REALISING HIS TRUE FEELINGS
Tommy is furious with Barbara for putting her life in danger.
A first time story.
Written: October 2013. Word count: 3,415.
Dripping water as he walked, Tommy strode into the Met with an equally soaked Barbara at his side. He ignored the fact that she was having to jog to keep up with him, just as he ignored anyone who spoke to him. He couldn't remember a time when he'd been more furious. It was taking him all of his time, not to mention calling on his upbringing, not to do what he'd wanted to do for the past hour: shout at Barbara - publically shout at her.
"My office now, Havers," he snarled, as they rounded another corner. She stopped hurrying along and as soon as he realised she was no longer by his side he stopped as well and turned around. "Well?"
"If you don't mind, sir," she put as much disdain into the final word as she had done when they had first been partnered. "I would like to change into some dry clothes first. And," she added, all but sneering at him, "I should like to go to the toilet."
He stared at her. For a fleeting second he actually found himself considering telling her she could wait before she changed and she could wait before she went to the loo. However, even in his fury, he knew to do so would be beyond being unprofessional and unfair, and could quite probably see him undergoing a very uncomfortable interview with a member of the personnel department and even being accused of sexism or something.
Thus, he gave her a curt nod and said, "Ten minutes."
She didn't even blink. "Yes, sir," she said, and turned on her heel and hurried off in the opposite direction.
Tommy stood and watched her go and for a moment considered going to his office and waiting for her rather than changing out of his saturated clothing. However, he decided the only person that would trouble would be him. Muttering under his breath about foolish and ignorant sergeants, he headed for his locker where he kept a change of clothing.
He stripped quickly, rubbed himself with a towel and redressed in the clean, dry clothing before heading back to his office where to his irritation he found she was already waiting for him, with a steaming mug of what laughing passed for coffee in each hand.
She didn't speak when he went into his office, nor when he slammed the door behind him and pulled the blinds down. She simply held out one of the mugs which, after a slightly hesitation, he took, making quite sure he didn't touch her hand as he took it. He took a deep swallow of the scalding hot liquid and winced slightly, but at the same time he welcomed the heat as it slid down his throat and began to warm him. It was only then he noticed that although she had indeed changed into dry cloths, her hair still dripped with water and she was shivering slightly, although he knew she was trying hard not to.
He fought an instinct to turn the radiator up or indeed to give her his dry overcoat to put around he shoulders. He was still far too angry with her; how could she have been so foolish? "What were you thinking, Havers?" he demanded. He didn't even attempt to hide the fury from his voice as he did something he had never done before, certainly not to a woman. He took a step nearer to her and then another and then a third until he was looming over her.
She blinked as she stared up at him and he watched her swallow hard, but she stood her ground as he went on using his height advantage to try to intimidate her. He was shocked at himself for doing what he was doing, but he couldn't bring himself to move away. "Well?" he snarled. "I asked you a question Sergeant Havers; kindly do me the courtesy of replying."
"I thought, sir, that as a responsible member of the police, I should at least try to save the man's life. It is one of the things we're paid to do, isn't it? Or," she added, "do we choose who we want to save?"
He counted to five under his breath and then to another five before he turned on his heel and strode away from her. Damn her; damn her logic and damn her nerve. "I gave you an order, Sergeant, an order to leave it to me. But I forgot; you choose which orders you wish to follow."
He had his back to her, but he heard her sharp intake of breath and the half-swallowed soft gasp and when he turned back around he saw she was trembling even more than she had been when he'd first gone into his office. Swiftly she lowered her gaze and stared at the floor, but not so swiftly that he failed to see the slight moisture in her eyes.
He stood staring at her, now not certain at whom he was the more angry - she or himself. Even though her head was still lowered, he was quite certain she was biting her lower lip and a second later he heard her sniff and then sniff again.
He watched her put her hand into one of the pockets of her trousers and pull out a small piece of tissue which she put to her nose. He sighed softly as he pulled out his clean handkerchief, returned to her and held it out to her.
He'd done this to her. He'd in effect broken her and made her care; he had made her vulnerable in a way she had never been before she had been partnered with him. He firmly believed in by doing so he had made her not only a better detective, but also a better person, more able to understand and reach out to others - but had the cost been too high?
For a moment she hesitated but then as another sniff escaped, she snatched the handkerchief from his hand and blew her nose before looking up at him. She was trembling and her face was pale and wet from where her hair still dripped. "Thank you," she managed and then clamped her lips together but not before he'd heard her teeth knocking together.
Frowning he touched her hand and the frown deepened and his anger was tempered with concern; she was bitterly cold. "Sit down," he instructed, as he headed first to the radiator which he turned up and then to grab his overcoat which, against her objections that she'd ruin it, he put around her shoulders.
As he settled it on her shoulders and pulled it around her, his hand touched her jumper clad shoulder and found it was wet. "I thought you'd changed," he said.
She flushed and glanced away from him. "I did. Well I changed my jumper and trousers. I hadn't got any dry underwear," she muttered.
He shook his head as he stared down at her. "Oh, Barbara," he said softly. "Well, go and buy some."
"You can't spend the day in wet underwear, you'll get a chill. Go and buy some, change and come back."
"I'll be all right."
"That, Sergeant is an order - an order of the kind you will obey."
She actually managed a small smile. "Yes, sir," she said, and stood up and started to take his coat from around her.
He shook his head. "No, keep it on. In fact put it on."
"But it's miles too big for me, sir."
"But it'll keep you warm. Here." And he took it from her and pointedly held it until she slipped her arms into it. She was right it was indeed far too big and too long for her; as he stood and looked at her, she reminded him just for a moment of a child playing dress up. "Do you have any money?"
She flashed him a look and flushed. "Of course I do." He thought she was going to add something else, but she didn't. Instead she simply stood for a moment or two, before turning on her heel and hurrying across his office.
"Oh, and, Barbara?" She stopped and looked back at him, "At least make an attempt to dry your hair."
She flushed slightly again. "Yes, sir." She hurried out. As he watched her go he shook his head; her stubbornness and determination to get back to his office before he had returned had been more important to her than getting properly dry.
Twenty minutes later, his coat now over her arm and her hair messy and clearly still damp, but no longer dripping she returned to his office, closing the door behind her and coming to stand upright in front of his desk.
He looked up from the report he'd been writing and stared at her; she had more colour in her cheeks and was no longer trembling. "Sit down, Barbara," he said firmly.
She hesitated for a moment or two before, still holding his coat, she sat down and stared back at him. Finally, she moistened her lips and said without any hint of intonation in her voice, "I'm sorry, sir," and then added, "for disobeying your order, not for saving the man's life."
"You could have died, Barbara. That stretch of water is highly dangerous."
She swallowed and nodded before saying, "Yes, sir, but so could you and -"
"And you're more important to the Met than I am."
He had to look away from her and bite his lip to prevent himself from saying (and meaning), 'You're more important to me than the Met is; than anyone else is.' Suddenly flustered by his thought, he heard himself say, "Just make sure in future that you do obey my orders, Sergeant Havers."
He saw a flash of surprise pass over her face and heard a soft gasp, but she instantly pulled herself together. "Yes, sir," she said, "can I go now?"
He nodded curtly. "Yes."
She stood up, hesitated for a moment before putting his coat down carefully on the chair, and then walking towards the door. She stopped when she reached it and turned back to look at him. "Sir?"
"I - Nothing, sir. I'll go and write my report." She opened the door, left his office and closed it quietly behind her.
Once she'd gone, Tommy put his head in his hands and groaned softly. What was he thinking of? He couldn't really care that much for, could he? They were worlds apart. He acknowledged they had become close, very close, close in a way that surprised most people, closer maybe that was concerned sensible or right by some, and since Helen had - died, they'd become even closer. However, he didn't love her, did he? The idea was laughable, wasn't it? Besides, even if he did love her, well he knew only too well what she thought about his class and quite how much she mocked them all. Loving her would be fruitless and would just cause them both more pain than anything else. No, he didn't love her. He couldn't love her. She was just - The ringing telephone interrupted his thoughts.
LATER THAT NIGHT
As he poured coffee into one of the hideous mugs Barbara had given Helen and he as a house-warming present, mugs Helen had said should go to a charity shop or better still all be dropped, mugs he had insisted on keeping, even if they never used them, as they had been a present, Tommy finally acknowledged what, if he was being brutally honest, he'd known for some time: he did love, he was in love with Barbara.
He loved Barbara. He loved her. That was why he had been so furious with her for risking her life to save the life of a homeless drunk whom it turned out hadn't fallen into the water but had deliberately tried to end his life of suffering, ended it before his liver gave out or before the terminal cancer Tommy had learnt about during the afternoon claimed his life.
With a wry grin, he threw away the coffee and poured himself a whisky instead, and stood gazing out of the window into the darkening street as he sipped the fine malt. It was ironic, it really was, finally he found himself able to love again and it was a futile love and one he couldn't even speak about to anyone. He couldn't tell Barbara he loved her; he couldn't even talk to Simon or his mother. Barbara would at best laugh and at worst demand a new partner, and both Simon and his mother would advise him to 'follow his heart' and tell Barbara how he felt.
SIX MONTHS LATER
"What were you thinking?" she screamed at him as she grabbed his arms and shook him. "Well?" she yelled when he didn't answer her. "What were you thinking?"
He tried to pull away from her, but somehow she managed to keep her grip firmly on his arms. He ignored the looks their colleagues were casting in their direction, whilst pretending not to notice that Sergeant Havers was yelling and screaming at her Inspector.
Her face was white with fury, her eyes shone brilliantly with what he saw was unshed tears, her bottom lip bled from where she had bit it, and as she held him he could feel quite how much she was shaking.
"You idiot," she shouted. "You bloody idiot. What were you thinking?" And partly to Tommy's horror and partly to his bemusement the tears that had shone in her eyes began to slip down her fact. She didn't take her hands from his arms to wipe them away; she just let them fall as she glared mutinously up at him.
Suddenly she sagged forward and stumbled slightly as her grip on his arms loosened. Quickly he pulled his arms free and caught her, holding her steady as she gazed up at him. "Why, Tommy?" she murmured softly, all hint of a fight gone from her. "Why did you do it?"
He glanced away from her to where their colleagues still mingled, ostensibly working, but clearly just watching the drama play out in front of them. As he looked from one to another to another, they all swiftly looked away and returned to doing whatever it was they were doing.
He knew walking away would only fuel their interest even more, but he was damned if he was going to stand there and let the scene play out any longer. Thus, he took one hand from her arm, grabbed her hand and dragged her away further into the wooded area.
"You know," he said when they came to a stop, "you really shouldn't call your boss an idiot."
She wiped her hand over her wet cheeks and gave him a hard look, "Even when he is one?"
He laughed softly. "Especially then."
"I'm sorry," she murmured.
He shook his head. "You don't need to apologise, Barbara. Just tell me why you are so angry."
"Why don't you tell me why you . . . Why you risked your life like that? Tommy, he had a shotgun."
Tommy swallowed. "I know," he said softly. He'd known only too well - and not only had the man had a shotgun, but it was the kind designed to do the most damage to a person. Having grown up around guns, Tommy knew them well and could handle them well, but he would never have allowed that particular gauge of shotgun on his estate - just as his father before him had never allowed it.
He stared down into her tear and dirt stained face and knew he had to tell her. It would mean losing her, but he had to tell her. He couldn't lie to her, not now that for the second time in six months he had come so close to losing her.
Gently he brushed her hair from her face and put his hand on her cheek. "I love you, Barbara," he said softly and waited, steeling himself for when she pushed him away or pulled away from him and stormed off.
However, she merely stared up at him; never had she looked at him with such a gentle look and shook her head slowly. "Does that give you the right to play the hero? And to behave like an idiot?"
He blinked. "Um, well, actually, Barbara, yes."
She blinked and then to his surprise she laughed, slid her arms around his neck and pulled his head down towards her. "In that case, I guess we're even." And before he could speak, he felt her mouth on his and she began to kiss him.
He kissed her back hard as he pulled her closer towards him and began to wonder quite how quickly they could get things wrapped up back at the Met so that he could take her home and -
He lifted his head at the sound of a throat being ostentatiously cleared and stared into the eyes of Matthews. He moved Barbara away from him just a little, but still kept his hands on her arms. "Yes?"
"Um, I just thought you should know, sir, that we've finished here, sir, and are heading back, sir. And that the Commissioner called, sir, he'd like to see you as soon as you get back, sir."
Tommy kept a straight-face at the number of times Matthews had managed to call him 'sir' in such a short space of time. "Thank you, Matthews," he said, and nodded to dismiss him.
"Thank you, sir. Ma'am," Matthews added, before turning and hurrying off.
Tommy watched him go for a moment before he realised Barbara was shaking in his grip. He turned swiftly to look at her to see what was wrong, only to discover that she was silently laughing. "It isn't funny," he said.
That only made her laugh more as she clung to him. Finally, she wiped her eyes and said, "Actually, it was. It really was."
Actually, the more he thought about it, the more he realised she was right. He smiled at her and bent his head to kiss her again before taking his hands from her arms. "We had better get back," he said, pushing his hands into his pockets to stop himself from being tempted to take her hand or put his arm around her or - which was what he really wanted to do - pull her back into his arms and kiss her again.
She walked along by his side. "You know everyone will know by the time we get back, don't you?"
He glanced at her; her tone had implied she didn't mind and she seemed perfectly relaxed as she walked by his side. However, one could never tell completely with Barbara. "Does that bother you?"
She looked at him and shook her head. "No," she said and then added, her eyes shining with mirth. "But then I'm not the fifteenth Earl of Asherton; I'm not the one slumming it."
"Eighth," he said automatically correcting her, and then added swiftly, "And I'm not -" He stopped speaking abruptly at the look on her face and groaned softly. Quite when had she developed quite such a sense of humour?
Swiftly, he grabbed her arm, pulled her towards him, kissed her briefly before putting his lips against her ear and whispering something to her.
She stared up at him and stammered out. "Tommy! You wouldn't. Would you?" she added so softly he got the feeling she was almost afraid of what he might say.
He shrugged. "You'll have to marry me and find out, won't you?" And with those words, he put his hands back into his pockets and strode off. It wasn't quite, in fact it wasn't anything like, the way he had intended to propose to her - actually until he'd heard himself say the words, he hadn't actually intended to propose to her, at least not quite so soon. And yet somehow after all they'd been through, it seemed the right way.
He loved her; he'd spend the rest of his life showing her (and telling her) how much he loved her. However, she wasn't roses, posh frocks, perfume, romantic novels and long slushy speeches. She was - Barbara Havers; whom he loved just as she was.
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