At first, Finn had come around with an armful of papers, ostensibly to use the photocopier. Which he clearly isn’t, because he darts out of sight every time she glances at him.
It's weird. Then alarming, because this goes on for nearly twenty minutes.
Figuring it isn’t working, he changes tack. He retreats from the copier, goes into outright reconnaissance and hovers around her door.
Eventually, she has enough.
‘For fuck’s sake, Finn,’ sighs Liz. ‘Why don’t you just come the fuck in or is there suddenly an invisible door that wasn’t there before?’
He does, hands jammed deep into his pockets like he’s trying to steady himself through the fabric.
At the same time, a cleaner emerges with the Department’s daily rubbish. He collides heavily with Finn, murmuring a gruff ‘Sorry, mate.’
Finn doesn’t even glare at him, his eyes entirely trained on Liz. This time, thank God, his gaze doesn’t waver when they make eye contact.
‘Well?’ she says when he doesn’t say anything. She watches him purse his lips, sees his eyes dart downwards. Then his jaw drops.
Her eyes follow his, expecting to see...what she expects to see.
‘What?’ She assumes that they’re both looking at the same thing. (Also, she’s two months along, no one could have possibly noticed…)
‘What the fuck did you do to your desk?!’ he shouts.
She blinks. Talk about an anti-climax.
‘You’ve been bugging me to clear it all month, so what’s the problem?’
Finn is gaping at the pristine emptiness of it. He’d remember because he’d spent fifteen agonising minutes placing and replacing the ring there when Liz was away doing a press conference. He’s practically set up a mental inventory of everything on it.
Now, the desk is sans clutter and, more stomach-churningly, sans ring.
‘No – but –’ Finn’s eyes gleam with hurt and panicked exasperation. ‘Did you see anything before you cleared it?’
She swears she sees his feet leave the ground as he shouts.
When she gets back, Mia sees them standing around her desk. Never a good sign. She exhales once or twice, then approaches apprehensively.
Once in eyeshot, she’s inundated with questions about where the Department’s rubbish goes.
‘And we mean physically, not metaphorically!’ yells Finn. She stares at him.
‘Sorry.’ He cards a hand through his hair. ‘This – this wasn’t what I was expecting to happen.’
‘Me either,’ chimes in Liz.
‘Okay, right,’ says Mia, putting up her hands in a futile attempt to stem the cacophony. ‘Can I just ask what the hell is going on?’
‘Finn was supposed to propose to me.’
Mia beams at Finn who is...radiating anything but pride. ‘Oh, wow, congrats – wait –’ Mia’s confusion is palpable. ‘“Supposed to”?’
Liz nods. ‘But he decided that instead of doing it properly, leaving the ring on my desk would be a better idea.’
‘This wouldn’t have happened if you just looked at the Post-It!’
‘You wrote three fucking question marks on it, I assumed that you’d taken over Mark Hamill as the fucking Joker!’
Finn’s mouth quirks a little, as if he can’t decide whether to be flattered or to glare at her. He settles for the latter. Liz returns the favour. The very picture of pre-engagement contentment.
Finn can feel Mia’s judging gaze lingering on him. ‘What?’
He snaps to look at her so hard, it’s a minor miracle that his neck doesn’t go the same way.
‘You know, you could have given it to me for safekeeping.’
‘And ruin the surprise?’
‘You've definitely surprised us this way,’ she counters. ‘Not to mention cause several mini nervous breakdowns.’
‘Okay, okay, I get it, I should have thought this more through.’
Liz rolls her eyes. ‘As with everything else, Deputy of Comms Kirkwood.’
Mia takes advantage of their renewed round of bickering to make a discreet phone call to Admin.
‘If you don’t mind me saying; sounds like a bloody war over there,’ comments the man on the other end of the line.
‘Just another day at the office,’ she sighs.
Fortunately, the day’s rubbish hasn’t yet left the depot at Scotland Yard. But they have to be quick, which means taking drastic action. A man directs them to the appropriate bin.
‘Oi! You can’t go in there!’ he shouts as Finn pushes past him.
In his haste, Finn nearly slaps the guy’s face with his lanyard. (He does, however, successfully slap his own.)
‘It’s an emergency,’ he explains, cheek stinging from where the lanyard hit him. He holds out his jacket to Liz. ‘Hold this for me?’
Without further ado, he launches himself atop the huge container. Someone belatedly offers him a pair of overalls which he either doesn’t hear or ignores.
Liz would join him, but her dress has just been dry-cleaned, so she watches from a safe distance.
The man from earlier sidles next to her, concerned. ‘Is your boyfriend all right?’
Her lips quirk. ‘Actually, he’s supposed to be my fiancé by now. If you can believe it –’
A voice echoes from deep within the bin.
‘I heard that!’
‘You know, I’ve never seen garbage looking through garbage before,’ observes Liz airily.
An outstretched middle finger emerges from the bin as well.
‘Well, you’re the one apparently marrying it!’ he yells.
‘I don’t recall saying “yes” yet!’ she yells back.
Finn mumbles incoherently. Out of the corner of her eye, she sees the man looking warily between the two of them. She realises that outside of Scotland Yard, or at least among Inglis, the higher-ups, and not to mention the Comms Department, their exchanges might appear a little...eccentric. Too bad.
Some time later, Mia rings in. ‘Has he found it yet?’
Liz looks over at Finn who has finally decided to put on some overalls. She tries not to laugh, or at least, not to let Mia hear her through the receiver. ‘No.’
‘Oh, okay. The Commissioner is looking for you both, but I’ve managed to stall him for a bit.’
‘What did you say?’ asks Liz.
‘Er, just mentioned we had an issue with...waste disposal?’
‘Okay.’ An anxious pause. ‘Did he take that literally or as code?’
‘I don’t know. In any case, he didn’t look that surprised, to be honest.’
Liz hates the fact that she can just see the weary look on Inglis’s face. They need to come up with an explanation – and the ring – fast.
As if on cue, Finn extracts himself from the bin, hair as frizzled as his nerves.
‘I know this sounds weird, but have we got a metal detector?’ he appeals. Everyone shakes their heads.
‘I don’t know about these guys here, but maybe the police have them, Finn? And Bomb Disposal is just a phone call away –’
Finn visibly recoils, appearing ready to drown himself in garbage instead. ‘NO.’
She calls them anyway while keeping Finn at arm’s length from her phone: ‘Hi, this is Liz Garvey, Head of Comms, I’m looking for Explosives Officer Talbot…’
A metal detector and ten stressful, expletive-filled minutes later, Finn finally locates the ring. But before doing anything, he insists on running it – and himself – under a tap first.
‘That wouldn’t be the dirtiest thing you’ve done,’ she murmurs.
‘No, but –’ He glances down meaningfully and thank fuck they’re now looking at the same thing.
He goes off into the adjacent office and Liz takes the opportunity to thank Talbot who is packing up the metal detector.
‘Glad to be of help,’ he says. ‘Especially when I wasn’t exactly forthcoming at the Thameside Centre.’ He looks around; it takes a moment for her to realise that he’s checking for Finn. ‘By the way, are we gonna still get those Twitter Q&As?’
‘Thanks, Talbot,’ she smiles. ‘I’m getting married, not retiring.’
‘Great – oh Christ –’
Finn returns and the small crowd of cleaning staff cheers expectantly.
‘You didn’t think about following me?’ he hisses and directs a death glare at Talbot’s retreating back.
‘Finn, stop, don’t forget that without him, we’d have been here for...I don’t know...days?’
He nods grudgingly, then folds his arms. ‘Looks like we have an audience,’ he grumbles.
‘That’s what you get for trying to be clever when you could have proposed like normal people do.’
‘Is there anything about us which is “normal”?’ he points out.
She considers this. ‘You’ve got a point there. Shit, it’s like we’re married already, agreeing like this. Oh, and by the way, Inglis is looking for us –’
‘Better make this quick then,’ he mutters and slides the ring onto her finger. The whole thing is without ceremony, characteristically business-like. Somewhere in the background, the cleaning staff let out a noise of disappointment. But Finn’s eyes are again gleaming with suppressed emotion and come to think of it, so are hers.
‘Come here,’ she says lowly. Finn steps forward, mind in a haze, and is startled when she grabs his hand and slips a ring on his finger, too.
‘Liz, what –?’
‘You didn’t think you were the only one looking for a ring, did you?’ she grins, curling an arm about his neck and kisses him without thinking. The crowd audibly perks up.
It takes all of their combined willpower not to make a spectacle of themselves for an entirely different reason. Finn is the first to pull away.
‘Um, let’s – let’s continue this somewhere else,’ he stammers breathlessly.
‘Into the garbage chute, Finn-boy?’
He blushes happily. ‘Apt though that may be, no. And as you said, we should head back.’
‘It was worth a try,’ she shrugs as they leave, hands clasped tightly together.