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Delicate: #16 Invincible

#16 Invincible
Waking The Dead//Frankie/Boyd//For 30kisses

'You think you're untouchable Boyd. You think you won't lose – you can't lose. You won't admit what happened because it would be admitting that you aren't perfect, that YOU screwed up. You blame us for ruining the case because you can't face that fact that YOU BLEW IT.'

The slamming of the office door was the exclamation mark of Mel's tirade and she stormed out through the department. Frankie and Grace - who had heard the whole thing – looked at each other, then at Spence who had only caught the tail end. 'Someone should speak to Mel…' Frankie ventured. Grace nodded and headed for the door behind Mel while Spence cast a wary glance to Boyd's door. 'Well, I'm not entering the lions den.'

Frankie sighed heavily, 'Fine, I will. But you' she pointed at Spence 'can go help Grace. You need the practice.'

Spence shrugged. 'Anything is better than that.'

As he left the room Frankie mumbled under her breath 'You reckon.'

+ + +

'Boyd, can I come in?' She peeked around the door, watching as he paced angrily. His face was almost crimson and when he shot round to look at her she could tell his first reaction was to tell her to get out. She's surprised when instead he takes a deep breath and flops into his chair. 'I suppose you’re the chosen sacrifice?'

'Yeah, Grace thinks she's beyond being thrown to the wolves, and Spencer is too much of a coward.' She approached the desk, perched on the side and looked down at him 'Are you okay?'

He raised his head a little and looked at her from under raised eyebrows 'Apart from the fact we just lost our case and I know I should fire Mel for that outburst? I'm brilliant.'

She covered his cupped hands with hers and leaned closer. 'You know she was just…'

'Pent up about the case? I don't care Frankie. I am her superior and if she doesn't trust my judgement - or at least respect my decisions whether she agrees with them or not - then we have a problem. One that's not going to disappear when I've calmed down.'

'She's let herself become too close to Miss Hargreaves. She knows that. She's emotionally invested in finding out what happened to that little girl, and every time we fail it's like a slap in the face.'

'Yet another reason she should be moved on.'

'You don't mean that.'

'I don't want to mean it but it's true. And you know it too. Just because we are cold case – removed from the station, hidden down here alone – doesn't mean we can get so close knit that we can't be objective.'

She can see the anger reigniting: the knitting of his brow, the colour rising in his cheeks and the flashes in his eyes. It's an intimidating sight but she won't let herself back down. 'You can't seriously expect me to believe you would have Mel transferred.'

And he's on his feet again, rapidly pacing in front of the desk, mumbling under his breath, something that sounds almost like Middle English.

She watches him quietly, hoping this will quell his temper. For a moment she almost believes it has: silence descends on the room, but it is soon shattered by his hands slamming against the desk. The gesture shocks her into leaping from her seat, and she turns to face him, leaving the desk as a barrier between them.

'So apparently you are second guessing me now too? I've been doing this long enough Frankie, long enough to know the right way and the wrong way to run a department. You think I'm not emotionally involved in this case? Do you think the disappearance of seven year old girl doesn't play on my parental guilt? Do you think watching her poor mother going through all this' he raises his hands and slams them against the desktop a second time 'AGAIN, doesn't hit home for me?'

A flush of shame blossoms across her cheeks. Of course she'd initially connected Boyd's personal history with the case before – they all had – but with his reluctance to mention it, it had faded from her mind. Guilt floods her as she leans in close, reaching for his hand, apologising.

Almost nose to nose, she can see the fire in his eyes dampening, replaced by the shadows of old ghosts. She whispers his name, desperate for the connection 'Boyd?'

But his shell was years in the making, and realising his display of weakness he ducks his head. 'I can't let every missing child, every murdered child, every grieving parent affect me because I couldn't cope with the pain. And I can't sit back and watch my team put themselves through it either.' He gives a distinct sniff and looks up to meet her eyes again. 'I can't and I won't.'

'Boyd.' Her voice is still barely audible, scratching her throat. Carefully she archs over his head to press her lips against his hair.

A loud knock on his door makes her jump, jolting away from him. He gives her a small smile before pulling away to face the newcomer. As the door opens, Mel's raised voice floats through, followed by Spence's head, his expression pure shell-shock, 'Grace would like to see you, Sir…'

As she follows Boyd out, Frankie gives Spence a pitying but smug smile: 'Now which one's the lion?'