Oh, the joy of sports days. Decibel-defying shrieks, excitable children, a loudspeaker droning incoherently in the background. They’re surprisingly at home because if they close their eyes, it’s not far from a riot in full swing. Just minus the excitable children and replace them with angry adults. And more burning cars.
Finn doesn’t see the point of the school splashing out and renting a stadium for the day – unless, of course, they plan on churning out miniature Olympians. It’s fitting actually because his gripes are as monotonous as the loudspeaker which at this point squeals and abruptly cuts out. (Sadly, Finn doesn't do the same.)
It’s a relief, but it means that hundreds of parents are scrambling to keep track of events. Liz herds her unwilling family towards the next one on Sunny’s schedule.
‘I wanna go home,’ sighs their daughter, tugging on her hand.
‘Well, the sooner we get this over with, the sooner we can leave,’ she reasons with probably the greatest amount of concentration she’s had in a long time. She freezes when she sees Finn’s gaze wandering to the far side of the field.
‘Oh, no, you are not hammer-throwing again. Not this time.’
‘Who said anything about participating? I’m merely an…observer,’ he says, waving his hands defensively.
‘You said that last year. Didn’t stop you from nearly putting your back out.’
He regards her seriously. The effect is slightly marred by the school baseball cap he’s wearing. ‘It was a challenge, Liz.’
‘It was fu –’ A mother with her noisy brood passes and Liz catches herself just in time. She steps closer, hissing in his ear: ‘It was fucking moronic.’
‘I thought it was funny,’ comments Sunny, blue eyes bright and looking more entertained than she has been all morning.
Finn ruffles her hair. ‘You would, wouldn’t you?’ If Liz didn’t know him better, she’d say he was proud of her precocious sense of schadenfreude. (So is she, as a matter of fact.)
The loudspeaker blares into life, the volume cranked up along with what is unmistakably the voice of Sunny’s headmaster: ‘Whose bright idea was it to rent this place? I told you this wouldn’t fucking work. Do you know that I’ve been up to here with the school council and – shit, are we live?’
Sunny giggles into her mother’s shoulder. Finn pulls his cap down so low, it looks as if his head has been devoured. Liz blinks, uncertain, until she sees him quivering with laughter.
‘Come on, children, let’s get through this scandalised crowd before it starts moving again,’ she motions, then stares at him pointedly. ‘That includes you, Mr Garvey-Kirkwood.’
‘I don’t envy his PR team,’ says Finn as Sunny races in front, spirits buoyed by the sudden uproar.
‘Does he even have one?’
‘If he doesn’t, he’ll definitely need one within –’ He checks his watch. ’The next five minutes?’
Liz bites her lip, infuriatingly ruminative.
‘Oh, fuck no,’ he groans. ‘Liz –’
‘Why don’t we help him? Check in on him, at least? We’re here anyway.’
‘Liz, I know working for the Met can give you a messiah complex, but we literally can’t save everyone.’
‘Of course not,’ she snaps. ‘But school officials who’ve committed a little faux pas? That’s not out of our range, is it?’
‘Yes, it is,’ he says, folding his arms.
‘No, it’s not. You know I’m right about this, Finn. As right as I am about your ridiculously dodgy back.’
‘My back is absolutely fine,’ he insists.
Liz responds by touching a certain spot on his back. He grunts audibly.
‘I beg to differ.’
He smiles thinly. ‘You’re so full of yourself.’
Finn gets a smack on a considerably lower part of his back. His eyes widen and she’s afraid she’s offended him until he gasps: ‘Do that again.’
The laugh she’s been holding in finally comes to the fore, so loudly that Sunny glances round.
‘You’ll get a whole lot more after we check in on him,’ she whispers suggestively.
Finn sighs, nodding. ‘You're the Queen.’
She grins. ‘You’re fucking right I am.’