to her front door and let herself in. She waved back to them before going inside. Tony then started up the car again and they drove off.

“Well, that was a change, wasn’t it?” Bren said.

“You’re telling me!” Tony raised a brow, “Twinkle being nice, that’s something I never expected.”

“Oh come on, Tony. She’s a softie really.” Bren turned. She squeezed his shoulder, “She’s like you.”

“Very funny.” Tony rolled his eyes.

“It’s the truth.” Bren laughed, “A pair of softies.”

“Yeah, yeah.” Tony sighed, “That’s enough from you.”

They pulled up to the red lights as the two laughed. Bren then leaned in and kissed his cheek. Tony smiled back at her, squeezing her knee before the lights went to green.

Chapter Text

Bren and Tony walked into the house, Tony letting Bren lead the way. They carried shopping bags through to the kitchen as Tony locked the door behind them. Bren put the bags on the table in their kitchen before going to put the kettle on.

“Tony?” Bren called, “D’you want a brew?”

“Yeah. I’ll have tea. No, coffee, no, tea.” Tony replied as he came through to the kitchen. He frowned, “No, I will have coffee actually.”

“Right.” Bren nodded. She flicked the kettle on and got their mugs out.

“I’ll do it, Bren.” Tony said when she walked past him and went into the bags for the ice cream and frozen peas, “You go put your feet up.”

“No, no it’s alright.” Bren opened the freezer, “I can manage.”

“The baby will tell you in a minute to sit down.” Tony pointed to her, “I’ll do the rest.”

“I’ll be fine!” Bren chuckled as she went into the bags again, “The midwife said I’m best to keep moving anyway. She said it’s good for the baby. A bit of exercise is good for us.”

“Yes but I don’t want you to tire yourself out.” Tony rubbed her shoulders as he stood behind her, “Come on, the kettle’s boiled. You do that and go sit down.”

“My life’s not me flipping own.” Bren laughed.

“Well of course not! Especially with you being pregnant with my baby.” Tony replied with a laugh.

Tony continued putting their shopping away whilst Bren poured the kettle. When Bren finished up making her tea and Tony’s coffee, she picked up the mugs and turned to Tony.

“You want yours in the living room?” Bren asked.

“Yeah, cheers, mate.” Tony nodded, “I’ll be through in a minute.”

“You sure you don’t want me to help?” Bren asked.

“Go sit down, you poxy lame brain.” Tony told her.

Bren just laughed. She headed through to the living room and sat down when she put Tony’s mug on the coffee table. She sighed, taking a sip of her tea as she rubbed her growing bump gently. 

Tony came through with a box of biscuits they had bought at the shops. He put the box down on the coffee table when Bren sat up and passed him his coffee.

“Thanks, mate.” Tony said as he sat down. He took a sip of his coffee before turning to Bren, “You alright?”

“Yeah.” Bren nodded with a smile, “You know I’m now starting to feel tired actually.”

“See? I told you that you would, mate.” Tony tapped her knee, “You gonna have a kip?”

“Nah, I’ll be alright.” Bren shook her head before taking another sip of her tea. She then sighed softly as she sat back, “Go and put the telly on.”

“Alright.” Tony sat forward and put the television on with the remote. The television turned on and the news was on, “Shall I just leave it on this?”

“Yeah, why not.” Bren shrugged before grabbing a biscuit and dunking it into her tea, “We’ve got another ultrasound appointment on Tuesday.”

“Alright.”

“And then we have the midwife on Wednesday.”

“Mhm.”

“Oh and then that check up on Friday.”

“Busy week then?”

“You’re telling me! I can see it far enough.”

Tony chuckled as he put his arm around Bren and kissed her head.

“The ultrasound will be good though.” Tony then smiled.

“Yeah.” Bren beamed as she rubbed her bump again, “They’ve definitely grown in the past couple of weeks. I need to get new clothes. Actually, we could do that tomorrow with our day off, go into town.”

“That’ll be fun.” Tony’s sarcastic tone was clear. Bren just nudged his leg with her knee gently.

“You don’t have to come.” Bren drank her tea, “You can always stay home and paint the fence like you’ve been meaning to do for the past month. I might see about getting a cot actually.”

“Not without me there you’re not.”

“What?”

“You’re not buying a cot without me. You won’t be able to carry it.”

“I’ll manage. It’ll be all flat packed, won’t it?”

“It doesn’t matter, mate. It’ll still be heavy. You’re not carrying it.”

“You’ve got to let me do stuff for myself, Tony. I won’t have any upper body strength by the end of the pregnancy at this rate.” Bren chuckled, “Don’t you want our baby to be strong?”

“I want you to take care of yourself and not put too much stress on yourself or our baby.” Tony turned to her. He put his mug on the coffee table. He then leaned in to kiss Bren’s cheek, “If you need a professional bag holder tomorrow, I’ll do it.”

“Always the gentleman.” Bren giggled, “You’ll end up like the Incredible, what’s his name? Not Hugh Grant, the Incredible Hulk.”

“I’m definitely not Hugh Grant. You saw that film with that Julianne Moore, I am completely ready and capable to be a dad.” Tony got up from the couch with a smug grin, “Not one ounce of fear in my body.” Bren nodded with a smile. She took another sip of her tea as she watched Tony walking to the door, “You can trust me to be calm in any situation. You couldn’t trust Hugh with that now, can you? He fainted when she got the epidural, that wouldn’t happen with me.”

Bren just giggled behind her mug. Tony smiled at her before heading through to the kitchen. He went into the fridge, looking out the food he was going to cook for dinner. The house was quiet except for the television playing in the living room so Tony was in his own world when he was looking in the fridge.

“Tony!” Bren called from the kitchen. Tony’s thoughts were immediately interrupted. He did not like the tone of her voice at all. She sounded startled, worried and that worried him, “Tony!”

Tony slammed the fridge door shut as he rushed through to the living room. Bren was getting up from the couch as she held her bump. She frowned, almost like she was in pain. Tony’s heart was going ten to the dozen with nerves. 

“Bren?” Tony rushed over to her, “Are you alright? D’you want me to phone the midwife? Or the hospital? Do you-?”

“Tony, calm down.”

“We should call the hospital. This doesn’t seem right.”

“Tony.”

“You don’t need to panic. I'll pack a bag and we’ll be okay.”

“Tony!” Bren stopped him, “I just felt them kicking.”

“What?” Tony said softly. He was almost speechless. His heart was slowing down as he looked at Bren.

“Feel.” Bren took his hand and rested it on her bump. The faint kicking battered against his hand. Tony was totally in awe of it all.

“Flipping heck.” Tony laughed with a deep sigh. He moved closer as he put his other hand on her bump, “That’s the craziest feeling.”

“You’re telling me!” Bren laughed.

“Does it hurt?” Tony asked.

“No. It’s sort of strange. It’s like a fluttering feeling. Like butterflies in my stomach.” Bren replied, “It’s a nice feeling though.”

“Yeah.” Tony nodded as he looked up at her. They both noticed each other’s misty-eyed looks and they started to laugh, “It is a nice feeling.”

“Yeah.” Bren laughed.

Bren stood on her tiptoes as she held his forearms and kissed his lips. They laughed into the kiss, pecking each other on the lips a couple of times. 

“It’s getting real, isn’t it?” Tony smiled.

“It really is.” Bren giggled. She then kissed him again. Bren started laughing again into the kiss.

“What are you laughing at?” Tony broke off the kiss.

“You! You got in such a state.”

“I did not!”

“You flipping did! I’ve never seen you move so fast.”

“I thought there was something wrong! You sounded like you were in pain.”

“You were pale white! You were as white as our bed sheets!” Bren laughed.

“Oh shut up, man.” Tony rolled his eyes but he started to laugh when he crossed his arms. He pointed at her, “You should be happy I came in so quickly, especially if something was wrong.”

“That is true.” Bren nodded, “Although I don’t think Hugh Grant would have went so pale.”

“Maybe not.” Tony shrugged, “He wouldn’t have moved so fast though, would he?”

“Hm, maybe.” Bren sighed. She started heading towards the living room door, “I would rather you than Hugh anyways. He’s a bit annoying really.”

“Where are you going?” Tony asked.

“Toilet. The baby’s already sitting on my bladder.” Bren replied as she started going upstairs.

Tony chuckled whilst watching her go upstairs. He then went into the kitchen to finish what he was doing but he could not wipe the smile on his face. He could not be happier and it could only get better.

Chapter Text

“Tony?” His mum, Lorraine, called into the room, “You’ve got a visitor.”

“Eh?” Tony opened his eyes as he sat up in his bed. He prepared himself for a doctor telling him bad news or some cousin he hadn’t spoken to in years. Lorraine stepped aside as Bren walked into the room. Tony lit up, “Bren. You alright?”

“Hiya. I thought I’d just pop in and bring you some things.” Bren presented the green carrier bag, “I don’t want to disturb you though. If you’re tired, I can go.”

“No, no.” Tony was quick to tell her to stay, “You can stay, don’t worry about that. I was just having a bit of kip, I can get more later.”

Bren smiled before sitting down in the chair Lorraine offered her. She took off her anorak and put her bag down. She gave Tony the green carrier bag.

“Do you want a cup of tea, Bren?” Lorraine asked as she moved her coat, “Coffee?”

“Tea please. I’m not big on coffee.” Bren smiled.

“No problem. Tony?” Lorraine lifted her head.

“Tea, no, coffee actually. No, tea.” Tony finally made a decision and his mother left the hospital room.

“Never gets easier.” Bren giggled at him deciding what to drink. Tony chuckled too before going into the carrier bag, “It’s not a lot. Just a few bits and bobs.”

“You didn’t need to, mate.” Tony smiled as he looked at her, taking out the mints and the big bar of chocolate.

“I couldn’t come empty handed.” Bren chuckled. She then watched as he took out the porn magazine she had bought for him. She felt herself become a little awkward, “Thought you would do some light reading.”

“You’d have been quicker taking a polaroid in your bra.” Tony raised a brow with a smirk.

“Ha-ha.” Bren rolled her eyes before a real laugh came out.

“Can you put that in one of the drawers? Don’t want my mum seeing it.” Tony handed her the magazine.

“Of course.” Bren took the magazine as she got up and went into the drawers next to his bed. She then turned when he took out the large card, “That’s from all of us.”

Tony opened the envelope and took the ‘Get well soon’ card out. He read all the messages written inside and could not help but smile. He really appreciated all the love and well wishes everybody was sending him, especially from Bren.

“Thank you, mate.” Tony smiled at her, “It really means a lot.”

“No probs.” Bren smiled as she walked around the bed to her chair, “How are you feeling?”

“Well, better. A bit tired from treatment today but apart from that, better.” Tony shrugged.

“Good. You’ve definitely perked up.” Bren nodded. He was starting to look a bit better and that made Bren feel better, “How was treatment today?”

“Boring. Of course I had my mum there but you know how she likes to talk.” Tony rolled his eyes.

“Oh Tony.” Bren giggled as she patted his hand, “At least you had her there.”

“Yeah. There’s only so much you can take from someone reminiscing about Alma flipping Cogen though.” Tony sighed.

“I thought you would feel right at home with that.” Bren chuckled as she thought about her friends at the canteen.

“Well.” Tony laughed, “How are things at the canteen?”

“Oh, don’t.” Bren rolled her eyes, “It’s really bad. She’s already changed the menu, she’s got Mr. Michael signing pink flimsies so they can have a custard cream and she thinks that you were way too cushy with us.”

“Really?” Tony widened his eyes, “It can’t be that bad.”

“Well, that’s what we all think but apparently it is. She’s come in like a, oh what’s that word? Not diagnostic, dictator! She’s come in like a dictator. I bet she thinks Mussolini had the right idea.” Bren sighed.

“What’s her name again?” Tony asked.

“Nicola Bodeux. B-O-D-E-U-X.” Bren quoted Nicola when she spelled her last name. She turned to see Lorraine handing her some tea, “Thanks.”

“Who’s this?” Lorraine asked as she gave Tony his tea.

“Thanks, mum.” Tony thanked her.

“Oh, the woman who’s replacing Tony while he’s off.” Bren explained.

“She’s hard work.” Tony turned to his mother, “Bren says she’s like a dictator.”

“She won’t even let Stan come in for a brew. He has to sneak in when she’s not there. She said he should be paying for a brew at the canteen.” Bren took a sip of her tea.

“Oh come on. That’s not fair really. He’s staff too.” Lorraine sighed.

“Exactly.” Bren nodded, “We’ll have to see though. Hopefully she’ll soften but it’s not looking likely.”

“I’m sure you’ll manage, dear.” Lorraine tapped Bren’s knee which Bren gave her a little smile.

“Of course she will. My Bren can handle anything and if not, I’ll be back before you know it, eh matey?” Tony told her as Bren giggled.

“Oh shush, Tony. You need to rest.” Lorraine rolled her eyes, “I’m sure she’ll get better. Maybe she just needs to settle in.”

“Hmm, maybe.” Bren shrugged, “We’ll see.”

“How’s everyone else doing?” Tony asked.

“They’re all fine. Though none of them are fans of Nicola.” Bren replied.

“I don’t blame them.” Lorraine took a sip of her tea.

“I can imagine Jean and Twinkle won’t be happy.” Tony crossed his arms, “Just tell them that I’ll be back soon. They don’t need to worry.”

“I will. They’re all sending their love by the way.” Bren said.

“Tell them thanks.” Tony smiled.

“I will.” Bren nodded before looking at the clock, “Oh I better get going.”

“Are you sure?” Lorraine asked, “You can stay a little longer, I could give you a lift home.”

“No, no. That’s too much trouble. I’m going to get the bus.” Bren said as she stood, “Thank you though.”

“You won’t win that argument, mum. Believe me, I’ve tried.” Tony nodded.

“Well, you be careful. It’s very dark out there.” Lorraine told her.

“I’ll be fine.” Bren giggled, “I’ll see you later, Tony. I’ll try and pop in again but I’ll call tomorrow after work, yeah?”

“Yeah, keep me updated on old Nicola.” Tony said.

“I will.” Bren nodded. She patted his shoulder, “I’ll see you later.”

“See you later, mate.” Tony winked.

“Bye, Lorraine.” Bren smiled.

“Bye, Bren, dear.” Lorraine smiled, “Thanks for popping in.”

“It’s no trouble.” Bren walked to the door of the room, “I’ll see you later.”

Bren walked out of the room and was heading down the hall to the elevator. Lorraine got up quickly not long after Bren left, telling Tony that she needed to ask her something.

“Brenda? Bren?” Lorraine called down the hall as she jogged slowly to her.

“Yeah?” Bren turned.

“I was just going to ask if you wanted my phone number. I just thought it would be best in case you want to get a hold of Tony or anything like that.” Lorraine said.

“Oh yeah, of course.” Bren nodded as she went into her bag and looked for her pen and small notepad she carried around. She handed it to Lorraine, “Here you go.”

Lorraine quickly wrote her phone number down before giving the notepad and pen back to Bren. The two women said goodbye and Bren went into the elevator. Lorraine walked back to Tony’s room, a smile on her face. Tony was opening the bar of chocolate as he broke off a square when he noticed the smile on Lorraine’s face.

“What is it?” Tony asked.

“Hm? Oh, just thinking about Brenda. She’s a lovely girl.” Lorraine nodded as she went to sit down next to Tony’s bed.

“Yeah, she’s a good ‘un, the old Brenda.” Tony agreed. He couldn’t be more grateful for Bren right now.

“You should ask her out.”

“Eh?”

“Oh come on, Tony. She’s lovely. You two would be so well suited, trust me.”

“You think?”

“Oh yeah. She’s kind hearted, she’s bright, she’s a beautiful girl. Maybe a little plain but definitely pretty.” Lorraine listed. She turned to Tony with a smile, tapping his shoulder, “When you’re all better, you should ask her for a drink. Get your life going.”

Tony just smiled. He wanted to deny that things wouldn’t go any further between him and Bren. They were just friends, nothing more. But he was too tired. And it was nice to not deny that he liked Bren in that way. It was nice to have it out in the open and not worry about anyone gossiping around him. His mum was right. He needed to shoot his shot but at the right time.

Chapter Text

A loud cheer came from the pub as Bren and Tony cooked. Tony went up to the door to the bar to see the television. He sighed, looking at the football score.

“Bloody hell, that’s them scored again.” Tony said.

“Really?” Bren asked as she dished some food onto a plate before going over to the door and looking at the television, “Ah well.”

“I guess we’re not winning today.” Tony sighed.

“Don’t get upset over it, eh? Remember it’s just a game.” Bren handed him the plate of food she had just made.

“I know. Scotland have been playing good from what I’ve seen.” Tony shrugged, “Not the end of the world, mate.”

Bren chuckled. Tony headed out to the pub to give people their food. Tony walked over to the table and put the plate down.

“Here you go.” Tony gave them their food.

“Cheers, Tony.” Tam nodded, “Here, how you feeling about the football?”

“We’ll let you win this one.” Tony laughed, “Your team have been doing well.”

“They have. Almost made me forget about Super Ally, eh?” Tam grinned. There were suddenly loud voices coming from the corner. They turned to see a group of younger English fans, clearly annoyed with the score. They were arguing with the table next to them and getting quite rowdy, “And the English wonder why we don’t like them?”

“Well.” Tony raised a brow.

“Oi!” Hamish called over to the group of English boys, “I suggest you lot wind your neck in or you’re out.”

“And what are you gonna do?” The blonde boy in the middle said, “Look at the hard Scotsman over there.”

“Just pipe it down. I’m not having you lot arguing with my customers.” Hamish pointed.

“You gonna kick us out?” The boy asked, his arms held open, “You can’t kick us out, we’re staying here, aren’t we, lads?”

A cheer erupted from the group of boys. They started banging on the tables as they tried to make as much noise as possible. Tony noticed Hamish at the bar as his face visibly became angrier.

“Hamish is gonna blow.” Tam said.

“Right, pipe down now! This is your final warning.” Hamish told them, trying to keep his composure.

“Ooohh final warning.” The boy in the middle mocked as the boys all joined in, “Your team are winning and suddenly, you’re the dog’s bollocks. I think we need more drinks. Come on, Robert the Bruce, more drinks.”

“I don’t think so.” Hamish shook his head, “You’ve had enough.”

“What did you say?” The boy in the middle shot up from the seat.

“Hey, hey.” Tony tried to ease it. He walked over to the table, “There’s no need to get heated. You’re probably best not having another drink.”

“Oh yeah?” The boy nodded. He walked over to Tony, “Who are you to tell me what to do, turncoat?”

“Come on, mate. It’s just a game.” Tony laughed, “It isn’t the end of the world.”

The boy said nothing, clearly getting angrier by the second. Tony blinked and suddenly, he felt a fist crashing into his nose. Tony held his nose as he stumbled back. He saw the blood, not paying attention to the shouting now going on around him.

“Right, that’s it! Get out!” Hamish shouted at the top of his lungs, “Get your stuff and move your arses! You’re no staying here another night!”

“No, no, Hamish, it’s alright.” Tony looked at the blood on his hands. He then stood up straight with a smile as he looked at the boy in front of him, “No need to do that, mate. Just need to teach them a lesson.” Tony then punched the boy in front of him square on the nose. The boy cried out in pain as he cradled his face, “Just tell them not to disrespect their elders.”

Bren heard all the commotion from the kitchen but it wasn’t until she came to bring some food through to the pub. She noticed the boys in the corner getting kicked out of the pub by Hamish and some of the locals. One of the boys was cradling his face as he cried, blood on his hands and Bren wondered if a fight broke out. Tony was standing with another local. She went out to Tony, about to ask what happened when she noticed the state of his face.

“What have you done?!” Bren gasped.

“Bren…” Tony began but she just grabbed his wrist and dragged him into the kitchen.

Not long after them, Hamish came in. Bren had Tony sat down at the table in the kitchen as she grabbed some disinfectant and tissues.

“You alright, bud?” Hamish asked.

“Yeah.” Tony nodded. Bren said nothing as she came over and held his head back, holding the tissues at his nose to drain the blood, “Did you get them out?”

“Yeah. Booted out on the street in the pishing rain. I think they got a taxi. English bastards.” Hamish gritted his teeth. Bren and Tony both looked at him, “Oh. Sorry.”

“Nah, you’re right. Southern bastards though.” Tony reminded him.

“Aye!” The two men laughed but they could tell that Bren was starting to get angry. Hamish knew it was his time to leave. He noticed the two dishes at the side and grabbed, “This for auld Alec and Peggy, Bren? No bother, I’ll take them through, doll.”

When Hamish abruptly left, it was quiet in the kitchen. Tony watched Bren as she cleaned up his nose. She was quiet but it was clear she was angry. She sighed. Tony almost thought he saw smoke come out of her nose like a dragon.

“I’m sorry.” Tony said softly.

“‘Sorry’? ‘Sorry’? Tony, look at the state of you! You could lose your job, d’you know what I mean?!” Bren exclaimed, “Hamish could lose his bloody license and all sorts and then we would be back to square one, d’you know what I mean?”

“I know, I know. He punched me first though.” Tony tried to defend himself.

“Oh that makes it alright then.”

“I was defending myself.”

“The boy was in tears!”

“He deserved it!”

“You could get arrested! If the police come to our door in the morning, I have good flipping mind to let them in.”

“They won’t phone the police, mate. Especially after he was throwing punches first.”

“No, watch them phone their flipping parents and then we’ll have to deal with them.”

“Bren,” Tony stopped her from cleaning his nose. He brought her close to him as he put the bloody tissue down, “It’ll be fine. I’m sorry, I am. You don’t need to be angry, look at me, I’m fine.”

“I have a right to be angry!” Bren’s eyes widened, “You’re not fine. You’ve burst your nose open.”

“I didn’t mean to do it.” Tony tried to defend himself.

“I know!” Bren exclaimed before rubbing her forehead, “You should have just left him. You could have at least got on the phone to the police about it and had him sorted out that way.”

“I wasn’t going to let him get away with it.” Tony scrunched up his face.

“I know!” Bren sighed. She bowed her head down, picking up the tissue at the side. She went to clean his nose again but Tony stopped her.

“Come here.” Tony took the tissue out of her hand and brought her into his lap. Bren sighed as he wrapped his arms around his waist, “I’m sorry. I’ll say it a million times if I have to. You don’t need to worry, alright? It’ll be fine, I’ll be fine. I’ve got you, haven’t I? Eh, babe, I’ve got you.”

“Don’t start.” Bren raised a brow as Tony nuzzled her neck.

“Start what?” Tony asked, pressing a gentle kiss on her jawline, “I’m not starting anything, babe.”

“Tony.” She warned him. She then looked up at him, noticing the blood on his shirt, “Tony, look at your shirt! That’ll never come out.”

“It’ll be fine. We’ve got stain remover.” Tony reassured her as he looked at his shirt.

“Oh, I dunno why I flipping bother.” Bren rolled her eyes before she started to laugh. She rubbed her forehead, looking at him. Tony smiled as he looked at her. Bren cupped his face, kissing his cheek softly, “I love you.”

“I love you too.” Tony replied, giving her thigh a gentle squeeze.

Bren leaned in, kissing him on the mouth. The two held each other close as Bren wrapped her other arm around his neck and Tony rested one hand on her back, another draped over her legs. As they kissed, the two relaxed into each other’s arms. The adrenaline from earlier started to come down and everything around them quietened.

“You alright?” Bren said softly when she broke off the kiss.

“Yeah.” Tony nodded, “You?”

“Mhm.” Bren nodded. She cuddled into him then as she wrapped her arms around his neck, “Hamish will probably be wondering why we’re not taking orders.”

“It’s coming up for nine anyway.” Tony said as he looked at the clock on the wall.

“Is it?” Bren turned to look at the clock, “Oh, so it is.” Bren went to get up from Tony’s lap, “We better get a move on then.”

“Hold on.” Tony brought her back into his arms, “Five more minutes. No one’s gonna order anything now.”

“You seem convinced.” Bren said softly. She squeezed him tightly, “You’ll really need to clean that shirt.”

“We can worry about it when we get home.” Tony whispered, “Besides, it’s our day off tomorrow. There’s no rush.”

“Well, I’m definitely putting my feet up after the night we’ve had.” Bren said which made Tony chuckle.

“You deserve it, putting up with old me.” Tony replied.

Bren giggled as she looked at him. They looked at one another for a moment, not paying attention to anything else around them. Bren cupped his cheek once more, giving him a quick peck.

“I love you.” She reminded him. She then patted his chest as she got up, “Come on. The quicker we get cleaned up, the quicker we can go home.”

Chapter Text

Tony put his coat on at the door. He looked out the window, noticing the rain battering down outside. He sighed as he grabbed his keys on the side. Tony then turned when he heard footsteps coming down the stairs.

“Hey.” Tony smiled as Bren came down the stairs tiredly, “What are you doing up? I didn’t wake you, did I?”

“No. I was going to go in the shower before I got her up.” Bren reached the bottom of the stairs. She crossed her arms to keep herself warm, “You okay?”

“Yeah.” Tony sighed, “Not really excited for today to be honest.”

“You’ll be home before you know it.” Bren said.

“Oh, I know. I’ll miss you though.” Tony sighed.

“I’ll miss you too. It will be weird without you today.” Bren replied.

“I’m sure you’ll cope. My girls.” Tony smiled as he put his arm around her, “I’d love to stay home with you two.”

“I know.” Bren cuddled into him.

Tony kissed her head. They stayed like this for a couple of seconds, both feeling their tiredness setting in. Tony then noticed the time on the clock.

“I better make a move.” Tony said as rubbed her shoulder.

“Okay.” Bren nodded. She leaned in and kissed him, “I’ll see you later.”

“See you later.” Tony hugged her. They squeezed each other before kissing one more time, “Try and get some sleep. You look knackered.”

“I’m sure I can get a bit of kip when her royal highness has a nap.” Bren smiled.

“I’m sure you will.” Tony chuckled, “Right, I’ll get going. I’ll see you later.”

“See you later.” Bren smiled as he walked out the door, “Be careful.”

“I will. I love you.” Tony waved as he rushed through the rain to the car.

“I love you too.” Bren waved.

Tony pulled out of the drive and was on his way to work. Bren closed the door and locked it. She yawned, crossing her arms again. She rushed upstairs and headed into the bathroom for a quick shower. After showering and getting dressed, Bren headed to Amy’s room to wake her up.

“Amy.” Bren said quietly as she turned on the lamp. She walked over to the crib to see the baby starting to wake up, “Hiya! Hi. Did you have a good sleep? I bet you did.” Bren went to pick her up from the crib as Amy started to babble gently, “You telling me stories, darling? Come on, you can tell me all about it when we have a bath.”

Bren gave Amy a bath before getting her dressed in fresh baby grows. She fed the baby before heading downstairs to make breakfast. Bren lay Amy down in her bassinet before going to the kitchen. She noticed her mug out next to the kettle, ready for her to make some tea. Bren smiled, knowing Tony would have left it out for her before he left. Bren started making her cup of tea and when she went to the fridge, she noticed a post-it note stuck on the fridge which was held up by a Manchester United magnet. ‘Have a good day with Amy today. I’ve left some surprises for you in the oven and fridge. Love you both lots, T x’ the note read. Bren couldn’t help but smile before opening the fridge. Inside, Tony had left some meals he must have made before leaving in the fridge. Bren picked up the bowl of pasta that had a plate over the dish before looking into the oven. The door was opened slightly and a plate with bacon and eggs was inside. The food was still warm and Bren found herself laughing again.

“Oh, Tony.” Bren chuckled to herself.

Bren made her cup of tea before having her breakfast whilst watching the television. As soon as she finished, Amy needed her nappy changed. Bren changed her nappy and cleaned Amy up. She then sat on the couch with Amy in her arms, patting her back gently. The phone next to the couch started to ring. Bren picked it up before checking Amy hadn’t woken up. Thankfully, she didn’t.

“Hello?”

“Only me.” It was Jean, “Just checking in.”

“Hi, Jean.” Bren smiled, happy to hear a familiar voice, “You alright?”

“Yeah, we’re fine.” Jean nodded, “Just plodding along. How are you? How’s the baby?”

“She’s good. She’s sleeping right now.” Bren chuckled as she looked at Amy sleeping in her arms.

“Aww. We’ll need to come up to see her when we get the chance. Those photos you sent were lovely. She’s so like you.”

“I don’t really see it. I feel like she’s more like Tony.”

“You’ll probably see that more. That was like me with Liza and her father. Still now actually.” Bren sensed the slight disdain in Jean’s voice, “At least Keith makes a pretty woman.” Bren laughed, “How is Tony?”

“He’s good. It’s his first day back from his paternity leave so I don’t think he’s too happy about that.” Bren told Jean.

“Oh, I can imagine. He’ll be missing you probably.” Jean replied.

“He did say that he’d miss us.” Bren giggled, “You know, I came down to make myself some breakfast and he had already done it for me before he left. He’s made me dinner too.”

“Aww.” Jean was so happy for Bren and Tony and how happy they sounded now they were in Scotland, “He’s a big softie is Tony. He likes to hide it but he is.”

“How’s Stan?” Bren asked.

“He’s fine. He’s taking up the floorboards in the dining room. You should see him, he’s like a kid in a sweet shop!”

“I can imagine!”

“Oh, and Dolly’s joined the WI in Mobberley. She seems quite happy though she’s always complaining about the woman who runs it.”

“That doesn’t surprise me. Have you seen Anita and Twinkle?”

“Yeah, I saw Anita the other day. I popped in to give her Liza’s old rocking horse. She’s fine and you should see the baby, well he’s not a baby anymore really. He’s got so big.”

“She sent photos of him last week. He has gotten big. He’s lovely though.”

“Yeah. Very sweet too. I mean I have never known a one-and-a-bit year old boy to have such good manners. Twinkle’s alright too. She’s got a boyfriend now, did she tell you?”

“Yeah, she said. He seems nice enough from what I heard.”

“Yeah, I met them in town with Dolly. He seems nice, even Dolly liked him and that’s saying something.”

“Well, that’s good.” Bren nodded, “Have you heard from Philippa?”

“Bridezilla? Not this week. Did you hear about the saga with her and her dress?” Jean asked.

“Yeah, she phoned me after she had been in for her fitting.” Bren nodded, “She sounded like she was in some state.”

“Well, I don’t blame her. She’s so heavy busted, she couldn’t go for a dress like that!” Jean sighed, “That wedding shop isn’t very good anyways. We went in there with Liza, all plunging necklines. Enough to plunge into a pool.”

“I’m sure she’ll manage in the end. You know what Philippa is like, she can get herself so worked up.” Bren said. Before she could say anything else, Amy started to stir in her arms, “Oh, shh. It’s alright.”

“Is that the baby?” Jean asked. She felt a smile grow as she heard the baby on the end of the line.

“Yeah. Shh, shh.” Bren tried to hush Amy but she started to cry, “I better go, Jean. I think she’s probably needing her nappy changed.”

“No, no, that's fine. You go and sort her out. Give her a kiss from me and tell Tony we’re all asking for him.” Jean said.

“I will do. I’ll speak to you later.” Bren said.

“Speak to you later, bye Bren.” Jean said and the two hung up the phone.

“Right, missus.” Bren said as she lifted Amy up and checked if she needed her nappy changed, “You don’t need your nappy changed. What’s the matter then?” Amy continued to cry and Bren got up with Amy still in her arms. She bounced her gently, “Did you have a bad dream hm? Oh darling. It’s okay, it’s okay. Shh.”

Amy soon calmed down again and Bren put her down in the bassinet. It was after twelve and Bren decided to have her lunch. She heated up the pasta Tony had left for her in the fridge and ate it in the living room. Amy was still asleep and Bren took the opportunity to quickly tidy up the house. She put the washing on, cleaned the dishes and dusted the living room. She also went upstairs to hoover but found herself stopping every two minutes because she thought the baby was crying downstairs but nothing. 

Bren felt shattered when she came back downstairs to check on Amy. Amy was awake again. Bren checked the time. 

“Is it time for your feed?” Bren asked as she lifted her daughter up and sat down on the couch, “Come on then.”

Bren started to feed Amy as she watched the television. It was some mid-morning television show that was on but Bren was too tired to pay attention. She looked down to Amy with a smile, rubbing her back gently. When Amy was done, she burped her before holding her in her arms. Amy dozed off again and as Bren watched her daughter fall asleep, she felt her eyes starting to droop too.

A couple of hours later, Tony was back from work. He unlocked the door as he walked in and took off his coat. When he hung it up, Tony heard the television in the living room but no movement.

“Bren?” Tony called through the house. He walked to the living room door but looked down the hall to the kitchen, “Bren?” Tony then turned to look into the living room and noticed Bren on the couch. She had Amy in her arms and the two were fast asleep. Tony smiled as he walked in slowly, joining them on the couch. That’s when Bren opened her eyes, “Sorry. I didn’t mean to wake you.”

“No, it’s okay.” Bren replied tiredly as she rubbed her eyes, “What time is it?”

“Just after half three.” Tony replied, “I’ve just got home. Did you have a good kip?”

“Surprisingly I did.” Bren giggled. She looked down at Amy on her chest who started to wake up too, “Hello, my darling. Look who’s home.”

“Hello, sweetheart.” Tony said as Bren handed Amy over to him. He held her close as he kissed her head, “Have you had a good day with mummy?”

Bren giggled as she watched them. She rested her head on Tony’s shoulder as she yawned.

“You should get some more sleep.” Tony said softly.

“No, no. I’m okay.” Bren replied. She then looked up at him, “I got your note.”

“You did?”

“Yeah.”

“What did you think?”

“It was lovely. Thank you. You didn’t need to do that.”

“I wanted to though. Treat my girl right.” Tony nudged her gently, “I would have left something for Amy but I don’t really know what you leave for an almost month old baby.”

“That’s okay.” Bren smiled, “You don’t need to do any of that. I appreciate it though. I do.” She squeezed his arm, “You big softie.”

Tony chuckled as he looked at her. He leaned in and gave her a quick peck. 

“How was your day?” Bren asked.

“Alright. Quiet so that was a bonus.” Tony nodded. He looked up at Bren, “I was itching to get home.”

“I can imagine.” Bren chuckled. She then sat up and picked up her mug, “You want a brew?”

“Uh yeah, please. If there’s one going.” Tony smiled.

“Yes there is.” Bren nodded, “I better get tea sorted too.”

“Don’t bother with that, mate. I’ll do it.” Tony told her, “I’ll do the tea.”

“Are you sure?” Bren asked, leaning on the doorframe.

“Yeah. Unless we’ve all fallen asleep in an hour’s time.” Tony chuckled.

Bren laughed. She headed into the kitchen, listening to Tony talk to the baby as she started to make them their brews. There was something so comforting about listening to him talk to their child. She loved their life and knowing Tony was happy made Bren so happy. It was moments like this that made all the ‘waiting for the right moment’ worth it.

Chapter Text

Tony stood at the bar as he waited for his drink to be served to him. As he played with the money in his hands, Jane came over to the bar.

“Hiya, can I have another vodka and lemonade please?” Jane asked the barman who just gave her a nod. She looked up to Tony with a smile, “You alright, Tony?”

“Yeah, you?” Tony smiled.

“I’m great. I got speaking to that bloke over there in the Bermuda shorts.” Jane pointed, “Don’t know if anything will come of it though. He’s a bit weird but oh well, anything for a good night. Hey, what about you? Have you pulled?”

“No, of course I haven’t. Cheers, mate.” Tony rolled his eyes before thanking and paying the barman for his drink. He took a sip as he turned to Jane, “I’ve just been enjoying my night. On my own.”

“Oh come on, Tony! You’ve got to get with someone at least once on our holiday. It’s a piss up holiday, pulling someone is a must.” Jane exclaimed, “I mean, even Steve flipping Greengrass has pulled!”

“Poor lass.” Tony screwed up his face when he turned to look at Steve Greengrass in the corner with some woman he had met, “I don’t want to pull anyone. I just want to enjoy my beer.”

“You, Tony Martin, of all people don’t want to get it on with someone when you constantly ask people if they fancy a quick bunk up. Are you feeling alright? You’re not ill again, are you?” Jane asked.

“No, I’m not ill again. I just want to be on my own.” Tony tutted.

“Come on, Tony. What is it?” Jane crossed her arms, “Are you feeling shy? That would be a first!” She then paid for her drink, “Thanks.”

“No I’m not, Jane.” Tony huffed. He leaned back against the bar.

“Well there must be something! You’re usually not this grumpy and that’s saying something.” Jane scoffed. She then realised and a smile grew on her face, “Oh. Ohhh, I see how it is.”

“What?”

“It’s so clear now.”

“What?!”

“You, standing here on your own. Oh Jane, you can be so thick sometimes.”

“Jane, what are you getting at?”

“You’re missing Bren.” Jane pointed up at him.

“What?! I am not.” Tony stood up straight. That was the last thing he wanted to talk about. Especially with Jane who was in the running for ‘biggest gossip’ at HWD Components. That’s of course if it wasn’t for the other women he worked with.

“You are so!” Jane laughed.

“Am not.” Tony huffed.

“Are so!” Jane pointed, “I should have known. You’ve not stopped talking about her since we’ve been away.”

“Jane, I don’t want to do this now.” Tony sighed.

“No, come on. You’re clearly down in the dumps about her.” Jane shrugged, “We should talk about it.”

Tony looked at Jane. He knew that Jane didn’t mean any harm and she’s the only one from work that he had properly talked to about the way he felt about Bren. Bren had been on his mind the whole time he had been in Marbella. He thought it would probably be best if he did talk to Jane about her. He leaned against the bar.

“She should be here. Not flipping Steve Greengrass.” Tony huffed, “It would have been so much better if she was here.”

“But she isn’t here, Tony! To be honest, you can’t really blame her for helping her mum.” Jane shrugged.

“Her mother scrounges off of her and Bren’s too flipping kindhearted to stop her.” Tony sighed. He then chuckled sadly, “She even bought that stupid plug.”

“Oh Tony.” Jane patted his shoulder, “You can go on another holiday with her. Besides, she’s gonna be there when we go home.”

“It’s not the same though, is it?” Tony replied as he tore a bit of the sticker on his beer bottle off.

“The first thing you should do when you get home is ask her out.”

“I dunno.”

“You’re gonna be miserable if you don’t. Look at you now! You can’t be like this all the time. If she were here, you wouldn’t be like this.”

“Exactly.”

“You need to ask her out. You’re not going to get any further if you don’t make a move.”

“I dunno, Jane. It just doesn’t feel like the right time. I can’t explain it. It just doesn’t feel right.” Tony itched his head, “I can’t explain it. I don’t even know if I can do it.”

“Stop thinking about her then.” Jane shrugged.

“Eh?” Tony frowned.

“If it doesn’t feel right, then stop thinking about her. It’s clearly getting you down and if you’re not going to do something about it then forget about her.” Jane told him. 

“Well-.”

“Hey, Jane, Tony! Pose for the camera.” Steve came over with his Kodak camera in his hands.

“Here, Steve! Get this one.” Jane laughed before she turned to Tony, “Let’s kiss for the camera! Wind everyone up.”

“Alright.” Tony chuckled.

The two kissed briefly as Steve took the photo. They broke off the kiss straight after the flash. Jane and Steve laughed as they talked briefly before Steve walked off to his table.

“You coming to sit?” Jane asked, “Go on the pull?”

“I’ll come over in a minute. Might get another drink.” Tony said, shaking his now nearly empty beer bottle.

“Alright.” Jane nodded.

Tony looked over the bar as he watched all the couples at the tables. He was enjoying his holiday with his friends but there was something missing. Someone missing. Bren. She was like the missing piece in the puzzle for him. Tony understood what Jane was saying and he knew he had to make a move. Even if Bren did decline, at least he had tried. But he had to try. When he got home, he wouldn’t jump to things straight away. Tony wanted to wait and see if Bren would say anything. It was always worth the wait and if she didn’t make a move, he would. All in good time.

Chapter Text

Tony was finishing brushing his teeth when Bren came into the bathroom. She grabbed her toothbrush and put toothpaste onto the brush. The two were quiet as they brushed their teeth in the mirror. Tony spat out his toothpaste before rinsing his mouth and drying it on the towel. 

“Tony?” Bren said with her mouth full of toothpaste.

“Yeah?” Tony turned.

“Will you test me before we go to bed?” Bren asked before spitting out her toothpaste, “I think I need to go over some more things before tomorrow.”

“Yeah.” Tony nodded. He squeezed her shoulders as he smiled at her in the mirror, “I’ll see you in bed.”

Tony left the bathroom whilst Bren rinsed her mouth. She dried her face before grabbing her bottle of moisturiser, squeezing some onto her hands. She started moisturising her face as she went to leave the bathroom, turning off the light and heading to the bedroom. When she came into the room, Tony was just getting into bed as he grabbed the general knowledge book they had.

“You ready?” Tony asked.

“Yep.” Bren continued rubbing the moisturiser into her face.

“Right,” Tony opened the book, “Largest animal in the world?”

“Antarctic blue whale.” Bren replied.

“Correct.” Tony nodded, “Who painted the Mona Lisa?”

“Not Leonardo DiCaprio, da Vinci! Leonardo da Vinci!” Bren pointed.

“Correct.” Tony smiled. She could be so scatterbrained at times and that made him chuckle. He loved her for that, “Ooh, this is a good one. Largest country in the world?”

“Russia.” Bren replied whilst turning to brush her short curls.

“Good. What is the Queen’s surname?” Tony asked.

“Windsor. Oh wait, she might have that married name. Oh what is it again? His name. Not Mountview. Mountbatten! Mountbatten!” Bren turned as she rubbed her head, “Is it not Mountbatten-Windsor? Or is it the other way around because obviously, she’s the Queen.”

“It just says ‘Windsor’ here, mate.” Tony read the answer.

“Right.” Bren nodded. She grabbed her hand cream, “Let’s just keep going.”

“Okay. Who played Mrs Robinson in ‘The Graduate’?” Tony asked.

“Anne… Oh what’s her flipping name? I wanna say Boleyn but it’s not that. And it’s not Brontë either. ‘B’, ‘B’… Bancroft! Anne Bancroft!” Bren finally got it.

“Flipping heck, Bren. That took a while. You’re probably tired. We can do this tomorrow.” Tony said.

“No, no. We should keep going. Just for a little longer.” Bren rubbed the cream into her hands, “Come on, let’s just keep going.”

“Alright, alright.” Tony nodded, “Umm… For which 1964 musical film did Julie Andrews win the Oscar for Best Actress?”

“Oh, bloody hell. It’s not ‘The Sound of Music’, that was earlier, wasn’t it? Or was it later? Yes, it was later, 1965. ‘Mary Poppins’! Flipping ‘Mary Poppins’.” Bren replied as she seemed to get more and more panicky. She turned to the chest of drawers behind her as she started to sort her makeup products that were out in front of the mirror, “I better get all this stuff in order for tomorrow, eh? I’ll probably have to put more makeup on tomorrow than I usually do so I better sort it all out.”

“Bren?” Tony tried. He knew she was starting to get worked up.

“I need to be at the studio at half eleven. Oh that sounds strange saying that. ‘The studio’.” Bren giggled though her breath was a little shaky, “I sound like a film star.”

“Bren?” Tony got up from the bed.

“I wonder what the presenter will be like. What’s his name again? Henry thingygummybob. I’m sure I’ll remember tomorrow.” Bren shrugged, “He’s Irish, isn’t he?”

“Bren.” Tony turned her around with his hands on her shoulders. He took her flailing hands into his as he rubbed them, “Relax, just breath.” Bren took a deep breath, “You’re tired. You need to get some sleep.”

“No, no. I’m alright. We should keep going over it. At least a couple more questions, eh?” Bren tried to take her hands away.

“Bren, no, mate. You’re getting yourself worked up and you’re starting to forget things. We can pick this up tomorrow morning, when you’ve had some sleep.” Tony kept a hold of her hands. Bren looked up at him as she sighed. Tony could see the worry all over her face, especially in her eyes. Those big blue beautiful eyes. He chuckled, “You’ll be fine. You’ll be brilliant, trust me. My girl.”

“I don’t wanna let you down.” Bren said softly.

“Oh, mate. You’d never let me down, Bren.” Tony brought her into his arms. Bren rested her head on his chest as he rubbed her back, “You’ll smash it. You shouldn’t worry. And you know what? If you don’t win, it’ll be okay. We can save up. We’ll be okay.”

Bren just sighed softly in reply. Tony looked down at her and he smiled. He then lifted her chin so she could look at him.

“You’ll be fine.” Tony reassured her. Bren smiled a little smile, “You should get a bit of kip. I don’t want you to be knackered tomorrow.”

Bren nodded as Tony leaned in and kissed her forehead. The two went over to the bed and climbed underneath the covers. Bren immediately latched onto Tony and he wrapped his arms around her.

“I need to look for things to wear tomorrow. D’you think that blue shirt will do?” Bren asked.

“Yeah, that’ll be nice. No leggings though.” Tony nodded. He then looked down at her, “Bren?”

“What?” Bren looked at him.

“You do know I love you, don’t you?” Tony never broke eye contact with her. He wanted her to know how much she meant to him. He had fallen for her hard and he couldn’t be happier. He was so proud of her too, “I love you so much.”

Bren couldn’t deny the butterflies filling her stomach at that moment. It was still early days and they only really started saying those three words recently and to be honest, they hadn’t told each other enough. Hearing him say that made her feel like she was floating ten feet in the air. She could feel the heat crawling up her face as she tried to suppress the big grin growing on her face.

“I love you too.” Bren replied as she finally grinned at him.

Tony smiled down at her, lifting her chin enough to let him press his lips against hers. The kiss was gentle and loving. So loving. They broke off the short kiss as they smiled at one another but as soon as they broke off the kiss, they were back kissing each other again. Tony’s hands moved down to Bren’s waist whilst one of her hands moved to his cheek and the other to his shoulder. They kept each other close as the kiss deepened. Tony relaxed onto his back as Bren now rested over his chest. When they broke off the kiss, they looked at each other, still wearing the smiles they had on their faces earlier. 

“You alright?” Tony asked her quietly.

“Yeah.” Bren replied at the same volume. They didn’t quite know why they were whispering when they were in their home with no one else in the flat with them but they didn’t care. Bren moved her hand from his cheek to his shoulder, “Turn the light off.”

Tony smiled with a little chuckle leaving his lips. He leant over, turning off the lamp on the bedside table. Leaving the room in darkness.

Chapter Text

Bren walked into the kitchen, turning the lights on before going into the office. She took off her anorak and went over to the water boiler and turned it on. As it warmed up, Bren kept her hands close to the boiler to keep them warm. She turned when she saw Norman bringing in their bread.

“Morning, Norman.” Bren walked around the kitchen, “How are you?”

“Not good. I just had quite the morning, I don’t want to go into details but let’s just say I had quite the panic attack next to the torpedos. Y’know I fell off a diving board in Guernsey?” Norman said in his dull tone.

“Yeah.” Bren nodded as she signed for the bread, “You should speak to Philippa, our human resources woman. I’m sure she’d have some breathing exercises or something like that that could help.”

“No. I practice enough breathing exercises as it is from my therapist. She thinks I should get out of this job, go into something more light.” Norman replied, “How’s Tony?”

“He’s got the all clear.” Bren grinned up to Norman, “It’s his first day back today. I think he’s coming in soon. You can stick around if you like.”

“No, I better not. I need to make a move actually.” Norman nodded, “I’ll see you later.”

“See you, Norman.” Bren waved. Norman left and Bren put the bread away as Stan was just coming in, “Morning, Stan.”

“Morning.” Stan smiled, “D’you want me to have a look at your toaster?”

“Oh please. I haven’t had it on yet but yesterday, it was playing up a bit.” Bren explained.

“I’m sure I can get it sorted. Is there a brew going?” Stan went over to the toaster.

“Yeah. The boiler’s just heating up the now.” Bren went to the boiler.

“Alma Cogan didn’t sing ‘Goldfinger’ you witless dingbat, that was Shirley Bassey!” Jean said as she walked into the kitchen, Dolly leading the way.

“Well, she sounded a lot like her in that song.” Dolly shrugged.

“She sounded nothing like her.” Jean rolled her eyes as she looked at Bren, “She thought Alma Cohan sung ‘Goldfinger’.”

“Ooh, Dolly, that’s a new low.” Bren laughed.

“It was an easy mistake to make.” Dolly popped her head out of the office, “Especially when you have such a wide knowledge of that time.”

“You must be joking.” Jean rolled her eyes again before following Dolly into the office.

“Dolly, full fat or semi-skimmed?” Bren asked.

“Semi-skimmed.” Dolly replied.

“Tony not in yet?” Jean asked.

“Not yet.” Bren replied, “He didn’t say what time he would be in exactly. Just said that he’d be in in the morning.”

“Well, he can be quite wishy-washy with his time keeping.” Dolly added.

Bren continued making the tea whilst Jean and Dolly got changed in the office. Stan still tinkered with the toaster. Anita then walked into the canteen.

“Hiya, Anita.” Bren smiled, “You alright?”

“Yeah.” Anita nodded before going over to Bren, “Hey, Bren.”

“What?”

“Apparently they’re talking about Celine Dion doing Eurovision again. That’ll be so exciting.”

“Oh, really?” Bren tried to seem not too interested but now she was confused, “Is she not a bit above Eurovision with her Grammys and all that? And she’s already done it before.”

“You can do it more than once.” Anita explained, “And she’s very humble. D’you know she likes to collect shoes?”

“Must be nice for some.” Bren shrugged, “You seen Twinkle?”

“She was just walking up when I was coming into the car park.” Anita replied before going into the office.

Philippa came into the kitchen from the half door. She fiddled with her papers on her clipboard as she came in.

“Morning.” Philippa called, “Is Tony in yet?”

“Not yet, he’ll be here soon probably. Do you need him?” Bren asked.

“Just to give him these and to check in really.” Philippa showed her the leaflets she held, “This is just to help him to get back into the swing of things.”

“I can give them to him if you’re busy.” Bren offered.

“No, no. It’s a quiet morning today. I can wait.” Philippa smiled, “How’s he doing?”

“Good. D’you want a brew?”

“Please.”

“Alright. Yeah, he’s looking a lot better. I saw him after work on Friday.”

“Oh brilliant. I bet he’s pleased about getting the all clear.”

“Yeah, he definitely seemed it.”

“Is he in? Cardiman?” Twinkle announced her arrival, already wearing overall.

“Not yet. You alright? Did you have a good weekend?” Bren asked as she prepared Philippa and Twinkle’s mugs.

“No, flipping boring.” Twinkle huffed as she took off her puffer jacket.

“I thought you were going to that new club. What was it called? Not visibility.” Bren tried to rake her brain.

“Vision.” Twinkle corrected her, “It was like a flipping hospital. Still had that new plasticy smell and all the people, you couldn’t get any sadder than them. I was actually expecting to see Dolly there. Better going to the Cameo.”

“Flipping heck, is that still open?” Bren’s eyes widened.

“Lisa used to go there. Her and Dolly’s Stephen went a lot after they left school.” Jean stepped out as she fiddled with her hat.

“I live not far from the Cameo.” Stan walked over to the boiler as Bren handed him his tea.

“Do you?” Jean asked with a smile.

“Yeah, around the corner.” Stan nodded before his smile dropped, “Always very noisey on a Saturday.”

They heard footsteps approaching outside the kitchen. They all turned, waiting to see who it was. Tony came in from the other side door. He was greeted with lots of ‘hello’s’ and ‘good morning’s’ to which he could not help but smile.

“Morning.” Tony smiled as he walked around the kitchen to stand next to Bren, “Survive without me?”

“Of course. I’m resilient, me.” Bren giggled, “Coffee?”

“You read my mind, mate.” Tony chuckled.

“How are you feeling, Tony?” Dolly asked.

“Yeah, better. Glad to be back.” Tony nodded, giving Bren a gentle nudge.

“You look a lot better.” Jean said before taking a sip of her tea.

“Flattery will get you everywhere, Jean.” Tony said in his usual sarcastic tone. Bren then handed him his coffee, “Cheers, Bren.” He took a sip, “We not getting any work done then?”

“We were waiting for you.” Anita looked over Jean’s shoulder.

“Yeah. Give you a big welcome back to work.” Jean nodded.

“Well, you could start by getting that bacon on the go.” Tony pointed, “I think I’m going to have a fag.”

“Tony?” Twinkle followed after him to the fire escape.

“No!” Tony replied.

“Oh Tony! Please.” Twinkle pleaded.

”Shut the door!” Both Bren and Jean shouted.

“Well, nice to see he’s back to normal.” Dolly said.

“Yes, he definitely looks well.” Philippa nodded, “Bren, I’ll leave these leaflets here. I’ll check in with him later, let him get settled in.”

“No probs.” Bren nodded.

Later on, they were ready to open up the canteen. Everyone busied themselves with their work as Twinkle and Jean put the shutters up. Jane was there as usual, asking for her twelve rounds of white with low-fat spread. 

“You alright, Tony?” Jane smiled as she waited for her toast, “Good to see you back.”

“Good to be back.” Tony nodded.

“I heard you got the all clear.” Jane crossed her arms.

“Yeah, I did. Best day of my life.” Tony smiled, “Now I can spend the rest of my days working in here. Making bacon and toast for our lovely factory workers.”

“Nice to see you’ve still got that lovely sense of humour.” Jane sighed. Bren handed her toast to her, “Thanks Bren.”

“How’re you doing?” Tony asked when Bren returned to the toaster. 

“I’m good.” Bren nodded before giving his arm a light punch, “What about you? Are you alright?”

“Yeah.”

“Not too tired or anything. You can always leave at lunchtime if it’s too much for you.”

“No, no. I’m alright. I’ve never felt better.”

“Aww, I’m glad.” Bren smiled, “It is good to have you back.”

“It is?” Tony raised a brow.

“Of course it is.” Bren replied.

“Missed me then?” Tony smirked.

“Y’know, I did actually.” Bren leaned on the side.

“Bren, this isn’t the time to admit your undying love for me.” Tony joked, crossing his arms with a cheeky grin.

“Oh, ha-ha.” Bren rolled her eyes with a giggle. She looked up at him with a smile. They were quiet for a moment, unaware that they were admiring the other. Bren crossed her arms too, “It has been strange without you. And hard, considering we’ve been short staffed. But that’s obviously not my concern. You’re alright now, that’s what matters, doesn’t it?”

“Yeah.” Tony nodded, “Things seem to be running smoothly today.”

“Yeah, they do, don’t they? We’re working really well today.” Bren looked around the kitchen.

“Well, you’ve got me back, haven’t you?” Tony laughed before giving her a little nudge, “We’re best when we’re together.”

Bren smiled when he said this. She knew it was true. They were always out of sorts when one of them was gone, even if it was for one day. They worked so well as a team and even if they bickered and disagreed, they were still, in a way, a family. That’s definitely how Bren saw it. They were her family and she trusted them a lot. She wasn’t lost on the double meaning of that sentence too. She could not deny the way she felt about Tony, especially after everything he went through. She was so happy to have him back and know he was okay. He meant so much to her and she had an idea that he maybe felt the same but she couldn’t be sure. But that didn’t matter. What mattered was that he was alright and he was back. And it would only be a matter of time before she finally pluck up the courage to let him know how she felt. But for now, that could wait.

“Yeah.” Bren smiled, feeling her cheeks heat up a little, “I guess we are.”

Chapter Text

“Here you go, Jane.” Bren passed the last of Jane’s toast to her over the counter.

“Cheers, Bren.” Jane acknowledged her as she paid Jean.

Bren was walking back to the toast when Anita was coming out of the office. Tony had got a call from Anita’s mum and Anita went to take the call whilst Tony covered for her at the bacon. Anita seemed upset and Bren went to check on her.

“You alright, Anita?” Bren asked.

“Not really. You know I have that birthday party tomorrow night?” Anita explained.

“Yeah.” Bren nodded.

“Well, that was my mum the now. She said the nanny can’t look after Ajay, she’s got a bug.” Anita said.

“Oh no.” Bren crossed her arms.

“I don’t know what to do. It’s my cousin’s birthday, I’m so close with her. We used to have Celine nights before I had the baby, we’re that close.” Anita played with her fingers, “I can’t not go, Bren. And everyone is going to be there so it’s not like I can ask mum.”

“Well, me and Tony aren’t busy tomorrow night. We can look after him.” Bren offered. 

“Really?” Anita lit up. Bren was always so kind to her and she appreciated it but she didn’t want to burden them with the baby.

“Yeah.” Bren tapped her shoulder, “I just need to talk to Tony and make sure we’re not doing anything.”

“What do you need to talk to Tony about?” Tony came up behind Bren.

“Tomorrow night, we’re not doing anything, are we?” Bren turned to him.

“I don’t think so.” Tony shook his head, “How?”

“Anita’s got a party tomorrow night and I offered to look after the baby. That should be alright, won’t it?” Bren asked.

“Yeah.” Tony nodded with a smile, “That’d be good fun. He could help you get ready for Totally Trivial.”

“Are you sure it’s alright?” Anita asked.

“Of course! It’ll be no trouble, will it, mate?” Tony squeezed Bren’s shoulder.

“Not at all.” Bren smiled up at him.

“Thanks, Bren.” Anita hugged Bren before hugging Tony, “Thanks, Tony.”

Anita went back to the bacon to continue working as Bren and Tony shared a smile. They were looking forward to looking after Anita’s baby. What could go wrong?

- - -

The next night

- - -

“I think that’s everything.” Anita said as she set up the travel cot. Bren held the baby as Anita got up, “He’ll be hungry around half seven and then at nineish. Then after that, he should sleep until I come back.”

“No probs. We’ll have a great night, won’t we?” Bren talked to Ajay, grinning down at him, “Won’t we? Won’t we?”

“Do you know what time you’ll be back?” Tony asked as he came over.

“I should be back around eleven but I’ll phone you if anything changes.” Anita nodded. She checked her watch, “Oh I better make a move.” Bren handed Ajay to Anita as she said goodbye to the baby, “Bye bye, sweetheart. Bye bye.”

Ajay didn’t get too upset when Anita left. Tony locked the door after Anita as Bren held baby Ajay. He turned to them and couldn’t help but smile.

“Shall I get tea sorted?” Tony asked.

“Yeah. What are you wanting?” Bren asked.

“Hm? What about pizza? Chippie? Indian?” Tony suggested before the both of them nodded at the same time and said in unison, “Chippie.” Tony went into the kitchen, “I’ll phone up.”

“Alright.” Bren replied before turning back to Ajay, “We’re going to have fun, eh? Let’s go play whilst Uncle Tony phones for our tea.”

Bren took Ajay to the living room as she sat down on the couch with him sitting in her lap facing her. As Tony ordered their dinner, he looked over his shoulder to check on Bren. He could see her making silly faces and talking to Ajay who giggled a little. Tony smiled. She was so good with Ajay and he was surprised how quickly she had taken to looking after him. She was a total natural. In a way, it made things sadder that Tony couldn’t have children and that he would never get that chance to see Bren be like that with their own baby.

“I think you need changed, mister.” Bren said when Tony finally hung up the call with the chippie. He turned to look at her again and noticed Bren changing Ajay’s nappy. He smiled again. He didn’t want to dwell on all of that tonight, especially knowing how it would make Bren feel.

“You need any help?” Tony asked.

“Um, yeah actually. Can you get the nappies from the bag?” Bren pointed. Ajay started to whine slightly, “Oh, it’s alright. Shh, shh. Uncle Tony’s just getting you a clean nappy.” Tony handed her the nappy, “Thanks. Come on then, Ajay. Let’s clean that smelly bum.”

After Bren changed Ajay’s nappy, he was starting to get tired so Bren lay him down in the travel cot for a quick nap. The door went for their dinner and Tony answered it, paying for their order. Bren and Tony ate their dinner in front of the television whilst Ajay slept. It was quiet in the flat between them.

“He’s been no bother, has he?” Tony looked at the sleeping baby.

“No, he hasn’t.” Bren smiled, “Anita did say he had a good temperament. He’s a lovely baby.”

“Don’t they say that babies sleep a lot when they’re newborns?” Tony asked.

“Yeah. Mind you, he’s nearly two months old. Not really a newborn anymore.” Bren replied.

“Flipping heck. Two months. It’s gone by fast, eh?” Tony looked at her.

“I know. We had just coming back from Scotland.” Bren smiled.

“Yeah. All loved up.” Tony said before putting his now empty fish box down on the table. He then grabbed Bren’s fish box and put it down. Before she could protest, he leaned in to kiss her face, “Still loved up, eh?”

“Tony.” Bren giggled as she lay back on the couch. Tony continued to kiss her face as Bren laughed, “Let me finish my tea.”

“I thought you’d be too in love to eat. They do say you lose your appetite when you fall in love.” Tony laughed.

“Oh shush.” Bren rolled her eyes, giggling again. Before Tony could kiss her again, Ajay started to whine from the cot. Bren looked at the clock and noticed it was half seven. She tapped Tony’s upper arm to let her up, “He needs fed.”

Tony let Bren get up to get Ajay’s bottle. Tony got up to calm Ajay. He picked him up from the cot as he bounced him gently.

“It’s just coming.” Tony told him as he rubbed his back, “Auntie Bren’s coming.”

“Here we are.” Bren came over with the bottle, “You hungry, love?” She handed the bottle to Tony, “You’ll manage, won’t you?”

“I’ll try.” Tony chuckled. He sat down with Ajay in his arms as he gave Ajay his bottle, “There we go. No bother at all.”

Bren chuckled, joining them on the couch to finish her dinner. They were quiet again, peace falling on them like a blanket. Bren put her empty fish box on the coffee table when she sat back on the couch. She rested her head on Tony’s shoulder as she watched Ajay feeding.

“He’s gotten big.” Bren said softly.

“He has. He was tiny the last time we saw him, and that was only two weeks ago.” Tony chuckled.

They didn’t say much as they continued to watch Ajay drink the milk. Bren got up to tidy their rubbish and clean their cutlery. Whilst Bren was at the sink, Ajay stopped feeding and started to whine.

“Oh, Bren. What do I do?” Tony asked, “Does he need burped?”

“Yeah. Just pat his back gently.” Bren replied, “Make sure you’ve got the towel there.”

“Can you grab it? My hands are full.” Tony asked as he stood.

“Uh huh.” Bren rushed over to get the towel and put it over his shoulder.

Tony patted Ajay’s back gently. Bren finished with the dishes and came over to the two. Ajay finally burped but a bit of spit up came up.

“Is he alright?” Tony asked, panicking slightly that he had done something wrong.

“Yeah. It’s just spit up, isn’t it?” Bren smiled at Ajay as she wiped his face, “You’re alright, aren’t you?”

Almost on cue, Ajay started to cry. Both Bren and Tony’s faces dropped.

“Bren?”

“Yep?”

“I think he needs his nappy changed. And I think it’s a number two.”

Bren and Tony lay Ajay down on the baby mat as Bren got the new nappy for Tony. Tony opened up Ajay’s nappy and both Bren and Tony’s eyes widened.

“Oh dear.” Tony said softly.

“Oh dear indeed.” Bren replied. She grabbed the wet wipes, “Come on. We can power through it.”

Tony and Bren managed to get Ajay clean and changed without retching too much. Bren thought it would be best to change Ajay’s baby grows so that’s what they did. They felt like they were in the clear when Ajay started to cry again.

“What’s up now?” Bren asked softly as she picked up Ajay.

“He can’t be hungry again?” Tony asked.

“No, that’s not it.” Bren shook her head, “Do you want to play, hm? Let’s play with your rattle.” Bren grabbed Ajay’s rattle and shook it but that didn’t work, “Okay, so you don’t want to play.”

“Maybe check his grow.” Tony said as he took Ajay from Bren and tried to fix the baby’s clothes. Ajay’s cries started to get louder, “It’s alright, Ajay. Shh, shh. I’m just trying to make you comfy.”

“I don’t think it’s that. Are you sore? We should maybe check he’s not got any nappy rash or anything.” Bren then took Ajay as his cries got louder. Bren went to check if he had any nappy rash or if there was anything hurting him but nothing. Ajay continued to cry louder, “Oh come on, love.”

“He’s probably tired, Bren. Let’s sit down and he could get to sleep.” Tony suggested.

“Okay.” Bren nodded though she wasn’t sure. She could feel the stress of Ajay’s cries kicking in. She hated seeing him so upset and didn’t want him to be uncomfortable, especially if it was so obvious to them. Bren sat down as Ajay rested across her chest. Almost instantly, Ajay seemed to calm down and doze off. Bren took a big sigh of relief, “Thank God.”

“Poor little lad.” Tony chuckled as he stroked Ajay’s hair gently, “Some parents we’d make. Well, me anyway. You’d be a brilliant mum.”

Bren just smiled as she looked down at Ajay. She patted the baby’s back gently to soothe him. She finally looked at Tony. She wished she could change things for them and for Tony especially. Though he hadn’t talked about it properly, Bren knew Tony was upset about the fact he could not have children. She just wished she could make it better for him.

“You’d be a brilliant dad too, y’know?”

Tony looked at Bren. She wore a sad smile on her lips. He knew there was more that the two of them could say but it was not the time. Tony wasn’t sure when the time would come for them to talk about it. He gave her a smile before the two looked back at the baby.

It was pretty much smooth sailing until Anita came to get Ajay. Ajay was happy to see his mother but clearly very tired. Bren and Tony helped Anita with the baby’s things before coming back up to the flat. The couple sat down on the couch with a big huff from the both of them.

“I am knackered.” Bren sighed.

“Me too, mate.” Tony replied as he lay back on the couch, “We didn’t even get to go over your Totally Trivial stuff.”

“We can do it tomorrow.” Bren yawned. She then turned to Tony and lay across his chest. Tony wrapped his arms around her as she cuddled in, “You alright?”

“Yeah.” Tony sighed, “You?”

“Mhm.” Bren only managed to say.

“It was nice to have Ajay, eh? Although, I don’t know if I could handle looking after him every weekend.” Tony said which made Bren chuckle.

Bren looked up at him, wearing a tired smile. They said nothing as the two leaned in and gave each other a quick peck. They shared a smile before cuddling into one another once more. They lay on the couch for a few minutes and Tony was aware of them starting to doze.

“Come on, Bren. Let’s get to our beds.”

Bren just groaned, cuddling into him more.

“Come on, mate. The quicker we get up, the quicker we can sleep.”

“We can sleep here.”

“Yeah, if you want to wake up with a bad back. Let’s go.”

“Just carry me.” Bren muffled into his chest, her eyes closed.

“That can be arranged.” Tony shrugged. He managed to get up from under Bren and went to grab her.

“Tony, no! Tony!” Bren laughed as Tony lifted her up by the waist. She wrapped her arms around his neck as she tried to get off him, “Tony!”

Chapter Text

Bren opened her eyes slowly as her alarm went off. She lifted her head as she stretched over and turned it off. She lay on her back for a moment as she yawned and stretched out her legs before looking at Tony next to her. He was still asleep, practically out for the count. Bren felt bad having to wake him up but they had to get up for work.

“Tony?” Bren said softly, shaking his shoulder, “Tony, we need to get up. Tony?”

Tony groaned, rolling over with his back now to Bren. Bren shook his shoulder again, a little harder to get him to wake up.

“Come on, Tony.” Bren said, “We need to get up.”

“Five more minutes.” Tony mumbled into the pillow.

“I’m not falling for that. We’ll be late if you have five more minutes.”

“No, we won’t.”

“Yes we will.”

“Five more minutes.” Tony just repeated as he buried his face further into his pillow.

Bren sighed. She looked around their room, trying to figure out if she should just leave him in bed or try to get him up. She decided that she was just going to leave him.

“Well, I’m going to hop in the shower. If you’re not up when I’m out then you’ll be in trouble.” Bren pushed the covers off her legs and went to get up from the bed. Before she could get up from the bed, she felt arms wrap around her waist and bring her back down to the bed. She laughed, Tony’s arms tightening around her waist, “Tony, I need to get up.”

“Just stay in bed.” Tony cuddled into her

“We can’t.” Bren reminded him. She felt Tony’s arms loosen a little and Bren took that as an opportunity to get up.

“Come back to bed.” Tony laughed, pulling her back into his arms.

“Tony.” Bren groaned. She sighed as she relaxed back. She then rolled over in his arms to now face him, “We need to get up.”

“Nah. Let’s have a day off.”

“You know we can’t.”

“We could.”

“Tony.”

“Come on, Bren. Let’s just stay in bed.”

“We need to get up.” 

“We should stay in bed.”

“Oh come on, Tony. Look, today will be over before you know it.”

“Yeah and think about all the rubbish we’ll listen to throughout today.” Tony rolled his eyes, “Can’t wait! Always the bleeding same.”

“No, it isn’t.” Bren looked at him. She then cuddled into his chest, “I know it isn’t always fun working at the canteen but we’ll be in Scotland soon. When we’ve saved up, we’ll be away.”

“And how long will that take?” Tony asked, laying back into the pillows.

Bren chewed the inside of her mouth. She wished she could say something that would ease him and at least encourage him to keep on working at the canteen until they had enough money. She sighed softly, kissing his cheek as she leaned down onto his chest.

“Well, I’m going to shower.” Bren got up from the bed. She walked over to the bedroom door, “You can stay here but you need to be up by the time I’m out.”

“Yeah, yeah.” Tony relaxed into the pillows, his hands behind his head. 

“Or you could always join me.” Bren leaned against the door with a smirk on her face, “We could save both water and time.” Tony lifted his head to look at her, a smile growing on his face. She then shrugged, “It’s up to you.”

“Come here.” Tony jumped out of bed and followed Bren down the hall as she started to giggle. Bren jogged down the hall as Tony caught up with her. The two laughed as Tony grabbed her by the waist, Bren opening the door of the bathroom.

Chapter Text

Bren sighed as she put the bread away. Norman had just been in but now the kitchen was empty again. It was a little too quiet for Bren in the kitchen. She tried to busy herself with work but she found herself not being able to focus.

“Morning!” Stan walked in with his orange cone.

“Morning, Stan.” Bren turned as she crossed her arms, “You alright?”

“Yeah. I woke up to a lovely breakfast from Jean this morning. And a Valentine’s card that had kissing screwdrivers on it. And a new toolbox! I’m in a great mood!” Stan grinned.

“Aww that’s nice.” Bren replied as she went over to the boiler to start making brews for everyone when they came in, “What did you get her?”

“Well you know that wallpaper table Keith wanted off of her at New Year?”

“Yeah.”

“Well, I threw that out and got her a nice new one. Even bigger than the other, she’s thinking of redecorating the spare bedroom and it was perfect for it. I also got her a nice pair of earrings. My feminine side is coming out.”

“That’s nice.” Bren smiled but she was too occupied in her thoughts to continue the conversation.

“What about you then? Anything nice from Tony?” Stan asked.

“Um, no. He left early this morning, I haven’t seen him actually.” Bren itched the back of her head.

“Oh I’m sure he’s got a surprise up his sleeve. He usually does.” Stan gave her a little nudge before looking down at his orange cone, “I better make a move. I’ve got an urinal caper on the ground floor. I’ll be back for my brew.”

“See ya.” Bren said.

“Morning!” Dolly said as she walked in with Jean following behind. She came over to Bren, “Oh Bren, look.” She showed her a new bracelet she was wearing, “Bob got me that for Valentine’s Day. He even got up early to give it to me.”

“It’s nice.” Bren nodded as she crossed her arms.

“I’m going to take it off. I want to keep it safe, you know.” Dolly fiddled with the bracelet before turning to Jean, “Jean, show her your earrings.”

“Do you like them?” Jean showed off the little pearl earrings to Bren, “Simple but they’re nice eh?”

“Yeah, lovely.” Bren nodded.

“I thought it was a nice gesture from Stan considering he got me another wallpaper table but he knows I’m thinking of doing up the spare bedroom so it’s the thought that counts.” Jean shrugged as she went into the office.

“What did you get from Tony then, Bren?” Dolly poked her head out of the office as she took off her coat, “I’m sure he’s spoiled you rotten.”

“Yeah, how did he find a way to top your birthday?” Jean asked.

“I haven’t got anything from him. Well, not that I’m aware of. He had to leave early for some reason so I haven’t seen him this morning.” Bren played with her fingers.

“Oh really? That’s odd. Did he not say anything to you?” Dolly asked.

“He left a note. He said he had a meeting or something. It’s quite early to leave though.” Bren looked at the ground before smiling to the two older women, “Probably about the Christmas do or something. Y’know how they like to talk about it really early in the year.”

“Yeah.” Jean nodded as she turned to Dolly. She kept her voice down so Bren couldn’t hear her, “She’s upset.”

“Well, I would be too! It’s not like Tony to scuttle off early in the morning.” Dolly started to fiddle with the clasp of her bracelet.

“Hmm. He’ll have got her something. He’s besotted with her, everyone knows that.” Jean shrugged, “Well, except her. I think it would help if he actually told her how he felt. No wonder she thought he didn’t like her anymore at Christmas.”

As Jean and Dolly continued their discussion in the office, Twinkle and Anita came in. They were talking quietly when they noticed Bren at the boiler.

“Hiya.” Anita smiled.

“Hi.” Bren smiled back. She knew they wouldn’t pester her with their Valentine’s Day gifts, “How was the baby’s check up?”

“It went really well. The midwife said he’s the fastest growing baby she’s had. Especially with how he was so little when he was born.” Anita told her.

“Aww.” Bren smiled, “I’m glad he’s doing well.”

“Yeah.” Anita nodded before going into her bag. She pulled out a Valentine’s Day card and opened it up, “Look what my mum did for me. Look at his little handprints.”

“Aww, lovely.” Bren giggled at Anita’s son’s handprint in the card. Bren thought it was lovely what Anita’s mum did for her but after the morning she had, that was the last thing she wanted to see. Bren was actually looking forward to Twinkle’s stories of the night before. As Anita went to show Jean and Dolly the card, Twinkle came over, “You alright, Twink?”

“Yeah. What did Tony get you for Valentine’s Day then?” Twinkle asked with a smile.

“I dunno actually. I haven’t seen him this morning actually.” Bren shrugged.

“You what?” Twinkle frowned, “Where is he? You’ve not fallen out with him, have you?”

“No. He left early for some meeting.” Bren played with her fingers.

“Aw, Bren, that’s really manky.”

“Never mind that, how was your weekend?”

“Alright actually. I went to a Valentine’s thingyummy last night at that nightclub near the petrol station.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah. Met a bloke too. Probably won’t see him again but it was fun for the night. He even gave me flowers on the way home which was different.”

“Lovely.” Bren muttered under her breath when Twinkle went into the office.

Bren made all the teas and coffees for everyone. As she stirred the beveridges, she could feel a lump in her throat forming but she tried her best to suppress it. She knew Tony would have an explanation for not giving her anything but it still hurt. Especially with everyone else shoving their Valentine’s Day gifts and cards down her throat. Bren took a sip of her tea and she could hear Philippa in the canteen talking to someone. That was all she needed.

“Morning.” Philippa came into the kitchen. She rushed over to Bren, “Bren, look what Tom got me.” She wore a ring on her finger, “Pretty, isn’t it? We’re not engaged but he thought that I would like a ring for Valentine’s Day. A sort of promise thing.”

“Lovely.” Bren nodded. She really was not interested and she really did not feel like explaining why she hadn’t got anything off of Tony, “I’m just going to the toilet quickly. Excuse me.”

“Is she alright?” Philippa asked when Bren scuttled off to the toilet, “She seems a bit down in the dumps.”

“Tony didn’t get her anything for Valentine’s Day.” Jean crossed her arms.

“She’s not even seen him this morning.” Dolly added, “There’s definitely something going on.”

“I’m sure there’s an explanation. Tony’s bonkers about her.” Philippa sighed, “He wouldn’t have forgotten.”

“Try telling Bren that.” Twinkle crossed her arms as Stan walked in.

“Bren’s a sensitive soul. She jumps to conclusions very quickly.” Stan added.

“Maybe we should make her something.” Anita suggested, “All of us pitch in to get her something.”

“Shh. I think that’s Tony!” Jean said.

They all clambered into the office as Tony walked into the kitchen. He didn’t see them looking through the windows, clearly too occupied with looking for Bren.

Bren came out of the bathroom. She sniffled quietly as she wiped her nose with the tissue in her hand. She was about to go into the office to change into her overalls when she noticed Tony standing in front of the toaster. He smiled over the toaster but it wasn’t until she walked around the kitchen to see what he held in his hands. In one hand, Tony held a bouquet of white and yellow daisies which were Bren’s favourite. In the other, he held a box of chocolates and an envelope that clearly had a card in it.

“You alright?” Tony asked. She looked upset and that worried him.

“Mhm. I thought you were at that meeting?” Bren frowned. She tried to stand her ground, knowing he was lying especially after overhearing the conversation between the others when she went into the bathroom.

“I lied. I went to get these for you.” Tony pointed at the flowers, “I wanted them to be fresh.”

“You left early to get fresh flowers?” Bren raised a brow. Things didn’t seem right. Her stomach turned to knots. She prepared herself for the worst.

“Oh, and this actually.” He handed her the flowers and chocolates. He went into his inside coat pocket and took out a flat square black velvet box. He handed it to Bren when she put down the flowers and chocolates, “This was the most important thing. It’s not a lot but I wanted you to have something nice.”

Bren opened the box up and noticed the necklace inside. It was a simple gold necklace with a little diamond pendant on the chain. It wasn’t totally extravagant but it was definitely beautiful.

“You know that mate I’ve got that’s a jeweller? I went to see him the other week to get my mum her birthday present and I saw that in his catalogue but he was out of stock. He phoned last night though and said he had it in so that’s why I rushed off this morning.” Tony explained.

“It’s beautiful.” Bren nodded as she looked at the necklace. She could feel the tears trickling down her cheeks but she didn’t care. She was so touched he went out of his way to get it for her but she also felt bad for thinking the worst of him. She finally looked up at him, “It’s all really lovely, thank you.”

“Only the best for my girl.” Tony smiled. The two laughed but Bren ducked her head as she let her tears flow. Tony stepped forward as he lifted her chin, “Hey. What’s up?”

”It doesn’t matter.”

”It does matter, you’re upset. Come on, mate.”

“I thought you forgot this morning.” Bren said softly, “I thought that’s why you had disappeared.”

“No, you lame brain! I was away getting those for you.” Tony chuckled but he could see how upset Bren was. He brought her into his arms, “I’m sorry, mate. I didn’t mean to leave you.”

“No, it’s okay.” Bren giggled as she wrapped her arms around his neck, “I shouldn’t have thought that.”

“I don’t blame you for thinking that. But I wouldn’t do that to you.”

“I know. I’m really sorry.”

“Don’t be. It should be me apologising. Did you get in okay?”

“Yeah. The bus was quiet.”

“Good.” Tony smiled. He then wiped her tears with his thumb, careful not to smudge her mascara. The two leaned in, kissing one another as they wrapped their arms around each other. They broke off the kiss before giving each other one last peck, “Happy Valentine’s Day.”

“Happy Valentine’s Day.” Bren giggled gently. They kissed again before hugging tightly.

“What are you lot doing?” Tony asked. Bren stayed close to him as she looked over her shoulder.

“Just making sure you’re treating our Bren right.” Jean told him as she pointed to him.

“Yeah, not leaving her own for too long.” Twinkle added.

“Yeah, yeah.” Tony rolled his eyes, “You all knew I was going to spoil her, don’t lie.”

Everyone soon got to work doing what they needed to do in the kitchen whilst Philippa and Stan left the kitchen. Tony went to put Bren’s flowers in a vase as Bren opened her card from Tony. ‘Dear Bren. Happy Valentine’s Day! I love you lots, mate. Love Tony xxx’ the card read. Bren could feel her heart warm reading that.

“Happy?” Tony asked as he put the flowers down in their vase.

“Yeah. Thank you.” Bren nodded with a smile but it then dropped, “Oh no. Your stuff’s at home.”

“That’s okay, mate. I can get it when we go home.” Tony wrapped his arm around her and gave her shoulder a squeeze, “It’s good to see you were more prepared than me.”

“It’s not a lot really. Not like this.” Bren replied.

“Doesn’t matter. I’ve got you, haven’t I? That’s enough for me.” Tony gave her a wink, “I love you, Bren.”

“I love you too.” Bren smiled. She stood on her tiptoes and wrapped her arm around his neck as she kissed him. Tony put his arms on her waist.

“Get a room!” Twinkle said as she walked past the couple.

“Look, I’m trying to have a flaming moment with my girlfriend here!” Tony replied sarcastically before softening when he looked down at Bren, “Come on, let’s get back to work. We’ve got enough time to kiss later.”

“Can't wait.” Bren said quietly so only he could hear. Tony looked at her with a smile, giving her one last peck on the cheek before going to sort out the carrots.

Chapter Text

“Right,” Stan rubbed his hands together as he turned the ignition on, “You don’t mind waiting a couple of minutes for the car to heat up. I don’t like to drive the car unless I know it’s warmed up.”

“No, that’s fine.” Bren smiled, “It’s freezing anyways.”

“It is.” Stan nodded, “It’s not good for this car at all. I had an absolute nightmare trying to start it the other day because the gears froze up.”

“Really?” Bren asked.

“Oh yes. An absolute nightmare.” Stan crossed his arms.

“I forgot to ask, how was your drink with Bobbie?” Bren tapped his shoulder.

“It was very good. Yes, very good. We’re seeing each other at the weekend for another drink.” Stan wore a smug smile on his face.

“Oh I’m pleased. She seemed keen on you yesterday.”

“Yes, well, I think she’s had a hard life. She told me her life story. Remarkable woman.”

“You’re giving her a fresh new start, Stan. And you’re getting your life going too. I’m happy for you.”

“Thanks, Bren. I think that’s the car heated up now. Right, let’s get home.”

Stan pulled out of the car space. He drove around the car park, passing the fire exit of the canteen. Tony was stood having a cigarette at the fire exit. The fog from yesterday wasn’t as bad today and things were more clear. The cigarette glowed as he took a puff. As the car passed, Tony looked up and waved with a smile. Bren waved back through the window, giving him a warm smile.

“What about you and Tony then?” Stan asked when they left the car park. He checked his left and right, looking at Bren when a car passed, “I see you made it up with him.”

“Yeah. Yeah, I did.” Bren nodded. She played with her fingers as she ducked her head, “We went for a drink after the Blender stole that money. He told me about how the girls thought I was pregnant.”

“Oh yes. That was very strange that they thought that. I mean I can’t believe they jumped to that conclusion eh?” Stan shook his head, pulling out into the main road.

“I know. It was quite strange. Tony believed them as well.” Bren giggled before mellowing, “I think that’s why he was annoyed with me yesterday.”

“Because he thought you were pregnant?” Stan frowned, “It’s not really his place to be annoyed.”

“Well, I couldn’t give blood, could I? And he wanted me to do it for him because he can’t, didn’t he?” Bren shrugged, “I did tell him about my phobia and he seemed alright with it actually. He seemed relieved actually.”

“Well, he would be!” Stan widened his eyes.

“What d’you mean?” Bren looked at him.

“Well, you being pregnant, that would mean you were with someone, eh? And he was very nosey about you and that calor gas man? Do you not remember?”

“Sort of. I dunno why, I haven’t seen that calor gas man in a while. I only went for one drink with him.”

“I don’t think that’s what Tony thinks. He cares about you a lot, Bren.”

“Yeah, well, he’s a good friend, int he?”

“You know what I mean. The only people that don’t see it is you two. You need to say something to him, make it clear to each other how you feel.”

“I dunno, I-.”

“Bren, you need to do something. Like you said yesterday, stop fannying about. I should be saying this to Tony too. We need to bang your heads together.” Stan pointed to her. They pulled up to the traffic lights and Stan turned in his seat, “You went for a drink then, what happened?”

“Nothing really. We just talked.” Bren shrugged, “He apologised for yesterday as well.”

“That’s something, int it?” Stan smiled.

“Yeah, I suppose it is.” Bren shrugged again.

“Anything else happen?” Stan asked.

“Nothing interesting. It was a quiet night. And good.” A smile grew on Bren’s lips, “It was a good night.”

Stan could see that she was smitten. Bren always tried to hide it, not telling anyone about how she felt about Tony but he knew. Stan knew Bren very well and he knew that Bren had liked Tony for a while.

“I’m thinking of finally getting the divorce sorted. Y’know, with Martin.” Bren said as Stan started driving.

“Really?” Stan raised a brow.

“Yep. I can’t go on like this, I want to live my life properly, Stan. It’s time I properly get away from him.” Bren explained, “We’ve not been together for years. It’s about time that I make it official. He can’t rule my life anymore.”

“Good for you.” Stan nodded, “You deserve to be happy. And free of that Martin, can I say? From what you’ve told me, he sounds like a right nasty piece of work and you deserve better than that.”

“Thanks, Stan.” Bren smiled.

They continued to drive, quiet for a minute or so. Bren looked out the window, listening to the quiet music on the radio. That new song by Five. Not a band Bren expected Stan to listen to. He probably wasn’t even paying attention to it. She knew he was particular about having any distractions when driving.

“Is that why you’re holding back with Tony?” Stan finally asked, “So you can get divorced?”

“Well, I mean, I guess. It’s not just that. It’s not the right time really. I had been gearing myself up to do it but after yesterday with that photo of him and Jane on holiday, that made me go back a bit.” Bren replied.

“How? He’s not with Jane. He wouldn’t give her a second look, trust me.” Stan replied.

“I dunno, Stan. She’s just everything I’m not, isn’t she?” Bren looked out the window before muttering quietly, “Everything he would want.”

“That’s not true, Bren.” Stan squeezed her hand, “Tony wouldn’t change you for the world. You don’t know how much he really cares about you.”

“Hm.” Bren shrugged with a sad smile, “He hasn’t said anything to me.”

“Is that what you want? For him to tell you that?” Stan asked.

“Well, it would be nice, wouldn’t it? If he told me that he liked me. It would be… lovely.”

“Why don’t you tell him how you feel? He might tell you that he feels the same.”

“Stan, I can’t. I just can’t.”

“Why not?”

“Because it, it wouldn’t be right. Especially with everything with Martin. It would just be too brash. I can’t do it.”

“But I thought you liked him.”

“I do! I do like him.” Bren sighed then. She realised what she said. Stan was the only person she had admitted that to, “I like him.”

“Then tell him!” Stan encouraged her, “He deserves to know.”

Bren was quiet. She played with her fingers, squeezing her ring finger gently. Stan looked at her. He knew she was thinking about Tony. As they pulled into her street, Stan stopped the car in front of the bedsit block.

“You want to get divorced before you do anything, don’t you?” Stan asked.

Bren finally looked up at Stan. She nodded.

“It’s not fair on Tony. He doesn’t even know about Martin.” Bren said softly.

“He’ll find out at some point.” Stan shrugged.

“I know. But I want it to be when I tell him. When I’m divorced.” Bren replied. Stan gave her a little smile as he nodded. He understood why she was doing it like this. Bren looked out the window, “I better head in then.”

“Yes.” Stan sighed, “You’ll be alright going up on your own?”

“Yeah. Thanks Stan. For everything.” Bren smiled.

“Anytime.” Stan nodded before pointing to her, “Don’t you be going out. That Blender’s still out and about, I don’t want you to run into him.”

“Don’t worry. I won’t.” Bren opened the car door, “I’ll see you later.”

“See you tomorrow, Bren.” Stan smiled.

Bren closed the door and Stan pulled away, one last toot of his car horn as he pulled out of the street. Bren shivered in the cold air. She turned to the door of the block and opened it, heading up to her bedsit.

Chapter Text

Bren pushed the trolley into the kitchen before grabbing the plates to put them in the sink. The other women were at the counters as they served the last of the factory workers their lunch. Tony came out of the office as he noticed her about to go back out to the canteen.

“You alright, Bren?” Tony walked to her.

“Yeah.” Bren nodded. She sorted the dish towel on the trolley.

“Oh dear. You’ve got your work cut out for you when you go back out.” Tony said as he looked out to the canteen.

“Eh?”

“Wobbly Wendy’s got a steak pie.”

“Oh no. Hopefully she’ll eat it quickly.”

“I doubt it. I wonder if she’s got her flask handy to put the ale into the steak pie.”

Bren started laughing. She nudged Tony gently.

“It wouldn’t surprise me. Remember she filed that complaint when she found out that it stopped being made without the ale?” Bren asked.

“Yeah.” Tony scoffed, “I’ve never seen Philippa get so pale.”

“It was like she had seen a ghost.” Bren started to laugh again.

“To be honest, Wobbly Wendy is like a ghost.” Tony laughed, “That green one out of ‘Ghostbusters’.”

They started to laugh, leaning against each other. Their laughter grew louder, beginning to cackle. The other dinnerladies turned when they heard Bren and Tony laughing. They all looked at each other, trying to figure out what they were laughing at.

“What’s so funny?” Jean asked, putting her hand on her hip as she leaned on the counter.

“Oh, nothing.” Tony told her as he and Bren tried to quieten down. They managed to compose themselves for a moment but one little noise and they were off again.

“Well, there must be something. It better not be rude, I know what you two can be like.” Dolly pointed.

“No, no. It’s nothing, Dolly, honestly.” Bren wiped her eyes as the two finally calmed down, “I’ll go clear the tables.”

“Alright. I’m going for a fag.” Tony patted his pockets for his packet of cigarettes.

“Shut the door!” Bren called before going into the canteen.

The four women watched as Tony and Bren went their separate ways. They all turned to each other.

“I wonder what that was all about.” Jean said.

“They must have had a funny conversation.” Anita replied.

“But what about?” Dolly asked, “They were very secretive about it. They’ve not slept together, have they?”

“No! We would have known about it. And we would have had our fifty quid by now.” Twinkle said, “I wonder if he’s asked her out or something.”

“But why would they laugh about that?” Anita screwed up her face.

“Maybe some inside joke they have. You know what they’re like.” Jean shrugged.

“We should ask them when they come back.” Dolly suggested, “We have to be very subtle though.”

When Bren came back into the kitchen with the rest of the dishes, Tony was in the office on the phone trying to order more bread for the next week. The canteen was empty as Twinkle and Anita wiped the tables. Jean was making brews for everyone and Dolly and Bren were doing the dishes.

“Busy this weekend, Bren?” Dolly asked.

“Me? No. I think I’ve got to go to the laundrette.” Bren sighed as she tried a fork, “What about you? You and Bob doing anything nice?”

“We might be looking at houses in Mobberley. Bob was telling me it has a low crime rate.” Dolly replied. She was quick to turn the conversation back to Bren, “So you’re not busy at all this weekend?”

“Not at all. How?”

“Oh I just thought you and Tony would be doing something.”

“Really? Oh no. He hasn’t said anything. I think he’s going to a mate’s birthday anyways.”

“You could go with him.”

“I don’t know the guy, it would be a bit weird for me to go really.”

“I’ll take your tea through.” Jean told the two women.

“Thanks, Jean.” Bren smiled, “We’re nearly done anyway.”

Bren and Dolly finished up shortly after Jean left the kitchen. They went through to the canteen where Jean, Anita and Twinkle were now sitting. Twinkle went to eat a garibaldi from the biscuit box on the table as Anita sipped her tea, Jean read a magazine as she squinted her eyes. Dolly sat next to Jean and Bren sat at the other side of Jean at the end of the table. 

“What you reading, Jean?” Bren asked as she sipped her tea.

“Advice column.” Jean replied, “Honestly some people need to get a life.”

“What are people saying?” Anita asked.

“One person said ‘My husband won’t make lard with me anymore. What should I do?’ I mean that is a ridiculous thing to ask an advice column for.” Jean huffed as Bren looked over her shoulder at the magazine.

“Make love.” Bren corrected her. Jean squinted her eyes as she brought the magazine closer to her face.

“Put your specs on.” Dolly rolled her eyes.

“That explains why they were telling her to explore his erogenous zones.” Jean sighed.

“Is your erogenous zones where the planes land at the airport?” Anita asked.

“No, you lame brain.” Twinkle rolled her eyes, “It’s the parts of your body that make you horn-.”

“Thank you!” Dolly stopped her. Bren started to laugh, “That’s enough of that chat.”

“I knew a woman who liked her feet getting kissed.” Bren said, “I think she had a bit of a superiority complex. She was the oldest of four.”

“Oh here’s a good one for you, Bren.” Jean said as she continued to read the magazine.

“Eh?” Bren frowned. She could not think of anything she needed advice on. She assumed it would maybe have something to do with mothers.

“‘How do I ask out my friend that I now fancy?’ It says you should just make him feel secure and ask him directly.” Jean read the magazine.

“Oh, Bren, that’s perfect, intit? Tony, Bren’s got something to ask you.” Twinkle shouted to Tony who was just putting the phone down in the office.

“Twink!” Bren widened her eyes.

“Come on, Bren. You should ask Tony for a drink or something.” Jean shrugged.

“I’m not asking him for a drink. I don’t like him like that.” Bren sat back in her chair as she went to sip her tea, “It’s just platonic. Nothing’s going on.”

“Aww, Bren. You’ve got to.” Anita said, “He likes you.”

“Who likes Bren?” Tony asked when he sat at the table, “Calor gas man not come in, has he?”

“You like Bren.” Anita said.

“Course I do. She’s a good egg is Bren.” Tony sipped his tea.

“Not just as a friend. We all know that.” Dolly chuckled.

“Well of course not just as a friend.” Tony laughed awkwardly. He itched the back of his neck, aware of himself stuttering a little. Bren felt her stomach drop. As much as she would love to hear his true feelings for her, she wasn’t sure if she wanted to find them out here in front of everyone. Especially if it was forced out of him, “I mean, Bren’s a great worker, int she? My first mate over there.”

Before the women could moan and groan about Tony’s statement, Philippa came into the canteen. She was asking if they could sort out some tea and biscuits for a meeting and the others went into the kitchen with Philippa to sort out the tea. Leaving Bren and Tony at the table on their own. Bren couldn’t help but feel a little awkward.

“They can be very persistent, can’t they?” Tony sipped his tea.

“They can.” Bren nodded. She then looked up at Tony who gave her a small smile, “They must see something we don’t.”

“They must do.” Tony sighed, “Can you picture it? You and me together?”

“Not really.” Bren lied. She could see it clearly. She imagined it a lot. Different scenarios went through her head every time she looked at him. Every time they moved closer to that end conclusion, if it were ever to happen, “Can you?”

Tony paused for a second. He looked at her as she waited for his reply. The look on her face made him fall for her even more. She was so beautiful. He had thought that the whole time he had worked with her. Maybe in the end, that’s what turned his head from his wife though there were more bigger issues at hand with his divorce. He wanted to tell her how he felt honestly but it wasn’t right. She deserved to know at the right time. When they were alone. Properly alone.

“Nah.” Tony finally said, “It would be… odd. Us together.”

“Yeah.” Bren itched the back of her head, “Weird really.”

“Definitely.” Tony chuckled. Bren laughed too. As the two laughed, they both wanted to tell the other they were lying and tell them how they really felt. But they couldn’t, “Hey, you free this weekend?”

“Yeah, how?”

“D’you want to come for a drink? Maybe tomorrow night.”

“Yeah. Yeah, that’d be lovely.”

Chapter Text

“It doesn’t surprise me that Jean and Stan are cracking on.” Tony shrugged, drying the plate Bren had just given him.

“Really?” Bren looked at him when she stopped scrubbing the plate.

“Yeah. I feel like they’ve always liked each other.” Tony said before nudging her gently, “They were just good at hiding it, unlike us.”

“Ha-ha.” Bren rolled her eyes, “I dunno. Neither of them has said anything about it before. Well except from New Year’s Eve, remember she said he looked alright out of his overalls.”

“Oh yeah.” Tony nodded, “I forgot about that. Well, you know what, good luck to them eh? They deserve it.”

“Yeah. Yeah, they do.” Bren agreed, handing him the last plate for him to dry. Bren turned off the sink and dried her hands before tapping Tony’s arm, “I’m going to the toilet.”

“Alright, mate.” Tony smiled as he dried the last plate. He watched her walk through to the bathroom before washing his hands, “Bren?”

“Yeah?”

“Do you want to open that bottle of wine?”

“Um, yeah, okay.”

Tony went to grab the bottle of wine at the side. He unscrewed the bottle lid and then grabbed the empty wine glasses that were on the coffee table. He poured the wine into the glasses before going to sit on the couch. He sighed when he heard the toilet flushing before hearing the water running. Tony looked around Bren’s bedsit. It was nice in the bedsit. Bren had made it cosy. But it was so small. Even for just Bren, it was too small. Now they were together, Tony knew that they had to move in together at some point. As things progressed and his feelings for her grew, Tony knew it was getting more difficult for him to not be with her all the time. Yes, they saw each other at work everyday and yes, they spent most evenings together. But it wasn’t the same. Tony knew he was falling for her (though he wasn’t going to admit that just yet) and he knew he wanted to live with her.

The door of the bathroom unlocked and Bren came out. She smiled as she came over. Tony handed her the wine glass.

“Thanks.” Bren sat down. She clinked her glass against his gently before taking a sip. Tony took a sip too and Bren could sense he was quiet, “You alright, Tony?”

“Hm? Yeah, yeah I’m fine.” Tony smiled. He wrapped his arm around her and squeezed her shoulder, “I’m great. You?”

“Yeah, I’m great.” Bren cuddled into him with a little smile, “Shall we put the telly on?”

“Yeah, why not?” Tony nodded.

Bren smiled before sitting forward and grabbing the remote. She put the television on and looked through the channels. Tony smiled to himself as he watched her looking through the channels. He rested his hand on the slope of her back as he geared himself up to ask her the question that was pressing on his mind.

“Bren?”

“Yep?” Bren turned as she went to take another sip of her wine.

“Do you want to move in with me?” Tony asked as Bren choked on her wine. Tony found himself retreating slightly but he sat up and patted her back gently, “Are you alright?”

“Yeah, yeah. I’m alright.” Bren nodded. She put her glass down and wiped her mouth. She looked at him, “What did you ask me?”

“Are you alright?”

“No. Before that, before that.”

“Oh. Do you want to move in with me?”

“Yeah. That.”

“Well, do you?” Tony asked. He couldn’t tell if she was happy about that question. He knew he was rushing things when he asked. He shouldn’t have asked. Oh Tony, you could be so stupid sometimes. Tony knew he had to find a way to explain, “I just thought y’know with us getting closer, it would be better for us to live together.”

“Can I have a minute to think about it? You’ve caught me on the doodah.” Bren itched her head.

“Yeah.” Tony nodded. His stomach felt like it was turning to knots now, “Yeah, that’s fine. Um, I think I’m gonna have a fag. I’ll just be downstairs, alright?”

Bren just nodded. Tony quickly grabbed his cigarettes and left her bedsit before heading down to the front door of the building. When he stepped out into the cold air, he could feel his worries building. The last thing he wanted to do was put Bren off him and he felt that was exactly what he had just done. Tony lit up his cigarette and took a few puffs before the door opened again. He turned and noticed it was Bren. She wrapped her fleece around her as she shivered.

“Go inside, you’ll freeze out here.” Tony said to her.

“No, no. It’s alright.” Bren smiled though it was clear she was freezing, “I wanted to talk to you anyways.”

“You did?”

“Mhm.”

“About…?”

“Mhm. I’ve thought about it.”

“And?”

“I want to move in with you.” Bren’s smile grew, “If that’s what you want.”

“Yeah, yeah. That’s what I want. Of course. That’s what I want.” Tony nodded. He could feel his mouth getting dry. Why was he getting nervous? He looked at Bren who still smiled at him. His nerves eased and he smiled back, “When do you want to move in?”

“Dunno. I don’t want to rush you.” Bren kept her arms crossed.

“I don't want to rush you either.” Tony took a puff of his cigarette.

“We could always try next weekend. If that’s not too fast for you.” Bren suggested. She shuffled in her trainers, hoping he would be alright with that.

“That’s perfect.” Tony smiled.

Bren grinned at him. She stepped forward as she wrapped her arms around his waist whilst Tony rested his arm on her back. They cuddled as they giggled softly. Tony took one last puff of his cigarette before stubbing it out on the ground. He looked at Bren who looked up at him with a smile. Bren then stood on her tiptoes and kissed him. They held each other close as the kiss deepened, Bren moving her hand up to the back of his neck and Tony moving both his hands to her waist.

“Bren?” Tony said softly against her lips.

“What?” Bren looked up at him.

“Let’s go inside.” He said, “It’s brass monkeys out here.”

- - -

Saturday

- - -

Bren stood in her bedsit as she looked around. Bren and Tony had spent the day clearing out the bedsit and now it was empty. Bren was so happy to be moving in with Tony but it was odd leaving here. She had lived here for so long and she had been through so much here. But it was time to move on.

“Bren?”

Bren turned and Tony stood at the door. He smiled at her when she turned, fiddling with his keys.

“You ready to go?”

“Yeah.” Bren nodded.

The two left the bedsit and Bren gave her keys to her landlord. They went back to Tony’s flat and started unpacking the boxes from the car.

“Flipping heck, Bren! What have you got in this box?” Tony huffed as he picked up a heavy box.

“What box is it?” Bren looked at the box in his arms, “Oh that’s clothes.”

“It better not be all leggings.” Tony raised a brow.

“No.” Bren picked up a box with a smile, “I’m sure there are other things. Like bras and pants and other things.”

Tony looked at the closed box before back at Bren who was now heading towards the front door of the flat block. 

“We better get them all unpacked then. Very quickly.” Tony followed after her as Bren laughed.

Throughout the evening, Bren and Tony brought Bren’s things into the flat and got things into order. Bren was in the bedroom when she was just finishing putting her clothes into the chest of drawers. Tony popped his head in.

“Shall I order dinner?” Tony asked.

“Yeah, please.” Bren smiled.

“Chinese?” Tony suggested.

“Yeah, why not?” Bren nodded.

Bren and Tony soon got their dinner and they ate it in the living room. They sat on the floor in front of the coffee table, laughing as they ate. They finished their dinner and talked, leaning against the couch behind them whilst playing with each other’s hands.

“Y’know,” Tony turned to her, “I’m happy you’ve moved in.”

“Really?” Bren smiled. That was the last thing she expected him to say.

“Of course.” He squeezed her hand, “I couldn’t be happier being with you. My girl.”

Bren giggled, feeling the heat crawling up her neck a little. Tony was not the overly romantic type but he had softened since he and Bren got it together. It was actually since their first kiss that Bren really saw that side to him. She couldn’t deny that it made her fall for him more and more. Bren cupped his face and kissed him as Tony wrapped his arms around her. The kiss deepened as they held each other close. They broke off the kiss but still stayed close, resting their foreheads against each other.

“Bed?” Bren raised a brow.

“Bed.” Tony nodded.

Chapter Text

“Oh, shh shh.” Bren rushed into the room as Amy cried in her cot. Bren picked her up and held her close. She tried to soothe the baby, kissing her forehead, “It’s alright. It’s alright. Mummy’s here. What’s the matter then, eh? Eh?”

Bren soon figured out that Amy needed her nappy changed. Amy had a cold that had been going on for a couple of days. It didn’t seem to be getting any better but Bren tried her best to make Amy feel better. Amy continued to cry and Bren knew she was hungry.

“Come on.” Bren said softly as she brought Amy over to the armchair. She pulled her pyjama top up as she started to feed Amy. Amy started to quieten down as soon as she started to feed, “There we go, you’re hungry eh?”

Bren sat back as she relaxed into the armchair. She looked at the clock on the side. ‘3:45 am’ it read. She sighed softly. Bren knew Amy wouldn’t go down so easily at this time, especially with her being ill. Bren looked down at Amy and smiled. The baby looked back at her mother, her big eyes shining in the dim light of the lamp in the corner. Bren started stroking the baby’s growing hair, playing with her short ringlets. 

Amy started to coo softly when she stopped feeding. Bren burped the baby, patting her back gently as she leaned her head on her little shoulder. Bren closed her eyes for a moment before Amy finally burped. Bren thought Amy had finally dozed off but before she could take her to her cot, Amy started crying again.

“Oh no, no, no. Come on, Amy. Shh, shh. It’s alright.” Bren stood up as she tried to soothe Amy. Amy’s cries got louder. Bren started to pace the room as she gently bounced Amy, “I know, I know.”

Amy continued to cry and Bren couldn’t help but feel helpless. She wanted to make her daughter feel better but she didn’t know how. She tried everything the doctor had told her but it was just soothing Amy’s fussiness. Bren noticed her dummy at the side and she picked it up. She tried to give it to Amy but she was too upset to take it. 

Bren noticed the rocking chair in the corner and decided to try that. She sat down slowly as she held Amy close. She started to rock the chair, keeping Amy close to her chest. Bren wiped the tears from Amy’s face as she started to calm down, only little sniffles coming from the baby.

“That’s it, love. You’re getting tired now, eh?” Bren stroked her daughter’s hair. Amy stared up to her mother but her eyes started to droop, “That’s it. You need some sleep or you won’t get better. And then we’ll be back to square one, d’you know what I mean? We want you to get better, don’t we?”

When Amy finally fell asleep, Bren tried to get up from the rocking chair but she felt Amy stir and she woke up again. Though she thankfully didn’t start crying again, Bren knew she didn’t want to disturb her so she sat back and waited for Amy to doze off again. Bren looked at the clock and over an hour had passed since she came through. Bren could feel herself starting to get drowsy. She tried her best to fight the tiredness but struggled. Before she could fall asleep, the door was pushed open.

“What are you doing up?” Bren asked quietly as Tony walked in.

“You weren’t in bed, I thought there was something up.” Tony walked in tiredly. He noticed Amy in her arms, “Is she alright?”

“She is now. She’s only got to sleep. She’s been really fussy tonight.” Bren explained.

“Oh dear.” Tony sighed. He then crouched next to the rocking chair as he looked down at their daughter sleeping in Bren’s arms, “Are you alright?”

“Hm? Yeah.” Bren nodded, “Just tired.”

“You should get some sleep.” Tony told her.

“I don’t want to disturb her.” Bren replied.

“She’ll be alright.” Tony rubbed her shoulder, “Come on, I’ll take her.”

Bren didn’t want to disturb Amy but she knew Tony didn’t mean any harm. She slowly passed Amy to Tony who stood from where he was crouched. Amy cooed a little in her sleep but Tony was quick to hush her.

“Shh, it’s alright. Eh? There we go.” Tony kissed Amy’s head before putting her down in the cot, “Nice and cosy.”

Bren walked over to the cot as she peered in. Amy was fast asleep still and Bren felt the weight fall off her shoulders.

“You alright?” Tony asked as he put his arm around her loosely.

“Yeah.” Bren nodded. They watched Amy for a couple of seconds before Bren spoke again with a little giggle, “I thought I was never going to get her to sleep.”

“But you did. Super mum and all that.” Tony smiled.

“I doubt it. I tried everything I could but she was crying for ages.” Bren sighed, “I felt like I wasn’t doing enough.”

“Oh, Bren.” Tony pulled her closer to him, “I’m sure you were. She’s just not well so she’s fussy. It’s not your fault.”

“I know. I just wish I could have done more.” Bren shrugged.

“You did enough, mate.” Tony squeezed her shoulder, “Don’t beat yourself up about it.” Bren just kept looking at the baby as Tony pulled her a little closer, “I’m sorry I didn’t come through to help.”

“No, no. Don’t apologise. You’ve had a long week, you needed to sleep. She was hungry anyways.” Bren turned to him, “Please don’t apologise.”

Tony smiled at her. He kissed her head as they cuddled into each other for a moment. They continued to watch the baby as she slept. The two were quiet and Tony was aware of Bren leaning against him to help her stay standing.

“Come on, mate. Let’s go to bed. You must be shattered.” Tony rubbed her shoulder.

“Hmm.” Bren just nodded.

“Bren?”

“What?”

“If she wakes up again through the night, I’ll come get her. I don’t want you to get up again. You need your sleep.”

“What if she needs fed though, Tony? I’ll need to get up for that.”

“I thought we had milk in the fridge for her.”

“Oh yeah. Remember you need to heat it up though.”

“I know. I’ve done it before.”

“But you didn’t do it properly last time.”

“Well, this time I will.” Tony squeezed her shoulder, “Go on, let’s get to bed.”

Chapter Text

“You got everything?” Stan asked as Bren and Tony walked out with their suitcases.

“Yeah, that’s everything.” Tony nodded.

Stan opened the boot and took Bren’s suitcase whilst Tony put his own suitcase in the boot. Bren got into the back of the car. Jean turned to her from the passenger seat.

“What time’s the flight?” Jean asked.

“Half four.” Bren replied.

“Oh well. Plenty time.” Jean smiled, “I think it’s best to have a bit of time to have a nose around before you get on the plane.”

“Tony thinks so. He likes to have a coffee before we go on the plane.” Bren replied, “When we first went to Scotland, I was really nervous but sitting for a bit before we went on the plane made me feel better.”

“I can imagine. You’ll be an expert with planes now though.” Jean smiled.

“Well, I definitely feel better about going today.” Bren nodded.

Tony and Stan then got into the car. Stan started up the car as Tony buckled up. He smiled at Bren, squeezing her hand.

“You alright?” Tony asked.

“Yeah.” Bren nodded, squeezing his hand.

“Right, let’s go.” Stan announced before driving out of the street.

The drive to the airport didn’t take long. They talked in the car, mostly about Scotland and what their plans were. As they got closer to the airport, Bren could feel her stomach tightening more and more. She was nervous about leaving her home and going to a new place but she knew she was going to be okay with Tony. She was starting a new life with him and she knew that things were going to be okay. In fact, they were going to be great.

Stan parked in the airport car park. They all got out and Bren and Tony got their suitcases out. Bren and Tony checked they had everything again and they started walking to the airport with Stan and Jean. As they talked, they laughed, now approaching the entrance of the airport.

“Bren?” Someone called from behind her.

Bren turned to see Dolly, Philippa, Twinkle and Anita with her son in his buggy standing there. Bren smiled when she saw them. Bren and Tony walked over to them as they smiled.

“What are you all doing here?” Bren asked as she laughed.

“We wanted to see you before you left.” Philippa smiled at the couple.

“Did you know about this?” Bren turned to Stan and Jean behind her.

“Of course we did! We told them to come.” Jean walked over to them.

“Yeah, you can’t get away from us that easily.” Twinkle patted Tony’s arm.

“Very funny, Goldilocks.” Tony rolled his eyes. He checked his watch, “We better check in, mate. I don’t want us to run out of time.”

“Okay.” Bren nodded.

They all headed into the airport and Bren and Tony went off to check in at the check-in desks. They walked back over to the group as they smiled.

“Are you going to head straight up?” Dolly asked.

“Yeah, just to give us a bit of time, y’know.” Tony replied.

“Yeah.” Bren took a deep breath. They all stood awkwardly for a second or two. They didn’t want to say goodbye so fast but they had to do it at some point.

“Well, I guess this is it then?” Jean smiled, a little shrug of her shoulders.

“Yeah, I guess it is.” Bren nodded.

The first person to hug Bren was Dolly. The two women hugged as Tony and Philippa hugged. The group all made their way around each other as they said their goodbyes to Bren and Tony individually.

“You look after her now, Tony.” Jean told him as they hugged, “I mean it.”

“I will, don’t worry.” Tony laughed, watching Bren talking to Anita and her little boy before breaking off the hug with Jean, “She’s in capable hands.”

“Of course she is.” Jean smiled.

Bren went to hug Twinkle and noticed she was upset. Twinkle was the last person she expected to get upset out of the group. If anything, she expected Anita or even Philippa to be the most emotional for them leaving. But Twinkle? Never. 

“Aww, Twink.” Bren giggled though, her tears started to bubble too. She brought the younger woman in her arms as she sniffled.

“I’m gonna miss you, Bren.” Twinkle sniffled.

“I’m gonna miss you too.” Bren replied. They broke off the hug as Bren held her upper arms, “You’re always welcome. I mean it.”

The rest of the group watched the two as they too started getting emotional. Bren and Twinkle turned to Jean, Dolly and Anita. Bren started to cry more as she laughed. They all came over and held each other in a group hug. The women laughed through their tears, knowing that they were always going to keep in touch and this was definitely not the last they were going to see of each other. They had been through so much together and Bren saw them as her family. Her proper family. The canteen had given her so much and an amazing group of friends was at the top of the list (except from Tony, obviously).

As they hugged, Bren got Tony, Stan and Philippa to join in the hug. When they did break off the hug, they laughed again.

“It’ll be weird without you being here.” Anita said softly.

“Yes.” Dolly agreed, “We’ll miss you.”

“I’m sure we’ll back and forth, eh, mate?” Tony gave Bren’s shoulder a squeeze, “And you’re more than welcome to come up. You could even stay at the B&B!”

“We definitely will.” Stan nodded, “Don’t doubt it.”

“We better make a move, Bren.” Tony told her.

“Yeah.” Bren nodded before looking back at everyone, “We’ll see you soon.”

“Bye, everyone.” Tony waved.

Everyone waved them off, shouting their farewells, blowing kisses and waving. Bren giggled, wiping her eyes as her and Tony started to walk through the airport. 

“You alright?” Tony asked.

“Yeah.” Bren giggled when she looked up at him. She took his hand and swung it as she grinned, “I’m so happy.”

The women and Stan watched as Bren and Tony walked away, hand in hand. They looked so happy and they couldn’t be happier for them. Jean and Stan stood close to each other, Stan’s arm wrapped around Jean. Dolly stood next to Jean with Anita and her little boy. Twinkle and Philippa were next to each other, Philippa’s arm around Twinkle as she comforted her.

“D’you think they’ll be alright?” Twinkle asked.

“Oh I think they’ll be fine.” Jean nodded. Bren and Tony turned back to them and waved. They all gave them one last wave, “They’ve got each other, don’t they?”

Chapter Text

Bren wiped down the counters as Tony finished with the dishes. They finally finished work at the B&B and were now cleaning up. 

“Tony?” Bren called over the kitchen.

“Yep?” Tony replied.

“What time is it?” Bren asked.

“Just after twenty past.” Tony looked at the clock above him.

“Okay. Amy will be in soon.” Bren nodded. She then heard a door close and voices in the reception of the B&B, “That’ll be her now.”

A few seconds later, Amy came into the kitchen from the back. She was with Hamish’s youngest son, Lewis who was in her class at school. Bren smiled when she saw the two of them.

“Hiya.” Bren walked around the kitchen, “You alright?”

“Yeah. Is my dad in the pub?” Lewis asked.

“Should be.” Bren looked into the pub, “If not, he might be getting people booked in. You go check.”

Lewis went into the pub to see his father. Amy was playing with her fingers when Bren came over to her.

“Amy.” Bren called softly. Amy looked up at her and Bren’s smile immediately dropped. She looked upset and that worried Bren, “You alright?”

“Yep.” Amy mumbled, playing with her fingers again.

“Are you sure? You’re never like this on a Friday. Eh? Always skipping in.” Bren rested her hand on Amy’s shoulder, “Come on, Amy. You can tell me.”

“Hi, sweetheart.” Tony walked over to them, “Good day at school?”

Amy looked up at her father with a sad look. Tony frowned. This wasn’t like her at all. Amy was always so cheery, just like her mum really, so when she was upset, it was difficult to see.

“What’s up?” Tony asked.

Amy sighed. She knew she had to tell her parents. She looked up at them as she fiddled with her fingers.

“I fell out with Molly today.” Amy fiddled with her fingers.

“Oh no.” Bren asked as she crouched down to Amy, “What happened?”

“They were playing tag and she kept tagging me. You know I’m not a fast runner and she knows that too so she kept tagging me. I then said about it and she kept saying it was just cause I was her best friend but it wasn’t.” Amy said quickly, “I don’t even like tag! She knows that! I didn’t even want to play.”

“Slow down, love.” Bren reminded her as she rubbed her back.

“Why don’t you tell her that you don’t like to play it?” Tony said, “I’m sure she’ll understand.”

“Well, I tried but I had to play. Everyone wanted me to. But then after she tagged me for like the fourth time, I was running and then I think my foot went funny and I fell.” Amy explained, her eyes starting to fill with tears.

“Aww, were you okay?” Bren asked. She hated when Amy fell at school, always worrying she had done something much worse than a scraped knee.

“I hurt my knee. My tights got ripped too but Mrs. Hamilton gave me tights.” Amy replied, her voice getting shaky.

“I hope they’re clean.” Bren said.

“She said they’re new.” Amy replied.

“Oh good.” Bren nodded. Amy then started to sniffle and Bren gave her shoulder a squeeze, “Amy, it’s alright.”

Amy burst into tears. Bren and Tony’s hearts both dropped. They hated when she cried. For such a cheerful girl, she could break their hearts so quickly when she was sad.

“Oh, darling. It’s okay.” Bren took her into her arms. She squeezed her tightly as Amy started to sob, “Shh, it’s alright, it’s alright.”

Bren pulled away from Amy to have a look at her. Amy sniffled, tears pouring down her face. Bren gave her a sad smile as she pushed her long curls out of her face. She gave her a kiss on her forehead.

“Let’s go home eh?” Tony said to which Amy nodded.

“I’ll take your bag.” Bren said as she took Amy’s backpack off her back.

Tony picked up Amy as she wrapped her arms around his neck. They quickly said goodbye to Hamish before leaving for the day. They went out to the car and drove home. Bren unlocked the door and they all went in. They took off their jackets and Bren put Amy’s bag on the peg.

“You get changed into your pyjamas, eh?” Bren said to Amy, “I’ll do you some cocoa.”

Amy gave her a small smile and she went upstairs to her room. Bren went into Amy’s bag to get her old tights to put them in the bin whilst Tony went into the kitchen to put the kettle on. Bren put Amy’s tights in the bin before turning to Tony.

“You alright?” Bren asked.

“Yeah, you?” Tony asked.

“Mhm. I hate seeing her so upset.” Bren sighed.

“I know.” Tony put his arm around her, “She’ll be okay though.”

“I know. I’m just worried that there’s something else, d’you know what I mean? I know there isn’t but I just worry.” Bren explained as she started to make Amy’s hot chocolate.

“I know but she would tell us if something else was happening. You know, if she was getting bullied or something, she would tell us. Heck, she’d probably get the bully sorted out.” Tony chuckled.

“Yeah, she would.” Bren smiled.

“She’s a tough cookie.” Tony said before giving Bren a little nudge, “She’s like you.”

“I think she gets that from you. You’re tougher than me.” Bren replied.

“Nah, not a chance.” Tony chuckled.

“Mummy?” Amy’s soft voice called from the top of the stairs.

“Yeah?” Bren walked out of the kitchen and stood at the bottom of the stairs. Amy stood at the top of the stairs in her pink pyjamas as she held her school uniform.

“What shall I do with my uniform?” Amy asked.

“Just put it in your basket, I’ll sort it out tomorrow.” Bren smiled.

“Okay.” Amy nodded and went to put her uniform in the laundry basket.

Bren went back to the kitchen to finish making Amy’s hot chocolate. Tony was finishing making his and Bren’s tea when he smiled.

“She alright?”

“Yeah. She was just asking about her uniform.”

“Oh right. You know when she was explaining what happened with Molly, I was pretty sure her accent was getting thicker and thicker by the second. She’s turning into a wee highlander.” Tony put on a Scottish accent.

“She has got a thick accent.” Bren giggled, “It’s sweet.”

“Yeah.” Tony chuckled.

They heard footsteps coming down the stairs. Bren and Tony turned to see Amy walking into the kitchen with her toy cat in her arms. Her eyes were still a little puffy from earlier but she looked to have perked up a little.

“You alright?” Tony asked.

“Yeah.” Amy nodded, “Is my cocoa ready?”

“Just about. Why don’t you and daddy go sit down?” Bren smiled.

“Okay.” Amy nodded and she went through to the living room.

“D’you want your tea through there?” Tony asked as he picked up their cups of tea.

“Yeah, please.” Bren smiled as she continued making Amy’s hot chocolate.

Tony headed through to the living room. He put Bren’s tea on the coffee table as he sat next to Amy. She smiled when he came in before going back to playing with her toy cat. Tony sat next to her, putting the television on.

“Dad?” Amy looked up at Tony.

“Mhm?” Tony replied as he took a sip of his tea.

“Do you know what we’re having for tea?” Amy asked.

“I dunno. This is mummy’s night so you’d have to ask her.” Tony replied, “I’m sure she’s got a surprise up her sleeve.”

“Who’s got a surprise up their sleeve?” Bren asked as she walked into the living room with Amy’s little mug.

“You. What you’ve got for our tea.” Tony said.

“Stew.” Bren replied. Amy and Tony both groaned which made Bren cackle, “Only kidding. I was thinking about doing bolognese.”

“Ooh.” Amy said which made Tony chuckle.

“Here you are.” Bren handed Amy her hot chocolate.

“Oh wow, look at that, Amy! That looks yummy.” Tony said as he looked at the mug. Bren had topped the hot chocolate off with some whipped cream and little marshmallows.

“It does. Thank you, mummy.” Amy smiled at Bren who was now walking behind the couch.

“Anything for my girl. Be careful with it, it’s still quite hot.” Bren kissed her head before going into the cupboard and getting out some disinfectant and wipes. She walked around the couch and sat on the other side of Amy, “Let me see your knee then. Which one is it?”

“This one.” Amy rested her left leg over Bren’s lap.

“I’ll take this.” Tony took Amy’s mug and put it down on the table.

Bren pulled Amy’s pyjama leg up. She took off the plaster and revealed her scraped knee. It looked sore. Bren sighed when she saw it.

“Oh Amy.” She sighed, “That looks right sore.”

“Flaming heck, sweetheart!” Tony’s eyes widened when he saw Amy’s knee.

“Tony.” Bren frowned.

“It’s not that bad, is it?” Amy started to panic.

“No, no. I would say though, that’s the worst one yet.” Bren nodded when she went to clean the scrape, “This might be nippy.”

“Will I be okay?” Amy asked.

“Yes.” Bren giggled, “It just needs cleaned.”

“Apart from the obvious, anything else happen today?” Tony asked.

“Umm, not really. We learned about the Romans today.” Amy turned to face Tony.

“You did?” Tony smiled.

“Keep still, Amy.” Bren told her.

“Sorry. We learned about them coming to Britain and the Celts fighting them off.” Amy explained, “That was fun.”

“I liked the Romans at school. Vikings were good too.” Tony nodded.

Amy giggled before wincing a little at the disinfectant.

“Sorry.” Bren apologised, “That’s it all clean.”

Amy smiled as Bren pulled her pyjama leg down. Bren grabbed Amy’s mug and handed it to her before grabbing her own cup of tea. The family relaxed on the couch as they watched the television. Bren and Tony went to get changed into more comfortable clothes whilst Amy went to play in her room. Bren started the dinner and was in the kitchen when Amy came down again.

“Mummy?” Amy announced herself.

“Yeah?” Bren turned as she stirred the mince.

“Could we watch a movie tonight?” Amy asked.

“Of course. What did you have in mind?” Bren asked. Amy showed her the DVD, “Again?”

“Please, mum.” Amy pleaded with her puppy dog eyes.

“You’d need to ask daddy and see what he says.” Bren shrugged, “He might want to watch something else.”

“Can you ask him?” Amy asked.

“Tony!” Bren called.

“What?” Tony asked.

“Come here.”

“What?”

“Madam’s got a question for you.”

“Can we watch ‘The Princess Diaries’ tonight?” Amy asked.

“Haven’t you seen that a million times already?” Tony asked as he frowned.

“No. Maybe five or six.” Amy shrugged.

“That’s a lot for a film with Julie Andrews.” Tony sighed, “I don’t see why not though what does the boss think?”

The two went silent as they looked at Bren. Bren was too busy seeing to the dinner that she didn’t realise they had gone quiet straightaway. She turned to them.

“Oh, you mean me. I don’t mind. I want to see what all the fuss is about with this film actually.” Bren giggled.

“There you are then, missus. I guess we’re watching it.” Tony crossed his arms.

“Yay!” Amy did a little dance on the spot before rushing through to the living room.

“Don’t put it on at the moment. We still need to have our tea.” Tony called through to the living room. He walked over to Bren as she made the dinner, “You alright?”

“Yeah.” Bren smiled, “You?”

“Yeah. She seems better, doesn’t she? That cocoa must have cheered her up.” Tony gestured through to the living room.

“Must have. Can’t beat a bit of cocoa.” Bren giggled.

“True. Super mum.” He nudged her gently as Bren smiled at him.

“Give over.” Bren giggled again.

“You are though. Best mum I know.” Tony smiled. He kissed her head before going through to the living room, “I’ll go see what she’s up to.”

“Okay.” Bren nodded.

Dinner was soon ready. She dished their food and called Tony and Amy through. They ate at the small table in the kitchen which sparked another conversation as to why they never use the bigger dining table in the other room. They laughed as they watched Amy trying to eat her spaghetti with the sauce going all over her face. When they finished their dinner, Bren wiped Amy’s face and Tony did the dishes.

The family headed through to the living room and Tony put the DVD on. They all got comfortable on the couch, Amy sitting in between her parents. They were quiet and within twenty minutes of the film being on, Bren looked down at Amy and noticed she was fast asleep.

“Tony.” Bren shook his arm gently.

“What?” Tony turned and noticed Amy was asleep, “Oh dear.”

“She’s conked out.” Bren giggled.

“No wonder. She’s fed and watered now, int she?” Tony said, “That’s her for the night. D’you think we should take her up?”

“Not yet. Let her sleep for a bit.” Bren said. Almost on cue, Amy cuddled into Bren which made her chuckle. Bren kissed her head before her and Tony continued watching the film.

- - -

Saturday

- - -

Bren and Tony were working in the kitchen whilst Amy played with Hamish’s son, Lewis in Hamish’s garden. Bren went to serve someone in the pub when Hamish called over to her.

“There’s someone at reception for you.” Hamish said.

“Oh really? D’you know who it is?” Bren asked.

“One of the mums at the school. I think her wee girl’s in Lewis and Amy’s class.” Hamish shrugged.

“Oh it might be Molly.” Bren nodded, “Thanks Hamish.”

Bren went through to the reception. Molly and her mother, Allison, were there. Molly stood behind her mother when Bren came out, clearly very worried.

“Hiya.” Bren smiled, “You alright?”

“Yeah, how are you?” Allison smiled.

“Yeah, I’m good. Can I help you with something?” Bren asked.

“Well not me but Molly here was hoping to talk to Amy about yesterday and apologise.” Allison said, “Is she here?”

“Yeah, she’s out the back. Come through.” Bren led them out to the garden. Amy was outside playing with Lewis when Bren called for her, “Amy?”

Amy turned and noticed Molly and her mother. Amy got up slowly from where she was playing with Lewis on the grass and walked to them.

“Hi.” Amy said softly, taking her mother’s hand.

“Hi.” Molly replied as she played with her fingers, “I’m sorry about yesterday. I didn’t mean to keep on tagging you. I just wanted you to play with me.”

Amy said nothing when she looked up at Bren. Bren gave her a little smile, encouraging her in whatever she wanted to do. Amy then let go of her mother’s hand and went to hug Molly.

“It’s okay.” Amy said. She then broke off the hug, “Do you want to come play at the swings?”

“Yeah.” Molly nodded and the two girls ran off to the swings in the garden.

“If only it were still that easy.” Allison laughed.

“I know.” Bren smiled.

“Mum, can Molly spend the day with us?” Amy asked.

“Yeah, that’s fine.” Bren nodded.

“Is that alright?” Allison asked.

“Oh yeah, don’t worry. We’re nearly finished here anyways so we can take her home with us.” Bren shrugged.

Allison soon left and Bren went back into the kitchen. Tony came over to her.

“Who was that?” Tony asked.

“Molly and her mum. She came to apologise to Amy and now she’s spending the day with us.” Bren giggled.

“That was quick.” Tony scoffed. He looked out of the window to see Amy and Molly playing and he couldn’t help but laugh, “Kids eh?”

Chapter Text

“But I don’t get why you don’t want to go! It would be great for us.” Tony followed Bren around the flat.

“For you, Tony. It would be great for you. I don’t have the first clue about flipping catering.” Bren shrugged.

“Yes, you do, lame brain. You’ve worked in a canteen for eight flipping years.” Tony frowned.

“You know what I mean.” Bren sighed, “I’m not good with money, I couldn’t run a business.”

“But you’ll have me to help you, and Hamish. It’s not like I’m making you do it on your own.” Tony replied. They now stood in the kitchen as Bren began aggressively scrubbing the dishes, “It’ll be fine, Bren. We’ll be able to do this. I wouldn’t go if I knew we couldn’t do it.”

“Well, maybe you should go on your own.” Bren said, “You know more than me. You’re best to go on your own.”

“For the millionth time, Bren, I don’t want to go on my poxy own! I want to be with you.” Tony walked over to her, “I don’t understand why you want me to go on my own.”

“Because I think that I’ll slow you down. I won’t work well up there, I just won’t.” Bren shrugged, “And we don’t even know what will happen with ‘Totally Trivial’ either!”

“That doesn’t matter.” Tony told her.

“It does when it could get us the money we need to go to Scotland. If I don’t get that ten thousand then we’re screwed, aren’t we?” Bren replied.

“It’s not the end of the world if you don’t win. We can always save up. We’ve already started saving.” Tony shrugged, “We’re not in a rush. Hamish said we can take as long as we need.”

“We may not be in a rush but you are, Tony.” Bren turned to him, “You want to get away from Manchester as soon as possible.”

“Yeah, I do. But waiting a few months to save up won’t hurt me. And I’ll have you, won’t I? You’re talking like I’m trapped here.” Tony crossed his arms as he leaned back against the bunker.

“Well, it feels like you are and I’m the one that’s trapping you.” Bren dried her hands, “And I would feel better if I were to just set you free so you were happy in Scotland.”

“There’s no way I’ll be happy on my own. That’s the whole point!” Tony felt his temper flaring but he tried his best to control it. This was so frustrating. Why did she not want to go with him? She was happy to be going the other week but now, she had changed her mind. Tony sighed as he rubbed his forehead, “I just don’t understand, Bren. I thought you wanted to come with me.”

“And I did! But I keep thinking about everything and I don’t think I can meet your, oh what’s that word? Not experimentalism. Expectations. I can’t meet your expectations and that’s why you’re better going on your own.”

“What ‘expectations’ do I have? I don’t have any. I don’t expect anything from you, mate.”

“You expect me to win ‘Totally Trivial’.”

“You will win it though.”

“See?!” Bren huffed. She walked around the kitchen and went to the living room.

“That’s only because I know how good you are, Bren. I know you’ll do your best.” Tony replied.

“And if I lose when I do my best? What then?” Bren’s hands start to flap around, “It’ll be back to square one.”

“Bren, we can save up. It’ll be fine!” Tony approached her. Bren sighed as she sat down on the couch, her head in her hands, “It feels like there’s a lot more to this than just us saving up.”

“What d’you mean?” Bren asked.

“It feels like you don’t love me.” Tony sighed. He felt horrible saying that but it was true. He didn’t understand why she did not want to go with him now. She had been so adamant before.

Bren looked at him. How could he think that? Bren was head over heels in love with him but too much was happening. Scotland was such a big move and she didn’t feel like it was right for her to go with him. She wanted him to be happy and she felt like he would be happier doing what he wanted without her.

“Of course I love you. Tony, I love you so much.” Bren could feel her eyes burning.

“Then why don’t you want to come with me? We’d be happy in Scotland.” Tony tried.

“Because we both know you’d be better on your own.” Bren stood up. Her heart was beating so fast.

“But I wouldn’t! Why would you think I would stay with you if I didn’t want to be with you?” Tony frowned. His temper was wearing thin. His voice was getting louder and louder, “I don’t understand it, Bren. I just don’t. It’s taken us eight flipping years to get together. Why would you throw that away?”

“Because I want you to be happy, Tony!” Bren shouted. She started walking towards the door and grabbed her anorak, “You’d be happier without me in Scotland. You’d get what you wanted.”

“What I want is you, Bren! You’re all I want.” Tony pointed as he approached her. He couldn’t believe what she was saying. She started putting her anorak, “Where are you going?” 

“For a walk. I need to clear my head.” Bren shook her head as she pulled her anorak on, “I can’t be here right now.”

“Bren, please. We can talk about this.” Tony went to grab her hand but she snatched it away.

“I need to be on my own.” Bren just told him and she left the flat.

“Bren!” Tony shouted but she just shut the door behind her. He heard her footsteps fading away as he pressed his head against the cold door. His head pounded with all the emotions swimming around his head.

Tony wanted to go after Bren. He wanted to run after her and hold her so tightly and tell her how much she meant to him. But he couldn’t. He knew he had to leave her on her own. He didn’t understand why she wanted him to go on his own. He thought she wanted to go to Scotland. She said that she wanted to go. But now he wasn’t sure what was going on in her head. He tried to think about everything to understand why she changed her mind but he just couldn’t.

An hour or so had passed and Tony was starting to get worried. They didn’t argue that much but when 

they did, Tony hated it. He just wished he could make it better for Bren and reassure her that he loved her. But now he was doubting that she loved him and that hurt so much. All he could really think of though was making sure she was okay.

Finally, the door unlocked. He turned as he looked at the door when it opened. Bren walked in slowly with her head down. Her cheeks were rosy from the cold and her eyes slightly puffy. She had been crying. Tony rushed over to her as she came in.

“Bren. Are you alright? It was getting dark, I thought something had happened. I was about to go out and start looking for you.” Tony said quickly. His heart was beating so fast, he was happy she was safe. He took her hand in his, trying to warm it up, “I’m sorry.”

“No. I’m sorry.” Bren shook her head, “It wasn’t fair on you. You don’t need to apologise.”

“Of course I do.” Tony said, “Are you okay?”

“Mhm.” Bren nodded but she didn’t look at him.

“No, you’re not. Come here.” Tony brought her into his arms.

Bren wrapped her arms around his waist as Tony held her tightly. She sniffled softly, not wanting to break down fully. Tony kissed her head softly, rubbing her back to soothe her. They stood like that for a second or two before Bren pulled away. She looked up at him and Tony got a good look at her slightly bloodshot eyes. He wiped a tear from her face before he cupped her cheek.

“I’m so sorry, Tony.” She said softly.

“It’s alright.” Tony shook his head.

“No, please listen.” Bren rested her hands on his chest, “I… I don’t know what was going through my head early. I think I’ve just been so worked up about ‘Totally Trivial’ and everything else, I just want to do my best for you.”

“It’s okay, Bren. I understand.” Tony moved his hand to her shoulder.

“No but I don’t want to let you down. If I don’t win that money, I’ll let you down and you won’t be able to go to Scotland. That’s why I wanted you to go on your own, so I didn’t let you down.” Bren explained herself.

“But you’d never let me down, mate. If you didn’t win the money, we could save. I would never go to Scotland if you didn’t come with me.” Tony replied, “You’re all that matters to me. Nothing else matters but you and me.”

“I do want to go to Scotland with you.” Bren nodded. She laughed nervously, “I mean it, I do. I was just scared about, well, everything. Still am.”

“You’ve got me, I’m not going anywhere. I am never going to hurt you. I love you.” Tony gave her a warm smile.

“I love you too.” Bren replied. Bren felt like she didn’t deserve Tony. She always found herself becoming so wary when entering relationships because of her past and this felt like the ultimate test of that. But she loved Tony so much and she couldn’t give up on him. He was nothing like any of the men she had been with before. He was so different, so loving. She knew she had to fight for him, “I am sorry.”

“Stop apologising.” Tony told her before cupping her face and bringing his lips to hers.

When they kissed, the weight of the world fell off their shoulders. They had been through a lot today and now they were finally on the same level, they were able to relax and just be with each other. They broke off the kiss as their eyes met.

“D’you want a brew? You must be freezing.”

“Yeah, I’d like that. Thanks.”

Chapter Text

“Bye bye dad, from your son, Stan.” Stan finished reading his poem.

“That’s really nice.” Bren said, looking at Stan as she fiddled with her travel plug.

“Well, that’s how I feel.” Stan said with a sigh, “All the things I could have done for him and I didn’t do them. And now I can’t. I’d give anything to have some of those chances again.”

Bren sighed as she and Stan looked at each other. She fiddled with the travel plug still when she turned to look at her mother. Petula wore a very bewildered look on her face. So many thoughts were going through Bren’s head. Bren felt bad that her mother would have to go into a hostel but she had let her down for her whole life. She wanted to help but Bren needed to live her own life. She could not be at Petula’s beckon and call all the time.

Bren looked at the others. They all wore knowing looks, like they knew she was going to put her mother first. Bren looked at the envelope full of money before looking at Tony. Tony frowned as he looked at Bren, his arms crossed. He knew what she was going to choose and it wasn’t the holiday. Why didn’t she see right through her mother’s lies? Tony knew that if Petula got that money, it probably wouldn’t go towards the caravan. Bren continued to look at the envelope before finally looking up. She walked over to Tony and handed him the envelope and travel plug. Before he could stop her, Bren turned to Petula.

“Mum, I’m sorry but this is my money and it’s for my holiday. I can’t give it to you.” Bren said. Everyone was surprised. That was the last thing they expected Bren to do, especially Petula, “I can’t give you anything more. You owe me a lot more than I owe you.”

“Bren? Bren?” Petula started to pester her.

“Tony, keep a hold of it for me.” Bren turned to Tony who just nodded. She looked back at her mum, “I’m really sorry. But I can’t.”

“But Bren, I’m your mother.” Petula protested.

“And I’m your daughter but that never stopped you ruining my life before.” Bren frowned as her temper flared, “I’m not letting you do it again. Not this time. I’m sorry, I am. But I can’t give you this.” Bren sighed, rubbing her forehead, “Philippa, would you be able to get my mum sorted somewhere? Maybe get in touch with her solicitor?”

“I’ll see what I can do.” Philippa nodded.

“Thanks.” Bren replied and she went back into the kitchen.

“Bren? Sweetheart?” Petula called for her but Bren just ignored her.

“Oh, Bren, well done.” Dolly followed after Bren as she squeezed her shoulder.

“Yeah, you told her, Bren! She deserves it, manky old bag.” Twinkle grinned.

“I feel quite lousy actually.” Bren shrugged.

“You shouldn’t, Bren.” Anita shook her head, “You did what was right for you.”

“Exactly, you can’t let her rule your life anymore.” Dolly agreed.

“I’m just going out for some air.” Bren turned to go to the fire exit.

Bren shut the door behind her as the warm air hit her. It was quite humid outside but she didn’t mind. She went down the steps and headed across the road to the petrol station where she bought a packet of cigarettes and a lighter. Bren then headed back to the factory as she lit up a cigarette and took a few drags whilst walking back. When she came back to the fire exit, Tony was just coming out.

“There you are. Thought you ran off somewhere.” Tony laughed. He came down the steps to meet Bren, “Philippa’s calling your mum’s friend. What did you say his name was? Reg or something. Anyways, he’s coming for her.”

“She’ll be pleased.” Bren muttered before taking another puff of the cigarette.

“You don’t smoke, Bren. What’re you doing that for?” Tony asked as he patted his pockets for his own cigarettes.

“Just wanted to.” Bren shrugged as she leaned against the wall.

“What’s up?” Tony asked and immediately with that, Bren broke into tears. Tony rushed down the steps to meet her, “Hey, it’s alright. What’s up?”

“It’s nothing, honestly.” Bren shook her head and stubbed out her cigarette. She wiped her eyes, “I better go in.”

“Not like this, you’re not. Bren, you can tell me.”

“I just feel bad. I mean, she needs the money and I took it for myself.”

“Bren, you can’t feel bad about that. She doesn’t deserve that money, even if she is in a bad situation. You said it yourself to her just now.”

“I think I was too harsh. I shouldn’t have said it.”

“She needed to hear it, mate. You had every right to say it. I think you could have said a lot more actually.”

“You don’t think I was harsh then?” Bren looked at him.

“Of course not. She had to hear it. She can’t use you to get money off of you. You deserve better than that.” Tony told her, “And you deserve to do things for yourself for once.”

Bren smiled up at him. Before they could say anything more, they heard a door shut nearby. They turned to see Philippa walking Petula to Reg’s car in the car park. Bren felt her stomach drop but Tony put his hand on her shoulder which eased her.

“Come on, Jane’s waiting for that money. Let’s head inside.”

- - -

A couple of weeks later, Sunday

- - -

“Right, so me, Connie and Sue are in a room together. Colin, Tim and Derek are in a room together. And Tony and Bren, you’re together.” Jane handed out the keys whilst they all stood at the desk in the hotel. Bren and Tony couldn’t help but look at each other with confused looks, “It’s just cause you’re our last-minuters, y’know? I had to put you two together.”

“I’m glad you’re here and not Steve Greengrass.” Tony whispered to Bren who laughed.

They all headed to their rooms. Bren and Tony walked in as they put their bags down. They had a little sitting room and kitchen with a bathroom at the side and the bedroom to the right. They also had a balcony that overlooked the large pools.

“It’s alright in here, int it?” Tony asked.

“Yeah, it’s lovely. It’s so lovely.” Bren laughed. She was still slightly in shock that she was in a different country.

Tony smiled and went to check out the bedroom. He turned on the big light and found that there was a double bed. Bren followed him into the room and stopped when she saw the bed.

“Oh.” She said softly.

“It’s alright. It might be one of those ‘single beds put together’ capers.” Tony smiled. He pulled the covers off the bed and found that it was in fact, a double bed, “Oh.”

“You should sleep in the bed. I can go on the couch.” Bren offered.

“No, no. You have the bed. I’ll go on the couch.” Tony said before going into the wardrobe next to the bed, “I’m sure there’s a blanket in here.”

“Tony.”

“Bren, you’re in the bed. I won’t have a fuss about it.”

Bren just smiled. She knew he had won this argument. For now. Bren went to look around the rest of the room. She headed to the balcony. She opened the French doors and stepped out onto the balcony, the cool air hitting her skin. It was dark outside but peaceful. She looked down at the pools below and smiled. The resort was beautiful and honestly, Bren couldn’t be happier.

“It’s nice out here.” Tony announced himself on the balcony.

“It is.” Bren agreed.

“Flipping heck, that pool’s massive.” Tony laughed, “What d’you think, Bren? D’you like it?”

“Yeah. It’s amazing. I can’t wait to get into that pool.” Bren smiled.

“I bet! I can imagine it’ll be busy.” Tony huffed.

“I don’t care. The sooner I get in it, the better.” Bren replied.

Tony laughed, squeezing her shoulder. Bren laughed too as she looked at him. It was so quiet around them, only the distant voices from down below could be heard. Bren could not think of being anywhere else but here. With Tony.

- - -

Monday

- - -

Bren read her book as she sat next to the pool. She had not long been in the pool with Connie but now she was sunbathing. She was not paying attention to anyone around her when Jane came over.

“Hiya.” Jane sat on the sunbed next to her, “What you reading?” Bren showed her the cover, “Ooh, ‘Gone with The Wind’. Classic, romantic.”

“I never read it before, I’ve only seen the film. Dolly’s leant it to me whilst I’m here.” Bren turned to her.

“That’s nice.” Jane nodded, “Here, Bren? Seen anyone that’s taken your fancy yet?”

“Hm? No, not really. I’ve not been looking.” Bren giggled. To be honest, she wanted to get back to reading and enjoying the sun.

“Well I mean it’s only Monday. But still, a lot of good looking bodies here.” Jane shrugged, “A lot of men to catch your eye.”

“I’m not really looking the now, Jane. I’m just here for a holiday.”

“I know but still, it’s a piss-up holiday, int it? You need to go on the pull at some point.”

“I’ll maybe try it later in the week, Jane. It’s not even half eleven yet.”

“I know but you should get your eye on somebody. Start grafting.”

“I’ll see. That’s not really on my mind right now.”

“Well, what about Tony?” Jane looked around the pool, “You know he likes you, don’t you?”

“Well, I-.” Bren found herself stuttering.

“Of course, he’s too much of a wimp to actually make a move. He really needs to get a backbone.” Jane said as Bren looked over to Tony. He was talking to Sue and Colin as he laughed, holding drinks in his hands. Jane squealed with laughter, “Y’know, he wanted me to ask you about this holiday because he didn’t want you to think he was asking you in that way.”

“Um-.”

“Hope you’re not giving her bad ideas, Jane.” Tony came over with the two drinks in his hands, “I’d hate for Bren to have a bad influence.”

“Oh no. Just making sure she’s alright.” Jane smiled, “I better go see if Derek’s awake. We went to the bar last night, you should have seen him, he was absolutely wrecked.”

“What was she saying then?” Tony asked as he sat on the sunbed Jane was just on, “I hope she didn’t tell you to go to that bar near reception with her. We’ve not been here a proper full day and I’ve already heard bad things.”

“No.” Bren giggled as she put her bookmark in her book, “She was asking if I had my eye on anyone.”

“Oh. Really?”

“Yep.”

“You haven’t… you know?”

“Got my eye on anyone? No I haven’t.” Bren closed her eyes as she relaxed on the sunbed.

“Oh good. Well not good. I mean, you can do what you want but what I mean is…” Tony found himself stuttering. Bren opened her eyes to look at him. Tony looked down at the drinks, “Here, I brought you a cocktail. All inclusive.”

“Oh, thanks.” Bren sat up as she took the cocktail as she took a sip, “What is it?”

“Piña colada.” Tony told her.

“Penis colada.” She said softly before taking another sip.

Tony choked on his drink as he laughed. Bren started to laugh too. As they sat on the sunbeds, Tony could feel his eyes wandering to Bren’s swimsuit. She was in a plain white swimsuit that had a sweetheart neckline with a high leg detail and spaghetti straps. Bren had the nicest legs he had ever seen and it was nice to see them out of those frigging leggings for once.

“You’re getting a tan already.” Tony pointed.

“I am?” Bren looked at her arms, “I can’t see it.”

“My mum always said you should flip your hand quickly and you’ll see it.” Tony said. He then showed her how to do it, flipping his hand, “Look.”

“Oh yeah. I can see it now.” Bren flipped her hand, “I’m surprised. I thought I would burn, I’ve got quite fair skin.”

“Your nose has burnt a bit.” Tony smiled.

“Oh it usually does.” Bren rolled her eyes.

“I like your swimsuit by the way.” Tony said.

“You do?” Bren asked as she looked down at her swimsuit. That was the last thing she expected him to say. She could feel her cheeks heating up a little, “It’s new. I got it with Anita. I dunno about this bit though, I don’t really have the waist for it, d’you know what I mean? And I’ve got my footballer’s legs out. It’s like Nobby Stiles became Nora Stiles.”

“Shut up, man. Your legs look great. That swimsuit does wonders for you.”

“Give over!”

- - -

Thursday

- - -

Tony sat at the table as he ate his breakfast. He checked his watch, wondering where Bren was. They were meant to be going for a walk around the town which was not far from the hotel. He sighed. Where could she be?

“Sorry.” Bren said as she walked in. She was in a white button up shirt that was tied at her waist, black pedal pushers and her white trainers. Her sunglasses were on top of her head, “My mascara went a bit Jilly Cooper.”

“You mean Alice Cooper?” Tony asked.

“Oh yeah.” Bren tutted, “I’ll go get my breakfast and I’ll be right over.”

Bren and Tony ate their breakfast before leaving the quiet restaurant. They talked as they walked when they passed a bar that was opening up. Outside the bar, there was a board that said they were serving drinks from nine.

“That’s a bit early, isn’t it?” Bren frowned.

“Well, it is Marbella, Bren. Most people are getting pissed at this time in the morning.” Tony shrugged, “Shall we pop in? A quick drink before we go?”

“What harm will it do?” Bren shrugged and the two went in.

An hour or so later, Jane, Sue and Tim were coming down to the pool. They talked amongst themselves as they carried their towels for their sunbeds. 

“And then I said to him… You have got to be kidding me!” Jane’s jaw dropped when she saw who was sitting at the sunbeds. Bren and Tony sat on the sunbeds, both wearing their sunglasses. They sat in the corner at the palm trees as they laughed. Jane walked over to them, “What’re you two doing?”

“Oh. Hi, Jane.” Tony smiled.

“Hiya.” Bren waved.

“What’re you two doing?” Jane asked again.

“Y’know, sitting by the pool.” Bren shrugged.

“Fully clothed?” Jane frowned.

“Well, we wouldn’t be naked, would we?” Tony said before he and Bren started to laugh.

“I thought you two were going to go on a walk around the town.” Jane crossed her arms.

“Well, we were but we went into that bar for a bit.” Tony shrugged.

“How many drinks did you have?”

“How many drinks did we have, Brenda?” Tony asked, “We didn’t have a lot, did we?”

“Oh no. Maybe like four or five mimosas. Each. It really depends on how you do your maths because we had a few shots too.” Bren shrugged.

“I think you should go back to your room. You’ll be rough as anything soon.” Jane sighed.

“But we’re enjoying the sunshine.” Bren sighed.

“Yeah! And we also saw someone just fall into the pool.” Tony said which prompted Bren to snort and burst into laughter. The two of them laughed again but were hushing each other.

“Come on.” Jane grabbed both of their hands and got them to stand up, “Go to your room. You should sleep it off, remember we’re all going for dinner tonight so you better be sober by then.”

Bren and Tony didn’t say anything more to Jane. They just started to walk away, giggling to themselves even more. As they stumbled, Jane, Sue and Tim watched them.

“D’you think they’ll get it on?” Sue asked.

“No.” Jane shook her head, “Tony’s wearing an Hawaiian shirt.”

- - -

Saturday

- - -

The music blasted in the nightclub. People danced and talked whilst Tony stood at the bar. He was ordering another drink when Jane came over.

“Alright, Tony?” Jane smiled. She bobbed along to the music, “Having fun?”

“Yeah, it’s been a good night, int it?” Tony smiled, “You having a good time?”

“Yeah, it’s been great! Anyone you like?” Jane nudged him.

“Um, not really. I’ve just been enjoying my night.” Tony shrugged, “I saw you talking to that guy in the tank top.”

“Yeah, yeah, enough about me.” Jane rolled her eyes, “Are you not going to make a move on anyone, eh? No girls taking your fancy?”

“Who are you talking about?” Tony sighed.

“Who d’you think?” Jane crossed her arms. Tony knew exactly who she was on about. He leaned against the bar, “Come on, Tony! You can’t fanny about anymore. If you like her, do something about it!”

“I thought she might.” Tony shrugged.

“Oh Tony.” Jane rolled her eyes before poking his arm, “The whole time we’ve been here and every time I’ve seen you, you are always talking about her. You can’t keep going on like this.”

“I dunno, Jane. I just-.” Tony looked up when he noticed Bren leaving the nightclub. He frowned, “Bren’s leaving. Why’s she leaving?”

“Tony!” Jane frowned when Tony started walking away.

“I’ll be right back.” Tony replied.

Jane noticed Bren leaving the nightclub and smiled. She knew Tony was going after her. Jane laughed.

“You better not mess it up, Tony.” Jane said to herself.

“Bren? Bren?” Tony called after her when they got outside. Bren turned when she heard him calling for her. Tony caught up with her, “Where are you going?”

“I’m going back to the hotel. I’m quite tired.” Bren sighed.

“Are you sure? Do you not want to stay for a bit?”

Tony asked.

“I just want to get to my bed, Tony.” Bren smiled.

“Well, let me walk you back. I don’t want you to be on your own.” Tony said.

“Are you not staying?” Bren asked.

“Nah. Crud dot com as Twinkle would say.” Tony chuckled, “Come on, let’s make a move.”

“Okay.” Bren smiled.

Bren and Tony talked as they walked back to the hotel. They couldn’t help but laugh at the drunk people on the streets and they were thankful they didn’t get as drunk as the others did. They got back to the hotel and let themselves into the room. The room was a little messy from before they went out with a couple of bottles of alcohol still out from their pre drinks. Tony quickly tidied them up whilst Bren went to the toilet. He noticed there was some drink left and he poured a small drink for himself and went to sit out on the balcony.

“I thought you were going to bed.” Tony turned when Bren came out.

“I was wondering where you were.” Bren said, “Thought you’d run off.”

“Nah. Just wanted to come out for some air.” Tony replied, “You alright?”

“Yeah.” Bren nodded. She leaned on the balcony as she looked over the pools, “Did you have a good night?”

“Yeah, it was good. What about you?”

“It was alright. I think I was just tired tonight.”

“Yeah. We have done a bit of a bender the past couple of days, eh?”

“Yeah. I’ll be happy to be sober tomorrow actually.”

“Me too.” Tony chuckled.

Bren giggled with him as she turned to him. She leaned against the balcony as she smiled at him. Bren looked so beautiful in this light. Being abroad seemed to do wonders for Bren, Tony thought. Tony remembered what Jane said in the nightclub and he knew she was right. He really liked Bren and he wanted her to know that. He had been wanting to make his move for ages now but he never found the right time. Now they were alone, he was hoping he would find his chance. Tony got up from the seat and walked over to her, leaning against the balcony too.

“I don’t want to go home.” Tony chuckled as he looked at the pools.

“I know what you mean.” Bren giggled, “It’s been fun, eh?”

“Yeah, it’s been great.” Tony smiled, “I’ve loved being here with you. I mean it.”

“You do?” Bren asked.

“Of course I do.” Tony nodded.

“You wouldn’t rather be here with Steve Greengrass?” Bren asked.

“Absolutely not.” Tony scoffed, “Can you imagine it?”

“You would be bored senseless.” Bren giggled. She then looked up at him, “What about Jane?”

“What about her?”

“Do you not wish you were in a room with her?”

“No! That would be too much for me. I like Jane but living with her would give you a headache. Why would you think I would want to be in a room with Jane?”

“Dunno. I just thought with how close you two are.”

“We aren’t that close. Not like you and me.” Tony put his hand on her shoulder. Bren looked up at him again and he smiled, “I’d rather be with you than anyone else.”

Bren and Tony looked at each other and could feel themselves being drawn to each other. The two leaned in, capturing each other’s lips in a soft kiss. Bren rested her hand on the back of his neck and Tony held her waist. The kiss deepened, pulling each other closer when they wrapped their arms around each other tighter.

Down below at the swimming pools, Jane and the others were coming back from the nightclub. They all howled with laughter when they walked. As Jane laughed, she looked up to the balconies. She was about to look back down to her friends when she noticed who was on their balcony.

“Shh! Look!” Jane stopped everyone talking as she pointed up to the balcony.

“Is… is that Bren and Tony?!” Tim asked.

“I think it is!” Colin nodded.

“Keep your voices down, they might hear us.” Sue hushed them.

“That took them ages, didn’t it?” Connie laughed.

“You’re telling me!” Derek huffed.

“He took my advice. Finally!” Jane crossed her arms.

Oblivious to the people down below, Bren and Tony were still kissing. They found themselves getting breathless and they broke off the kiss. They rested their foreheads against each other’s as they looked at each other.

“Do you want to go inside?” Tony asked softly.

“Yeah.” Bren nodded.

The two smiled before heading inside and finding their hands on each other again.

- - -

Sunday

- - -

Tony opened his eyes slowly when he heard voices outside. He looked around the room before noticing Bren in his arms. She was fast asleep, cuddled close to him. Tony smiled. This was the one thing he wanted. Him and Bren together and it finally happened. He finally plucked up the courage to make a move.

Tony pushed a loose curl from Bren’s face. The tickle against her skin made her open her eyes. Bren itched her forehead when she noticed Tony was awake. 

“Morning.” Tony smiled.

“Morning.” Bren rubbed her eyes.

“You look knackered.” Tony chuckled.

“Thanks.” Bren sighed. She looked up at him, “You look knackered too.”

“I feel it.” Tony nodded. He stroked her bare arm gently, “I had a great night last night.”

“Are you talking about before or after we came back?” Bren asked.

“Both. But mostly after.” Tony replied, “Did you?”

“Yeah.” Bren nodded. She grinned, “I loved it.”

Tony chuckled. He cupped her face as he brought his lips to hers. They kissed for a few seconds, bringing each other close. They soon got out of bed and got ready for breakfast. It was coming up for ten so they assumed the others would be at the pool by now. When they headed down, Bren and Tony went to grab their breakfast before looking for a table.

“Coowee.” Jane called with a wave, “We’re over here.”

“Let’s not tell them just yet, eh?” Bren said.

“Don’t worry, Bren. My lips are sealed.” Tony smiled as he gave her shoulder a squeeze.

“Morning.” Derek smiled when Bren and Tony sat down.

“You have a good sleep?” Connie asked.

“Yeah, it was alright.” Tony nodded as Bren yawned quietly.

“You alright, Bren? Not too shagged out?” Jane asked.

Tony choked on his coffee when he heard that. Bren tried to stifle a laugh.

“No. I was just up late last night.” Bren shrugged.

“Oh I bet.” Sue nodded, “Anyone pull last night?”

“No.” Everyone at the table shook their heads.

“Bren? Tony?” Tim raised a brow.

“Hm?” Bren turned.

“Did you pull?” Tim asked again, “Either of you?”

“Um, no.” Bren itched her head.

“Nah. Just came straight home, didn’t we, mate?” Tony said.

“Mhm.” Bren nodded, taking a sip of her tea.

The table was quiet for a moment before everyone burst into laughter. Bren and Tony looked at each other with confused looks.

“Oh come on, you can tell us. We saw you last night.” Colin laughed.

“Last night?” Bren frowned.

“What do you mean you saw us last night?” Tony asked.

“On the balcony.” Jane tutted, “We left not long after you two and we saw you. Snogging on the balcony.”

“Oh. Right.” Tony widened his eyes as Bren started to giggle, her face going bright red.

- - -

Wednesday

- - -

Tony was in the pool, swimming around the edge of it. As he approached the deep end, he noticed Bren walking down from the stairway. She walked straight to the sunbeds and sat down. Tony swam around the pool to the nearest ladders and got out. He walked over to Bren, grabbing his towel and drying himself.

“You should have seen Colin, he just belly flopped into the pool.” Tony laughed. Bren didn’t really react, just playing with her fingers. Tony frowned, “What’s up?”

“My mother phoned.” Bren sighed.

“What? How did she get the number?” Tony asked.

“Dunno. Probably from Philippa.” Bren shrugged.

“What was she saying?” Tony replied.

“She was telling me that she was getting settled into the hostel. Saying that she was already struggling for money.” Bren told him.

“Good. She didn’t deserve that money from you. She needs to learn to not sponge off you.”

“It sounded like a horrible place she’s in. I really should have given her that money.”

“Bren, no. How would that have been fair on you? She’s let you down so often, she would have never done that for you. You deserve to be selfish for once.”

“Are you saying I’m being selfish?” Bren frowned.

“No, I’m not saying that.” Tony squeezed her knee, “I’m just saying that you need to think about yourself. Not worry about her all the time.”

“I can’t help but worry about her, Tony. I just wish I could have done something.” Bren sighed.

“I know but you can’t let her rule your life. You can’t bottle out of everything just because of her.” Tony said.

“What have I bottled out of for her?” Bren frowned.

“Well, you were going to bottle out of this. You were going to give her all the money.” Tony replied.

“I was not.”

“You were. It took us watching you to stop you.”

“It did not, Tony. I said no because I wanted to be here with you.” Bren stood up, “Now I’m not so sure.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Tony asked but Bren just started walking away from him, “Bren?”

Bren didn’t turn around. She headed towards the stairway, clearly going back to the room. Tony stood as he watched her leaving as he sighed.

“Bren alright?” Jane asked when she came over.

“I think I’ve upset her.” Tony sighed.

“Oh Tony.” Jane rolled her eyes, “You’ve got a way with the ladies.” She slapped his arm, “You.”

Tony sat at the pool, unsure of what to do. He didn’t mean what he said and he knew he had been too harsh. Tony didn’t want to disturb her but at the same time, he wanted to apologise. The last thing he wanted to do was upset her and ruin their relationship when it had just started.

The group were all going out to a bar in the hotel tonight. Tony went back up to their room. It was quiet in the room and Tony thought Bren had left for home. That was until he popped his head into the bedroom and noticed her sitting at the dressing table doing her makeup. Tony knew she wouldn’t want to speak to him so he just headed to the shower.

Once they were all ready, the group headed down to the bar. The atmosphere in the bar was good and everyone seemed to be having a good time but it was tense between Bren and Tony. They hadn’t spoken since their argument and it was getting to them. Tony sat with Colin and Derek but watched Bren at the bar with Connie and Tim. Sue and Jane came over to the men, Jane sitting next to Tony.

“You spoken to Bren yet?” Jane asked.

“No. Not since this morning.” Tony sighed, “I don’t know what to say.”

“Tell her you’re sorry! That’s all you can say.” Jane shrugged, “You’ll never make it up if you sit here in a strop.”

“I know.” Tony sighed. He looked up again at Bren. She looked bored as she listened to Connie and Tim talk. He knew he had to go up, “I’m gonna speak to her.”

“Thatta boy.” Jane laughed.

Tony headed over the bar. Bren noticed him coming over and she could feel her stomach turning to knots. She was expecting the worst. 

“Bren, can I talk to you?” Tony asked.

“We’ll go sit down.” Tim smiled and he and Connie left.

“I’m sorry.” Tony said, “I didn’t mean what I said.”

“No, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have gotten cross with you.” Bren shook her head, “You were right.”

“No, Bren. You were right.” Tony nodded.

They looked at each other for a moment and started to laugh. They hugged each other, Bren wrapping her arms around his neck whilst Tony wrapped his around her waist as he kissed her cheek. They held each other tightly, not wanting to let go.

“You alright?” Tony asked.

“Yeah, I’m good. You?” Bren nodded.

“Yeah.” Tony smiled, “Shall we get a drink?”

“Hmm, we could.” Bren shrugged as she cuddled into him, “Or we could go back to the room. Have a night to ourselves.”

“You read my mind.”

- - -

Friday

- - -

Bren and Tony were brought to their table. They sat down and started reading through their menus. Their waiter came over and asked them what they wanted to drink and they ordered a bottle of wine.

“What’re you having?” Bren asked as she read her menu.

“That pizza sounds nice.” Tony said.

“Which one?” Bren asked.

“That one.” Tony showed her his menu, “The chicken and mushroom one.”

“That does sound nice actually.” Bren said, “D’you wanna order it together and we can share?”

“Yeah, that’ll be good.” Tony smiled before leaning in closer, “Have you had a look at the desserts yet?”

“Not yet. I haven’t thought that far ahead yet.” Bren giggled, “Why? Is there anything nice?”

“Chocolate sundae.” Tony raised a brow.

“Oohh.” Bren giggled.

Their waiter came back with their bottle of wine and they ordered their dinner. The waiter poured their wine and left the two. The couple decided to make a toast.

“To the best two weeks.” Tony smiled.

“Yes.” Bren grinned, “And to being away from it all.”

“Here here.” Tony chuckled.

They clinked their glasses together before taking a sip each. Bren looked around the restaurant as Tony took her hand over the table. She looked at him and smiled, giving his hand a squeeze.

“You look beautiful.” Tony said.

“Give over.” Bren rolled her eyes.

“I mean it. I’m not saying it for the heck of it, y’know.” Tony laughed.

“You don’t look so bad yourself.” Bren smiled before noticing a piece of fluff on his shoulder. She stretched over the table, “Let me get that.”

“What is it?” Tony asked.

“A bit of fluff.” Bren smiled. She went to take another sip of her wine, “So what do you think they’re all doing tonight then? D’you think they’re missing us at, not ecosystem. Ecstasy! That’s it, Ecstasy.”

“I don’t know and frankly, I don’t care.” Tony shrugged.

“Oh, you almost did a Clark Gable there.” Bren giggled.

“Oh yeah. What is it he said again?” Tony asked.

“‘Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn’.” Bren put on a posh voice as the two laughed.

“You went a bit Monty Python there again.” Tony smiled, “No seriously though, Bren. I’ve had the best time with you. I’d rather be here with you than out in some tatty club.”

“Same.” Bren giggled as she ducked her head. She looked at him again, “What do you think the girls will say when we get back?”

“Oh they’ll probably be nosey, won’t they?” Tony rolled his eyes, “Can’t wait.”

“And Twink will have her twenty quid.” Bren added.

“Oh yeah. Fancy putting bets on us.”

“Are you surprised?”

“No. Not at all.”

- - -

Sunday

- - -

Bren and Tony sat in their seats near the window next to Tim across from Jane, Colin and Connie. Derek and Sue were sitting behind them. They were finally going home today. Everyone was ready to get home and be in their own beds again. Bren and Tony were excited to get home and actually be together at home.

Everyone talked as they put their seatbelts on. The plane wasn’t taking for another ten or so minutes so they had time to kill. Tony laughed at a joke Colin made when he turned to Bren. She was quiet as she looked out the window, her index finger tapping her chin gently.

“Bren?”

“Hm?”

“You okay?”

“Yeah. Just a bit nervous about the plane.” Bren smiled.

“You’ll be fine.” Tony reassured her, “You managed when we came over.”

“I know but it’s the going up, eh? It’s a bit scary. My tummy went funny when it happened.” Bren replied.

“I know but once we’re in the air, it’ll be fine.” Tony smiled, “And I’ll be here too. You don’t need to worry.”

Bren smiled at him. Tony leaned in and kissed her cheek. They waited a few minutes and finally, the plane was getting ready to take off. The plane sped up down the runway and Tony could sense Bren getting tense. He took her hand and gave it a squeeze. She gave him a small smile. Once they were in the air, Bren let out a sigh of relief. Tony chuckled as he rubbed her back. 

“I can’t believe how high up we are.” Bren said as she looked out the window.

“I know.” Tony smiled, “Mad, eh?”

“Yeah. It is.” Bren sat back in her seat. She then yawned.

“You should get a kip, you’ll be knackered.” Tony said.

“Mhm.” Bren nodded.

Tony put his arm around Bren and brought her close. He kissed her head as she rested her head against his shoulder. Bren started to doze off and Tony smiled. Nothing felt better than this. The fact he got to be with Bren on this holiday was amazing and the fact they finally got it together too was an added bonus. He could not be happier.

Tony started to doze off too, resting his head on top of Bren’s. As they slept, the light to let passengers take off their seatbelts came on. Jane had gone to the toilet and was coming back when she noticed Bren and Tony sleeping. She started to laugh.

“Quick, give me the Kodak!” Jane rushed Tim to go into his bag. He gave her the camera as she took a photo of Bren and Tony, “That’ll look great on the Summer board.”

Chapter Text

“Bren?” Tony called through the house. He walked into the living room, topless, “Where’s all my t-shirts? I’ve got none left.”

Bren said nothing as she ate her digestive. She was wearing one of his t-shirts and held a large jar of Nutella in her hand and in the other, a half eaten digestive. Tony noticed her in his t-shirt and he sighed.

“Bren.”

“Nothing else fits!” Bren huffed, her mouth full.

“I’ll go find another shirt to put on.” Tony went upstairs.

When he came back down, he was in a grey button up shirt. He was just doing up the buttons when he walked into the living room.

“Is that dry?” Bren asked.

“Feels dry.” Tony sat next to her as Bren started feeling around the top for a wet patch.

“It is.” Bren nodded. She went back to eating her digestives. She took a new one out of the packet and dipped it into the Nutella.

“You still got cravings?” Tony asked.

“Hmm. I’m starting to get full though. Too much sugar.” Bren replied.

“I can imagine. I dunno how you can eat that.” Tony sighed.

“It’s not me, it’s the baby that has the sweet tooth. I could have never eaten that if I wasn’t pregnant.” Bren explained, “Well, maybe a couple. Like a marshmallow type thing, d’you know what I mean?”

“Yeah.” Tony nodded, “Would that not set off your morning sickness?”

“Dunno. That’s been coming and going lately. Hopefully it starts to go away.” Bren replied. She then went to get up, “I’ll go put this away.”

Tony helped her up, his hand on her back to support her. She grabbed the Nutella jar and digestives before going through to the kitchen. Bren put the food away when she felt the baby kicking. The kicks were now starting to feel more like kicks and Bren loved it, even if they did hurt a little.

“Tony! Baby’s kicking again.” Bren came through to the living room.

“Let me feel.” Tony called her over, putting his head to her bump so he could listen. The baby kicked against his hand and he laughed, “It’s still strange.”

“They do feel funny.” Bren giggled.

“It’s not just the kicking. It’s everything. I mean, there’s a whole baby in there. Well, not a whole baby. Don’t they still need to grow their lungs or something?” Tony asked.

“I can’t remember actually. It is strange though, pregnancy.” Bren smiled. They were quiet for a moment when they felt the baby kicking. There was then a hard kick, “Ooh! That was a big one.”

“It was.” Tony laughed before talking to her bump, “You can’t kick us that hard, eh? You better not be booting us like that when you’re born.”

Bren chuckled as she listened to Tony talk to the baby. She stroked his hair softly as he looked up at her with a smile. The baby still kicked as they looked at each other. They could not be happier than they were now. Living with each other and having a baby on the way, it was the best thing they could ask for.

They were interrupted by the doorbell going off. Bren and Tony looked out the window but couldn’t see anyone. Tony got up from the couch.

“I’ll get it.” Tony said. He went through to the hall and spoke to the postman briefly before coming through the hall with a parcel and some letters.

“What’s that?” Bren asked.

“Dunno. I’m sure we’re about to find out.” Tony shrugged.

“Take it through to the kitchen.” Bren said.

The two walked into the kitchen. Tony put the parcel down on the table and grabbed a knife to open it. Bren went through the mail to see if there was anything interesting.

“Just bills.” Bren shrugged as she watched Tony opening up the parcel, “Do you know what it is yet?”

“Be patient, mate.” Tony replied. Finally he got the box open and took out what was inside, “Oh, it’s the baby bath.”

“Is it?” Bren asked with a smile as she stood up. Tony took off the packaging and put the baby blue baby bath down on the table. Bren giggled, “It looks massive.”

“It does actually.” Tony said. He started to chuckle, “I remember my mum washing my sister in the sink.”

Bren chuckled. Tony looked at her and put his arm around her. He kissed her head as she cuddled into him. 

“Have you got anything planned?” Bren asked.

“Hm, no. Not that I’m aware of. How?” Tony replied.

“Do you wanna go for a walk?” Bren asked, “Just around the village.”

“Yeah. Let’s go. The sun’s splitting the sky.” Tony smiled.

The couple soon got ready. Bren went to put her trainers on but had to get Tony to tie her laces because she couldn’t reach because of her bump. She laughed as he tied her laces before they left the house.

“You know what name I like?” Tony said as they walked.

“What?” Bren asked.

“Sebastian.” Tony replied.

“Sebastian?! No.” Bren giggled.

“What’s wrong with Sebastian?” Tony frowned.

“We’re not having a man from the 1800s.” Bren giggled, “I hope you’re not planning on nicknaming them ‘Seb’.”

“Okay, so you don’t like it.” Tony nodded.

“Sorry.” Bren gave his arm a gentle tap, “Have you got any girl names in mind?”

“I thought about Emily.” Tony suggested, “Dunno though. I really need to think about girl names. What names have you got in mind?”

Bren sighed as she thought for a moment.

“I quite liked Scarlett and then I didn’t mind Daniel.” Bren then sighed again, “It’s just hard to think about without knowing if they’re a boy or a girl and I don’t want to rush knowing. I’d rather find out when I give birth. Dolly said that we’d know what to call them when they arrive.”

“Yeah. Not long now.” Tony squeezed her hand as Bren smiled. As they walked, they noticed Mary who worked at the local shop, “Morning.”

“Oh, morning.” Mary was pottering around her garden when Bren and Tony walked over to her gate, “How are you two?”

“We’re good. Out for a quick walk, aren’t we?” Tony looked at Bren.

“Yeah. Better to get out now before I get any bigger.” Bren smiled.

“Well with this lovely weather, you need to make the most of it.” Mary smiled, “How are you doing? You’re looking well.”

“Yeah, I’m good. We think the baby’s gotten bigger again because none of my clothes fit me.” Bren giggled, “Apart from that, everything’s going well.”

“I’m glad. I remember with my Sarah, I ballooned. I think it’s a girl thing because it happened with my sister and her daughter. I could be wrong though. Do you know what you’re having yet?”

“No, we wanted to leave that until we have the baby.” Bren said, “I don’t think I’m bothered either way.”

“I’m the same. I’m just happy we’re having a baby at all.” Tony smiled.

“Yeah.” Bren smiled up to him, giving his hand a squeeze.

“Awww. I was the same although John was adamant about having a wee girl. Of course he was lucky we had one.” Mary laughed.

“How is John?” Tony asked.

“Driving me around the bend actually.” Mary rolled her eyes as Bren and Tony laughed, “He’s in the garage tinkering away. He keeps asking about spanners and things and I don’t have the first clue about them. I just nod. I think he’s just wanting me to give him a lift to bloody B&Q!”

“We know a guy like that too.” Bren giggled.

“You’re not a tinkerer, are you, Tony?” Mary asked.

“No, not really. My car when we were still in Manchester was a nightmare so that just shows how bad I am with tinkering.” Tony replied.

“Oh don’t.” Bren laughed, “It was like an antique shop on wheels.”

“It was. And it was tiny.” Tony chuckled, “Still, did the job.”

“It broke down four times the first month we were together.” Bren looked at him.

“Shh, Bren.” Tony said jokingly.

Bren and Tony soon said goodbye to Mary and went back on their walk. As they approached the house, Bren started to get more tired.

“I think I’ll have a kip when we get in.” Bren said as she yawned.

“Yeah, you’re best to. You look knackered.” Tony said, “D’you want a cup of tea when we get in?”

“Yeah, before I go up.” Bren nodded.

The two got into the house and Tony put the kettle on. Bren sat down in the living room whilst she waited for Tony to do their tea. Tony didn’t take long to finish making their cups of tea. He came through to the living room and found Bren was already asleep on the couch. She rested her head on her hand, her elbow on the armrest. Tony smiled. He put their teas down and went to make Bren comfortable on the couch. He then joined her on the couch, letting her rest her legs over his lap. He gave her legs a little squeeze as he smiled. She looked so beautiful as she slept. As he watched her, Bren put one hand over her bump. He put the television on and turned it down so it wouldn’t disturb Bren. Tony could feel himself starting to doze too and he put his tea down, deciding that a bit of kip wouldn’t hurt.

Chapter Text

Bren sat on the couch as she sipped from her wine. She could hear Tony pottering around in the hall. They had just had their dinner after finishing getting everything moved into the cottage. Bren turned to see Tony bringing a box into the living room. They had just been talking about when they were younger and their hairstyles they used to have.

“I think this is the box.” Tony put it onto the table.

“Are these both of our photos?” Bren said as she sat up.

“Yeah, I remember putting them all in here.” Tony opened up the box before turning it around, “See? Photos.”

“Well, don’t you have more photos than me?” Bren asked.

“Nope, did you not see all the shoe boxes you gave me that are filled with photos? There were millions.” Tony started taking the smaller boxes inside out.

Bren took a box from him and opened it. It was clear this was a box of her photos when she noticed all the photos at the top of her and her friends. She took one out of herself and started to laugh.

“Frigging heck! Look at my hair.” Bren laughed.

“Wow.” Tony said sarcastically before he started to laugh. He took the photo and looked at it. In the photo, Bren sat at a bar and she wore a blouse and she had large curly hair, “Now that’s a perm!”

“You’re not joking! That was in the Midland Hotel bar.” Bren pointed before looking at the back of it, “1982, bloody hell.”

Tony chuckled. He then went into one of his boxes and started looking at his own pictures. He showed one to Bren.

“Going to the football with my dad.” Tony chuckled.

“You look so young.” Bren laughed, “Look at your dad’s flares.”

“I know. I think I’ve still got that scarf.”

“You do. I put it in one of the boxes that’s in the bedroom.”

“Oh right.”

“That’s a nice one.” Bren pointed at a picture of Tony in a suit. He smiled at the camera as he stood at a mirror, clearly fixing his appearance when the picture was taken.

“That was the day I got married.” Tony told her.

“Was it?” Bren asked. She picked up the picture as she looked at him, “You look handsome.”

“It was an alright day actually. Well except for her getting drunk. My sister nearly punched her.” Tony chuckled.

“You’re joking?! Flipping heck.” Bren scoffed. Bren went back to her box of photos and her stomach dropped when she saw a photo of her and Martin. It must have been taken at a party and it must have been at the start of their relationship because Bren still looks quite happy in it. She picked up the photo, “I thought I threw this out.”

“Is that you and Martin?” Tony asked.

“Yeah. That was at the start, before he got friendly with his fists.” Bren bit her lip.

Tony watched her looking at the photo. He hated that she had to go through what she did with Martin. He knew she still suffered with the memories of it all, even if she tried her best to suppress it all. Tony thought back to the first time he met Martin and even when Bren saw him walk in, he knew she was scared of him. Tony wished he could have done something, anything. If they had met earlier, if he told Martin to leave that day when he came to the canteen. He just wished he could make it better for her.

“You alright, mate?” Tony rubbed her back gently.

“Yeah, yeah, I’m fine.” Bren smiled. She put the photo back in the box, putting it right at the bottom, “Don’t need to worry about that.”

Tony gave her a small smile before looking back at their photos. Tony noticed a photo at the top from the canteen. It was clearly from a night out they did a few months ago and it was of Bren, Jean, and Twinkle as they laughed. They were in some bar that was near the factory.

“Look at that one. That’s a good one.” Tony smiled. He hoped it would cheer her up.

“Aww.” Bren giggled, “That is a good one. That was a good night. Who took that?”

“I think I did. I’m sure I’ve got more.” Tony looked through the pictures. As Bren looked through her own pictures, Tony looked over and noticed another one of her from years ago. He took it out of the box. In the photo that was clearly taken in a photo booth, Bren’s hair was now more tame and bobbed but still as curly. She wore a denim jacket as she smiled, “Look at you there. The perm was strong then?”

“Come on, Tony. It was the flipping eighties.” Bren laughed. She then noticed a picture of Tony in a photo booth too. She picked it up and noticed he had a perm too. She started to laugh, “Look at your hair here!” 

“Oh flipping heck.” He sighed. He took the picture from Bren, “That’s bad, isn’t it?”

“It’s not that bad.” Bren giggled.

“What do you think?” He put the pictures of them together and showed them to Bren, “Do you think we still would have fancied each other back then?”

“Oh yeah.” Bren nodded before she started to laugh, “I definitely would have fancied you. D’you think you would have fancied me?”

“Definitely. You’ve always been a looker.” Tony smiled at her.

“Give over.” Bren rolled her eyes. Bren then took another sip of her wine as she sat back on the couch, “I wonder what it would have been like if we did meet then. If we would have gotten together. D’you think we would have come up here sooner?”

“Dunno, it’s hard to say, isn’t it? There’s a lot of things that could have happened if we met then.”

“I suppose. Life would be very different.”

“It would. I guess even when we did know each other.”

“What d’you mean?”

“Well, we were both married at the start. Then different things happened that we didn’t get the chance to be together like your mother or me being ill. Or the girls getting involved, jumping to conclusions like you being pregnant.” Tony looked at his wine glass. Bren laughed when she remembered back to the dinnerladies thinking she was pregnant. Tony turned to her when he finally put down the pictures, “I’m sorry. By the way.”

“What for?” Bren frowned.

“When they all thought you were pregnant, I was off with you. I thought you were pregnant with someone else. Thought my chances with you were gone.” Tony shrugged. He looked at her, “I was being selfish.”

“You apologised before, Tony. You don’t need to apologise again.” Bren shook her head, “I know you didn’t mean it.”

“But it wasn’t fair on you, even if you were pregnant, that wasn’t fair to be like that with you.”

“You weren’t that bad. You offered to take me home that night, you cared, Tony. You were so kind to me.”

“I wouldn’t have let you get hurt, mate.”

“I know but you were off with me. You didn’t need to take me home. I was surprised when you said you wanted to take me home.”

“Well, I’d do anything for you.” Tony shrugged, “Y’know that.”

Bren smiled as she ducked her head. She took his hand and gave it a squeeze. They played with each other’s fingers. It was quiet in the living room, only soft music playing on the stereo to fill the space.

“Who did you think the dad was? When you thought I was pregnant?” Bren asked as she looked up at him.

“Dunno. Assumed it was your calor gas man.” Tony played with their hands still, his thumb stroked the back of her hand.

“Him?” Bren’s eyes widened. She hadn’t thought about him in a while, “Oh no. I only went on one drink with him.”

“You did?” Tony lifted his head.

“Mhm. He kept laughing and throwing his head back, you could see his pork scratchings. Put me right off.” Bren sighed as Tony laughed softly, “I never went on many dates after him.”

“Did you not?” Tony frowned, “I thought you did.”

“No. I couldn’t fancy anyone. I was too stuck on you, wasn’t I?” Bren chuckled.

Tony looked at her. He was surprised that she said that. After all those months and even years of fancying Bren, it took them so long to get to the place they were now. Tony was totally infatuated with Bren and it seemed that she was too, they just never admitted it.

“You weren’t?” Tony scoffed.

“I was. When I was on those dates, all I could think about was you.” Bren laughed but she then softened. She looked deep into his eyes. Blue meeting blue, “It was always you.”

Tony studied her face. She was so beautiful. He thought about what she said. He had loved her for so long and it was clear she had felt the same. He wished he could have made it easier for them. If they could have gotten together sooner and saved all the mistakes they made along the way. But he couldn’t focus on that. They were finally together now and he was happy. So happy. Even if he was still grumpy in the mornings or didn’t like Bren’s leggings. Nothing could be better than this. 

“I love you.” Tony said. He wanted her to know that he loved her. That he was bonkers about her. Nothing else mattered to him except her. It was her and him against the world.

Bren smiled when she heard him say that. Not many people told her that they loved her throughout her life so when he told her, she relished in it. It meant so much hearing it from him. Bren knew she would never get tired of it. She leaned in as they still held hands and kissed his lips. When she broke it off, she smiled up at him.

“I love you too.” Bren replied as she studied his face. 

Tony cupped her face, pushing a loose curl off her face. Bren smiled at him, her hands now resting on his knee. They were totally besotted with each other and they couldn’t ask for anything more. They leaned in and kissed again. The kiss deepened as Tony brought her closer. Though it deepened, the kiss stayed loving. Never forceful on the other. They were so gentle with each other. When they finally broke it off, they looked at each other. They studied every inch of their face, taking everything in as if it were the last time they were going to see each other.

“Do you want to go upstairs?”

“Yeah. Yeah, I do.”

Chapter Text

Friday 25th February 2000

- - -

“Morning.” Dolly announced herself, Jean coming in behind her.

“Hi, Dolly. Hi, Jean.” Bren smiled as she put the bread away.

“Morning.” Tony walked around the kitchen with his hands in his pockets.

“Oh, happy birthday, Tony.” Dolly smiled.

“Happy birthday.” Jean gave him a pat on the shoulder.

“Thank you.” Tony nodded.

“Are you doing anything special tonight?” Jean asked, “Going out for your tea or anything?”

“No, we’ve got nothing planned, have we?” Tony put his arm around Bren.

“No, nothing.” Bren shook her head.

“Oh well, sometimes you just need to have a quiet birthday.” Jean shrugged.

“Yeah.” Tony sighed, “Morning, Anita, Twinkle.”

“Hiya.” Bren smiled at the younger women.

“Happy birthday.” Anita smiled.

“Yeah, happy birthday, sad one.” Twinkle smiled.

“Cheers.” Tony chuckled.

“D’you get anything nice?” Twinkle asked, “A nice tie?”

“Just money and a few cards.” Tony shrugged, “Oh and a bottle of wine from Bren.”

“Aww.” Anita said with a smile.

“You got anything planned? Big party?” Twinkle crossed her arms.

“Nope, nothing.” Tony shook his head.

“Nothing at all?” Twinkle screwed up her face.

“Not even going out for dinner?” Anita frowned.

“Nope. Quiet night for us.” Tony crossed his arms.

“Aww, that’s really manky.” Twinkle huffed, “You’ve got to do something.”

“It’s only my forty-third, not a very special birthday.” Tony shrugged.

“Yeah, but still.” Twinkle huffed.

“Morning, Stan.” Bren greeted Stan when he walked in.

“Morning, everyone.” Stan smiled, his mop and bucket in his hands, “Happy birthday, Tony.”

“Cheers, Stan.” Tony nodded.

“Stan, eh Tony should be doing something special for his birthday?” Twinkle turned to Stan.

“Well, yes. You’ve got to make the most of the day.” Stan nodded.

“But I can have a birthday where we do nothing though.” Tony huffed.

“It would be nice for you to do something.” Dolly shrugged.

“Oh not you too.” Tony sighed.

“Well, it would be nice. Even if it’s just you and Bren.” Dolly shrugged.

“I’m having a fag. Too much pestering from you lot.” Tony walked to the fire exit.

“Shut the door!” Bren shouted.

“He can be a right grumpy old-.” Twinkle crossed her arms.

“Thank you.” Dolly stopped her.

“I’m actually glad he’s outside. I wanted you all to help me with something.” Bren said quietly, making sure Tony hadn’t come in again.

“What with? Are you alright?” Jean asked.

“Oh yeah, I’m fine.” Bren smiled, “No, I wanted to give him a surprise for his birthday, y’know. I think he wanted to do something and I wanted to keep it secret that I had something planned. It’s nothing too, not dragonfly. Drastic. Just a little do for him. It’s the least I can do for him.”

“What did you have in mind?” Stan stepped forward.

“Well, I was thinking that we could have a meal here in the canteen or something. I could go out and get a cake from the shop and some bunting, y’know. I just want him to have a day for him, especially after all he’s done for me. This is his first birthday since we got together so I want to spoil him.” Bren shrugged.

“That sounds lovely, Bren.” Dolly smiled.

“I was going to get him some more presents too. I was thinking about going before dinner.” Bren said.

“Well, why don’t one of us get the cake for him?” Jean suggested.

“And we could even say to Philippa about it, she could help us.” Anita added.

“Yeah, yeah, that would be great. But we have to keep it quiet, I want it to be a surprise for him.” Bren replied.

“Our lips are sealed, aren’t they, girls?” Stan smiled to which all the women nodded.

The fire exit opened again. Tony walked in as he rubbed his hands together to keep himself warm. He frowned when he noticed everyone talking but they soon scarpered when they noticed him come in.

“Right, better head up to the second floor.” Stan left the canteen.

“Bye, Stan!” Jean and Twinkle called as the four women went into the office.

“What were you talking about?” Tony asked Bren who was just about to go into the office.

“Hm?” Bren’s eyes widened.

“What were you talking about?” Tony asked again.

“Oh, nothing interesting.” Bren smiled. She stood on her tiptoes and gave him a peck on the cheek before heading into the office.

Later on, they were putting the shutters up and serving the faces of folk. Like clockwork, Jane was there at the front of the queue, ordering her twelve rounds of white.

“Happy birthday, Tony. How’s forty-three treating you?” Jane smiled.

“It’s been fine so far. It’s only my first day.” Tony shrugged.

“Oh well. Got anything planned?” Jane asked.

“Nope. It’s a relaxing birthday for me.” Tony nodded.

“That’s a bit boring, int it? You gotta do something.” Jane crossed her arms.

“Everyone keeps saying that.” Tony rolled his eyes, “Has no one ever had a relaxing birthday where they don’t do anything whatsoever?”

“Alright.” Jane’s eyes widened. She then looked at Bren who was bringing over her toast, “Honestly you’d think he was trying to forget it’s his birthday. Are you really not doing anything?”

“Well, that’s what I wanted to talk to you about actually. I’m planning a little do after work that he doesn’t know about. It’s weeny really but I wanted to ask you a favour.” Bren replied.

“Oh yeah. That’ll be good. What do you want me to do?” Jane asked.

“Well, I was wondering if you could pop out for something for me.” Bren replied, “I wanted to get him this aftershave but I don’t think I’ll have time to pop out. If I give you the money, would that be alright?”

“Yeah, of course. No problem, what aftershave is it?” Jane asked.

“It’s that Giorgio Armani one. What’s it called again? Not Antonio Banderas, ‘Acqua di Gio’.” Bren handed her the money over the till as Jane paid for her toast.

“Oh, yeah. That’s nice, that. Yeah, I’ll go out during lunch for it.” Jane nodded.

“Go out during lunch for what? You’re not turning on us, are you?” Tony appeared behind Bren.

“No, not at all, nosey. I’m actually popping out to the chemist’s, I’ve got cystitis again.” Jane shook her head.

“Bren, I’m having a fag.” Tony turned away quickly.

“That’ll teach him for nosing about.” Jane laughed.

“Thanks, Jane.” Bren smiled.

“No problem.” Jane nodded and she left the canteen.

“Bren? Bren?” Philippa walked into the canteen with a carrier bag.

“Oh, thanks, Philippa.” Bren walked to the half door. Philippa handed her the carrier bag and she looked inside to find the birthday bunting and birthday cake, “That’s perfect.”

“Does he like chocolate cake? Those ones were the ones I could see? It was either that or a Thomas the Tank Engine cake.” Philippa asked.

“No, that’s perfect.” Bren giggled, “Did you ask Tom about popping down for the party?”

“Yeah but it’s his best friend’s birthday today as well so they’re going to the pub. He did say he would try and pop in but he can’t promise anything.” Philippa shrugged.

“Oh well, that’s alright.” Bren smiled.

As the day went on, the dinnerladies and Stan did their best to keep quiet about their plans for Tony’s birthday. At the end of the day, Philippa had asked if they could organise some teas and coffees for a meeting in the boardroom.

“Right, Bren and Twink are taking these up.” Tony said as he folded the pink flimsie.

“I can’t take them up.” Bren crossed her arms.

“Eh?” Tony frowned.

“I need to finish wiping the tables, I told you I wasn’t finished.” Bren shrugged, “Can’t one of you lot go up with Twinkle?”

“We’ve got that show, remember?” Jean gave Bren a nudge, “Me and Dolly need to be at the theatre for six.”

“Yeah, my mum’s going to that so I need to get home too for the baby.” Anita nodded.

“What show is this?” Tony frowned.

“It’s um, it’s…” Dolly hesitated, “It’s Nana Mouskouri! Yes, she’s playing at the ‘Royal Exchange’.”

“She is?” Tony frowned, “I thought you didn’t like Nana Mouskouri?”

“Of course I do. She’s very tuneful for a Greek.” Jean shrugged.

“Why don’t you go up with Twinkle, Tony? You never go up to the boardroom unless it’s important.” Bren encouraged him.

“Alright.” Tony sighed and he and Twinkle headed up to the boardroom.

Bren and the others rushed around the canteen to get the bunting up and the table set up. Jane and Philippa came down in time for Tony and Twinkle to come back. 

“Right, that’s them now.” Stan whispered as he turned the lights off.

Tony and Twinkle approached the door to the canteen when Tony stopped. He frowned as he looked into the doors.

“What is it?” Twinkle turned.

“Why are the lights off?” Tony frowned.

“Dunno. Maybe they’re all in the kitchen.” Twinkle shrugged.

Tony followed after Twinkle as he pushed the trolley. When they went into the canteen, the lights came on as everyone jumped out happily.

“Happy birthday!” Everyone shouted, some letting off party poppers.

“What’s this?” Tony asked with a smile. He looked around the room and noticed the bunting up on the wall with the tables pushed together ready for them to all have a meal together.

“This is your birthday party.” Anita smiled.

“You didn’t think we were going to let you not do something special, did you?” Jean laughed.

“Did you know about this?” Tony turned to Twinkle.

“Course I did. Why did you think I kept tying my laces?” Twinkle rolled her eyes.

“But I thought you all had to leave early?” Tony frowned.

“Oh come on. Do you really think I would go and see Nana flipping Mouskouri, Tony? You’ve got gullible in your old age.” Jean laughed again.

“Less of the old. Right then, which one of you got all of this organised then?” Tony crossed his arms.

“It was me actually.” Bren stepped forward, “I got everyone involved.”

“Oh. Aww, Bren, you didn’t need to-.” Tony shook his head.

“I wanted to do something special.” Bren cut him off. She walked over to him as she took his hand, “You did something special for my birthday, it was only right I did the same for you.”

Tony smiled. He couldn’t be more grateful for Bren. It was so kind of her to do this for him. He brought her close to him and wrapped his arms around her waist. The two hugged tightly.

“Come on,” Bren broke off the hug, “Let’s sit down.”

They all had their dinner and then Bren brought through Tony’s cake. They all sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to him before he blew out his candles. As they ate their slices of cake, Tony opened his presents from everyone. 

When he finally got the chance, Tony went out to have a cigarette. As he took a puff from his cigarette, he was aware of the fire exit door opening.

“No, Twinkle.” Tony sighed. He turned to find it was Bren. He smiled, “Oh, hi. You alright?”

“Yeah. You alright?” Bren crossed her arms.

“Yeah, I’m great. You go inside, you’ll be freezing.” Tony said.

“No, I’m okay.” Bren shook her head, “Have you had a good birthday?”

“Yeah, it’s been great. The best yet. You really didn’t need to do all of this.” Tony shook his head.

“I did.” Bren nodded, “After all you’ve done for me, you deserved to get treated by me.”

Tony chuckled. He put his arm around her and kissed the top of her head. She smiled up at him.

“Well, I really appreciate it. Cheers, mate.” Tony winked.

“Anytime.” Bren grinned, “What did you think of your presents?”

“They were lovely. Yeah, I loved them. Again, you didn’t need to go to all the effort.” Tony said.

“Again, I wanted to.” Bren laughed, “I wasn’t sure what to get you. I would have got you a voucher for Mrs. Farnsbarns but she wasn’t in.”

Tony laughed, remembering the discussion him and Bren had about presents for men before they got together. He brought her close to him as he squeezed her shoulder.

“I’d have you over Mrs. Farnsbarns any day.” Tony whispered softly into her hair.

Bren looked up to him with a bashful smile. She couldn’t help but giggle as she stood on her tiptoes and kissed him. Tony cupped her face as they kissed, staying close to each other. They gave each other one last peck before smiling at each other, studying each other’s features intently.

“D’you wanna head inside?” Tony asked.

“Hm, not yet.” Bren replied, “Just five more minutes.”

Chapter Text

Friday 17th December 1999

- - -

The music was loud in the hall. Everyone danced and talked happily. Bren was just coming out of the toilets as she looked over the dance floor. She noticed Anita and Twinkle dancing and she smiled. She went over to the table they had claimed as she put her bag down on her chair.

“You alright, Bren?” Jean came over to see her.

“Yeah. Hey, is Barry coming along tonight?” Bren asked.

“He should be. He said he would later.” Jean shrugged as she took a sip of her wine, “Not the end of the world if he doesn’t come.” Jean then gave her a nudge, “You not going up for a dance?”

“Oh I’ll see. I’m not much of a mover, you know what I’m like.” Bren chuckled, “I was actually going to get another drink.”

“Alright. Oh dear, look. Dolly’s talking to Big Willy. She’ll never live that down.” Jean laughed as she looked across the dance floor, “Dolly Bellfield talking to a Big Willy, this is a first!”

Bren laughed as the two women watched Dolly. Dolly soon came over to them.

“Have you seen Bob?” Dolly asked when she came over.

“I think I saw him going to the toilet, Dolly.” Bren crossed her arms.

“Big Willy’s more your concern right now, isn’t he?” Jean asked with a smirk.

“I was having a very pleasant conversation with Big Willy about Christmas presents.” Dolly announced.

“I bet you were.” Jean raised a brow.

Bren laughed and decided to head to the bar, knowing the two older women would be happy bickering away. Bren headed over to the bar and ordered herself a drink. 

“Hiya, Bren.” She heard from behind her. She turned and found it was Paul who worked in marketing. He was quite good looking actually. That tall, dark and handsome cliche. Maybe a little boring though.

“Hi Paul.” Bren smiled, “You alright? Having a good night?”

“Yeah, it’s been alright. You?” Paul asked.

“Yeah, it’s been good.” Bren nodded.

Tony was talking to two of the guys from packing when a slow song came on. He was aware of all the couples going to the dance floor and decided that maybe this was his time to shoot his shot. He looked around for Bren in the crowd of people and noticed her standing at the bar. She was talking to someone but he couldn’t see who. Bren looked stunning tonight. She wore a navy blue cocktail dress and black heels and Tony thought she hadn’t looked better. 

Tony knew this was his time to make a move. The least he could do was ask her for a dance. He weaved his way through the crowd as he approached her. As he got closer, Tony noticed she was talking to Paul. That didn’t bother him. Paul was alright. He wouldn’t mind him peeling Bren away for one dance. That was when Paul took Bren’s hand. Tony’s stomach dropped. He watched the two make their way to the dance floor. 

“Come dance with me, Tony! I love this song.” Jane rushed over to him and dragged him to the dance floor.

Tony didn’t have much time to comprehend what was going on. He was too invested in what Bren was doing. As he danced with Jane, he watched Bren the whole time. He had blown it once again and all he could do was watch her with someone else. Some other guy who she seemed to like. He was definitely a lot more to look at than what Tony was. She would be better off with someone like that.

The slow Shania Twain song played and Bren found herself looking around the room rather than at Paul. Paul was nice enough but he wasn’t really the person she wanted to be dancing with. She looked around the dance floor, hoping the song would change soon. She then noticed him. Tony. Dancing with Jane. She knew they were close but she never knew if there was anything more going on between them. That photo of them when they went to Marbella still made her second guess everything. Bren always heard the girls and Stan go on about how Tony liked her but how could she believe them after that? And now they were dancing together, what did they expect Bren to believe?

Tony was trying to seem interested in what Jane was saying, nodding along to her quite incessant chitchat. Tony looked over Jane’s shoulder when he found himself making eye contact with Bren. It was like time stopped. Was she thinking the same as him as they danced? Did she want to come over and dance with him instead like he did with her? It was times like this that he wished he could read minds. At least he would know if they were on the same page or not. 

The song soon ended and a much more upbeat one started to play. Most people stayed on the dance floor but some couples dispersed. Tony and Jane were one of them. Bren watched as Tony went off to the bar and knew she had to go talk to him. She had hardly spoken to him during the night and she had to go now.

“I’m just going to the bar, okay?” Bren said to Paul.

“No problem.” Paul smiled.

Bren walked over to the bar. Tony was waiting for his pint, leaning against the bar. Bren came up next to him, resting her hand on his shoulder.

“Hiya.” Bren gave him a smile.

“Oh. You alright, Bren?” Tony stood up straight. He didn’t expect Bren to show up beside him.

“Yeah. You?” Bren asked.

“Yeah, fine.” Tony shrugged, “D’you want a drink?”

“No thanks. I just downed a glass of red wine there.” Bren laughed.

“Moving fast there, mate.” Tony chuckled. His pint was then handed to him and he paid, “Cheers mate.”

“You having a good night?”

“Yeah, it’s been… it’s been good. Have you?”

“Yeah. Definitely better that my mother isn’t here.”

“Well, there’s a plus.” Tony really didn’t want to think about last year with Bren’s mother. He still felt bad about that, “I saw you dancing with Paul there.”

“Oh. Yeah.” Bren nodded. She was surprised he was bringing that up.

“That’s new, isn’t it? Calor gas man got the shove?”

“He got the shove ages ago. No, Paul asked to dance so I did. Nothing more really. Paul’s a bit boring, isn’t he?”

“He’s flipping dire. I’ve nearly fallen asleep talking to him a few times.”

Bren laughed, ducking her head. She then looked up at him, her smile softening. Bren stepped forward which made Tony’s stomach tighten. Why was he getting nervous now?

“Your tie’s squint.” Bren said.

Tony watched as Bren fixed his tie. She adjusted the tie, one hand near his collar and the other at the bottom of his tie. She stood close to him as she focused on fixing his tie. 

“Look at Bren and Tony.” Anita shook Twinkle’s arm as they went over to the table.

“No way.” Twinkle smiled, “They’re really close, aren’t they?”

“What is she doing? It looks like she’s undressing him.” Anita said with wide eyes, “Oh my God. Bren’s ripping Tony’s clothes off!”

“No, you lame brain. She’s fixing his tie.” Twinkle rolled her eyes. 

Tony studied Bren’s face as she fixed his tie. She stuck her tongue out slightly, focusing on his tie. Tony thought she was so beautiful as he watched her. He wanted so much to make his move and tell her how he felt but he couldn’t. He just couldn’t bring himself to say anything.

Bren finally fixed his tie. She smoothed down his collar and brushed off his shoulders. She smiled as she looked up at him but found herself getting caught up in his eyes. He looked so handsome in his suit. Bren studied his face as he looked at her, both of them trying to find the courage to make a move.

“Alright, Tony?” A colleague called over suddenly.

“Alright, mate?” Tony gave him a smile. He then looked back down at Bren who looked at him. Another slow song started to play, the dance floor filling again, “I um, I… Do you wanna dance?”

Bren was surprised. Tony wasn’t totally a dancing person. Not really. She was surprised to see him dancing at all when she noticed him with Jane.

“Yeah. Yeah, I would like that.” Bren smiled.

Tony offered his hand and Bren took it. He gave her hand a gentle squeeze, Bren trying to contain all her thoughts as she gave him a little smile. The two walked over to the dance floor and brought each other close as they started to sway slowly to the music. Tony held her waist as Bren rested her hand on his shoulder, their other hands clasped together. At the side, the four dinnerladies watched them intently.

“Do you think they’ll go home together?” Anita asked.

“Doubt it. Still progress though.” Jean shrugged.

“‘Progress’? It’s hardly a sex life.” Dolly sighed.

“That would be foreplay back in your day.” Jean pointed at Bren and Tony dancing.

“Remember that they have to get it together before Christmas Day to get our fifty quid.” Twinkle crossed her arms, “How long until Christmas again?”

“A week tomorrow.” Dolly replied as they watched Bren and Tony dancing. They were close, talking as they danced, “They’ve got plenty time.”

Chapter Text

Tony was just walking out of the kitchen when he noticed Bren talking to Hamish. He grabbed his coat and walked over to them. Bren smiled when she saw him.

“What are you doing here? You didn’t walk up, did you?” Tony asked.

“Yeah, I did. I thought I’d try and get the baby to get a move on.” Bren shrugged. Tony gave her a kiss on the cheek, “Are you alright?”

“Yeah, you?” Tony took her hand, “No signs of movement yet?”

“Nope. Only the occasional kick.” Bren sighed.

“I better get back to the bar.” Hamish said.

“No probs.” Bren smiled.

“I’ll see you tomorrow, mate.” Tony gave him a wave. Hamish went into the pub, “Shall we go home?”

“I did sort of promise Catherine that I’d pop in for a cup of tea.” Bren squinted her eyes a little. Tony sighed and she laughed. She squeezed his hand, “Come on, we’ll be quick.”

Tony got sorted and the couple left the B&B. They went out to the car park but when Tony headed to the car, Bren kept on walking.

“You not want to drive down?” Tony called over the car park.

“No, we can walk. The café’s only at the end of the street.” Bren replied.

“I don’t want you to tire yourself out. And it’s freezing, you’ll get a cold.” Tony told her.

“I’ll be fine.” Bren giggled, “That was the whole point of me coming out anyways, to get the baby moving.”

“I don’t want the baby to start moving at the wrong time.” Tony locked the car and walked to her.

“Well, we’ll know what to do when they do start moving. Anyways, why drive down the street just to get to the café? The polar ice caps are melting at an alarming rate as it is.” Bren shrugged.

“Oh, don’t start with that. You won’t get to sleep tonight if you keep thinking about the frigging polar ice caps.” Tony shook his head, “Our car won’t make much difference anyway. You’d think it was our fault they were melting the way you bang on.”

Bren just laughed. She took his arm and hooked hers with his. The two walked down the street until they reached the café. They walked in and went over to the till.

“Hi.” Catherine greeted them, “You alright, Tony?”

“Yeah. I hear you’re enticing Bren in for a cup of tea?” Tony raised a brow.

“It’s nice to be nice.” Catherine shrugged, “What do you want then? Tea? Coffee?”

“What am I having, Bren?” Tony looked at Bren.

“He’ll have a coffee. Latte.” Bren lifted her head from looking at the cakes.

The couple ordered what they wanted and sat down on a comfortable couch in the corner of the café. They talked quietly as they drank their hot drinks, watching different people go by outside. 

“Oh, he’s gonna go flying.” Tony pointed out as a man walked down the street. The ground outside was icy and for the past ten minutes, they had been watching people trying to walk through the ice without slipping. So far only two people had been successful. The man eventually slipped and Bren and Tony burst out laughing, “There we go. Right on his ar-.”

“Victoria Sponge?” One of the waitresses in the café came over with two plates.

“That’s for me.” Bren sat up and took the plate, “Thanks.”

“And the chocolate cake’s for you?” The waitress turned to Tony.

“That’s the one. Thanks.” Tony got handed the plate.

“Here comes another one.” Bren pointed outside.

“Ooh a couple. What do we think? Will they go flying too?” Tony asked.

“Dunno. They could go two ways.” Bren shrugged.

“Yeah, separate ways.” Tony sighed, “They’re holding hands, either they’re going down together or going to manage to stay up.”

They watched the couple walk over the ice. They managed to go over the ice slowly but the man slightly lost his balance but managed to stay up.

“Oh. Almost.” Tony chuckled. He sat back as he took a sip of his coffee, “Now to wait for the next one.”

“And to think you didn’t want to come in.” Bren giggled.

“Keep your voice down. Of course I wanted to come in.” Tony tutted.

Bren chuckled. She leaned back against Tony, beginning to eat her slice of cake. They sat quietly until Bren sat up again. She held her bump as she frowned.

“Ooh.” Bren felt around her bump.

“What’s up?” Tony frowned.

“Oh, yeah. Just a hard kick.” Bren giggled, “Clearly enjoying the Victoria Sponge.”

“Fair enough.” Tony scoffed. He rubbed her lower back, “Everything alright?”

“Yeah. I might actually go to the toilet. They’re sitting on my bladder again. I think that kick was them telling me to get up actually. Help me up, eh.” Bren started to get up, Tony giving her gentle push up to stand up. She came back within a couple minutes or so and sat back down, “This baby won’t budge.”

“It’s only a couple days after your due date, mate. It’s normal for them to be overdue. They’ll be here soon.” Tony replied.

“I know but, it’d just be nice to have them here.” Bren sighed.

“I know. It won’t be long.” Tony smiled as he rubbed her back. He watched Bren as she took a sip of her tea. He lowered his voice, “Y’know, I read in that pregnancy book that a bit of sex can push things on a bit.” Bren turned to him with a very deadpan look, “Alright, fine. Just a suggestion.”

“It’s alright.” Bren giggled. She leaned in and kissed his cheek, “I appreciate it. But I won’t be having any sex until this baby’s out.”

“Shame.” Tony scoffed and Bren laughed.

They stayed in the café for another hour or so before finally deciding to leave. They put their coats on and headed outside.

“Watch that ice there.” Tony moved Bren around the large frozen puddle, “The last thing we need is you going up, eh? What’s up?”

Bren rubbed her eyes before yawning. She then sighed as she looked up at him.

“Sorry, what did you say?” Bren asked.

“I’ll get the car. I’m not having you walking all that way, even if it does get the baby on the move.”

Chapter Text

“It’s roasting in here.” Tony walked into the kitchen from having his cigarette, “I know it’s cold outside but flipping heck! It’s like a sauna.”

“They must be cold in the factory.” Anita said before putting some food onto someone’s plate.

“I don’t understand why they don’t have different settings for the rest of the building. This kitchen heats up very quickly with all the equipment, especially around the toaster.” Dolly pointed to the toaster where Bren stood, “We’ve got the right mind to say something to Philippa.”

“I’ve already said to her yesterday.” Jean gave someone a cup of tea, “She said she’s going to look into it. I don’t know what she’ll do.”

“She’ll probably tell the thermostat to be mindful of everyone in the canteen.” Twinkle carried the bacon to the counter, “Be considerate and all that.”

“I’m sure they’ll do something. Jane was saying it was bad at her office yesterday.” Bren added.

“Oh well, if Jane’s complaining then there’s definitely a problem.” Jean said in her usual sarcastic tone.

“The thing is we’re feeding the faces of the factory, there’s a constant cycle of bodies coming into the canteen. Too much body heat and it gets even hotter.” Tony loosened his tie a tad.

“Well, the kitchen isn’t exactly a good size either. It’s cramped with us working on a normal day but when the heating is up like this, it’s hard to get away from each other.” Dolly sighed, “We end up sticking together like glue. I’m going to get up a petition.”

“Calm down just there, Joan of Arc. We don’t want a revolution to take place when we’re serving tea and coffee.” Tony gave Dolly’s shoulder a little squeeze.

Tony walked around the kitchen as he was now approaching Bren. She was buttering some toast but she stopped as she held her forehead. She looked quite flushed, like she wasn’t well. Tony rested his hand on her shoulder.

“You alright, mate?” Tony asked with a frown.

“Yeah.” Bren nodded. She quickly returned to buttering the toast, “It’s just warm. I’ll be fine.”

“Are you sure?” Tony asked, “I could open the fire exit.”

“No.” All five women replied at once.

“Alright, keep your hats on.” Tony sighed. He then looked back at Bren, “Let me know though. I don’t want you to burn up.”

“I’ll be fine.” Bren giggled, “Get that bacon, Twinkle forgot that other tray.”

Tony gave her a little wink and grabbed the tray of bacon. Bren gave him a bashful smile. She tried her best to power through the heat but it was hard. She knew it would cool down soon with everyone finishing their breaks. She just had to power through. She was good at that.

When the break for the factory workers was over, the dinnerladies were having a cup of tea. Bren was about to go out with Tony onto the fire exit for some fresh air when the milkman came. He had been late with the milk this morning and Bren had to sign for it.

“Warm in here, int it?” The milkman said.

“Yeah.” Bren nodded, “It’s been like this for a couple of days now.”

“Frigging heck, that’s a joke that! I’d complain.” The milkman shook his head when Bren handed him the clipboard, “See you later.”

“Bye.” Bren smiled.

Bren went over to the window at the back of the kitchen. She tried to open it more but it didn’t seem to budge. The cold air came into the kitchen as she stood close at the window. Bren closed her eyes, letting the air hit her.

“I thought you were coming outside?” Tony frowned when he came in, shutting the fire exit behind him.

“I was but the milkman came in.” Bren replied.

“You still warm?” Tony asked.

“A little. I’m starting to cool down now.” Bren smiled.

“You do look flushed.” Tony pressed the back of his hand against her warm cheek, “Are you sure you’re alright?”

“Yes.” Bren chuckled. She held his hand and squeezed it, “Stop worrying.”

“You make me worry.” Tony sighed. He then gave her a kiss on the forehead.

“Oh hello.” Philippa announced herself, “Blimey. It’s roasting in here.”

“We know.” Twinkle, Jean, Anita and Dolly all said in unison.

“It wasn’t that bad yesterday, was it?” Philippa asked.

“No but it was still bad.” Jean took a sip of her tea, “It’s worse when there’s more people in the canteen.”

“I’ll need to keep an eye on this.” Philippa opened up the notebook in her arms, “What time is it right now?”

“I’m going to the toilet quickly.” Bren gave Tony’s shoulder a little tap.

“Alright.” Tony nodded.

Tony watched Bren as she went off to the toilet. He couldn’t help but worry about her. It was warm and she didn’t look too great earlier. Hopefully the fresh air would help but he couldn’t be so sure with how warm it was.

Lunch soon came and the canteen was absolutely roasting again. Everyone complained about the heat but there was nothing they could do except complain and most of those complaints went to Philippa. 

“Are you able to do something about this, Philippa?” Tony walked over to Philippa as she stood in the kitchen next to the half door.

“I’ll see what I can do. This is definitely a big issue though. I don’t understand how this hasn’t been brought up before.” Philippa made a note in her notebook as she spoke with Tony.

“It’s never been this bad before. These past few days have been the worst. It affects everything.” Tony crossed his arms. He was then quiet, looking over Philippa’s shoulder to Bren in the canteen. She was collecting some plates from the tables but she looked more flushed. She sighed softly, rubbing her head as he watched her. Tony lowered his voice when he started speaking to Philippa who lifted her head, “I’m worried about Bren. I think this heat’s making her feel sick.”

“Has she been ill at all?” Philippa asked, looking at Bren in the canteen.

“No but she’s not looked great at all today. She’s been quite flushed, you can see it now.” Tony explained.

“Oh yeah. You should check if she’s got a fever, I could call for first aid.” Philippa offered.

“No, no. You know what she’ll be like, she won’t want any fuss. I think she’s alright when there aren't as many people here.” Tony nodded. Bren came into the kitchen as she pushed the trolley, “You alright, mate?”

“Yep.” Bren replied, trying to keep up her normal speed with the dishes but she just couldn’t. She took dirty dishes to the sink.

“So do you think you’ll be able to sort this?” Dolly asked Philippa.

“Hopefully. I’m definitely looking into it.” Philippa nodded. Stan then walked into the canteen from the other door with his cone, “Stan, have you been able to have a look at the heating?”

“No, I haven’t but I’ll tell you something, I know that heating is a hazard. My father was a desert rat, the heat he was out in was almost as bad as this.” Stan huffed, “I hope you’re looking into it.”

“I’m trying.” Philippa nodded.

“Something better get done. I feel like I’m melting.” Twinkle huffed as she turned from her station at the potatoes, “I’ve been in skips that aren’t as manky as this canteen.”

“We can’t work like this. Someone could get really ill.” Anita added.

“Tony.” Jean turned to see Bren at the sink. Jean had been watching her from the till as everyone spoke. She didn’t look well at all. She seemed dizzy and unsteady.

Tony looked down to Bren at the sink and could see her getting more and more unsteady on her feet. Tony made his way down to Bren but that was when she collapsed. Everyone gasped.

“Bren!” Tony grabbed her immediately to stop her hitting the floor. He held her close, trying to keep her on her feet but she wasn’t totally there, “Come on, Bren, you’re alright. I’ve got you.”

“Hmm.” Bren just hummed tiredly in Tony’s arms.

“See? Something bad has happened!” Stan shook his head, “Human resources.”

“Not now, Stan.” Dolly hushed him when they all walked around the kitchen.

“Is she alright?” Twinkle asked.

“I dunno.” Tony kept all of his attention on Bren. He didn’t know what to do, “Philippa, get the first aid people.”

“I was watching her and I could tell something wasn’t right. She’s been acting funny all day.” Jean crossed her arms.

“It’s the heat, int it? It’s clearly got to her.” Tony said. He then lightly slapped Bren’s cheeks, “Come on, Bren.”

“Take her to the office.” Dolly suggested,

“Yeah, good idea. Anita, put the fan on for me.” Tony said.

“Okay.” Anita nodded and went into the office after Philippa who went to call first aid.

Tony picked up Bren in a bridal lift, carrying her into the office and sitting her down in the chair. She was now unconscious and Tony set up the fan towards her. Tony stayed with her whilst everyone went back to their work. Stan and Philippa kept an eye out for first aid to come. Bren slowly opened her eyes to Tony. He knelt in front of her, stroking her hair gently.

“Hey.” Tony smiled, “You alright, mate?”

“What happened?” Bren sat up slowly. Her head was pounding. She rubbed her head, “My head’s banging.”

“D’you want a glass of water?” Tony asked.

“Please.” Bren nodded.

Tony got up and went to get Bren some water. He came back and gave her the glass. She took a few gulps before wiping her mouth with the back of her hand.

“Did… Did I faint?” Bren frowned.

“Yeah, gave me the fright of my life.” Tony chuckled.

“Oh, I’m sorry.”

“No, don’t apologise, it’s alright. I was just worried about you. How are you feeling?”

“Just my head’s sore. Have you got an aspirin?”

“Not on me. I could ask Jean or Dolly. I’m sure they have some.”

“Yeah, if that’s alright.”

“Course it is.” Tony gave her a kiss on the head before asking Jean and Dolly if they had any aspirin. He got the aspirin and gave Bren one, “I’ve got a first aider coming down.”

“Oh no, don’t. Tell them to go, I don’t want any fuss. I’m fine.” Bren nodded, “Honest.”

“I knew you would say that. Are you sure you’re okay? You have just fainted.” Tony asked as he raised a brow.

“Yeah, I’ll be fine, I was just warm.” Bren rubbed her forehead. She went to get up, “I should get back to work.”

“I don’t think so.” He made her sit down again, “You’re not going anywhere.”

“I need to work, Tony.”

“Not after you’ve fainted, you don’t. I’m taking you home after lunch and I mean it. No arguments.”

Bren couldn’t help but laugh. She shook her head as she laughed before sighing.

“Alright. But only for today. I’m coming in tomorrow.”

“I’ll be the judge of that!”

Chapter Text

“Morning!” Bren walked around the kitchen to meet Tony.

“Morning. You alright?” Tony asked as he started to take off his coat.

“Yeah. How are you? You alright?”

“Yeah, not bad. My appointment went well last night.”

“It did? Aw, I’m pleased. So that’s you for another couple months then?”

“Yep. Not worrying about it at all.”

Bren chuckled. She went into the office as she unzipped her fleece and pulled her overall on. Tony noticed the bread at the side and put it away.

“Hey, Bren. Did you see the football last night?” Tony asked when he came around the toaster.

“Yeah, I caught the second half. They did not bad, didn’t they?” Bren said.

“Yeah. They needed to hurry up with that second goal though. I felt like it went on for ages.” Tony crossed his arms, “Still, it’ll be good when they play Chelsea.”

“Yeah. Hopefully they win.” Bren walked out of the office, “D’you want a brew?”

“Please. I’ll have a tea. No, coffee. No, I will have tea. No, coffee, I’ll have coffee.” Tony decided finally. He then looked around the canteen, “Where’s Dolly and Jean?”

“They won’t be in a for a few minutes, I don’t think. You must have come in early.” Bren replied.

“Oh flipping heck, I did. Oh well, not the end of the world, is it? I’d rather be stuck here with you earlier than with Norman.” Tony chuckled.

Tony went into the office to take off his coat. He took out his packet of cigarettes from his pocket and came back out again. Bren noticed him fiddling with the packet.

“You going out for a fag?” Bren asked.

“Thinking about it.” Tony looked at the cigarettes before up at Bren, “I won’t actually. I’ll go when everyone comes in, I know I will probably get bored senseless by discussions about Alma Cogan. That’s more your criteria than mine.”

“What’s your criteria then?” Bren asked as she was just starting to stir their brews.

“Probably women.” Tony shrugged, “I guess Alma Cogan does come under that category then.”

“You’re more of an expert than me.” Bren gave him his mug.

“Cheers, mate.” Tony took a sip of the coffee, “I think I needed that actually. Wake me up a bit.”

“Oh I better sort out those tins.” Bren put her mug down at the side and went around the back of the kitchen.

“D’you need any help?” Tony asked.

“Um, if you like.” Bren replied, “You don’t have to if you don’t want to.”

“Nah, it’s alright. That’s what mates are for, eh?” Tony walked around the kitchen and gave her a gentle nudge, “How are you sorting them out again?”

“Alphabetically.” Bren replied.

“Oh, I don’t think I’ll manage.” Tony joked which made Bren laugh.

The two started to sort out the tins. They talked quietly but mostly focused on the tins. Bren was quick at sorting the tins out whilst Tony was spending more time looking at the tins.

“You’re moving at the speed of lightning, you are.” Tony broke their short silence.

“Well, I’ve got to keep moving, don’t I? I know which tins are which.” Bren replied.

“Bren, you’ve put the tomato soup with the peas.” Tony raised a brow.

“Have I?” Bren looked at the tins, “Oh flipping heck.”

“‘I know which tins are which’.” Tony chuckled.

“Shush.” Bren nudged him playfully, “I’m not the one who's taking ages to figure out if tomatoes should go before the beans.”

“Oh ha-ha, very funny, you halfwit.” Tony rolled his eyes and Bren laughed.

“Pass the minestrone then, make yourself useful.” Bren pointed to the tinned soup.

“This? You want this?” Tony picked up the tin.

“Yes, I do.” Bren nodded.

“Here you go.” Tony went to hand it to her but he then held it higher, “Oh come on, Bren. You can reach it.”

“Tony, just give me the tin.” Bren started to laugh, trying to reach the tin in his hands.

“I am! You just need to get it.” Tony teased.

“Tony!” Bren huffed. She tried to reach it again as she moved closer to him, “Just give me the frigging tin.”

“It seems to have got higher.” Tony moved back a little but Bren moved with him, grabbing his arm to try and bring it down.

“Ah-ha!” Bren exclaimed when she finally reached the tin, “You can be such a wind-up.”

“You wouldn’t have me any other way.” Tony laughed.

He looked down at Bren who laughed, her head ducked down. Tony didn’t realise how close they were until she finally looked up at him. Their laughter started to die down and they found themselves getting caught up in each other’s eyes. They studied each other’s faces for a moment, their closeness now becoming more and more apparent as the heat of their bodies against each other grew. The two could feel their faces inching towards each other as they closed their eyes, their lips just centimetres away from clashing.

“Morning!” Dolly called through the kitchen as she walked in, not even looking at Bren and Tony at the back of the kitchen. Bren and Tony stepped back immediately, itching their heads and avoiding eye contact with each other.

“Morning.” Jean also said as she followed Dolly. She looked down at Bren and Tony, “What are you two doing?”

“Just um, just sorting the tins out.” Tony showed the tins behind him, “I might actually go for a fag actually.”

“Yeah.” Bren nodded. 

She watched Tony as he went off to the fire exit. Her heartbeat had only started to come down. She rested her hand on her chest as she took a deep breath. Bren knew she had to get back to work and not worry about what she wanted deep in her heart. At least not right now.

Chapter Text

Tony rolled over when he felt a chill in the bed. He opened his eyes and found Bren wasn’t in bed. He thought she was in the toilet but he could hear her pottering around downstairs. Tony decided to get up and go downstairs. When he reached the kitchen, he noticed Bren leaning against the countertops, her hand resting on her chin as she stared blankly at the ground. The kettle was slowly beginning to boil behind her.

“What are you doing up?” Tony asked tiredly.

“Hm?” Bren was brought out of her thoughts, “Oh. I had a bad dream. It’s nothing, I just needed a cup of tea.”

“Oh, did you?” Tony walked over to her.

“Mhm.” Bren nodded, “It’s fine, I’m fine.”

“Are you sure?” Tony rested his hand on her shoulder.

Bren looked up at him and sighed. She then shrugged.

“I dunno really. It was a weird one, I feel funny about it. Not funny ‘ha-ha’ but funny, y’know.” Bren explained.

“Tell me what happened.” Tony’s hand moved up to her hair now, playing with her curls gently.

“My mum was in it. I just remember being in the caravan with her and I was a kid. Maybe like nine or ten.” Bren started to play with her fingers, “She was just being her usual self in the dream, lying about David Hockney. She was drunk in it and she made me go to get her more drink. I don’t know why you would get a kid to do it but it’s a dream so ho-hum. But when I came back, the caravan was on fire. I must’ve been thinking about the caravan exploding before I fell asleep.” Bren looked at him and saw the slightly worried look on his face, “I know. It’s a bit mental, isn’t it?”

“Yeah, a bit. Flipping heck.” Tony started to laugh but he then looked at her again. He still stroked her hair to comfort her, “You sure you’re alright, mate?”

“Yeah. I just needed to get up for a bit. You should go back to bed.” Bren took his hand in her hair, giving it a squeeze.

“I’m not leaving you on your own.” Tony brought her close to him, kissing her forehead, “Sit down, I’ll do your tea.”

Bren just smiled. She knew she would lose that argument very quickly. Bren sat down at the table and watched him pour the water into her mug and start stirring the tea. She felt so lucky to have him. She didn’t know what she had done to actually deserve Tony but she was so thankful that they were together. Tony brought the mug over to her and joined her at the table.

“Thanks.” Bren smiled, “Do you want one?”

“No. I’ll pass.” Tony shook his head, “Dunno if I’ll get back to sleep.”

“Go now.” Bren took a sip of her tea.

“No, it’s alright.” Tony smiled. He took her hand and rubbed his thumb over the back of her hand, “How are you feeling?”

“Better. Are you alright?”

“Yeah. Just glad you’re okay. I don’t like when there’s something up. Makes me worry.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be. It’s my job to worry about you. I love you, don’t I?”

Bren smiled. She leaned in and kissed him gently on the lips. They smiled at each other before Bren stood up, still holding her cup of tea.

“Come on. Let’s go to bed.”

Chapter Text

Her head was pounding. So many thoughts were going through her head right now that she couldn’t totally focus on what she was doing. It didn’t help at all that she was on pills too. Her husband had just come in whilst she was in the middle of kissing Tony. Tony was now gone and Martin had followed after him, not without a quick tussle of course. Bren now stood in the kitchen as she organised the tinned tomatoes with a ripped anorak and a broken heart.

She should have told Tony. He deserved to know. But she couldn’t. It wasn’t the right time. If they were going to move forward with their relationship, Bren wanted that to be without worrying about Martin. She wanted to be totally free to be with Tony. It didn’t seem so likely now. She thought she had more chance of her and Martin getting back together than Tony wanting to be with her. 

Bren thought back to when Tony left the canteen. He just left. Didn’t say a word. Just grabbed his coat and left. She did try to stop him. She wanted to explain why she hadn’t told him but he just left. 

There were footsteps approaching outside the canteen. Bren stopped organising the tins when she turned. She assumed it was probably Martin or some other factory worker. Bren walked slowly to the half door, preparing herself to put a happy face on for whoever came in. 

Tony lifted his head when he walked into the canteen. The first thing he noticed was Bren standing at the half door. She had put her anorak on since he left but he noticed it was torn. She wore a sad look on her face, playing with her fingers.

“I didn’t think you’d still be here.” Tony broke the silence.

“I didn’t think you’d come back.” Bren replied. Oh God, this was awkward.

“What happened to your anorak?” Tony pointed.

“Martin ripped it. He wanted me to go for a drink but I didn’t want to.” Bren looked at the tear in her anorak, “Did you forget something?”

“No. I came back to see if you were here and you are.” Tony looked at his feet, “I went to the pub first. Then your Martin came in.”

“Oh.” Bren nodded, “He didn’t go for you, did he?”

“No. He was quite friendly. Had a drink with me, well. A few actually.”

“I take it you aren’t sober then.”

“Not totally. I only had two. He started mixing his and all I wanted was to speak to you.”

“Really?”

“Yes.” Tony nodded. He looked around the canteen and put his hands in his pockets, “I don’t get it. Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I was going to. I was. But I couldn’t.” Bren replied.

“Why not?” Tony asked. Bren was surprised by how snappy he sounded.

“I… I wanted to be divorced before anything happened between us. That’s why I held back. I didn’t want anything to happen with us whilst I was still married.” Bren explained.

“You could have told me that. I wouldn’t have minded.” Tony shrugged.

“I know. I just had to do it for myself. I couldn’t… I couldn’t let anything happen properly if I was still married to him.”

“But you could have told me that. I don’t get why you weren’t honest with me.”

“I didn’t lie to you, Tony.”

“You didn’t exactly tell me the truth. Is that why you didn’t come to Marbella? Because of him?”

“What? No, of course not. You know why I didn’t go.”

“Oh yeah, because you bottled out.”

“I didn’t bottle out. I had to look after my mum.” Bren went to walk into the kitchen.

“She sponges off you, Bren. She uses you.” Tony followed after her.

“Don’t you think I know that?” Bren turned back to him, “Don’t you think I’m aware that she doesn’t care about me? But I couldn’t let her go homeless, she needed that money.”

“You’re too soft on her. She doesn’t deserve that.” Tony told her.

“Have you got anything else you need to tell me? Anything else at all? D’you want to tell me that you think I’m a pushover or that I’m a liar because that’s what I’m hearing right now, Tony?” Bren crossed her arms.

“I’m not saying any of that.” Tony shook his head. He had hurt her and he hated that. Him and his big mouth.

“You just did. Look, if you can’t stand the sight of me, just say so. I’ll go. I’ll hand my notice in and I’ll just go.” Bren went to turn off the lights in the kitchen before walking out to the canteen.

“Bren, no. That’s not what I’m saying.” Tony followed after her, “Let’s just sit down and talk. Please.”

“Why? So I can listen to whatever Martin has told you? I don’t think so. I might as well just go.” Bren replied. She could feel her eyes starting to sting but she knew she couldn’t cry. She wasn’t going to break that eight year long streak so quickly, “This is exactly why I didn’t tell you anything because I knew it would go wrong. It always does so why would it make any difference now? You deserve better than me. You’ll probably go off me anyways. They all do. If they don’t leave you first or wack you around a bit. It’s best if I just-.”

Tony crossed the canteen to Bren as she spoke. He cupped her face and said nothing as he kissed her on the lips. Bren was so surprised he did it but she melted instantly into the kiss. His hands were warm against her cheeks, they seemed to relax her. Bren’s hands went to his waist, bringing herself closer to him. When they eventually broke it off, they stayed close to each other and looked at each other quietly.

“I don’t want you to go.” Tony said quietly. He rubbed his thumbs against her cheeks gently,

“Don’t go. Talk to me, eh? I’m sorry.”

“Why are you apologising? It should be me apologising to you.” Bren frowned.

“What I said, it wasn’t fair. It was nasty.” Tony replied.

Bren sighed. She ducked her head down as she sighed, closing her eyes for a moment. She looked up at him once more, taking his hands from her face and holding them at their sides.

“I’m really sorry that I didn’t tell you. I just wanted everything to be right before anything happened between us. I didn’t want to have to worry about him anymore. Just focus on us.” Bren looked at him, “If anything were to happen with us, I wanted it to be a fresh start.”

“It’s alright.” Tony smiled, “You can tell me anything, Bren. You know that, don’t you?”

“Yeah. I am sorry.” Bren nodded.

“Stop apologising.” Tony told her, “Are you alright?”

“Yeah. Are you?”

“Yeah.”

Bren and Tony looked at each other again. It was so quiet in the canteen that it seemed like the only thing that really mattered was them. They moved closer, leaning in as their lips finally met again. It started off gentle but their hands moved to their bodies, Bren wrapping her arms around his neck as Tony’s hands went to her waist underneath her anorak. The kiss deepened as they pulled each other closer. They started backing up and Bren’s back clashed with the railing behind her.

“Ow.” Bren said as she broke off the kiss.

“Oh, I’m sorry. Are you alright?” Tony asked.

“Yeah.” Bren nodded. She looked up at him as she started to laugh, “We better leave soon.”

“I know. Do you want to come back to mine?” Tony asked.

“Oh. Um…”

“You don’t have to if you don’t want to.”

“No, I do. It’s just…”

“What?”

“I’m still on those pills. You know those pills Twink gave me, I’m not exactly, y’know, there. I think I’m on a bit of a come down now actually.”

“Oh. Oh yeah, no that’s fine. I wasn’t expecting to, y’know. You can always just stay over. We don’t need to do anything. I was actually hoping for an early night myself anyway.”

Bren chuckled. She looked at him again.

“You’d need to drop me off at mine first.” Bren said.

“How come?” Tony frowned.

“I need fresh clothes. I can’t wear this jumper for a third day.” Bren looked down at her clothes.

“Oh.” Tony chuckled, “Yeah. Yeah, that’s fine. Do you wanna go then?”

“Just go the now?” Bren asked.

“Yeah. If you’re up for it.” Tony replied.

“Yeah.” Bren nodded, “Let’s go.”

“Okay.” Tony smiled.

Bren went to turn the lights off in the canteen whilst Tony turned off the Christmas tree lights. Bren met him at the canteen door and they walked through. Bren took Tony’s hand as they walked down the hall. Tony looked at their hands intertwined before up at Bren. They both smiled, cuddling into each other as they walked through the factory.

Chapter Text

Tony stood in the kitchen as he poured the hot water into the mugs. He was aware of footsteps coming down the stairs but just continued to make the tea. When he started to stir the tea, Bren walked into the kitchen. Tony turned and smiled at her.

“Morning. Did you have a good sleep?” Tony asked.

“Not really.” Bren replied in a raspy voice. She wiped her nose. Tony turned around as she went into the bread bin to get some bread, “I kept tossing and turning.”

“Yeah, I thought that through the night but thought it was just me. You sound really choked up.” Tony said.

“I know. I think I’ve caught your cold.” Bren looked at him before laughing with a sniffle.

“Oh mate.” Tony gave her shoulder a squeeze. He then took the slice of bread she held from her, “I’ll do your toast. You go sit down.”

“I can manage.” Bren tried.

“Go sit down.” Tony handed Bren her mug, “I’ll do your toast.”

Bren just smiled. She sat at the table in the kitchen and took a sip of her tea. She quietly watched Tony putting her toast on before spreading the butter on the two slices. He brought the plate over to her before sitting down.

“Thank you.” Bren smiled. 

Bren ate her toast as Tony read the newspaper that had come through the door. The radio played faintly in the kitchen, some Mariah Carey song. Must have been a new one. Tony looked at Bren and could see she looked tired. She drank her tea, blinking slowly as she looked out the window.

“Go back to bed, mate.” Tony gave her knee a squeeze under the table.

“No, I’m alright. I’ve got washing to do.” Bren shook her head.

“I’ll do it.” Tony shrugged. Bren turned her head as she raised her brow, “Oh come on, Bren. I’ll manage.”

“Tony, I love you but… no.” Bren stood up from the table and gave him a smile, “Thanks for the toast.”

Tony just chuckled. He shook his head as he watched her walk out the kitchen. He knew very well that she would tire herself out. Tony grabbed Bren’s plate and mug and started cleaning them at the sink. Tony headed upstairs to look for Bren.

“Bren?” Tony called through the house as he reached the top of the stairs.

“Yeah?” She replied from the bedroom.

“Jean phoned when you were in the shower.” Tony stood at the door of their room.

“Did she? What was she saying?” Bren asked, continuing to sort out the clothes from the washing bag.

“Well, she was looking for you actually. Just a catch up but I think she was going to have a whinge about the wedding.” Tony replied.

“I’ll phone her later. I’m sure she can wait.” Bren picked up the basket and put it on the bed.

“How are you feeling?” Tony walked over to her.

“Oh, fine.” Bren sniffled. She continued to sort the dirty clothes out as Tony walked over to her, “I feel fine.”

“Are you sure?” Tony asked.

“Mhm. I need to get this sorted.” Bren gave him a little smile.

Tony smiled back before he leaned in. He went to give her a kiss but Bren stepped back.

“Don’t.” Bren shook her head.

“Why not?” Tony asked, now concerned. He immediately thought he’d done something wrong.

“I don’t want you to catch my cold.” Bren replied.

“How will I catch a cold I’ve already had?” Tony raised a brow. He then smiled and gave Bren a quick peck on the lips, “Shout me if you need me.”

Bren watched him walk out their bedroom as she smiled. She shook her head as she giggled to herself. She always found it funny how he could still make her feel nervous around him after over a year together. 

Bren headed downstairs with the basket filled with laundry. She was aware of Tony pottering around in the living room but just went straight into the kitchen. Bren put the dirty laundry into the washing machine and turned it on. As she did this, she could feel herself getting more tired. She sneezed a couple of times when she finished with the laundry before going to blow her nose with the tissue up her sleeve. She groaned softly before Tony entered the kitchen.

“Bren?” Tony said.

“What?” Bren turned to him.

“You go sit down. I’ll do the rest.” Tony offered.

“No, it’s alright. It’s done now.” Bren smiled as she went over to the kettle, “I’ll put the kettle on.”

“I don’t think so.” Tony took her hand, “Come on, you go through.”

“Tony, honestly. I’m fine.” Bren tried to hide her tiredness. Tony moved in closer and she frowned when he started to bend down, “What’re you doing? Tony, no. Tony!” Bren exclaimed when Tony picked her up in a bridal lift, “Tony, put me down!”

“I will when we get to the living room.” Tony walked through to the living room with Bren in his arms. She wrapped her arms around his neck, relaxing against him almost immediately. It was too much to protest, especially when his arms were so warm.

When he got to the living room, Tony brought Bren over to the couch and put her down. Bren couldn’t help but chuckle as she looked up to him tiredly. Tony gave her a smile as he kissed her warm forehead.

“I’ll do your brew.” Tony winked before heading through to the kitchen.

“Thanks.” Bren smiled.

Tony headed into the kitchen and put the kettle on. He got Bren’s mug ready and made her tea. When he headed through to the living room, Tony found Bren asleep on the couch. Tony chuckled and put the tea down on the coffee table. Tony then grabbed the folded blanket on the side and wrapped it around her. He kissed her forehead as he stroked her hair out of her face. She looked so peaceful as she slept and he knew he was best to leave her be. Tony decided to leave her and go do some tasks around the house to save Bren doing them.

As it got closer to lunch time, Tony decided to make some soup. When he let the soup cook, he headed through to the living room to check on Bren. Bren was just now starting to wake up. 

“Hello. You alright?” Tony walked into the living room.

“Mhm.” Bren nodded as she rubbed her eyes, “How long was I asleep for?”

“About an hour. Maybe an hour and a half.” Tony stood at the end of the couch, “How are you feeling?”

“Knackered.” Bren replied.

“I’ve got soup on. D’you want some?” Tony asked.

“Yeah, please.” Bren nodded.

Tony headed through to the kitchen and dished their soup. He brought through the bowls with some bread and then ate quietly. Tony took the dishes through when they were done and washed them before coming back to the living room.

“You alright?” Tony asked as he sat down.

“Yeah. Thanks for the soup.” Bren smiled.

“Anytime, mate.” Tony gave her a wink.

Bren moved closer to him and cuddled into him, her arms wrapped around his waist. Tony wrapped his arms around her shoulders and kissed the top of her head. 

“You still tired?” Tony spoke quietly into her hair.

“Mhm.” Bren nodded, her eyes drooping shut.

“Are you going to fall asleep again?” Tony asked.

“Mhm.” Bren replied.

“Okay.” Tony nodded. He could feel her relaxing against his chest and smiled. He rubbed Bren’s upper arms gently as he felt himself dozing off too.

Chapter Text

Bren opened her eyes slowly. She felt drowsy, sore. She wasn’t sure she had enough sleep but the cooing of her newborn baby woke her and she wanted to see her. She sighed softly, turning to look at Tony sitting in the chair with their baby daughter. She was in his arms as he talked to her softly. He then lifted his head and smiled.

“You’re awake.” Tony grinned. He looked down to the baby, “We were just having a discussion about hats. I was trying to explain to her that they’re to keep her head warm but she’s already figured out how to take them off.”

Bren giggled. She sat up slowly, being careful of her stitches. Tony stood from the chair and brought the baby over. He sat on the edge of the bed.

“How are you feeling?” Tony asked.

“Sore. But worth it.” Bren smiled. Tony chuckled. He looked down at the baby before back at Bren.

“D’you wanna hold her?” Tony asked.

“Yeah.” Bren nodded. Tony stood up and handed their daughter to Bren. She cooed gently but didn’t stir too much. Bren giggled as she looked down at her daughter, stroking her soft cheeks, “Hello, my darling. Hello, love.”

“She’s not budged once. She’s got a great temperament.” Tony looked at them.

“She has.” Bren smiled. She looked up at Tony who looked back at her with a warm smile on his lips, “What is it?”

“You look great.”

“You’re lying.” Bren scoffed.

“Maybe a little. But you do.” Tony laughed, “You look beautiful.”

Bren gave him a bashful smile. She looked back at her daughter. She looked up at her mother, her big blue eyes twinkling. Bren giggled as she stroked her hair.

“I can’t wait to go home.” Bren stroked the baby’s hair still, “It’ll be nice to have her home.”

“I know. We’ll be ready to go soon.” Tony replied, “I got your bag packed when you were sleeping.”

“Thanks.” Bren said before the baby started to stir, “Oh, oh. It’s okay. Are you hungry?”

Tony watched Bren as she started breastfeed the baby. Bren sat back carefully. She watched the baby with a little smile.

“Did you phone your mum?” Bren asked quietly.

“Yeah. You should have heard her.” Tony chuckled, “She’s practically screaming down the phone.”

“Aww.” Bren giggled, “D’you think she’ll come up to see her?”

“Absolutely. No two ways about it, Bren. I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s got my dad on the M6 now.” Tony replied.

Bren laughed again. Bren stroked the baby’s hair once more, watching her eyes starting to close. Bren sighed then, relaxing more into the pillows before yawning.

“Oh.” Bren said as she yawned, “Better get used to that, eh?”

“Yep.” Tony chuckled. He was quiet for a moment, watching the baby in Bren’s arms. Tony would have never imagined that they would get this opportunity to have a baby after being ill. But there she was. Their daughter and she was completely perfect, “It doesn’t feel real, doesn’t it?”

“What d’you mean?” Bren looked at him.

“Well, her being here. Us having a baby at all. I just can’t believe she’s real.” Tony explained.

“I know.” Bren smiled, “It feels like everything happened so fast. I don’t think it’s fully sinked in yet.”

“She’s your double.”

“You think? I think she looks more like you.”

“Poor child.”

“Shut up.”

There was a knock at the door of their room. Tony got up from the bed and answered the door. It was their midwife, Vanessa.

“Hello.” Vanessa smiled, “Am I alright to come in?”

“Yeah, of course.” Tony nodded. He let her past when he shut the door behind her, “We’ve got a visitor, mate.”

“Oh, hiya.” Bren smiled. The baby was just finishing feeding when Bren pulled her top down and burped the baby, “Have you come to check on her?”

“Well, yes. But also to check up on you.” Vanessa smiled, “I’ll need to have a look at those stitches.”

“It’s times like this where I wish I still smoked.” Tony muttered under his breath.

“Tony, shush.” Bren told him as he chuckled, “Yeah, that’s fine.”

“Do you think we’ll be able to get home today?” Tony asked.

“I’ve no doubt.” Vanessa smiled, “Let me see the wee one. I’ll get her checked over.”

Chapter Text

“Come on, love.” Bren walked through to the kitchen with Amy in her arms, “We better get a brew made for daddy, eh?”

“Bababa.” Amy mumbled.

“Bababa.” Bren repeated with a giggle, “You’re a little chatterbox today, aren’t you? Daddy will love to hear your stories when he comes in.”

“Gah.” Amy just replied, fiddling with her toy cat she held.

Bren put the kettle on and grabbed Tony’s mug. She put the teabag in the mug and went to go get the milk. When the kettle boiled, Bren poured the water into the mug. She stirred the teabag in the water before putting it in the bin. She then poured the milk and gave it a quick stir. As she stirred the milk into the tea, Bren was aware of Amy starting to get wriggly in her arms.

“I’ll put you down in a sec, love.” Bren told her. Then, out of nowhere, a bouquet of daisies appeared in front of her. Bren turned to see Tony standing behind her, “I didn’t even hear you come in.”

“No, too busy having secret discussions with my girl, aren’t you? Hi, sweetheart.” Tony gave Bren a kiss on the cheek before she handed Amy to him. He gave Amy a kiss on the head when he gave Bren the flowers, “They’re for you.”

“Tony! You shouldn’t have.” Bren giggled as she looked at the flowers. She smiled when she looked at him, “I love these. What have I done to deserve this then?”

“You just being you.” Tony leaned in and gave her a quick peck on the lips. 

“Aww.” Bren giggled. She handed him his mug, “There you go.”

“Cheers, mate. Shall we go sit down then? You can tell me about your day with mummy.” Tony headed through to the living room with Amy in his arms.

Bren giggled to herself when they left the kitchen. She put the flowers in a vase and left them on the bunker before going through to the living room. Tony sat with Amy on his lap, talking to her quietly as she babbled on. She picked up one of Amy’s toys from the floor before sitting down next to Tony.

“How’s your day been then? Madam kept you on your toes?” Tony asked, bouncing Amy gently.

“As always.” Bren smiled, “She’s been quite relaxed today although she’s been gabbing on a bit. Haven’t you, missus?”

“What stories have you been telling today? Have you kept mummy entertained?” Tony asked as Amy started to giggle.

“She’s not stopped. The only time she was quiet was when she was sleeping but of course, she started snoring.” Bren sat back.

“I wonder where she gets that from.” Tony smirked.

“From her father.” Bren hit his arm playfully.

Tony chuckled. They watched Amy as she played with her toy cat. Tony sipped his tea before he put it down at the side.

“How was your day?” Bren asked, “Was it busy?”

“Not in the morning. When the pub filled up, it started getting busy. Thankfully we only do meals until two, eh?” Tony sighed before smiling at Amy, “And I come home and spend time with my princess, can’t I? Can’t I?”

Bren started to laugh when she heard Tony’s baby voice. Tony’s face dropped when he looked at her.

“What are you laughing at?” Tony raised a brow.

“You, you big softie.” Bren gave him a nudge.

“Well, you’re my girls, aren’t you?” Tony smiled. Amy started to wriggle on Tony’s lap and it was clear she wanted down, “Come on then, I’ll let you down.”

Amy had started walking over a month ago and was now a master at disappearing at the drop of a hat so Bren and Tony always had to keep an eye on her. The couple watched as Amy made her way to the toys that sat in front of the armchair. 

“She better not make a run for it.” Tony took a sip of his tea.

“I think her toy phone’s taken her fancy.” Bren replied. Amy then started to press the buttons on the toy, “Yep. There she goes.”

Tony chuckled. He sat back as he put his arm around Bren and pulled her close. Bren cuddled into him, sighing softly. They watched Amy quietly as she pressed the buttons on the toy phone. The buttons made animal noises and when she pressed the cow button, she started to laugh.

“Moo.” Amy repeated before giggling again.

“That’s a cow, Amy. Can you say ‘cow’?” Bren asked.

“Moo.” Amy repeated again.

“Moo.” Tony said softly. He looked at Bren who was still watching Amy. He tucked a loose curl behind her ear, “Your hair’s getting long.”

“I need it cut.” Bren ran her fingers through her hair.

“It looks nice. You should just get a trim.” Tony admired her.

“You think? You don’t want it shorter?” Bren asked.

“It’s not my hair, mate. To be honest, you’d suit anything. Even a baldy. Although I don’t know if I’d want you to get a baldy.” Tony scrunched up his face.

“I’d look like an overgrown baby.” Bren giggled.

“Well, you and Amy would be like twins then.” Tony laughed.

“It’ll be like that film with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito. What was it called again?”

“‘Twins’.”

“Oh yeah.”

“Mmm.” Amy started to hum, “Mmm.”

“Ay up, are we getting another moo?” Tony and Bren turned to look at Amy.

“Mmm, mama.” Amy managed to push out.

Bren and Tony sat up with shocked looks on their faces. They were not expecting her to say her first words so quickly. She was only ten months old but there she was, saying her first word. They couldn’t be more proud.

“Amy, did you say your first word?” Bren got up from the couch and picked her up, “Well done, love!”

“That’s her a linguist now, eh? You’ll be saying lots of different things now, won’t you?” Tony asked Amy when he stood up. Amy held his finger as he spoke.

“You’ve been trying to speak all day. And you finally did it.” Bren giggled. She then looked at Tony, “And you know what else that means?”

“What?”

“‘Mama’ was her first word. That’s me won.”

Tony sighed as he went into his pockets. He found a ten pound note and gave it to Bren.

“See, Amy. That’s mummy won the bet! I could buy a lovely bottle of wine with that.” Bren showed the ten pound note to Amy before looking up at Tony, “Which I would share with your lovely daddy.”

“How generous.” Tony rolled his eyes but the two giggled. They looked at one another as their smiles softened. Bren stood on her tiptoes as she kissed Tony on the lips and smiled, “I love you.”

“I love you too.”

Chapter Text

Tony was working on the bacon as he listened to Morag and Anna chattering about something he really didn’t care about. He looked at the clock. Half ten. That went quickly. He didn’t have too long left. Three and a half hours was fine and then he could get home to Bren. He didn’t like when she wasn’t in work but he knew he’d be home before he knew it.

“Tony?” Hamish brought him out of his thoughts. Tony looked up and Hamish had a worried look on his face. Tony frowned, “It’s Bren, she’s on the phone.”

“Look after the bacon.” Tony said and rushed out to the reception. The phone was off the hook and he picked it up, holding it to his ear, “Bren?”

“The baby’s coming.” Bren said down the phone with a panicked voice.

“I’m on my way. Just stay put.” Tony told her and slammed the phone down.

Tony grabbed his coat and rushed out of the B&B. He did his best to avoid the ice outside and headed to the car. He got in the car and drove fast to the house. When he parked up in the drive, Tony got out of the car and ran to the front door, losing his footing for a moment and almost slipping but he stayed up. He rushed inside.

“Bren? Bren?” Tony rushed through the house and walked into the living room. She was sitting on the floor against the couch, her hands on her large bump. Tony crouched down next to her, “Bren? Are you alright? How long have you been having contractions?”

“It was a false alarm.” Bren shook her head.

“Eh?” Tony frowned.

“It was a false alarm. One of those, not Richard Branson. Braxton’s hicks. It was a big one, I thought it was it but it wasn’t.” Bren shrugged.

“Flipping heck, Bren. I was worried sick.” Tony sighed, sitting down next to her on the floor.

“Sorry.” Bren looked at him.

“It’s alright.” Tony squeezed her knee, “You know, I nearly broke my neck out there on the ice.”

“Oh no.” Bren started to laugh, “Are you alright?”

“Yeah. You alright?”

“Yeah. Those Braxton’s Hicks were quite sore this time.”

“Are you sure that’s all they were?”

“Yeah. They only happened once. I just panicked.”

“This baby business will be the death of me.”

“You got here quickly. That’s a new record.”

“Oh are you testing me now?”

“No.” Bren giggled, “Of course not.”

Tony chuckled. He took her hand and gave it a squeeze. Bren looked at their hands and Tony noticed she was quiet.

“What’s up?” Tony asked.

“Nothing.” Bren shook her head.

“There is. Come on, mate. Talk to me.” Tony gave her hand a squeeze.

“It’s just,” Bren looked at him, “I would have liked them to have come today.”

“I know. It won’t be long. They’ll be here before we know it.” Tony smiled.

Bren gave him a smile. They leaned in and kissed one another. They broke it off and looked at each other. They smiled at each other again.

“I should get back to work.” Tony said as he got up.

“Yeah.” Bren nodded.

“Here.” Tony held out his hands. Bren took them as he pulled her up. She was now standing as they looked at each other, “You alright?”

“Yeah.” Bren nodded, “Thanks for coming.”

“Don’t thank me. Of course I was gonna come.” Tony laughed. He kissed her forehead, “You should have a rest.”

“We’ll see. You get back to work.” Bren tapped his chest.

“Alright. I’ll call you at lunch, make sure everything’s alright.” Tony said.

“Okay.” Bren nodded.

They walked through to the hall and Tony opened the door. He turned back to her.

“I’ll see you later.” Tony kissed her, “Call me if you need anything.”

“I will. See you later.” Bren smiled as she watched him bending down to her bump.

“Don’t be giving your mother any bother now.” Tony planted a kiss on Bren’s bump, “You’ll be hearing from me, kid.”

Bren giggled at him talking to the baby through her bump. Tony stood up straight and gave her a smile. He kissed her cheek then.

“I love you.”

“I love you too.”

Chapter Text

“What was that song Nana Mouskouri sung again?” Dolly asked as she stood at the till.

“‘Ave Maria’?” Bren asked from the tables in the canteen.

“No.” Dolly shook her head as she tried to think.

“‘The White Rose of Athens’?” Anita asked.

“No.” Dolly shook her head, “It was quite dancey. That’s it! ‘Who Do You Think You Are’, it was very different for her.”

There was a pause between all the women whilst Dolly continued counting the money at the till. They all looked at each other.

“That wasn’t Nana Mouskouri!” Jean scrunched up her face, her hands on her hips.

“Well, who was it?” Dolly asked.

“The frigging Spice Girls, you halfwit!” Jean rolled her eyes, “What made you think that song was by Nana Mouskouri?”

“I guess the one that wears tracksuits sort of looks like her. What’s she called? Spicey Spice?” Dolly shrugged.

“D’you mean Sporty?” Twinkle crossed her arms.

“Where’s the spillage?” Stan walked into the canteen with his mop.

“Just there, Stan.” Bren pointed to the spilt water on the floor.

Stan started mopping up the water. Tony came in from the fire exit and came into the canteen. He rubbed his hands together.

“Flipping freezing outside.” Tony sighed, “You wouldn’t think it was September.”

“Autumn’s coming in. You better get your scarves out.” Stan pointed.

“I like Autumn. The trees look beautiful at this time of year.” Jean added.

“Yes. And the dark nights are coming in too. I don’t mind the dark nights actually, I think it’s quite nice leaving the house when it’s dark.” Dolly shrugged.

“And Halloween will be coming up soon.” Anita smiled.

“Oh yes! Halloween parties will be starting. Better find my costume.” Twinkle gave Anita a nudge.

“You still dress up for Halloween?” Jean raised her brows.

“Yeah. For parties. They’re great! Can’t wait to get rat arsed.” Twinkle grinned.

“Thank you.” Dolly rolled her eyes.

“What do you like about autumn then, Bren?” Tony stood next to Bren as she continued to wipe the table.

“Eh?” Bren looked up to him.

“What do you like about autumn?” Tony asked.

“Oh, I dunno. I’m not actually a big fan of autumn.” Bren shrugged.

“Really? I’m surprised.” Tony’s eyes widened, “Nothing at all?”

“Not that I can think of. I’m not a big fan of when it gets dark.” Bren shrugged, “Prefer summer.”

“That doesn’t surprise me. Summer’s more you, int it?” Tony smiled.

Bren looked up to him and gave him a little smile. She couldn’t help but feel her stomach tighten thinking about summer. It hadn’t been long since Tony had come back from Marbella. He was still tanned and it felt like a reminder of what could have been. Tony turned his head when he remembered something. Bren bowed her head.

“Better get those teas and biscuits sorted for that meeting.” Tony headed into the kitchen, “Who’s turn is it to go around?”

“Dolly and Jean.” Twinkle replied.

“Right. What are we putting on this trolley then?” Tony went into the office to get the pink flimsie. 

Tony, Dolly and Jean got the trolley sorted whilst Twinkle and Anita put some of the food away. When the trolley was sorted, Dolly and Jean started making their way to the boardroom.

“Be careful here.” Stan stopped mopping.

“Thanks, Stan. We’ll go around.” Jean pushed the trolley along.

“Roger Wilco.” Stan nodded as the women left. He then looked around himself, “Oh no.”

“What is it, Stan?” Bren lifted her head.

“I’ve forgotten my wet floor sign. I’ll be back in a minute.” Stan left the canteen.

“D’you mind if we leave then, Tony?” Twinkle went over to Tony, “Remember Anita needs to get home for her mum’s party.”

“Yeah, alright. I’ll see you both Monday.” Tony nodded.

“Bye, Tony. Bye, Bren.” Anita called through to Bren.

“Bye, Bren.” Twinkle waved.

“See ya, girls.” Bren smiled, “Have a good weekend.”

“See ya, cardiman.” Twinkle gave Tony a gentle punch to the shoulder.

“Bye.” Tony rolled his eyes. He then chuckled when they left. He headed through to the canteen with his hands in his pockets, “What do we think then? Twinkle will end up in another skip and Anita will be doing Celine Dion on the karaoke with her mum.”

“Probably.” Bren giggled. She stood up straight, “It’ll be a quiet weekend for them then.”

“Yeah. You got any plans this weekend?” Tony asked.

“Nah. Just staying in.” Bren shrugged, “You?”

“Come on, Bren, of course I haven’t got any plans.” Tony screwed up his face as he moved closer to her, “I told you, lonely celibate.”

“You not going to see your mum?” Bren asked.

“Nah. I saw her last night. You seeing your mum?” Tony asked.

“Ha-ha.” Bren rolled her eyes, “I wouldn’t be surprised if she shows up at some point.”

“Is she still pregnant?” Tony asked.

“Apparently.” Bren nodded. She walked to the table behind her, not aware she was walking over the wet linoleum floor, “She was saying that she’s bought a buggy and all sorts.” She then turned to Tony but she lost her footing. She started to fall back, “Oh!”

Tony stepped forward quickly and took Bren’s hand before pulling her into his arms. She stood up straight as he held her close. Bren tried to catch her breath when she looked up at Tony. That’s when she fully comprehended what was going on. That she was in his arms. They were so close, now breathing as one. Bren couldn’t remember a time they had been this close before except from a brief hug. They looked into each other’s eyes and it felt like time had stopped. She felt so warm against him and Tony didn’t expect that something like this could stop him in his tracks so fast.

“Right,” Stan announced himself as he walked back into the canteen. Bren and Tony moved away from each other quickly so Stan didn’t see them. Stan walked in, “Found it. It was behind my other mop.”

“Oh right.” Bren nodded. She noticed Tony heading into the kitchen, “I better get sorted.”

Bren went into the kitchen after Tony. She went to the office whilst Tony was heading to the fire exit again. She stood at the door of the office, feeling her stomach tighten as she looked at him opening the door.

“Tony?”

“I’ll shut the door.”

“No, it’s not that.” Bren shook her head. Tony turned around. She then softened, “I just wanted to say thanks. Thanks for… well, y’know.”

“Oh.” Tony nodded. He then smiled, “Anytime. I wouldn’t let you fall. Maybe Jean or Twinkle but not you.”

Bren started to laugh. She lifted her head as she gave him a bashful smile. She bit her lip.

“Shut the door.” Bren said quietly.

Tony chuckled. He gave her a wink before heading outside.

Chapter Text

Tony frowned in his sleep when he heard the knocking at the door. At first, he thought it was someone knocking at the flat next door but it got louder. The knocking was very persistent. Tony sat up and looked at the clock.1:38AM. That was a joke, Tony thought. Who would be knocking at this time? He hoped it wasn’t some smackhead chancing their luck.

Tony got up from the bed and pulled his pyjama bottoms over his legs and boxers. He rubbed his eyes as he rushed to the door. The knocking continued. He grabbed his key at the side and approached the door.

“I’m coming, I’m coming. Frigging heck.” Tony huffed. He approached the door and looked through the spy hole and that’s when his stomach dropped. He unlocked the door quickly and opened it, “Bren?”

Bren stood in front of him in her anorak. She was soaked from the rain outside, the curls in her fringe just starting to dry. She looked upset, like she was going to burst into tears at any minute. Her breathing was fast, like she was out of breath. 

“D’you mind if I come in?” Bren asked softly. Her voice was croaky, quiet.

“Yeah, of course. Come in.” Tony stepped aside. Bren walked in and he immediately shut the door behind her and locked up, “Are you okay?”

“Um, yeah. Well, sort of.” Bren said quickly but she turned to Tony. She then sighed, “No.”

“Come sit down. Let me take your anorak.” Tony offered. Bren took off her anorak and handed it to Tony, “D’you want a cup of tea?”

Bren just shook her head. Tony nodded before going to hand her anorak on the door to the bathroom to let it dry. He returned to the living room where Bren now sat on the couch chewing on her fingers. She vacantly stared at the ashtray on the coffee table. Tony joined her on the couch, taking her hand on her lap.

“What’s happened, mate?” Tony asked gently.

“My mother came around to the bedsit.” Bren replied. She looked down at her feet, “Not long after you left.”

“What? What did she want?” Tony frowned.

“Oh, y’know, the usual. She wanted bacon and that. Just pestering.” Bren sniffled, “She was also asking about staying at the bedsit with me.”

“Eh?” Tony frowned.

“She wanted to move in. I don’t know why, she’s got the caravan sorted and she’s with that Reg guy.” Bren shrugged, “Well, the last I heard she was.”

“What did you say?” Tony asked.

“I told her I’d think about it. I couldn’t tell her no. I just had to shoo her away.” Bren could feel her eyes bubbling with tears but she fought them.

“Well, at least she got out. And if she comes back, she can answer to me. I don’t know why this has all come about. Why does she want to live with you?” Tony asked.

Bren just shrugged. Tony watched Bren playing with her fingers. He didn’t want to rush her into saying anything more.

“She didn’t stay for long. She just mentioned it and hardly let me speak. I would have told her no but she just kept going on.” Bren explained.

“I know.” Tony expected that. He looked at Bren as she continued to stare down at her feet. She chewed on her thumb but he took her hand from her mouth and gave it a squeeze, “Are you alright?”

“Mhm.” She nodded.

“Are you sure?” Tony asked.

“I’m just really cross. She just knows that I’m not going to say no, doesn’t she? She knows that she can push me over and mess me about whenever she wants. I just hate it, I really do. All I want to do is live my life and she never lets me and now I have something so good, she…” Bren explained angrily but she suddenly stopped. Tony looked at her and noticed her with her head in her hands. Her shoulders shook as she held her head in her hands and Tony’s heart immediately dropped.

“Hey, it’s alright.” Tony took her into his arms. He held her close as Bren cried silently into his chest. Tony kissed her head softly, “Bren, it’s alright, mate.”

“I’m just so angry.” Bren said through her tears.

“I know.” Tony told her.

“I just wish I could say no to her. She knows exactly what to say. I’m such a pushover.” Bren sighed when she sat up from his embrace.

“Bren, no. Not at all.” Tony shook his head, “You’re a lot stronger than you think. You’ve stood up to her before, you can do it again.”

Bren sighed as she looked down at her hands. Tony brought her close to him again, kissing the top of her head. 

“Are you alright, mate?” Tony asked again.

“Mhm. I’m sorry.” Bren nodded.

“You don’t need to apologise. I’m always here for you, that’s what I’m here for.” Tony reassured her. Bren looked at him with her puffy eyes and gave him a little smile. He cupped her face and planted a soft kiss on her lips before wiping her tears from her face, “What happened when she left?”

“She left fairly quickly, going on about meeting frigging ‘little Tommy Cruise’ at some pub, I wasn’t listening. I was just so cross so when she left, I just came straight here.”

“You didn’t walk the whole way here?”

“Mhm.”

“Bren! You should have phoned me. I could have come over to you.”

“No. I just wanted to be with you. Here. I didn’t want to be at mine.”

“Oh mate. Phone me next time. I’m not having you walking around in the dark at this time.”

Bren nodded when Tony put his arm around her and brought her closer again. She rested her head on his chest as the two sat in the living room quietly. The silence in the flat was so relaxing and the two could feel themselves dozing off on the couch.

“D’you want to stay the night?” Tony asked.

Bren looked up to him with her red eyes. She nodded, a smile growing on her lips.

“Alright.” Tony nodded. He got up from the couch and offered his hand to Bren and she took it, “Let’s get to bed. You’ll be knackered.”

Chapter Text

Everyone talked happily in the canteen. The brass band had just left the canteen and the dinnerladies, Stan and Tony were setting the tables back up. Bren talked to Philippa, still holding all the presents she had been given. 

“Bren, do you not want to put them down?” Jean asked.

“Oh I didn’t even think.” Bren giggled as she looked down at the presents in her arms. She had now just noticed her arms getting tired and she walked over to the table nearest, “I’ve been holding this for ages.”

“Did you not even think to wrap them, Tony?” Twinkle scrunched up her face, “Just a manky plastic bag.”

“I didn’t have a lot of time, y’know? I didn’t find out it was Bren’s birthday until this morning.” Tony replied as he tucked a chair under the table.

“That was my fault. Sorry. Don’t worry about it though. I love it.” Bren smiled at him as she put her new anorak in the bag.

“Bren, don’t put your anorak away.” Philippa pointed.

“Eh?” Bren frowned.

“That’s your new anorak. You’ll be putting on when you leave.” Philippa explained.

“Oh yeah. Duh.” Bren rolled her eyes as she took the anorak out of the bag. She looked at the anorak, holding it close, “It’s a nice colour, int it? Really nice.”

“Well, I knew you liked blue so that’s why I went for it. It was more you than aubergine.” Jane shrugged.

“What time are you leaving, Tony?” Dolly asked as she walked over to him, arms crossed.

“Soonish.” Tony checked his watch, “The flight’s at half five. We’re lucky the airport isn’t too far away, eh?”

“Yeah and traffic’s moving well.” Stan pointed, “You would hate for it to be moving slowly. Remember what last Christmas Eve was like.”

“Not really, Stan. Remember I was in the hospital last Christmas.” Tony pointed.

“Oh yeah. Sorry, Tony.” Stan apologised.

“Nah it’s alright, mate. Look at me now eh? I’m doing so much better, int I? In remission and with Bren. Things are better than last year.” Tony shrugged.

“Absolutely.” Stan smiled.

“That’s a lovely way to look at it.” Dolly nodded, “You’ll have a lovely time. The both of you.”

“Yeah, I think we will.” Tony smiled. Bren walked past him as she headed into the kitchen, “You alright, mate?”

“Yeah, just going to get my stuff ready.” Bren replied, “We’ll be late if I don’t do it now.”

“Fair enough. I should do the same actually.” Tony nodded.

Bren giggled as Tony followed after her. Bren went into the office as she started to sort her bags. She grabbed her suitcase as she stuffed her plastic bag with the Etch-A-Sketch inside. She then went into the pockets of her ripped anorak and put her purse and keys into the pockets of her new anorak. Tony grabbed his cigarettes from the side and walked into the office.

“You managing?” Tony asked as he put his cigarettes into his coat pocket.

“Yeah.” Bren nodded, “Just.”

“Good.” Tony laughed. He picked up his suitcase and put it on the side. He turned to Bren, “You’ll enjoy Scotland.”

“You think?” Bren asked.

“Yeah. Flipping freezing but peaceful. And it’ll be nice for us to be there together. Just the two of us.” Tony leaned against the doorframe of the office.

Bren could feel her cheeks burning up and she ducked her head as she smiled. She played with her fingers before looking at him again. Tony smiled warmly as he watched her. He felt his heart skip a beat everytime he looked at her but he knew he could get used to that feeling. He secretly loved it and hoped Bren felt the same.

“It will be nice to be away together.” Bren nodded. She moved closer to him as she still played with her fingers. She looked at him, “We need that time together.”

“Tell me about it. Don’t know if I could stick being in this canteen any longer with that lot. Nosey beggars.” Tony chuckled.

Bren started to laugh, throwing her head back as she crossed her arms. She opened her eyes as her laughter died down but she noticed something hanging from the office door. A small plant with a red bow wrapped around it. 

“Is that… is that mistletoe?” Bren pointed up.

“Eh?” Tony looked up, “Oh yeah. It is.”

The two looked at each other quietly. They knew that the mistletoe had probably been put up by one of the dinnerladies for them but it wasn’t there earlier. Jean did potter around the kitchen for a bit just before the brass band left. That was probably her. Knowing the mistletoe was for them, they suddenly become very shy around each other. Tony itched the back of his head and Bren started playing with her fingers.

“That’s clearly for us, int it?” Tony said quietly.

“Yeah.” Bren nodded. She looked down at her feet.

“Y’know, it’s um, it’s unlucky if we don’t.” Tony stuttered. Bren looked up at him and his nerves seemed to kick in more, “We don’t have to if you don’t want to of course. I’m not gonna make you-.”

“Shush.” Bren hushed him as she rested her finger over his lips. She then moved her hands down to her sides, “You can kiss me.”

Tony gave her a smile. He stepped forward from the doorframe. He took a second to give himself some bottle before raising his hand to her chin, gripping it gently as he tilted her head towards his. Why was this scarier than their first kiss? Tony slowly leaned forward and pressed his lips against hers. They both relaxed into the kiss, Bren’s hands moving to his waist as he cupped her face. Their heads tilted slightly as the kiss deepened, their arms now wrapping around each other as they brought each other even closer.

“It’s such a shame Anita isn’t here for this, she would have loved this.” Dolly shrugged.

“I know, she rushed off home. Must be something up.” Jean replied, “Do you know what’s wrong, Twinkle?”

“Nah, haven’t heard from her. Only heard from her…” Twinkle spoke but stopped when she saw Bren and Tony kissing under the mistletoe, “Yesterday. Quick, look at this!”

“What?” Jean frowned before looking into the canteen, “Ooo-er. The mistletoe worked then?”

“Bit late really. We wanted it for the other day.” Dolly shrugged.

“They’re together now though, it had to all happen in it’s own time, didn’t it?” Jean shrugged.

“Either way, they still got it together before Christmas.” Twinkle grinned before nudging Jane.

“Yeah, yeah. Look, I’ll win the next bet.” Jane rolled her eyes.

“And what will that be for?” Jean asked, “How long it will be before he pops the question?”

“I haven’t thought that far ahead yet.” Jane rolled her eyes.

“Imagine putting bets on your friends’ relationship.” Stan shook his head.

“It’s only a bit of fun, Stan.” Twinkle rolled her eyes, “Boring old fuddy-duddy.”

“They go well together, don’t they?” Dolly smiled.

“They do.” Philippa nodded with a smile.

Bren and Tony broke off their kiss, still holding each other close. They smiled at one another, not wanting to leave their warm embrace. Tony noticed something at the corner of his eye moving and turned to see what felt like the entire factory watching him and Bren.

“What’re you lot doing?” Tony frowned as Bren looked over her shoulder.

“Oh nothing, nothing.” Everyone said as they dispersed.

Bren and Tony looked at each other with raised brows. They then started to laugh, both slightly embarrassed. They let go of each other as Bren went back into the office. Tony took down the mistletoe from the doorframe.

Chapter Text

Bren stood at the school gates as she waited for Amy’s class to come out. She shuffled in her trainers, crossing her arms before checking the time. Finally, Amy came out of the school as she talked with her friends.

“Amy, quick!” Bren called over to Amy.

“Bye!” Amy waved to her friends before running over to Bren, “Hi!”

“We gotta get home before daddy.” Bren took her hand and they quickly walked out of the playground, “How was school?”

“It was alright. Bit boring.” Amy shrugged.

“Come on, it can’t have been that bad.” Bren giggled, “What did you learn?”

“Maths.” Amy groaned as she spoke with each step, “Boring, boring, boring.”

“Just like your dad.” Bren laughed, “How come you’re out late?”

“I didn’t come out late. We were on time.”

“You came out at two minutes past three.”

“Mum, that’s the time we usually come out at.”

“No, it isn’t.”

“Yes it is. You just don’t come to pick me up often.”

“Oh, love. I’m sorry.” Bren wrapped her arm around her, “You know we do try.”

“It’s okay.” Amy giggled. She looked up at Bren, “I don’t feel totally Tracy Beaker if that’s what you’re thinking.”

“Good.” Bren giggled, “If you want us to start coming for you though, we can.”

“Nah. I like the walk. Well, sometimes.” Amy shrugged, “Lewis does get nippy though when he goes on about the football.”

“I thought you liked football?”

“I do but not when Lewis goes on and on and on about it.”

“It’s a man thing, love.”

“Dad doesn’t go on about football all the time.”

“No, but your dad’s an exception actually. You can have a decent discussion with him. Most of the time. Though he doesn’t like it when you talk about women’s things. He always used to go for a fag when that came up when we were back in Manchester.”

“Daddy didn’t smoke.” Amy shook her head.

“He did! Almost forty a day if your auntie Jean and auntie Dolly were bickering or auntie Twinkle was talking about her boyfriends.” Bren giggled, “Or if auntie Anita talked about haemorrhoids.”

“What’s haemorrhoids?” Amy frowned.

“You get a sore bum. Tend to get them after you’ve had a baby because of all the pushing.” Bren explained.

“Did you get them?” Amy asked.

“I didn’t actually. You were a generous baby that way, I wasn’t actually pushing for that long although you did take a while to actually start coming.” Bren smiled.

“Sorry.” Amy gave her mother a guilty smile.

“It’s okay.” Bren giggled as she brought Amy closer to her and kissed her head, “Couldn’t have asked for a better baby.”

Amy grinned as they continued to walk. They were quiet for a few seconds. Amy then looked up at her mother again.

“I can’t believe daddy smoked!” Amy said with a very shocked tone, “That’s bad!”

“You’ll need to tell him off when he gets home.” Bren nodded.

The two soon got into the house. Bren and Amy took off their coats and hung them up. Amy hung up her bag at the door and they rushed to the kitchen.

“Right,” Bren said, “Get the whisk from the drawer. And the eggs from the fridge.”

“Does dad know you’re home?” Amy asked as she went into the fridge.

“He knows I’ve come to get you from school. I told him you had a dentist’s appointment but not to worry about it.” Bren told her as she got the mixing bowl and flour.

“Why would he worry? He knows I’ve got good teeth. The dentist said that last month.” Amy frowned.

“No, I know. It’s just if it had been an emergency or something.” Bren explained, “You know how dad worries. Since you were born, your father is constantly worrying.”

“Doesn’t he worry about you too?” Amy asked.

“Yeah, of course. But you’re his little girl, aren’t you? It’s natural to worry about you all the time. I do it too.” Bren smiled.

“But you’re his wife. I thought he would worry about you as well.”

“He does worry about me. You should have seen him when I was pregnant with you. He never stopped. Even before that, he was always checking if I was okay. It could be annoying at times but he cares, doesn’t he? Daddy’s good that way.”

“He’s a softie.”

“Yeah.” Bren laughed, “Yeah, he is. I’m glad you noticed it too.”

“Mum?”

“Yeah?”

“Why are we doing the cake first?”

“Because it’ll take longer. We also don’t want tea to be cold, do we?”

“Oh yeah. I guess the cake needs to cool down as well.”

“Exactly. What time is it now?”

Amy checked her watch.

“Quarter past three.”

“Very good.” Bren kissed her head, “You’re getting good with the time. Come on, wash your hands and we’ll get cracking.”

Bren and Amy washed their hands before starting the cake. Tony was going to the shops after work so they knew that they had plenty of time. Whilst the cake was in the oven, Bren made a start on their dinner. Bren also set up the table before taking the cake out of the oven to let it cool before her and Amy started to do the icing.

“Be careful now.” Bren said quietly, “You got it?”

“Yeah.” Amy nodded. She stuck her tongue out as she concentrated, “Does it look good so far?”

“Yeah, it looks lovely.” Bren smiled as she looked at the little hearts Amy outlined on the cake, “D’you want to write anything on it?”

“Should we?” Amy asked. She looked at the cake, “Shall we say ‘we ‘heart’ you’? Would that be stupid?”

“Not at all. I think daddy would love it!” Bren smiled and gave Amy a kiss on her head, “You continue that, I’ll get the tea sorted.”

Bren dished the dinner and set up the table. She then came back to help Amy with the cake but she managed to finish it by herself. Almost on cue, the front door opened.

“Bren?” Tony called through the house as he closed the door behind him.

“In here.” Bren shouted through before turning to Amy, “Go help daddy with the bags. I’ll be through in a minute.”

“Hi daddy.” Amy smiled as she walked to Tony.

“Hi, sweetheart.” Tony grinned. He gave Amy a hug, “You been okay? How was school?”

“Boring. We did maths.” Amy rolled her eyes.

“Oh dear.” Tony sighed, “Not fun at all. Where’s your mum?”

“I’m here.” Bren leaned against the doorframe.

“Something smells nice.” Tony walked to Bren and gave her a quick peck on the lips, “You doing the tea early?”

“Well, it was Amy’s idea actually.” Bren smiled.

“Eh?” He turned to look at Amy, “You feeling hungry?”

“We made your favourite.” Amy took his hand.

“You did?” Tony’s eyebrows raised. Amy led him into the kitchen to show him the set table, “Oh this looks lovely.”

“Show him the cake, love.” Bren pointed.

Amy led Tony over to the worktops to show him the cake. Tony put down the shopping and smiled when he saw the cake. Bren joined them at the worktops.

“Aww, that’s lovely. Did you make it?” Tony asked.

“Me and mummy did. For you.” Amy smiled up to her father.

“Aww, sweetheart. You shouldn’t have.” Tony chuckled, hugging Amy, “So you weren’t at the dentist then?”

“Nope. We thought just because you’ve had a rough week, you should have a treat from us.” Amy smiled.

“You’re too good to me.” Tony kissed the top of Amy’s head. He then turned to Bren and put his arm around her, “The both of you.”

“Let’s eat now.” Amy rushed over to the table.

“You didn’t need to do this, mate.” Tony said quietly to Bren.

“We wanted to. Especially Amy, it was her idea after all.” Bren gave him a smile.

“That’s my girls.” Tony squeezed her shoulder with a chuckle. They then kissed each other on the lips.

“Can we eat now please? I’m starving.” Amy whined from the table.

“Oh come on then.” Tony took Bren’s hand and walked to the table, “Let’s eat before madam fades away here.”

Chapter Text

Bren watched Tony picking up his last box from the living room. He looked around himself, wondering if there were any more boxes left but he couldn’t see any. He walked into the hall where Bren stood. She looked so small in the oversized fleece she wore. Her eyes were bloodshot, probably from the crying. Tony could only imagine the state he was in.

“I think that’s everything. If I’ve left anything, will you let me know?” Tony said quietly.

“Yeah.” Bren nodded as she wrapped her arms around herself tightly. She looked up at him, “I guess this is it.”

“Yeah.” Tony didn’t know what else to say. He didn’t want to go, that was the last thing he wanted. But it seemed like there was no choice for them. They had been arguing so much recently, they decided they would be better off without each other. 

They looked at each other for a moment. They wanted to stop all of this and go back to how they were but it wasn’t that easy. Not this time. Tony knew he had to go because it wasn’t getting any easier. He wished he could just walk out the door and forget about her but he knew that wasn’t going to happen. Especially with the fact they were still working together, he couldn’t just ignore her for the rest of his life. Tony put the box down at the side and leaned in, pressing his lips to hers for one last kiss. The kiss was soft and loving and tender and everything and more. Neither of them wanted to break it off, just wanting to stay this way forever. But they couldn’t. 

The two broke off the very quick kiss. They awkwardly looked around each other. Bren stepped back with her head ducked down as Tony grabbed his box. He knew this was his cue to leave.

“You should go.” Bren mumbled.

“Right. I’ll see you at work.” Tony said.

“Mhm.” Bren kept her head ducked down.

Tony knew he had to go. He left the house, his throat starting to close up with the lump forming. His eyes stung and his heart rate grew faster. This wasn’t right. It didn’t feel real. How could he be leaving her like this? It wasn’t right, none of this was right.

Bren watched Tony walk to the jeep and put the last box in the boot. He got into the driver’s side and started the car up. Within two minutes, he had pulled off the drive and was gone. Heading to the B&B. She stood at the door for what felt like ages, it was only until the cold wind hit her cheeks that she was brought out from her thoughts. Slowly, Bren stepped inside and closed the front door behind her. She locked it and instantly, the silence of the house hit her. Their house. The house they bought when they came to Scotland. Together.

Now it was all gone. Now it was just her, on her own. Once again.

Bren broke down then. She brought her hands to her mouth to stifle her sobs but as she slid down the front door, her cries got louder and louder. She couldn’t remember the last time she cried like this. Probably after something Martin had done. He probably would have laughed if he saw her, crying into her hands on the floor against the door over another man. How predictable.

- - -

Tony lay on the bed as he watched the birds flying past through the window. He hadn’t slept at all, he hadn’t even changed out of his clothes. All he could think about was Bren. He wanted to go back to the house and tell her how he felt but he knew it wasn’t right. He had to let her go. He was sure that Bren was doing alright without him. She was very resilient, more resilient than he would ever be. She would be okay.

There was a knock at the door. Tony rolled over to look at the door and hoped it was her. He got up quickly, his hopes growing stronger with every footstep. He unlocked the door and found himself bitterly disappointed. It was just Hamish.

“You alright, mate?” Hamish asked.

“Yeah. Yeah, I’m alright.” Tony nodded.

“Here, Eileen thought you might like some breakfast.” Hamish handed him the plate he held with tinfoil wrapped around it, “Get you ready for the day.”

“Thanks.” Tony gave him a small smile, “I appreciate it.”

“We’re always here. I mean it.” 

“I know. Cheers.”

Hamish soon left and Tony went back into the room. He only managed half of the bacon and eggs before heading to the shower. He didn’t bother shaving and just got into his clothes. He headed downstairs to the kitchen in the B&B. Tony’s stomach was so tight thinking about seeing Bren. He wasn’t sure what he was even going to say to her.

When he reached the kitchen, it was quiet. Anna and Morag were standing at the boiler making cups of tea for everyone. Tony noticed his and Bren’s mugs next to each other and he only wished it was like that in real life. The two younger women smiled at him, checking if he was alright. Tony turned when he heard a door close behind him. Bren was just coming out of the bathroom when she noticed him standing at the boiler. She looked surprised, like she hadn’t fully prepared to see him yet.

“Hi.” Tony said softly.

“Hi.” Bren replied. She wasn’t sure if she should smile at him. What was the etiquette for talking to someone you just split up with?

“That’s folk coming doon the now.” Anna announced as she went up to the oven, “Mo, get the bacon on.”

The two had never been so pleased to be serving breakfast so they couldn’t speak to each other.

- - -

“Right, that’s your key, Twinkle. Dolly, there’s yours.” Philippa handed out everyone’s keys as they stood at the reception, “Jean, you’ve got yours, right?”

“Yep.” Jean nodded.

“Okay, everyone’s sorted.” Philippa sighed with relief.

“We should head up with our bags.” Dolly suggested.

“Yeah, let’s go.” Twinkle nodded.

They all headed upstairs to their rooms when Tony was just coming out of his room. When he realised who was passing him, he couldn’t believe it and he knew exactly why they were here. Bren and Tony had decided that they would tell close friends and family and a week later, here was the workforce of the old canteen of HWD Components on a pilgrimage to save their relationship. Tony had to give it to them, they were very persistent.

“Oh, Tony.” Dolly went to hug him, “How are you keeping?”

“I’m fine.” Tony said, clearly in shock that they were all here.

“We were so sorry to hear about you and Bren. We thought it would be best to come see you both, y’know.” Jean added.

“Yeah.” Tony nodded.

They talked for a minute more or so before they headed to their rooms. Tony rushed down the stairs and headed straight to the kitchen. Bren was on her own in the kitchen, wiping down the counters.

“Bren? Bren?” Tony called to her as he walked into the kitchen. Bren felt her stomach drop. What did he want? Couldn’t he just leave her alone? Anytime they talked, her heart seemed to tear up into more pieces than it already had.

“Yeah?” Bren asked quietly.

“Everyone’s here.” Tony told her as he walked up to her, slightly out of breath.

“Who’s ‘everyone’?”

“Dolly, Jean, Anita, Twinkle, Stan, Philippa. They’re all here now, I just saw them.”

“What? Why?”

“They apparently wanted to come see us, I guess to check up on us.”

“Oh no.” Bren held her head in her hands, “They’re not here to check up on us.”

“I know.” Tony nodded, “There’s more to them being here.”

“We just need to be upfront with them.” Bren shrugged, “Tell them the truth.”

“They don’t exactly take the truth well though, do they?” Tony sighed.

“Tell me about it.” Bren rolled her eyes, “You’d think they were our children and we were telling them we were getting a, not ‘dragon’. A divorce.”

“Yeah.” Tony scoffed. He missed hearing her muddle up her words, “We’ll need to sit them down and explain that they’ll spend the week at yours and the weekend at mine.”

“And that we both love them very much and it’s not their fault.” Bren started to giggle.

The two laughed, bumping each other’s shoulders gently. They continued to laugh as they looked at each other. It was the first time in these past few weeks that they actually laughed together. It was nice seeing the other smile like that but hurt when they remembered their current situation. As their laughter died down, they wanted to say more. They wanted to say so much to each other but what could they say? Both of them felt so tongue tied as they looked at each other.

“That’s orders coming in the now.” Morag announced herself. Bren and Tony immediately stepped away from each other, going back to their work but their mind only on one thing.

- - -

“Table for eight for Moorcroft.” Philippa told the waitress at the door of the restaurant.

“Oh yes. Follow me.” The waitress smiled as she grabbed the menus and headed to the table.

They all sat down at the table and started looking at their menus. On one side, Jean, Anita, Bren and Twinkle sat together and opposite them, Stan, Tony, Philippa and Dolly sat with each other. 

“He’s properly started walking now, you really need to keep up with him.” Anita giggled as they talked about her son.

“Aww.” Bren smiled.

“He is fast. I had to run after him last Monday.” Twinkle added, “I felt like Linford Christie.”

“Ooh I like her! I loved ‘Death on the Nile’.” Anita smiled.

“Anita, you’re thinking of Agatha Christie, ya dingbat!” Twinkle rolled her eyes.

“Who’s Linford Christie?” Anita frowned. 

“He’s a runner, love.” Jean added.

As they all talked, Tony looked over to Bren. She was in a blue blouse and played with her gold necklace that had her name on it. She looked absolutely beautiful and he wished he could go over and tell her. But he knew he couldn’t. In fact, he wasn’t sure how long he could stay in the room for and after their dinner was ordered, Tony got up from the table.

“I’m going for a fag.” Tony said and walked to the smoking area outside.

Bren watched him walking away. Her stomach felt tight, like she couldn’t relax at all. She sighed to herself.

“You alright, Bren?” Dolly asked.

“Yeah.” Bren smiled. If they didn’t ask her anymore, she’d be alright. She just wanted to enjoy her night the best she could.

“You sure?” Stan asked.

“Yeah, you’re awfully quiet.” Jean added.

“I’m fine. It’s fine, I’m fine.” Bren sighed.

“It’s not like you to be so quiet though.” Philippa said, “Is there something on your mind?”

“Philippa.” Jean’s eyes widened.

“Of course there’s something on her mind, you complete ar-.” Twinkle frowned.

“Thank you!” Dolly swatted Twinkle’s hand.

Bren said nothing as she got up from the table quickly. They all watched as she walked off to the toilets.

“Oh now you’ve upset her.” Stan sighed before muttering under his breath, “Human resources.”

“Should one of us go after her?” Anita asked.

“I’ll go.” Philippa stood up, “I should apologise.”

Philippa got up from the table and rushed to the ladies’ toilets. It was quiet in the toilets, only little sniffles could be heard from the cubicle right at the end.

“Bren?” Philippa called softly, “Are you alright?”

“Hm? Yeah, I’m fine.” Bren giggled as she wiped her eyes, “I’ll be right out, you go back to the table.”

“Are you sure? Look, I’m really sorry about just now. I didn’t mean what I said out there, I wasn’t thinking.” Philippa walked over to Bren’s cubicle.

“No, Philippa, it’s fine. It doesn’t matter.” Bren shook her head.

“I know but I was being stupid and I didn’t think.” Philippa started to ramble but the cubicle door unlocked. Bren opened the door and smiled though her face was tear-stained. It was horrible seeing Bren like this, “Oh Bren.”

“Please don’t do that. I don’t want to cry anymore, I’ve cried too much.” Bren went up to the mirror as she checked her makeup, “I look a mess.”

“Let me.” Philippa took the tissue and started cleaning up Bren’s face, “You still love Tony, don’t you?”

“Of course I do.” Bren sighed, “I love him more than anything.”

“Then tell him, Bren. He still feels the same, I can tell.” Philippa replied.

“He doesn’t. He’s gone off me. Anyone can see that.” Bren shook her head.

“No, Bren. No, he hasn’t. He would never.” Philippa told her. She wished Bren could see the way Tony still looked at her. Philippa had noticed Tony watching Bren over the table and he couldn’t look more in love. But Bren didn’t know that. Bren started to break down again, crying into her hands. Philippa quickly took her into arms, “Oh Bren. It’s alright.”

Tony came back inside after he finished his cigarette. When he headed back to the table, he noticed Bren and Philippa were gone. As he got closer, everybody seemed quite secretive. Tony sat down.

“Alright, Tony?” Twinkle smiled.

“Yeah. Where’s Bren and Philippa?” Tony asked.

“The ladies.” Dolly said, “Look, that’s them now.”

Bren and Philippa headed back to the table and sat down. Tony could tell that there was something up with Bren. He could see it all over her face. She managed to make light conversation but as everyone else talked, Bren found herself making eye contact with Tony. When they looked at each other, it felt like time stopped. Like nothing else mattered but them. Tony gave her a little, reassuring smile. He wanted to ask her if she was alright but not in front of everyone. Bren smiled back but before she could say anything, their meals were brought over to the table.

- - -

Bren brought the dirty plates into the kitchen on the trolley. She brought them around the sink where Tony stood. He started taking the plates and washing them.

“Quiet today, int it? Even our lot were in and out.” Tony said as he started scrubbing the plates.

“Well, it's a lazy day for them. Jean and Stan are going down to the B&Q in town.” Bren replied as she passed him the plates.

“Oh I’m sorry I’m missing that.” Tony sighed which made Bren chuckle, “What about everyone else then? What’s their plans?”

“Oh dunno. They did tell me but I wasn’t listening.” Bren shrugged.

“Not like you.” Tony replied as he turned to her, “I’m sure they’ll rope us into something.”

“Can’t wait.” Bren scoffed, “I won’t be going if they do. I just want to get home.”

“I know what you mean.” Tony nodded, “They can be very persistent though. I wouldn’t be surprised if we end up in the pub.”

“That would end well, I can see Jean or Twinkle getting pissed.” Bren then shrugged, “Why not? I guess they are on holiday.”

“Must be nice for some.” Tony’s eyes widened, “Living the good life.”

Bren giggled as she ducked her head. Her hands were on the trolley and when she put her head down, she noticed how close her hands were to Tony’s. Their fingertips were touching and when they realised, they took their hands away from each other quickly.

“D’you want a brew?” Bren asked as she turned away quickly.

“Um, yeah. Thanks.” Tony nodded as he held his hands, “Tea please.”

Bren went over to make them cups of tea. The two were quiet as Bren made the tea. She stirred the tea and brought Tony’s mug over to him.

“Cheers, mate.” Tony smiled before turning away from her to go to the oven.

Bren watched him after he said that. It’d been a few weeks since he last called her ‘mate’. It was such a little thing but hearing him say it again really meant a lot. But it also hurt. It hurt so much. All she wanted was to go back to the way it was but it never would. Tony seemed happy enough without her and she had to let him go.

“Bren?” Twinkle called into the kitchen.

“Hi, Twink.” Bren smiled as she walked over to her, “You alright?”

“Yeah. Hey, listen, me and Anita were thinking of going down to that café down the road. D’you fancy coming with us?” Twinkle asked.

“Um, yeah. Yeah, that’d be nice.” Bren nodded, “I should be done here in a minute.”

Bren soon finished up her work and walked down to the café with Twinkle and Anita. They sat down and chatted about different things.

“What day are you all meant to be going home?” Bren asked.

“Next Sunday.” Twinkle replied as she picked a walnut of the cake she was eating.

“Oh well.” Bren nodded.

“It’ll be good to get home. I really miss Ajay when I’m not with him.” Anita smiled.

“What was your mum saying when she called?” Twinkle asked.

“Just letting me know how he was. She said he’s been running around keeping my dad on his toes.” Anita giggled.

“Aww.” Twinkle smiled, “He’ll love that toy of Nessie you got him.”

“Yeah, he will. When we come up next, I’ll need to bring him to see her. Is Nessie meant to be shy?” Anita nodded.

“I’m thinking of going home.” Bren suddenly said.

“What?” Twinkle frowned.

“Are you sure, Bren? We’ve just sat down.” Anita asked.

“No, I mean home home. Manchester.” Bren explained, “There’s nothing left for me here anymore. I need to go home.”

“What about Tony?” Twinkle asked.

“What about him? He doesn’t want me, does he? I might as well go back.” Bren shrugged.

“But Bren, he loves you. He loves you so much.” Anita tried.

“We aren’t together anymore.” Bren shrugged, “Besides, I need to do it for myself. I can’t… I can’t stay here when I feel more in love with him than I ever have and he…” Bren paused. Her eyes filled up but she fought it, “He isn’t.”

Twinkle took Bren’s hand and gave it a squeeze but Anita watched on. She knew this wasn’t right. She couldn’t let Bren go back to Manchester when it was so clear that her and Tony were still in love.

- - -

Tony was just coming upstairs when Jean, Dolly, Twinkle and Anita were passing him. They all smiled as they saw him.

“Morning, girls.” Tony tried to keep up appearances.

“Alright, Tony.” Twinkle smiled.

“Morning.” Jean grinned.

“Where are you off to?” Tony asked.

“We’re going to pop in to see Bren.” Dolly replied, “Quick cuppa.”

“Oh. Nice.” Tony nodded. He wished it was him instead of them going to see her if he was going to be honest, “Have fun.”

“I’m sure we will.” Jean replied as they all walked past.

Anita trailed at the back. She thought about what Bren said yesterday and she knew she couldn’t just leave without telling Tony. Everyone knew that they were still in love with each other and Anita only wanted to help them.

“Oh no. I think I forgot something. I’ll be right behind you.” Anita called to the others before rushing to Tony’s room. She knocked on the door.

“Anita. You alright?” Tony smiled.

“Yeah. Listen, I need to tell you something.”

“What?”

“Yesterday. Bren said she was thinking of going home.”

“Right?”

“She’s thinking of going home.”

“What home are you referring to, Anita? She’s already at home.”

“I mean Manchester.”

Tony’s stomach dropped. He didn’t expect that at all. She wanted to leave Scotland. He definitely knew her reasons but it still made him feel sick. The thought of her leaving and him being on his own in Scotland was the last thing he wanted. Since he had moved out, Tony had found himself falling in love with Bren all over again rather than falling out of love with her. Every time he saw her, he just wanted to hold her and tell her how he really felt but it felt like she didn’t feel the same. He knew she didn’t.

Anita quickly left after telling him. Tony didn’t know what to do. He felt so stuck. He checked the time. It was coming up for twelve. He guessed it wouldn’t be a bad time for a pint.

Tony headed downstairs to the pub. Hamish was serving drinks and smiled when he saw him come in. He ordered a pint as he sat at the bar but he barely touched it.

“Hello, Tony.” Stan walked in cheerfully, “Pint please, Hamish.”

“Alright, Stan?” Tony said quietly, playing with the beer mat in front of him. He couldn’t help but chuckle when he remembered his and Bren’s discussion about beer mats a couple of years ago.

“I’m good.” Stan smiled as he sat. He looked at Tony and noticed the sad look on his face, “What’s to do?”

Tony looked at Stan. He knew he couldn’t keep it bottled up for much longer.

“Anita told me that Bren’s thinking of going back to Manchester.”

“No? Are you serious?”

“Mhm. Anita told me half an hour ago. Apparently she said it yesterday.”

“I’m surprised. She seems to like it here.”

“She feels like she hasn’t got anything left here. That’s why she feels like she might as well go back.” Tony shrugged.

“How d’you feel about that?” Stan asked.

“Nothing I can do. If she’s made her decision, that’s her choice. I can’t stop her.” Tony sighed.

“You can.” Stan told him.

“I can’t, Stan. I can’t force her to stay.” Tony shook his head, “It’s done. I can’t make her stay.”

“You can. If you loved her, you would.” Stan replied.

“But she doesn’t love me. She wants to go home, she’s done with me.”

“Not at all. That’s far from the truth.”

“What d’you mean?”

“She still loves you. She never stopped. Haven’t you seen her around you? She’s besotted with you, just like you are with her.”

“I don’t think so, Stan. She’s been so distant.”

“Because she thinks the same as you. That’s why she wants to go back to Manchester, because she thinks it’ll please you.”

“But it wouldn’t. I don’t want her to go.”

“Hello.” Philippa announced herself as she walked over to the two men. She instantly noticed there was something wrong, “What’s the matter?”

“Bren’s thinking of going back to Manchester.” Tony told her.

“What?” Philippa frowned as she sat down, “Has she told you that?”

“She told Anita yesterday. Anita told me earlier.” Tony explained, “But I can’t let her go. This has been bad enough as it is, I can’t have her move away too. Y’know, it’s been the strangest thing. We split up and instead of hating each other’s guts, I fell in love with her again. That’s not right.”

“Well, tell her. She deserves to know, Tony.” Philippa sighed, “You two can’t keep moving around each other and expect the other to be telepathic.” She gave him a gentle pat on his forearm, “She told me she still loves you.”

“She did?” Tony’s eyes widened. He thought about everything him and Bren had gone through. He loved her so much and the thought of throwing their relationship away so easily over them going through a rough patch of arguments was so stupid. It had taken them eight years to get it together, Tony knew they weren’t just a passing romance. He got up quickly, “Come on. I’m going to see her.”

“What about our pints?” Stan asked as Tony rushed out of the pub.

“Leave them!” Tony called back.

Stan and Philippa followed after Tony. They got into his jeep and they drove fast to Bren’s. Tony was surprised that he didn’t get pulled over considering how fast he was going. When he reached the house, Tony didn’t even bother pulling into the drive, he just left the car parked on the roadside. He rushed to the front door and rang the bell.

“Come on, come on.” Tony whispered to himself. 

The door unlocked and Bren opened the door. Bren felt her heart stop for a second when she saw Tony standing there. She didn’t expect him to be at the door, she didn’t even see him walk past the window. Her stomach got tight then, wondering why he was here.

“Hi.” Tony managed to push out.

“Hi.” Bren replied, “Are you alright? Is there something you’ve forgotten?”

“Yes! Well, no actually.” Oh this was much easier in his head. Tony took a deep breath in, “Bren, Anita told me about you wanting to go back to Manchester.”

“Anita!” Twinkle could be heard from the living room scolding Anita.

“I’m thinking about it, it’s not a definite.” Bren shrugged.

“I don’t want you to go. I can’t… I can’t let you go.” Tony replied.

“Well, it’s not really your place to say whether I go or not.” Bren crossed her arms. She felt her walls going up. Why did he care? It wasn’t going to affect him, “I can do what I want. It’s not going to affect you if I do go.”

“You don’t get it. It will affect me. You can’t go.” Tony tried to be firm. He was doing his best to hold back tears. Maybe he was wrong to come here. Maybe she really had lost her feelings for him. 

“We’re not together anymore, Tony. What is it to you anyway? It’s not like you still love m-.” Bren was cut off by Tony pressing his lips to hers.

He held her face as he kissed her. Bren instantly melted into the kiss. Her hands went to his face too, bringing him closer. It felt so right for them being like this and they didn’t want to let go. They could feel themselves getting breathless and knew they had to let go soon. When they broke off the kiss, they looked at each other.

“I love you, Bren. I love you so flipping much.” Tony told her, “I love you more now than I did when I left.”

“You do?” Bren asked, studying his face intently.

“Of course I do, you lamebrain. I can’t stop thinking about you. I fell more in love with you every time I saw you. I can’t get enough of you. You’re my everything, mate.” Tony replied as he pushed a curl away from her face.

Bren started to laugh as happy tears bubbled in her eyes. Hearing Tony express how much he loved her through words meant so much. She knew that it was difficult for him to express how he felt like that so it meant the world to her that he said what he said. She brought him closer as she hugged him tightly, not wanting to let go.

“Maybe me and Stan should split up for a bit. It would definitely add a nice spark.” Jean shrugged as the four women watched from the living room.

“Shush, Jean.” Dolly hushed her.

Bren and Tony broke off their hug as they looked at each other again. They chuckled, wiping their tears away from each other’s faces.

“I love you too. More than anything.” Bren smiled up at him.

“I’m glad to see that we’re on the same page.” Tony grinned as they laughed, “This should be a fresh start for us. If you’ll have me.”

“You’re not going anywhere.” Bren grinned, moving her hands to his face.

The two then went back to kissing. Bren wrapped her arms around his neck as Tony moved his hands down to her waist. They wanted to stay like this forever but they knew they had guests. But for a couple seconds more, they were going to have the best kiss of their lives. They were sure they would be able to kick their friends out sooner or later so they could be alone but for now, it could wait.

Chapter Text

Monday 22nd November 1999

- - -

Tony walked into the canteen, holding the pack of milk. He noticed the lights on in the kitchen through the half door and he could hear someone pottering about. Probably Bren or Stan. Hopefully it was Bren. He walked into the kitchen to see Bren walking around the kitchen. She was putting the bread away when she noticed him coming in. Bren smiled.

“Hiya.” Bren beamed.

“Morning.” Tony smiled, “You get in okay?”

“Yeah. How was your drive?” Bren asked.

“Alright. The car managed to start up in time so there’s something.” Tony shrugged.

“Oh well.” Bren nodded, “You’re earlier than usual. Did you let the car warm up?”

“Yeah, I knew I would have bother with the ice so came out earlier.” Tony replied, “Anyone else in yet?”

“Stan’s in. I think he’s outside doing his bins.” Bren walked past Tony and down to the window up the back of the kitchen, “No one else is in though. They’ll all probably be here soon.”

“Oh can’t wait. What d’you think the topic of discussion will be today? The Nolan Sisters? Philippa seeing that Tom Murray? The latest revelation about Keith- What did you do?” Tony frowned when Bren turned to him. He noticed that her leggings were ripped at the knee and her right leg was bleeding. The hole wasn’t big but it was clear that her leg was bleeding and the blood had soaked through her leggings.

“Eh?” Bren frowned. She then looked down at her leg, “Oh. I fell. It’s fine.”

“Your leg’s bleeding, Bren. That needs cleaned up.” Tony pointed to her.

“No, no.” Bren shook him off before walking past him. Tony noticed Bren was slightly limping when she walked past him, “I’ll be alright. Doesn’t matter.”

“Right.” Tony went off into the office. He took off his jacket, hung it up and then grabbed the first aid kit at the side. He walked out of the office again and grabbed Bren’s hand as he walked past, “Come on. Let’s clean this up.”

“Tony, it’s fine.” Bren tried to tell him but he led her out to the canteen.

“Sit down. Let me take care of you.” Tony pulled out a chair. Bren sat down whilst he crouched down in front of her. She watched him quietly as he looked at her knee, “Oh, Bren. This looks a sore one. How did you manage that?”

“Dunno. I just lost my footing on the ice when I was walking here from the bus stop. Y’know that path beside the petrol station?” Bren explained.

“That’s a bad path, that. Honestly, you need to be more careful.” Tony said as he opened up the first aid kit.

“I am careful.” Bren shrugged.

“I know you, mate. I bet you were rushing down that path. You walk too fast.” Tony playfully scolded her. Bren started pulling up her leggings up her leg. Tony took out the wound wipes and wiped the blood from her knee gently. Bren winced, “Sorry.”

“It’s okay.” Bren smiled. She watched him as he cleaned her knee, holding her leg gently. His hands were soft against her skin. Her leg relaxed in his touch and the warmth of his hands contrasted against her cold skin, “You didn’t need to do this.”

“I do. You won’t clean it up, you lamebrain.” Tony scoffed.

Bren chuckled. Tony looked up at her and smiled. He then went back to cleaning her knee and took out a plaster. He took the wrapping off of it and smoothed the plaster onto her knee. When he was satisfied it was stuck on properly, Tony pressed his lips against the plaster on Bren’s knee to give her a quick kiss. Bren felt her heartbeat quicken.

“There. All better.” Tony smiled. Bren smiled back at him, “You’re not hurt anywhere else, are you?”

“No. I’m okay. You really didn’t need to do this though, Tony. I could’ve sorted it myself.” Bren shrugged.

“No, you couldn’t have. You would have walked about with your knee bleeding all over the place and pretended like you didn’t take any notice.” Tony told her as she laughed.

“Well, thank you. I appreciate it.” Bren thanked him as Tony started pulling down her leggings. 

“Anytime.” Tony replied, his hands moving down her leg to smooth down her leggings.

Tony’s hands were warm against her leg and being like this with him made Bren’s heartbeat faster. They both smiled at each other, neither of them moving. Tony didn’t even realise he was still holding her leg until Dolly and Jean came in.

“Morning.” Dolly called in her usual cheery tone.

“Morning.” Jean followed after her.

“What are you two doing?” Dolly’s eyes widened when she noticed Bren and Tony in the canteen. All she could really see was Tony knelt in front of Bren. She rushed around the tables to see them properly.

“Eh?” Jean asked. She then noticed Bren and Tony and how they were sitting with one another, “Bren?”

“What did you do?!” Dolly asked when she saw what was going on and saw the state of Bren’s leggings.

“I fell on the ice. I’m okay.” Bren explained. She put her hand on Tony’s shoulder, “Got my nurse here.”

“Doctor, thank you very much.” Tony corrected her but she just laughed.

“Are you alright?” Jean asked.

“Yeah, I’m fine.” Bren shrugged, “It’s just a graze, I’ll be fine. Honestly, it looks worse than it actually is.”

“For a minute there, I thought Tony was proposing.” Dolly started to laugh.

“So did I!” Jean said with a big grin.

“What?” Bren and Tony both said in unison.

“Well, you’re down on one knee in front of her. We’re obviously going to think that.” Dolly shrugged, “Come on, Jean, let’s get sorted.”

Bren and Tony watched the two older women go into the kitchen. They then looked at each other with confused looks. The two started to laugh.

“Clearly got vivid imaginations.” Tony raised a brow which made Bren laugh. He laughed with her. He then looked around himself at the mess around him, “I better get this cleaned up.”

“D’you want any help?” Bren asked.

“Nah. I’ll manage.” Tony smiled. He stood up before taking her hands and helping her up, “Your knee alright?”

“Yeah. Thanks.” Bren smiled up at him.

“No probs.” Tony gave her a wink which made Bren giggle. 

The two let go of each other’s hands and Bren watched as Tony went to pick the wipes and wrapping of the plaster. She couldn’t believe how gentle he was with her. No man had ever offered to do anything like that for her. No one at all if she was going to be honest. Cleaning up a wound was always something she had to do herself. But Tony had been so gentle and caring and he wanted to help her. He wanted to make sure she was alright and Bren really appreciated that. She knew that when the time was right, she would get things sorted with Martin and tell Tony how she really felt. She knew had to get things in order before she moved to the next step.

“Morning.” Anita and Twinkle walked in.

“What’s going on there?” Twinkle asked when she pointed to Bren and Tony through the half door.

“Oh, Bren fell on the ice and hurt her knee. Tony was cleaning it up for her.” Dolly wore a smile.

“Was he now?” Twinkle crossed her arms with a grin. They then watched as Tony helped Bren up. The two talked for a moment as they held hands, “Do they know they’re still holding hands?”

“Nope. I think they’re totally oblivious.” Jean smiled.

Bren and Tony dropped their hands and Bren walked into the kitchen, clearly still stuck in her thoughts. She crossed her arms, a finger pressed to her chin as she smiled to herself. She looked up at the four women smiling at her.

“What?” Bren asked, slightly confused.

“Oh nothing.” The women all shook their heads, “Nothing at all.”

Chapter Text

Tony stood at the counter, tiredly pouring the boiling water into his coffee and then into Bren’s tea. He stirred as he yawned. When he put the teaspoon in the sink, Tony heard footsteps coming down the stairs. The footsteps approached and soon, Bren appeared at the door. She was in Tony’s shirt he wore the night before and her underwear underneath. Her hair was a little messy and she was clearly still tired but she managed to still look great even though she had just rolled out of bed.

“Morning.” Tony smiled, “You alright?”

“I’ve got a headache.” Bren groaned.

“Oh dear. Too much to drink?” Tony teased.

“You were the one buying drinks.” Bren turned.

“Fair enough.” Tony nodded. He handed Bren her mug, “Tea.”

“Thanks.” Bren took the mug. She took her paracetamol with her tea, “When did you get up?”

“Maybe twenty minutes ago. I’ve not even checked the door yet for mail.” Tony replied as he took a sip of his tea.

“Leave it.” Bren shrugged.

“Did you have a good night last night?” Tony asked as Bren took a sip of her tea. She raised her brows.

“Well, before I woke up this morning, yeah I did.” Bren replied, “I’ve also woken up with a pulled muscle in my back.”

“Sorry.” Tony smiled.

Bren laughed before having another sip of her tea. She looked up at him as she wore a small smile on her lips. 

“Y’know, I don’t remember much of last night.” Bren shrugged.

“D’you remember coming home?” Tony asked as he raised a brow.

“How could I forget that?” Bren smirked. Tony laughed, “I just remember… oh what d’you call them? Not snowmen, snippets! I just remember snippets of last night.”

“D’you remember when you were dancing on the table?” Tony asked. Bren looked at him with wide eyes but he started to laugh, “Only kidding.”

“Oh Tony, don’t do that.” Bren hit his shoulder, “I thought you were being serious. For all I know, I could have been!”

“You weren’t. You were pissed though. Very pissed.” Tony took a sip of his coffee.

“I’m not the only one! You were nearly under the table.” Bren scoffed.

“So were you.” Tony gave her a nudge to which she laughed.

“Glad I wasn’t the only one then! I have never been that drunk at a work do. Especially a Christmas one. I’m usually the one looking after people. I didn’t throw up, did I?”

“Nah. Have you thrown up this morning?”

“No. I don’t actually feel sick, just knackered. Quite literally. You haven’t been sick, have you?”

“No, I’m alright. Who got those tequila shots?”

“Anna. Did you see her and Morag? They were perfectly fine after them.”

“I know. I felt like I was looking through two milk bottles after them.”

The two laughed. Bren looked at him as she moved closer to him. He put his arm around her. Bren rested her head on his shoulder.

“Is that my shirt from last night?” Tony asked.

“Yeah.” Bren giggled. She looked down at the shirt, “The first thing I could find to put on. I was cold when I woke up.”

“You should’ve stayed in bed. I could’ve brought up your tea.” Tony said.

“Nah. I needed to get up. I needed a pee. And a paracetamol.” Bren shrugged.

“Always the romantic, Brenda.” Tony took a sip of his coffee.

Bren laughed. She stood up on her tiptoes, kissing his cheek. He smiled down at her, bringing her close to his chest. 

“It was cold this morning. D’you want the heating on?” Tony asked.

“Yeah. Not right now though. I’m warm here.” Bren cuddled into him more. Tony chuckled, kissing the top of her head.

“You looked great last night.” Tony said softly into her hair.

“Give over.” Bren bumped his shoulder.

“You did!” Tony insisted as she broke away from his arms. He watched her as she grabbed their empty mugs and put them in the sink. She started to wash them as he leaned back against the counter, “You looked good in that dress you had on.”

“Oh, did I?” Bren rolled her eyes though she felt her cheeks burning up.

“Course you did. You would know if you didn’t.” Tony told her.

“Thanks very much.” Bren laughed.

“Good thing you look great all the time eh?” Tony moved closer to her.

“Apparently.” Bren replied. She then felt warm arms wrapping around her waist. She smiled as she turned her head to look at Tony as he rested his head on her shoulder, “You think I look great now?”

“Of course.” Tony smiled. Bren turned back to continue washing the mugs as he brought her closer to him, “You look even better than you did last night.”

“I’ll crack the jokes.”

“Will you now?”

“Yeah, I will. Y’know, I never asked, what was your favourite part of the night?” Bren asked.

“Probably when we came home.” Tony said in between planting kisses on her neck, “What about you?”

“I would say the same.” Bren shrugged. She looked at him over her shoulder, “Clearly had a good night out.”

“Clearly. Though, I prefer staying in with you.” Tony continued to kiss her neck. He then whispered into her ear, “How’s that headache of yours?”

“Hm.” Bren chuckled before shrugging jokingly, “So-so.”

The two looked at each other and started to laugh. They then looked one another in the eye as they pressed their lips against each other. They kissed as Tony then turned Bren to face him by her waist. She wrapped her arms around his neck, her wet hands clasping together. The kiss deepened as Tony led her over to the counter, lifting Bren to sit on the counter. Tony’s hands moved down to her legs, caressing her thighs whilst Bren’s hands moved down to his chest. They continued to kiss but were interrupted by something being put through their letter box.

“Oh. Must be the mail.” Tony said, turning to look into the hall, “It’s late today.”

“It can wait.” Bren turned Tony’s face back to her. She then realised her hands were still wet, noticing the wet patches on his t-shirt, “Oh I forgot to dry my hands.”

“Here.” Tony grabbed the hand towel and gave it to her.

“Thanks.” Bren quickly dried her hands before chucking it to the side. She wrapped her arms around his neck as she pulled him closer to her, “Now, where were we?”

“Let me think.” Tony joked before leaning and kissing her again.

Chapter Text

Friday 5th November 1999

- - - 

Bren rang the bell before stepping back. She looked around the street, watching some of the fireworks go off already. Finally, the door opened.

“Hello, Bren. Come in.” Jean smiled. She let Bren step in, “I’ll take your coat.”

“Thanks.” Bren took off her anorak and handed it to her, “Is anybody else here yet?”

“Yeah, everyone’s here actually. You were our last recruit.” Jean giggled, “They’re all in the living room. Barry and Stan are outside sorting the fireworks.”

The two women walked through to the living room. Dolly, Twinkle and Anita sat next to each other whilst Tony sat opposite them on the other couch. He seemed to light up when Bren walked in, sitting up immediately.

“Hello, Bren.” Dolly greeted her.

“Hiya.” Bren smiled.

“Did you get here alright?” Anita asked.

“Yeah, I did. Got the fifteen.” Bren nodded. She sat next to Tony, “Did you drive in, Anita?”

“Yeah, gave Twinkle a lift. I can take you home too if you like.” Anita suggested.

“No thanks. I’ll get home alright.” Bren smiled.

“You sure, Bren?” Dolly asked, “Me and Bob can take you? Honestly, it’s not a trouble.”

“No, no. I’ll be fine.” Bren shook her head, “Where is Bob?”

“Bathroom. Don’t ask.” Dolly just rolled her eyes.

“You look nice, Bren. I like your blouse.” Twinkle pointed to her.

“Oh. Thanks.” Bren looked down at her dark green blouse, “It’s quite old.”

“It looks nice.” Twinkle nodded before going back to talking to Dolly and Anita.

“You alright?” Tony asked as he turned to her.

“Yeah. You alright?” Bren asked.

“Bren, what are you drinking?” Jean popped her into the living room.

“I’ll have a white wine, thanks.” Bren nodded.

“You look great.” Tony gave her a nudge.

“Give over.” Bren felt her cheeks burn up slightly, “Thanks. You look great too.”

“Flattery will get you everywhere.” Tony gave her a wink before taking a sip from his beer bottle.

“Here you go, Bren.” Jean handed her the wine glass.

“Thanks, Jean.” Bren took the glass and took a sip.

“Did you hear they got the Blender? Oh hello, Bren.” Stan walked into the living room.

“Hiya.” Bren smiled.

“Yeah, I heard they got him in the airport trying to get on a plane as an air stewardess called Mandy.” Jean crossed her arms.

“Fancy stealing an air stewardess’ clothes.” Dolly tutted, “Where was the plane going to?”

“Hungry I think.” Anita said.

“Hung-ary, you lame brain.” Twinkle rolled her eyes.

Bren and Tony chuckled. Barry came back inside to tell everyone the fireworks were ready. They all headed outside, Bob joining them. Tony grabbed another bottle of beer on their way outside. They set the fireworks off and every firework that went off seemed to be followed by ‘ooh’s’ and ‘ahh’s’ from Dolly and Jean especially. Bren and Tony stood behind everyone as they watched the fireworks quietly. Tony gave her a nudge.

“I’m surprised you came tonight.” Tony said.

“Really?” Bren looked at him.

“Mhm.”

“How?”

“Oh well, y’know you don’t come to many planned events. You usually bottle out.”

“Eh? I don’t.” Bren chuckled. She didn’t understand what he was getting at if she was going to be honest.

“You do. You always bottle out of things.” Tony took a sip of his beer.

“I don’t. What makes you say that?” Bren frowned.

“Oh come on, Bren. The holiday. You bottled right out of that.” Tony replied.

“I didn’t bottle out. I had to look after me mother.” Bren explained.

“Your mother who sponges off you. You know that. You’re probably just saying that so you didn’t have to go. You were never going to come.” Tony said.

“How can you say that? You knew I wanted to come. That money was taken out just for that holiday. I had to help her.” Bren couldn’t believe what he was saying. Why was he acting like this?

“You had to help someone who has never helped you once in your whole life? Yeah, I bet you did.” Tony nodded. He pointed at her, “You probably didn’t come because you didn’t want to spend time with me, that’s it, int it? Too busy with your calor gas man.”

“Are you joking me? Is this what this is about?” Bren asked. Her voice had now got louder and that got the attention of the others who turned around.

“Well why else would you not come? Too busy shacked up with your stupid calor gas man. You probably were jumping for joy when your mother blew up the caravan.” Tony stepped forward.

“I’m not listening to this.” Bren put down her wine glass on the wall next to her.

“Bren?” Jean frowned.

“I wanted to come on that holiday with you but I had to do what was right for me mother. I had to look after her at least once. I’m sorry that’s not good enough for you but that was what I had to do. Oh and by the way, I haven’t seen that calor gas man in months so I don’t know where you’re getting your information.” Bren pointed up to him. The anger was building up inside of her but she tried to keep her cool. She still had no idea as to why he would say those things. They were so hurtful, especially from him. Even if he didn’t like her the way she did him, she thought they were friends and she thought he understood, “I’ll talk to you when you’re sober. Jean, I’ll see myself out.”

“Bren, wait.” Jean went after Bren when she headed inside. Stan followed after her.

“Bren?” Tony called after her. He started to sober up. He realised what he had done.

“You’ve done enough.” Dolly stopped him.

“You’ve really messed that up, haven’t you, sad one.” Twinkle shook her head.

Back in the house, Bren headed towards the front door. Jean and Stan followed after her, trying to keep up with her.

“Bren, wait. Don’t go.” Jean said.

“I’m not having him speak to me like that, Jean. I just won’t.” Bren shook her head.

“I know but you don’t have to talk to him. You can stay with me and the girls.” Jean tried, “He’s drunk, Bren. He’ll say anything.”

“He clearly thinks that though, doesn’t he? He clearly thinks that I’ll just bottle out of anything. I bet he’s thinking that I’m bottling out of this. Well, I’ll give him what he wants.” Bren nodded, going to open the door.

“Bren, no. Don’t leave.” Stan stepped forward, “This isn’t what he wants. We all know that.”

“Then why say what he said? You should have heard him, Stan. He definitely thinks that.” Bren started to breathe heavily.

“He’s drunk. He won’t mean it.” Stan shook his head, “Tony thinks the world of you.”

“Clearly.” Bren raised her brows.

“Don’t go, Bren. Talk to him, he’ll apologise. Even if he does think those things, Tony would never want to hurt you.” Jean said.

“I just want to go home. I don’t want to be here if he’s going to be like this.” Bren shook her head, “I’m sorry.”

Jean nodded. She couldn’t make Bren stay.

“Let me take you home, Bren. Don’t want you out on the streets on your own.” Stan said.

“No, I’ll be alright.” Bren shook her head.

“It’s the least I can do.” Stan replied, “I won’t take no for an answer.”

“Alright.” Bren tried a small smile.

As soon as Bren and Stan left, Tony appeared in the house. He walked through the hall, clearly sobering up already. He wore a panicked look on his face.

“Where’s Bren?” Tony asked.

“She’s gone home.” Jean told her, “You really upset her tonight.”

“I know.” Tony nodded, “I-.”

“She thinks that you meant what you said.” Jean interrupted him. She softened slightly, “I know you care for her, Tony. I don’t doubt that but you need to tell her the truth. And you need to apologise. You’ll lose her if you don’t.”

Jean walked past him then. Tony stood in the hall and thought about what he had said. He knew Jean was right. He knew he had to make it up with Bren.

- - -

Monday 8th November 1999

- - -

Bren walked into the kitchen and turned the lights on. She felt her stomach getting tighter as she thought about seeing Tony. She hadn’t seen or heard from him all weekend and assumed that he didn’t want to talk. At this point, she knew she had to accept that things weren’t going to get better between them. Things kept going wrong and it wasn’t worth the embarrassment. She just had to keep herself to herself.

Bren heard footsteps approaching from outside the kitchen and assumed it was probably Norman with the bread. She now had to prepare herself to talk to him and not be bored senseless. She was aware of the lights being turned on in the canteen and she turned. Tony then walked through the half door and Bren’s stomach dropped. This was not good at all. Bren hadn’t got her head straight. Why was he in so early and why was he holding a bouquet of daisies?

“Morning.” Tony tried a smile.

“Morning.” Bren replied. Oh this was so awkward. Could Norman show up now? She turned and walked towards the office, “Who are the flowers for? Jane?”

“No. They’re um, they’re for you.” Tony looked down at the bouquet. He cleared his throat as he stood up straight. He knew he had to be confident with this, “They’re for you.”

Bren turned slowly. She looked at him as he held the flowers. He smiled a small smile. Her heart started beating fast. She didn’t know what to do. Tony stepped forward.

“I wanted to apologise for Friday. What I said wasn’t fair at all. I was drunk and I know, it’s not a good enough excuse but my head wasn’t straight. I was still annoyed about the holiday because I wanted to go with you and I shouldn’t have taken that out on you. It wasn’t your fault what happened and I understand you had to help your mum, even if I don’t agree with it. I understand.” Tony apologised. Bren watched him, listening to every word he said. He looked at the flowers in his hand, “I know they’re not enough but I wanted to give you them. A peace offering. If you’ll have them. I never meant to hurt you, mate.”

Bren was quiet. She looked down at her hands, playing with her fingers. She looked up at him. Tony watched her every movement, hoping she would forgive him but he knew it wouldn’t be so easy.

“You really hurt me on Friday.” Bren said.

“I know.” Tony nodded, “I wanted to apologise through the weekend but you didn’t answer the phone. The only time I did get an answer was from that mad woman that lives in your block. She was shouting at me saying that I wasn’t Liberace and how dare I call her when she’s expecting a call from him. I also wanted to give you some time to cool down.”

Bren couldn’t help but chuckle. She crossed her arms as she laughed, her head bowed down. She looked at him then, her face softening.

“I appreciate you apologising.” Bren nodded.

“But you don’t forgive me?” Tony asked.

“I wasn’t going to say that.” Bren shook her head. She walked towards him, “I was going to say… I was going to say that I’ve thought about what you said and even though you did hurt me, I don’t think you’re a bad person. And I don’t blame you for thinking that.”

“But I don’t think that, Bren.” Tony tried. He rubbed his head, “I was still annoyed about you not coming on the holiday and the drink took over. I wanted to spend time with you properly but I knew that last week wasn’t the best way to go about it.”

“No, I don’t think so.” Bren shook her head. She looked up at him then with a small smile, “Tony, we’re both adults. We should forget about this.”

“Are you sure? I don’t want you to feel like you have to beca-.” Tony began but Bren hushed him when she stepped forward and pressed her finger over his lips.

“Tony, you are my closest friend. I don’t want to lose you because of this. It’s fine.” Bren smiled. She moved her hand away from his face, “Unless you do it again.”

The two chuckled. Tony looked down at the bouquet and handed them to her. Bren took them and smiled as she looked at them. She noticed the small card and took it out of the flowers. She read it to herself and giggled.

“To Bren, sorry for being a snot-brained halfwit, love Tony.” Bren read out loud. She laughed before looking at him, “Thanks. These are lovely. I love these.”

“I didn’t know which ones to get. I didn’t know if I had to get special ones for an apology or whatever.” Tony watched Bren looking at the flowers. She looked so beautiful and Tony wanted her to know how he felt. He could feel the nerves in himself building and decide it was now that he should tell her, “Bren, I-.”

“Morning.” Dolly walked in.

“Morning.” Jean followed after her. Her tone changed when she saw Bren and Tony standing together, “Oh, hello. You two alright?”

“Yeah, we’re fine, aren’t we?” Tony put his arm around Bren.

“Yeah, we are.” Bren nodded.

“That you two on good terms then?” Jean asked.

“Yeah.” Bren smiled.

“They’re nice flowers. Are they from you, Tony?” Dolly stepped forward.

“Yeah, they are.” Tony stood up straight, “What d’you think?”

“Very nice.” Dolly nodded.

“Yeah, very nice. Might put you in a good place, Casanova.” Jean winked, “Come on, Dolly.”

Bren and Tony chuckled as they watched Jean and Dolly head over to the office. Bren turned to Tony who was already looking at her.

“What were you going to say? Earlier, before Jean and Dolly came in.” Bren asked.

“Oh. Um,” Tony itched the back of his head. He could feel himself getting nervous. Bren would probably laugh if she knew that he was really bottling out of this, “I was just going to say that um, the girls were all in the huff with me on Friday night after you left. I’m surprised they aren’t still annoyed to be honest.”

“Oh right.” Bren said simply.

“You better put them in some water.” Tony pointed at Bren’s flowers, “I’m going for a fag.”

Bren just nodded. She looked at the flowers in her hand. She fiddled with them as she thought about everything. She knew that wasn’t what Tony was going to say. She wanted to know so badly. Bren knew it probably wasn’t going to be what she wanted to hear but it would have been nice.

“All in good time, Brenda.” She whispered to herself.

Chapter Text

Saturday 13th November 1999

- - -

Bren and Stan walked into the pub as they looked around for their friends. Jean waved them over and they headed over to sit with them. They sat in the corner of the busy bar, Jean and Dolly sitting next to each other whilst Twinkle sat at the head of the table and Anita sat opposite Jean. There was a space where Tony was sitting next to Anita but he wasn’t at the table. Bren and Stan smiled and headed over to them.

“Hiya.” Anita smiled.

“Hello, girls.” Stan greeted them.

“You alright?” Bren stood behind Jean and kissed her cheek, “Ooh what’re you drinking?”

“Peach schnapps and lemonade. Lisa gave me one when I was at hers the other day. Try it, it’s nice.” Jean handed her the glass.

“It is nice, Bren. Quite refreshing. It’d be lovely on a summer’s day.” Dolly told her as she watched Bren taking a sip of her drink.

“Mm, that is nice. Quite sweet, innit?” Bren smiled.

“You should get on the strong stuff, Jean. Get you rat arsed.” Twinkle told Jean as she took a sip of her bottle of beer.

“Thank you.” Dolly tutted.

“What you drinking, Twink?” Bren asked.

“Heineken.” Twinkle replied.

“You not drinking, Anita?” Bren asked as she took off her anorak.

“No, I’ve got the car. I’m taking Twinkle home tonight.” Anita replied.

“Oh well.” Bren smiled.

“Very wise, Anita.” Stan nodded, “I always find you need a few sober folk around when you go out with a big group.”

“Ooh, you look lovely, Bren. In a skirt.” Jean looked up at Bren. She noticed Tony walking over from the toilet and smirked, “Look who’s here, Tony. Eh, Bren looks nice, doesn’t she?”

Tony was just walking over to the toilet in his own thoughts when he heard Jean calling him over. He looked up and saw Bren standing behind Jean at the table. She was in a dark blue button up shirt that was untucked over her black pencil skirt. She wore black tights and had on black court heels on her feet. She smiled at him as he walked over and it seemed like the world stopped when he saw her. 

“Brenda Furlong, as I live and breathe.” Tony teased.

“Tony Martin. Imagine seeing you here.” Bren returned the tone.

“Hoping to pull with a skirt like that? You got your calor gas man here?” Tony raised a brow.

“No. Just wanted a change, thank you.” Bren rolled her eyes. She looked down at her legs, “I feel like Nobby Stiles in a skirt though.”

“Shut up, man.” Tony rolled his eyes. He looked over to Stan, “Alright, Stan? Listen, I was going up for another drink, what are you having?”

“Just a tonic water for me, Tony. Driving.” Stan smiled.

“Tonic water. Bren, what’re you wanting?” Tony asked.

“Oh I’ll come up with you. Let me put my anorak down.” Bren told him and walked over to put her anorak down on the seats next to Anita.

“Anyone else want anything?” Tony asked.

“No thanks, Tony. We’re alright here.” Jean smiled.

“Fair enough. Come on, Bren.” Tony sighed and him and Bren headed to the bar. They waited in the queue, “What’re you having then, Bren?”

“I think I’ll just have a glass of wine.” Bren looked in her purse for some change.

“White or red?” Tony asked. He noticed her rummaging through her purse, “I’ll buy it, Bren. I’m not having you buying any drinks.”

“Oh come on, Tony. Let me pay for it.”

“No way, I’m getting it. Put your purse away, no arguments.”

Bren just sighed and zipped up her purse as she giggled. Tony smirked as he watched her before raising a brow.

“White wine?” Tony asked.

“White. Thanks, Tony. I’ll pay you back.” Bren replied.

“You’ll do no such thing. Now put your purse away. You snot brained halfwit.” Tony smirked.

Bren giggled as she bowed her head down, her cheeks heating up slightly. Tony got to the front of the queue and started ordering their drinks. Bren stood next to him as she looked around the bar. She found herself catching the eye of a man standing at the bar near her. Around her age, not too bad looking but a bit scruffy. He was holding a pint in his hands as he watched her and Bren found herself feeling awkward. She just gave him a small smile to which he smiled back with a little wave.

“Here we go.” Tony said as he turned to Bren. He handed her the glass of white wine, “Let’s sit down.”

“Oh thanks Tony.” Bren smiled, relieved to be leaving the bar.

They headed back to the table. They all spoke and laughed, gossiping about various members of staff at HWD Components and discussed the many celebrities they usually did in the kitchen. There was the usual bickering from Dolly and Jean, Stan’s stories about his father being a desert rat and Anita’s ditziness. It was all in all a very good night. Bren and Tony spent a lot of their time talking to each other which caused a lot of looks to be exchanged over the table between the dinnerladies and Stan. Bren, after spending five minutes bickering with Tony, got up to get more drinks. 

Bren headed over to the bar and ordered her drinks as she waited. She bobbed along to the music playing, in her own world practically. She jumped slightly when there was a tap on her shoulder. This’ll be Tony wanting to buy the drinks. Not backing down. Typical.

“Alright?” It wasn’t Tony. It was the guy sitting at the bar who waved at her earlier. He held out his hand, “Kenny.”

“Oh. Um, Brenda.” Bren smiled as she went to shake his hand but she was surprised when he brought her hand to his mouth and kissed her knuckles.

“Brenda. Au chante.” Kenny smiled over her knuckles. Bren laughed nervously as she took her hand away, slyly wiping the back of her hand on her skirt. He leaned closer, the alcohol strong on his breath, “Waiting for your drinks?”

“Yep.” Bren nodded.

“Ya paid yet?”

“Not yet.”

“Bren still at the bar?” Dolly frowned.

“Must be.” Jean replied just as she was reapplying her lipstick in her compact mirror.

“She’s been ages.” Dolly sighed, “Tony, go and see if you can see her. You’ve got the best view.”

Tony looked around the pub. The bar seemed to get busier throughout the night and now it was very difficult to see who was at the front and who wasn’t. Tony sat up as he grazed over the people’s faces, looking for Bren’s. He did finally notice her and noticed she was talking to someone. Maybe an old friend she knew from around here. She did say the other day that she had been in this pub before. A couple moved from the crowd and now he had a clear view of Bren and who she was talking to. It was a man and he was getting very close to her. Tony watched the two talking and he couldn’t really read the conversation entirely. He could only see half of Bren’s face over the man’s shoulder. From here, it looked like quite a decent conversation. One that Bren was happy to have. That’s her pulled, Tony thought, great. That’s his chance for true love totally blown.

“She’s talking to some guy.” Tony tried to not sound too disappointed.

“Eh?” Stan frowned.

“Is she?” Dolly and the others turned except Jean who looked in her mirror, “Oh, he looks odd. Who is that?”

“Dunno.” Tony huffed which didn’t go unnoticed though no one mentioned it.

“One of us should go over. Just to make sure she’s alright.” Jean said, “I wouldn’t normally interrupt someone like that but he looks like a tramp.”

“I agree. Tony, you should go.” Anita turned to Tony.

“Why me? Stan could go too.” Tony frowned.

“I’ll go.” Twinkle shot up and headed over to Bren and Kenny. They all watched as she walked over to them, “You alright, Bren?”

“Oh, hi, Twink.” Bren smiled, relieved to see her and hoping they could get away soon. Why were their drinks taking so long? “These drinks are taking ages, sorry.”

“That’s alright. Who’s this?” Twinkle asked as she looked at the man. She didn’t hide her disdain at the man’s appearance at all.

“Kenny.” Kenny pushed forward as he held out his hand. Bren was now stuck between Kenny and the bar, his breath very strong near her face.

“Twinkle.” Twinkle replied with just a nod, “D’you know why these drinks are taking a while?”

“Busy night, int it? I know that. Here every Saturday, always the same.” Kenny nodded, “I was just telling lovely Brenda that. The service is usually worse for a prettier woman, they like to keep them waiting so they get more time with them.”

As he spoke, Bren felt Kenny’s hand moving down her back to her bottom. He patted it as he spoke to Twinkle, giving it a squeeze. Bren knew this was the last straw. Bren felt her fist clenching up and knew this was the only way to get him off her. Her fist crashed into his nose which made him back away instantly. Twinkle’s eyes widened when she watched Bren do what she did and a gasp rose in the pub. Everyone back at the table all watched with dropped jaws. Kenny was crouched over, holding his face in his hands.

“What was that for?” Twinkle asked when Bren moved next to her.

“He grabbed my arse. Ow.” Bren shook her now very red hand.

“Broke my nose. You’ve broken my nose!” Kenny stood up straight, blood rushing from his nose. His eyes seemed to have changed, anger all over them. His fists clenched up and Bren and Twinkle could see where this was going, “You bitch.”

Tony shot up from his seat as he watched Kenny’s fists clench up. Kenny swung for Bren but she managed to move out of the way. Twinkle grabbed the bottle he had been drinking out of and smashed it over his head which knocked him out.

“Right, you two! Out! Go on, hop it!” The barman shouted.

“You’re joking? Did you see what he did?” Bren stepped forward. Her blood was boiling. Tony grabbed Bren’s anorak and rushed over to her, “He grabbed my arse and you’re kicking us out?! It was self defence.”

“Yeah! You should be kicking him out, you stupid-.” Twinkle added when everyone from the table came over.

“Thank you!” Dolly told her as she grabbed her arm.

“Yeah, go on. Get out!” The barman told them, “Pair of slappers.”

“That’s it!” Bren shouted. She nearly climbed over the bar but Tony grabbed her, “Say it again! I’ll give you something to shout about.”

“Bren, come on.” Tony took her by the waist and guided her out of the pub as she shouted back at the barman, “It’s not worth it.”

“You’re an arsehole! And your pub’s a manky old dump!” Bren shouted over her shoulder as Tony kept a good grip of her.

“Let’s go, Bren.” Tony told her as they got outside, “Just leave it, mate. He’s clearly a regular. It’s not worth it.”

“What a joke! He grabbed my arse and we get kicked out. He was going to frigging attack me!” Bren exclaimed as they walked to the car park where Anita and Stan’s cars were, “Oh where’s me jacket?”

“I’ve got it. Everything’s in it.” Tony reassured her, “Purse, keys, licence to kill.”

“Give over.” Bren started to laugh, “I’m glad you got me out there when you did. I thought I was going to kill someone in there.”

“So did I. You really had me going there.” Tony sighed as he widened his eyes. He looked down to her and gave her a nudge, “At least I know who to hire if I need someone beat up.”

She looked up at him with a smile and it seemed like none of that just happened right now. It was just them. Bren was so happy to have Tony there with her. Though she was still angry, she felt instantly at ease with Tony and knew that he understood her anger. As they looked at each other, they noticed how close they really were to each other and Tony let go of her waist and they stepped away from each other slightly.

“You alright, Bren?” Jean asked as Anita went over to Bren and gave her a hug.

“I’m fine. My hand’s sore though.” Bren looked down at her right hand.

“You haven’t broke it, have you?” Dolly asked.

“No. It’s just sore. I can still move it.” Bren nodded, “You alright, Twinkle?”

“Oh yeah. That stuff happens all the time. Used to by it now.” Twinkle shrugged.

“I know. Thanks for that.” Bren smiled, “I really appreciate it.”

“What do you wanna do now? It’s only half seven. The night is still young.” Stan said.

“Could always go to the Midland Hotel. That’s not bad for a night out.” Tony suggested.

“Yeah, let’s go there. That’ll be good.” Jean nodded.

“Me and Bren can go in the car with Stan.” Tony said.

“Alright. Let’s go then.” Dolly nodded and they all got into the two cars and headed for the Midland Hotel.

When they got into the Midland Hotel, they ordered some drinks and sat down. Tony went up to the bar and got some ice for Bren’s hand. When he sat down, he wrapped the tea towel with the ice in it around her red knuckles.

“How’s that?” Tony asked as he held her hand gently.

“Nice. Thanks. You didn’t need to do this, Tony.” Bren shook her head.

“Shut up mate.” Tony chuckled, “Those knuckles will be red raw if you leave them.”

Bren chuckled as she looked over to Twinkle and Anita who were dancing together. She smiled as she watched them whilst Tony watched her. He felt bad for thinking what he did before he knew what happened with Bren and Kenny. He wished he could have gone up to make sure she was alright. Not so he could seem like ‘the knight in shining armour type’ but because he genuinely cared for her and as much as he wanted her to be with him, she was still his friend. 

“I’m sorry I didn’t help you earlier.” Tony said suddenly.

“Eh? No, Tony. Don’t apologise.” Bren shook her head, “It’s alright.”

“I just wish I could’ve done something. Save you getting a sore hand.” Tony gestured down to her hand.

“Well, there’s that I suppose.” Bren scoffed. She looked up at him, “It’s fine. I’m fine. You don’t need to worry about me.”

“I worry about you all the time.” Tony replied with a little smile.

Bren thought about that sentence. What did that mean? She knew she worried about him too but he didn’t think of her that way did he? She was the last woman he would want to be with. Why would he ever want to be with someone like her? She looked down at their hands, his warm hands contrasting against the ice on her knuckles. It was strange and comforting and perfect. 

“I, um-.” Bren began to say but was cut off.

“Oh, I love this song. Come on, Bren, come up for a dance.” Jean shot up from her seat at the other end of the table with Dolly.

“Oh, uh…” Bren looked at Tony who smiled at her.

“You go up.” Tony nodded.

“You sure?” Bren asked.

“Of course, mate. I got Stan here, don’t I? We’ll be fine.” Tony chuckled.

Bren smiled and gave him back the ice. He let her get past him and he watched her walking over to where everyone danced with Jean and Dolly. The three women joined Twinkle and Anita as they danced and laughed. Stan moved next to Tony, the two men sitting quietly as they sipped from their drinks and watched their friends dance.

“Having a good night then?” Stan asked.

“Yeah, I am. Even though Bren did get us kicked out, I’m having a very good night.” Tony nodded, “Yourself?”

“Yes, it’s been quite pleasant actually. To be honest, not really her fault though.” Stan shrugged.

“No, that’s true. She got him good. Brilliant right hook on her.” Tony chuckled, taking another sip from his pint.

“You’re right there.” Stan nodded with a laugh, “She’s great, our Bren.”

“Yeah she is.” Tony nodded, “Absolutely brilliant.”

“You got any further with her?”

“No, course not. Come on, Stan. You’d be better asking her out yourself.”

“You need to get it together with her, Tony. If neither of you make a move, nothing’ll happen.”

“Are you talking from experience? Bobbie the nurse?”

“Bren gave me a good shove to speak to Bobbie and look at me now. I’ve got a woman on the go and I couldn’t be happier. Could be the same for you and Bren.”

“Hmm, dunno, Stan. She’s not gonna go out with someone like me. She’s too good for me.”

“Tony, Bren is practically besotted with you. You may think she’s good at hiding it but she’s really not. And neither are you. You would be great for each other.”

“Maybe.” Tony shrugged. He continued to watch Bren as she danced. She was a little awkward as she danced but laughed with their friends. She was absolutely beautiful, “I guess I’m biding my time.”

Chapter Text

“Right, have we got everything?” Tony asked.

“Yeah. Everything in the basket.” Bren held up the basket she held. She turned around, “Where’s Amy?”

“Upstairs.” Tony shrugged. He called upstairs, “Amy? Come on, sweetheart. Mummy and daddy will leave without you.”

“No, no.” Amy rushed out of her room with her toy cat in one hand and a Barbie doll in the other, “I’m coming.”

“Who have we got coming with us?” Bren asked as Amy carefully made her way down the stairs.

“Cat!” Amy showed her mother the toy cat. She then showed her the Barbie doll, “Dolly!”

“Aww. That’ll be fun.” Bren smiled, “I bet they’re excited.”

“Shall we make a move?” Tony asked.

“Yeah, let’s go.” Bren nodded and walked to the door.

“Come on, kid.” Tony picked up Amy and walked through the door after Bren unlocked it.

Bren locked the door behind them and they all walked to the car. Once they got in, Tony started up the car and they were on their way. They drove into the car park for the local park they were going to. They got out of the car and headed over to a spot near the trees. The park was busy with different people also having picnics or walking their dogs. Tony put the blanket down whilst Bren started taking the food out of the basket. They sat down on the blanket.

“Right,” Bren went into the basket and took out the flask, “There’s juice in that.”

“Cheers, mate.” Tony smiled.

“Mummy?” Amy walked over to her.

“Yes, love?” Bren looked up to Amy.

“Sandwich.” Amy pointed at the basket.

“We’re just about to eat now, alright?” Bren told her, “Come sit next to daddy.”

Amy sat in between her parents. Bren went into the basket and took out the food they brought. She gave Amy a sandwich whilst Tony went into the basket for the other sandwiches. They ate quietly, watching all the different people going along with their daily lives.

“This is nice, int it, sweetheart?” Tony looked at Amy.

“Yeah! It’s sunny.” Amy grinned.

“It is sunny! You might get a tan.” Tony chuckled, “We’ll need to start sitting outside now summer’s in full swing, eh?”

“Can we have the pool?” Amy asked.

“Yeah, that’ll be fun, won’t it? We could do that tomorrow, eh mummy?” Tony looked at Bren.

“Yeah, that’ll be great. You can get out your swimsuit.” Bren gave Amy a gentle poke which made Amy laugh.

They finished their sandwiches and sat quietly as they watched people. Amy sat in Bren’s lap as Bren started making a daisy chain. Tony watched them  as he drank the cold orange juice and he smiled. They didn’t have to say anything to be content and content was exactly what he was in that moment. Watching Bren with their daughter was always the best feeling. 

“Flutterby!” Amy pointed when a butterfly flew past.

“Wow!” Bren giggled, “That’s a pretty one eh?”

“It’s orange.” Amy looked up at her with her big blue eyes full of wonder.

“It is. It’s a very pretty colour.” Bren giggled, “I wonder if we’ll see anymore. That was our first one today, eh?”

“Yeah.” Amy nodded with a smile.

Bren finished the daisy chain and put it on top of Amy’s head. She ran her fingers through her hair as it fell down her back. 

“You’ll need your hair trimmed soon, Amy.” Bren looked at her daughter’s hair.

“Not short.” Amy shook her head when she turned to Bren.

“No. Just a trim. Keep it all neat, eh?” Bren smiled.

As they sat, they noticed the ice cream van come into the park. Amy got very excited and begged her parents to let her get some ice cream to which they agreed. Tony stayed at their spot whilst Bren and Amy went to the ice cream van. When they came back, Amy rushed over to show her father her ice cream.

“Daddy, look!” Amy showed him her cone.

“Frigging heck! It’s bigger than you!” Tony laughed at the large ice cream cone, “Looks tasty though.” Bren handed him the little tub of ice cream she got for him, “Cheers, mate.”

“Mummy, another flutterby!” Amy pointed as she walked around the trees near them.

“I know.” Bren nodded, “Don’t wander off.”

“I won’t.” Amy replied.

“You look nice today.” Tony said softly as he looked at Bren standing in front of him. She wore denim dungarees and a white t-shirt underneath. Her hair had grown longer recently and her strawberry blonde curls were now just above her shoulders. She had clipped some of her hair back from her fresh face.

“Eh?” Bren looked down at her clothes, “Come on, Tony. I look like an overgrown toddler. It makes me think of those uniforms we got before we left Manchester.”

“Well, you’ll fit in with madam, won’t you?” Tony chuckled. Bren giggled as he stood up. He took her hand at her side, “I mean it though. You look great.”

Bren gave him a smile. She stood on her tiptoes, giving him a quick peck on the lips. Amy then came over and grinned when she saw her parents standing together.

“What are you saying?” Amy asked as she looked up at them.

“Oh, I’m just telling mummy that she looks lovely.” Tony smiled. He then went to pick up Amy, “And now I’m going to tell you that you look lovely too!”

They stayed at the park for a couple more hours before deciding to go home. They packed up their things and headed back to the car. Bren held Amy’s hand as they walked and Tony carried the basket. As they walked and talked, Tony’s foot caught a stick on the ground and tripped slightly.

“Oh!” Tony said as he lost his footing. He then stood up straight as Bren started to laugh. Tony rolled his eyes, “Shut up, you.”

“That was funny.” Bren giggled.

“Ha-bloody-ha.” Tony said sarcastically before putting his arm around Bren.

They reached the car and got in. They drove home and when they got out of the car, Tony went to get Amy out of the car. When he opened the door, he couldn’t help but chuckle. Amy was fast asleep.

“Bren?” Tony called Bren over, “Look.”

“Aww.” Bren giggled, “All that fresh air’s made her conk out.”

Tony laughed as he nodded. He unbuckled Amy from the car seat and picked her up. Bren locked the car behind him and they all headed inside.

Chapter Text

“Right, thank God that’s over.” Tony walked to the side when he and Bren were out of security, “D’you want to go for a coffee when we go through duty free? We’ve got a bit of time before boarding.”

“Yeah, that’d be good.” Bren smiled, “I don’t usually have coffee, it’ll make a change.”

Tony laughed and put his arm around Bren. They split up and looked through duty free, both buying presents for the other that they would save for tomorrow morning. When they met up, they headed to the café. They decided to get their coffees to go and walked to the gates. 

“We’ve got a bit of time, let’s sit.” Tony pointed to the seats at the gates. The two sat down. Tony watched Bren over his coffee as she looked around the airport, “You alright, mate?”

“Yeah.” Bren smiled as she looked at him. She held her coffee in her cold hands, “I’m a bit nervous for the plane. I dunno what it’ll be like.”

“You’ll be fine. It’s a bit bumpy going up but once you’re in the sky, you’ll be fine.” Tony smiled, “And you’ve got me. You can hold my hand as tight as you want. Just don’t break it.”

“I’ll try not to.” Bren giggled. She took a sip of her coffee, “Is the B&B nice?”

“Yeah, it’s quite small but nice. It’s cosy.” Tony nodded, “You’ll like it.”

“I’ve always wanted to go to Scotland. I almost went but Martin stopped at a pub in Carlisle and we ended up in a hospital because he got in a bottle fight and got a, not landscape, a laceration to his ear.” Bren explained.

“Frigging heck. I did wonder why his ear was a bit mangled the other night.” Tony sighed.

“That’s why.” Bren shrugged, “Still, doubt it would have been any fun. He probably would have got involved in another bottle fight up there.”

“Probably. He’d have both ears mangled then.” Tony raised a brow.

“Definitely.” Bren chuckled. She looked at him with a little smile on her lips, “I’m glad it’s you I’m going with instead of him.”

“Yeah. Me too.” Tony took her hand and gave it a squeeze.

The gates were now open and Bren and Tony got up to queue. They were in the middle of the queue, walking slowly as people were getting let on the plane.

“Don’t worry, Bren.” Tony squeezed her shoulder, “Once we’re in the air, we’ll be fine.”

“Can’t wait.” Bren smiled.

“You know, you’ll like Hamish. He’s quite funny. Grumpy like me.”

“I’ll definitely like him then.”

“Yeah. No, he’s quite welcoming though. Make you feel right at home.”

“Yeah. Tony?”

“Yeah?”

“Can I kiss you?”

“Eh?”

“Can I kiss you? Sorry, it’s a stupid question. Ignore me.” Bren shook her head, feeling her cheeks heating up.

“No, you can, I just don’t get why you’re asking.” Tony frowned.

“Well, I don’t want to just spring myself on you, y’know. We’ve only kissed once and I want to do it again. Properly. I ruined it last time.” Bren explained as she played with her fingers. She then looked at Tony, “Can I try again?”

“Yeah. Yeah, you can.” Tony chuckled. He put down his suitcase. He couldn’t be happier to kiss her right now. Even if they were in a queue to board a plane.

Bren stood on her tiptoes as she wrapped her arm around his neck. She pressed her lips against his, Tony bringing her close to him as he held her waist. The kiss started off gentle but slowly started to deepen. The kiss felt so right and even after what happened the last time they kissed, they felt so happy to be together and finally have some time to themselves. Time they could actually be together. They broke off the kiss then and looked at each other. Studying each other’s faces, they both smiled.

“Next.” The stewardess called.

Bren and Tony broke off their embrace, still holding their gaze. Tony took Bren’s hand and they walked to the boarding desk.

Chapter Text

Bren came out of the shower as she grabbed her towel. She dried herself off before moisturising her body and putting on deodorant before grabbing her white dressing gown. She tied her dressing gown tightly around her waist. She dried her hair with the towel before going to brush her teeth. She brushed her teeth tiredly, looking around the bathroom quietly. The door of the bathroom opened and Tony walked in. 

“Morning.” Bren smiled when she saw Tony come in from the mirror before spitting out her toothpaste and rinsing her mouth.

“Morning.” Tony came towards her, giving her bottom a light smack. Bren dried her mouth as she looked up to him, “You alright?”

“Yeah. Yeah, I’m okay. Are you?” Bren asked.

“Yeah. I had a lovely shower today, lovely mix of boiling and freezing.” Tony said sarcastically.

“Oh I know, we need to get that sorted.” Bren sighed, “What was that thing Stan was saying we needed? Not a floodlight, a…?”

“Flex hose.” Tony corrected her.

“Yes, flex hose. Thank you. Shall we go to B&Q today?” Bren asked.

“Nah, we can leave it for tomorrow eh? We’ve got two days off remember, we can do that tomorrow.” Tony replied.

“You still want a ‘hot ‘n’ cold’ shower tomorrow?” Bren teased.

“I’ll survive. Will you?” Tony leaned in.

“Oh I’ll try.” Bren giggled. The two kissed briefly before Bren cupped his face, “You jagged me. Your beard’s coming in.”

“That’s why I’m here,” Tony went into the cabinet to get his razor and shaving cream, “To get rid of it.”

“Why don’t you let it grow for once?” Bren said as she watched Tony turning on the sink.

“You saw that photo of me when I had a beard. You said you thought I look better without?”

“Well yeah but it would be a nice change for you.”

“We moved to Scotland over a year ago, that’s enough change for us.”

“Fair enough.” Bren giggled as she hit his chest. She looked up at him, “Do you want help?”

“Yeah, go for it. Don’t cut me though.” Tony turned to her, almost a full face of shaving cream.

“I’ll be gentle.” Bren’s eyes widened.

Bren started shaving Tony’s face. She was quiet as she concentrated, doing her best to be careful. Tony watched her as she shaved his face, trying to hold his laughter.

“Stop shaking.” Bren told him. She looked up, “What’s so funny?”

“Your face. You’re so focused.” Tony laughed.

“Of course I am, I don’t want to hurt you.” Bren sighed.

“Do you want a kiss?” Tony leaned forward with shaving cream still on his face.

“Tony, no. Tony!” Bren started to laugh.

“Come on, mate. Give me a kiss!” Tony tried to kiss her again.

“I’ve just had a shower! Stop!” Bren laughed, “I’m not done yet.”

“Okay, okay. I’ll let you finish.” Tony sighed. He watched her continue shaving his face, “Do you want to do anything today?”

“Do you?” Bren raised a brow.

“Nah. Let’s just have a lazy day.” Tony smiled.

“Okay.” Bren giggled. She finished shaving his face, “That’s you.”

“Look at that.” Tony looked in the mirror, “Like a newborn baby.”

“And not one cut or scratch.” Bren reminded him.

“You’re too good to me.” Tony grinned.

Bren laughed as Tony leaned in and gave her a quick peck. They smiled at each other as they looked at one another.

“Thanks, mate.” 

“You’re welcome.”

Tony rinsed his face and dried it before leaving the bathroom. Bren went to moisturise her face in the mirror before putting her moisturiser away. When she was finished in the bathroom, she turned off the light and walked into their bedroom. She shut the door behind her as she noticed Tony putting on his trousers over his boxers. Bren went into the chest of drawers to get her clothes as Tony stood up from the bed. He came up behind her as he wrapped his arms around her waist, burying his face into the crook of her neck.

“What is it?” Bren giggled.

“Nothing. Just wanna be with you.” Tony gave her a gentle squeeze.

“Good we’ve got a day off then, eh?” Bren giggled. She turned her head, “You trying to stop me from getting dressed?”

“Was I that transparent?” Tony asked.

“I know you inside out, don’t I?” Bren shrugged. Bren turned in his arms as she looked up at him, “You’re getting dressed.”

“I’m half dressed, mate. Come on, let’s get back into bed. Just watch the telly.” Tony brought her closer to him.

“You really want a lazy day, then? There was no need for you to shave.” Bren replied.

“Wanted to look the part to laze about.” Tony shrugged.

“You look great.” Bren giggled, “Will you let me dry my hair?”

“Oh alright.” Tony sighed, “I’ll do you a brew.”

“Thanks.” Bren smiled before planting a kiss on his lips.

Tony laughed before leaving the bedroom and heading downstairs. Bren put on her underwear underneath her dressing gown and started drying her hair in the mirror before turning the television on. She looked at their unmade bed and decided to make it. She plumped up the pillows and straightened up the sheets. Tony came back upstairs when she was making the bed with their tea and a plate with some toast on it.

“Thought you’d be hungry.” Tony shrugged.

“Thanks.” Bren smiled, looking down at the toast he made for her.

She sat down on the bed and started eating whilst Tony put down their teas and grabbed the remote. He flicked through some channels and they decided to watch some god awful episode of ‘Jerry Springer’. Once she finished her toast, Bren immediately cuddled into Tony’s side. Tony pulled her leg over his, stroking her smooth skin gently. 

“This is nice, eh?” Tony smiled down at her.

“Yeah, it is.” Bren gave him a squeeze.

They watched as people admitted to sleeping with their sister’s husbands and people fighting in their underwear. Bren and Tony laughed as they watched the show but were both in disbelief that it was actually a real show.

“This feels like a day at the canteen.” Tony said.

“Yeah.” Bren laughed, “When my mother was with Clint.”

“Oh flipping heck.” Tony rolled his eyes before laughing, “That was an interesting week.”

“It was.” Bren giggled.

“Maybe your mother isn’t dead and she’s actually going to be the sister who’s about to come out.” Tony teased.

“Shut up.” Bren scoffed. She looked up to him, “I’m not like her, am I?”

“Eh? No.” Tony shook his head with a frown. He looked back at the television, “You’re much worse.”

Bren gasped as she hit his chest playfully. Tony laughed as he flinched. He then took her hand as they laughed.

“You’re so much better than her. The best woman out there.” Tony smiled at her.

“You don’t mean that.” Bren shook her head.

“Of course I do. You’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I mean that. You’re my girl.” Tony squeezed her hand.

Bren said nothing as she leaned in and kissed him. They held each other close, kissing so gently. These were the moments they cherished the most. When it was just them together. They broke off their kiss, looking deep into each other’s eyes. Blue meeting blue.

“I love you.” Bren said softly.

“I love you too.” Tony replied.

Bren smiled as she cuddled back into him. Tony kissed her head, his hand going back to her bare leg draped over his body. They stayed close to each other as their attention went back to the television. These really were the moments that made those eight years worthwhile.

Chapter Text

Bren and Tony were woken to crying. Bren quickly sat up and rushed over to the cot in their room. She picked up the baby as she tried her best to hush her. Tony sat up as he watched Bren in the dim light trying to calm the baby down.

“D’you want any help?” Tony asked.

“No. I think she needs fed, I just need to calm her down.” Bren explained. She looked down at their baby girl, “There we go. No need to shout, eh? Tony?”

“Yeah?” Tony raised his head.

“Could you turn the lamp on? Just so I can see what I’m doing?” Bren asked.

“Of course.” Tony nodded. He turned on the lamp at his side. Bren sat down on the bed with the baby as she pulled her large t-shirt up so she could breastfeed the baby, “I still can’t get over how tiny she is.”

“I know.” Bren chuckled softly. She looked at him, “Have you got any more thoughts on her name yet?”

“What about… Whitney?” Tony asked.

“Whitney?”

“Yeah.”

“Is that because there was that Whitney Houston song on the radio earlier?”

“Yeah, it’s been stuck in my blithering head since. Thought it was a sign.”

“You’re getting very spiritual now that you’re a father.”

“Shut up, you lamebrain. Take it Whitney’s a no then?”

“No.” Bren nodded.

“What would we name her if we named her after the singer of the song stuck in your head then?” Tony asked.

“Sonia.” Bren sighed.

“You’re joking? Ginger one from Lancashire?” Tony asked.

“You could be talking about me there.” Bren chuckled, “But yeah. Her.”

“Flipping heck. We might need to listen to music by people with slightly more normal names.” Tony sighed as Bren laughed.

“Come on, Tony. We can’t name our daughter after a singer. I don’t think there is anyone I like enough in showbiz to name my child after them.” Bren explained. She looked down at the baby who was still feeding, “She has a look of someone. Like a name but I can’t think of it. I feel like it’s on the tip of my tongue.”

Tony looked over Bren’s shoulder to the baby. They were quiet for a moment.

“Ginger Spice?” Tony raised a brow.

“Give over.” Bren laughed, “Y’know we were lucky neither of us had listened to Madonna today, eh?”

“Or George Michael.” Tony scoffed which made Bren burst out into laughter.

The two laughed. Their laughter seemed to get louder but they were both disturbed by the baby starting to coo and stir against Bren’s chest.

“Oh, oh. Sorry, love. Are mummy and daddy too loud for you?” Bren asked, rubbing the baby’s back. 

“Sorry, sweetheart.” Tony smiled, stroking the baby’s head. He looked up at Bren, “Could call her Cher.”

“Shut up.” Bren shook her head. They were quiet for a minute before the baby stopped feeding. Bren sat her up and started to burp her. The doting parents looked at their daughter as she looked around the room, “What d’you think you should be called, darling?”

“Petula Gordeno.” Tony mocked Bren’s mother.

“Tony, shush.” Bren giggled, “Bloody baby Petula. That would be something.”

“People would think we’re mad.”

“We are. But not as mad to call our child that. Maybe you’re not mad, I definitely am.”

Tony chuckled, kissing her temple. The baby then started to stir in Bren’s arms again. Tony panicked, thinking his sudden movements disturbed her.

“Was that me? Was that my fault?” Tony asked.

“No, no. It’s alright.” Bren gave his arm a squeeze, “She’s tired. Come on, love. Time for bed. Say goodnight to daddy.” 

“Night, kid.” Tony kissed the baby’s head when Bren presented her to him.

Bren giggled before getting up to put the baby to sleep in the cot. Bren bent down to kiss her daughter goodnight and winced slightly when she stood back up.

“Are you alright?” Tony asked.

“Yeah, just my stitches. They’re still quite sore.” Bren replied as she crawled back into the bed.

“D’you want me to get that bag of peas?” Tony asked.

“No ta.” Bren chuckled, “They’ll defrost by the time I’m done with them. We’d need to cook them tomorrow.”

“True.” Tony nodded, “You sure you’re alright though?”

“Yeah, just need to get comfy.” Bren replied as she lay back in their bed, “Having a baby isn’t for the faint hearted, is it?”

“No, it’s not. I’m glad you’re much more resilient than me.” Tony’s eyes widened. He then looked at her, “You sure you’re feeling alright?”

“I’m fine.” Bren giggled. She cupped his face, “Don’t worry about me. I’m okay. I’ve got you, don’t I? My knight in shining armour and all that.”

“I try my best.” Tony shrugged with a smile.

“I know.” Bren smiled. She sat up and gave him a quick peck on the lips, “Could you turn off the light?”

“Of course.” Tony nodded.

Tony rolled over and turned the light off. He then lay down and relaxed into his pillows. Bren cuddled into his arm and he smiled. Tony planted a kiss on her forehead before dozing off.

- - - 

Tony sat on the couch, keeping an eye on the baby who was asleep in the moses basket. He was aware of Bren pottering around the kitchen and turned when he heard her drop something.

“You alright?” Tony asked.

“Yeah.” Bren replied from the kitchen. It was quiet for a moment but Tony then heard a wince from the kitchen, “Ah.”

“Bren?” Tony called through. He looked at the baby again and when he was satisfied he was alright to leave her, Tony got up and headed through to the kitchen. He walked in and noticed Bren standing at the counter as she leaned against it. She swayed her hips slowly with her eyes shut. He walked over to her, “You need to sit down.”

“No, no. I’m alright.” Bren shook her head, “Pick up that teaspoon, will ya?”

Tony picked up the teaspoon she dropped and put it in the sink. He turned back to Bren and rubbed her lower back gently. She looked up at him then, tears bubbling in those big blue eyes. He gave her a sad smile.

“Those stitches are a bugger.” Bren started to laugh though she was close to tears.

“You should sit down. Take the weight off your bits.” Tony told her.

“You’ve got such a way with words.” Bren laughed, “Is she still asleep?”

“Yeah. Conked out.” Tony nodded.

“Okay. Let me finish these brews.” Bren turned but Tony stopped her.

“Don’t bother.”

“Eh?”

“I’ll do them, you need to sit down.”

“Tony, I need to move about.”

“You need to rest. You had a baby five days ago, you’re not running around this kitchen like you normally do. Go sit down.”

“I’m not gonna win this argument, am I?”

“No, you’re not.”

“Could you get me those peas? I might as well give my bits some relief, eh?”

“Yeah.” Tony nodded. He went into the freezer, “Which drawer are they in?”

“Bottom.” Bren replied. Tony grabbed the bag of frozen peas and gave them to her, “Thanks.”

“Anytime.” Tony gave her a smile, “Now you go sit down.”

Bren left the kitchen and Tony finished making their brews. He headed through to the living room where Bren was just about to sit down but he stopped her.

“Stop, stop.” Tony said.

“What is it?” Bren frowned.

“You should really be sitting on a cushion.” Tony started plumping up the cushions on the couch and making a little designated area.

“Tony, I don’t need a throne.” Bren frowned.

“It’s not a throne. I want you to be comfy, don’t I? You dozy cow.” Tony rolled his eyes. He then gave her a gentle nudge, “I could get you a throne if you want. Your ladyship.”

“Don’t bother, my liege. I’d rather sit here thanks.” Bren sat down slowly before positioning the bag of frozen peas in between her legs. Tony handed her mug to her, “Oh thank you.”

Tony sat down next to her and they were quiet as they sipped their brews. Since they had the baby, they hardly watched the television and were too focused on the baby. The only time they did watch the television was when they put the baby down for bed and that didn’t last long because they both would end up falling asleep. The couple both watched over their daughter before Tony turned back to Bren.

“You alright?” Tony asked.

“Yeah. Just these stitches, getting the best of me I think.” Bren shrugged.

“You’ve got the midwife coming tomorrow though. Hopefully that’ll be good.” Tony said.

“Yeah, you’re right. Just need to take it one step at a time.”

“Baby steps, mate.”

Bren and Tony both chuckled. Bren took a sip of her tea and tried to balance her mug on her bump but it wouldn’t stay.

“Is it not as hard anymore?” Tony asked.

“Nah. Not with her not in there. It’s all pudgy now, looks like raw crumpets.” Bren explained, “It’s weird not having her in my tummy. I feel like I should feel her kicking. I got so used to it.”

“I know.” Tony smiled, “We’ve got our girl now though, eh?”

“Yeah, we do.” Bren giggled, “We still need a name for her.”

The two were quiet for a moment as they thought of names.

“Catherine?”

“Hm.”

“Elizabeth?”

“Nah.”

“Mary?”

“Are you going through old queen names? Don’t say Victoria next.”

“That’s that off the list.”

“We could name her after someone.”

“We’re not naming her after Jean, Dolly, Anita or Twinkle. Or Philippa. Or Jane for that matter. No one from HWD Components.”

“No, not them. I mean family wise. Obviously not my mother but what about your mum?”

“You can’t have a baby called Lorraine, Bren.” Tony screwed up his face.

“No, we’re not calling her Lorraine. That would make me hungry anyway, I always think of quiche when I speak to your mum.” Bren sighed, “No, what’s your mum’s middle name?”

“Amy.” Tony replied.

“Amy?” Bren raised a brow.

“Yeah, that’s what I said. Amy.” Tony nodded. Almost on cue, there were farting sounds coming from the baby’s direction. The two looked over to the baby, “That wasn’t her, was it?”

“It was. It’s your turn now, dear.” Bren smiled.

“Oh great.” Tony said sarcastically and stood up. He picked the baby up and took her over to the nappy mat, “Come on then, let’s get this bum cleaned.”

Bren giggled as she watched him walk away with the baby. He was so good with her and Bren couldn’t be more grateful. She then took another sip of her tea as she thought about names. Amy? Not bad eh?

- - -

Bren was just drying her hair with her towel in her room. She looked in the mirror as she grabbed her hairbrush and combed her hair. When she was satisfied she was ready, Bren grabbed her towel and hung it over the radiator before heading downstairs. She walked slowly down the stairs as she yawned, being careful to not hurt herself with her stitches. She could hear Tony talking to the baby in the living room and she smiled. There was music playing in the living room as Tony spoke.

“This is the band I got for your mummy’s birthday. I say I got them, I didn’t buy them for her. I invited them and they played music for her. Not this song but other songs. He played ‘Happy Birthday’ and- oh, hello.” Tony turned when he heard Bren entering the room. He felt slightly embarrassed, being caught in the middle of his conversation, “You alright? How was your shower?”

“Yeah, it was good.” Bren nodded and crossed her arms.

“Are your bits better?” Tony asked as he pointed. He then realised what he said, “What I mean is-.”

“I know what you meant. And they’re fine. Getting there.” Bren walked over to him. She started to laugh, “Your favourite pub just needs rebuilding.”

Tony laughed, shaking his head. Bren looked up at him, wrapping her arms tighter around herself. The two looked at each other and smiled. 

“What you listening to this for?” Bren asked.

“Oh, I just wanted to show madam here the music. Tell her about her mum’s favourite brass band.” Tony shrugged. He looked down at the baby who blinked up at him, “Bit stupid really.”

“It’s not stupid. Not stupid at all.” Bren smiled. She cupped his face as he looked at her, “I think it’s lovely.”

They smile at each other. Bren stood on her tiptoes and gave him a peck on the lips. As they kissed, the baby started to squirm in Tony’s arms. They looked down to her and both started hushing her.

“Hey, hey. It’s alright.” Tony said softly.

“She needs a bath.” Bren stroked the baby’s cheek gently, “I’ll get the bath sorted.”

“D’you want me to do it? Save you filling it up?”

“No, it’s alright. You could give her a bath though if you want.”

“Are you sure? I’ve not done it before. I don’t want to hurt her or anything.”

“You’re not gonna hurt her, Tony. I can help you, come on.”

Tony smiled and the two headed through to the kitchen. Bren started filling the baby bath with water. She rolled up her sleeves as she dipped her elbow in to check the temperature.

“Right, that should be alright. Let’s get her out of the grows and then you can put her in.” Bren took the baby from him, “Can you get her towel?”

“Yeah.” Tony rushed to grab the towel from the radiator. Bren put the baby into the bath once she was out of her clothes.

“You ready?” Bren asked as she let Tony step closer to the bath.

“Yeah.” Tony nodded.

“Make sure she’s upright. And keep her head up.” Bren pointed.

“Okay.” Tony nodded again. He supported the baby in the bath. Tony’s heart beat fast in his chest, not wanting to hurt the baby in any way, “What do I do now?”

“Just pour some water on her.” Bren said. She watched as Tony poured the water on the baby’s body, “That’s it. Some more.”

“Do I need the cloth now?” Tony asked.

“Yeah.” Bren took the cloth and gave it to him, “Just give her a wipe down.”

“This is quite stressful.” Tony took a deep breath.

“You’re doing great.” Bren rubbed his back.

Tony gave her a smile. He continued to bathe her as they smiled and talked to the baby. The baby cooed softly and looked at them curiously with her big blue eyes. 

When they were done, Tony took the baby out of the bath and wrapped her up in the towel. He dried her and kept her warm. Bren started emptying the bath.

“Cosy and clean, eh?” Tony smiled.

“Are you feeling better?” Bren asked.

“Yeah. I just thought I wasn’t going to do it properly.” Tony turned to her, “I didn’t want to hurt her.”

“You would never hurt her.” Bren shook her head, “You don’t know how gentle you really are with her. You’re so good with her.”

“Not too rough?” Tony raised a brow.

“No.” Bren giggled. She walked over to him and looked down to the baby. She was fast asleep and she smiled, “Her first bath with daddy’s clearly tired her out.”

Tony looked down to the baby as she slept and chuckled. She looked so peaceful in his arms and it would be such a shame to wake her.

“Shall I let her sleep? I don’t want her to get a cold.” Tony frowned.

“She needs her nappy. Let’s take her through.” Bren said and then headed through to the living room.

Tony insisted that Bren sit down and leave him to it. She sat on the couch and watched over the back of the couch as Tony sorted the baby out. He talked quietly to her as he changed her nappy and got her into warm clothes. Bren smiled to herself. There was something so relaxing about watching him with their baby and knowing he cared so much about her. It was the best feeling in the world.

“Right, you have a little sleep here, sweetheart. Alright?” Tony lay the baby down gently in the moses basket. He then joined Bren on the couch as he sighed, “That’s me knackered already.”

Bren laughed. She moved closer to him as she wrapped her arm around his neck and kissed his cheek. Tony looked at her as they both grinned at each other. It was the moments like this that made those eight years of fancying each other and being too scared to say something so worth it.

- - -

Bren paced the living room as the baby cried in her arms. Bren tried to soothe her the best she could, gently bouncing her as she cuddled her. Her and Tony had both tried everything they could think of to stop the baby crying but nothing was working. They had no idea what was wrong and were getting very worried. 

Bren turned when she heard Tony rushing down the stairs. He walked in with the baby book Anita sent up for them. He was flicking through the pages as he walked over.

“Where was it?” Bren asked.

“In the cupboard in our room.” Tony replied. He got to the right page, “Here. Have you tried feeding her again?”

“Yes.” Bren nodded.

“What about some music?” Tony asked.

“Yes.” Bren started to get agitated, “We went from Mozart to ‘Agadoo’.”

“Okay, right. What about leaving her to sleep?” Tony suggested.

“Tony, we’ve tried everything. Doing them again won’t make it any different, d’you know what I mean?” Bren snapped. She was close to tears herself as she tried to soothe the baby, “What if she’s got… what’s it called? Not computer, colic.”

“She won’t have colic, mate. She’ll be fine.” Tony tried to reassure Bren. Their daughter’s cries grew louder and he could see that Bren was getting very stressed now, “I’ll take her, give you a break.”

“No, it’s fine.” Bren shook her head, “Maybe we should call your mum. She must know something we could do.”

“I’ll call her the now.” Tony nodded. He rushed through to the hall to grab the landline phone. He dialled the number and walked into the living room. He watched Bren as she continued to pace the room with the baby and he felt so helpless not being able to do anything, “Mum?”

“Hello. I thought you were going to call before tea time.” Lorraine said down the phone.

“We’ve got a bit of a situation going on here. The baby won’t stop crying.” Tony told her.

“I can hear her. Have you tried leaving her to sleep for a bit?” Lorraine asked.

“Yes, we’ve tried everything. Is there anything you know that could stop her?” Tony asked.

“Get Bren on the phone. And tell her to sit down.” Lorraine told her son.

“Bren? Sit down, mum wants to talk to you.” Tony walked over to her.

“I can’t talk, Tony. My hands are full.” Bren turned to him.

“You hold the phone for her, Tony. It’d be better if I explained it to her. You’re terrible with repeating instructions.” Lorraine added.

“Oh ta very much.” Tony sighed as he watched Bren sit down with the baby. He walked over to her, “Putting you onto Bren now.”

“Hello?” Bren said when Tony held the phone to her ear.

“Hiya, love. Oh, listen to her. Right, cross her arms over her chest.” Lorraine told Bren, careful to make herself heard over the baby’s cries. Bren crossed her daughter’s arms, “You done that?”

“Yep.” Bren nodded.

“Now hold her bum and have her face away from you.” Lorraine told her.

Bren did this and immediately, the baby stopped. Bren and Tony both sighed sighs of relief. Lorraine could feel the relief down the phone and smiled to herself.

“That’s her stopped. Oh thank you so much, Lorraine.” Bren laughed.

“Oh it’s alright. Y’know, if there’s anything you need, always give me a call. I used to do that with Tony and his sister when they were young.” Lorraine told her.

“I thought she’d never stop.”

“I know but she has. You’re both doing so well.”

“We’re trying. I’ll put you back into Tony.”

“Alright, love. Give the baby a kiss from me. I’ll speak to you later.”

“I will. I’ll speak to you later.”

Bren handed the phone to Tony and he spoke to his mother briefly. Bren got up from the couch when she noticed the baby started to get drowsy. She put her down in the moses basket and gave her a kiss on the head. Tony hung up the phone and headed back through to the living room.

“Mum’s sending up some clothes she got for her.” Tony smiled. He turned to Bren when she sat down, “You look knackered.”

“I feel it.” Bren nodded. Tony joined her on the couch and she immediately cuddled into him. He frowned as he looked down at her. Clearly something wrong, “I’m really sorry.”

“What for?” Tony asked.

“For getting angry with you.”

“Hey, it’s alright, mate. You were stressed. Don’t worry.”

“Still not fair to take it out on you. Not your fault she wouldn’t stop.”

“It wasn’t yours either.” Tony put his arm around her and kissed her head, “You should have a kip.”

“No, I’m alright.” Bren shook her head, “I’ve got washing to do.”

“Leave it. It can get done later.” Tony squeezed her shoulder.

Bren smiled at him as she rested her head on his chest. She listened to his heartbeat as her headache soothed. She looked over to the baby who was now fast asleep and she smiled. Tony moved his hand up to her head and started stroking her hair. Bren looked up at him.

“What’re you thinking about?” Tony asked.

“Maybe we should name her after your mum.” Bren said.

“Again, we can’t call a baby Lorraine.” Tony sighed.

“No. We can call her Amy. D’you think it’s stupid?” Bren asked.

“No, no.” Tony shook his head. He looked over to the baby, “Amy, eh? Amy Martin. It’s nice. It’s got a ring to it.”

“It does eh?” Bren giggled, “D’you think she should have a middle name?”

“Hmm.” Tony hummed, “How about… Brenda?”

Bren looked up at him and grinned. She cupped his face and gave him a quick peck before resting her head on his chest again. They both looked over to the baby and sighed.

“Amy Brenda Martin.” Tony said as he sighed, “That sounds about right.”

- - -

“One more set, you’re doing great.” Jane Fonda said on the television as she ran on the spot. Bren matched the running on the spot, pumping her arms like she was lifting weights, “Five, six, seven, eight. Change!”

Bren copied the workout as she began to move her legs in a zigzag motion with her arms moving with the opposite leg. She changed directions in the room. She noticed Tony walk into the living room as she panted. Tony leaned against the door as he watched her.

“Hiya.” Bren said, “You alright?”

“Yeah. Just had Amy doing tummy time.” Tony replied.

“Oh yeah? How was it?” Bren asked.

“Alright. She clearly hates it but she wasn’t so huffy today.” Tony crossed his arms. He watched as Bren started jogging on the spot and pressing her arms back and forth, “Frigging heck, Bren. How old is that video?”

“Oh I dunno. Probably twenty years old.” Bren replied as she started to get tired.

“Flipping heck. I can feel a perm growing looking at it.” Tony scoffed. He watched Bren as she stopped working out and bent over, her hands on her knees as she tried to catch her breath, “You alright?”

“Pass me that water, will ya?” Bren asked. Tony gave her the bottle of cold water and she took big gulps, “Bloody hell.”

“That you finished?” Tony asked.

“Mhm.”

“How was it?”

“Horrific. I’ve never clenched my buttocks so much in all my life. I better be like that Jennifer Lopez by the time I’m done this week.”

“Hmm, I think you look better than her anyway.”

Bren giggled. She walked over to him and kissed him on the cheek.

“I better go shower.” Bren sighed as she put down her water bottle.

“Want me to join you?” Tony asked.

“No, just had a baby remember? Not exactly ready for heavy goods coming back and forth.” Bren said as she left the living room.

“You’ve got such a way with words, Bren!” Tony rolled his eyes. He watched her going up the stairs and chuckled to himself. He then headed into the kitchen and put the kettle on.

Bren was soon out of the shower and got dressed into some comfy clothes. She then went into Amy’s room to see her awake in the cot.

“Hello, love. Hello.” Bren picked the baby up gently, “Did you have a good kip, hm? Tell me all about it.”

Bren walked down the stairs when the doorbell went. Amy stirred in Bren’s arms but thankfully, didn’t start crying.

“Tony! Can you get that?” Bren called.

“Just coming.” Tony shouted back. He rushed through the hall and unlocked the door. He opened it and there stood Anna and Morag bearing gifts for the baby, “Oh, hello.”

“Alright?” Anna grinned before nudging Morag, “Ooh check those dark circles, Morag? All work and no play?”

“Eh, no. Babies somehow keep you from having a goodnight’s sleep, it came to me as a shock too.” Tony crossed his arms.

“Let them in, Tony. It’s freezing.” Bren walked down the stairs.

“Yeah, let us in.” Morag teased.

“Oh alright.” Tony jokingly rolled his eyes and let the two in.

“Hiya.” Bren smiled at the younger women.

“Look at her.” Morag grinned when she stepped in, “Aww she’s lovely.”

“Yeah, proper wee stunner.” Anna smiled.

“Come on, let’s sit. Tony, make us a brew, eh?” Bren gave him a tap on her shoulder.

“Aye aye, matey.” Tony nodded.

Bren, Anna and Morag headed through to the living room and sat down. 

“You look really well, Bren.” Anna nodded.

“Yeah, you’re looking really flat. Have you been working out?” Morag asked.

“A bit. I just did a Jane Fonda before you got here but I had to stop. I was knackered.” Bren replied, “Thought I was gonna kiel over.”

“She can be tough. I remember my mum doing her workouts when I was still at home.” Morag nodded. The baby started to coo in Bren’s arms, “She’s so sweet.”

“She’s your double, Bren.” Anna nodded.

“D’you think? I think she’s the double of Tony.” Bren giggled, “D’you wanna hold her?”

“Yeah, please.” Morag smiled. Bren passed Amy to Morag and the two younger women were immediately all over the baby, “Oh look at her.”

Tony came into the living room with their brews. He put them down on the coffee table and sat on the couch armrest next to Bren. 

“You got a right wee corker there, eh Tony?” Morag chuckled.

“Thank you. I think so too.” Tony nodded.

“Dead braw.” Anna smiled, “Have you got a name for her yet?”

“Yeah, we do.” Bren grinned as she looked up at Tony.

“She’s called Amy. After my mum.” Tony added with a grin. He looked at Bren who took his hand and gave it a squeeze before kissing the back of it. Tony then moved his hand to her back and rubbed it, keeping her close to him. 

Chapter Text

“We can plug things in in Marbella.” Bren said, just as she was taking the money from Jane.

“Bren?” Philippa walked into the canteen, a worried look on her face. 

“Hang on,” Bren dismissed her before giving Jane her change, “I’ll bring the cash in a minute.”

“No rush.” Jane replied as she put her money away.

Just as Jane left the queue with Steve Greengrass following behind her, Philippa approached the half door with purpose. As Bren walked to her, she noticed the look on Philippa’s face. She wasn’t sure what to make of it.

“What’s up?” Bren asked with a smile.

“Bren, I don’t know how to tell you this.” Philippa said softly.

“Tell me what?” Bren frowned, “What is it? Has me mother called? She’s wanting me holiday money, int she?”

“No. But it is about your mother.” Philippa nodded.

There was a pause between the two women. Bren could not read the silence at all. Or the look on Philippa’s face. Her stomach started to turn.

“What’s happened?” Bren softened.

“Go on till a minute, Twink. Go on, Bren, give her the money.” Tony walked out of the office with Bren’s holiday money in the envelope but Bren didn’t turn.

“She’s died, Bren.” Philippa broke the news. 

Bren’s stomach dropped. She couldn’t have? Yeah, she blew up the caravan but she heard she was fine. It seemed like she was fine, especially after she sent Babs to tell her she had done it in the first place. Bren’s head felt like it was spinning.

“Eh? Who’s dead?” Tony asked with a frown. Probably someone who worked in the factory.

“My mother.” Bren said softly as she turned her head to Tony but before he could look at her, she looked back at Philippa, “I didn’t even know she was in the hospital.”

“I just got the call there after calling to see if she was in the hospital. It must have just happened. I’m so sorry, Bren.” Philippa shook her head.

“You alright, mate?” Tony looked at Bren. He could see her face totally change. She looked so lost. Dolly, Anita and Twinkle now clocked onto what was happening near them.

“Yeah, I’m fine. I just need some air.” Bren nodded. She turned as she rushed to the fire exit, “Could you keep a hold of that money? Tell Jane I’ll be back in a minute.”

“What’s happened?” Anita asked.

“Yeah, Bren looked a right state.” Twinkle frowned.

“Her mother’s died.” Philippa told them. There was a gasp from the three women.

“Oh. That’s awful.” Dolly covered her mouth.

“Give me a second will ya? I need to see if she’s alright.” Tony stuffed the envelope into his pocket. 

“Of course.” Philippa nodded.

Tony rushed out to the fire exit. He was expecting to have to run after Bren but he found her instantly. Sitting on the steps on her own. He walked slowly to her and sat down. She was fiddling with her hat. Playing with a loose thread in the stitching. Tony sat down quietly next to her. They were both quiet for a second or two, just watching the cars drive by on the road next to the factory.

“I’ve always thought about this day, y’know? How I would feel when she was gone. When I was a kid, I thought I would get a new mum. A better one when she died. But that never happened. Not even when she was alive.” Bren broke the silence. Tony looked at her as she spoke. He didn’t dare say a word to interrupt, “I always expected it to be a happy day. Being free of her. She couldn’t hurt me anymore. No one could hurt me after she was gone. I’d be starting my life properly. But y’know something? Now that it’s happened, I feel empty. Like something’s been taken away from me. Something has been literally snatched out of me.” Bren looked at him. Her eyes started filling up. The lump in her throat was getting bigger and she didn’t know how long she could hold it back for, “I feel alone. I’m totally alone in this world.”

“You aren’t alone, Bren. You’ve got us.” Tony rested his hand on her shoulder. That was enough to break her. He watched as Bren closed her eyes and started to sob. The tears streamed down her face as she bowed her head. Tony wrapped his arm around her and brought her close, “Shh, shh, it’s okay. Hey, it’s alright. We love you so much, you aren’t alone. Look at me.” Tony cupped her cheek as he lifted her head. He wiped her tears with his thumb as she sniffled, “You will never be alone. I won’t let that happen.”

Bren just sniffled before looking up at him. She studied his face as he looked at her. His eyes were so kind and she felt safe with him. Bren had so much trust in him and things seemed to be on the up for them. Their relationship was moving closer to that end conclusion but this had put a spanner in the works. 

“Tony, I can’t go on that holiday. I have too much to sort out.” Bren shook her head.

“It’s alright. I get it, I do.” Tony rubbed her shoulder, “Take as much time as you need.”

Bren nodded as she bowed her head again, playing with her fingers. She then sniffled again, wiping her eyes with her fingers as she stood up.

“I better get back to work.” Bren sighed.

“Are you sure? D’you not maybe want to go home earlier? It’d be alright, I’ll even take you home.” Tony stood too.

“No, no. I just need to get back to work. If I work, I’ll be okay. Look at me, I’m fine. Can’t have another staff member be off eh?” Bren shrugged.

“Bren, it’s alright.” Tony walked towards her, “We’ll be alright. We just want you to be okay.”

Bren softened then. She knew he was right. She needed to go home. She couldn’t focus on work now. Bren needed time to figure out what she had to do and she needed to process the loss of her mother.

“Okay.” Bren nodded, “Just let me get my stuff.”

“Of course.” Tony gave her a little smile.

- - -

Bren had decided to take a couple weeks off work, mostly because Tony pushed for her to do it. She was grateful he had, she was able to get her head down and focus on what needed to be done. Slowly but surely she was feeling more like herself. It was strange not having to worry about her mother but she felt more sure of herself. More free.

Tony checked in on her everyday. Whether he was calling or visiting. Mostly visiting because that mad woman downstairs kept cutting the line to the phone.

Bren waited at the door after buzzing Tony in. She looked down at her feet as she waited, her arms crossed to keep her warm in the cold stair. She perked up when she heard the footsteps coming closer. Tony smiled when he saw her.

“Hiya.” She smiled.

“You alright?” Tony asked as he approached.

“Yeah, yeah I’m okay.” Bren sighed with a smile, “You?”

“Oh I’m alright. The girls driving me around the bend as per usual.” Tony shrugged.

“Nothing’s changed then.” Bren giggled.

“Nope. Nothing at all.” Tony sighed, “Can I come in?”

“Yeah, sorry. I had you standing out here like a spare prick, duh.” Bren rolled her eyes. Tony just laughed as she stepped aside to let him in, “D’you want a brew?”

“Yeah. Tea please.” Tony took off his jacket.

Bren made their teas and the two sat on her couch quietly. The radio played in the kitchen and it was peaceful as the two sat.

“I got the funeral booked today.” Bren explained.

“You did? That’s good. What day is it?” Tony asked.

“Two weeks tomorrow at eleven. Bit late but it’s alright.” Bren shrugged.

“Oh well. Not too much of a wait. I’ll let the girls know. Dolly will want to let Jean know too.” 

“Will she be up to it? A funeral I mean.”

“She sounded a lot better in that letter she sent Dolly. Stan should know too.”

“Oh yeah of course. I doubt he’ll come.”

”You and Stan are good mates. He’ll want to be there. If they both don’t come, they don’t come.”

“True.” Bren sighed, “Nevermind all that. What about the holiday? You all packed? It’s Friday night you’re going away, eh?”

“I’m not going.” Tony said softly.

Bren looked at him as she frowned. Why wasn’t he going? Surely he was winding her up. It was all he could talk about. Especially when she was able to go. He never stopped talking about it. ‘Tony and Bren in Marbella’ this and ‘Are you getting a bikini, Bren?’ that.

“What d’you mean you’re not going?” Bren asked.

“I’m not going.” Tony shrugged.

“Has something happened?” Bren sat forward.

“No, I just don’t want to go anymore. Not with all this going on.” Tony replied.

“What d’you mean all this going on?”

“Well, your mum passing and that. I wanna be here for you.”

“No, Tony, you should go! You deserve that holiday, it’s all you’ve been talking about.”

“You deserve it too! I only wanted to go because you were going. I’d rather stay, make sure you’re alright.”

“Well, I appreciate it though I really wish you would go!” Bren’s eyes widened, “You don’t have to be nice, y’know?”

“I’m not being nice. It’s not my thing, nice. I just care about you.” Tony shrugged.

Bren smiled at him over her mug before taking a sip. She would be lying if she said that she didn’t appreciate Tony doing all this for her. Bren did feel bad that he was missing his holiday but it seemed like he didn’t mind. She hoped he didn’t anyway.

- - -

The funeral was small, quiet. It was held at a church near the factory and was full of Petula’s strange friends. The stories told, Bren wasn’t sure they were totally true. The dinnerladies, Tony, Stan and Philippa were all there too to be there for Bren. Even Jean had come home from Peggy’s to be there. After that, they went to a local golf club for the wake.

“Where’s Bren?” Tony asked as he walked back from the toilet to the table.

“Eh? Oh, I dunno.” Stan shrugged.

“Maybe she’s at the toilet.” Jean took a sip of her tea.

“No, she took her coat but left her bag.” Dolly shook her head.

“I saw her outside.” Anita told him.

“Right.” Tony nodded.

He left the hall and walked outside. Sure enough, there she was. Bren stood at the small wall, leaning against it as she watched the world go by. Her arms were crossed as she wore a black short sleeved dress that went down to just below her knees. She wore black heels on her feet with a black coat over her dress. Tony smiled to himself when he saw her. He came down the steps as she turned.

“You’re not smoking, are you?” Tony asked.

“No. Just needed some air.” Bren smiled, “Are you?”

“Nah. I wanted to see where you were. Thought you made a run for it.” Tony stood next to her, his hands in his pockets.

“No. Not yet.” Bren giggled as she stood straight, “Am I missing anything?”

“Nah. Just the same as when you came outside.” Tony replied. They were quiet for a second. Tony shuffled in his shoes before looking at Bren, “How are you doing?”

“I’m good. Yeah, I’m… fine.” Bren softened. She then looked at her feet, “It’s weird. I dunno what to say really.”

“You don’t need to say anything. I get it.” Tony nodded, “You’re doing really well.”

Bren just smiled. Tony watched her as she looked over the grass. She sighed softly, wrapping her arms around herself tighter.

“It’s cold. You should go inside.” Tony said.

“I’m fine.” Bren shrugged, “It’s a nice day.”

“Shouldn’t be cold though. It’s summer.” Tony scrunched up his face.

“It’s Manchester.” Bren looked at him.

“Fair enough.” Tony nodded.

The two were quiet again. They looked over the grass as a soft breeze hit them. Bren started playing with her fingers as she bowed her head.

“Today’s really made me realise that I’m on my own. I don’t have anyone. Not really.” Bren said softly. Tony looked at her and could see her eyes glossing over. 

“You do.” Tony replied, “You have so many people who care about you, mate.”

“No.” Bren shook her head as she sniffled but she bit back the tears, “Not like a family. Not like a husband. I’m completely on my own and I-.”

Tony stepped forward as he cupped her face and kissed her on the lips. Bren couldn’t believe he did it. Her heart was beating so fast as they kissed. Bren felt the tears begin to roll down her cheeks as they kissed but she didn’t care. This was the thing she wanted the most for so long and after these past few weeks, Tony had been so good to her. How could she not fall for him more?

The dinnerladies, Stan and Philippa decided it was time to leave. They had no idea where Bren and Tony were so they grabbed their things and headed outside. They all chatted as they headed to the main entrance.

“Oh there’s Bren and Tony there.” Philippa pointed as she approached the door.

“He’s probably having a fag.” Stan shrugged.

They stepped out as Bren and Tony talked. Bren was visibly upset and they all became worried. The group immediately went into caring mode but before they could envelope Bren into a group hug, Tony stepped forward and kissed her. The group watched in silence as the two kissed. Tony held Bren’s face as Bren’s hands slowly moved to his upper arms.

“You have me.” Tony said softly when they broke off their kiss.

“Well, well, well.” Jean crossed her arms. Bren and Tony slightly jumped when they heard her. They were even more surprised when they saw all their friends standing there on the steps. They stepped away from each other.

“You finally did it! Oh that’s so exciting!” Anita grinned.

“Yeah, that’s me won my twenty quid.” Twinkle laughed.

“Don’t embarrass them.” Dolly sighed. She walked down the steps to Bren and Tony with a smile on her face, “We’re going. We’ll leave you to it. I’m sure you have a lot to discuss.”

“Yes, a lot!” Jean winked as Anita handed Bren her handbag.

The group all left, saying their goodbyes to Bren and Tony as they headed towards their cars. Bren and Tony looked at each other when they were on their own and started to laugh.

“Y’know, when I did that, I did it because there was no one around. I didn’t think we were going to get an audience.” Tony sighed.

“I know.” Bren giggled before sniffling a little. She still smiled, “It was nice. Especially before they appeared.”

Tony laughed as he looked down at his feet. He looked back at her and noticed the tears on her face. He said nothing, just wiping the tears gently with his thumb. They smiled softly at one another as they moved closer. They kissed again. They held each other close, letting themselves get swept up in the moment. Bren moved her hand up to the base of his neck as Tony held her waist, their grip on each other growing tighter. They were interrupted again by a car horn tooting. They broke off their kiss as they stayed close and noticed Dolly’s car going past. Jean was tooting the horn from the passenger seat and Twinkle had the window down in the back.

“Agadoo doo-doo!” She sang out the window.

“Twinkle!” Dolly could be heard scolding her from the front.

Bren and Tony laughed as they drove away. When they were alone again, they looked at each other. Another soft breeze hit them. 

“It’s freezing out here.” Tony held Bren tighter.

“I feel warmer with you.” Bren smiled at him.

“Me too.” Tony put his arm around her back and cupped her cheek, “Is it right to say you look great at your mother’s funeral?”

“After kissing me, I think so.” Bren giggled.

“Fair enough.” Tony shrugged before laughing, “You look so beautiful.”

“You don’t look so bad yourself. In your suit.” Bren smiled, brushing some grit off his shoulder.

“Don’t expect it every day.” Tony told her. Bren giggled again, she looked at him, “D’you want to come back to mine? Or d’you want to go back to yours? Are you just wanting dropped off or…”

“I’ll come back to yours. Only been in your flat a couple of times. Better familiarise myself.” Bren shrugged.

Tony laughed as he ducked his head. He looked at her with a smile. She sniffled a little but she smiled up at him too.

“Y’know, she was absolutely loaded. Me mother.” Bren said softly.

“What?” Tony asked.

“Yeah. She had a friend that was in prison and got money after he died. I don’t really know the details. Anyway, it was in this massive bag of stuff they recovered from the caravan and there it was. It had to be around twenty or thirty packs of fifty pound notes.” Bren explained, “I dunno how much exactly. I haven’t counted it all yet.”

“Bloody hell, Bren!” Tony’s eyes widened, “What’re you gonna do?”

“I dunno. Haven’t really thought about it. I’ve not told anyone yet, just you. I might give some of it to the girls and Stan. I don’t really need all that money.” Bren shrugged.

“You have to do something with it, Bren! Could start again properly.” Tony said.

“I guess. I could give you some too.” Bren suggested.

“I don’t want your money, mate! I just want you.” Tony sighed.

“You can have both if you like.” Bren shrugged.

“That sounds like an offer I can’t refuse.” Tony raised a brow.

The two laughed. They looked at each other again as their smiles softened. Tony then took Bren’s hand and gave it a squeeze.

“Shall we go?”

“Yeah. Let’s go.”

Chapter Text

“Hello everyone!” Philippa walked into the canteen, “Oh it looks so different without all the tables.”

“Clearing the tables altogether doesn’t happen very often. This better be a good enough excuse to do it.” Stan stacked the last set of chairs.

“Yeah and getting us in on a Saturday.” Jean sighed.

“I promise it’ll be fun.” Philippa grinned, “We used to do this all the time at my old work. Is everybody here?”

“Twinkle’s just in the toilet. Being sick.” Dolly tutted.

“What?! What’s wrong with her?” Philippa asked.

“Come on, Philippa. It’s a Saturday, what else could be wrong with her? She’s hungover.” Tony sighed.

“And where’s Bren?” Philippa asked, already feeling like her little ceilidh had turned into a disaster.  

“In the toilet with her. Holding her hair back.” Jean replied.

“Oh no. This is already turning into a complete disaster.” Philippa held her head, her breathing growing quick.

“Sorry, sorry.” Bren rushed in, Twinkle following behind her, “We’re here now. Don’t need to worry about us.”

“Oh good.” Philippa sighed.

“Alright, Twink?” Tony asked.

“Yeah.” Twinkle nodded tiredly.

“She just swallowed hard a few times. Thankfully vomit is a no show.” Bren whispered to Tony, “Oh, hold on.”

“What now?” Dolly asked.

Bren ran into the kitchen before returning with a basin. She showed it to Twinkle.

“Just in case. All the spinning might make your stomach go funny.” Bren smiled before putting it down on the floor.

“Cheers, Bren.” Twinkle smiled.

“Is that us ready?” Philippa asked, “Oh it’s so strange seeing everyone in normal clothes.”

“We’re always in normal clothes.” Anita frowned.

“Yes I know but as opposed to your tabards and overalls.” Philippa shrugged.

“Oh. I thought you meant we wore strange clothes.” Anita relaxed.

“Anyway. Thank you all for coming. Now, today we are going to be doing Scottish country dancing. This will help bring us all closer as a team.” Philippa smiled.

“We’re close enough, thank you very much.” Dolly sighed.

“Yes I know you’re very close as friends but this is helpful for us as a team.” Philippa clasped her hands together, “Now we’ll do three dances, depending on the time. We’ll start with the ‘Gay Gordons’, fairly simple and-.”

“‘Gay Gordons’?” Anita frowned.

“Gordon isn’t gay.” Twinkle shook her head.

“What?” Philippa asked.

“Gordon from packing. He’s not gay.” Twinkle crossed her arms.

“It’s the name of the dance, you dingbat.” Tony sighed. 

“Weird name for a dance.” Anita scrunched up her face.

“It’s Scottish.” Dolly shrugged.

“Yes, anyway. So we’ll start with the ‘Gay Gordons’ and um, Stan, would you help me demonstrate?” Philippa turned to Stan.

“I can.” Stan stepped forward.

“Right, so the woman goes on the inside and the man stays on the outside. The woman’s right hand goes out to hold the man’s right hand and the man puts his left arm around the woman and she’ll take his hand.” Philippa explained as she demonstrated with Stan, “So you’ll be stood like this. You’ll then go forward for four, turn around whilst still holding hands again and then switch positions and go back for four.” Philippa turned around with Stan, “We’ll then spin, spin, spin. Polka and pass onto the next person. Of course we’ll do some practice runs before passing onto the next person. Shall we all get a partner then?”

“There’s not enough men for us.” Dolly pointed out.

“Oh that’s fine. We can still do it. Just some women be men.” Philippa shrugged.

Anita and Twinkle grabbed each other’s arms quickly, deciding that they were partners straightaway. Dolly and Jean decided to go together but were too busy bickering about who should be the man. Bren and Tony looked at each other.

“I guess we’re together, mate.” Tony smiled.

“I guess we are.” Bren giggled.

“Why should I be the man?” Jean crossed her arms.

“Because you are taller and wider. I am a lot more feminine than you.” Dolly turned up her nose.

“Now that’s a load of-!” Jean’s voice raised but before she could put the final nail in her coffin, Philippa interrupted her.

“Dolly, Jean? Are we alright?” Philippa asked.

“Jean should be the man. She’s taller.” Dolly turned.

“Why don’t you take it in turns?” Philippa asked, “We won’t be doing this dance the whole time.”

“See, Doll? Doesn’t that feel reasonable?” Jean turned.

“Hmm.” Dolly sighed.

“Right, let’s get the music on. We need to be in a big circle.” Philippa turned on the music as everybody positioned themselves. The bagpipes started to play, “Ready everybody?”

“Yes!”

The music started to play and they all started dancing. Philippa shouted out instructions as they danced. Dolly and Jean kept getting confused with the steps and behind Bren and Tony, Anita and Twinkle were in hysterics. Philippa and Stan were taking it quite seriously on the other hand.

“How am I going to tell people about my Saturday?” Tony asked.

“You could say you went to Scotland for the day.” Bren smiled up at him.

“Yeah, spent the day dancing with a ‘bonnie wee lassie’.” Tony replied, doing a Scottish accent to make Bren laugh.

“Shut up.” Bren giggled, “Oh, we have to spin.”

They all spun their partners before doing the ‘polka’ as Philippa continued to bark instructions. They then stopped as Philippa checked on them.

“How was that? Has everyone got it?” Philippa asked.

“Give me a minute.” Jean panted. She bent over slightly as she tried to catch her breath.

“See? You should have been the man. I’m more fit!” Dolly told her.

“I don’t feel great.” Twinkle held her stomach. She then started retching, her eyes widening. She rushed over to the basin Bren brought and started vomiting.

“I’ll hold your hair!” Anita rushed over to her.

“Oh no.” Philippa sighed, “It was going so well! This is a disaster.”

“I better get me mop and bucket.” Stan nodded and disappeared to the kitchen.

“You’re riding for a big thump, Dolly Bellfield.” Jean huffed.

“It’s not my fault you were punished with wide hips. You should have been nicer in a past life.” Dolly replied with a smile.

“Could we just get back to this? We could still save the exercise.” Philippa sighed before turning to Bren and Tony for solace but she stopped. They were quietly talking as they tried to figure out the dance they had just done. They mostly just did the turning but they were so close to each other, it felt so intimate just watching them dance. 

“It’s back, two, three, four. Forward, two, three, four.” Tony said, “And then turn.”

“Ah okay, okay. I think I’ve got it. Let’s do it again.” Bren said. They started to count together, “Forward, two, three, four. Back, two, three, four. Turn.” They turned but Bren turned the other way.

“Bren!” Tony playfully scolded as Bren started to laugh, “You have to hold my hands as we turn.”

“I don’t know why I’m getting so confused.” Bren laughed. She took his hands again, “Let’s do the turn again.”

“It’s this way.” Tony showed her as they turned slowly, still holding hands, “See?”

“Yeah, I’ve got it.” Bren nodded as she looked up at him. He gave her a smile as he squeezed her hands, “D’you wanna turn again?”

“Why not!” Tony smiled.

They turned once more but they felt their arms getting tangled up and they started to laugh. They started to calm down and took each other’s hands again, going to turn once more. Bren and Tony both tried to stop laughing, taking a moment to breathe before turning again. When they did turn, they found everyone looking at them. Bren and Tony both frowned.

“What’s wrong?” Tony asked, “What?”

“Nothing’s wrong.” Jean shrugged as she crossed her arms, “Just watching you two. You seem to have that dance down then?”

“We need to practice.” Tony replied, “Me and Bren are good students, aren’t we, mate?”

“Absolutely.” Bren nodded.

“Definitely more than that.” Twinkle said under her breath as she stood up straight.

“Listen, why don’t we go for breakfast? That café in town’s finally open. We’re obviously not gonna get anymore dancing done, are we?” Bren suggested.

“Alright. I need a good breakfast now after that.” Twinkle agreed and left the canteen.

“Y’know, I am feeling quite peckish. I’ll get the car heated up.” Stan said and went into his pocket for his car keys.

“Oh I’m sure I can call Bob and say we’ll be a bit longer.” Dolly shrugged and followed after Twinkle with Jean and Anita.

“I guess we could do this another time.” Philippa nodded as she walked to the half door. She then turned to Bren and Tony, “You two are naturals.”

Bren and Tony watched as Philippa walked away and they looked at each other with surprised looks. They then realised how close they actually stood and that they were in fact still holding hands. They dropped hands and stepped away from each other shyly. Tony went to turn off the lights in the canteen before going into the kitchen with Bren to get their coats.

“You were quite good at that. Have you done Scottish dancing before?” Bren asked as she put her anorak on.

“Once or twice.” Tony shrugged, “I have friends in Scotland. They like a ceilidh.”

“Didn’t know you had friends in Scotland.” Bren raised her brows.

“Yeah. Got their own B&B. You’d like it up there.” Tony smiled, “Maybe we could go up some time.”

“Yeah,” Bren nodded with a smile. She hoped her blushing cheeks didn’t give her away, “That’d be nice.”

“Are you two coming?” Twinkle shouted from outside, “You better not be doing it in there!”

“Twinkle.” Dolly could be heard scolding her.

Bren and Tony just laughed. They left the kitchen as Tony turned off the lights. He then rested a hand on Bren’s shoulder and she smiled up at him.

Chapter Text

“Shutters’ going up!” Tony shouted as Bren and Twinkle pushed the shutters up.

“Hi, Jane.” Bren smiled, “Twelve rounds of white?”

“Low-fat spread.” Jane winked.

“Jean, can you take the till please?” Bren asked as she rushed over to the toaster, “Got any plans for the weekend, Jane?”

“I’ve got a date.” Jane grinned.

“Oooh. What’s he like?” Bren asked, spreading the butter onto the toast quickly.

“I dunno, it’s a blind date. Tracy did a Cilla Black and had set me up with someone she knows from school.” Jane shrugged, “She did show me a photo actually. He’s a bit Hugh Laurie which I like but it looks like an old photo. Still, will be nice to get out.”

“What’s happening?” Tony asked as he walked up to the till.

“Jane’s got a date.” Bren grinned.

“A date, eh? He must be desperate.” Tony teased which made Bren laugh.

“Very funny.” Jane rolled her eyes, “No well wishes for me then, Tony?”

“Umm, I hope he makes a run for it when you start talking about your tropical fish.” Tony raised a brow, “Where are you meeting him?”

“The Midland Hotel.” Jane replied as she took the toast from Bren, “Thanks, Bren. I’m sure it will be lovely.”

“I bet. No sambuca shots now, they’re lethal in there, eh, Bren?” Tony said.

“Yeah, I woke up in there one morning after drinking sambuca and someone was hoovering around me.” Bren laughed.

“That’s nothing, Bren.” Twinkle butted in, “I had sambucas in there and then I ended up in their skip. That was the fifth one I had been in at the time.”

“How many have you been in altogether?” Jane frowned as she paid Jean for the toast.

“Eight.” Twinkle replied.

“You shouldn't be surprised by anything Twinkle says at this point, Jane.” Jean shrugged as she gave Jane her change.

“Tony? Tony?” Philippa called as she rushed into the canteen. She nearly bumped into Jane, “Oh, sorry.”

“Alright, Philippa? What do I owe this pleasure?” Tony asked.

“Oh.” Philippa giggled before looking at her folder nervously.

“Everything alright?” Tony asked.

“Yes, yes, sorry, yes.” Philippa nodded as she walked into the kitchen, “No, actually. I have to ask you something.”

“What’s up?” Tony frowned.

“Well, I need to ask all the girls as well actually.” Philippa said.

“What’s going on?” Anita turned.

“Make it quick, Phil, we do have faces to feed.” Tony crossed his arms.

“Right, well, we’ve got a few late orders in so we need to keep the factory open for longer tonight.” Philippa began.

“Oh no.” The dinnerladies and Tony groaned. Jean then said, “We can’t do another nightshift.”

“No, no. Not a nightshift. You’re just staying longer.” Philippa reassured them.

“How much longer?” Dolly raised a brow.

“We’ll probably be here until ten o’clock tonight.” Philippa replied. There were a few sighs amongst the dinnerladies and Tony, “You would be really helping us with this. You only have to do one hot meal after um, dinner.”

“That one meal is for four hundred people, y’know?” Twinkle crossed her arms.

“Yes, I know that.” Philippa nodded, “You would be helping us so much. Keeping the factory going.”

“Yeah, it’s no probs.” Bren shrugged.

“I’m sure we’ll manage eh? We did the last time.” Tony smiled.

“Does Stan know?” Jean asked.

“Yeah, I told him just before coming here.” Philippa explained.

“Right, that’s it sorted then. Are we all happy?” Tony asked, “Can we get back to work now? We do enough talking as it is.”

Philippa left and everyone got back to work. The day seemed to get busier as it went on. They all rushed around the kitchen to get ready for the later meals. That was an even madder rush to get meals out and it seemed they were never able to have a moment to relax. When it reached half nine, they were now just finishing meals and were clearing tables. Dolly put the boiler on and started making the brews for everyone. Bren was just clearing the table nearest to the half door when Anita came out and gave Bren her tea.

“Here you are.” Anita brought the tea through.

“Oh thanks, Anita.” Bren smiled, “Are you sitting down?”

“No, Twinkle was going to show me something in her Cosmopolitan. Something about knobs. I think her mum’s doing up the house.” Anita shrugged, “Do you want to come through?”

“No, no. I’m going to have a seat.” Bren smiled, “Thanks though.”

Anita gave her a smile and headed through to the kitchen. Bren sat down at the table with her tea. She unclipped her hat and put it down on the table before taking a sip as she sighed. It was nice to finally get the weight off her feet. It had been a very long day and finally being able to just sit and relax felt good. No one talking at her all the time. Some peace and quiet finally.

Bren took another sip of her tea. She turned when she felt a hand on her upper back. She looked up and saw it was Tony. 

“Hey.” Bren smiled as she put her mug down.

“You alright?” Tony asked.

“Yeah, I’m okay.” Bren nodded.

“You look tired.” Tony squeezed her shoulder.

“I’m okay. How are you?”

“Knackered. It’s been a long day.”

“It has.”

“You not talking to them? They’re having a good natter through there.”

“I just wanted to sit on my own for a bit.”

“You are knackered.” Tony chuckled, giving her a nudge as she laughed, “D’you want me to leave you on your own?”

“No, no. You can stay.” Bren giggled. She took his other hand at his side and gave it a squeeze, “Don’t worry.”

“I feel like I haven’t seen you all day, mate.” Tony squeezed her shoulder again.

“I know. I know.” Bren squeezed his hand before rubbing the back of his hand with her thumb, “It’s been busy, int it?”

“It has.” Tony nodded.

The two looked at one another for a second. They both relaxed as they gazed into each other’s eyes, feeling their tiredness setting in. Tony moved his hand from her back to the back of the chair and leaned down. He pressed his lips against hers, the two keeping close as they still held hands. The kiss wasn’t overly passionate but very loving and they almost forgot where they were. That was until Twinkle shouted at them.

“Oi!” Twinkle called from the kitchen, “Get a room!”

Bren and Tony broke off their kiss to look into the kitchen. The dinnerladies all watched them, Twinkle with her arms crossed as Dolly gave her a gentle swat on the arm whilst Jean and Anita wore grins on their faces. 

“Can’t even have peace with you lot.” Tony shook his head. Bren laughed as he looked at her. He smiled, “You alright?”

“Yeah. Sit with me.” Bren squeezed his hand.

Tony nodded. He let go of her hand and walked over to the chair next to her. He sat down next to her and immediately, Bren took his hand and cuddled into his arm, resting her head on his shoulder. Tony could tell she was tired and he knew they should make their way home but for now, he was okay to just sit with her. 

“That’s my girl.” He whispered into her hair, kissing her head.

Chapter Text

“Have you got everything?” Bren asked Anita as she checked she had everything in her anorak. Anita nodded, “Tony won’t be long. Innit weird? You see somebody everyday and then like suddenly, it all turns around, y’know what I mean?”

Tony walked into the kitchen as he tucked his shirt in. He noticed Bren standing at the toaster. He put his cigarettes in his pocket.

“There you are. I thought you packed me in for Stan.” Tony screwed up his face.

“Eh? No, of course not. Who told you that?” Bren frowned.

“Your mother, she wanted a light. She actually tried it on with me but I managed to get away in time.” Tony sighed. He couldn’t help but feel relieved that Bren hadn’t left with Stan.

“Oh frigging heck, she’s got you and Stan mixed up.” Bren rubbed her head.

“That explains her calling me Stan.” Tony widened his eyes. He looked at Bren, a smile forming on his lips, “Are you still on for coming home with me then?”

“Yeah.” Bren gave him a bashful smile. She could feel the butterflies filling her stomach but she noticed Anita sitting next to her. She cleared her throat as she stood up straight, “D’you mind if we drop Anita home in the taxi?”

“No, that’s fine.” Tony nodded, “I’ll go call it now.”

The fire exit door opened and Petula walked in. Bren’s stomach dropped when she walked in and she hoped she wasn’t looking for Tony. She wasn’t going to have her mother ruining her night, even if it was just a one-off with Tony.

“Where’s, oh what’s his name? Dark hair, camel suit?” Petula asked.

“Tony?” Bren raised a brow.

“No, that’s your one. The one I’m talking about was called Stan.” Petula nodded, “Yes, Stan. Have you seen him?”

“That’s not Stan, that’s Tony.” Bren corrected her.

“Oh.” Petula widened her eyes. She immediately knew she had done something wrong, “Will you excuse me? I man a helpline at midnight.”

Bren rolled her eyes as Petula disappeared. Tony came out of the office.

“That’s the taxi on the way.” Tony said, “You alright, Anita?”

“Yeah.” Anita nodded tiredly.

“You should go straight to bed when you get in.” Bren told her, “You’ll be knackered when you get in.”

“Yeah. Are you two going home together then?” Anita asked.

“Um,” Bren got awkward, beginning to play with her fingers, “Yeah. Yeah, we are.”

“Yeah, we’re going back to mine.” Tony nodded.

“Oh right. D’you think you’ll have sex?” Anita asked. Her tone was so innocent as always.

“Oh, um.” Bren got awkward immediately. It was such an abrupt question, even from Anita and with Tony standing next to her, she wouldn’t be able to answer it as confidentially as she normally would have.

“We’ll see where the night takes us, eh?” Tony joked.

The taxi arrived and the three went out. The taxi took them to Anita’s first and Bren made sure she got to her front door okay. Bren and Tony then went back to Tony’s flat. Tony paid the taxi driver when they got out and headed up to his flat. He unlocked the door and let Bren in first.

“Well, this is it.” Tony turned on a lamp, “The bachelor pad.”

“It’s nice.” Bren nodded, “How long have you been in here now?”

“Gotta be over a year now. I think, anyways.” Tony went to his kitchen, “D’you want a drink?”

“Yeah, why not. What have you got?” Bren asked.

“Vodka, beer. I’ve not got a lot to be honest.” Tony shrugged.

“I’ll just have a beer. Are they cans?”

“Yeah.”

“Okay. That’s fine.”

Tony grabbed the two cans of beer and brought them over. The two sat down on the couch. Tony took off his blazer whilst Bren put her anorak on the armrest. They opened up their cans of beer and clinked them together.

“Cheers.” Tony smiled.

“Cheers.” Bren replied. They both took a sip, watching the other over their cans. It was quiet for a moment, “Stan ended up leaving with Babs.”

“You’re having a laugh!” Tony almost spat out his beer.

“I’m not!” Bren giggled, “They left just before you came inside.”

“Flipping heck. He must have been desperate.” Tony widened his eyes.

“He asked me to have sex with him.” Bren looked at him.

“He didn’t?” Tony looked at her, “What did you say?”

“Just pretended I didn’t hear him.” Bren shrugged, “Didn’t want to embarrass him. He ended up just skulking off to his bins.”

“And he went to the next best thing which was Babs. Man needs glasses.” Tony laughed. He then looked at Bren who was fiddling with the top of her can, “D’you think you would have? I mean, if you weren’t leaving with me.”

“No. It would be weird. It'd be like kissing your brother, y’know?” Bren screwed up her face.

Tony chuckled at Bren’s comment. He took another sip of his beer before looking at her. She really did look great tonight. Maybe the best she had ever looked. He could tell there was something on her mind as she sat next to him. She was quieter than usual, like there was something up. He rested his hand on her shoulder as she looked at him.

“You alright, Bren?” Tony asked softly.

“Hm? Oh yeah, I’m great.” Bren chuckled nervously.

“Are you sure?” Tony asked, “You can tell me.”

Bren studied his face for a moment. Her stomach felt like it was turning to knots, tightening as the seconds went by.

“I just feel a bit funny, sorry.” Bren smiled, “It’s fine honestly.”

“How come? Are you not feeling well?” Tony frowned.

“No, it’s not that. It’s…” Bren stopped for a second. How was she going to say this? “I think I’m just a bit nervous really.”

“About what?”

“Well, about this. Me coming here. I’m just not sure if I’m doing the right thing.”

“How?”

“I just don’t want to ruin anything between us. I don’t want to make it… awkward.”

“What? No, no. That won’t happen.” Tony put his can down on the table, “I wouldn’t let that happen. We’re adults, Bren. It would be stupid to let this ruin our friendship.” He watched her as she started playing with her fingers. He could tell she was worried. Tony didn’t want to make her feel uncomfortable, as much as he wanted her to stay, he had to put her first, “Do you want to go home?”

“What? No, no. I’m sorry. My head’s just a bit muddled right now.” Bren held her head.

“You can go home, Bren. I don’t want you to feel like you have to stay.” Tony said, “I can take you home though I have had a few drinks so I can’t guarantee a safe drive.”

“No, Tony, it’s okay. I want to stay, I do.” Bren nodded. She turned to face him properly, “It’s just been a while.”

“Are you sure?” Tony asked.

“Mhm.” Bren nodded again, “Maybe we should just, y’know.”

“Do you want to?”

“Yeah.”

Tony leaned in slowly, his hand moving to her chin. Bren’s heart rate grew faster as he inched closer. He lifted her chin gently, pressing his lips to hers. Bren found herself melting into the kiss. She instantly relaxed, her hands going to his upper arms. The kiss only lasted a couple seconds or so before they broke it off and looked at each other.

“D’you want to continue?” Tony asked.

“Yeah.” Bren nodded, “Do you?”

“Yeah.” Tony chuckled.

The two laughed quietly before looking at each other again. It was quiet in the room and it felt like they were the only thing that really mattered. Bren lifted her hand to rest on the back of his neck, her other hand on his shoulder when she leaned in. Tony held her waist as they kissed again. The kiss deepened, both clinging to each other so tightly. As they grew closer, they lay back onto the couch. Tony’s hand moved to Bren’s thigh, stroking it gently whilst Bren’s hands moved to undo his tie.

- - -

Tony opened his eyes slowly. He rolled over as he now faced Bren. She was still sleeping, lying on her front. She still had makeup on from last night but she still looked good. Tony could not believe his luck. He had always liked Bren but since his divorce and his diagnosis, Bren had been so kind to him and he saw her true character and for that, he liked her even more. 

Bren hummed in her sleep softly, her eyes starting to open. When she looked at Tony, she smiled. He smiled back, laying on his back. 

“Morning.”

“Morning. How long have you been awake?”

“Not long. A couple of minutes. You feeling alright?”

“Yeah. Apart from being knackered, I’m okay.” Bren rolled onto her side and leaned on her hand, “How’re you feeling?”

“I’m alright. I’m feeling great actually.” Tony smiled, “It was a good night last night.”

“Yeah, it was. It was a really good night.” Bren agreed.

They studied each other for a moment. They wanted to say more but the silence between them was just as nice. Tony cupped her face, bringing her lips to his. 

“I could stay here all day.” Tony said against her lips.

“Well, good it’s a Saturday, eh?” Bren smiled.

Tony chuckled. They looked at each other again. Everything was so peaceful around them. This little bubble they were in was perfect, neither of them wanted to leave. They kissed again, relaxing into each other’s arms.

“Bren?”

“Hm?”

“Y’know how you said you are as good at sex as you are at chips?”

“Yeah.” Bren giggled shyly.

“I think you’re right.” Tony replied. He then gave her shoulder a squeeze, “In fact, I think you’re better at sex.”

Bren started to laugh, feeling her cheeks heat up. Tony laughed with her too. She rested her head on his chest before looking up at him again. Bren leaned in and kissed his lips, this time their kiss getting more heated.

When they eventually did get up, they both had a shower and had breakfast. Bren decided she needed to get home and Tony gave her a lift. They pulled up outside Bren’s bedsit and stopped.

“You got everything you need?” Tony asked.

“Yeah.” Bren checked the pockets of her anorak, “Thanks for the lift.”

“Anytime. Now you sure you’ll get in okay?” Tony asked.

“I’ll be fine.” Bren giggled. She looked at him, “Are you busy tomorrow?”

“Don’t think so, why?” Tony asked.

“I thought we could maybe do something. Go for tea or something.” Bren shrugged, “What d’you think?”

“I think that sounds good.” Tony nodded, “We can talk about it tonight. I’ll call you.”

“Okay. I’ll see you later.” Bren nodded.

Bren then leaned in and kissed him on the lips. The two smiled at each other for a second before Bren got out of the car. Tony watched her walk up to the door of the building. He thought about his night and everything coming up. Things with his cancer were looking alright but if things went wrong, he didn’t care so much. Things with him and Bren were looking up and he wanted to make sure it stayed that way.

Chapter Text

Bren took the washing out of the machine and put it into the basket. She stopped for a minute, thinking she heard Amy crying from the living room but thankfully, it was just background noise in the music on the radio that sounded a lot like a baby crying. She got up and carried the basket through from the kitchen. Bren went through to the living room to quickly check on Amy. Amy was in the moses basket still sleeping and Bren smiled. She left the living room and headed upstairs. Bren went into the spare room and started hanging up the washing onto the clothes horse. She was almost finished when she heard the phone ringing downstairs.

“Not now, Dolly.” Bren sighed. She then rushed downstairs and grabbed the phone off the hook, “Hello?”

“Hello. It’s just me.” Tony said down the phone.

“Oh, hiya. You alright? How’s your day been?” Bren smiled when she realised it was Tony. She started fiddling with the phone cord.

“Mate, I can’t even tell you. It’s flipping heaving.” Tony sighed. 

“Really?” Bren asked before looking at the clock in the hall, “Not long now though. You’re finishing soon.”

“Well, that’s why I’m phoning. We’ve got a party tonight, Hamish didn’t tell me until tonight, he totally forgot. I’m gonna have to stay late.” Tony explained as he rubbed his head, “I’m really sorry, mate.”

“Oh, Tony.”

“I know, I know.”

“I was gonna do shepherd’s pie tonight.”

“I know, I’m sorry. Hamish only told me just the now.”

“I will kill Hamish when I see him.” Bren giggled, leaning against the wall, “What are you gonna do for your tea?”

“I’ll get something here, don’t worry about me.” Tony replied.

“Okay.” Bren sighed.

“How’s Amy? She been alright?” Tony asked.

“Yeah, she’s sleeping the now. She said a few more words today.” Bren started to giggle.

“She did? What did she say?” Tony brightened up.

“She said ‘mama’ again and then she said ‘apple’. She said something else, oh what was it again? That’s it! She said ‘lion’. Amy saw one on the telly, that new David Attenborough show was on and she kept saying ‘lion, lion’.” Bren laughed, resting her hand on her cheek, “I think she has a Scottish accent.”

“Frigging heck, my mother will love that.” Tony scoffed, “I’ll be home as soon as I can.”

“I know. You sure you don’t want me to leave you anything to eat when you come in?” Bren asked.

“Nah, I’ll be alright.” Tony shook his head. He was about to say something else when he heard Amy beginning to cry on the other end, “Oh, she alright?”

“She must have woken up. Look, Tony, I better get to her.” Bren sighed.

“No, it’s alright, you go.” Tony told her, “I love you.”

“I love you too. I’ll see you later.”

“See you later, mate.”

Bren hung up the phone and quickly rushed through to the living room. Amy’s cries grew louder as Bren approached. Bren picked her up, rubbing her back gently.

“Oh, love. It’s okay, it’s okay. Shush, shush.” Bren hushed her, “Darling, you’re okay. It’s dinner time, int it? Let’s sit down.”

Bren took Amy through to the kitchen and got the tub of baby food. She sat Amy down in her high chair and started feeding her. Bren sighed, looking down at Amy. She stroked her cheek and smiled. 

“There you are. Not fussy now.” Bren stroked her cheek, “That’s my girl.”

When Amy was finished feeding, Bren burped her and then lay her down in the moses basket so she could have another nap. Bren went to finish the washing upstairs before having a quick tidy up of the living room. After that, Bren got her dinner sorted and put Amy down for bed.

Tony yawned as he unlocked the front door. As he walked into the house, he noticed it was in total darkness. He locked the door behind him and took off his coat. Tony felt peckish and headed through to the kitchen. He turned the light on and opened up the fridge. He was aware of the smell of cooking in the kitchen and turned around. He noticed a plate wrapped in tin foil at the side and he walked over to it. He noticed a post-it note on the tin foil and took it off. ‘Just eat it x’ it read. Tony chuckled.

Tony ate the shepherd's pie that Bren had left for him. He did the dishes and left the kitchen with a glass of water. He headed on upstairs and was about to head to bed when he heard soft coos from Amy’s room. He put his glass on the side and quietly walked into the room. Tony approached Amy’s cot and noticed she was awake.

“Hello, sweetheart.” Tony whispered, “Hello. Did you wait up for me, eh? You’re a good girl. My good girl.” 

Amy’s big blue eyes glistened in the dark, smiling up to her father. Tony chuckled, stroking her forehead gently.

“Get back to sleep, kid. You’ll be knackered if you don’t.” Tony said, “Sleep now.”

Surprisingly, Amy did doze off fairly quickly. Tony smiled before quietly leaving the room. He grabbed his water on the side and headed into his room. The room was dark and quiet. The only light he could see was the digital clock at his side of the bed. 2:03AM. Christ, was it really that late? He noticed Bren asleep in bed with her back to him. Tony knew he had to keep quiet so he put his water on the side and tried his best to stay absolutely silent as he changed into his pyjamas. The house was freezing and he climbed into bed as quickly and quietly as possible. He relaxed into his pillow, ready to fall asleep but there was movement in the bed. Bren rolled over and Tony closed his eyes, hoping to God he had not woken her up. Thankfully, he hadn’t but as she rolled over, Bren wrapped her arms around his waist. Tony did have to check she wasn’t awake and sure enough, fast asleep. She was so warm against him and Tony couldn’t be more thankful for her as she cuddled in. She really was the best thing to ever happen to him. Tony smiled. He wrapped his arms around Bren, bringing her closer and kissing the top of her head before finally closing his eyes.

Chapter Text

Friday 22nd September 2000

- - -

“Stan! Stan, get the door!” Jean shouted from the kitchen.

“Roger Wilco.” Stan nodded as he rushed down the hall. He unlocked the door and opened it, “Hello!”

“Hi, Stan.” Bren smiled as she hugged him before Stan moved to Tony.

“Alright, Stan?” Tony grinned, hugging Stan too.

“I am. Come on, come inside.” Stan stepped aside. Tony let Bren go in first, “I must say, Bren, you are glowing.”

“Thanks, Stan.” Bren giggled as she looked down at her bump, “I am at the moment anyway, my back isn’t as sore today.”

“D’you need to sit down?” Tony asked as he put his hand on her shoulder.

“No, no, I’m okay.” Bren smiled.

“Hello, you two.” Jean announced herself as she walked out of the kitchen.

“Hiya.” Bren turned.

“Blimey! Look at you, Bren.” Jean went to hug her before looking at Bren’s bump, “You’ve gotten so big.”

“I’ve ballooned.” Bren’s eyes widened.

“You look lovely, and believe me, you’ve got a way to go until you really balloon.” Jean giggled, “And here he is! Daddy-to-be.”

“Hello, Jean.” Tony went to hug Jean, “Something smells nice, Jean? What’re you cooking? Keith?”

“Ha-ha! It’s a recipe Dolly gave me. It’s meant to be shepherd's pie but it’s more like a sausage roll.” Jean sighed.

“Is anyone else here yet?” Bren asked.

“Not yet. They should be here soon though, I wanted to make sure you two got here first.” Jean smiled, “Go have a seat.”

“Let me take your coats.” Stan said.

“Thanks Stan.” Bren smiled as her and Tony took off their coats.

They all headed through to the living room and they sat down. Bren slowly sat down on the couch, Tony joining her. Stan sat opposite in the armchair whilst Jean sat on the armrest.

“Are you comfortable, Bren? Do you need more cushions?” Jean asked.

“No, I’m alright, ta. Nice to actually get the weight off my feet.” Bren sat back, “Tony’s mum had us shopping today.”

“Oh dear. How was the flight down?” Jean asked.

“It was alright actually.” Bren nodded, “It wasn’t too late in the day and Tony’s mum let me have a sleep when I got in.”

“Oh, I forgot to ask, do you want a brew?” Jean asked when she stood up.

“Oh yeah, please.” Bren smiled, “Tea for me.”

“Tony, what you having?” Jean turned.

“Bren, what will I have?” Tony turned to Bren.

“Tea.” Bren nodded.

“Stan, d’you want anything?” Jean turned to Stan.

“Yes please.” Stan nodded.

“I’ll get them sorted now.” Jean smiled as she left the living room. The doorbell went again, “Stan! Get that, will you?”

“Yep!” Stan called back and left the living room.

“You okay?” Tony asked.

“Yeah, I’m fine.” Bren smiled. She then took his hand and rested it on her bump, “They’re kicking.”

Tony chuckled as he felt the gentle kicks against his hand. Bren watched him, stroking his hair gently. Tony looked at her with a little smile.

“You look great tonight.” Tony said softly.

“Give over.” Bren gave his arm a playful slap

“I’d never lie to you.” Tony kissed her cheek, “You sure you don’t want to go for a lie down or anything?”

“No, I’m okay. I’m not tired.” Bren shrugged.

“I know but I just don’t want you getting too tired. I just want to make sure you’re okay.” Tony replied.

“I know, I know. But I’m okay now.” Bren smiled as she cupped his face. She planted a soft kiss on his lips.

“Look who it is!” Philippa announced herself. Bren and Tony turned to see Philippa, Dolly, Anita and Twinkle at the living room door.

“Hiya!” Anita grinned.

“Hello.” Bren giggled, “Help me up, Tony.”

“Aye, aye.” Tony took her hands and helped her up from the couch. 

“Thanks.” Bren said when she was stood up.

“Oh Bren, look at you.” Dolly dotted.

“You look amazing, Bren.” Anita nodded.

“Flipping heck, Bren! You’re massive!” Twinkle’s mouth dropped when she got a proper look at her.

“Oh thanks, Twink.” Bren rolled her eyes as Dolly swatted Twinkle’s arm.

“How far along are you now?” Philippa asked.

“A full eight months not this Sunday, next.” Bren laughed. 

“Not long now.” Dolly pointed out.

“Oh I’m so excited for you!” Anita clapped before hugging Bren and then Tony.

“Ajay at home?” Bren asked.

“Yeah. He’s really fussy at the moment.” Anita shrugged, “I think it’s the terrible twos already.”

“He’s got a few months yet.” Tony chuckled.

“Right, brews everyone?” Jean walked into the living room.

“Yes please!” 

Jean got the teas and coffees sorted for everyone and now they were sitting in the living room talking.

“So I said to her, we can’t have bloody custard creams on the tables. It’s a wedding, not afternoon tea.” Jean shook her head, “This woman is a professional wedding planner. Twenty years she’s been at it!”

“What did she say?” Anita asked.

“Well, she said ‘I’ll see what I can do but I can’t promise there won’t be at least shortbread’.” Jean rolled her eyes, “What’s the point in that?”

“Some people might want tea after the wedding, Jean.” Philippa shrugged.

“I won’t! I’ll want a frigging drink. You might have a brew though.” Jean turned to Stan.

“Well maybe. I might enjoy a small tipple. I’ll see how I feel on the day.” Stan shrugged.

“You any further along with your wedding, Philippa?” Dolly asked. 

“Oh yes. We had a cake tasting the other day, think I’ve put on four stone since it.” Philippa laughed, “And we’ve got a dress fitting in the next few weeks. That’ll be exciting.”

“Your fitting’s tomorrow eh?” Bren asked Jean.

“Yeah. Baby brain, Bren?” Jean teased.

“Oh y’know what I’m like. I’m a bit forgetful as it is, what am I gonna be like with a baby?” Bren laughed.

“You’ll be just fine, mate.” Tony gave her a kiss on the cheek, “You’ve got me to keep you in check eh?”

“When you popping the question then, Tony?” Twinkle asked.

“Eh?” Tony looked over to Twinkle.

“Well you’ve already got Bren up the duff-.” Twinkle said before being cut off by a tut from Dolly followed by a quick swat, “What?!”

“You didn’t have to put it so crudely, Twinkle.” Dolly sighed. Bren and Tony shared a look as they tried not to laugh, “When are you getting engaged then?”

“We haven’t really thought about it.” Bren shrugged.

“Not even after you got pregnant?” Anita asked.

“Well we have been busy preparing for that. And starting a business. And moving to a different country. Joined on but different country.” Tony replied. He looked at Bren, “We’ll do it when the time’s right.”

“You’ll be waiting a while.” Jean sighed.

“I know. It’ll be like waiting for you two to actually get it together again.” Dolly nodded.

“We’re happy the way we are.” Bren scoffed, “We’ve got other things to worry about than getting married right now.”

“But wouldn’t you like to be married?” Anita asked.

“Well, yeah. It’d be nice, wouldn’t it?” Bren turned to Tony.

“Yeah it would but not right now.” Tony nodded.

“Yeah, not right now.” Bren agreed.

“Could at least get her ring though, Tony.” Twinkle took a sip of her tea.

“Listen, I gave her a baby, what more do you women want?” Tony joked to which Bren laughed.

“Not exactly! Remember she’s the one who has to give birth.” Dolly pointed out, “Have terrible contractions.”

“Stretch marks.” Jean added.

“Tearing.” Philippa added.

“Haemorrhoids.” Anita finally added in.

“Can’t wait.” Bren sighed when she looked at Tony.

“Living the dream, aren’t we?” Tony gave her a wink.

“I’ll check the tea. Stan, will you take everyone through to the dining room?” Jean stood up.

“Roger Wilco.” Stan nodded.

They all got up. Tony helped Bren up from the couch. They headed through to the dining room and sat down. Stan got everyone sorted with drinks before helping Jean with their dinner. 

“This looks lovely, Jean.” Bren smiled.

“Yeah, I could murder that shepherd’s pie.” Twinkle added.

“That pastry looks a bit flaky, Jean. Did you follow my recipe properly?” Dolly asked.

“Yes, I did. Fanny Craddock.” Jean sighed.

“Jean done this another night as well, Dolly. Absolutely marvelous.” Stan smiled over to Jean.

“Thank you, my darling.” Jean kissed his head.

They got their dinner dished and started to eat. They laughed as they talked, Dolly and Jean bickering. Dolly did eventually manage to say that she thought their dinner was good.

“Right, I’ll get these plates cleaned.” Jean stood up.

“Let me help.” Bren offered.

“No, no. Don’t you bother, Bren.” Jean shook her head.

“No, please. I don’t mind.” Bren giggled. She got up from her seat and took hers and Tony’s plates.

“You sure you’ll manage?” Tony raised a brow.

“Yeah, I’ll be fine.” Bren smiled.

Bren and Jean took all the plates and headed through to the kitchen. Jean filled the sink as she started washing the dishes before giving them to Bren to dry.

“You sure you want to do this?” Jean asked.

“Yeah, I’m okay.” Bren giggled, “Tony won’t let me do it at home so I better earn my keep somewhere else.”

“At least he’s looking after you.” Jean smiled.

“Yeah. He’s a softy.” Bren smiled, feeling her face heat up slightly.

“You look really happy, Bren.” Jean turned to her, “I mean it.”

“I am. I’m so happy.” Bren grinned. And she was. She was the happiest she had ever been and it could only get better. 

The two women headed through to the living room and joined everyone in front of the television. They all talked about the show they were watching. Bren joined Tony on the couch whilst Jean went back into the kitchen to make everyone brews. She then returned and gave everyone their brews and sat next to Dolly on the other couch. 

“What’s on the telly, Stan?” Twinkle walked into the living room.

“Not a lot. Coronation Street anyone?” Stan raised a brow.

“Oh why not? Wouldn’t kill us to see what’s happening on the Street.” Dolly crossed her legs.

“Hey, look at Bren.” Anita pointed to Bren.

Everyone looked at Bren next to Tony. Tony looked at Bren as she rested her head against his shoulder, her arms wrapped around his arm. She was fast asleep against his shoulder. Her grip on Tony’s arms tightened slightly.

“Sleeping Beauty.” Tony chuckled looking down at her.

“Do you want to take her upstairs? She could have a kip in Lisa’s old room.” Jean suggested.

“Nah, it’s alright. She’s just having a catnap. She’s been doing this recently since she hit her third trimester. The baby kicks a lot during the night. She’ll be awake in a minute.” Tony said as he still watched Bren sleeping. 

They were all quiet as they watched Bren. Stan turned the volume down on the television so it didn’t disturb her. Tony moved his other hand to rest on her bump so he could feel the baby. Bren opened her eyes slowly.

“Hello. Good kip?” Tony smiled.

“Oh, did I fall asleep? That’s really rude of me, sorry.” Bren rubbed her eyes as she sat up.

“Hey, it’s totally fine by me!” Jean grinned, “You’re the only one I’d let fall asleep in my company.”

“You go back to sleeping, Bren. You’ll need it!” Dolly nodded.

“D’you want to go have a lie down?” Jean offered, “You’re more than welcome to.”

“No, it’s alright.” Bren shook her head, “The baby stopped moving for a moment there so it made me just doze off.”

“Baby’s got a full on routine.” Tony kissed Bren’s head as he put his arm around her.

“A very tiring regime.” Bren cuddled into him. Tony smiled down at her.

“That’s babies for you.” Jean shrugged.

“Ah we’ll be alright,” Tony gave Bren’s shoulder a squeeze. She smiled tiredly up at him, “Won’t we, matey?”

Chapter Text

“Right everyone! Tea.” Jean walked into the canteen and put the mugs down on the table, “Bren? Tea.”

“Oh thanks, Jean.” Bren took her mug, “Have you got Tony’s there?”

“He’s not having one because he’s going to that meeting.” Jean pointed.

“Oh yeah, forgot about that.” Bren nodded and she headed back into the kitchen to finish tidying.

“What you reading, Twinkle?” Jean asked.

“Shows coming on in the summer, ‘Sex and the City’s’ back in June.” Twinkle replied as she continued to read her magazine.

“Oh I don’t like that show. Very inappropriate.” Dolly turned up her nose.

“Oh come on, Dolly. It’s a good show. I can’t stand that Sarah Jessica Parker though. She’s quite unbearable.” Jean rolled her eyes.

“There’s a quiz in this.” Anita pointed to Twinkle’s magazine, “Which ‘Sex and the City’ character are you?”

“I got Carrie.” Twinkle added with a grin.

“You’re not Carrie.” Dolly shook her head.

“You what?” Twinkle scrunched up her face.

“Well, you’re more a Samantha aren’t you? A very young Samantha.” Dolly explained.

“I thought you didn’t like the show?” Jean turned.

“I don’t. I just catch it from time to time.” Dolly shrugged.

“Hm.” Jean nodded, “I would definitely be a Samantha too.”

“Yeah, Samantha Smut!” Dolly rolled her eyes.

“Alright, little miss perfect. See? Charlotte would be perfect for you.” Jean pointed.

“Hm, I see myself as more of a Miranda, thank you.” Dolly sipped her tea.

“I don’t know which character I would be.” Anita shrugged.

“Charlotte.” Dolly, Jean and Twinkle all said in unison.

“Who d’you think Bren would be?” Twinkle asked.

“Well, she’d be Carrie wouldn’t she? Just less annoying.” Jean shrugged.

“What’re you talking about?” Bren walked through from the kitchen with her mug in her hand. She had just taken her overall off and was now just in a t-shirt and leggings, her fleece in her other hand.

“‘Sex and the City’, which characters we all are.” Anita explained.

“Ah right.” Bren nodded as she sat down, “Which ones are you all then?”

“Well, me and Twinkle are both Samantha, Dolly thinks she’s Miranda but I would say she’s Charlotte and Anita is most definitely Charlotte.” Jean explained.

“Which character are you, Bren?” Anita asked.

“Dunno. Never really thought about it.” Bren shrugged, “I do like Samantha though but I wouldn’t say I was her.”

“Jean thinks you’re Carrie.” Twinkle pointed.

“Yes, just less annoying.” Jean shrugged.

“Oh, thanks.” Bren nodded.

“That makes Tony Mr. Big then!” Anita beamed.

“Yeah, it does.” Twinkle nodded.

“Just without all the drama in between.” Dolly added as Tony walked in.

“I do like Mr. Big. He’s attractive, int he?” Bren nodded.

“What’re you lot talking about?” Tony screwed up his face.

“‘Sex and the City’.” Twinkle looked at him.

“Oh, here we go.” Tony groaned, “I have enough of this at home.”

“Apparently we’re like Carrie and Big.” Bren grinned up to him.

“Of course we are.” Tony rolled his eyes. He gave Bren a nudge as he bent down, talking quietly only to her, “I wouldn’t mind seeing you in some of those dresses she wears.”

“Give over.” Bren laughed, “You heading up to that meeting?”

“What meeting?” Twinkle asked.

“Just about the Christmas do this year. They do these meetings earlier and earlier every year.” Tony rolled his eyes, “Bren, d’you know where those pink flimsies are?”

“They’re in the top drawer, aren’t they? Why d’you need them? Jean and Dolly took the trolley up.” Bren frowned before taking a sip of her tea.

“They want to start getting on top of them, dunno why. Must have some important meetings coming up.” Tony shrugged.

“I’ll get them for you.” Bren got up from the table as she patted Tony’s shoulder and headed to the office.

“I’ll get them.” Tony followed after her as Bren went into the drawer of the desk.

She took out a pile of the pink flimsies and handed them to him as he took off his hat and undid his overall.

“Will you be long?” Bren asked.

“Dunno. Hopefully not too long.” Tony shrugged, “We are planning for something that is ten months away.”

“Well, don’t be planning too much. I know you’ll be so excited to think about the theme and the lovely food and the decorations we need.” Bren walked through to the half door.

“Can’t wait. It’ll be so fun.” Tony said sarcastically as he followed her.

“D’you want me to wait for you?” Bren asked.

“If you want to. If it goes on longer than an hour, get Stan to take you home. I’m not having you getting the bus. Or sitting waiting ages.” Tony told her. 

“It’s fine, I don’t mind.” Bren shrugged.

“Brenda, no.” Tony shook his head as he rested his hand on her shoulder.

“Alright.” Bren’s eyes widened. She giggled, “D’you still want to stay home tonight? Your mum did phone before we left this morning about tea.”

“Frigging heck, she timed that right. Nah, I wanna stay in. With my girl.” Tony grinned. Bren giggled before he checked his watch, “Oh, I better go.”

“Right.” Bren smiled as he leaned in and kissed her lips, “See you later.”

“See you later.” Tony kissed her again before giving her one last peck. He walked to the door out of the canteen, “See you later, girls.”

“See ya!” Twinkle waved as Bren came back to sit down at the table. The dinnerladies all smiled at each other over the table before Twinkle turned to Bren, “What’s your plans tonight, Bren?”

“Oh not a lot.” Bren shrugged.

“Not going out?” Anita asked, “A romantic meal?”

“Nah. Just a quiet night in.” Bren smiled.

“Is that code for a night of mad, passionate sex?” Jean took a sip from her tea with a cheeky smirk.

“Jean!” Dolly scolded, rolling her eyes. She turned, “Is it, Bren?”

“No!” Bren laughed, “Me and Tony are just having a quiet night in. Probably get a takeaway, watch a film. The same as it usually is.” 

“Is that then followed by a night of mad, passionate sex?” Anita sat forward with a grin. Bren just laughed before taking a sip of her tea.

“Me life’s not me own!” Bren laughed, “Depends on the night, that’s all I’m saying.”

“Oohh.” All the girls went before laughing. Twinkle sat forward, “Cardiman might treat you to a romantic evening. Wine, dine and-.”

“Hello, everyone.” Philippa walked in, “Would you like to take part in a team building exercise?” 

“We just have!” Jean sighed.

“Sorry?” Philippa frowned.

“We were just looking at characters in ‘Sex and The City’.” Anita told her. She grinned as she pointed at herself, “I’m Charlotte!”

“Ooh, I love that show! I would probably say I was Miranda. Although I think I could be as neurotic as Charlotte, you know what I’m like.” Philippa laughed.

“Oh, we know!” Dolly’s eyes widened.

“We’ll pass on the team building thingyumbob, Philippa. Doubt we’ll like it.” Bren shrugged. 

“Are you sure? It might be very beneficial.” Philippa raised her brows. Tony walked into the canteen just in time for the conversation. Philippa turned, “Tony, would you like to do a team building exercise?”

“Eh?” Tony frowned.

“A meditation exercise. All of you lying in a circle and focus on your breathing.” Philippa explained.

“We can’t lie in a circle! We haven’t got the space.” Dolly almost scolded Philippa.

“No, no. We’d get a big room for you to do it.” Philippa replied.

“But we’ve already got a big room here?” Anita frowned.

“A room we can lie down in, ya dingbat.” Twinkle sighed. 

“Sounds lovely. Absolutely not.” Tony marched over to the table and pulled a chair over, sitting next to Bren.

“Why not? It would be a great bonding experience for you all.” Philippa wasn’t ready to give up just yet.

“We’re having bonding experiences every day. Dolly and Jean are always bickering, Anita and Twinkle will be discussing the baby and any wild weekends Twinkle is planning, Stan will explain to Jean what he’ll be doing with his ratchet mechanism to which she will just nod and me and Bren are very happy the way we are, thank you.” Tony shrugged before putting his arm around Bren, squeezing her shoulder, “You haven’t been trying to rope this lot into it? It won’t happen, Phil.”

“Told you.” Dolly sighed.

“Why are you back so early?” Bren asked.

“Turns out they didn’t need me. We don’t need to worry about catering for the party this year. Absolutely excellent.” Tony smiled, “Shall we make a move?”

“Let me finish my tea.” Bren took another sip of her tea.

“D’you want a brew, Tony?” Jean asked.

“No ta. We’ll be here all day at this rate.” Tony gave Bren a nudge.

“Fair enough. D’you want a brew, Philippa?” Jean turned to Philippa.

“I’ll pass, thanks. I better move actually. Me and Tom are going out tonight for dinner.” Philippa checked her watch.

“Ooh that’s nice.” Bren smiled.

“Why don’t you two do something?” Dolly pointed to Bren and Tony, “You need a night on the town.”

“Yeah, get a hotel and get rat arsed.” Twinkle smiled.

“Thank you.” Dolly tutted.

“We could do that at home.” Tony shrugged, “Besides we’d rather stay in. Watch some crap film and get a pizza.”

“That’s not very romantic.” Dolly said.

“We don’t need to be romantic all the time.” Bren shrugged, “Especially after a long week.”

“You finished that brew yet?” Tony pointed.

“Yeah.” Bren said as she got up, “I’ll take your mugs.”

“I’ll get going. See you on Monday.” Philippa

waved.

“Bye Philippa!”

“Bye!”

“See you Monday.”

Bren took the mugs and headed through to the kitchen. She washed the mugs, softly humming to herself. Tony got up from the table as all the women continued to talk and he headed to the kitchen. He saw Bren at the sink so he put his hands in his pockets and walked over to her.

“You alright?” Tony asked.

“Yeah, I’m fine.” Bren nodded. She washed the last mug, “Are you alright?”

“Yeah.” Tony nodded, “Bren?”

“Hm?”

“D’you want to go out for dinner tonight? We could go to my mum’s if you want?”

“Eh? No, no. We can stay in. Why? Do you want to?”

“Well, not unless you do. I just thought with what the girls were saying, maybe we should do something. Something romantic.”

“What? No, Tony. We don’t need to do anything.” Bren looked up at him as she dried her hands. She then turned, “Did you think we should do something because of what they were saying?”

“Well… yes. Yes, I did.” Tony nodded, “Y’know what they’re like.”

“Tony.” Bren giggled as she moved closer to him. She rested her hands on his shoulders, “Don’t listen to them. They just want to have something to talk about.”

“Yeah, but I feel like I’m not giving you enough. I should be treating you to romantic meals and nights out and-.” Tony started rambling but Bren interrupted him.

“Tony. We don’t need to do all that. I love staying in and I love not doing anything and I love you.” Bren squeezed his shoulders, “I love it just being us. We don’t need to do big things all the time. I’d rather stay in with you. That’s the most romantic thing I could ask for.”

Tony chuckled softly as he looked down at his feet. She moved closer to him, wrapping her arms around his neck. He looked up at her as he held her waist. 

“Listen. Why don’t we go out tomorrow? Book a table, we can get all dolled up. I’ll get a nice frock and you decked out in a suit. Have your romantic meal.” Bren smiled up to him, her fingers stroking the back of his neck gently.

“I’ll only go if you get a dress like Carrie.” Tony raised a brow.

“Hmm. We’ll see.” Bren groaned playfully, “Don’t think my footballer’s legs will work with one of those.”

“Dunno. Your legs are much better than hers. They’ll be just fine.” Tony squeezed her waist gently.

Bren and Tony giggled. They leaned in, capturing each other’s lips in a soft kiss. They held each other tightly, just enjoying the peace of being with each other. They kissed for a couple of seconds before breaking it off, looking at one another with little smiles. There was a clatter near them and they turned to see what it was. Dolly, Jean, Anita and Twinkle were all watching them from the office with big grins.

“What?” Tony sighed, “Can we not have a moment to ourselves?”

“Not in the middle of the kitchen, you can’t.” Twinkle crossed her arms.

Chapter Text

Tony spat out the toothpaste in his mouth. He rinsed his face and mouth before looking in the mirror to check there was not any leftover toothpaste on his face. When he was finished in the bathroom, he walked out of the bathroom and headed down the hall to the bedroom. The flat was quiet and Bren was still fast asleep so Tony did his best to not make too much noise. 

Tony got dressed, buttoning up his long sleeved shirt and pulling on his jeans over his legs. He left the room briefly to get his socks from the radiator in the living room. When he returned to the room for his shoes, he noticed Bren still asleep in the bed. She was lying on her left hand side as she faced the door. Her arms were under her head, clearly giving her some warmth. The duvet covered most of her body except her bare back and judging by the way she was cuddled into her arms, she was cold. 

Tony sat in the armchair as he put his shoes on his feet. He started tying his laces, looking up when he heard movement in the room. It was just Bren adjusting her arms. She was still asleep which was quite a relief for Tony. She hardly ever slept this long and he knew she deserved it. He wasn’t going to disturb that anytime soon. 

The room was peaceful and when Tony was finished tying his shoes, he sat for a moment and looked around the room. His eyes eventually landed on Bren again. Things had moved so fast for him and Bren but he didn’t mind. He was as happy as could be even if she did have the ability to make him a nervous wreck because of all the overthinking she did. But he didn’t mind. This was the happiest Tony had ever been and she was the best thing to have ever happened to him. He watched her frown in her sleep, her strawberry blonde curls like a halo in the dim light. Tony could not be more in love than he was at this moment in time. Sure, they were still in the honeymoon phase really but to him, Bren was absolutely perfect. The woman of his dreams. Several, in fact.

Tony noticed that the time was creeping closer and closer to eleven so he knew he had to make a move. He got up from the armchair and walked towards the bed. He sat next to Bren, continuing to watch her sleep. He knew he couldn’t leave her without saying goodbye, even if she wasn’t awake to see him go. He stroked the curls out of her face and smiled to himself. He had never felt like this before with anyone. Not really. Bren had opened him up to a new type of love. A real love. Though he didn’t plan on telling her so soon, Tony was head over heels in love. Tony finally leaned in to kiss Bren’s cheek when she started to stir and opened her eyes.

“Morning.” Tony said softly.

“Morning.” Bren replied tiredly.

“Did I wake you?”

“No. Are you leaving?”

“About to. I was gonna leave you a note to say I was gone.”

“I’m sure I would’ve figured out where you were. What time is it?” Bren went to sit up.

“Coming up for eleven.” Tony replied.

“No? You’re joking.” Bren’s eyes widened. Tony shook his head as she started to laugh, “I never sleep for that long.”

“No, you don’t. You clearly needed it though, mate.” Tony replied.

“Clearly.” Bren giggled, sitting back against the pillows.

“You can still come, y’know. I could phone my mum and say I’m gonna be a bit late.” Tony offered.

“Nah, it’s alright. Thanks though.” Bren smiled, taking his hand and giving it a squeeze, “I might stay in bed.”

“Don’t make me jealous, Bren.” Tony scoffed. He moved his hand up to her head, stroking her hair as Bren relaxed into his touch. She was clearly still tired, “I won’t be long.” 

“Okay.” Bren nodded.

Tony leaned in then and kissed her. She cupped his face as they moved closer to each other. The two kissed for a couple of seconds before breaking it off. They looked into each other’s eyes for a moment. Tony wanted to tell her he loved her but it wasn’t right. Not yet. He was gearing himself up for doing it but could never find the right time. It seemed to hang in the air and Tony wanted so badly to say something but he just couldn’t. He couldn’t bring himself to say those three words.

“See you later.” Tony said instead. 

“See you later.” Bren smiled.

Tony kissed her again before getting up from the bed. Bren watched him as he turned to her when putting his coat that hung on the door.

“Don’t stay in bed for too long.” Tony teased.

“We’ll see.” Bren smirked, “Tell your mum and dad I’m asking for them.”

“I will.” Tony nodded. He was about to leave but he walked back over to Bren and planted one last kiss on her lips, “See you later.”

“See you later.”

Chapter Text

Friday 1st October 1999

- - -

Bren rushed into the canteen. Her bus was late today and she only just got off the bus two minutes ago. She heard the voices in the kitchen and she knew everybody was in now. She walked into the kitchen.

“There you are.” Jean turned, “Thought you were pulling a sickie.”

“No, sorry. The bus was really late today.” Bren explained. She grabbed the bread tray and picked it up.

“Have you heard the news?” Dolly asked.

“What news?” Bren asked.

“The sad man’s pulled!” Twinkle grinned.

“Eh?” Bren looked up after putting the bread tray away. Tony kept his head down but chuckled softly.

“Tony’s got a date!” Anita grinned, “She’s picking him up after work.”

“Oh.” Bren said softly. She felt like her heart had just been torn up into a million pieces. Any chances of being with Tony now were now down the drain.

“What’s she like, Tony? Dark, blonde?” Dolly asked.

“She’s blonde. Her name’s Kelly.” Tony explained.

“Of course it is.” Bren muttered under her breath which didn’t go unnoticed by Jean who just looked at her.

“Where did you meet her then?” Twinkle crossed her arms, “We need details, come on.”

“Yeah, what’s she like, Tony? Is she nice?” Anita asked.

“I met her through friends of mine last week and they just set us up. It’s all a bit last minute.” Tony shrugged, “She’s very nice. Very outgoing.”

The girls all continued to chatter about Tony’s date as Bren walked past and went into the office to get changed. Tony wanted to stop her and talk to her properly. He didn’t want her to find out like this. He didn’t really want anyone to know about it until he knew that things would work. Tony only told Stan just because he could trust him but before he could tell him not to say anything, all the dinnerladies seemed to come in at once. All but the one he cared about the most. If he was going to be honest, he was only going on this date because he thought it might help him get over Bren. It seemed like loads of things were coming their way to ruin their chances of getting together. Tony knew Bren was better off without him and he was sure she was probably shacked up with her calor gas man. Why would she care? 

Throughout the day, all Bren heard was everyone asking Tony about his date. She sort of wished she had pulled a sickie this morning. She should have seen it coming. They waited too long to get together, she couldn’t blame him for finding someone else. But it still hurt. 

When it finally came to the end of the day, the dinnerladies were all staying behind to see what Tony’s date looked like. Bren just wanted to go home but she had to stay for the board meetings. They all congregated on the fire exit when Tony left. The red Lotus Elise pulled into the factory car park and Tony got in. They could see Kelly in the driver’s seat. She was blonde and glamorous. Everything Bren wasn’t. All the girls gushed about how pretty Kelly was and when Dolly, Anita and Twinkle left, Bren headed inside.

Jean noticed she was quiet. Bren hadn’t been her usual self all day and she knew exactly why. Jean felt for Bren. She could understand how this could all upset her. Of course, it would help if Bren and Tony were just honest about how they felt about each other. If they told each other properly.

“You okay?” Jean asked as she walked around the kitchen.

“Eh? Yeah, I’m fine.” Bren said, loading up the trolley with biscuits.

“Bren,” Jean crossed her arms, “I know you’re upset.”

“Upset? I’m not upset.” Bren just laughed. She was never a very good liar. 

“I know it’s hard seeing him with someone else.” Jean said softly. Bren stopped for a moment. Tears threatened but she held them back. She wasn’t going to cry today, “I can understand how that can hurt, Bren.”

“It’s not the same, Jean. You were married for twenty seven years and Keith ran off with someone else. Me and Tony aren’t together. He can do what he wants.” Bren admitted. She couldn’t believe she was being this honest with Jean. 

“But you care for him, don’t you? You can just pussyfoot your way around it. You want to be with him, you need to say something. Before it’s too late.” Jean told her, giving her a gentle poke on the shoulder.

Bren went home a while later. The bedsit seemed a lot quieter than usual. A lot lonelier. Bren decided she wasn’t hungry so didn’t have dinner and just watched television. She didn’t even want to drink to forget about Tony. All she could think about was him. What he was doing, what he thought of Kelly, what would happen if they got together.

Her doorbell rang. Bren sat up with a frown. Her doorbell never rang. She walked to the door and looked through the spyhole. When she saw who it was, she quickly unlocked the door. It was Tony.

“Alright?” Tony smiled. He lifted up the bag he held in his hand, “I got us a chippie.”

“What about your date?” Bren frowned. She really didn’t want to be someone that he could just fall back on when things go wrong. She’d rather not be with him.

“I bailed on her. She wasn’t…” Tony began. ‘She wasn’t you’ was why he wanted to say. But he couldn’t do it. He just stopped. He smiled as he took a deep breath, “She wasn’t what I was looking for.”

“Oh.” Bren nodded quietly. She pointed at the bag, “Did you not even have dinner with her?”

“Nah. Just went for a drink. She talked a lot of rubbish most of the time.” Tony replied, “You gonna let me in then? This food’s gonna get cold. Unless you’ve had your dinner already.”

“Uh, no. No, I haven’t. Come in.” Bren shook her head before stepping aside to let him in.

“I got you a fish supper if that’s alright. I didn’t know what you’d want.” Tony smiled as he went into the kitchen, “I knew you liked it but also didn’t want to jump to conclusions and all that, eh?”

“That’s alright.” Bren walked over, she wrapped her fleece around her as she crossed her arms, “I haven’t eaten yet so this is saving me a lot of time.”

Tony chuckled. He took the boxes of food out of the bag and opened them up. He noticed Bren standing next to him watching him with the food. He turned to face her.

“I’m sorry I didn’t, I didn’t tell you. I should have told you before anyone else about tonight. I just wanted to keep it quiet, I didn’t want anyone to get their hopes up. Especially when I didn’t like her that much.” Tony explained. Bren looked up at him as she listened, “That’s why I’m here now.”

Bren stayed quiet. She wished he had told her about the date but in a way, she knew he wasn’t lying to her. He seemed so reluctant about telling everyone about it. Looking back, it was clear he didn’t like Kelly. This didn’t confirm to her if Tony felt the same way about her as she did him but tonight, she felt better about everything.

“It’s alright.” Bren smiled up at him, “I get it. You didn’t need to tell me anything.”

“No, I did. You’re my best friend. You are the person I trust the most.” Tony rested a hand on her shoulder, giving it a gentle squeeze. 

“Come on,” Bren chuckled. Right now, she just wanted to say this way with him. He chose to rather be with her than some glamorous woman he got set up with. That was the best thing to her at this moment, “Let’s go eat.”

Chapter Text

Thursday 9th September 1999

- - -

“Two minutes!” Tony called as the women scuttled around the kitchen to get everything ready for the shutters to go up.

“Did you see that film on telly last night?” Twinkle turned to Anita, “It was about these two girls moving into a flat but it turns out other girls had been murdered there.”

“No. Me and Pedr were having a ‘Dirty Dancing’ night.” Anita replied.

“Oh I saw that!” Bren chipped in from behind Twinkle, “All the dead girls looked like the two moving into that flat? I dunno why they moved in in the first place.”

“Well, they didn’t know that the murderer was hiding in the basement, did they?” Twinkle shrugged.

“What’s this?” Jean turned around from the till. Jean had been back to work since Monday after being at her sister’s as she was already doing a lot better.

“A film on the telly last night. What were it called, Bren?” Twinkle asked.

“‘The Middle-Parting Murders’.” Bren replied.

“You’re joking? Is it cause all the girls had a middle-parting?” Jean screwed up her face.

“Uh huh.” Bren replied.

“What a pile of-.” Jean exclaimed.

“Shutters’ going up!” Tony called through the kitchen before briefly popping into the office.

“Hiya, Jane!” Bren smiled as she noticed Jane over Jean’s shoulder. She could already feel the awkwardness between Jean and Jane settling in even though Jean did apologise after throwing a plate of toast into Jane’s face. 

“Hiya! Twelve rounds of white!” Jane called her usual order.

“Low-fat spread?” Bren raised a brow though she knew the answer.

“That’s the one.” Jane pointed.

“Bren, this till’s playing up.” Jean turned to Bren.

“Eh? Oh it’s been doing that since you went away. I’ll sort it, you do the toast.” Bren said as she and Jean swapped places. Jean mouthed a quiet ‘Thank you’ and Bren gave her a smile, “You’re looking tanned, Jane! How was Marbella?”

“Oh, it were brilliant! Honestly it were absolutely roasting but so fun!” Jane laughed, “You would’ve loved it, Bren! It was a blast.”

“I’m glad you had a good time. I’m sorry again about everything.” Bren said softly.

“Don’t apologise. Honestly I don’t blame you for doing what you did. You’ve got a kind heart, Bren.” Jane pointed as Jean brought over the last of her toast, “Thanks, Jean.”

“Well, I do try.” Bren giggled as she ducked her head.

“You do a great job. See you later.” Jane smiled.

“Bye, Jane!” Bren waved. She quickly sorted out the till before turning to Jean, “That’s the till sorted, Jean.”

“Bren? Bren?” Jane called suddenly from the half door. Bren turned and walked over to her.

“You alright?”

“Yeah, listen. Tony spent the whole time in Marbella talking about you. I kept telling him ‘You need to shoot your shot, you’re gonna lose her if you don’t’ but obviously, he didn’t listen. But I want you to know because he really likes you and I’m not just saying that cause I’m friends with him, I mean it, Bren.”

“I-.”

“You better not be distracting her, Jane.” Tony stepped forward, “The last thing I need is this one slipping.”

“Not at all, Tony. I would never do such a thing. See ya, Bren.” Jane gave Bren a wink before going to sit down.

“Bye, Jane.” Bren said softly.

“What was she saying?” Tony asked.

“Oh, um,” Bren had to think quick. What could seem believable? “She was wondering what the soup was.”

“Can she not read? It’s up.” Tony pointed.

“No, I know but she was just clarifying.” Bren shrugged.

“‘Clarifying’, all she eats is that toast!” Tony sighed. He looked down at her, “What’s up?”

“Hm? Nothing. I better get back to work.” Bren walked over to the toaster.

“Fair enough.” Tony shrugged and walked off.

Bren smiled as she walked him off to do the bacon. He focused on the bacon as Bren watched him from the corner of her eye. She thought about what Jane had said and she was surprised. Bren knew that Tony sort of liked her. They nearly went home together after the Christmas party and he was adamant about her going on the holiday but a lot of things had held them back. Bren had been gearing herself up to ask him out for a while and after hearing that from Jane, it cemented that she should do it. She knew Jane wouldn’t lie about that type of thing. All she had to do now was get herself in the right frame of mind to shoot her shot. ‘All in good time, Brenda’ she thought. All in good time.

Tony noticed Bren was quieter than normal. She was fine earlier but after breakfast time, she seemed to have shut off. She kept herself to herself and even when Stan came in for his brew, Bren didn’t say much. As the other women talked in the canteen with their brews, Tony decided to go and talk to her.

Bren was standing at the toaster as she sipped her tea quietly. She was deep in her thoughts about Tony and asking him out. There were so many ways she could go about it but as she stood there, she figured out a plan. Bren would get him on his own and ask if he would want to go for dinner some night. If she was going to be honest, she was free all the time so any night was fine by her. It was quiet right now so she decided now was her time. She stood up straight and put her mug down but as she was about to go find him, Tony walked into the kitchen. He walked briskly but slowed down when he noticed her looking at him.

“I, um. I just wanted to see if you were alright.” Tony walked slowly to her, “You’ve been quite quiet today.”

“Yeah, sorry about that. I’m fine, there isn't anything going on or anything. Just sort of stuck in my thoughts, y’know?” Bren shrugged.

“D’you want to talk about it?” Tony asked.

“It’s nothing important.” Bren shrugged it off. He watched as she started to play with her fingers and could see whatever was going on was playing on her mind. Before he could say anything, she looked up at him, “Jane told me that when you were in Marbella, you spent the whole time talking about me.”

“She did?” Tony raised his brows. This wasn’t going to be good.

“Mhm.”

“Well, I mean, yeah. I was. I was obviously saying good things, I weren’t being horrible.”

“No, I know. Jane said that. She didn’t say what you were saying but she pretty much said that it wasn’t bad.” Bren went back to playing with her fingers, “She said that you like me.”

“She did?” Tony said again. Oh he was being hit with surprise after surprise today, “Again, I can’t deny that. I um, I do like you. I like you a lot, Bren.”

“Do you really?” Bren lit up. She found herself getting a bit overexcited.

“Yeah! Yeah, I mean, you’re… you’re-.” Tony began but he was cut off by Stan storming in with his bollard.

“Coming through! I’ve got leakage on the second floor urinals.” Stan barged through as Bren and Tony watched him leave the kitchen.

“Are you free tomorrow?” Bren looked up at Tony when they were alone again.

“Eh?” Tony turned.

“I thought we could go out for tea or something. Just the two of us.”

“Yeah! Yeah, I’d like that. That’d be um, that’d be really good.”

“Good.”

“Where d’you want to go? There’s an Italian I heard was good in town.”

“Yeah. Let’s go there.”

“Seven o’clock? I’ll come pick you up.”

“It’s a date.” Bren gave him a smile.

“Bren? Come here a minute.” Dolly called from the canteen.

“I’ll go book a table now.” Tony smiled and headed into the office.

Bren left the kitchen thinking about their date they planned. She couldn’t be more excited for it if she was completely honest. There was so much to think about like what was she going to wear, what would happen after the date, would she tell him about Martin? That was probably the biggest problem for her but right now, Bren wanted to enjoy the excitement for her date. The dinnerladies watched Bren walk through from the kitchen and what they wanted to ask her totally went out the window. They noticed her slightly distant look as she smiled to herself, holding a hand over her chin.

“What’re you smiling at?” Jean asked as she crossed her arms.

“Eh? Oh, nothing.” Bren broke out of her thoughts. She joined them at the table, “What were you wanting me for?”

All the women around the table looked at each other and smirks grew on their lips. Bren frowned, she didn’t know what was going on. 

“What?” Bren asked.

“What’s happened? You’re smiling like a Cheshire Cat!” Dolly replied.

“I’m not.” Bren ducked her head. She really couldn’t get rid of that smile.

“Have you pulled?” Twinkle gave her a nudge.

“‘Pulled’? Twink, we’re at work. In a factory canteen.” Jean screwed her face.

“Anything can happen.” Twinkle crossed her arms.

“You were talking to Tony just now. Is it something with him?” Anita asked before she gasped, “You didn’t pull Tony just now?”

“No!” Bren laughed.

“Well, something’s happened!” Dolly’s eyes widened.

“Nothing has happened.” Bren tried to keep them quiet. That’s when Tony walked in.

“What were you two doing in there?” Jean asked.

“Eh? What d’you mean?” Tony frowned. He looked at Bren but she just shook her head.

“Were you having sex?” Anita asked naively.

“Anita!” Bren couldn’t help but laugh. She really hoped no one saw her bright red cheeks.

“No, Bren and I were not having sex but if we were to do so, we wouldn’t do it in a food preparation area. I’d like to think we have some dignity, don’t we, Bren?” Tony gave her a nudge before pulling up a chair.

“Well, what were you doing then?” Twinkle asked.

Bren and Tony sighed as they looked at each other. They knew they weren’t going to get out of this one.

“Shall we tell them?” Tony asked.

“After you.” Bren sat back in her chair.

“Me and Bren are going out for tea tomorrow night.” Tony announced to the four women.

“Oh my God!” Anita beamed.

“So you did pull, Bren!” Twinkle nudged Bren.

“Going to dinner means you’re going on a date then?” Dolly asked with a smile.

“Yeah, you better not be just going for dinner as ‘just friends’. We’ve had enough of that from you two. It’s about time you got it together.” Jean pointed at them.

“Just gonna see where the night takes us, ain’t we, matey?” Tony smiled at Bren who giggled.

“Oh! Cardiman thinks he’s gonna get lucky.” Twinkle laughed before she started to sing, “Agadoo-do-do!”

- - -

Friday

- - -

Bren put the bread away when she heard footsteps approaching. Dolly and Jean walked in and noticed Bren crouched down at the till. Bren looked up at the two women.

“Morning, girls!” Bren smiled, “You alright?”

“Oh yes.” Dolly grinned, “Tonight’s the night!”

“Yeah, what you wearing?” Jean asked.

“Not decided yet.” Bren giggled as she stood up, “Don’t want to get too dressed up of course.”

“Oh you should, Bren! You’ll blow him away!” Jean gave her a nudge.

“Exactly. Where is Tony anyway?” Dolly asked.

“Having a fag.” Bren replied.

“Typical.” Dolly tutted and the two women went into the office.

“Hiya!” Anita walked in with Twinkle.

“Alright, Bren? Excited for tonight?” Twinkle walked forward with a grin on her face.

“I guess so.” Bren shrugged, “Not getting my hopes up too much.”

“Aww, Bren. You’ll have a brilliant time.” Anita smiled.

“Yeah! And you might get it on with El Sado! D’you think you’ll go back to his after?” Twinkle asked.

“Twink, I haven’t even thought about if I’m gonna wear a dress or trousers yet.” Bren rolled her eyes.

“You better get sorted!” Twinkle encouraged her.

“Yeah, Bren. You should wear a dress. Tony’ll like that!” Anita nodded.

“What will Tony like?” Tony walked in from the fire escape and shut the door before they could shout at him.

“For Bren to wear a dress tonight.” Anita looked at him.

“Well of course. Anything to get her out of those leggings.” Tony rolled his eyes as Bren started to laugh.

“Optimistic point of view.” Twinkle rolled her eyes and she and Anita headed into the office.

“Are you wearing a dress tonight, Bren?” Tony asked.

“I dunno yet. Why? Are you?” Bren joked.

“Ha! I want to make sure we’re not wearing the same dress.” Tony teased as they then laughed, “You’ll look great tonight. Whatever you wear. Even if it is those knock off leggings.”

“Thanks very much.” Bren said sarcastically but deep inside, she was really flattered, “I guess you’ll just have to find out tonight.”

“I guess I will.” Tony smiled down at her.

“Hey, where are you going for dinner then?” Twinkle came out of the office with Dolly, Jean and Anita following after her.

“We’re not telling you lot.” Tony turned to the four women.

“Why?” Twinkle frowned.

“Oh come on, Tony! Tell us.” Jean crossed her arms.

“No because you’ll end up spying on us. One of the reasons we’re going out tonight is to get away from you lot. Now, can we get some work started?” Tony told them.

“Alright, keep your scrotum on.” Twinkle sighed before Dolly swatted her shoulder.

“Thank you!” Dolly scolded.

Bren and Tony looked at each other when the women moved away from them. They started to laugh quietly.

“It’s gonna be a long day, int it?” Tony grabbed his overall and put it on.

“Yeah but we’ve got tonight don’t we?” Bren shrugged.

“Yeah. I guess we do, don’t we?” Tony’s face lit up. He squeezed her shoulder, “Let’s get cracking eh?”

They got their work started and soon they were serving breakfast. Somehow, everyone they served knew about their date tonight. Probably from Jane who was first in line as always. When they were finished serving breakfast, Philippa came in to pester them about some teambuilding exercise.

“We won’t do it, Philippa. No point in pushing for it.” Jean sat back in her chair.

“Alright. Fair enough.” Philippa shrugged, “What about Bren and Tony? Do you think they’d like to do it?”

“You’d need to ask.” Dolly took a sip of her tea.

“Where are they?” Philippa asked.

“She’s in the toilet, he’s having a fag.” Twinkle sighed.

“Thanks.” Philippa smiled. She scuttled off into the kitchen just in time for Bren to come out of the toilet, “Bren?”

“Oh hiya, Philippa.” Bren crossed her arms.

“Hi. I just wanted to ask you about this new teambuilding exercise I thought about doing. Group yoga, what d’you think?” Philippa asked.

“No thanks. We definitely won’t want to do that. Sorry. Did you just ask the girls?” Bren asked.

“Yeah.” Philippa sounded defeated, “I thought you’d all like yoga.”

“Probably not. Sorry.” Bren smiled, “Don’t beat yourself up about it. I’m sure you’ll find something they’ll like.” 

“Hmm, we’ll see.” Philippa looked at her folders in her arms before her face lit up, “Nevermind that, how about you and Tony? I hear you’re going on a date tonight.”

“Yeah. Just for dinner, no big romantic gestures or anything.” 

“Are you excited?”

“Yeah, I mean-. Yeah, I am. Still have no idea what to wear but I’m sure it’ll be fun.”

“Aww, that’s lovely, Bren. I’m really happy for you. It’s been a long time coming, especially since you didn’t get to go on that holiday.”

“I know.” Bren said softly as she crossed her arms. The thought of the holiday they never had still upset her, “Just need to see what happens I guess.”

“Aw, Bren! I hope you have a great night.” Philippa smiled.

The day continued and they soon were serving lunch. They finished a little earlier on a Friday because there weren't many meetings in the afternoon. Bren was in a bit of a rush to get home so she could get ready so she rushed to the office to get out of her tabard and overall. Tony came back in from the fire escape as he saw her rushing about.

“That you off?” Tony asked.

“Yeah. There’s a bus in a few minutes that I can get.” Bren replied as she put on her anorak.

“You sure you don’t want me to give you a lift home?” Tony asked.

“No, it’s fine.” Bren stepped out of the office. She was ready to go when they made eye contact. It seemed to go quiet between the two, “I’ll see you tonight then?”

“Yes. Yes, I’ll see you tonight.” Tony nodded nervously. Why was he getting nervous? He looked up at her, “Don’t expect something fancy or anything. I mean the restaurant, it’s not anything really special. I’m sorry, I dunno why I said that.”

“It’s okay.” Bren giggled. She then stood on her tiptoes and planted a soft kiss on his cheek, “Bye, Tony.”

“Bye, Bren.” Tony managed to choke out.

He watched her walk out of the kitchen. His heart seemed to flutter when she kissed his cheek. He really had not felt like this about anyone ever. It was so surreal but amazing. Tony could not wait for tonight. He turned slowly when he was brought out of his thoughts to see Dolly, Jean, Anita and Twinkle all standing at the half door with big smiles on their faces.

“Flipping heck! I nearly had a heart attack.” Tony breathed, holding his chest, “What’re you lot doing?”

“Cardiman’s in love!” Twinkle said in a sing-songy tone.

“Aww, look! He’s totally smitten.” Jean laughed.

“Yeah, yeah! Alright. That’s enough from you lot.” Tony sighed, “D’you not have homes to go to?”

Tony drove into Bren’s street and stopped when he was outside the bedsit. He tooted the horn before sitting back in his seat. Tony had decided to go for a simple blue button down shirt and black trousers after an hour of trying to decide. He hoped Bren had managed to find something to wear after hearing her say she didn’t know what to wear. If he was going to be honest, she would look great in anything.

He saw a light come on in the corner of his eye. Tony turned and realised it was Bren’s front door opening. Bren walked out of the bedsit stair and approached the car. She wore a navy blue dress that went down to just below her knees and was sleeveless. The dress had a knot detail at the bust and on her feet, she wore black heels. As she walked, she held a black blazer in her arms and her bag on her shoulder. She looked absolutely amazing. Tony didn’t know what to expect but this wasn’t it. He knew she scrubbed up well. She looked amazing at the Christmas party but this was a whole other level. She was just perfect.

“Hiya.” Bren said as she got into the car.

“Hi.” Tony said softly. He tried to not look too shocked by her look tonight.

“You alright?” Bren asked as she got herself sorted.

“Yeah, you?” Tony asked.

“Yeah. Excited.” Bren smiled at him. 

“Me too.” Tony smiled, “You look great. By the way.”

“Give over.” Bren giggled.

Tony laughed. He drove to the restaurant and parked up. The two got out of the car and walked to the restaurant. They were taken to their table before starting to look at their menus.

“What d’you think you’re having then?” Tony asked.

“Dunno. That pizza looks nice.” Bren said.

“Which one?” Tony showed her his menu.

“That one.” Bren pointed.

“Ooh, that does look nice. D’you wanna share?”

“Okay. You sure? D’you not want something else?”

“No, that pizza looks really nice.”

They ordered their dinner and drinks. The table they were at was tucked away and they were able to relax properly. They talked about everything in their lives. There wasn’t anything they didn’t talk about. Bren went to the toilet at one point but as she walked back, Tony could tell there was something on her mind. She sat down and gave him a small smile.

“You alright?” Tony asked.

“Yeah.” Bren said. She moved the fork at her side before looking up at him, “D’you want to get dessert?”

“Yeah, why not?” Tony smiled. He noticed Bren bow her head quietly, “You sure you’re alright, Bren?”

“I haven’t been totally honest with you.” Bren sighed softly. She started to play with her fingers.

“What d’you mean?” Tony was expecting the worst. Prepare yourself, Tony. She’s gonna kick him to the curb like the rest of them.

“I umm, I’m married.” Bren replied. She didn’t want to look at him but she knew she had to. Her eyes lifted slowly and the look on his face made her heart shatter.

“You are?” Tony asked. He couldn’t believe it. She was already taken. What about all the men she had been on dates with? This all didn’t make sense, “For how long?”

“Ten years.” Bren replied.

“Crikey.”

“Yeah.”

“But I don’t understand, Bren. I thought you were single. You never told me about being married or… Do the girls know? Does Stan know?”

“The girls don’t but Stan does. I’ve been trying to sort a divorce out and Stan’s the only one who knows. The reason I didn’t tell anyone was because it’s not exactly a proper marriage. I was with him but I didn’t plan to marry him.”

“What d’you mean?”

“He sort of tricked me into going to the registry office and I just went through with it. I was a bit scared of him, y’know? And all his friends were there and they all had teeth missing. But mainly it was the registrar. She came in with this neck brace on and like, limping and she said ‘I shouldn’t be here, I’ve come off me moped but I didn’t wanna let you down’. And she had a black eye, this registrar and her hair was all flat on one side where she’d hit the tarmac and… I just thought I should go through with it.”

“So you got married to a man you were scared of because the registrar had a neck brace and a flat hairdo?”

“Well, she’d come in specially.”

Tony couldn’t help but laugh. He looked up at Bren then and noticed her eyes misting over. He took her hand in his, giving it a squeeze. He knew she wasn’t trying to have him as the bit on the side or anything like that. Tony knew things she had gone through as a kid with her mother and now knowing this made so much more sense. Why she lived in that bedsit all alone, why she was so happy all the time that you never saw any other emotions, why she was so caring to everyone else. He could see all the things that made him love her for who she was.

“Oh Bren.” Tony said softly as he rubbed her hand gently with his thumb, “It’s alright.”

“It’s not though. I lied to you.” Bren replied. She bit back the tears. She was determined to not break that eight year streak.

“You didn’t lie. You’re not a liar. Look, I get it. I do wish you’d told me sooner but you’re not a liar.” Tony explained. He looked down at her hand and noticed how well it fitted into his, “What’s his name? Your husband’s, I mean.”

“Martin.” Bren bowed her head, “I haven’t seen him in a few years. Well, not until recently after trying to get the divorce sorted. It is getting sorted.”

“I know.” Tony nodded, “Did you leave him?”

“Yeah. When I got the courage to. He was a drunk and he, um, he was quite friendly with his fists, let's just say.” Bren said quickly.

Tony’s heart dropped. To think of Bren in that situation broke his heart. He hated to think of Bren being hurt in any way, especially by a man who was meant to love her. He looked up at her and she seemed so sad. Deep down, this was who she was. A woman who had experienced so much hurt in her life. She deserved the world and that was all he wanted to give her.

“I’m really sorry, Bren.” Tony squeezed her hand. 

“It doesn’t matter.” Bren shook her head.

“It does, Bren. All of this matters. That’s why I’m here, mate. I want to know everything about you. The good, the bad, the ugly. Everything. You mean so much to me.” Tony reassured her. She looked up at him. Those big blue eyes seemed to burn into his soul. He sat forward, “You can tell me anything, Bren. You know that, don’t you? I don’t want you to bottle up anything ever.”

“I know.” Bren nodded, “Thank you.”

“You don’t need to thank me. You’ve been just as good to me. It’s the least I can do.” Tony gave her a smile.

Bren felt the weight of the world fall off her shoulders then. The fact he took that revelation so well made her feel so much better. It didn’t totally confirm if he still liked her but that didn’t matter right now. What mattered was that he listened and he cared. That meant more than anything. She smiled back at him.

“Hey, Bren?” He gave her hand a squeeze then.

“What?” She asked.

“D’you wanna get dessert? We can share.” Tony gave her a wink. She started to laugh. Bren could get used to this.

“Okay.” Bren nodded. She hoped he didn’t see her blushing cheeks.

They got their dessert and continued to laugh. Bren felt so grateful for Tony more than she ever had. She felt so secure right now and couldn’t think of anything better than this moment. She didn’t want it to end.

After bickering about who was going to pay, Tony got the bill and they left. They got into the car and headed back to Bren’s. They were quieter in the car as they drove through the Manchester streets. Both thinking about how they would say goodbye after their night. ‘2 Become 1’ by the Spice Girls played on the radio quietly and they both tried to not to think about the other in relation to the song. They seemed to have gotten back to Bren’s quicker than they did leaving. The two got out of the car as they met each other on the path in front of Bren’s bedsit.

“So?” Tony said softly, stuffing his hands into his pockets.

“So…” Bren repeated. She looked up at him and smiled, “I had a great night tonight. Really, I did.”

“Me too.” Tony smiled, “It was great. You were great.”

“I could say the same for you.” Bren giggled, “Thank you. And thank you for taking all the stuff with Martin so well. I know it’s a bit of a, not prepubescent. I mean predicament.”

“It’s fine. It could have been worse.” Tony joked, “You could have told me you were Mr. flipping Blobby and I wouldn’t have cared.”

“What if I told you that I lived with my mother?” Bren raised a brow.

“That would be too far.” Tony shook his head and Bren laughed. He laughed with her, admiring how beautiful she was when she smiled.

Their laughter died down then as they caught each other’s eye. The moonlight glowed down on them like they were the last humans on Earth. Only they mattered in this moment. Bren thought back to earlier when she told Tony about Martin and everything that happened between them. He had been so caring and listened to everything she had to say. He was the first man to properly do that for her. She still wasn’t sure if he still had feelings for her like he had told her the day before but she certainly did for him. If anything, Bren had grown fonder of Tony. If she was never going to be with him, she had to at least have something of him that could keep her going.

Tony was aware of her stepping forward. He thought she may have been just shifting her weight but she inched closer. Tony didn’t really comprehend what was going on but could feel himself inching closer. Slowly, their lips pressed against one another. it was everything they could hope for. It was only supposed to be a goodnight kiss but it just felt so right. Like the puzzle was finally coming together. It felt like it went on for an eternity but they actually broke it off pretty quickly. They both already missed the other’s lips. Bren rubbed her lips together as she looked at the ground whilst Tony wore a very bemused look on his face.

“I, um. I’ll see you Monday then?” Bren said softly.

“Yeah.” Tony nodded, “See you on Monday.”

He watched her walk away. She seemed so far away as she reached her front door. Tony decided to go back to the car. He wanted more after that kiss but he knew to take things slow. Going home with that kiss on his mind was enough for him. He had Monday to wait for.

“Tony?” Bren called for him from the door. Tony looked up just as he was about to open the car door and noticed Bren standing in the doorway, the light of the stair outlining her, “D’you want to come up?”

He couldn’t believe she was asking him that. If he was going to be honest, he couldn’t think of anything he wanted more. All he wanted was to be with her. Any little thing that got him closer to that conclusion was like gold. 

“Yeah. Okay.” Tony managed to choke out.

Tony locked his car and walked to the front door. Bren watched his every move quietly. Her stomach turned to knots but she was happy and sure that she was doing the right thing. She had so much trust and faith in Tony and after tonight, he was the whole thing that truly mattered to her. Tony approached the door and walked up the steps. He stopped in front of her before passing over her threshold.

“Are you sure you want me to come up?” Tony asked softly.

“Yes.” Bren replied, “Absolutely.”

Tony smiled then. Bren smiled back too. She let him past as he stepped into the building. Bren closed the door behind them. This was the best night they both had in a very long time.

Chapter Text

Bren wiped down the tables as she hummed softly. It had been a long day. Her back was aching. Bren stood up as she stretched her back. Suddenly it was quiet. Bren looked around herself and noticed that it was empty. And dark. The only light that came through was from the panels near the doors to the canteen. Silhouettes moved back and forth.

“Hello?” A voice boomed. Bren almost jumped out of her skin. She knew that voice instantly, “Hello!”

The doors swung open and Martin walked in. She frowned. Why the hell was he here? He looked different from the last time she saw him. Thinner, less grey. He was drunk too. The clothes were familiar to her. His unbuttoned shirt and undershirt exposed, black trousers with a large brown belt around his waist. Martin smiled when he approached her. She knew what this memory was from. The night he hurt her the most. They’d been out and she spoke to one of her old friends, a boy from the children’s home. He was jealous. Took it out on her. Slapping, punching, kicking. She was surprised she got away from him that night but she managed. Bren was always resilient. That was the last night she would let him hurt her, the last night she would let herself cry.

“There you are. You think you can run off with another man? You’re a slapper.” Martin said through gritted teeth.

She knew she had to run. Martin lunged at her but Bren moved fast. She ran to the doors and now ran down the halls of the factory. The halls seemed to go on forever. Bren had never run so fast. She felt herself flagging but she knew she had to keep going. 

Bren approached the main entrance of the factory. Finally she was able to get out. She could see her friends outside. Tony too. Once she was out, she’d be okay. They all ran up to the door when they noticed her. Bren tried to open the door but she couldn’t. It wouldn’t budge. Tony now stood in front of her on the other side of the door with their friends around him as they all banged on the door.

“It won’t open! I can’t open it.” Bren panicked. She turned around and looked into the darkness. She couldn’t see Martin but she couldn’t be sure. Bren went back to trying to open the door.

“Bren.” A voice called from behind her. But it wasn’t Martin. It was a woman’s voice. The voice she dreaded the most.

Bren looked over her shoulder and saw Petula standing behind her. Her arms held out to welcome Bren in but that was the last thing she wanted to do. Petula wore a menacing smile. Bren wasn’t going to fall for that.

“Come on, Bren. Stay with me. Stay with mummy.” Petula taunted. She could hear her moving closer. Bren continued to try and get the door open. The others on the outside tried to get the doors open as well but it didn’t work. That’s when she felt cold hands on her. Digits digging into her arms, pulling her back.

“That’s it. Come with me.” Petula pulled her back, “You can stay with me forever and look after me.”

“No! No! Tony!” Bren tried to pull away, reaching out her arms. Tony banged on the door and spoke but she couldn’t hear what he was saying, “Tony! Tony!”

Petula pulled her back further. Her sight of Tony and their friends seemed to fade. She was being dragged into the darkness. Finally, she heard him, calling softly into her ear.

“Bren? Bren?”

- - -

Tony was aware of her stirring in his sleep. He opened his eyes to the dim light in their room as he looked over to her. She was lying on her back, frowning in her sleep. Bren turned her head slightly as she dreamed, her breath becoming fast.

“Bren?“ Tony shook her arm gently, “Bren?”

Bren opened her eyes slowly. She felt groggy, disoriented. She sat up, looking around the dark room. Was she still there? In that place? Tony turned to put his lamp on at the side. Bren squinted her eyes as she realised she wasn’t in the factory in her dreams. She was home. She was in her home in Scotland. The rain outside battered off the window, it was slightly cold in the room. The lamp lit up the room which was finally now fully furnished and rid of boxes after two years of living there. This was the place she felt safest.

“Are you alright, mate?” Tony asked softly, his hand going to her shoulder. He was here. Tony was with her, “Bren?”

“Yeah.” She said softly. She felt dazed. Bren looked at him and noticed the concerned but tired look, “You should get back to sleep. It’s nothing.”

“It’s not nothing, mate.” Tony shook his head as she turned her head, bowing it, “What was it? Nightmare?”

Bren nodded in reply. She wasn’t sure she wanted to tell him. It wasn’t the worst nightmare she ever had but it was about things she feared the most. It wasn’t possible that those things would happen. Her mother was dead and she hadn’t heard anything from Martin since they got divorced. 

“I’m gonna get some water.” Bren went to get out of the bed but Tony stopped her. She looked at him.

“I have water here.” Tony said. He reached over to his bedside table and handed her the glass, “It’s pretty fresh.”

“Thanks.” Bren smiled with a sigh. She took a few gulps. When she was finished, Tony took the glass off her and put it on the bedside table again. Bren looked at him, “I never meant to wake you. What time is it?”

“Half one. It’s alright, mate. I just want to know you’re okay.” Tony took her hand. They were quiet for a moment, looking at their hands intertwined, “What happened? You can tell me.”

Bren looked at him. She trusted Tony with her life. She knew he wouldn’t do anything to hurt her but in that moment, in the silence of their bedroom, she felt so alone. That lonely little girl at the children’s home. Obsessed with films, hated celery and always wanted an etch-a-sketch but never got one. Bren took a deep breath then and reminded herself of where she was. Who she was with. 

“I was in the canteen, back home and Martin came in. He wanted to hurt me but I got out and I was running through the factory but it just went on for ages. I got to the front doors and you were there with all the girls and Stan but I couldn’t get out. I was stuck and then my mother was there and… she got me.” Bren explained. She looked up at him, “It’s a stupid one, eh?”

“No, it’s not.” Tony shook his head, “All dreams are a bit mad. Especially the scary ones.”

“Of all things though, why that? Why them? I haven’t thought about them in so long.”

“They just like to creep up on us, Bren. It’s not an omen or anything. Don’t start thinking it’s a sign that your mother’s back from the dead or that Martin’s coming to the B&B, I know how your mind can be. It was just a dream.”

“It felt so real.”

“But it’s not. You’re here, you’re safe. I’m not gonna let anything get to you.” Tony reassured her, “Whether it’s in real life or not.”

Bren gave him a little smile. He wrapped his arm around her as he brought her close and lay back down. She cuddled into him, her head on his chest as Tony rubbed circles on her back. She wrapped her arms around his waist then, not wanting to ever let go.

“I love you, Tony.” Bren looked up at him.

“I love you too.” Tony smiled down at her.

Bren leaned up and kissed his lips. Her heart rate had come down since she woke up and she felt like she could finally relax. Knowing he was there and he was real made her feel so much better. Bren lay her head back on his chest as he continued to rub her back. Tony felt her relax against him and knew she was becoming tired again. He reached over to turn the lamp off but she stopped him.

“No, don’t.” Bren stopped him, “Keep it on. Please.”

“Alright, mate.” Tony smiled.

Tony kissed the top of her head and held her closer to him. He was about to say goodnight when he realised she had already fallen asleep again. She was safe and he was going to make sure she would stay that way always.

Chapter Text

Bren sat forward as she put her empty wine glass on the coffee table. She relaxed into the couch next to Tony. He put his arm around Bren, kissing her temple.

“You alright?” Tony said softly.

“Yeah. I’m tired.” Bren rested her hand on his thigh.

“What time is it?” Tony asked. He sat up and looked at the clock on the side, “It’s half ten now.”

“I think I’m gonna go through.” Bren sat up.

“Are you sure?” Tony rested his hand on her back.

“Yeah. I’m knackered.” Bren replied before yawning.

“Alright.” Tony sat back, “I probably won’t be far behind you, mate.”

“Okay. I’ll try and get the bed warm for you.” Bren got up from the couch.

“Not too warm now. I’ll be roasting.” Tony teased.

Bren giggled. She leaned down and gave him a quick peck on the lips. Tony watched her as she tiredly walked down the hall to the bathroom and smiled to himself. It had been a long week and he could tell she was feeling the effects. They had a quiet day today and it was nice just for them to be together.

Bren brushed her teeth and moisturised her face before changing into her oversized t-shirt she wore in bed. She brushed her hair as she sat on the edge of the bed. As she yawned again, she was aware of movement in the living room. Tony never stayed up too long after she went to bed so she was happy he was coming through now.

Tony left the empty wine glasses next to the sink and put the bottle of wine back in the fridge. He turned off the lights in the living room and headed into the bathroom. He brushed his teeth too and took tablets for the headache he had.

Tony left the bathroom, turning off the light behind him. He walked through to the bedroom as he walked in quietly. Bren was already in bed asleep. Her lamp was off but the lamp at his side of the bed was still on. ‘Always considerate’ Tony thought to himself. It was cold tonight and Bren was snuggled into the covers. Tony couldn’t help but stare at her as he stood in the doorway. The dim light made her short curls shine. She frowned softly in her sleep and Tony knew he could never find anyone more beautiful than her. Bren was just perfect. He really had not felt like this for anyone before. With Bren, everything felt so right. Though Tony was unhappy about where he was right now, his life with Bren was perfect. She meant so much to him and he was now realising how much he loved her. How much he already loved her and how much more he was willing to love her. Nothing mattered except her.

Tony got out of his clothes and put on his pyjama t-shirt atop his boxers. He walked around the bed, pulling the covers back enough so he could get in without disturbing Bren. As he sat, he turned the lamp off.

Bren felt a dip in the mattress when Tony got into the bed. She was aware of him coming into the bedroom but wasn’t properly awake until he got into the bed. His arms engulfed her waist, bringing him closer to his chest. She smiled to herself, feeling so safe in his arms. She could feel Tony resting his chin on her shoulder and when Bren felt satisfied that he was finally asleep, she closed her eyes.

“I think I’m falling in love with you.” Tony whispered softly into her hair. Bren opened her eyes wide, looking into the darkness of the room. That was the last thing she expected him to say. 

Bren turned her head slowly and could tell he was already asleep. The fact he said it at all made her heart want to burst out of her chest. She could not be happier than she was right now. Her tiredness fell over her again once more. She relaxed into the pillow, snuggling into Tony’s arms more. She closed her eyes, happy in the arms of the man she loved and he loved her.

Chapter Text

Tony was gone. He left as soon as she told him Martin was her husband. She couldn’t blame him but it hurt like nothing else had hurt her before. Bren wanted to curl up in a ball and forget about it all. Bren went into the kitchen and grabbed her anorak as Martin followed her.

“That your new boyfriend then?” Martin said, “You didn’t even tell him you were married.”

“Leave it, Martin.” Bren shook her head.

“You didn’t even tell him. That’s low, even for you. No wonder he walked. I take it he works here then?” Martin asked.

“I didn’t tell him because I didn’t think it would go anywhere if you must know. I was going to tell him soon.” Bren pulled on her anorak before walking back to the kitchen, “And yes, he works here.”

“Hm. Canteen romance then?” Martin followed her, his hands in his pockets.

“That doesn’t matter right now. I wanted to talk to you about the divorce.” Bren turned.

“Well, what do you want to talk about?”

“I want it sorted. We haven’t been together for years, we weren’t even together when we got married.”

“And you want us to be divorced so you can crack on with Loverboy? You know I doubt he’ll want you after finding out you’re married.”

“That doesn’t matter right now. Just let’s get the papers sorted, alright? I live my life, you live yours. We have no need for each other anymore.” Bren stood her ground, “We never really did.”

“Why don’t we go for a drink? You and me.” Martin approached her, “We could go to the Winston Churchill.”

“No. I’d rather not, sorry.” Bren shook her head. That was the last thing she wanted to do, especially when she had potentially lost the love of her life for good and she was on a come down from those pills Twinkle gave her. 

“Come on, Bren. For old time’s sake. We can discuss it properly.” Martin got closer, taking her arm.

“No, Martin. I don’t want to go.” Bren insisted.

“Let’s just go for a drink.” Martin started to pull on her sleeve.

“Martin, I said no.” Bren replied, trying to get her arm away from him.

“Just come for a drink.”

“Martin, no!”

“Just come for a bloody drink!”

“Let go of me!” Bren exclaimed. Her anorak tore at her shoulder which caused Martin to let go. Bren fell to the floor with an ‘Oomph’.

Tony sat in his car. He couldn’t believe all of this. She had a husband? What the hell was she thinking? Why didn’t she tell him? Tony felt so stupid but at the same time, he just couldn’t believe Bren would lie like this. The look on her face when Martin walked in, she looked terrified. Probably terrified for the consequences. 

Tony wanted to say so much. He wanted to know so much. He needed a drink but he couldn’t bring himself to start the car. He couldn’t bring himself to leave the factory. He couldn’t go until he’d spoken to Bren. Tony had to know why she hadn’t told him.

Tony got out the car and headed back into the factory. He had never walked so fast in all his life. He headed straight to the canteen. As he approached, Tony could hear a commotion from the canteen. He frowned, his pace quickening. Tony rushed through the canteen doors and saw Martin pulling Bren’s arm.

“Let go of me!” Bren shouted before her anorak tore and she fell to the ground.

Bren sat up slowly before she looked at the tear on her anorak. Martin stood over Bren, huffing as he looked at her. Tony didn’t care about what had happened with Bren, Martin had hurt her and he was more than willing to help her. He approached him fast, not thinking twice about what he was going to do.

“Martin.” Tony called over as he approached him.

Martin turned but before he could say anything, Tony punched him square in the jaw. Martin fell to the ground. Bren’s eyes widened as she watched on and she hoped that Martin wouldn’t fight back. Martin stood up slowly, wiping his bloody lip. Bren’s stomach tightened.

“I’ll uh, I’ll speak to my lawyer, Bren.” Martin said softly before quickly leaving the canteen. 

Tony turned to Bren and helped her up. When she got up, Bren looked up at him as he held her hands. She couldn’t read the expression on his face so she slowly took her hands away from his. She stayed quiet, playing with her fingers. 

“Are you alright?” Tony asked.

“Yeah.” Bren nodded.

“Your anorak’s torn.” Tony pointed out.

“It’s fine. It’s just a tear.” She looked up at him and saw the genuine concern all over his face. This was not what she expected at all, ”Why are you helping me?”

“He hurt you, Bren. I couldn’t let him do anymore damage.” Tony explained, “I wouldn’t have just stood by.”

“He wouldn’t have done anything else.” Bren shook her head, “He’s clearly not got a good drink in him yet or he would have tried to get you.”

“Oh I’m sure I would have managed.” Tony put his hands in his pockets as he shuffled in his shoes. A wave of sadness hit him as he looked at her. Her anorak was torn and she kept her head down. She looked so sad and it broke his heart, “Bren, why didn’t you tell me?”

“I’m sorry. I was going to.” Bren shook her head. 

“Ten years, Bren. I’ve known you for eight, how do I not know this?” Tony asked.

“I never told anyone. No one knows.” Bren bowed her head again.

He sighed then. Tony tilted her chin so she could look at him. Her eyes were filling up but she held it back.

“Tell me.” Tony said, “I want to know.”

Bren studied his face and knew it was time. All of this had been bubbling up inside of her. She hoped she would be divorced before anything serious happened between them but here they were. She stepped back and looked at the table near them. Bren pulled out a chair and sat down. Tony joined her at the table.

“He tricked me into going to the registry office and I just went through with it.” Bren began explaining, “I was a bit scared of him, y’know? And all his friends were there and they all had teeth missing. But mainly it was the registrar. She came in with this neck brace on and like, limping and she said ‘I shouldn’t be here, I’ve come off me moped but I didn’t wanna let you down’. And she had a black eye, this registrar and her hair was all flat on one side where she’d hit the tarmac and… I just thought I should go through with it.”

“So you got married to a man you were scared of because the registrar had a neck brace and a flat hairdo?” Tony asked as he screwed up his face.

“Well, she’d come in specially.” Bren replied with a shrug. She looked at Tony and wanted him to say something but he didn’t, “I’m sorry, Tony. I didn’t mean for all of this to happen.”

“Bren, it’s alright.” Tony shook his head.

“But it isn’t. You deserve-.” Bren went to say but Tony hushed her, his finger over her lips.

“Stop. Just listen to me, I understand. Look, why don’t I take you home?” Tony offered, “You look shattered.”

“No, it’s fine. I can get the bus.” Bren shook her head.

“Bren, you are not getting the bus.” Tony told her, “Let me take you home.”

Bren smiled before nodding quietly. Tony gave her a smile as he took her hand, rubbing the back of her hand with his thumb. She looked at their hands before looking at him again.

“You still want to continue this? With us, I mean?” Bren asked softly,

“All I want is you. Now that I know you’re technically not married.” Tony smiled.

Bren giggled at his response. The quietness around them became more apparent. Slowly, they were drawn to each other. They captured one another’s lips, letting go of each other’s hands. Tony’s hands went to cup her face whilst Bren’s hands rested on his knees. The kiss deepened as they held each other. They broke off the kiss as they looked at one another.

“You still coming to Scotland with me?” Tony asked as he held her face.

“If you want me to.” Bren replied, “I’ll be there in a heartbeat.”

“Well, you might have to skip a beat with my car.” Tony joked.

“Well you’ll be there so that’ll be no issue.” Bren replied.

Tony chuckled. He brought her close again, kissing her once more. They broke the kiss off and Tony took her hands once more.

“Come on, mate. Let’s go home.”

Chapter Text

Tony woke up slowly to the sound of retching coming from the en suite bathroom. He sat up as he rubbed his eyes. When he’d woken up properly, Tony got up quickly from the bed. He pushed the door open to see Bren knelt over the toilet bowl as she threw up. Tony walked over to her slowly and crouched down next to her. Bren spat into the toilet, breathing deeply.

“You alright?” Tony rested his hand on her back.

“Yeah.” Bren nodded, “Just morning sickness.”

“This baby’s got it’s work cut out for you.” Tony smiled.

“Tell me about it.” Bren scoffed. She sat up straight as she moved her hand down to her stomach, “My tummy feels bigger. Like I’ve ballooned.”

“Well, they’re growing int they? Gotta make sure they get big.” Tony replied. Bren laughed as he stroked her slightly damp hair, “You look knackered.”

“I feel it.” Bren replied. She looked around herself, “I need to get up. I should shower.”

“Will you manage?” Tony asked.

“Mhm. I’m done now.” Bren stood slowly but she stumbled a little. Tony stood up quick enough for him to be there when she stumbled back, “Ooh dizzy spell there.”

“Are you sure alright?” Tony asked as he held her close to him.

“Yeah, just been sitting for too long. I’m okay.” Bren smiled.

“Okay.” Tony kissed her head, “Shout me if you need me.”

“Okay.” Bren nodded.

Tony left the bathroom so Bren could shower. Around half an hour later of him coming downstairs, Bren joined him in the kitchen. Her hair was still wet and she wore her dressing gown. When Tony turned to see her, he could see she was in her own little world. One hand on her bump and another holding her chin as she walked quietly.

“Good shower?” Tony asked.

“Hm? Yeah, yeah it was nice.” Bren nodded, “Have you got a brew going?”

“Coming right up. You want some cereal?” Tony asked as he brought over Bren’s mug.

“No ta, don’t think I’ll manage food. I might have some toast.” Bren went to stand but Tony stopped her.

“I’ll do it, you sit down. You’ve had a rough morning as it is. It’s the least I can do.” Tony told her.

“What would I do without you?” Bren smiled. 

“Probably get up and do that toast.” Tony chuckled. He then kissed the top of her head, “Remember, my baby too. I wanna make sure you’re both alright. My job really, int it?”

“I suppose.” Bren shrugged, a little giggle leaving her lips.

Tony sorted Bren’s toast and brought it over to the table when it was ready. As Bren ate her toast, Tony read some of the articles in this morning’s paper. Not a lot was going on in the village surprisingly. 

“The baby’s definitely gotten bigger.” Bren pointed out, “I could hardly tie this around my waist.”

“You’ll need to start getting your stretchy trousers.” Tony chuckled.

“Yeah. Bigger leggings.” Bren nodded.

“Oh, not leggings.” Tony rolled his eyes as Bren started laughing, “Not even pregnancy will stop you wearing those bloody leggings.”

“No, it won’t. No one wants to see my footballer’s legs anyway. Or my swollen ankles!” Bren sighed.

“I wouldn’t mind seeing them.” Tony raised a brow.

“That’s how this happened.” Bren pointed to her bump.

“Well not really. You were wearing leggings that night.”

“Oh, so they are alluring then?”

“I was actually trying to get them off you. Didn’t realise you were wanting more.”

“Shut up!” Bren laughed, giving Tony a playful slap on the shoulder.

Tony laughed as he put his arm around her, bringing her close to him as he kissed her temple. The phone began to ring from the hall. Tony stood from the table.

“I’ll get it. This’ll be my mother.” Tony got up.

“Tell her I say hi.” Bren took a sip of her tea.

Bren finished her tea as she listened to Tony talk to his mother on the phone in the hallway. She got up from the table and took her plate and mug to the sink. She decided it was time to get changed. Bren left the kitchen and smiled at Tony as he stood in the hall.

“Yes, mum. No, we went on Tuesday. Yeah, they said she’s doing really well.” Tony said down the phone. He rolled his eyes at Bren who giggled before heading upstairs. Tony turned back, “She had some morning sickness this morning but I think she’s feeling better. Of course I’m looking after her, I’m not letting her out my flipping sight!”

When Tony finished the call with his mother, he decided to head upstairs to report back to Bren. He walked into their bedroom as Bren was looking around their room for a top to wear.

“Mum’s asking for you by the way.” Tony said as he sat on the bed.

“Aww, is she?” Bren asked, not turning around as she looked through her drawers.

“Yeah. She was asking about the ultrasound the other day and that.” Tony said. He then laughed, “I said that you weren’t feeling great and she’s convinced herself I’m not looking after you. Obviously that’s not the case but- What’s up?”

Bren sniffled quietly with her back to him. Tony could see the change in her body language and knew there was something up. He got up from the bed and walked over to her.

“Hey? What’s wrong?” Tony asked, putting his hand on her shoulder.

“It’s nothing. I’m fine.” Bren shook her head, keeping her head down as she continued to look through the drawers.

“Well, it’s not nothing, is it? You’re upset.” Tony replied. He turned her head to face him, gripping her chin gently. She looked up at him with her face tear-strained and her eyes bloodshot, “Aw mate. What’s the matter?”

“None of my clothes fit.” Bren sniffled, “All my tops are too tight.”

“Aw, Bren.” Tony brought her close to him, “You don’t need to get upset about it.”

“I know. I don’t even know why I’m crying.” Bren laughed as she wiped her eyes.

Tony turned away from Bren and went into the wardrobe. Bren turned as she watched him, wiping her eyes as she tried to compose herself. 

“Here.” Tony turned back to her. He was holding his old check shirt that he gave to Bren before the Millennium, “Put that on.”

“Thanks.” Bren smiled. Tony helped her put it on, buttoning it up for her.

“You look great. Better than ever.” Tony cupped her face, “Trust me on that, eh?”

“It’s all happening so fast. I didn’t expect things to change so quickly.” Bren looked at him.

“I know but you’re doing so well. Look, you’ve had a rough morning, mate. It’s alright. You just need to take things at your own pace and look after yourself. And I’m here, I’m not going anywhere. I love you and I think you look absolutely beautiful.” Tony reassured her. Bren smiled and Tony leaned in as he pressed his lips to hers, “Listen, why don’t I take you to the shops? We can get you some new stuff. Maternity stuff.”

“I’ll need new leggings.” Bren raised a brow.

“Whatever my lady wants, she gets.” Tony shrugged.

Bren giggled. Tony wiped her face with his thumbs. The two kissed again. 

“Come on,” Tony dropped his hands from her face and took her hand at her side, “Let’s get a move on before I change my mind about those leggings!”

Chapter Text

Tuesday 18th January 2000

- - -

“Frigging heck.” Jean walked in with Dolly and Stan, “I’ve never seen rain like it.”

“Absolutely. We had bad storms at Catterick but not as bad as this.” Stan sighed.

“Morning.” Anita walked in with Twinkle as the two started taking off their coats.

“Oh morning. You two get in alright?” Dolly turned.

“Yeah, fine. Nearly got blown away walking up but fine.” Twinkle shrugged, “Where’s Bren and Tony?”

“Oh they’re not here yet.” Dolly looked around the kitchen.

“They maybe got caught up in traffic. Best to keep an eye out for them.” Jean nodded.

“You’re right, get your mobile out, Anita.” Stan pointed.

They heard footsteps approaching from the canteen and assumed it was Philippa. They turned when Bren and Tony walked into the kitchen. The both of them had their coats off, shaking them to air them out. 

“Speak of the devil, we thought you got caught in traffic.” Jean turned.

“No, nearly got blown away though.” Tony looked at Bren who laughed gently.

“Thought I was gonna have to click my heels to get home.” Bren sighed.

“You wouldn’t be getting home with those shoes.” Tony pointed at Bren’s trainers.

“Shut up.” She gave him a nudge.

“That’s everyone accounted for. Shall we crack on?” Stan rubbed his hands together.

“Yeah, let’s get ready.” Tony said, “Better us to get on than worry about a storm.”

Jean and Stan quickly kissed before the dinnerladies and Tony headed towards the office. Stan left the kitchen to go through the factory. Bren grabbed Tony’s overall and hat as she handed it to him.

“Don’t think I’ll be out for a fag today.” Tony sighed, “Cheers mate.”

“I wouldn’t worry about it.” Bren shrugged, “You could always go around to the front.”

“Oh no. It’s all the packing lot, I’d rather give it up.” Tony sighed. Bren rubbed his shoulder with a small smile. Tony put his overall on, “It’s gonna be a long day.”

“It’ll be over before you know it. Just need to keep plodding along.” Bren tried to encourage him.

“Yeah, well I don’t really want to keep plodding along.” Tony put his hat on and walked away.

Bren watched him as he walked away as she started playing with her fingers. She hated how miserable Tony was at the moment. She knew he needed a change and wanted to go to Scotland but that was something that daunted her. Going up to Scotland wasn’t that easy. Bren knew that the change he wanted was to be totally away from Manchester and away from her. She guessed it was only a matter of time.

“You alright, Bren?” Dolly walked out of the office as she fixed her hat.

“Yeah!” Bren turned away, going to get some bread.

The morning was slow but quiet. Not a lot of people came to the canteen, probably to avoid the storm. Things weren’t totally out of the ordinary though when Jane came up.

“Hiya.” Jane smiled, “Twelve rounds of white.”

“Low-fat spread?” Bren asked.

“That’s the one.” Jane winked.

“Twink, go and do that toast for me.” Bren pointed to the toaster.

“Yep.” Twinkle nodded.

“That wind’s getting up out there. You should hear it from our offices. Sounds like the roof’s about to come off. And the thunder and lightning’s now started.” Jane said as she went into her purse for change.

“Oh I know. Hopefully it’s alright later on.” Bren sighed.

“Yeah, well I’m not sure about that.” Jane shrugged. She looked up at Bren noticed she was quieter than normal, “What’s up?”

“Hm? Nothing, Just tired.” Bren gave her a sad smile.

“You sure? Not fallen out with Tony, have you? I’ll sort him for you.” Jane pointed.

“No no, it’s fine. I’m fine.” Bren giggled.

“Here’s your toast.” Twinkle chucked the toast down in front of Jane.

“Thanks.” Jane widened her eyes, “I’ll see you later.”

“Bye, Jane.” Bren gave her a wave.

“Morning!” Philippa called through the canteen as she walked in, “I need to speak to Tony.”

“Tony!” Bren shouted.

“Yep!” Tony replied. He then walked out of the office, “Alright, Philippa?”

“Yeah, I was just wondering if you’d all sign this birthday card for Mr. Michael. I know he’s retired but some people wanted to do it, I don’t even know why they decided I was the one to go around the factory but-.” Philippa explained but Tony cut her off.

“Yeah, yeah. We’ll sign it.” Tony took the card, “You got a pen?”

“Yes.” Philippa went into her pocket and gave it to him. She followed Tony as he went over to the side, “Just a quick happy birthday will do. I doubt he’s missing anything. He’s away in Scotland with his new lady friend.”

“Hm, must be nice.” Tony sighed. He stood up straight, “Get those shutters down. That’s it coming up half past.”

“Got a brew going?” Stan walked in as he brushed himself off but it didn’t do much considering he was soaking wet, “There was no point in hosing me bins, the Lord’s doing it for me!” 

“Frigging heck, Stan! You’re soaked right through!” Jean went over to him, “You’ll need to get changed.”

“I’ll get the boiler on.” Twinkle sighed.

“I can’t get changed, Jean. This is my overall. I’ll be covered in dirt if I decide to change.” Stan tutted.

“I doubt you’ll be going out anytime soon.” Jean crossed her arms.

“Who’s having a brew?” Twinkle turned.

“I will, Twinkle.” Jean nodded.

“Yes please.” Dolly turned.

“Me too please.” Anita smiled.

“Oh I could go a cuppa, please.” Philippa pointed.

“Bren? Tony?” Twinkle looked over.

“Yeah, tea.” Tony replied as he continued writing in the card.

“Bren?” Twinkle called.

“Hm?” Bren turned.

“D’you want a brew?” Twinkle asked.

“Um, yeah.” Bren nodded. She grabbed the trolley, “I’m gonna clear the tables.”

“Do you need help, Bren?” Anita asked.

“No, it’s alright.” Bren shook them off and pushed the trolley into the canteen.

Bren started clearing the tables in the canteen. She managed to shut out the chattering from the kitchen but she couldn’t blank out her thoughts about Tony. He was still in that bad mood from earlier and Bren really did not know what to say. She wished she could make everything better here for him but it wasn’t that easy. The rain battered off the windows which made Bren lift her head. She could understand why he wanted away from Manchester but it felt so sudden. 

“Here’s your brew.” Tony came through from the kitchen and put the mug and birthday card down, “And that’s Mr. Michael’s card.”

“Oh thanks.” Bren turned quietly.

“Are they alright?” Dolly asked quietly, “Bren’s a bit quiet today.”

“Yeah, Tony seems a bit off too. Really huffy.” Anita added.

“He’s always huffy.” Jean sighed, “Although, recently he’s been quite dreary.”

“Bren told me he wants to go up to Scotland.” Philippa told them.

“Really?” Dolly’s eyes widened.

“He does have those friends in Scotland eh? He did mention something about them going into business.” Stan nodded.

“Tony’s easily bored. Doesn’t surprise me that he wants a change.” Dolly took a sip of her tea.

“He’s worked here for eight years, Doll. That’s not easily bored. That’s wanting a change.” Jean turned to her, “I don’t blame him.”

“He’s a man, Jean. He’ll move onto something else very soon. You should know that.” Dolly sighed.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Jean screwed up her face, the rain and thunder outside getting louder.

“Bren thinks that he wants to leave her too. That he’s trying to get rid of her by going to Scotland.” Philippa added, not reading the room at all.

“So Philippa definitely knows what you’re getting at!” Jean nodded, clearly getting angrier.

“I’m not getting at anything, Jean! Honestly.” Dolly shook her head.

“Nice one, Flipper.” Twinkle rolled her eyes.

“I didn’t mean it like that, Jean.” Philippa tried to explain herself.

“Oh shut up.” Jean rolled her eyes.

“Jean, don’t be like that.” Anita stepped forward as she tried to reason with her. The wind caused the rain to hit the windows harder. Lightning flashed brightly outside. 

“Human resources.” Stan shook his head.

In the canteen, Bren sat down at the table as she began writing a short birthday message for Mr. Michael. Tony stood next to her table as he sipped his tea.

“It’s going very slow today, mate.” Tony sighed.

“What d’you mean?” Bren asked. She knew exactly what he meant.

“It’s dragging on. It’s always the same here, even when something big is happening like that storm. Always the frigging same. The sooner we get out of here, the better.” Tony took a sip of his tea.

“Tony, it’s not that bad. I seriously don’t know what’s making you feel like this.” Bren looked at him. Her stomach turned to knots as the claps of thunder seemed to grow closer.

“It’s everything. I’m sick of it all. I want a change, I need a change, don’t I? I’ve worked here too flipping long. I need to get out once and for good.”

“How has this come about now? It feels suddenly… not ‘calzone’, coincidental!”

“How would it? I’ve felt like this for a long time. Every day is the same.”

“No, it isn’t. When has any day here been the same?”

“It always has! We have to listen to the same rubbish every day, I’m sick of it.”

“Well, I’m sorry but kitchens are full of people like that. People like me.” Bren went back to the birthday card. She could feel her blood beginning to boil. She thought her and Tony were so good but this recent revelation of him wanting to leave Manchester put a spanner in the works. It felt like she was losing him. Losing the only good relationship she really had. Typical.

“I don’t mean you, Bren. I mean-.” Tony tried.

“Then what do you mean? Because it sounds an awful lot like you mean me.” Bren looked at him again. She tried to hold back her tears as the rain outside got louder and louder.

“I don’t. Bren, you are the one thing I don’t want to change.” Tony explained.

“And yet, it’s only recently you’ve wanted to go to Scotland and forget everything in Manchester?” Bren sighed.

“I-.” Before Tony could explain himself, they were interrupted by raised voices in the kitchen.

They both frowned and walked to the half-door. They looked in as they watched the others all bickering. 

“You’re riding for a big fat thump, Dolly Bellfield.” Jean pointed.

“Oh really? I’m sorry that I am the only one who understood the context of my point, excuse me.” Dolly sighed.

Suddenly, there was a loud bang from outside with a flash. Something must have been struck outside by lightning. They all jumped as the lights went off in the kitchen. Thankfully it was light outside so they could see fine. The group were silent for a second as they tried to comprehend what just happened.

“Oh dear. That’ll be a fuse gone!” Stan said as he walked in between Dolly and Jean who still eyed each other down, “I better go check what’s happening.”

“D’you need anyone to come with you?” Philippa asked.

“No, I will manage, thank you.” Stan sighed as he headed out to the canteen. Bren and Tony watched Stan as he went to the door to the canteen. He went to open it but couldn’t get it open. He tried a few times before it clicked, “Oh dear. That’s not good.”

“What is it, Stan?” Tony frowned.

“We’re locked in. The power’s down and the security lockdown has kicked in.” Stan marched through to the kitchen and tried the other door, “We’re stuck here.”

“What?!” Dolly said with a gasp.

“What about the fire escape?” Jean asked.

“No chance, the skip’s there. We all wouldn’t manage getting over that.” Tony replied, “Then we’d all be soaked.”

“Some fire escape.” Twinkle rolled her eyes, “Why don’t we smash a window?”

“Twink?” Bren said.

“What?” Twinkle turned around.

“Shut up.” Bren replied.

“We’re stuck here?” Anita asked.

“Yep. Until we can get the power back up.” Stan crossed his arms.

“Oh no. Oh no.” Philippa started to pace.

“Philippa?” Bren frowned.

“This isn’t good. I have so much work to do today. And I have to still go to the packing lot and the rest of the offices with that bloody card.” Philippa started rubbing her chest as she breathed heavily, “I knew today was going to be a complete disaster.”

“Philippa, come on.” Bren walked over to her, “Let’s sit down. We’ll be out of here in no time, alright? Just breathe.”

“I’ll make you another tea. The water’s still hot.” Anita rushed over to the boiler.

Tony watched as Bren guided Philippa through to the canteen. Jean barged past him as she huffed and sat at the next table away from Philippa. Twinkle joined her with her tea and her magazine. Stan decided to change out of his still soaking overalls and back into his normal clothes in the office. 

“Bren, we need to talk about this.” Tony walked over to Bren.

“Not now, Tony.” Bren said as she tried to reassure Philippa who was now slightly wheezing.

“But Bren-.”

“Not now.” Bren repeated firmly.

Tony didn’t know what to say at that moment in time. He just took himself off to the office, taking his hat off. Bren took the folders and books Philippa was holding and put them on a separate table. Anita rushed in with Philippa’s tea.

“Thanks, Anita.” Bren thanked before Anita rushed back into the kitchen as her and Dolly decided to do the dishes. Bren pushed Philippa’s tea to her, “There you are. Have a sip of that.”

“Oh. Oh, that’s better.” Philippa’s breathing slowed. There was a short moment of silence between the two before Philippa looked up, “What’s happening with you and Tony?”

“Eh? Nothing, it’s fine.” Bren shook her head as she rested her head on her hand, leaning on the table.

“Didn’t look like nothing. Are you sure you’re alright?” Philippa asked.

“We just had a… disagreement. It’s fine.” Bren shrugged.

“What’s up?” Twinkle asked over the table.

“Bren and Tony aren’t speaking.” Philippa pointed.

“We are speaking, Philippa. It’s nothing. We just had a disagreement. We’re fine.” Bren sighed.

“Doesn’t sound like you’re fine. You’ve been in a bad mood all day, the both of you have.” Jean sat up.

“No we haven’t.” Bren frowned, “We are fine. We don’t need to go on about this.”

“Go on about what?” Anita asked as she and Dolly walked into the canteen and sat with Bren and Philippa.

“Nothing.” Bren sighed.

“Are you alright, Bren?” Dolly asked.

“Yes, I’m fine. Can we please talk about something else?” Bren crossed her arms.

The group of women sat quietly for a moment. They all tried to think of something to say. Jean did her best to hold her tongue back as she watched Twinkle go back to her magazine. Anita and Philippa continued drinking their tea as Dolly sighed.

“Philippa said that Tony wants to leave Manchester.” Twinkle said, not lifting her head from her magazine.

“Philippa!” Bren frowned.

“I’m sorry, I thought they knew.” Philippa held up her hands.

“God.” Bren sat back in her chair and sighed.

“Is he really wanting to go to Scotland?” Dolly asked.

“Yeah.” Bren nodded, “Yeah he is. He’s feeling disenchanted.”

“Is it that B&B he wants to go to? The one you went to at Christmas?” Jean asked.

“Yep. He was saying he could do meals and things.” Bren played with her fingers as she kept her head down.

“Well, that would be nice. When d’you think you’ll head up?” Anita asked.

“He’s not going to take me. He wants to get away from me.” Bren replied.

“Awww no.” Anita took Bren’s hand as she gave it a squeeze.

“That’s not true, Bren.” Twinkle put down her magazine.

“Come on now, Bren. Tony told me-.” Philippa sat forward.

“I don’t really want to talk about this now.” Bren got up from the table, “I’m going to the toilet.”

They all watched as Bren walked off to the kitchen. They could see how upset she was and that she really didn’t believe that Tony would want to be with her. They wished they could get through to her that he really did care, even if he didn’t always tell her.

“Hello, over. Yes, it’s Stan, over.” Stan walked out from the bathroom, now changed into his clothes just as Bren was going into the bathroom. He held a walkie-talkie as he spoke, “No, we are fine. We’re in the canteen but can’t get out from both doors and the fire escape is blocked, over. I don’t think so, those doors are like steel, over.”

“They two need to sort out what’s going on. She can’t go on feeling like that.” Jean said.

“I know. I hate seeing Bren so sad. Tony wouldn’t leave her to go to Scotland.” Anita then sat forward with a smile, “I think he’s in love with her. You can tell!”

“Bren clearly can’t.” Jean scoffed.

“Tony did tell me that he loves her.” Philippa bumped her shoulder, “He just hasn’t told her.”

“Well, he should tell her! He should stop pussyfooting around everything!” Dolly shook her head.

“Here here.” Jean nodded.

“We would be having to climb over the skip and with that weather, it would be dangerous. Especially for the women, over.” Stan continued to speak to his walkie-talkie as he leaned against the door frame of the half door, “No, we’ll need the firefighters in probably to get everyone out because I can’t go out and fix it now, over. Well if it’s going to be that long then no, there won’t be any dinners going, over.”

“Stan, could you take that somewhere else? That screeching sound is really bugging me.” Twinkle huffed.

“This is a very important conversation, Twinkle. I’m trying to sort something to get us out.” Stan replied before going back to the walkie-talkie, “No, I’m not talking to you, over.”

“Just go into the kitchen, Stan.” Jean looked over at him.

“Alright, alright.” Stan nodded and went back into the kitchen.

“Anyone hungry?” Dolly stood from the table, “I’m going to get those biscuits.”

“You can’t have biscuits on a Tuesday.” Anita turned in her seat.

“No, that’s a Thursday. I’m allowed three maximum.” Dolly said before going into the kitchen.

“Anita, let’s do this quiz. ‘Which biscuit are you?’ I bet I’m a Jamie Dodger.” Twinkle went over to the other table and sat opposite Anita with her magazine. Philippa got up to get her folders from the other table to start any work she had to do.

“D’you want one?” Dolly asked Jean as she came back into the canteen with the tin of biscuits.

“Oh, yeah. Thanks.” Jean took a custard cream and dipped it into her tea.

“Jean, I’m sorry about earlier. I really didn’t mean what you thought I meant.” Dolly said as she sat down, clasping her hands together.

“It’s alright.” Jean shook her head, “I’m sorry I got angry. Guess it’s still a touchy subject, eh?”

“It will be. What Keith did to you was horrible but you’re better off, believe me. Nasty little man.” Dolly turned up her nose.

“Have a biscuit, Doll.” Jean giggled as she pushed the biscuit tin over to her.

An hour and a half passed and Tony got up from the desk and took off his overall. He took out his pack of cigarettes and thought about going out for a smoke but it was still quite bad. The electricity hadn’t come back on yet and didn’t look like it was coming on anytime soon. Stan still paced the kitchen as he talked on his walkie-talkie and all the women continued to chat in the canteen. Tony had taken the time to think about everything with Bren and decided he should speak to her. He headed to the canteen but found Bren wasn’t there.

“Oh, look who it is. Cardiman.” Twinkle looked up at him as all the women turned to look at him.

“Where have you been?” Jean crossed her arms.

“In the office, I was sorting out those pink flimsies.” Tony replied, “Where’s Bren?”

“Toilet.” Dolly replied as she turned away from Tony.

“You deciding you care about her now?” Twinkle raised a brow.

“Eh?” Tony frowned, “Did she say that to you? That I don’t care about her?”

“She didn’t need to. She clearly thinks that since you want to go to Scotland. She doesn’t think you want her to go with you.” Jean explained.

“But I do. I wouldn’t leave here without Bren, are you joking?” Tony replied.

“You need to tell her that, Tony. She was really upset.” Anita nodded.

“You really should talk to her.” Dolly agreed.

“And say what? It’s like she doesn’t want to hear it.” Tony shrugged.

“Tell her how you feel. She needs to know that you want to be with her and if you’ll go to Scotland, you want her to go with you.” Philippa said.

“We need to sit tight for a little longer.” Stan walked through to the canteen, “Apparently help’s on the way and they’ve already got some people out working on the electricity.”

“In that weather?! But it’s horrendous out there!” Dolly’s eyes widened.

“It’s calmed down a lot since the power went out apparently. It doesn’t seem like it but I was never known for my knowledge of the weather.” Stan shrugged.

“Have you seen Bren?” Tony turned to Stan.

“The last I heard, she was still in the toilet.” Stan replied.

“She’s been in there ages.” Jean screwed up her face.

“I’ll go get her.” Tony headed back into the kitchen.

Tony was going to go to the toilet and knock on the door. He entered the kitchen but was already stopped by Bren coming out of the toilet. She was clearly heading for the office. They both stopped in their tracks. Both seemed surprised to see the other coming towards them.

“I was just coming to talk to you.” Tony said softly.

“Yeah. I was the same.” Bren replied, chewing the inside of her mouth.

Tony gave her a small smile before taking her hand and taking her into the office. Tony slid the door shut ever so slightly as Bren leaned against the desk.

“Sit down.” Tony offered her the seat.

“No, you go sit.” Bren shook her head.

“You sure?” Tony asked.

“Mhm.” Bren nodded as she bowed her head, playing with her fingers.

“Okay.” Tony sat down slowly. They were silent for a moment as they tried to figure out what to say. Tony looked up at her, “I’m sorry. The way I’ve been feeling, it hasn’t been because of you. I want to go to Scotland, I do. I think it would be a brilliant opportunity.”

“I agree, I think you’d do brilliant up there.” Bren nodded. She looked at him, “I’m just not a part of that dream you have.”

“Bren, you are. You are the main part. I wouldn’t want to do any of this if it weren’t for you.”

“What d’you mean?”

“I’ve been ill, right? I come out of it but if it came back, I want to have at least spent my time doing something I wanted. With the person I wanted. I don’t want us to be stuck in this manky canteen with it being the same old stuff everyday.”

“But it isn’t the same old stuff everyday.” Bren sighed, “It wasn’t the same when the Blender stole that money or when the Duke and Duchess of Danby came in. Or what about the TV crew? What about when you kissed me at the Christmas tree? That wasn’t the same old stuff, was it?”

“No, of course not. But we need a change. I want something better for us than here and Scotland’s it. I’d never go without you. You mean too much to me.” Tony shook his head.

“It’s such a big change, Tony.” Bren went back to playing with her fingers.

“I know but we’ll be alright. I wouldn’t go for it if I didn’t know that we’d be alright.” Tony replied. He looked at her and could see she wasn’t totally convinced. He took her hands in his and gave them a squeeze, “We make a great team, Bren, and I wanna be with you. No one else. You’re my girl and if I was going to be going to Scotland with anyone, it’d be you. No two ways about it. We don’t have to rush. All I want is for us to be together.”

“It’s so much to think about.” Bren shook her head.

“I know. We don’t have to rush into things just yet.” Tony reassured her.

“I don’t want to hold you back.”

“You won’t hold me back. You’re my priority. No one else matters but you and me.”

Bren couldn’t help but smile. She had fallen for Tony hard and she couldn’t bear to think how she would feel if they were to split up. All she wanted was to know that he loved her as much as she loved him. She hoped he would tell her soon but right now, she could wait. Knowing he wanted to be with her felt enough for now. But she wasn’t sure how long that would last?

“I’m sorry too.” Bren said softly.

“What’re you sorry for?” Tony frowned.

“For getting upset, I should’ve just listened to what you had to say.” Bren shrugged.

“You don’t need to apologise for anything, mate.” Tony shook his head. 

The two looked at each other with small smiles. Tony gave her hands one last squeeze before moving his hands to her waist and moved his chair closer to her. They both leaned in, pressing their lips to the other’s. Bren’s hands went to his shoulders as they kissed. When they broke off their kiss, they smiled and gave each other a short, sweet kiss. Before the two of them could say anything, they heard a big cheer from everyone in the canteen and noticed the electrics were back on.

“Everything’s back up and running.” Tony stood, “What time is it?”

“After one.” Bren replied as she looked at the clock.

“They won’t get us doing dinner. I doubt they’ve done any work themselves.” Tony shrugged.

“That’s us going home.” Stan walked through from the canteen with all the women following after him.

“Really? How d’you know?” Tony asked as he and Bren stepped out of the office.

“Just came through on the walkie-talkie now. It’s not safe to be here with all the equipment.” Stan explained.

“They’ll have a long day tomorrow with the backup.” Tony scoffed.

“You’re not wrong there.” Stan sighed, “I’ll go get my overall, Jean. Take it home to get washed.”

“You two alright now?” Jean turned to look at Bren and Tony when Stan left. All the women looked at them, waiting for an answer.

“Yeah. Yeah, we’re fine.” Bren replied with a nervous chuckle.

“You sure?” Dolly raised a brow.

“We are fine.” Tony’s eyes widened as he put his arm around Bren, “You don’t need to worry.”

“Alright, alright.” Jean sighed before all the dinnerladies went into the office to get changed.

“Right, well. I better get going.” Philippa smiled, “I’ll see you all tomorrow.”

“See ya, Philippa.” Bren gave her a wave.

“Yeah, bye, Phil.” Tony smiled. They watched Philippa leave. Tony looked back at Bren and gave her shoulder a squeeze, “You alright?”

“Yeah. You?” Bren asked.

“Yeah.” Tony smiled. He gave her shoulder another squeeze, “Come on. Let’s go home.”

“Okay.”

Chapter Text

Monday 10th May 1999

- - -

Bren spooned the food onto the workers’ plates, making polite chit chat with them all. As the queue moved on, one of the girls who worked in the offices with Jane, Tracy, was moving along.

“Hiya, Bren.” Tracy smiled.

“Hiya! How are you?” Bren asked as she started dishing Tracy’s food.

“Yeah, I’m good. Little bit stressed, trying to get the final touches for the wedding sorted but Grant’s sorting that.” Tracy nodded.

“Not long now.” Bren grinned.

“I know! By Saturday afternoon, I’ll be in my big white dress eating cake, I’m so excited.” Tracy grinned, “And I’ll be married but I’m more looking forward to the cake. I haven’t had cake since Christmas to fit into the dress.”

“You’ll look lovely.” Bren smiled.

“You bringing anyone, Bren? You can bring a plus one.” Tracy asked.

“Oh no, I’ll be coming on me own.” Bren replied, “I think I’m going with Anita and Twinkle.”

“Aww, Bren. You need to get it together with someone. Anyone would be lucky to have you.” Tracy pointed, “You could always see about Tony.”

“Tony? Oh no. We’re just friends.” Bren shook her head, “I don’t even know if he’s going. He said he might be busy.”

“Well, he told me he was washing his hair so he’s definitely coming.” Tracy laughed, “I’ll see you later.”

“See you later.” Bren gave her a little wave.

Lunch ended and the dinnerladies were now wiping down the tables. Stan was mopping the floor down whilst Tony pottered around in the kitchen. 

“What are you doing after work, Jean?” Bren asked.

“We’re going shopping. I need a new hat for Saturday.” Jean replied, “Dolly needs to get new surgical stockings.”

“They are not surgical stockings, they are tights.” Dolly corrected her.

“The ones you were wearing at the Christmas do were surgical stockings. I was surprised you could move in them.” Jean rolled her eyes.

“What are you all wearing?” Anita asked, “I don’t know what to wear.”

“I have this nice dark green dress suit that I’m going to wear. Just need a hat.” Jean replied.

“What about you, Dolly?” Anita asked.

“I am wearing a blue floral dress with a short jacket to match.” Dolly replied.

“Twinkle?” Anita turned to Twinkle.

“Oh, I’ve got this great purple satin strappy dress.” Twinkle grinned.

“How short is it, Twinkle?” Jean asked.

“Probably up to there.” Twinkle marked to the middle of her thigh. Dolly tutted, “No, it’s dead tasteful. Classy.”

“Maybe try a dress a little longer, Twink.” Bren smiled.

“What’re you wearing, Bren?” Dolly asked.

“Don’t know yet.” Bren shrugged, “Just gonna see what I’ve got.”

“Don’t show up in those frigging leggings.” Tony came into the canteen and pointed to Bren’s leggings which made her laugh, “Enough of your chit chat anyway, go sort out the biscuits for the meeting in the boardroom.”

“What you wearing, Tony?” Anita asked.

“When?” Tony frowned.

“On Saturday.” Anita replied.

“A cagoule. Don’t know yet.” Tony sighed, “Get that trolley sorted.”

“What you wearing, Stan?” Bren asked as Jean and Dolly went to the kitchen to sort out the trolley.

“I’ve got this nice grey suit that I’m thinking of.” Stan stopped mopping.

“Don’t you start, Stan. We’ll be having a fashion show before we know it.” Tony rolled his eyes.

“Go have a fag if you’re not interested in the discussion, sad one.” Twinkle huffed.

“I’ve just been for one, thank you.” Tony replied, “I’m not that reliant on nicotine to get through one conversation about dresses. I just don’t want to hear about it.”

“Alright, keep your scrotum on.” Twinkle rolled her eyes to which Bren started to laugh.

“I better order more brown sauce.” Tony said to himself before scuttling off to the kitchen.

“You see that you can take a plus one to the wedding? Anyone taking anyone?” Twinkle asked.

“No. Just going myself.” Stan shrugged. He then smiled, “I’ll need to get home for me dad so staying sober.”

“Aww, you could always bring him.” Anita suggested.

“No. Weddings aren’t a great area for my dad to be honest.” Stan shook his head, “He’s only ever been to two and that was his own.”

“Are you taking anyone, Bren?” Twinkle asked, a little smirk on her lips.

“Eh? Oh no. Got no one to bring.” Bren smiled.

“What happened to the driving instructor?” Anita asked.

“Oh no. That was a no-no.” Bren shook her head.

“You could go with Tony.” Twinkle gave her a nudge.

“I don’t know.” Bren screwed up her face slightly.

“He dead fancies you. You can tell.” Twinkle nodded.

“No, no. I don’t think so.” Bren shook her head with a chuckle, “Me and Tony are just friends.”

“Does Tony know that?” Anita asked.

“Of course he does, eh, Stan?” Bren nudged Stan.

“Oh yes. You and Tony are just friends.” Stan added.

“Time will tell.” Twinkle shrugged with a smirk.

“Bren?” Tony called from the office.

“Oh. There he is now. Be careful, Bren, he might confess his love for you.” Twinkle laughed.

“Give over.” Bren rolled her eyes and headed into the kitchen as Dolly and Jean passed her with the trolley, “Yeah?”

“Could you put that veg away? The veg man’s just been the now.” Tony pointed as he was still on the phone.

“Yeah, no probs.” Bren nodded.

Bren put the vegetables that were delivered away. Stan left the canteen and Anita and Twinkle came into the kitchen.

“Do you need us to do anything?” Anita asked.

“No, you both go on home.” Bren smiled.

“You sure?” Anita asked.

“Yeah, me and Tony will manage.” Bren nodded.

Anita and Twinkle left the kitchen and Bren finished wiping down the counters in the kitchen. She took off her tabard and hat. Finally, Tony got off the phone.

“Honestly, how long does it take to order some flipping brown sauce?” Tony huffed as he walked out of the kitchen, hands in his pockets, “You alright, Bren?”

“Yeah. I’m alright. I need to figure out what I’m wearing for Saturday.” Bren sighed.

“Oh really? Could just go in your bra and knickers, do me a favour.” Tony teased.

“Ha-ha.” Bren rolled her eyes with a smile.

“You got a date for the wedding?” Tony asked, taking his hat and overall off.

“Eh? No. Everyone keeps asking that. There isn’t a rumour I’m seeing someone, is there?” Bren frowned.

“No, not at all. I’m just curious, making conversation.” Tony held his hands up, “No fancy man then?”

“No. You’d know that anyways. You’d be the first to know.” Bren gave him a little smile.

“Oh. Ta very much.” Tony chuckled, “You going to ask anyone?”

“No, there’s no point. It’s just a wedding, I’ll be fine. I know mostly everyone going anyway.” Bren shrugged.

“True.” Tony nodded. His stomach was turning. He wanted to ask Bren badly but wasn’t sure how to go about it. The last time he asked Bren out, it was a disaster, “D’you want to come with me?”

“Eh?” Bren lifted her head.

“I’ll take you.” Tony smiled. He then felt the nerves really kick in now. He still wasn’t sure what Bren’s thoughts were of him, especially after the Christmas party and that worried him. He started to laugh nervously, “You know, obviously as friends and that. It’s just if you want people to stop asking you and that and you also have a lift.”

“Yeah, of course. Obviously it would just be as friends.” Bren nodded. She could feel her stomach tightening. She just wanted to tell him how she really felt but she couldn’t. Especially not now. Not after he lay down that it was only as friends, “Yeah, that would be good.”

“It would?” Tony smiled.

“Yeah, I’d love to go with you.” Bren nodded, “Are you sure though? You not going with someone else? Jane or-”

“Oh no. I was always going on me own.” Tony shrugged, “So you want to go with me?”

“Yeah.” Bren nodded as she crossed her arms. She then smiled, “Yeah, I do.”

“Great.” Tony grinned, “You’re on.”

- - -

Saturday 15th May 1999

- - -

Tony pulled into Bren’s street. He stopped the car and tooted the horn. He looked around the street before looking back to Bren’s door. That’s when she stepped out. Bren came out in a navy blue dress that went down to her shins and had a sweetheart neckline. The dress had thick straps and a small slit that went up Bren’s left leg. She wore matching blue heels and gold jewellery. Her makeup was quite natural and Tony thought she looked completely breathtaking. He was speechless as she walked up to the car and got in. 

“Hiya.” Bren smiled, putting her seatbelt on.

“Hi.” Tony cleared his throat, “Hi. You um, you look nice.”

“Give over.” Bren chuckled, “You too.”

“Cheers, mate.” Tony looked down at his black suit, “Shall we get going?”

“Yeah, let’s go.” Bren nodded. 

Tony drove to the church. It wasn’t too far down the road and they were there within ten minutes or so. Guests were still outside waiting to get in, all talking with each other. The dinnerladies, Stan and Bob all stood together. 

“There’s everyone there.” Bren pointed as they parked up.

“Oh yeah. Exciting.” Tony said sarcastically.

“Come on, Tony. It’ll be fun.” Bren gave him a nudge. She then looked back at the dinnerladies, “Keith’s not here. That’s a surprise, he usually chums Jean to everything.”

“Maybe he’s having sex somewhere.” Tony raised a brow.

“Doubt it. Even if he did want to have an affair, he would struggle with the foreplay. Remember he has to take off his Blackburn Rovers bobble hat first.” Bren pointed.

“Delightful.” Tony sighed, “Let’s go.”

The two got out and walked up to the church, talking to each other quietly. As the dinnerladies talked, Twinkle noticed Bren and Tony walking over. She grabbed Jean’s arm.

“Look.” Twinkle pointed, “Bren and Tony are here together.”

“Don’t point, Twinkle.” Dolly told her.

“Did they come here together?” Jean asked.

“Yeah, they got out of his car.” Twinkle replied.

“Do you think they’re each other’s date?” Anita asked.

“Looks like it.” Jean nodded, “We’ll have to get Bren on her own.”

“Hiya.” Anita smiled when Bren and Tony came over.

“Hi.” Bren smiled back, “You all alright?”

“Yeah.” Everyone nodded, sharing smirks between one another.

“You look nice, Bren.” Jean crossed her arms.

“Oh thanks.” Bren looked down at her dress, “This is quite old actually.”

“It’s lovely.” Dolly nodded.

“Yeah, Bren. Proper lovely.” Twinkle nodded. She then gave Tony a nudge, “You look smart, cardiman.”

“Ta very much.” Tony nodded, his hands in his pockets.

“Shall we get sat down?” Stan asked.

“Yeah, let’s go. People are heading in now.” Jean nodded.

“Where’s Keith, Jean?” Bren asked as she walked with Jean.

“Oh, he said he’s got some work thing. I don’t know really.” Jean shrugged. Bren could see there was something wrong but she couldn’t tell what. Jean then turned and gave her a smile, “Nevermind him, what about you and Tony?”

“What about me and Tony?” Bren frowned.

“You and him coming here together. Is he your date?” Jean asked.

“No, yes, no. Well, he is but he isn’t.” Bren stuttered.

“I’m not with you.”

“We’re each other’s date but only as friends.”

“Oh. That’s a bit crap, int it?”

“How?”

“Come on, Bren. Wouldn’t you have wanted to have a proper date? Even if it was Tony.” 

“I don’t really mind. Me and Tony are just friends anyway.”

Everyone sat down and soon, Tracy came down the aisle. Bren and the dinnerladies sat on the bride’s side whilst Tony and Stan sat on the groom’s side opposite. As Tracy walked past, Bren gave her a smile. Bren caught Tony’s eye as Tracy walked down the aisle. They looked at each other for a second before Tony gave Bren a wink which made her smile. Everyone sat down and the wedding began. 

“Did you hear they’ve written their own vows?” Anita whispered.

“They’ve written their own vows?” Dolly frowned.

“Yeah, it’s the in-thing int it?” Jean said, “It’s quite nice really.”

“Grant, if you would like to begin.” The vicar gestured.

“Yeah, let me just… here we go.” Grant took out the paper from his inside pocket. He unfolded it, “Right. Trace, it took us frigging ages to get it together. I’m sorry, vicar, but it really did. Almost five years before we actually got it together. I used to see you coming into work, tottering in with your fancy skirts and bouncy hair and I thought ‘she’s a bit of me’. Seriously though, I knew I loved you then and I loved you even more when I got to talk to you, even if that was just bumping into each other in the canteen or asking you to dance at the Christmas do which on my part, was an absolute success. I would say mission accomplished. Ever since then, we’ve been inseparable and I couldn’t be happier.” Grant continued. As he spoke, Tony looked over to Bren who listened to the vows. She wore a small smile on her lips. She looked absolutely stunning today and as he listened to Grant’s words, he thought about how he felt about Bren. They had known each other for so long and everyday, it felt like Tony’s feelings for Bren were growing and growing. He wouldn’t say he loved her but he was getting pretty damn close, “I promise to love you always and be there for you whenever you need me. I’ll also always be there to wind you up whenever I can. You are my absolute world and I can’t wait to spend every day with you. I love you.”

There was applause and a lot of ‘aww’s. As she clapped, Bren looked over to Tony. He seemed to wear a sad look on his face as he clapped and Bren didn’t understand why. He looked at her and she gave him a smile before mouthing the words ‘You alright?’. He nodded, his face brightening up as he grinned. Bren grinned back at him. Tracy then began her vows and soon, the newlyweds kissed and were walking down the aisle happily. They all headed to the reception which was around ten minutes away from the church. They got sat down at their tables and Bren and Tony were at a table with Anita and Twinkle whilst Jean, Stan, Dolly and Bob were all at another table. There were some other friends and family of the couple on the table with them.

“Do you work with Tracy and Grant then?” An aunt of Grant asked.

“Yes, we work in the canteen of the factory. We all know each other quite well eh?” Tony smiled.

“Yeah, we are.” Bren nodded.

“Aww, that’s good. A lovely sense of community then?” Grant’s uncle asked.

“Definitely.” Tony nodded.

“That’s how our Grant met Tracy, that sense of community. Are you two a couple as well?” Grant’s aunt asked.

“Us?” Bren’s eyes widened. She looked at Tony, “Oh no. We’re not a couple.”

“Not at all. No, we’re just friends.” Tony laughed nervously. Bren joined in, laughing too. Anita and Twinkle exchanged a look as they watched the two laughing. Tony then put his arm around Bren, “Best of friends, eh, matey?”

Later on, Grant and Tracy had their first dance and everyone was up dancing. Bren was standing talking to Philippa as Tony stood with Jane and some of the crowd from packing. They all laughed as they talked but Tony wasn’t paying attention to them. He just watched Bren from afar. Jane noticed this and gave him a nudge.

“What?” Tony frowned.

“You, gawking at Bren. You’re not gonna get anywhere if you just stare at her the whole night.” Jane huffed.

“I dunno what you’re on about.” Tony sighed.

“Y’know exactly what I’m on about. Go ask her to dance.” Jane replied.

“I’m not asking her to dance.” Tony screwed up his face.

“Why not? You clearly like her, what harm will it do? She likes you too, Tony. Everyone knows that. As clear as frigging day. You two are the only people who don’t see it.” Jane crossed her arms.

Tony sighed. He looked back over at Bren and noticed that Philippa was just walking away. Bren was standing at the table, filling up her champagne flute with the bottle on the table. 

“I’ll be back in a minute.” Tony said as he left the group. He walked over to the table where Bren stood, “Bren. You alright?”

“Yeah, you?” Bren asked, taking a sip of her champagne.

“Yeah.” Tony nodded, stuffing his hands into his pockets, “D’you wanna… d’you wanna go for a dance?”

“Oh.” Bren was surprised. Neither of them were much dancers but she wouldn’t turn down the offer. Especially from him, “Yeah. Yeah, why not.”

Tony smiled. Bren put her drink down and they headed to the dance floor. Almost on cue, a slow love song started to play. All the couples migrated to the dancefloor. The two looked at each other and gave each other a nervous smile that they both tried to hide. They moved closer, Bren’s hand on his shoulder as Tony held her waist, clasping their other hands together. They started to sway to the music.

“Jean? Jean, look.” Twinkle tapped Jean’s arm, making her turn.

“Oh.” Jean’s eyes widened. She put down her drink as she crossed her arms with a smirk on her lips, “Now this is interesting.”

“They look lovely together.” Anita smiled.

“What is it?” Dolly asked as she came over from getting another drink.

“Bren and Tony. They’re dancing.” Jean pointed.

“Aww, that’s lovely. I hope he asked her and it wasn’t the other way around.” Dolly took a sip of her wine.

“Oh come on, Dolly, Tony’s not a total sexist pig. Of course he did.” Twinkle crossed her arms.

“It’s not about him being sexist, it’s about him actually making the effort for her.” Dolly sighed.

“Look!” Anita stopped an argument beginning as she shook Twinkle’s arm and pointed to the dance floor. Tony was spinning Bren, the two of them laughing as they danced. They were slightly awkward but seemed to laugh it off, “Aww, int it lovely?”

Later on, Tony was outside having a cigarette. Stan was just leaving the reception when he noticed Tony and headed over to him.

“Alright, Stan?” Tony said.

“Yes, I’m very well. Better go home for my dad, y’know.” Stan nodded, “How are you?”

“Not bad, not bad at all.” Tony replied, “Quite a good wedding. Decent knee’s up, eh?”

“Yes, it has been quite good. I saw you and Bren dancing. Looked like you were having a good time.” Stan gave him a smirk.

“Well, can’t not have a little dance, eh?” Tony smiled.

“Yes but with Bren. You’ll have a lot of tongues clacking.” Stan pointed.

“Ah, well let them.” Tony shrugged, “I don’t mind. She’s a good ‘un, is Bren.”

“She certainly is. I’m glad you know that.” Stan’s eyes widened.

“Oh there you are.” Bren stepped outside. The two men turned and gave her a smile, “Thought you both left.”

“No, no. Still here.” Tony gave her a little wink.

“I’m leaving now, Bren.” Stan said.

“Oh are you?”

“Yeah, need to get home for me dad.”

“Of course. Tell your dad I’m asking for him.”

“Will do. Have a good night, the both of you.” Stan said as he started to walk to his car.

“We’ll try.” Tony gave him a smile.

“Oh, and Tony?” Stan turned.

“Yeah?” Tony frowned.

“Make sure she gets home safe. No night bus business.” Stan told him.

“I’ll try. You know she can be persistent.” Tony laughed, putting his arm around Bren who laughed as she crossed her arms, “See you later.”

“Bye Stan.” Bren waved.

“Bye!” Stan waved back to them before getting in his car and leaving.

“You alright?” Tony asked, not realising he still had his arm around her.

“Yeah.” Bren looked up at him and they both noticed how close they actually were to each other and they both seemed to panic. They moved away from each other and Bren went to sit on the wall, “Are you?”

“Yeah.” Tony nodded. He took a puff from his cigarette, “It’s been a good night, eh?”

“Yeah, it has.” Bren smiled, wrapping her arms around herself.

“Are you cold?” Tony asked.

“Eh? Oh no, I’m fine.” Bren lied.

“You are so. Here, have my jacket.” Tony took off his suit jacket.

“No, it’s fine, honestly.” Bren tried to stop him.

“Bren, take the frigging jacket, mate.” Tony raised a brow.

Bren just laughed. She knew she wasn’t going to be able to say no. He put the suit jacket over her shoulders to which she immediately pulled the lapels closer to her chest. The jacket was warm and his aftershave wasn’t too strong on the jacket but it still smelled nice. Bren wanted to bury her face into it but knew she couldn’t. Tony sat down next to her on the wall after he flicked his cigarette away. They looked at each other when he joined her, giving each other a bashful smile. Bren giggled softly, bumping her shoulder against his gently before resting her head on his shoulder for a moment.

“You really do look great tonight, mate.”

“Give over.”

Chapter Text

“Right, got everything?” Tony asked after putting the last bag in the boot of the car. Bren came out the front door with her handbag as she held her stomach. Tony rushed over to her to make sure she got out alright, “Slowly, Bren!”

“Tony, I’m seven months pregnant, not made of glass.” Bren reminded him as she walked down the steps. She stopped at the last step.

“You might as well be. You need to stop rushing about, especially on those steps.” Tony pointed down at the steps.

“Well, if I fall, I’ve got you to catch me, don’t I? Panic merchant that you are.” Bren teased before putting her hands on his shoulders and kissing him.

“Come on then, Mother Mary. Your donkey ride awaits.” Tony teased.

“Ha-ha.” Bren rolled her eyes but laughed to herself.

“Hello!” A voice called from behind them. They looked to see one of their neighbours, Anne, walking her dog.

“Morning, Anne.” Bren smiled.

“You off out?” Anne asked.

“Yeah, we’re heading away for the weekend. A cabin down in Glencoe.” Tony replied.

“Ooh, lovely!” Anne nodded.

“Yeah, well do it whilst we still can.” Bren smiled as she rubbed her bump.

“Well, you need to treat yourself before the baby comes. Is that you on your summer holidays then?” Anne asked.

“Yeah. Hamish’s away to Benidorm so we’ve got two weeks to ourselves. Finally.” Tony laughed.

They spoke to Anne for a couple more minutes before they were on their way. Tony had his new satnav set up so Bren felt she could relax with no maps to hold. It was overcast this morning but it was a nice day. Things felt peaceful for them going away.

“Hamish said that his brother went to the cabins.” Tony said as they drove, “They went with their kids but said it was nice.”

“Did he? Everyone that’s been has had good things to say about it.” Bren replied.

“Yeah.” Tony agreed.

“We are going with kids too. Technically.” Bren grinned at him.

“Yeah.” Tony smiled, “The baby moving at all?”

“Not right now. I think it’s bedtime.” Bren replied as she rubbed her bump. 

“Nice for some.” Tony teased.

“I wonder what it’s like in there. Like d’you think they’re aware of what’s happening?” Bren looked down at her bump.

“Dunno. I guess they are aware of some things. D’you think you remember any of it?” Tony asked.

“I wouldn’t want to remember any of it. Being in my mum’s tummy, would have been like being in a drug den.” Bren sighed.

“Fair enough.” Tony chuckled, “You’ll looking good for it though. You didn’t come out with three heads or looking like something out of the Beano.”

“You didn’t see me as a baby.” Bren joked.

“Well, when our one comes, we’ll see if they look like you or me.” Tony grinned.

Bren giggled. She took his hand and gave it a squeeze. They were now approaching the motorway as Bren relaxed into her seat. The traffic was moving at a good speed and they felt like they would get to the cabins in no time.

“I spy with my little eye something beginning with… ‘R’.” Bren said.

“Road.” Tony replied.

“No, we’ve already had that one.” Bren reminded him.

“Roadworks.” Tony pointed to the roadworks in the other lane.

“Nope!” Bren shook her head, “Nothing to do with roads. Come on, last guess.”

“Rain!” Tony sighed as it started to rain outside.

“No!” Bren sighed.

“What was it then?” Tony frowned.

“Renault.” Bren pointed to the car driving in front of them.

“Oh Bren! You could have said ‘C’, that would have made a lot more sense.” Tony sighed.

“And you would have said car.” Bren replied, “Right, your turn.”

“Just remember I’m winning, y’know?” Tony raised a brow.

“Yeah, by one point.” Bren crossed her arms.

“I spy with my little eye something beginning with… warning light.” Tony’s eyes widened as he looked at the dashboard.

“Now, you’ve just given it away.” Bren sighed.

“No, Bren. Look.” Tony said.

“Flipping heck. What’re we gonna do?” Bren sat up.

“Well, I’ll need to pull over, won’t I?” Tony replied. He moved through the lanes until he was at the lay-by. Slowly he stopped driving and took the keys out of the ignition, “Christ sake, it’s pissing down as well.”

“There’s a waterproof in the back.” Bren reached over into the backseat.

“I’ll get it! Don’t strain yourself.” Tony insisted.

“I’m just reaching over for a jacket, I’m not trying to run a marathon.” Bren sighed.

“Bren, I don’t want you moving about when you don’t need to. Just stay out and I’ll be back in a minute.” Tony grabbed the waterproof jacket and put it on.

Bren watched as he got out of the car and opened the bonnet. Bren sighed. This was the last thing she wanted right now when they were meant to be going away. She could feel her patience being tested by Tony everytime he tried to stop her from doing something. She knew he was only trying to look after her but she felt like she wasn’t allowed to do anything. Bren was brought back from reality when the bonnet slammed shut and Tony got back in the car.

“I think we’ve got a low battery.” Tony sighed.

“You’re kidding me?!” Bren’s eyes widened, “Didn’t you charge the car last night?”

“Yes of course I did! It’s clearly not charged properly.” Tony replied.

“What a great way to start our holiday.” Bren rolled her eyes.

“Bren, I didn’t mean for it to happen.” Tony turned to her.

“I know that but isn’t it just our luck that this happens?” Bren crossed her arms.

“I’ll get it sorted.” Tony huffed before getting out of the car, “Just give me a minute.”

Bren sighed again. She could hear him fiddling about at the bonnet and tried to not worry too much about everything. She felt the baby kicking and looked down at her bump.

“You’re up then?” Bren said softly, “You can tell how stressed I’m getting. Daddy can really irritate me sometimes.”

“Bren?” Tony opened the car door at her side, “Can you try and start the car?”

“Alright.” Bren sighed. She grabbed her anorak and pulled it on so she didn’t get soaked but the rain was now starting to clear. She got in at the driver’s side and tried to start the car, “It’s not working, Tony.”

“Try again.” Tony shouted. 

Bren turned the key in the ignition but the car just continued to splutter. She opened the car door to speak to him.

“Nothing’s happening, Tony.” Bren said, “Why don’t we just call the AA?”

“I’m not calling the AA, mate. I can fix it myself.” Tony huffed.

“No, you can’t. When have you ever tried to fix a car?” Bren screwed up her face.

“I did it when we were at the canteen.” Tony shrugged.

“Tony, you broke the car and Stan had to jump start it.” Bren replied.

“Look, just let me do it, alright?” Tony sighed and went to the boot to get the small toolbox he kept.

“D’you know how to fix it?” Bren rolled down the window as he walked past. 

“No but I’ll figure it out.” Tony insisted.

“Tony, you can’t just tinker about with it! If we’re stuck on this motorway all weekend because you blew up the car then you’ve got another thing coming.” Bren pointed.

“I’ll manage just fine, thank you.” Tony told her, “I know what I’m doing.”

“Well, you don’t.” Bren sat back.

Tony didn’t reply and tried to fix the car. Bren was right in that he didn’t really know what he was doing but he wanted to try. Tony looked at the engine and didn’t really know where to start. He went into his small toolbox but before he could pick out a tool, he heard someone tooting at him. Tony looked up from the bonnet and saw a car pull up next to them. A tall ginger man got out of the car and approached him.

“You alright, mate?” The man asked. He had a broad Scottish accent and appeared quite friendly, “You look like you’re having a bit of trouble here.”

“Just a bit.” Tony scoffed, “It’s just sort of conked out.”

Bren could hear the conversation going on from inside the car. She tried to look over the bonnet but couldn’t see who Tony was talking to. The rain had finally stopped and Bren decided to get out of the car. She walked around the car and found Tony with another man looking at the bonnet.

“You need a jump start. I’ll get my leads and pull the car around.” The man said before walking back to his car, not noticing Bren.

“Who’s that?” Bren asked Tony.

“His name’s Alan. He just pulled over and offered some help. He’s a mechanic.” Tony replied as he put his hands in his pockets, “You alright?”

“Tired.” Bren crossed her arms.

“Get back in the car, you can have a kip.” Tony offered.

Bren just groaned before going back to the passenger side. She took off her anorak and threw it in the back. She wanted to stay awake until she knew that the car was fixed but her tiredness took over. Bren dozed off slowly. 

“Bren? Bren?” She was woken up an hour or so later. Bren slowly opened her eyes as she turned to look at Tony. Tony smiled down at her, “That’s us here. Finally made it.”

Bren sat up slowly in her seat as she looked outside. She could see they were outside the cabin they booked and it looked lovely. She also remembered what happened before they got here. How the two bickered and how she started it.

“I’ll get the bags. I got the key whilst you were asleep so you can just go in.” Tony went to hand her the keys but she stopped him.

“Tony, wait.” Bren said, her hand on his shoulder.

“What’s up?” Tony asked with a little smile.

“I’m really sorry. About earlier.” Bren said softly.

“Hey, it’s alright.” Tony took her hand from his shoulder and squeezed her hand, “You were stressed, it’s alright.”

“No but it wasn’t fair on you.” Bren shook her head, “I got annoyed at you for no reason.”

“Mate, it’s alright. Listen, you’re tired and you got freaked out cause of the car. So was I, we just had a tiff.” Tony shrugged, “It’s nothing to worry about.”

“I woke up the baby. I think they could hear us having our tiff.” Bren gave him a small smile.

“Checking their mam’s okay.” Tony rested his hand on her bump, feeling the gentle movements from the baby. He looked up at Bren then, “I’m sorry too. I wasn’t much better.”

“It’s okay. You actually got out of the car to do something. I couldn’t do anything, could I?” Bren shrugged.

“You tried. You tried telling me that I couldn’t fix a car which I couldn’t.” Tony joked. He then looked at her, tilting her head to look at him, “We’re okay, mate. You don’t need to worry about anything.”

Bren gave him a little smile. The two leaned in and kissed softly. They looked into each other’s eyes, smiles growing on their lips. Tony gave her hand a squeeze.

“I’ll get those bags sorted, you head inside.” Tony said.

“Okay.” Bren smiled. She watched Tony as he was about to get out of the car, “Tony?”

“Yeah, mate?”

“I love you.”

“I love you too.”

Chapter Text

“Bren?” Tony called through the house. He frowned when he couldn’t see her in their bedroom. He came down the stairs and poked his head in the kitchen, “Bren?”

Tony turned and walked down the hall. As he passed, he noticed Bren lying on the couch with Amy lying on her chest. He couldn’t help but smile. He should have known she was in here when he heard the television on.

“There you are! Thought you’d-.” Tony walked in.

“Shhh.” Bren hushed him before pointing down to Amy, “She’s just fallen asleep.”

“Sorry.” Tony whispered. He walked in quietly and sat on the floor next to the couch. Amy seemed to have had a growth spurt recently because she now took up most of her mother’s torso. Her strawberry blonde curls had gotten longer and she was getting more and more like Bren everyday. Tony looked at the television, “Mid morning television’s done it for her then?”

“Hmm. ‘This Morning’s theme music is her new favourite lullaby.” Bren replied.

“She’s totally conked out.” Tony smiled.

“She is.” Bren stroked Amy’s hair gently. She looked at Tony, “What were you wanting?”

“Eh? Oh, I just wanted to know where you were. Thought you’d disappeared when I came off the phone with my mam.”

“Is she alright?”

“Yeah.”

“What was she saying?”

“Oh, the usual. Dad’s in the garage tinkering, there’s battles in the street again. My sister’s sending old baby clothes up for Amy. Cath doesn’t need them anymore.”

“Well, Jessica’s going to school next year. Has she still got Daniel’s baby clothes?”

“Doubt it. It’s not something I really care about to be honest.”

“Fair enough. Remind me to call her and say thank you.”

“She’s my sister, Bren. I’ll do it.”

“I know but it’s nice to be nice. Y’know, sister-in-law and all that.” Bren shrugged.

“Yeah, but she doesn’t need a Nobel Prize for it, mate.” Tony shook his head.

“You can be so grumpy sometimes.” Bren teased, giving his chin a gentle pinch. She looked back down at Amy and noticed she was awake, “Oh I’m sorry. Did mummy and daddy disturb you?”

“She’s mastered my scowl there, look.” Tony laughed. Amy reached over to Tony, “Come on then, sweetheart.”

Bren passed Amy over to Tony. Tony took Amy and held her close to him as she looked around the room. Bren rolled her over as she looked at the baby over his shoulder.

“What’re you thinking, eh? D’you think we should decorate this room?” Tony asked, “Actually, no I’d rather keep my money.”

“She’s probably wanting to make a run for it.” Bren giggled. 

“Well, that’s not happening, is it?” Tony started to tickle Amy as she laughed, “That’s not happening! You’re staying here.”

“Haaa…” Amy started to coo, “Hi.”

“Hiya.” Bren and Tony both said.

“Ya! Ya!” Amy bounced in Tony’s arms.

“Yes, hiya!” Tony nodded. He looked at Bren with a smile on his lips, “She’s great, int she?”

“She is.” Bren smiled. She stroked Amy’s cheek gently with her finger, “She’s a little madam.”

Tony chuckled. Amy cuddled into his arms, resting her head on his shoulder. 

“I think it’s dinner time.” Bren sat up. She took Amy’s hand that rested on her father’s shoulder, “You hungry, babe? Hm?”

“Are you gonna try with the baby food again?” Tony asked.

“Yeah. I’ve decided this is the time for it. Anita said it’s the best time of day to give them baby food.” Bren shrugged, “Don’t know if it’s to do with mess or something.”

“Oh well. Come on then, your highness. Let’s have something to eat.” Tony got up with Amy still in his arms.

Bren giggled as she watched the two leave the living room. She turned off the television and headed into the kitchen. Tony was setting Amy down in the high chair. Bren got the baby food prepared before sitting down next to the high chair. Tony sat on the other side of the high chair as he watched Bren with the small bowl.

“What flavour is it today?” Tony asked.

“It is… carrot!” Bren said as she looked at the jar on the side. She gave Amy a big grin, “Carrot, darling! Yum yum.”

“She looks excited.” Tony said sarcastically as he pointed at the baby.

“Oh shush. Right, you ready? Open that mouth.” Bren got some of the baby food on the spoon and moved it towards Amy, “Here comes the airplane!”

Amy watched quietly as her mother tried to entice her with the food. Bren tried again, now incorporating noises.

“Let’s try something else. Here comes the train! Choo choo!” Bren tried but Amy wouldn’t open her mouth, “Amy, you need to eat, love.”

“D’you want me to try?” Tony asked.

“Yeah. She might like it from you. D’you want daddy to feed you instead, eh?” Bren handed the spoon to Tony.

“Right. Here we go, sweetheart.” Tony brought the spoon closer to Amy but she wouldn’t budge again. This time, she turned her head away, “Ooh, little madam.”

“She’s right stubborn today, int she?” Bren sat up.

“Makes me think of someone.” Tony raised a brow.

“Hey!” Bren laughed, “Shurrup.”

Tony laughed as he leaned in, kissing her cheek. He then looked down at the bowl and spoon sat in front of them. He picked the spoon up, looking at the baby food on the spoon.

“I wonder if she’ll eat it if one of us eats it.” Tony looked at the spoon, “It might encourage her.”

“You think?” Bren raised a brow. She looked at their daughter who watched her parents curiously. She guessed it wouldn’t do them much harm to try, “Be my guest.”

“Alright.” Tony shrugged, “Amy, look at daddy. Look, I’m gonna have some dinner, eh? Yum yum.” Tony put the baby food in his mouth and started to eat it. Almost immediately, his face screwed up, “Oh.”

“How is it?” Bren asked. She tried her best not to laugh but she struggled.

“Oh it’s… it’s lovely.” Tony struggled, “Mm! Very yummy. Wow.”

Bren looked at their daughter and knew it wasn’t working. She got up as she giggled softly, going to get a glass of water for Tony so he could wash down the baby food. Bren grabbed a glass and filled it up at the tap.

“Here.” Bren gave him the glass as he put the spoon back in the bowl.

“Cheers, mate.” Tony said as he took the glass. He took a few gulps, “Christ. It’s sour, int it? No wonder she doesn’t want to eat it.”

“Well, we’re not babies! We’ve got different… what d’you call ‘em? Tank tops, no! Tastebuds.” Bren shrugged. She crossed her arms before she looked at Amy. The baby was slowly going to pick up the spoon from the bowl. She was surprisingly very careful with the spoon that had some food on it, “Oh here we go.”

The couple watched as Amy picked up the spoon. She looked intently at the baby food on the spoon. The orange mush slightly slipping off the cutlery designed for little hands. Tony took a sip of his water as he tried to get rid of the sour taste in his mouth. Amy looked at the spoon still, totally enthralled by it. Almost in slow motion, Amy clearly wanted to know what would happen if she moved the spoon about it with the baby food on it. It pinged back and flung the baby food which was heading in the direction of Bren. The baby food landed slap bang in the middle of Bren’s face as she gasped. Tony almost choked on his water and Amy immediately started laughing.

“Amy!” Bren whined before started to laugh. Tony looked at her and noticed the orange mush over her nose and mouth. He laughed too, “Tony, it’s not funny!”

“What a shot, sweetheart! Maybe you should go into tennis.” Tony smiled at the baby who still laughed.

“Don’t encourage her.” Bren rushed to get a kitchen towel. She wiped her face with the tissue as she got a taste of the baby food, “Oh that is sour!”

“Let me.” Tony stood up and took the tissue. He wiped Bren’s face gently, “You’ve got to admit, that was a good shot.”

“I’m not gonna live this down, am I?” Bren asked.

“Nope!” Tony grinned. He stopped wiping her face, “There. All clean.”

The two smiled at each other. It was the simple moments that made them the happiest. The fact they got to experience this at all with their daughter was so special. Even if baby food was getting flung about. Bren stood on her tiptoes, pressing a quick kiss to Tony’s lips. They smiled at one another before looking at Amy. She was holding the spoon still, putting it back into the bowl.

“No!” The two turned, both turning into the cautious parents they now were. Amy looked at them with the spoon, her big blue piercing them.

Bren and Tony slowly sat down once more as Amy slowly brought the spoon to her mouth. She put the spoon in her mouth, beginning to chew the baby food. Bren and Tony watched quietly and noticed that Amy didn’t have much reaction to the food. In fact, she went for another bite all by herself.

“We might as well just leave her.” Tony joked, “She seems to be managing by herself.”

“I know.” Bren smiled, “She’ll be doing herself a roast dinner next.”

The two laughed. A quietness then slowly fell over them like a blanket as they went back to watching their daughter. They were happy. They were so frigging happy.

Chapter Text

The fire escape opened and Tony’s heart dropped. Jean’s mother, Connie had found him. God knows what she was going to do to him. She was very keen on him inside and that was the last thing he wanted. 

“Hey.” The voice made him turn. It wasn’t Connie, it was Bren. He relaxed. She smiled as she watched him, “I thought you’d be out here.”

“Yeah. Hiding from Jean’s mum.” Tony took a puff of his cigarette.

“Really?” Bren giggled, “What’s she doing?”

“What isn’t she doing! She was telling me that she lives around the corner, wants me to come see her.” Tony explained.

“Ooh, cougar!” Bren laughed.

“Don’t you start.” Tony warned.

“Can you imagine you being Jean’s stepdad? Now, I’d like to see that. You’d have to tell her not to talk to strangers.” Bren teased.

“Bren, shurrup.” Tony rolled his eyes, “What’re you out here for?”

“Twink tried to get me to talk to her mum about the whole may-or-may-not-be-pregnant situation. Sort of bottled out and told her about how Twink comes to work in her uniform.” Bren sighed.

“Well you might have done some good. I’ve told her everyday not to come in with that uniform on.”

“Hm. Twinkle better get her period in the next half hour or I’m toast.”

“Why can’t she tell her mum herself?”

“Twink says her mum doesn’t really know what goes on. She is nineteen, Tony. Y’know what kids are like.”

“Yeah. I was running riot at nineteen. We stole a car once.”

“You didn’t?” Bren’s jaw dropped.

“Yeah. Outside the Midland Hotel. It was my mate driving but I was still there.” Tony shrugged.

Bren laughed as she looked down at her feet. She then decided to take off her hat and stuff it into her pocket, fiddling with one of her kirby grips.

“What about you then? What was the maddest thing you did at nineteen?” Tony asked.

“Hmm, I dunno. I did shoplift a couple of times but it was just mascara and a loaf of bread.” Bren shrugged, “I did wake up on the floor of the Midland Hotel with someone hoovering around me.”

“You never?” Tony stood up straight.

“Yeah! I’d been on a night out, clearly got absolutely pissed and passed out and when I woke up, the woman who owned the bar at the time was hoovering around me.” Bren laughed.

“Frigging hell.” Tony chuckled as he threw his cigarette to the ground and put it out with his shoe. He looked at Bren who wrapped her arms around herself as she looked out at the car park, “How did we not meet then? The amount of times we could have crossed paths.”

“I know. It’s crazy. You’d think we would’ve.” Bren shrugged.

“D’you think we would have been friends?” Tony asked softly, looking at her with a small smile.

“Maybe. Maybe we wouldn’t have liked each other’s antics.” Bren leant forward with a giggle.

“Maybe.” Tony laughed, “I think we would have been. We could have ran riot together.”

In that moment, they could hear the high-pitched voice of Connie approaching the door. It was pretty muffled but they knew she was looking for Tony. Something about ‘the tall dark fella’ and him coming back to hers. Bren looked up at Tony and noticed the look of panic across his face as Connie’s face got louder, clearly close to the door.

“Kiss me.” Bren cupped his face.

“Eh?” Tony frowned.

“Just kiss me.” Bren’s eyes widened.

The two leaned in and started to kiss. Tony’s hands rested on her waist. They fell into the kiss with ease and even familiarity. It felt like it went on for an eternity. This was never how he imagined kissing her. Tony had wanted to do things properly, even if he was keeping his feelings to himself. He wanted things to be alright with him and his diagnosis before he jumped to asking Bren on a date. 

Having her pressed up against him, her lips on his, Tony felt like he was dreaming. Her hands were on his neck, fingers unconsciously and gently scratching at his neck. Tony thought his knees were going to buckle underneath him. They were aware of the fire exit door opening and closing with an ‘Oh’ in between. When it closed, the two broke off the kiss. Bren looked up at him and Tony felt like he was going to drown in her big blue eyes. Her lips were slightly swollen from their kiss. He wanted nothing more than to go in for another kiss but he knew that it wasn’t right.

“You’ve got a bit of lipstick on you.” Bren giggled, lifting her hand to wipe his lip with her thumb.

“Oh. Thanks.” Tony smiled, already missing her hand on his face. There was a pause between the two.

“Can I just say sorry about doing that? I just thought it might help get her-.” Bren began, hands flailing.

“No, it’s fine honestly.” Tony told her. He took her hands in his to stop them flailing around, “It was um, it was really helpful actually.”

Bren laughed, looking down to their hands. They knew this was a really awkward moment and they wanted to say more. Bren looked up at him again. There were a million things running through her head right now but as soon as the fire exit door opened again, she dropped his hands and was brought back to reality.

“Bren?” Twinkle stood at the door, “Have you got any pads on you? My period’s come.”

“Um, yeah. Yeah, I do. Let me go into my bag.” Bren nodded. She then turned to Tony, “You coming back in?”

“Yeah, just give me a sec.” Tony nodded.

“Okay.” Bren smiled and she shut the door behind her.

Tony was alone on the fire escape once more. He looked up at the now dark sky. He knew he had to wait for the right time with Bren. He had to bide his time but Tony knew his time would come.

Chapter Text

“Morning!” Jean and Dolly called as they walked in.

“Hiya girls.” Bren put the bread away, “You both alright?”

“Yeah. Those roads need resurfacing! I counted twenty two potholes from Jean’s to here.” Dolly huffed.

“Oh I know. They’re getting bad eh?” Bren crossed her arms, wrapping her fleece around her.

“I’m going to phone the council. It’s beyond a joke.” Dolly replied.

“Well, do it later. I’ve had enough of your pothole chat today, Dolly Bellfield.” Jean sighed, “Where’s Tony?”

“Having a fag.” Bren replied. She turned when she heard Anita and Twinkle come in, “Morning. Oh Anita, you look tired.”

“The baby’s got a cold. Thankfully mum got up and let me sleep at three.” Anita nodded.

“Well, you can get a bit of kip later, don’t worry.” Bren smiled, “How about you, Twink? Crazy night last night?”

“No. Stayed in with me mam. We watched ‘Four Weddings and A Funeral’.” Twinkle crossed her arms.

“Awww.” Anita grinned.

“Rubbish film. Hugh Grant should’ve just told her he loved her at the start. It wouldn’t have been such a hassle.” Twinkle sighed.

“It’s a slow burn, Twink.” Dolly replied.

“Yeah, you should be used to that around here.” Jean gave Bren a wink.

“Bren and Tony are the exact reason I don’t want a slow burn. Just flipping get to the point.” Twinkle rolled her eyes.

Bren just laughed as she gave Twinkle a gentle pat on the shoulder before the five women headed into the office to get changed into their overalls. They all nattered away as Bren took off her fleece when she noticed one of the loaves of bread on the floor. She left the office and went to pick up the loaf and put back in the bread tray.

“Bren?” Anita poked her head out, “Did you bring the milk up?”

“Yeah, it’s down there.” Bren pointed to the end of the kitchen as she turned. That’s when Anita noticed something strange. There was a pinkish blemish on Bren’s neck. She hadn’t noticed it when Bren was wearing her fleece but it was now clear as day, “I’ll do us brews now.”

Anita was quiet as she watched Bren walk up the kitchen. She felt her stomach drop, trying to figure out what that mark was on her neck. She expected the worst. 

“Don’t stand in the door all day, Anita.” Dolly sighed.

“Bren’s got a bruise on her neck.” Anita turned, her eyes filling up.

“Sorry?” Dolly frowned.

“Bren’s got a bruise on her neck. I just saw it the now.” Anita rubbed her hands together.

“What’s wrong?” Jean turned with Twinkle.

“Anita’s saying Bren’s got a bruise on her neck.” Dolly turned.

“Right here.” Anita pointed to her neck, just below her ear.

“Bruise? How did she get one there?” Twinkle frowned.

“I dunno. What if she walked into something or someone hurt her?” Anita asked with a sense of panic in her voice.

“Dolly, full fat, semi skimmed?” Bren asked as she held two cartons of milk.

The four women got a good look at her then. Bren was wearing a plain t-shirt with a scoop neckline. They could see the blemish that Anita noticed. They also noticed a couple more small ones around her chest the further they looked down. It was clear they weren’t bruises.

“Semi skimmed.” Dolly just smiled and Bren went down to the boiler. Dolly turned to the women behind her, “They’re not bruises, they’re love bites!”

“You’re not wrong there!” Jean’s eyes widened, “Bren and Tony, they’ve been at it!”

“Has she not noticed them?” Twinkle asked, “They’re as clear as day to us.”

“Dunno.” Jean shrugged.

“Where is Tony?” Anita frowned.

“Fife escape.” Dolly replied.

“If he’s not a spent force on the duvet.” Jean crossed her arms.

“Jean!” Dolly tutted, “We should say something.”

The four women walked over to Bren slowly, all smirking to each other. Bren was busy with the brews that she didn’t really notice them coming over.

“So, uh, Bren? Good night last night?” Jean leaned on the counter.

“Yeah. Quiet, y’know.” Bren shrugged.

“Really?” Anita raised a brow.

“Yeah.” Bren nodded.

“You look like you had a good night.” Twinkle grinned.

“Well yeah. I did have a late night.” Bren shrugged.

“I bet you did. Just you and Tony then?” Dolly asked.

“Yeah?” Bren looked up. She could tell something was up but wanted to wait for what they had to say.

“No one else?” Anita grinned.

“No?” Bren frowned.

“Freezing outside int it?” Jean crossed her arms, “Definitely weather for scarves.”

“Oh absolutely.” Dolly nodded.

“You got a scarf with you, Bren? I think you’ll need it with your neck.” Twinkle pointed out.

“What’s going on? You’re all acting peculiar?” Bren turned to them.

“Oh nothing. It’s just you’ve got a little mark there. And there. And there. And-.” Anita started pointing at the marks on Bren’s neck.

“Eh?” Bren stepped away before going over to the mirror next to the boiler. She noticed the love bites on her neck. They were quite small and not that dark but to Bren, they looked huge and almost a violet colour. Bren’s jaw dropped, immediately covering the marks with her hands, “Flipping heck!”

“We were waiting to see how long it’d be before you noticed.” Dolly crossed her arms with a smile.

“Good night with the Sad Man then? How long did you go ‘til?” Twinkle teased.

“It’s brass monkeys out there.” Tony came in from the fire escape, “Winter better hurry up and move along.”

“Get outside. Now.” Bren rushed over to him, grabbing his arm.

“Eh?” Tony frowned.

“Going for round two, Bren?” Jean teased.

Bren pushed Tony out the fire escape before shutting the door behind her. Tony stood in front of her, his arms crossed as he shivered. 

“Why are we out here?” Tony asked, “Bren, you’re in a t-shirt. You’ll get a cold.”

“Look at my flipping neck! And my chest!” Bren pointed at the love bites, “I look like I’ve been mauled.”

“Bloody hell, Bren!” Tony’s eyes widened, “Was that me?”

“Well I flipping hope so!” Bren crossed her arms.

“Hey, it’s alright.” Tony moved over to her.

“How am I going to cover this, Tony? I haven’t got long hair? It’s so obvious, especially this one on my neck. I’m lucky I’ve got a tabard on all day so these ones are covered up.” Bren sighed. She turned away as she looked over the car park. Tony moved towards her, putting his arms around her waist. Bren sighed but she felt his lips on her neck, pressing gentle kisses on the love bites on her neck, “Tony, don’t make it worse.”

“I’m sorry, babe.” Tony whispered. He squeezed her waist, “I just get carried away, don’t I?”

“A bit too carried away.” Bren smirked.

“Can you blame me?” Tony asked, “You’re freezing.”

“You’re not.” Bren snuggled into him. She then turned in his arms, wrapping her arms around his waist, “I can’t believe I didn’t notice them this morning.”

“Other things on your mind?” Tony raised a brow.

“Yeah, work!” Bren sighed.

Tony chuckled before cupping her face. He brought her lips to his, kissing her gently. They broke off the kiss as they looked at one another.

“I wish I could stay out in the freezing cold but we’ve got to feed the faces of folk.” Bren said softly.

“Shame. I was about to leave my mark somewhere else.” Tony teased.

“Stop it.” Bren swatted his arm playfully, “Honestly, like two randy teenagers.”

“You said it, not me.” Tony shrugged.

Bren giggled then. She sighed, going on her tiptoes and kissing him once more. She wiped his lip, a little bit of lip balm left on his top lip. 

“Work.” Bren reminded him before heading.

“And no play.” Tony sighed gently, following after her.

Bren laughed, opening the fire exit door and heading in. Tony followed after her as he smiled to himself. He loved her laugh so much, he was always more than willing to tell another crap joke because he knew that would make her laugh. He rubbed his lips together then before stepping into the canteen. One last taste of her lips before going to work. He had more to look forward to later.

When the couple stepped back inside, the girls were surprisingly not taking much interest in them and actually getting ready for breakfast. The two were surprised but didn’t mind. It wasn’t as embarrassing for them coming back in.

“Hey, Bren?” Twinkle appeared behind Bren when she was in the office going to put her overall on.

“Yeah?” Bren lifted her head as she did up her buttons on her overall.

“Here.” Twinkle passed her a small tube of makeup.

“What’s this?” Bren asked.

“Concealer. For your neck.” Twinkle replied. 

“Oh. Aw, thanks, Twink.” Bren smiled and went out to the kitchen. She went over to the mirror and started applying the concealer to her neck, blending it with her fingers.

Tony went into the office as he put on his overall and hat. He walked out as he watched the women around him working and smiled to himself. He then felt a wave of tiredness hit him. Tony yawned.

“Too shagged out, Tony?” Jean teased.

“Get some flipping work done.” Tony sighed, “I’ve had enough of all your chat already.”

Chapter Text

“You’re not listening to me, mate.” Tony rushed after her.

“I am listening! You’re not listening to me! I can’t go.” Bren shouted.

“Why not? Why can’t you go?” Tony asked.

“Because that’s not my life, I can’t go to Scotland.” Bren turned to him, “I can’t run a business, I don’t know anyone there.”

“You’ll have me, you know Hamish and Eileen, you’ll get to know people. Why are you so scared?” Tony asked.

“Because I can’t give you what you want. I can’t just go off to Scotland with you and live that life you want.” Bren shook her head. Her eyes started to bubble with tears but she held them back, “I can’t do it.”

“Why? Why can’t you? All I want is you.” Tony stepped forward but she backed away. He watched as she sat down on the couch, “If you don’t want to go, we won’t go.”

“You should go on your own. You’d be better off to. I’ll drag you down.” Bren looked down at her feet. 

“But I want to be with you. Why can’t you see that?” Tony crouched down to her.

“Because you’re trying to get away from me. That’s why you’re going to Scotland so you might as well do it. You’ll only hate it me being there.” Bren looked up at him.

Tony frowned. He felt like his heart was being torn into a million pieces but he couldn’t fight anymore. He loved Bren so much but there was only so much he could do. Tony couldn’t force her to come with him and he knew he should probably let her go. He stood up slowly.

“I can’t make you go, Bren.” Tony shook his head, “I guess we know where we stand.”

Bren nodded to herself. She stood up slowly from the couch. She bit her lip, doing her best not to burst into tears then and there.

“I’ll get my stuff sorted then.” Bren said, a lump forming in her throat. 

Tony wanted to stop her but she was too quick in leaving the living room to their bedroom. It was silent in the living room and Tony had never felt more alone in all his life. He bowed his head, closing his eyes to stop the tears from falling.

- - -

Over the next few weeks, Jean let Bren move into her back bedroom. Bren spent most of her time looking after her mother so she wasn’t making it awkward for Jean and Stan but also she could keep her mind off things. She hardly spoke when at work and everybody was so worried that there was more going on than they first thought. When Bren’s mother finally passed on and she declined the invitation for ‘Totally Trivial’, she organised the funeral with the money Petula had left behind.

At the funeral, not many people were there. A few of Petula’s strange friends, the dinnerladies, Stan, Tony and Philippa but also a few of Bren’s old friends came. One friend included a girl from the children’s home that Bren was close with, Sandra. She had since moved to Tenerife and had opened a bar there. 

“You need to get away from here, Bren.” Sandra told her as they smoked outside, “You’re not happy.”

“I’m fine.” Bren shook her head. She took a puff from her cigarette, “I just need to get myself together.”

“Well what about Tony and Scotland? That would be perfect for you.” 

“No, Sandra.”

“Why not?”

“Because he doesn’t love me. That was the whole point of him going, to get away from me.” 

“Not from what I’ve seen. He’s been watching you the whole time like you’re this precious thing. That man is obsessed with you. You need to get it back on with him.”

“I can’t. I just can’t.”

Sandra looked at her friend as she bowed her head down. She took a breath in before throwing her cigarette down to the ground and stubbing it out with her shoe.

“Listen,” Sandra put her hand on her shoulder, “Come to Tenerife.”

“What?” Bren frowned.

“Come out to Tenerife. I could give you a job at the bar. You’ve never been abroad before, come out now.” Sandra shrugged, “You need a fresh start.”

Bren looked at Sandra but didn’t know what to say. She just nodded before putting out her cigarette. The two women headed in just as Tony was going outside to have a cigarette. He stopped when she walked past.

“Bren?” Tony called for her.

Bren stopped walking as she closed her eyes. Sandra watched on as she turned slowly to Tony. This was the first time they had spoken properly in weeks. The first they had looked at each other properly in those same weeks. She looked so drained. She was so far from the joyful woman he knew best. 

“I’m sorry about your mum.” Tony managed to push out but he wanted to say so much more.

“Thanks.” Bren nodded and she walked away.

“You’ve really lost her now, haven’t you, Tony?” Tony said to himself. 

- - -

“Morning.” Dolly called through the kitchen, Jean following after them.

“Hiya.” Anita smiled to the two women, “Where’s Bren?”

“At home. She’s not feeling well.” Jean shook her head. 

“Aww. There is a bug going around at the moment.” Anita nodded.

“It’s them from packing. They’re all quite manky, int they?” Twinkle screwed up her face.

“Morning, girls.” Tony came in at the same time as Stan, “Morning, Stan.”

“Morning, Tony.” Stan smiled, “Hey, where’s Bren? I thought she was feeling better from last night?”

“Nope, still not well.” Jean shook her head as she went into her bag and rummaged around for something.

“What’s that?” Tony frowned.

“Bren’s not well. Got that bug from packing.” Twinkle crossed her arms.

“Come on, let’s get sorted.” Dolly guided the younger women into the office.

“Tony? Bren wanted me to give you this.” Jean took out an envelope from her bag, “I haven’t opened it so I don’t know what she’s said in it.”

Tony didn’t say anything as he then opened it up. Inside, a letter with over three thousand pounds in fifty pound notes. Tony already couldn’t believe what he was seeing. His hands shook as he opened up the letter and started to read it. 

“Dear Tony, this is me handing my notice in. Sandra’s offered me a job at her bar so I’m going to Tenerife. I know what you’re thinking. ‘How can she go to Tenerife but not to Scotland?’ Truth is, I don’t really know myself. I just know that I needed to get away from here and from you. It hurts too much to be around you because the truth is I love you. I’m totally head over heels in love with you and I can’t stand it knowing you don’t feel the same. I know you don’t so that’s why I have to go. You’ll be so brilliant in Scotland and I’m sure you’ll meet some beautiful highlander that will help you run the B&B but that’s not me. I can’t be that. Please take the money. It’s not a lot but it should be something to get you off to Scotland and get set up. By the time you read this, I’ll be at the airport. I need to do what’s right for me and this is the only way. Tell the girls and Stan that I love them and I’m sorry. And I’m sorry to you too. Bren.” The letter read. As Tony read it, he felt like his head was spinning. Why was this happening?

“Would anyone like to do line dancing?” Philippa appeared at the half door.

“I don’t get this. What is she playing at?” Tony shook his head.

“Eh?” Jean frowned.

“Read it.” Tony handed her the letter before he started to pace, “She’s gone. She’s gone.” 

“What’s going on?” Philippa walked into the kitchen.

“She’s not done something stupid, has she?” Dolly rested her hands on her chest.

“She’s going to the airport!” Jean’s eyes widened.

“The airport? What are you talking about?” Stan frowned.

“Bren, she’s got that friend in Tenerife, she’s going there.” Jean explained as she handed Dolly the letter as she, Twinkle and Anita read it.

“We’ve got to do something.” Philippa said.

“We can’t. She’s gone. She’s probably on the flipping plane by now.” Tony shrugged, “It’s done.”

“You can’t just give up on her like that, Tony.” Twinkle told him.

“She was still at home when I left. She won’t be as far as the check-in desk.” Jean shrugged.

“Tony, you need to stop her. You need to go now.” Philippa told him.

“And for her to tell me to not bother? No way.” Tony shook his head.

“Do you love her?” Philippa stepped forward.

“What?”

“Do you love her?”

“Of course I love her.”

“Have you told her that?”

“No.” There was a collective sigh in the group.

“Then get in your car and go to the airport right now. Trust me, once you tell her how you feel, she won’t be getting on that plane.”

Tony looked at the money on the counter. He grabbed it and stuffed it into his pockets before grabbing his coat from the rack.

“Come on, I’m gonna need help looking for her.” Tony rushed out of the kitchen.

He took his keys out of his pocket and got into his car. As he put the key in the ignition, the car didn’t start. He tried it a few times but it wasn’t for budging.

“Oh come on, you piece of-.”

“Tony, take my car! We’ll catch up behind you.” Stan chapped the window.

“Cheers, mate.” Tony got out of the car and took Stan’s keys.

Stan’s car started with no trouble and he was now zooming down the road to the airport. For a Wednesday, the airport was absolutely heaving. Tony parked up and ran into the building, the dinnerladies, Stan and Philippa not far behind them. They all took different parts of the check-in desks to look for Bren but she was nowhere to be seen. Tony ran through the airport until he got to security. He looked through the busy queue, scanning the faces of the people but she was nowhere to be seen. 

Tony pushed his way through the queue to see on the other side of the security when he noticed a woman in a blue anorak. That blue anorak. The woman walked fast as she carried a suitcase alongside her. 

“Hey, mate. Listen, I need to get in there. I need to speak to someone.” Tony went over to the security guard.

“Sorry, mate. Can’t let you do that.” The security guard shook his head.

“Please. You don’t understand. My girlfriend’s over there. She’s literally right there.” Tony said.

“Unless you’ve got a ticket, I can’t let you in.” The security man shook his head before going back to his Beano magazine.

Tony looked around the airport. His heart was beating so fast. He watched Bren walking further away and he knew he had to run now. Tony ran through the security scanner, beeping as he ran through it.

“Oi!” The security guard stood up, “Stop him!”

“Bren!” Tony shouted after her as he ran, “Bren!”

Bren stopped when she heard someone shouting after her. She turned around and saw Tony running towards her. Her heart dropped. What the hell was he doing here? 

“Tony?” Bren frowned. He ran up to her as she walked to him, “What are you doing? You could get arrested.”

“Bren, don’t go.” Tony told her.

“What?”

“Don’t go. Please. Look, we don’t have to go to Scotland. We can stay here or I’ll come with you to Tenerife but please, just don’t leave me.”

“Tony, we can’t do this now.”

“Yes, we can.”

“We can’t.”

“We can.”

“Security’s coming.” Bren pointed.

“Eh?” Tony looked behind him to see the security running towards them, “Oh bugger.”

“Come on, Rambo. Shift it.” The security guard approached him.

“Listen, let me talk to her and then I’ll go, alright?” Tony turned.

“Five minutes. Five minutes!” The security guard pointed.

“Tony, you should go. This isn’t going to make a difference.” Bren shook her head.

“No. I can’t. Bren, I love you. I love you so frigging much and I’m sorry I haven’t told you and I’m sorry that I’m so stupid to let you go like this. Please, let’s just start again.” Tony stepped forward.

“You love me?” Bren asked.

“Of course I do. You’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me, you halfwit.” Tony laughed before he softened. He took her hand at her side, “All I want is you. What d’you say, eh? Let’s give it another go.”

“Time’s ticking away.” The security guard reminded them.

“Oh shut up.” Bren said to the security guard. She put down her suitcase before she grabbed the lapels of Tony’s coat and brought him closer to her.

She crashed her lips against his. Tony brought her closer to him, his hands on her back. She moved her arms to his neck, wrapping them around his neck. Their kiss deepened, the two almost forgetting that they were in a very public place right now. That was until they heard cheering nearby. They broke off the kiss and turned to see their friends on the other side of the barrier all clapping and cheering for them.

“What are they doing here?” Bren frowned.

“They were my search party. It’s a big airport.” Tony shrugged.

“Who’s looking after the canteen?” Bren then asked.

“Oh. I never thought about that. I just read your letter and left.” Tony replied, “I’m sure Philippa would have sorted something out. Are you coming back then? We can get your stuff back into the flat this weekend.”

“Yeah.” Bren nodded with a grin but then it softened, “There’s just one small problem.”

“What’s that?” 

“My other suitcase is probably on the plane right now.” 

“Oh. Um, well. We can go back to the desk and talk to them.” 

The two smiled at each other as Tony put his arm around her. She cuddled into him as she picked up her suitcase which he took off her and carried himself. Bren wrapped her arm around his waist as Tony kissed the top of her head. They walked past security and over to their friends who all greeted Bren and made sure she was alright. 

Chapter Text

Bren stood in the kitchen as she stirred the tea. She was aware of footsteps coming down the stairs and she turned when they got closer. Tony walked into the kitchen as he buttoned up his top buttons on his shirt.

“Morning.” Tony smiled.

“Morning. Did you have a good sleep?” Bren asked.

“I did. Where did you go? I heard you going out when I woke up.” Tony asked as he went into the cupboard for the cereal.

“Just to the shop. We needed more milk.” Bren put the teabags in the bin.

“I could have gone, mate. You should stay and put your feet up.” Tony said as he started making himself a bowl of cereal.

“No, it’s alright. I wanted to go. It’s best to go while I still can.” Bren chuckled.

“I’ll be the judge of that.” Tony said sarcastically before walking over to Bren. He wrapped his arms around her from behind as he kissed her cheek. Bren chuckled, “How have you been? Baby alright?”

“Oh they’re fine. I got woken up at six with a kick to my bladder so I thought I should probably get up.” Bren giggled. She looked at him over her shoulder, “Apart from that, perfectly fine.”

“Good.” Tony gave her a wink before kissing her on the cheek again.

Tony grabbed his bowl of cereal and started eating it. He watched Bren pottering about the kitchen before she finally went to have her tea. She took a sip from her mug as she walked around the table.

“Have you eaten?” Tony asked.

“Yeah, I had toast.” Bren nodded.

“Did you have low-fat spread?” Tony raised a brow.

“Oh don’t.” Bren giggled, “I wonder how Jane’s surviving without her toast.”

“Just fine. They’ve got that sandwich thing, don’t they?” 

“Oh yeah. Forgot about that. I did have a craving this morning.”

“What did you have?” Tony asked, a slight fearful tone in his voice.

“Just Nutella on the toast but a lot. This baby has got a serious sweet tooth.” Bren giggled.

“How many sugars have you got in that tea?” Tony asked.

“Just the one. They haven’t affected that. Yet!” Bren replied.

Tony chuckled. He watched Bren as she sipped her tea, humming to the music playing on the radio. He smiled as he watched her, thinking about how beautiful she looked. She didn’t have any makeup on and just looked so natural. Bren turned to look at him with a confused smile. 

“What is it?” Bren asked.

“Hm? Oh nothing.” Tony shook his head.

“You’re looking at me. Have I got something on my face?” Bren asked, wiping her face.

“No, no. You don’t. You just look beautiful.” Tony smiled.

“Give over.” Bren giggled.

“I mean it!” Tony chuckled, “You know I never lie.”

Bren smiled. She walked over to him as she wrapped her arms around his waist. He wrapped his arms around her shoulders. They then kissed softly.

“I love you.” Bren said quietly as she cuddled into him.

“I love you too.” Tony replied, resting his head on top of hers. 

They stood like that for a moment, not speaking. Just holding each other. Tony could feel the baby kicking against him and he started to chuckle. Bren looked up to him.

“Can you feel them?” Bren asked.

“Yeah.” Tony chuckled. He moved his hand down to Bren’s bump, “We’ve got a little footballer in there.”

“Oh don’t.” Bren giggled, “Hopefully they’ll fall asleep soon.”

“Do you want to go sit down?” Tony asked.

“Yeah actually.” Bren nodded, “Are you coming through?”

“In a minute.” Tony replied

“Okay.” Bren smiled.

Tony watched Bren head through to the living room and he smiled. Tony grabbed his empty bowl and mug and washed them in the sink. He put the cereal box away before heading through to the living room. Bren was sitting on the couch with her Etch A Sketch, twisting the knobs as she drew on it. 

“I can’t believe you actually draw on that.” Tony smiled.

“Of course I do.” Bren looked at him, “I’m not going to not draw on it.”

Tony chuckled and sat down next to her. He looked at what she was drawing and was surprised.

“Frigging heck, Bren. That’s really good.” Tony raised his brows.

“You think? It’s just one of those sketches that they give you when you get it.” Bren replied as she focused on the Etch A Sketch.

“Yeah. It really does look like the Taj Mahal.” Tony nodded. He paused, “Are they still kicking?”

“Hm. They’ll calm down in a minute.” Bren replied.

Tony rested his hand on her bump. He chuckled at the kicking against his hand. The baby’s kicking started to slow down before finally stopping. Now and then, there was the occasional twitch but nothing big.

“Must be bedtime.” Tony smiled.

“Oh, I didn’t even notice they had stopped.” Bren put the Etch A Sketch to the side. She rested a hand on her bump, “It’s funny that they fall asleep in there, int it? Not ‘Carry On Camping’ funny but funny.”

“Yeah.” Tony nodded, “They’ve got their own routine.”

“They do.” Bren smiled. They then caught each other’s eye as they smiled. Tony leaned in and kissed her softly, “You ready for them to come?”

“More than ready. They still need to cook though. They’re not done just yet.”

Chapter Text

Bren was awoken by stones hitting her window. She frowned as she sat up in her bed. She got up quickly, putting on her dressing gown when another stone hit her window. She opened the curtains and looked outside to see Tony standing outside. He smiled when she saw him.

“What are you doing here?” Bren asked after she opened the window.

“I’ve got breakfast.” Tony held up the paper bag he held, “Let me in then.”

Bren giggled as she shook her head. She rushed to the front door of her bedsit and buzzed him in. She then unlocked her front door as she waited for him to come up. When Tony did reach the top of the steps, he smiled and walked up to her.

“Morning.” Tony gave her a kiss on the cheek, “Did you just wake up?”

“Yeah, you woke me up.” Bren replied when she locked the door.

“Oh, did I? Sorry. I thought I’d treat you to some breakfast.” Tony said when he went over to the kitchen and got the plates out.

“Always the romantic.” Bren hit his arm playfully, “What’d you get then?”

“Well, I got us some bacon rolls. D’you want a cup of tea?” Tony turned to her.

“Yeah, I’ll put the kettle on.” Bren went over to the kettle, “You didn’t need to do this, Tony.”

“I wanted to. I like to treat my girl.” Tony kissed the top of her head, “Come on, hurry up with that tea.”

Bren just chuckled. Tony grabbed the plates and went to sit down on the couch. They talked quietly as they ate, putting the television on not long after they started their breakfast. When they did finish their breakfast, Bren and Tony still sat on the couch and talked. Bren rested her legs over his, Tony stroking her shin gently.

“You know who I saw when I came up.” Tony said.

“Who?” Bren asked.

“Guess.” Tony gave her leg a squeeze.

Bren let out a little sigh as she started to think.

“Dolly and Jean.” Bren finally said.

“No.” Tony shook his head.

“Umm, Mr. Michael?” Bren shrugged.

“No. This is your last guess, make it count.”

“Willy from packing?”

“No. You’re rubbish at guessing.”

“You’re not giving me any good clues. Come on then, tell me who you saw.”

“Philippa.”

“Oh did you?”

“Yeah, her and that Tom.”

“Did you speak to them?”

“Yeah, briefly. They looked some state.”

“What d’you mean?”

“I mean they looked like they had just rolled out of bed. They clearly had just got out of bed.”

“Oh right. I wonder if she was staying at Tom’s, he lives down that way.”

“No doubt about it. They were both in their pyjamas when I saw them.”

“Really? Must be a lazy day for them.”

“Hmm.” Tony nodded. He turned to Bren, “You gonna get ready then? We could go for a drive.”

“In your car?” Bren raised a brow.

“What’s wrong with my car?” Tony frowned.

“Well, shall we start with how it overheats at any moment?” Bren replied.

“Right, okay. We won’t go on a drive then. D’you not want to do something though, mate? We can go into town if you want.” Tony suggested.

“Nah.” Bren sighed. She sat up and went to cuddle into him, “Let’s just stay in. It’s freezing outside anyway. I’d rather stay in with you.”

Tony let out a chuckle. He gave her a squeeze before kissing the top of her head.

“You better go shower though, mate. You’re starting to smell.” Tony teased her.

“Shut up!” Bren laughed, hitting his chest playfully.

Chapter Text

The car pulled into the large field and parked up. Bren sat forward as she looked at the large fair in front of her with a big grin. Tony turned off the ignition.

“Wow! Look at it!” Bren smiled.

“It’s busy, int it?” Tony screwed up his face, “It’s times like this that I wonder why we left Manchester.”

“You wanted to leave. And there’s a lot more people in Manchester.” Bren turned with a frown, “Oh, Tony, it’ll be good!” 

“We’ll see.” Tony sighed as Bren got out of the car. He watched her as she got out and couldn’t help but smiled at how excited she was.

Tony got out and locked the car before meeting Bren on the other side of the car. She slipped her hand into his and they headed into the fair. They met up with Hamish, Eileen and their children. Bren immediately went with the kids as Isla grabbed her hand and took her over to the candyfloss stand. 

“Here.” Bren picked a small bit of candyfloss off the stick she held and put it into Tony’s mouth.

“Mm. Haven’t had that in years.” Tony smiled.

“I know.” Bren giggled.

“Are you getting some?” Isla asked as she looked up at Tony.

“I’ll get some off your auntie Bren.” Tony gave Bren a nudge, “Where’s Alex?”

“With mum.” Isla pointed over to her younger brother and mother standing talking to someone.

“Isla? Shall we go on the teacups?” Hamish came over.

“Okay!” Isla grinned and took her father’s hand.

“Oh, Tony! The teacups, let’s go on them.” Bren giggled as she took his hand.

“Bren.” Tony said with a deadpan look.

“Tony.” Bren grinned, “Come on.”

“Will it be fun?” Tony raised a brow.

“D’you think I would do anything less?” Bren replied.

Tony couldn’t help but laugh. He put his arm around her and picked off another bit of candyfloss. They followed Hamish and his daughter to the teacups and got on. Bren laughed the whole time when they were on the teacups. Tony was surprised at how fast they were but the joy on Bren’s face made him enjoy it. When they got off, Tony was dizzy and Bren couldn’t help but burst into fits of giggles when he stumbled.

Bren and Tony decided to split up with the family and go around the fair themselves. They admired the different shows and stalls. After an hour or so, they had gone to a burger stand and get burgers. They watched the ferris wheel near them as they ate.

“D’you think you’ll go on it?” Bren asked.

“It’s a bit high.” Tony screwed up his face.

“I’ll hold your hand if you like.” Bren gave him a nudge.

“You’re too good to me.” Tony teased.

Bren giggled. They got up then and put their wrappers in the bin. They continued walking through the fair. They were now walking through the game stalls and Bren watched all the families playing to win prizes. It was such a wholesome atmosphere and Bren felt so peaceful even if she was itching to try everything. She had never really experienced a funfair like this, maybe only once when she was really young but she could hardly remember it. Being able to do this with Tony, the person she cared about the most was so special.

“Aww, Tony. Look!” Bren pointed as they stopped. She pointed at the medium sized plush toy of Tigger that held a red heart that said ‘Love you’ on it. The toy hung above the coconut shy stall, “I love Tigger.”

“Course you do.” Tony smiled.

“Bren!” A voice called from behind them and there stood Anna with her sister.

“Hi girls.” Bren smiled and went to go and talk to them.

Tony continued to look at the toy of Tigger and thought about what Bren said. He knew that she didn’t get to these types of things as a kid and he knew today was special to her. He wanted to make it even better for her. Tony looked behind him at Bren who was still talking. He headed over to the coconut shy. 

“Hey mate, how much to play?” Tony asked the older man who ran the stall.

“Three pound.” The man replied as he crossed his arms.

“And if I win, can I pick the prize?” Tony raised a brow.

“If you want. I’d like to see you try though.” The older man’s lips surprisingly curled into a smile.

Tony paid the man and soon began the game. Tony had always been a good shot. He gave the older man a look as he held the balls in his hand. The man seemed determined to see Tony lose but he knew he could prove him wrong. Tony took his stance, throwing the first ball and hitting his first coconut.

“One point.” The man called.

Tony took the second ball and tried to get a bit more focused. He turned to the right end of the coconuts and aimed for them. He threw the second ball and hit the coconut right at the end.

“Two points.” The man called once more.

“It’s such good weather for it though, I mean- Bren?” Anna spoke before she noticed something over Bren’s shoulder. She grabbed Bren’s arm.

Bren turned to see what Anna was looking at. She noticed him then. Tony was on his third ball now and he seemed to be in the zone. Bren was surprised to see him taking part in any of the stall games. As he launched the third ball, Bren found herself holding her breath.

“Three points!” The man called in slight disbelief as Tony knocked over the middle coconut in point blank range. Clearly no one had been winning up until this point.

There were a group of kids around Tony who all cheered as he did too. A young boy even  high-fived him. Bren, Anna and her sister all jumped for joy when he won. Tony picked the toy he wanted for Bren before strolling back to Bren with a big grin.

“Here you go.” Tony handed her the toy, “Couldn’t let my girl go home empty-handed.” 

Bren looked at the toy and felt her heart swell. She loved him most for how he listened to her and would always do something for her after listening to her. Bren laughed as she wrapped her arms around Tony’s neck, holding him close. Tony laughed too, wrapping his arm around her waist.

Later, Tony was finally managed to be persuaded to go on the ferris wheel. They paid to go on and got into their seats. They waited a couple of minutes for the ride to move.

“You okay?” Bren asked.

“Yeah. It’s not that high right?” Tony took a deep breath.

“Well, I mean, yeah but it won’t be that bad. We’re safe, we’re strapped in.” Bren reassured him. She then took his hand that gripped the bar across them, “We can get off if you want

“No, no. It’s alright. I’m alright.” Tony gave her a smile, “Once I’m up, it’ll be good.”

Bren gave him a little smile and soon, they were moving. Tony gripped Bren’s hand as they moved up. They would stop from time to time to let people off and on. Once they were at the top, they stopped once more. The view was unlike any other. They could see across the trees and village right to loch. The sun was setting and the pinks and purples in the sky created a wonderful mosaic of colour as the water twinkled in the sun.

“Wow.” Bren said softly, “It’s beautiful eh?”

“It is.” Tony looked at her, “You had a good day?”

“Yeah. Yeah, it’s been the best.” Bren smiled, “Are you feeling better?”

“Yeah. I can hear me mam telling me not to look down when we went up Blackpool Tower.” Tony replied which made Bren laugh.

“You’re doing great.” Bren nodded. She looked at the soft toy in her arms and smiled, “Thank you for winning this. I’ve never had anything won for me before at a fair. Not even as a kid. I was rubbish at the games.”

“Anything for my girl. Though if you want to win any cuddly toys for me, make sure it’s Eeyore instead.” Tony gave her a gentle nudge.

“Awww.” Bren giggled at the thought of an Eeyore cuddly toy, “Of course it’s Eeyore you like.”

“Well. Although, I feel like he’s a bit like Norman.” Tony screwed up his face.

“Eeyore has more fun than Norman.” Bren said with a little nudge.

Tony laughed at her comment. He looked at her as she laughed too. They both smiled at one another before leaning in to kiss one another. Tony had a good day even though he was on a ferris wheel at a funfair he didn’t want to come to. Bren was happy and that made him so happy.

Chapter Text

Friday 19th November 1999

- - -

Tony opened the door and let Bren go past. It was Friday and Tony had asked Bren to go for a drink. It wasn’t a date though. Just a drink with people who were just friends. They didn’t have burgeoning feelings for each other at all. That’s what they kept telling themselves.

“What d’you want, beer?” Tony asked as he took his wallet out.

“Um, yeah. I can get it, Tony. Don’t bother about that.” Bren noticed his wallet in his hand.

“Don’t start, mate. I’m getting this. You go find us some seats, yeah?” Tony looked at her.

“Okay.” Bren smiled.

Bren turned and weaved her way through the group of people waiting at the bar. Tony watched her walk away, his eyes drifting south to her-

“Who’s next?” The barman called. It was Tony’s turn.

Bren managed to find an empty booth in the corner that was perfect. She slid into the seats as she took off her anorak. She caught the eye of a brunette woman with a short bob and a white button up shirt. She had been talking to someone when she and Bren made eye contact. They then smiled to one another before going back to their own thoughts. Bren picked up one of the coasters, playing with it as she thought about the woman. She looked familiar but she couldn’t place it. Maybe it was the blue eyes or the slight aquiline nose. She just had such a familiar look to Bren.

“Here we are.” Tony announced himself. He put down the pints, “Quick service in here. Should come here more often.”

“Oh thanks.” Bren smiled. She took a sip of her beer and relaxed back into the seat, “After today, this is what I need.”

“You’ve got something there.” Tony pointed at his top lip.

“What?” Bren asked. She grabbed one of the knives and looked at her reflection. The froth from her beer had created an almost perfect white moustache on her top lip. Bren immediately turned crimson, “Oh my god.”

Tony chuckled as he watched Bren scramble for a tissue in her pockets. He noticed napkins at the side and took one.

“Let me.” Tony reached over the table. One hand cupped her cheek and the other wiped her top lip carefully with the napkin. 

Bren felt her shoulders relax. He was so gentle when he wiped her lip. She watched him as he concentrated, his eyebrows lifted ever so slightly. She tried to ignore the electric zing through her body when they touched.

“There you go.” Tony smiled as he pulled away then.

“Thanks.” Bren smiled bashfully.

“Hey, did you see Philippa today?” Tony sat forward.

“Oh my God! Don’t!” Bren started to laugh. 

This started their conversation properly. The two laughed so hard as they spoke, making fun and gossiping about everyone at their work. They could talk to each other for hours if they could. It would almost be enough for them.

As they spoke, Bren watched as someone caught Tony’s eye. His face dropped entirely. She frowned.

“Tony?” Bren sat forward, “What’s the matter?”

“My sister’s here.” Tony put his head in his hand, rubbing his forehead.

“Antony!” A voice called as a woman approached. Bren looked up and realised it was the woman she had smiled at earlier. That’s why she looked so familiar. She was the spitting image of Tony.

“Bren, this is my little sister, Cath. Cath, this is Bren.” Tony introduced the two women.

“So this is the famous Bren?” Cath raised a brow. She then held out a hand with a smile, “Nice to finally meet you. Tony talks about you all the time.”

“All good, I hope?” Bren shook Cath’s hand, a nervous giggle in her throat.

“Of course. You’re maybe the only person he’s actually complimentary towards.” Cath laughed.

“What you doing here?” Tony asked.

“Well, mam’s got the kids tonight so me and Paul decided to go out for a drink. This is our local, remember? You’re on my turf now.” Cath teased. She then lit up, “Hey, why don’t I get Paul over? Unless you two want to be left alone?”

“Um, no. You can bring him over.” Bren nodded, “Is that alright, Tony?”

“Yeah, that’s fine.” Tony nodded.

“I’ll go get him.” Cath smiled and walked back to her table.

“‘The famous Bren’?” Bren asked as she sat forward.

“Am I not allowed to talk about you?” Tony asked with a smirk.

“Not if you’re telling them bad things.” Bren returned the smirk.

“Don’t worry, mate. All good.” Tony gave her a wink which made her blush a little.

“Alright, Tony?” Paul smiled as him and Cath approached.

“Alright, Paul?” Tony shook his hand. Cath sat down next to Bren as Bren moved her anorak beside her. Tony gestured to Bren, “Paul, this is my friend, Bren. Bren, this is Paul.”

“Nice to meet you.” Bren shook Paul’s hand.

“You too.” Paul smiled.

“You work with our Tony then?” Cath turned to Bren.

“I do.” Bren nodded.

“What’s he like? I always imagined him as a bit of a dictator.” Cath teased.

“Ha-ha.” Tony rolled his eyes.

“No, he’s not.” Bren giggled. She then looked at Tony before looking back at Cath, “He’s a good manager. Keeps us girls all in line.”

“Nah, mate. That’s your job. You’re the real boss.”

“Oh Tony, come on.”

“No, you are. The girls listen to you better than me.”

Cath watched the two talk and noticed a definite chemistry between them. Tony talked about Bren all the time. Whether it was some story from work or something that Bren liked, she was always brought up. She could see why he liked her. Bren was practically perfect for him.

“So that’s Daniel, he’s five.” Cath took out the pictures from her purse and handed them to Bren, “And that’s Jessica, she’s three.”

“Aww, look at them.” Bren giggled at the pictures, “They’re so sweet.”

“D’you not think Daniel looks like our Tony?” Cath pointed out.

Bren held up the small photo up to Tony’s face to compare. Tony watched her as she looked in between him and the picture. Her face lit up.

“That’s your mini-me!” Bren laughed, “Tony, you never showed me photos of them.”

“Never had the chance, mate. Too busy serving bacon.” Tony crossed his arms. Bren gave him a little smile over the pictures.

“Daniel’s like a ball of energy. Runs ragged around us. He thinks he’s a race car some days.” Paul added.

“Yeah.” Cath laughed, “And Jess thinks she’s a fairy. It’s a colourful house.”

“Aww, that’s lovely.” Bren smiled.

“Yeah. They are great. Though they are mad!” Cath laughed.

“Yeah.” Bren nodded, “I better go to the toilet actually.”

“I’ll let you out.” Cath stood up.

“Cheers.” Bren slid along the booth seat.

“D’you want another drink, Bren?” Tony asked.

“Um, yeah. Only if you’re having another one.” Bren nodded, “I can get it though.”

“Don’t be silly. I’ll get it.” Tony dismissed her.

“Alright.” Bren laughed.

Bren left to go to the toilet then. Cath sat back down, her and Paul looking at one another over the table. Tony was getting money out of his wallet before looking up.

“You two wanting more drinks then?” Tony looked up.

“‘Friend’?” Cath raised a brow.

“Eh?” Tony frowned.

“Bren. She’s just a friend?”

“Well, she is.”

“Don’t lie, Antony.”

“She is!”

“Tony, in all our lives, you have never acted like that around any woman! Not even around Fart Face.”

“Cath.”

“It’s true, Tony.” Paul nodded.

“You need to ask her out. Properly ask her out, not just having drinks at the pub and hoping for the best.”

“Cath-.”

“You’ve been ill but you got through it. I know she was there for you the whole time. Mam said so. You have a chance to be with someone you actually like. I mean it, Tony, she’s great.”

“Cath, I know that! I’m just… biding my time.”

“You can’t bide your bloody time! You’re forty two, you can’t wait for the right moment when the right woman is right in front of you. You need to make a move now or otherwise, she’ll find someone and you’ll lose her.” 

Tony thought about it. He knew his sister was right. Bren was the best thing to happen to him. She was all he ever thought about, talked about. He had gone so long admiring her from afar that he wasn’t even sure of how he would ask her out properly. So many things had come in their way that he had sort of given up. Just hoping there would be a right time.

“I’m gonna get the drinks.” Tony stood up with his change in his hand.

Paul let him out of the booth and Tony headed to the bar. He ordered the drinks when he noticed Bren coming out of the toilet. She was about to head back to the booth when she noticed him at the bar. Bren smiled at him and Tony swore that his heart grew three sizes bigger.

“You alright?” Bren said as she walked up to him.

“Yeah, just getting the drinks in.” Tony replied.

“I could have got them, Tony.” 

“Absolutely not. I won’t allow it.”

Bren giggled as she crossed her arms. Tony turned to her.

“Your sister’s lovely. Her and Paul both are.” Bren looked at him.

“Yeah,” Tony nodded, “They’re alright.”

“Oh come on. They’re great.” Bren bumped his shoulder, “I can see where you get your humour from.”

“She gets it from me. Remember, I’m the oldest.” Tony replied and Bren laughed again. Tony laughed with her. He watched her as she laughed and he knew that it was now or never. He turned to her, “Bren-.”

“Oh my God, Bren!” A voice called. Bren turned and saw it was one of her friends from the children’s home, Sandra.

“Sandra! What are you doing here?!” Bren beamed, going to hug her friend. 

Tony decided to back down. Maybe some things weren’t meant to be and that was alright. It just really bloody hurt to think that this thing could be one of those things. Tony got the drinks for the table and was going to head straight for the table but instead, Bren’s hand rested on his shoulder which grabbed his attention.

“Tony? Tony, come meet my friend.” Bren said. Tony walked over, “Tony, this is Sandra. Sandra, this is my boss, Tony.”

“Nice to meet you. Sorry, I can’t shake your hand.” Tony smiled before showing the drinks.

“That’s alright.” Sandra laughed, “It’s nice to meet you too.”

“Sandra was at the children’s home with me.” Bren added.

“Oh wow! Really?” Tony’s eyes widened as Bren took her drink from his hand.

“Yeah, she was my wee pal then. We stuck together, eh?” Sandra put her arm around Bren as Bren laughed.

“Bren, I’m gonna take these drinks over. Cath’ll get in the huff if I come over with a warm drink.” Tony said to Bren who nodded, “Sandra, it was really nice meeting you.”

“And you, Tony.” Sandra smiled. Tony left and Sandra watched him walk away. Bren took a sip of her pint, “You’re on a date with your boss?”

“Hm? No, of course not. Who said anything about a date?” Bren frowned, “We just came out for a drink. We actually bumped into his sister and her husband too so-.”

“Bren, don’t be thick. He so clearly fancies you!” Sandra said. She continued talking but Bren seemed to zone out. She looked at Tony who was now sat down at the booth.

Tony laughed with Cath and Paul and looked genuinely happy. This was the Tony she didn’t know. The family Tony and she liked him like this. Seeing him out of work with people he was very comfortable with, she saw the real him, a different him. She wanted to see more.

Tony then caught her eye as he laughed. It was like everything around them stopped. It was just them in the world. His laughter died down as he gave her a smile before a wink. Bren’s cheeks were burning and she hoped to God he didn’t see them go all rosy. 

Chapter Text

Friday 26th November 1999

- - -

Tony was speaking to Stan in the car park outside when he realised he’d forgotten his cigarettes. He said goodbye to Stan before heading back into the factory. He walked into the kitchen and noticed the light was still on. He hadn’t seen Bren leave so assumed she must have been at the boardroom with a last minute meeting. Tony went into the office and saw his cigarettes on the desk. He picked them up and put them in his pocket and was about to leave. That’s when he heard a sniffle from the canteen. Tony frowned as he turned.

“Bren?” Tony called. No answer. He walked out to the canteen and looked around. Bren was knelt on the floor wiping something on the floor, “Bren?”

She didn’t turn around. That wasn’t like her. Bren wouldn’t just ignore him. Tony walked closer to her when he noticed how hard she was wiping the floor. He noticed the small drops of blood on the ground and frowned.

“I just spilled something. It’s fine.” Bren managed to choke out, “You can go home.”

Tony said nothing as he crouched down next to her. Bren was aware of him now next to her and she felt defeated. She didn’t want him to see her like this. Tony lifted her face gently and noticed her bloody nose. Her jumper also had blood down it. Tony’s heart dropped.

“Oh Bren. What happened?” Tony asked. He assumed she’d fallen and maybe banged her nose off the railing. Where she was wiping the floor was close to the railing.

“I don’t want to talk about it.” Bren shook her head. She went back to wipe the ground.

“Did you fall or something?” Tony asked.

Bren sighed. She knew she had to tell him what happened. She looked up at him and realised that he didn’t mean any harm. She knew he cared for her. Bren just didn’t know how Tony would take this.

“No. Someone did it.” Bren said softly.

“Who? What happened? Did you bump into someone?” Tony asked but Bren just bowed her head. She stayed quiet. Tony rested his hand on her shoulder. The way she reacted was clear that she didn’t just bump into someone. Tony was going to get to the bottom of this, “Who did this to you?”

“It was my husband. Martin.” Bren said softly.

“Husband?” Tony frowned. He felt like his head was swimming. He felt so angry knowing she was hurt but what the hell did she mean that it was her husband? Since when did she have a husband? “But I thought-?”

“I know, I know. I’ve been trying to sort the divorce lately. We haven’t been together for a long time.” Bren shook her head. She went back to scrubbing the floor, “You can go. You don’t need to stay.”

“Bren, I’m not going anywhere.” Tony replied. He stopped her scrubbing, “You need to sit down.”

Bren just stopped and Tony helped her stand up. He took the cloth from her and pulled out a chair for her. She sat down as Tony disappeared into the kitchen and got her a clean, damp cloth for her nose. He came back and sat next to her. 

“Tell me what happened.” Tony said as he gently wiped her nose.

“I wanted to talk to him about the divorce and I was gonna meet him somewhere else but he came here. I could tell he was drunk and when I told him that we were meant to meet somewhere else, he just kicked off.” Bren shrugged, “Whacked me around a bit and then just said that we’ll have the divorce done.”

“Did he hurt you anywhere else?” Tony asked.

“Um, no. He did grab my wrist but it’s fine.” Bren replied, “Just my face.”

“Alright. Where is he now?” Tony asked. If he was nearby, Tony knew he wouldn’t be held accountable for his actions. Bren was hurt and if Tony found the man who did it, he would make sure that Martin would never do it again.

“I dunno. He left. He’s not anywhere around here.” Bren said.

“Alright.” Tony nodded. He continued helping her clean up her nose when she winced, “Sorry, sorry.”

“It’s fine.” Bren shook her head but he could see her eyes filling up. Tony stopped what he was doing and Bren broke down then. She held her head in her hands as she cried. Seeing her like this broke his heart. This was something he never wanted to see but all he could do was be there for her.

“It’s alright. You’re okay. You’re safe.” Tony reassured her as he rubbed her back.

“He really hurt me.” Bren said softly, “I wasn’t going to let him hurt me again but he did.”

“He’s not going to do it again. I won’t let it happen.” Tony said. He lifted her face again, “He’s not going to do this ever again.”

“You don’t need to do this.” Bren sniffled.

“Yes I do. I… I care about you, Bren. You’re so important to me, I want to look after you.” Tony replied. He wiped her tears with his thumb, “I don’t want you to be alone, mate.”

Bren just nodded. Tony knew this was the go ahead to let him continue cleaning her face. Her nose had stopped bleeding so it was just cleaning up her face. When he was done, Tony put the damp cloth on the table as Bren sighed. 

“Let me look at your nose.” Tony said, his hand resting gently on her chin, “I don’t think it’s broken. I think we should still go to the hospital in case. What d’you think?”

“Mhm.” Bren nodded.

“Okay.” Tony replied, “I’ll get your anorak.”

Both of them stood. Bren tucked the chairs in as Tony went into the office. Bren picked up the cloth from the table, fiddling with it in her hands. She looked around the canteen. She had felt so alone until Tony came in. Bren was so lucky that he did come in. She didn’t want him to see her like this but the fact he helped her showed how good a man he was. How he cared for her.

“Here.” Tony walked into the canteen with her anorak. He helped Bren put the anorak on and they left the canteen.

Tony drove Bren to the hospital nearby and they headed into A&E. Bren stayed close to Tony the whole time they walked through the hospital. A&E was already so busy with it being a Friday but the two waited patiently in the waiting room. 

“Thank you.” Bren looked at Tony, “I mean it. I dunno what I would’ve done if you didn’t come in.”

“You don’t need to think about that.” Tony reassured her. He took her hand and gave it a squeeze, “I’m here.”

Bren gave him a soft smile. She rested her head on his shoulder and sighed gently. Tony smiled down at her. He planted a soft kiss on her head and squeezed her hand. They were both content enough to sit in silence. To watch the world go by around them.

Bren finally got seen and thankfully, her nose wasn’t broken. Bren and Tony left the hospital and headed back to the car. They sat in the car for a moment, both deep in their thoughts.

“D’you want me to take you home?” Tony asked.

“Can I stay with you? Just for tonight.” Bren looked at him.

“Yeah. Yeah, of course, mate.” Tony smiled, “I tell you what. Why don’t we go to the shops, get dinner in and we can go straight back to mine?”

“Yeah, I’d like that.” Bren smiled.

Tony got the car started and they left the car park. When they went to the nearby shop, Tony went down to get their dinner when Bren disappeared in the shop. He frowned, trying to figure out where she went. Tony walked down the aisle next to the one he was in but found Bren in the clothes section just looking at the clothes.

“There you are.” Tony approached her, “Thought you’d run off.”

“Sorry. I um, I needed pants.” Bren said softly before going back to the packet of underwear she was looking at.

“Eh?” Tony asked. He looked around himself and realised that they were in the lingerie section. It was hard to not imagine Bren in the clothes around him but he knew he shouldn’t at a time like this.

“I can’t wear dirty underwear, can I? I need to at least have something. I also got a toothbrush.” Bren explained, shaking the toothbrush she held at him. Tony could see she was slowly starting to feel better.

“Fair enough.” Tony cleared his throat.

“These’ll do. Don’t worry, I’ll pay for these.” Bren smiled, “Least I can do when you’re doing my dinner.”

“I hope you’ll walk around just in those and your bra if they’re so important.” Tony teased.

“You should be so lucky.” Bren quipped back at him. The two laughed but they both hid their blushing faces from the other.

They got back to Tony’s and he put their dinner on. As Tony cooked, he saw Bren come out of the bathroom and noticed her jumper. It had blood down the front of it and some on her sleeve where she must have wiped her nose. He knew she couldn’t sit around with a bloody jumper the whole night. It wasn’t fair. 

“Hey, Bren? Keep an eye on the dinner, I’ll be back in a second.” Tony called over to her.

“Okay.” Bren went into the kitchen and Tony left.

Tony went into his bedroom and raked through his drawers. Why was it when he had to find a top for Bren that all his tops were horrible? There was no way he could give some of those to Bren. A Pink Floyd tour t-shirt? Absolutely not. There were a few button downs that were too dressy for sitting around and even a Christmas jumper showed its face but it was still little early for that. Finally, he found a plain dark green plain t-shirt. That seemed to be the only thing that would have done the job.

Tony was about to leave the room when he decided that he really should tidy up. He straightened up the bed and picked up some stray socks from the floor. There were a few shirts that needed hanging up which he did and fixed his laundry basket so it didn’t look like it was totally overflowing. Thank God it was Friday. When he stepped out of the room, Bren was stirring the pasta in the pot. He gave her a tap on the shoulder.

“It’s not fair you’re still in that jumper. It’s not the best top but I can wash your jumper for tomorrow.” Tony offered Bren the t-shirt.

“Oh. Thanks, Tony.” Bren smiled as she took the t-shirt and looked at it, “I’ll go change now.”

“Okay. You can go in my room if you like.” Tony pointed.

“Thanks.” Bren smiled.

Bren came back in with the t-shirt on. Tony put Bren’s jumper in the wash before serving their dinner. They sat at Tony’s small dining table and talked as the television played quietly. He watched her over the table and seeing her in his t-shirt and just being at his flat eating dinner with him made his mind go into overdrive. This was something he truly wanted. This domestic life with her where nothing mattered but them.

Bren had insisted that she would sleep on the couch but Tony was adamant she would have his bed. He lay on the couch, staring at the ceiling. He listened to the cars outside go by and the various voices in the night. Though it was peaceful here, he couldn’t sleep. Tony was surprised. He thought he would be totally knackered after today and he was but somehow, he just couldn’t get to sleep. All he could think about was Bren. Her staying here seemed to send his head into a frenzy. She was probably out cold after today. She’d been through-

“Tony?”

Tony sat up as he saw Bren standing in the hall. She wore his t-shirt still which covered her underwear. On her feet, her colourful socks were gathered around her ankles. She looked so beautiful.

“What’s up?” Tony asked.

“I can’t sleep.” Bren replied, “Did I wake you?”

“No. I couldn’t sleep either.” Tony said.

“Are you uncomfortable? You can go in your own bed, I don’t mind.” Bren offered.

“No, it’s not that. I dunno, I just can’t get to sleep.” Tony sat properly on the couch, “D’you want anything? A cup of tea?”

“No, I’m okay.” Bren shook her head. She walked further into the living room and sat on the armrest of the couch. Tony looked at her and gave her a smile, “You look tired.”

“I feel it. I just can’t seem to fix it.” Tony shrugged. Bren giggled, looking down at her feet, “You suit that top.”

“You think? I don’t really wear green.” Bren looked down at the top before she smiled, “It smells like you.”

“It does?” Tony asked. Why was he asking that? Of course it would smell like him, it’s his t-shirt.

“Yeah. Your aftershave.” Bren smiled but it then faded. She looked at him, “I don’t want to be alone, Tony.”

“You’re not alone.” Tony took her hand and gave it a squeeze, “You’ve got me.”

Bren bowed her head as she sighed gently. Tony then stood which made Bren look at him. He pulled her arm gently so she could stand up.

“Come on. Let’s go to bed.”

Tony woke up to Bren in his arms. That was definitely not how they fell asleep. Just being next to each other made the other feel at ease but things obviously changed when they fell asleep. Bren had her back against his chest with Tony’s arms wrapped around her middle, holding one of her hands. She was so warm and comforting against him. Nothing could really compare to this. Waking up in bed with the woman he… wasn’t sure if he could go that far yet. He was pretty damn close. 

Tony wanted to treat her this morning. He managed to move out of the bed without disturbing her. He planted a soft kiss on her shoulder and even managed to tuck her in so she could sleep for longer. He headed into the kitchen and started making breakfast.

Bren was slowly awoken to the smell of cooking. She rolled over and noticed that she was in the bed alone and the door was open ever so slightly. Bren could remember the feeling of his arms around her waist through the night and couldn’t help but smile to herself. This room could not be anyone else’s but Tony’s. The shirts hanging up at the door, the ashtray next to the bed, the framed Bobby Charlton Manchester United strip hung up next to the window. It felt so right waking up here.

Bren got up and quickly checked her appearance. Thankfully, her hair wasn’t too messy and all her makeup from yesterday was off her face. She was surprised to see no bruising from the night before. She had decided she looked presentable enough to go through. 

Tony put the bacon on the plates next to the eggs he made when he heard footsteps coming down the hall. He turned and noticed Bren walk in. Tony smiled at her.

“Morning.” Tony smiled, “Did you sleep alright?”

“Yeah.” Bren nodded as she approached him with her arms crossed. 

“Good. Are you feeling better?” Tony asked.

“Yeah, I am, thanks.” She looked at their breakfast he was serving, “This looks nice.”

“Thought I’d treat you to some breakfast. D’you want tea?” Tony asked as he put the pan in the sink and turned off the stove, “I’ve got some coffee if-.”

Bren cut Tony off by kissing him. Her hands rested on the base of his neck as she stood on her tiptoes. Tony couldn’t believe it. This was the last thing he expected when he woke up this morning. But it was the thing he wanted so much. He was so shocked by her kissing him that he stayed frozen. When they broke off the kiss, Bren looked at him and couldn’t read his expression.

“I’m sorry.” Bren stepped back. Her stomach turned to knots and felt embarrassed by what she had done, “I just wanted to-.”

Tony brought her lips back to his. He cupped her face and kissed her back. Bren moved her hands to his waist. They stayed like this for a couple of seconds before breaking it off and looking at each other. Tony stroked her cheek gently with his thumb. 

“I’d kiss you all day but our breakfast’ll get cold.” Tony smiled down at her. Bren giggled, resting her forehead against his chest for a moment.

“Well, we better get our breakfast eaten then.” Bren looked at him.

“Yeah.” Tony nodded. He moved his hand down to her back, “You go sit down. I’ll do your tea.”

“I can do it.” Bren insisted.

“I will do it.” Tony hushed her, his finger over her lips, “I want you to relax and enjoy your breakfast.”

Bren couldn’t help but smile. She stood on her tiptoes and kissed his cheek before taking her plate and sitting down at the table. She watched him as he started to make her cup of tea. She thought about how he had treated her over the past few hours and she could not be more grateful for him. He had looked after her so well and made sure she was alright. With Tony, Bren felt safe. There was nowhere else she’d rather be than here with him.

Chapter Text

“That’s them now.” Tony said as he walked back into the kitchen, “I’ll go round and see them.”

“Okay.” Bren nodded.

“You alright?” Tony rested his hand on her shoulder.

“Yeah, I’m good.” Bren smiled.

“You’re not too tired? No morning sickness?” Tony asked.

“Tony, I’m okay.” Bren giggled, “Go and see them. I need to go take out this meal.”

“Alright.” He gave her a kiss on the cheek, “I’ll head through the now.”

Tony went through to the reception of the B&B. Standing there as they checked in was Dolly, Jean, Anita, Twinkle, Philippa and Stan. Philippa was dealing with them checking in when they all turned to see Tony. They all grinned.

“Tony!” Jean smiled.

“Hello.” Tony greeted them. They all hugged him, “How are you? You all alright?”

“Yeah, we’re good.” Stan nodded.

“How are you, Tony?” Dolly asked.

“I’m great.” Tony nodded, “Did you get here alright?”

“Yes, it was quite pleasant actually.” Dolly nodded.

“Where’s Bren?” Twinkle asked.

“In the kitchen. She said she’ll be out in a minute.” Tony replied, “Do you want to get sorted in your rooms and then I’ll get the boss through?”

They all took their things upstairs to their rooms and got settled in. Tony helped them with their bags before rushing back down to the kitchen. Bren was just coming back into the kitchen when she saw him.

“You alright to come and see them? They’re just coming down I think.” Tony said.

“Yeah. You’ll be alright without us?” Bren turned to Anna and Morag.

“Aye.” Anna nodded.

“Yeah, it’s not too busy anyway.” Morag smiled.

“Alright.” Bren smiled.

“Do you still want to keep it quiet?” Tony asked when they left the kitchen.

“Yeah. I think we’re best to tell them when it’s right.” Bren replied as they walked, “I want to tell them all together. Do you think they’ll notice the bump?”

“Doubt it. You’re still quite small, eh?” Tony shrugged, “You know what they’re like though, they like to keep an eye on the most minuscule details.”

Bren chuckled when she stopped walking. She stood on her tiptoes, giving Tony a quick peck. The couple headed out to the reception. The others were just coming downstairs when they saw Bren.

“Hiya!” Anita lit up and came down the stairs to see Bren.

“Hiya.” Bren giggled as the two hugged, “You alright? Is the baby at home?”

“Yeah, I didn’t want to bring him because he’s started teething so he’s a bit grumpy.” Anita smiled.

“Aww.” Bren chuckled.

“You alright, Bren?” Jean hugged her.

“Yeah, I’m good.” Bren smiled, “It’s lovely to see you all.”

“Those rooms are beautiful, Bren.” Dolly said.

“Yeah, they are lovely.” Bren nodded. She put her arm on Tony’s shoulder, “What time is it, Tony?”

“Just after one.” Tony checked his watch.

“Are you all hungry? We’re still serving food.” Bren offered.

“Yeah, that’d be lovely.” Philippa nodded.

“Great. You all get a seat in the pub, we’ll get them sorted.” Bren smiled. She took Tony’s hand, “Come on, Tony.”

“See you in a minute.” Tony waved and the two went into the kitchen.

Bren and Tony got everyone’s orders and started making their meals. They brought them out before the two got changed out of their uniforms and joined the group with their own meals.

“So I said to her, I don’t think chocolate would work for the cake. It’s too much with the icing.” Jean explained as they ate.

“And chocolate cake makes you very bloated.” Dolly added as Jean sighed, “You wouldn’t want to be bloated with your hips.”

“Thank you, little miss perfect.” Jean huffed.

“I’m sure you’ll figure it out, Jean. You’ve got plenty time.” Philippa said.

“I think you’re best to focus on other things before the cake.” Anita nodded, “Like the right underwear.”

“What else have you got organised?” Bren asked.

“We’ve got the DJ sorted, don’t we?” Jean looked at Stan.

“Yeah, with help from Twinkle.” Stan smiled.

“Oh really?” Tony said, “Who did you get, Twink? It’s not your dealer, is it?”

“Ha-ha, the Two Ronnies.” Twinkle rolled her eyes, “It’s a friend of my mum’s, she used to work with him.”

“Oh that's nice.” Bren nodded.

“Where did you say the reception was going to be again?” Philippa asked.

“Mobberley.” Stan replied.

“Mobberley?” Bren’s eyes widened.

“I thought you said that Mobberley was full of people who were too old to realise they had been burgled?” Tony turned to Jean.

“It’s actually not that bad a place. Despite everyone being ancient.” Jean shrugged.

“Mobberley has quite a spritely community, thank you.” Dolly sighed.

“If you define octogenarians as ‘spritely’.” Jean rolled her eyes. She turned to Bren and Tony, “Enough about the wedding. What about you two? What’s been happening?”

“Um.” Bren and Tony looked at each other. Not sure if they should come out with it so quickly. They decided to keep it to themselves for a little longer. They looked back at them, “Nothing really.”

“Oh come on, you’ve just moved up here and started a business, it must all be going on.” Philippa smiled.

“Go on, Bren. Tell us what’s been happening.” Twinkle gave her a nudge.

“We’ve just been working really, it’s not been that exciting, has it?” Bren looked at Tony.

“No, not really. It’s been good though.” Tony smiled.

“Well, what about in the village? Have you settled in? Got new friends?” Stan asked.

“Yeah, everyone’s been lovely. We’ve got a nice little circle of friends.” Tony chuckled.

“Aww, that’s lovely.” Dolly smiled.

“Why don’t we get some champagne? Celebrate seeing each other again.” Jean offered.

“That would be lovely.” Anita nodded.

“Yeah, let’s get rat arsed.” Twinkle tapped the table.

“Thank you.” Dolly tutted.

“I’ll go up to the bar. How many glasses will we need?” Philippa stood.

“Eight. I’ll come up with you, help you with the glasses.” Stan got up.

“Make that seven.” Bren called to Stan.

“Eh?” Stan turned.

“Make it seven glasses. I’m not drinking.” Bren told him.

“Are you sure, Bren?” Philippa asked.

“Yes, honestly.” Bren nodded.

“Are you driving? You can have a little glass, it won’t do any harm.” Dolly shrugged.

“Well, actually it could.” Bren replied. Everyone immediately looked concerned. Tony gave Bren’s knee a little squeeze under the table.

“You’re not ill, are you?” Anita asked, already feeling very worried for her friend.

“What? No, no. I’m alright.” Bren giggled. She looked at Tony who smiled at her. Bren took his hand before looking at everyone else, “I’m great actually.”

“So why are you not drinking?” Twinkle asked.

It seemed like they were all on the edge of their seats to hear what Bren had to say. She couldn’t help but feel nervous. Everything had happened all so fast so she had no doubt they would comment on the timing. Bren wasn’t totally bothered about that when she thought about it properly, it was maybe more telling them their happy news that brought her nerves. Bren and Tony wanted to tell everyone together. This meant so much to the couple so telling everyone like this was quite scary but when Bren looked at Tony, he gave her an encouraging smile. She knew they were in this together and she could trust him. Bren looked back at everyone else.

“I’m pregnant.” Bren grinned.

There was a collective gasp from the group. Everyone looked shocked. That was the last thing they expected Bren to say. There was a split second where they all didn’t say anything and Bren and Tony could feel their nerves kicking in.

“Are you really?” Anita asked, a smile growing on her face.

“Yeah.” Bren giggled, “We found out the other week.”

“Oh, that is lovely news.” Dolly smiled.

“How far along are you?” Jean asked.

“Fifteen weeks. My bump’s small but it’s there.” Bren looked down at her bump as she rubbed it, “You have to look.”

“But wait, I thought you couldn’t have children. After the chemo?” Philippa frowned.

“Well, that’s what I thought. But turns out, I can. No sperm getting through our sash windows.” Tony smiled at Bren who laughed. He wrapped his arm around her.

“Aww, are you pleased?” Dolly asked.

“I’m over the moon.” Tony grinned. Bren cuddled into his chest as she smiled. He kissed her head.

“I guess we still have a reason to celebrate.” Stan shrugged before looking at Bren, “Are you alright with us having champagne?”

“Of course. Just make mine an orange juice.” Bren smiled.

“Alright. Come on, Philippa.” Stan and Philippa went to the bar.

“Are you excited?” Twinkle asked with a smile.

“Yeah, definitely.” Bren nodded, “Nervous though.”

“We’ve got each other though. We’ll be alright.” Tony gave her a little squeeze.

“Oh you’ll be fine.” Dolly reassured them.

“It’ll be good for you to have a little baby around. You’ll have the best time.” Jean nodded.

“And they’ll have a little friend in Ajay.” Anita smiled.

“They will.” Tony nodded.

“You two will be great parents. Honestly, you two have got nothing to worry about.” Jean told them.

“Have you thought about names yet?” Anita asked.

“Yeah, do you know if it’s a boy or a girl?” Twinkle asked.

“No, not yet. We want it to be a surprise.” Tony smiled.

“It’s still really early. We don’t want to rush to anything.” Bren looked at Tony as she took his hand that rested on her knee, “We just want to enjoy every little minute.”

“Yeah. Yeah, we do.”

Chapter Text

“Give flipping over.” Bren grinned.

Tony giggled. He looked down at her smiling. He took a quick moment to think about what he wanted to ask her. He took a deep breath.

“Do you want to come with me?” Tony asked.

“Eh?” Bren turned. She wasn’t sure if she heard him properly.

“I’ll take you.”

“To the party?”

“Do you want to?”

“Well yeah. I mean, yeah. Are you sure? Are you not like otherwise thingybob?” Bren asked. That was the last thing she expected him to ask.

“‘Thingybob’? I’m not even whatchamacallit!” Tony said in his usual deadpan tone. Bren couldn’t help but laugh.

“Okay then.” Bren nodded.

“Great, you’re on.” Tony grinned down at her. 

“Yeah.” Bren crossed her arms. She hoped he didn’t see her blushing cheeks.

“Bren? Bren?” They were interrupted by a voice calling. Jean walked back into the kitchen, “Have you got that tea towel? Forgot it again.”

“Oh, yeah.” Bren grabbed the tea towel behind her and chucked it to her.

“I thank you!” Jean smiled and left again.

“Well,” Tony turned to Bren with his hands in his pockets, “What time d’you want me to come for you? How about quarter to seven?”

“Yeah. Yeah, that’s perfect. No probs.” Bren nodded. She then frowned, “Are you not drinking?” 

“No I am. I’m gonna leave the car here. Probably get a taxi home.” Tony explained.

“Ah right.” Bren smiled, “Yeah. That’s fine.”

“Coming through! Coming through! Got a spider.” Stan announced himself as he walked through the kitchen with his spider catcher. He held it away from him as he walked.

Bren gasped when she saw it, moving close to Tony. Tony looked down at her as she held his arm and couldn’t help but laugh. He never expected Bren to be scared of spiders but the feeling of her being so close to him was surreal. He could get used to it.

“Sorry.” Bren looked up at Tony when Stan was gone. She stepped away from him and grabbed the cloth on the side.

“It’s alright. Didn’t know you didn’t like spiders.” Tony smiled.

“Those big ones are a bit freaky, int they?” Bren fiddled with the cloth.

“Yeah. They are. It’s gone now though.” Tony gave her a gentle nudge.

Bren looked up at him as he smiled down at her. She started to giggle as she felt the heat crawl up her face. Why was she getting so nervous?

- - -

Tony pulled up outside Bren’s bedsit. He felt nervous tonight. Much more nervous than usual. He kept checking that his tie was straight and that his hair was still in place. He’d never been this worried about his appearance before, not even during dating his ex-wife. He wanted to impress Bren. He thought that she was maybe even too good for him. He knew that actually. She was so different and brilliant and kind and funny and-

“You gonna let me in?” Bren knocked on the window.

Tony nearly jumped out of his skin when he heard knocking on the window. Tony unlocked the car and Bren got in.

“Sorry.” Tony apologised.

“That’s alright.” Bren giggled, “You look very nice.”

“Oh. Thanks.” Tony looked down at his suit. Why was he getting more nervous? “I don’t normally wear suits. You’re lucky I wear a shirt and tie to work.”

“Well, you look very smart.” Bren giggled.

“Cheers, mate.” Tony smiled. He looked at her. She had her red anorak on so he couldn’t see the dress she had on. She looked pretty though. Really pretty, “You look nice too.”

“Thanks.” Bren bowed her head as she smiled bashfully. 

“You ready to go?” Tony asked.

“Yeah. I am.” Bren smiled.

“Great.” Tony nodded. He started up the car again and headed to the factory.

When they got to the factory, Tony parked up close to the door to the kitchen. They got out of the car and headed inside. It was cold but the two tried to not walk too close to each other. They walked into the kitchen and noticed Stan was already in.

“Hiya Stan.” Bren grinned.

“Hello, Bren.” Stan turned with a smile, “Tony?”

“Alright, Stan?” Tony gave him a nod, “No one else here yet?”

“No, you’re earlier. I thought I’d come early for any malfunctions and whatnot. The party’s busy downstairs though!” Stan nodded before leaving the kitchen.

“Oh well. That’s good.” Bren nodded, going to the back of the kitchen.

“I’ll get those beers.” Tony went up to the back and grabbed the crate of beers. As he walked, he noticed a bag of potatoes sitting and he was very confused.

“I’ve kicked that urinal into touch.” Stan walked in with some boxes.

“Have you?” Tony asked, turning away.

“It was your back pressure flow through.” Stan replied.

“It would have been!” Tony said sarcastically, going to another box at the side.

“Now, Tony,” Stan said as he took out one of his toupees. He put it on his head, “This is my usual but should I branch out?”

“What are these?” Tony kicked the bag of potatoes.

“Oh the veg man just came. He saw the lights on.” Stan said, looking into his handheld mirror. He took off his toupee before delving into the box for another one, “Now this is more of a holiday hair piece.”

“Yeah, I see what you mean.” Tony said in all honesty. At this point, Stan’s toupees were something he had gotten used to. Not as funny as they once were. Tony went into the crate of beers, “Eh, there’s beers here, Stan, okay? Help yourself!”

“No, I won’t actually. I want to keep semi-alert. We’re gonna be at full stretch, lavatory wise, I can’t fine tune a ballcock if I’m tipsy.” Stan said, now trying on another toupee.

“That’s the one.” Tony pointed.

“Really?” Stan looked up at Tony from his mirror.

“You’ll be fighting the girls off with that on your head, Stan!” Tony replied.

“You might be right.” Stan smiled, looking at himself in the mirror still.

“Hands off mine though! I’ve got a hot date tonight!” Tony chuckled before turning around to see Anita, her date, Twinkle and her friend, “Who’s this then?”

Jean and Dolly soon arrived and everyone was filling up the kitchen with all their different ‘aromas’. Ocean Boulevard, Climax, Youth Dew, Charlie, Swarfega. Tony could find himself already getting bored of the conversation.

“Where’s Bren? Bren!” Tony looked around for Bren.

“Hiya.” Bren popped out from the back, still with her anorak on.

“No sign of Keith and Bob.” Dolly frowned before going up to the back of the kitchen.

“Bren, party? Anorak?” Tony gestured to her anorak.

“No, I know! But seen as we were waiting for everyone else, I thought I’d put all me cans in alphabetical order.” Bren rubbed her hands together.

“Stop it, Bren.” Tony told her. He couldn’t be bothered with work speak tonight. He also wanted Bren to have a good time.

“No, it’s brilliant in there now.” Bren replied.

“Bren, shurrup.” Tony moved closer as she grinned.

Philippa then came in. More conversations about perfumes and Tony trying to get Bren to take off her anorak. Philippa was stressing about the merger Mr. Michael was planning with a Japanese company led by a man called Mr. Tashimoto. Philippa, Twinkle and Anita with their plus-ones soon headed down to the party as Bob and Keith entered. They overheard two domestics before more ‘aroma’ chat from Stan. He then walked away after making a poor joke.

“Take it off, Bren, ya daft bat!” Tony joked. He listened to Stan complaining about someone parking outside whilst Bren disappeared into the office to take off her anorak.

“Look, the woman in the shop chose it. I know I look stupid.” Bren announced herself. Tony turned as she walked out of the office. She couldn’t have looked any better. The black sleeveless dress went down to just above her knees and she wore stockings over her, quite frankly, gorgeous legs. She looked wonderful. Though as she played with her fingers, he knew she didn’t think so herself.

“Have you had legs all this time and I never knew?” Tony asked, still quite spellbound by her to say the least.

“Give over.” Bren rolled her eyes with a big grin. She walked over to him as Stan continued going on a tirade about the parking outside. Bren gave Tony a small smile.

“You look great by the way.” Tony said softly and quite nervously. But he did mean it.

“Duh!” Bren said playfully, rolling her eyes.

“You alright with getting a taxi home tonight?” Tony asked.

“Yeah, it’s no probs. Or I could get the night bus, that’d be easier for me.” Bren shrugged as she played with her rings.

“No, Bren, I won’t let you do that.” Tony sighed, “Get the taxi with me. It could drop you at yours and then at mine. Obviously we won’t be, y’know?”

“What?” Bren asked.

“That’s a very acceptable outfit if I may say so, Bren.” Stan picked up the bag of potatoes as he interrupted them.

“You can say what you like, d’you know what I mean?” Bren giggled.

“Well, here’s to hopefully a good night eh?” Tony lifted up his beer bottle, “Cheers.”

“Cheers.” Bren lifted up her glass.

“Cheers.” Stan lifted up his glass too.

The three headed down to the party. It seemed like the whole of Manchester was there. They seemed to forget how big a staff force they had in the factory. They all sat down at the table that the canteen staff had designated for themselves. Most people were getting their food whilst others were dancing. Bren and Tony decided to have something to eat and sat together as they talked, though it was more shouting at each other so they could be heard. The two watched as the havoc slowly began. Anita was getting drunker and drunker by the minute as Twinkle and her friend, Tiffany were trying to get as drunk as possible. Jean and Dolly were both in a huff with their husbands, especially Jean after Keith wouldn’t dance with her but danced with Jane instead who was completely none the wiser. Philippa sat in complete boredom as Mr. Michael and Mr. Tashimoto discussed their plans for the merger at one of the other tables whilst Stan rushed about like a headless chicken. Bren and Tony definitely got a few laughs watching them. 

After trying the sake, the men decided to head up to the canteen to have a ham sandwich. Bren went to go check on Anita who was being sick in the toilet whilst Tony sat with the men. The men talked about women and all the men in Rhyl banging away to Max Boyce records. Bren came out a little later to the kitchen as she sorted out the bread at the side and had her drink. She didn’t really listen to the men’s conversation.

“Not looking too bad tonight, the old Brenda.” Tony said as he looked into the kitchen from the half-door. She really did look stunning. The men started talking about radiators but Tony’s mind stayed on Bren. They were each other’s date tonight but it seemed like they hadn’t actually spent a lot of time together. Sure they had their dinner together but it seemed like they were being carried away with someone else for whatever reason.

As the other men decided to get up, Tony did too. He looked at Bren through the half door and decided to go speak to her. He walked towards her. She was having a sip of her white wine as she turned. She gave him a smile when he walked in.

“So you’ve not found the man of your dreams downstairs then?” Tony teased though it could have been true. Bren looked incredible tonight. She could have had any man there. He sort of wondered why she was his date and not some other lucky bugger’s.

“Nope, might as well be up here with you.” Bren replied with a smile, playing with her fingers again. She could feel her nerves kicking in around him. They hardly had been alone at all tonight properly. This was their first time since the car ride here.

“Do you get lonely, Bren?” Tony asked suddenly. He didn’t really know what brought that on. Probably the drink.

“Me? No. Well, yeah.” Bren answered quickly. It wasn’t something she wanted to think about tonight. Especially with him. She snapped her head up, “Tell you what though, I’m hungry.”

“Me and all. Japanese buffet!” Tony scoffed.

“It were better when we had pies.”

“They made everybody ill, Bren!”

“Yeah, well not everybody. That were the excitement, weren’t it? Am I gonna get blatted by a pie or am I not? It were like a bit Russian roulettey, weren’t it?” Bren explained as Tony chuckled, “Hey, I tell you what! We could make some chips! We’ve got those spuds doing nothing.”

“You’re a genius, Bren! Flipping genius!” Tony exclaimed as he followed Bren to the bag of potatoes at the side.

Mr. Michael popped into the kitchen very quickly with Mr. Tashimoto as he showed him around. They said a quick hello before they left again. And now it was Bren and Tony once more. On their own.

“You know how we came here together?” Tony asked.

“Yeah. What is it? Have you got a better offer?” Bren asked as she tapped the side. Why was she getting so flipping nervous?

“No, of course not, ya dingbat. How could I get a better offer when I’ve got you as my date?” Tony laughed. He then turned to Bren. When she looked up, he realised how close they actually were, “No, what I was gonna say was-?”

“Is Michael in here? No! Perfect!” Philippa entered as she began a big tirade on Michael. Bren and Tony sighed to themselves before joining Philippa. 

They managed to shew Philippa away for a brief moment as they came closer. Tony looked down at Bren.

“Bren, you’ve never been to my flat, have ya?” Tony asked.

“Is she still in there?” Twinkle announced herself, Tiffany and Hugo following behind her.

“Uh, yes she is.” Bren replied.

Twinkle made Bren and Tony laugh as she left with her friends. Tony turned to Bren with a confused look.

“What was I saying?” Tony asked.

“No idea!” Bren laughed still.

“Oh, I know.” Tony remembered, “You know how we came here as sort of an item?”

“Yeah.” Bren smiled as she looked up at him. It felt like they were moving closer and closer to each other.

“Well, we could still do that, y’know? Maybe you could come back to mine? Or I could come back to yours?” Tony suggested as he put down his beer glass on the side. He wasn’t in the mood for drinking anymore. He could see a slight change in her face and backed down, “Sorry. I knew it was a bad idea.”

“No! No, Tony. It’s not.” Bren grabbed his sleeve. Tony looked down at her hand as she held his sleeve. Her grip softened when he looked at her, “I would like that but…”

“But what?” Tony asked. He didn’t realise how abruptly he said that until he said it.

“It’s just, I don’t want to ruin anything. Between us I mean. I don’t want you to make a mistake or anything.” Bren explained.

“Bren, no. That wouldn’t happen. I would never have asked you about tonight if I thought it would ruin everything.” Tony replied. He then bowed his head, “I’m sorry. I must’ve got the wrong end of the stick.”

“Tony, I didn’t mean it like that.” Bren moved her hands to his. He looked up at her. She had such kind eyes. She really was beautiful. Bren took in a deep breath as she tried to build up the courage, “I do like you, Tony. Blimey, I think the drink has made me either really confident or really nervous, okay. I’ve always really liked you. I just don’t want to bugger up any chances because that’s happened before way too much.”

“You won’t bugger up anything.” Tony shook his head. He then started to laugh, “I really like you too. A lot.”

“Really?” Bren lit up.

“Yeah.” Tony nodded, “I think the drink’s getting to my nerves too.”

Bren laughed as she dropped her head forward, now resting it on his chest. The two laughed before they looked at each other. They studied each other’s faces as their laughter slowly died down. They both thought the other looked fantastic tonight and they weren’t sure if they had caught on that they really dressed up so they could impress the other. At this point, it didn’t matter. Nothing really mattered. All the stuff going on in each other’s lives. Tony’s cancer, Bren’s mother, all the other things they didn’t know about each other. It didn’t matter. There was time to find out and frankly, they couldn’t wait. Good or bad, it didn’t matter. Their faces inched closer and closer to one another, their lips about to clash.

“Are those chips ready yet?” Philippa burst in. Bren and Tony moved away from each other quickly. Thankfully, Philippa didn’t notice what was going on or at least if she did, she didn’t let on, “I’ve got Michael and Mr. Tashimoto coming up if you don’t mind.”

“No, that’s fine.” Bren moved away from Tony and went to check on the chips.

“I’ll get some plates.” Tony went up the back of the kitchen.

“There’s bowls there.” Bren pointed next to her.

“Cheers, mate.” Tony gave her a smile which Bren couldn’t help but blush at.

Mr. Michael and Mr. Tashimoto had their chips with Philippa before they soon left again. As Tony held her close to him and called her his ‘genius woman’, Bren could feel the heat crawling up her neck. The warmth of his arms was comforting. She felt safe. Maybe she could get used to it. When they were finally alone together, Tony turned to her.

“Bren, are you as good at sex as you are at chips?” Tony asked as Bren started rubbing her hands together.

“I am actually.” Bren replied with a smirk all over her face. She then looked up at him, “Bleep Stan. He’ll want some, won’t he?”

“Chips or sex?” Tony teased.

“Whatever.” Bren replied with a laugh.

Tony went off into the office as Bren took another sip of her drink. She thought about the night so far. She really liked Tony. She had for a long time but she never expected him to like her back. There was a little bit of her that felt smug about it all.

“Bren, do you like Max Boyce?” Tony asked as he walked over to her, leaning on the counter.

“Him with t’leek? Nope.” Bren crossed her arms.

“Shall we go have a night of mad, passionate sex and not play any of his records?” Tony asked, leaning in a little closer. Bren grinned as she played with her rings. 

“Okay.” Bren said. The nerves seemed to kick in once again. She looked at him, now realising how close they really were. Her lips inches away from his, “D’you mean it?”

“Yeah. If you wanna. We could go now.” Tony suggested.

“What? Just go?” Bren asked.

“Yeah, could go back to mine. Or yours.” Tony replied. Oh no. She wasn’t getting cold feet, was she? “Do you wanna?”

“Yeah. Yeah, I do.” Bren nodded, “Just a bit nervous I guess.”

“You don’t have to be.” Tony stood up straight. The last thing he wanted to do was pressure Bren into anything. He took her hands in his, “Y’know you can trust me, don’t you?”

“Yeah, I know. And I do.” Bren nodded. She found herself staring at his lips, “A lot.”

A silence fell over them, now the two moving closer again. Their heads tilted slightly before their lips finally pressed against one another. The kiss was gentle at first, the two repositioning their hands. Bren’s hands went to the base of his neck, her fingers stroking his short hair. Tony held her waist as he brought her body close to his. Their feelings became more apparent as their kiss grew more passionate. The two held onto each other tighter, not wanting to let go of each other any time soon. This wasn’t just a drunken fling anymore, this was so much more.

Jean stumbled into the canteen with Dolly following behind cautiously. They were looking for Bob and Keith and they were nowhere to be found in the canteen itself. They decided to try the kitchen instead. 

Stan heard his bleeper going and thought it may be urgent. He knew it came from the kitchen and wondered if it was Bren. She looked gorgeous tonight. He did have a bit of a thing for her but tonight, something was different. He could feel it in the air. He decided to build up the courage to ask her something very important.

Anita had finally stopped vomiting. She flushed the toilet once more and stood up slowly. She looked in the mirror. All her lovely makeup was ruined and her hair was all flat now. Thankfully she didn’t get any vomit on her clothes which was a result. She felt better after being sick but knew she’d feel worse in the morning. ‘Find Bren’ she thought, ‘she’d know what to do’.

Twinkle was still at the dancefloor of the party as they collected their things. Hugo had blacked out at the table when they decided to come back to the table to check they hadn’t forgotten any ID’s or purses. As she checked her bag, she remembered she left her lipstick in the toilet when she was with Anita. She decided to head back to the kitchen. As she walked into the canteen, she could see Dolly and Jean through the open shutters. She could also see Stan coming in from the other door.

They all seemed to walk in at the same time. At the wrong time. Well, the right time for them or they would have missed this. The absolute wrong time for Bren and Tony though. 

“Where are they?” Jean called as she looked for her husband and Bob. She stopped when she saw Bren and Tony snogging. Dolly bumped into her back and noticed what stopped Jean. She gasped.

“I’ve been bleeped! Was it the-?” Stan stopped too behind Jean and Dolly. Twinkle was just coming around the corner of the toaster as she stopped  too.

“Bren?” Anita walked out of the bathroom slowly with her arms crossed. She wasn’t paying attention to her surroundings until she got out of the bathroom and noticed the couple in front of her.

Bren and Tony broke off the kiss quickly when they noticed their five friends standing around them. Why was it right at this moment in time that they all needed to be here now? Just their luck, the both of them thought. 

“Well, you two took your time, didn’t you?” Jean laughed before stumbling over to the drinks.

“Wahey, Bren and the sad man getting it on! I better tell Jane.” Twinkle grinned.

“Don’t get married though! It’s all downhill from there. You should know that, Tony.” Jean was now pouring herself another drink. 

“D’you think you’ll get that far?” Anita stepped forward.

“Should you not have a soft drink, Jean?” Tony asked as he turned to lean back on the counter top. Bren stayed close to him, also leaning back on the counter top.

“Don’t embarrass them, Jean-. Who’s chips are these?” Dolly pointed at the chips. 

“Anybody’s! Bren’s idea.” Tony gave Bren a nudge. She turned away as she blushed.

“That’s why we bleeped you, Stan.” Bren pointed.

“I hadn’t budgeted for chips, calorie-wise!” Dolly said, now getting herself in a fluster.

“I’ll do you a black coffee, Anita.” Bren walked over to the boiler, “Anybody else want one? Jean?”

“No! I’ll get the boys. If Jean’s drunk and there’s chips available, I think we should make tracks. I can’t afford a fried food fiasco at this stage.” Dolly said before leaving the kitchen abruptly. 

Tony watched on as Twinkle managed to get Jean sat down at the counter. Jean rubbed her head as she sat whilst Twinkle managed to get the drink away from her, swiping it for herself. He could hear the faint chatter from Bren and Anita at the boiler. Stan approached him slowly.

“So, is that you going home with Bren tonight?” Stan asked.

“I think so.” Tony nodded. He couldn’t help but grin.

“Good for you.” Stan gave him a smile. He realised that they were better off together. Bren and Tony went very well together. Stan was sure there were other fish in the sea for him. He stood up straight, “I’ll just check me skips.”

“How dare you expect me to spend leisure time in the same building as fried potatoes!” Dolly could be heard from the canteen. Bob and Keith trailed behind her. 

Anita went back into the bathroom as Dolly continued to rant on about the chips as she grabbed hers and Jean’s coats, thrusting them upon Bob and Keith before grabbing Jean from her seat and leading her out.

“Bye!” Bren called out to them, “I’m just gonna give Anita this coffee.”

“I thought you were going clubbing.” Tony frowned.

“Yeah, well we were. We were about to leave and Anita’s Hugo blacked out and I forgot me lippy. Turns out it was up here and well, I found you and Bren snogging instead, didn’t I?” Twinkle chuckled. She then gave him a playful punch, “That you two getting it on then? I’ve been waiting ages for this!”

“Twinkle, you’ve only been working here for a year.” Tony scoffed.

“Well, yeah. That’s ages, int it?” Twinkle rolled her eyes, “I need to get my lipstick.”

Bren came out of the bathroom as Tony turned around. He walked over to her as he stuffed his hands in his pockets.

“Impeccable timing from them tonight.” Tony sighed.

“I don’t know if I’m totally surprised if I’m honest.” Bren laughed.

“No, you’re right there.” Tony nodded. He looked at her, “I’ll just go get some fags and then shall we go?”

“Okay.” Bren smiled, “Yeah, that’s fine.”

“You not having second thoughts at all?” Tony asked.

“No. Not at all. I wanna do that.” Bren nodded.

“Okay.” Tony grinned. He leaned in as he pressed his lips to hers. The kiss this time was much more gentle. Bren seemed to melt into it. When they broke it off, Tony looked at her with a smile, “Won’t be long, babe.”

“Okay.” Bren smiled up at him. 

Tony left the kitchen just as Anita and Twinkle came out of the toilet. Anita held her cup of coffee whilst Twinkle put her lipstick in her bag.

“How are you two getting home?” Bren asked, “If you are going home that is.”

“Yeah. I said Anita could stay at mine but we got a lift off that Hugo. He’s out for the count entirely.” Twinkle shrugged.

“Well me and Tony are getting a cab, we’ll drop you back.” Bren replied as she went into the office to get her anorak and Anita’s shawl.

“Are you sure?” Anita asked.

“Yeah! He won’t mind. He’s just getting some fags.” Bren replied.

Anita sat at the side as Bren passed her shawl. Twinkle leaned against the counter, Bren joining her. Stan walked in and smiled when he noticed the three women.

“Hello. You all making tracks?” Stan asked.

“Yeah, just waiting for Tony.” Bren replied, “D’you have to stay behind?”

“Yeah. Make sure everything’s in order. No mishaps and whatnot.” Stan explained before looking at his watch, “I better get a move on actually. Get home safe.”

“See ya, Stan!” Bren waved. She smiled down at Anita when Stan left as she checked her anorak, “You got everything? Tony won’t be long.” Bren then crossed her arms as she sighed, “Innit weird? You see somebody every day and then like suddenly, it all turns around, d’you know what I mean?” Bren turned when she noticed Tony walk in, “Did you get your fags?”

“Yeah, I did.” Tony nodded, tapping his pocket.

“D’you mind if we drop Anita and Twinkle off in the taxi? Just wanna make sure they get home alright.” Bren gestured to the younger women.

“Yeah, that’s fine.” Tony smiled, “Did you have a good night then?”

“It were alright. The dancing were crummy!” Twinkle huffed as Bren giggled.

“That sake was really strong.” Anita crossed her arms.

“For you it was. You were in the toilet half the night.” Tony scoffed, “I’ll go call that taxi.”

“Okay.” Bren smiled.

“D’you think you two’ll get it on?” Twinkle bumped Bren’s shoulder.

“I dunno.” Bren shrugged with a small smile on her lips. She didn’t want to be too hopeful.

“He really likes you, Bren. You can tell.” Anita nodded.

“You think?” Bren’s eyes widened.

“We know! It’s so obvious!” Twinkle replied. She then gave Bren a nudge, “You’re all he talks about most days.”

Bren couldn’t help but feel smug about the whole thing. She had liked Tony for years and many things had come in their way. Of course he was married at first so she stayed away but then when he got the divorce, the two became closer. A lot closer. She enjoyed his company. He was so easy to be around. He was kind and funny and all the things she wished for in a man. Things she had never found in the past. 

“Cab’s booked. Said it’ll be here in a couple minutes so we better head outside.” Tony came out of the office.

“Alright.” Bren nodded. She let Anita and Twinkle go in front of her as they left the kitchen. She looked up at Tony, “Got everything?”

“Yep! Have you?” Tony asked.

“Yeah.” Bren smiled.

Tony gave her a smile before slipping his hand into hers. She looked down at their hands clasped together and couldn’t help but laugh. She gave his hand a squeeze and the two left the canteen. Hand in hand.

Chapter Text

“Thanks.” Bren got out of the taxi and walked to the main entrance of the factory.

Bren walked quietly through the factory. She listened to the machines and usual noise. Everything was going on as normal though it was strange to be at work at this time. She was usually at home by now. Bren continued to walk towards the canteen, stuck in her own thoughts about absolutely nothing. She pushed the doors of the canteen and walked in. 

“Here she is!” Jean turned as all the dinnerladies and Philippa got up from the table. Stan put his mop in the bucket and walked to Bren.

“Oh Bren, you did so well!” Anita was the first to hug Bren.

“Thanks.” Bren giggled. Dolly then hugged her, “Could you tell how nervous I was?”

“Not at all. Cool as a cucumber in my opinion!” Stan grinned.

“How are you feeling now?” Philippa asked.

“Fine now. Nervous for tomorrow but we’ll see how it goes.” Bren shrugged.

“You’ll smash it!” Dolly grinned.

“Yeah, Bren. Show everyone how it’s really done.” Twinkle nodded.

“Where’s Tony?” Bren asked.

“On the fire escape having a fag. I’ll get him.” Twinkle said before leaving the canteen.

“Oh. I’m surprised he didn’t see me come back.” Bren said.

“He’s just went out.” Jean crossed her arms.

“Oh okay. Well, there’s no need to get him now. Let him have his fag.” Bren shrugged.

“No, no. He’ll want to see you.” Philippa squeezed Bren’s shoulder, “You should have seen him when we were watching. He was so happy for you!”

“He was practically jumping for joy when you got ‘film’, Bren.” Anita grinned.

“There she is, my champion.” Tony walked into the canteen with Twinkle behind him.

“Did you finish your fag?” Bren asked.

“Nope. Threw it away as soon as I heard you were back.” Tony walked towards her.

“You should’ve finished it, I wouldn’t have minded.” Bren shook her head.

“I wanted to see you first.” Tony hugged her tightly as Bren giggled, wrapping her arms around his neck. He squeezed her as he lifted her from the ground, Bren started to laugh louder, “You did brilliant! I’m so proud of you.”

“I didn’t mess anything up, did I? Didn’t make myself look a complete idiot?” Bren asked, looking up at him.

“Nah. You smashed it.” Tony grinned as he gave her a squeeze, “And you looked great! So beautiful.”

Bren giggled, cuddling into him again. Tony held her tightly. He kissed her cheek before looking down at her. 

“You better get practicing, Bren. Make sure you’re all clued up on film.” Jean smiled.

“She’ll be fine! She’s got it in the bag, don’t you?” Dolly grinned.

“Shall we go to the pub to celebrate? Get rat arsed?” Twinkle suggested as Dolly tutted.

“We can’t get drunk on a Monday.” Anita crossed her arms, “Besides, I need to get back for the baby.”

“It doesn’t matter. I don’t really wanna rush into celebrating if things go wrong tomorrow.” Bren shrugged.

“Don’t think like that, Bren. You’ll do great!” Philippa smiled. 

“Yeah, you will.” Tony gave her a squeeze which made Bren smile up at him.

“I better get going.” Anita said as she checked her bag.

“Yeah, I better make a move as well.” Twinkle sighed, “See ya, oldies!”

“See you, Twink. Bye, Anita.” Tony said goodbye.

“See ya, girls!” Bren waved.

“Bye!” Jean and Dolly both called.

“I better make a move actually. Tom and I are going for dinner.” Philippa grabbed her bag.

“Aww, lovely.” Bren smiled.

“Where you going?” Dolly asked.

“The new Italian down near the Midland Hotel.” Philippa replied.

“Oh it’s nice in there. You’ll like it. Stan and I went a few weeks ago, didn’t we?” Jean looked at Stan.

“Yes, it was very nice.” Stan nodded. He then looked at his watch, “I need to go do my bins. Give me a shout if you need me.”

“See you, Stan.” Philippa gave him a wave.

“Come on, Doll, we need to go up to the board room.” Jean went through to the kitchen to get the trolley.

“I’ll walk you along.” Philippa said.

“See you tomorrow if we don’t see you.” Dolly waved.

“See ya.” Bren smiled.

Bren and Tony watched the three women leave the canteen as they now stood on their own. Tony gave Bren’s shoulder another squeeze. She looked up at him.

“And then there were two.” Tony smiled.

“And then there were two.” Bren repeated before sighing gently. She noticed the box on the table and frowned, “What’s that?”

“The box? This, my darling, is our new uniforms.” Tony took Bren’s hand and led her towards the table.

“Ooh.” Bren raised a brow, “What’re they like?”

“I don’t think you’re ready.” Tony shook his head.

“Oh Tony, come on. Just show me them.” Bren sighed.

“Alright. But be warned.” Tony shrugged.

Bren watched as Tony took out the striped dungarees out of the box. Her eyes widened as she looked at them. She stepped forward, picking up the fabric and looking at them.

“You’re winding me up.” Bren raised a brow.

“I’m being serious! D’you want to see mine? I’ve got a dickie bow!” Tony went into the box again.

“No! No, you don’t!” Bren laughed. Tony took out the bow tie and overall for him, “You bloody do!”

“They must really not like us.” Tony laughed.

“Oh they’re not that bad.” Bren giggled.

“Not that bad?” Tony scoffed, “Come on, Bren!”

“Okay, okay. They’re not great.” Bren sighed, “Still, it could be worse.”

“Hm, fair enough.” Tony shrugged, “Dungarees aren't very practical for a canteen.”

“There will be a method to their madness.” Bren shrugged, “Shall we get going?”

“Yeah.” Tony sighed.

The two headed through to the kitchen. Tony carried the box through to the office and put it down on the desk. He then turned to Bren as he put his coat on as she waited for him.

“You okay?” Tony asked.

“Yeah. Just tired.” Bren shrugged.

“I know. You did well today though.” Tony walked to her, “I’m over the moon. Smarty pants there.”

“Don’t get your hopes up.” Bren scoffed as she looked away.

“I’ve not got my hopes up. I just know you’ll smash it.” Tony gave her a wink. He walked over to her then as she looked back at him. He cupped her cheek, pushing a curl from her face, “I mean it, mate. You did brilliant today. I’m so proud of you.”

Bren giggled softly as Tony smiled down at her. The two leaned in as they kissed. They broke off their quick kiss as they looked at each other.

“I need a flipping drink. Come on, let’s go home.” Tony said.

“Okay.” Bren giggled.

Tony put his arm around Bren as she turned the lights off in the kitchen. They walked out, talking quietly to each other.