AGREE TO AGREE
Tommy and Barbara disagree about a suspect in a case. When said case takes an unexpected turn, Tommy realises his true feelings for Barbara.
A first time story.
Written: April 2015. Word count: 3,440.
"With respect, sir," Barbara said, as she stared through the windscreen ahead of her.
Tommy, sitting next to her in the driver's seat, winced at the emphasis on the word 'sir' and sighed softly at the 'with respect'. The two together meant Barbara was about to say something that really wasn't terribly respectful. "Yes, Barbara?" he said; he prepared himself for what she might say.
"I think you're wrong." For a moment she glanced away from the vigil she had been keeping and looked at him.
He too glanced away and looked at her. "Do you?"
"Yes, sir. I do. He's the one; I'm sure he is." For a moment her steady gaze held his before she once more returned to staring out of the window.
He too looked back. "The evidence says the opposite, Barbara. You know that as well as I do."
She should; they had stayed in his office until well past midnight going over every piece of evidence, scrutinising it, analysing it, discussing it and it all pointed to one thing: Alexander Parker-Brown was not the man they wanted. He was not the man who had kidnapped, tortured and murdered three young women.
She made a noise in the back of her throat and shifted slightly on the seat. "I know it does. But evidence can be false. And you know that as well as I do, sir."
Tommy sighed. "Yes, Barbara I do know that; of course I do. However, in this case I have to agree with the evidence; Alexander Parker-Brown is not our man."
For a moment she was silent. Then she said, her tone slightly hard and defensive, "I reckon you don't want him to be."
"What?" He turned his head sharply to look at her. "What do you mean, Sergeant Havers?" He spoke firmly.
She turned to look at him. He held her gaze for a moment before looking back out of the window; one of them really did have to keep their eyes where they should be. "He's a toff," Barbara said, her tone even more defensive.
"Oh, so we're back to that again, are we?" Tommy was actually rather hurt by her words. He had thought, he had believed, that they were long past the whole 'toff' thing, that the huge chip she had had on her shoulder had if not quite vanished, then at least become considerably less. It appeared not.
"I don't mean any offence, sir," Barbara said, her tone softer.
"Don't you?" Tommy's own tone was clipped.
She sighed and to Tommy's surprise touched his arm for a moment. "No, sir, I don't. I really don't. I just," she paused for a moment and Tommy flicked his gaze to her. He was slightly surprised to see that her cheeks were somewhat flushed and she was gnawing her bottom lip. He looked away again and let the silence continue. She had started it; she could finish it.
A moment or two later she spoke again. Now her voice was very low and tentative - the latter was not something Tommy was used to hearing in her tone. "I just wondered, sir, if maybe . . . Well, if you're just dismissing the possibility that Parker-Brown is our killer because . . . I really don't mean any offence, sir."
Two 'sirs' in such a short sentence told Tommy that she was either really angry or irritated with him or slightly out of her depth, on the defensive and even somewhat worried by what his reaction might be. He glanced at her again to see she was still staring directly at him.
"No, Barbara," he said firmly but softly. "I am not simply dismissing the idea that Alexander Parker-Brown might be our murderer because we come from the same class. I am going on the evidence."
She sighed. "Yes, sir."
"Whereas you . . ." He quite deliberately trailed off.
"Whereas I what?"
He turned his head and smiled in an attempt to soften his next words. "Well, Barbara, might it not be the case that you are so convinced that he's our murderer simply because he is, in your own words, a toff?" He was somewhat surprised to see that she looked more than a little startled by his suggestion.
She frowned and opened her mouth to reply, then closed it again and frowned again. "No, sir," she said. And then added more quietly, "At least I'm fairly sure it's not that. In fact, no, sir. I really do think - Look can we at least go over the evidence again? We might have missed something?" Actually, he believed her. There had been a time when her disdain of the upper class might well have led to her jumping to conclusions about their guilt or otherwise. But not now.
Tommy sighed. He honestly couldn't believe they had missed anything, not given how long they had poured over it. However, why not? It wasn't as if he had anything else to do that evening. "All right, Barbara. We'll get another takeaway and go over it again tonight. In the meantime, can we at least agree to disagree about Parker-Brown?"
She gave him a rueful look and smile. "Yes, sir," she said, before she once more turned back to staring out of the window.
They were wasting their time keeping watch on the empty house, Tommy was sure of it, just as he was sure Barbara was wrong about Parker-Brown. But they had been ordered to keep a vigil so that's what they were doing.
As he continued to stare out of the window, Tommy decided that as much as he really didn't want to go over the same evidence they had spent the previous evening dissecting, that the prospect of spending another few extra hours with Barbara actually really appealed to him. When she wasn't letting the chip she clearly did still have on her shoulder show, when she was willing to put aside their whole class differences, when she relaxed, which she did more and more these days, she was actually very good company. She was bright, smart and had an individual but enjoyable and quiet sense of humour - and these days she was willing to laugh at herself as well as at him. Yes, the more he thought about it, the more he was actually looking forward to spending more time with her.
Suddenly he had an idea. "Barbara?"
"Would you like to go out to dinner rather than getting another takeaway before we go over the evidence again?"
Once again he was slightly surprised by the fact that her cheeks flushed slightly. "Um, I don't know, sir. I mean I'm not exactly dressed for going to a restaurant, am I?"
She was, as always, dressed in her own slightly scruffy, ill-fitting casual clothes. They might be slightly scruffy and ill-fitting, but one thing Tommy knew was that they were scrupulously clean. She had her faults, didn't everyone? But cleanliness wasn't one of them. Okay, so with him in a smart, clearly expensive suit, crisp shirt and tie they would look slightly disjointed, but he honestly didn't care what people might think. And when it came down to it, being brutally honest, his money was all that would matter to the restaurant manager.
He shrugged. "Would you like to go to the dinner, Barbara?"
For a moment she hesitated and her cheeks coloured slightly. Then she smiled, her rather lovely smile, the one he saw far too infrequently, the one that made her look so very attractive, the one he suddenly realised he had never seen her give to anyone else. "Actually, sir," she said, "I'd like that very much. Thank you." She spoke formally and Tommy smiled.
Dinner had been good; in fact it had been very good. He had persuaded her to have a second glass of wine which had brought a lovely flush to her cheeks and clearly relaxed her as she leant back in her chair and they talked about books and music and shows and films, agreeing for the most part to disagree over what was good and what was bad, laughing over each other's choices of what they perceived as 'good'.
He even managed to persuade her to call him 'Tommy' for the duration of their meal. In all honesty he wouldn't have minded if she called him by his Christian name during their working day - at least when they were alone. However, in spite of her being something of a maverick, he knew there were things she saw as clearly being right and wrong and calling her boss by his Christian name whilst at work would definitely be wrong in her book; at least he thought she would think that.
As they chatted, as she laughed at her own choice of 'rubbish' books as she put it, he discovered she was actually quite a lot brighter than he had thought. She had a quick wit and ideas of her own. He wasn't surprised to learn their political views were at the opposite ends of the spectrum, but he couldn't fault her reasoning for believing what she believed. She hadn't just followed her parents' way of voting and views of the political system, she clearly had thought about it and made up her own mind. He might disagree with her, but he respected her for knowing her own mind. Actually, in some ways he thought she might know her own mind somewhat better than he knew his. Was he the one who was guilty of following what was expected of him? Had he actually ever considered some of the things she spoke with passion about?
They really were quite different, they had far less in common than they had shared ground, but he genuinely liked and respected her, and he firmly believed she liked and respect him. He also believed that the respect she had for him wasn't because she was meant to respect her boss; it was genuine. Barbara Havers did very little, if anything, because she was 'meant' to do it. Finally, agreeing yet again to disagree over a current film (had they actually agreed over anything?) they left the restaurant and returned to his office where she made coffee and they again poured over the evidence.
At the end of three hours Tommy leant back in his chair and gazed at Barbara who
was sitting cross-legged on the floor surrounded by papers. "I'm sorry,
Barbara," he said, and he really was. He realised he actually would have liked
to have found a hint, any kind of hint, in the evidence that Alexander
Parker-Brown might be guilty. However, there really wasn't anything. "However,
the evidence all -"
"Points to Parker-Brown being innocent. Yes, Tommy," she flushed and bit her lip as she looked away from him. He hoped she wouldn't apologise; he got his wish. "I know what the evidence shows and I don't disagree with it. But I still . . . I'm sorry, sir, but I still think he's our man." Before he could say anything, she shrugged, gathered the papers together and stood up. "Oh, well, I guess it's just one more thing for us to agree to disagree about, isn't it?" She smiled and her tone was rueful.
Tommy frowned. "Give me the file; I'll take it home and read it again before I go to sleep. Maybe in a different setting something might . . . Maybe I have overlooked something."
She shook her head. "No. You haven't overlooked something. There isn't anything in the evidence that points to him being guilty. It's just - I just think he is and I know that's irrational."
"Copper's instinct?" Tommy said softly, as he stared at her. He wanted to believe her; in many ways he wanted her to be right, because then they could get the bastard before another girl was murdered. And yet without any evidence . . .
She shrugged, nodded, frowned and then said lightly, as she pulled on her over-large jacket, "Better that than women's instinct." She grinned at him.
He stood up. "Come on," he said. "I'll drive you home."
"Oh, it's okay. I can -"
"I'll drive you home," he said again, this time in his non-compromising tone.
She flashed him a smile. "Thanks."
He was about to put the file back into the filing cabinet when he decided he would take it home with him after all. She was right, there wasn't anything in it to even suggest Parker-Brown was guilty, but . . . She was so sure; so certain; what had she seen that maybe he hadn't?
A FORTNIGHT LATER
Tommy was sitting in his office, reading a file and waiting for Barbara. She was already more than twenty minutes late, which was completely unlike her. Something was wrong; he felt it; damn it, he knew it. He stood up, pushed back his chair, grabbed his car keys and headed out of the building.
Thirty minutes later he stood in the kitchen of her flat staring at the mess and swearing violently.
Fifty minutes later he stood in the Commissioner's office and stared once again at the single piece of paper.
"But why?" he demanded, staring at Grant Jefferson. "We have nothing on him. Nothing. We have less than nothing. Why did he risk - We had nothing," he said again. "Nothing. Nothing. The bastard. Arm me!"
Jefferson put a hand on his arm. "Tommy, I really don't think -"
Tommy glared at him. "Arm me or I'll arm myself!"
"Inspector Lynley. I know you are concerned about Sergeant Havers. However, it is my belief there are people far better suited for mounting a rescue than you."
"She's my partner."
"I know that's why."
"Fine!" Tommy turned on his heel and headed for the door.
"Where are you going?"
"To get a gun. I know plenty of people."
"If you walk out of here now, Lynley, you know I'll have no choice but to -"
Tommy spun around to face Jefferson. "Do whatever you want. I'm going after Barbara." Tommy spun back around and reached for the doorknob.
"Wait, Tommy." Jefferson said, his voice softer and heavy with resignation. Slowly Tommy turned back around. Jefferson sighed and reached for the phone.
As he drove towards the house they had been watching a fortnight ago, Tommy forced himself to admit it wasn't just his professional interest in Barbara that had made him risk his career and in a short time would be making him risk his life. His feelings for his partner went considerably deeper than that; he also realised it wasn't a new thing.
His feelings for Barbara had gone beyond those of a working nature quite some time ago; he had just never admitted it; he had never allowed himself to admit it. Even now he actually wasn't sure he wanted to admit it, he just knew he had to. Just as he knew he would have to admit them to Barbara. He knew that doing so just might lose him his working partner, but if that was the price he had to pay, then that was the price he would pay.
For a man who had kidnapped, tortured and murdered three young women and had managed to do so without leaving a shred of evidence behind him, Alexander Parker-Brown was an amazingly inept criminal. Tommy and the small team Jefferson had insisted on him taking with him had not only gained easy access to the house, they were on top of Parker-Brown before he could react.
As Tommy, one eye on where Barbara lay still but breathing and apparently unharmed apart from what looked like a potentially broken ankle, cuffed Parker-Brown and read him his rights, Parker-Brown broke down into a mixture of laughter and sobs as he poured out the full details of everything he had done. As Chris and Duncan led him away, Tommy felt sure he would be declared unfit to plea.
Once he was alone with Barbara, after insisting that Beth didn't need to wait and in the end resorting to pulling rank on her, Tommy went over to her and dropped down onto his heels. He carefully brushed her hair back from her forehead and noticed a bruise on the side of her head. He put his fingers on her pulse and reassured himself again that although she was still unconscious, her pulse and breathing were both steady. He wondered if she'd been doped to put her out, to make her easier to deal with. One thing he was sure of was that she would not have been an easy victim; she would have fought with everything she had - and it wouldn't just have been a physical fight.
He was just trying to decide whether to wait for her to wake up or if to pick her up and carry her to his car and take her to the nearest hospital to be checked out, when she made a soft noise and her eyelids fluttered. Aware it was often the case that when someone came round, especially if they had a head injury or had been given something to make them lose consciousness, they were often sick he moved a little way away from her.
Slowly she opened her eyes and although she swallowed a couple of times, he didn't get the impression she was about to be sick. Thus, he moved back to her side and again dropped down onto his heels and took her hand. "Hello, Barbara," he said.
She turned her head and gave him a truly beautiful smile. Her pupils were somewhat dilated making him certain she had been given something to make her unconscious. "Hello, Tommy," she said. "Sorry, sir, " she said swiftly, as she flushed slightly.
He shook his head. "Tommy will be perfectly all right, Barbara. How do you feel?"
She was silent for a moment and then said, "My head hurts a bit, my ankle really hurts and I ache, otherwise I'm okay. I was right, wasn't I?" For a moment her eyes gleamed.
He rolled his eyes. "Yes, Barbara, you were. I give you my full permission to say 'I told you so'."
She put her head slightly on one side and appeared to be considering his words. Then she gave him another sweet smile, sighed softly and said, "No. I won't bother. Can I get up?"
"Do you feel sick or dizzy? You've got a bruise on your head."
She touched her head and said. "No. I feel okay. Just fed up of lying on a hard floor."
"Come on then." He offered her his hand and pulled her to her feet. The next second she gave a sharp cry and sagged against him. He caught her easily and without really thinking about it, swept her up into his arms.
"Sir!" She wriggled slightly and then to his surprise settled against him and put her head on his shoulder. "I think my ankle's broken," she said.
"I think you're right. We'll go to the hospital and get an x-ray. Then you're coming home with me. No, Barbara, don't argue. You're clearly going to need some help."
"Oh, all right," she said and sighed softly. She sounded slightly sleepy and he wondered if the drug Parker-Brown had given her to knock her out, was still in her system.
He really shouldn't take advantage of her condition, assuming of course the drug was still having an effect on her. But . . . "And you might as well make arrangements to stay for good," he said, his tone light.
She sat up somewhat and stared at him, eyes wide, a look on her face that made him want to do nothing other than kiss her. "Tommy?"
"Well," he said lightly. "You are going to marry me, aren't you? We can at least agree to agree on that, can't we?" Okay, so they had never even dated let alone kissed, let alone gone to bed together, but he knew her better than he had ever known Deborah or Helen. Right was right. It didn't matter if you dated someone for eight days or eight years; when something was right, when you knew it was right, it was right.
She smiled lovingly at him; it was a smile he was never going to tire of seeing,
and said, her tone as loving as her smile, "Yes, Tommy, we can agree to agree
about that. See, we do have one thing in common."
He laughed and kissed her.
Feedback is always appreciated
Go to Other Fandoms Fiction Page
Go to Home Page