Barbara is about to be assigned to a case that will put her in great danger - what can Tommy do about it?
A first time story.
Written: February 2013. Word count: 4,355.
"No, sir, I won't allow it. I won't allow Barb- Sergeant Havers to be put in such danger." Tommy stared at the Commissioner who sat behind his desk; he wasn't in the least bit surprised to see surprise and anger appear on his superior's face, but he didn't really care.
He didn't have to turn his head to see that Barbara would almost certainly be looking annoyed too. But again he didn't care; the idea was a ludicrous one; Barbara had been through a great deal and he wasn’t going to allow her to be put in any more danger - not if he could help it.
He ignored the little voice in his head which was reminding him that as a detective in the Met, Barbara would expect to face danger. After all she had chosen to join the police force; she hadn't been coerced into doing so.
"With respect, Inspector Lynley, it is not your decision to make," the Commissioner said his tone more than a little cold.
"Sergeant Havers is my partner, sir, and as the senior officer I believe I have the right to be consulted in respect of any change to her duties, especially when it is something she will have to undertake without any back-up." He knew he sounded pompous; he knew he sounded like the eighth Earl of Asherton and not a detective Inspector. He knew that, but he still didn't care - nor did he particularly care that he was close to the line, if he hadn't already crossed it, of being insubordinate.
The Commissioner stared at him; the look was as cold as he voice had been. "Consider yourself consulted, Lynley. However, I have made my decision: Sergeant Havers will -"
"But, sir -"
"If I may say something, sir?" Barbara finally spoke and Tommy groaned to himself as he heard the coldness in her own voice and the edge it had to it.
"Yes, Sergeant Havers?" The Commissioner turned to look at her.
"With all respect to Inspector Lynley, sir, I should just like to say that I am quite happy to undertake this case."
"Yes, sir?" She turned to look at him and her stare was, as Tommy had expected, even colder than the Commissioner's had been; it was also hard. However, as she stared up at him he saw the hardness begin to soften just a little and her eyes became a little warmer. "I want to do this, sir," she said softly.
He held the stare that now to his surprise suddenly contained a hint of a plea for him to stop objecting and to consent to her accepting the case. But all he could do was to remember a case some six months before when she had been in grave danger, alone, without back-up, without any means of contacting anyone, when she had - He still didn't want to think of what she'd suffered; it may have been psychological rather than physical, but if something hadn't guided him to where she was being held, if some force that somehow bound them together hadn't clicked in then he had no doubt the threats which had been made to her would have been carried out.
Against his will he remembered finding her white-faced, trembling, gripping a carving knife, just staring down at a man who was pleading with her not to stab him. He remembered how he'd taken the knife from her, remembered how somehow she'd held herself together until another pair of detectives had cuffed and led the man away before she'd began to tremble even more and finally sob and cry in his arms.
He'd taken her home with him that night; he'd undressed her as he would a child, as all the time she cried and clung to him, he ran a bath for her, helped her into it and even bathed her, all the time just talking softly to her mostly about things in which she had no interest, about plays and operas he'd seen and concerts he'd been to. But it hadn't mattered what he had said, all that had mattered was his tone. And finally when she was clean, he'd wrapped her in a towel, dressed her in a pair his boxer shorts and a large tee-shirt and helped her into his bed where she'd spent the night in his arms, shaking and crying until finally she'd fallen asleep. He hadn't slept at all that night; he'd stayed awake all night watching her over him, determined to keep her safe.
They had never spoken of what had happened, at least not beyond her formal report as to what had been said to her and what threats had been made and her failed attempt to get out of mandatory counselling where he understood she had sat and said nothing for all three sessions - which was all she'd had to do to fulfil her obligation to attend.
He knew though that she hadn't forgotten what had happened, that she hadn't forgotten how he'd taken care of her, how he'd seen her at her absolute weakest moment. At first he had feared it would drive a wedge between them, that she'd back away, that she wouldn't want to admit to how much she had needed him, that she wouldn't want to remember the depth of emotion she had shown and just what he'd done to care for that night.
However, it hadn't; in fact it had seemed to do just the opposite, they had grown even closer, had become even more attuned to one another. It was as if during her silent counselling sessions she had spent time thinking about what had happened, accepted it and realised it didn't weaken her in his eyes, realise that caring wasn't a bad thing after all, realised that letting someone care for you and take care of you didn't weaken you in any way.
They'd had diner together a few times since that night - once she'd even offered to cook for him which had been . . . interesting. But at least they'd laughed when she told him he would find a cork-screw for the bottle of wine he'd brought along with him in the drawer and he'd asked if he'd find her panties in there. She had blushed a little but she'd laughed - a genuine laugh. More than once he'd dared to wonder what she might do if he kissed her; if he told her he was fond of her, fond of her as more than just a colleague. But so far he hadn't dug up the courage to do so. She was far too important to him to risk what they had, what they shared.
And that was why he didn't want her going off alone again on another dangerous case - he could understand her wanting to, maybe even needing to, but he still didn't want her to do it. He had kept her away from any hint of danger for six months - he'd always known he couldn't go on doing that - not even if he married her. He shook his head, not quite certain from where that thought had come.
He wondered quite how long he'd been standing in silence just looking at her; it had felt like minutes but given the Commissioner hadn't interjected he imagined it must have been mere seconds. "All right," he said giving her a gentle smile, "but," he said turning back to the Commissioner, "find a reason to send me along with her - sir."
The Commissioner stared at him and then looked at Barbara. "It might be a good idea, but I'm not sure in what capacity I can send you, Lynley. The films don't contain men and even if they did . . ." He trailed off and stared at Tommy, leaving Tommy in no doubt as to his feelings about him.
"Just find a way, sir. I could be her manager or agent."
"The kind of girl they use won't have a manager or agent. We aren't talking about BAFTA quality films, Lynley."
"Yes, sir, I am aware of that, sir. Well, how about a camera man?"
"Do you know anything about being a camera man?"
"No, but as you said, sir, we aren't talking about BAFTA quality films." Out of the corner of his eye he saw Barbara widen her eyes for a second and then quite clearly, even though he could only see her out of the corner of his eye, press her lips together hard - she was trying not to laugh.
He waited for the Commissioner to reply; he was fairly certain that now he really had stepped over the line into insubordination. However, to his surprise he saw the edges of the Commissioner's lips move upwards just a little. "You really are a cocky bastard at times, Lynley," he said, a trace of amusement in his tone.
"But also a loyal one - I admire that. Very well, you may go with Havers. However, if they have no use for you and your 'skills', you are not to press matters. If you have to, you will leave Sergeant Havers there alone to carry out her assigned case. Do you understand me, Lynley?"
Tommy swallowed hard, but knew he had no option open to him other than to agree. "Yes, sir."
Barbara glanced swiftly at Lynley, before looking back at the Commissioner. To Tommy's surprise her cheeks became a little red and she looked down at the ground. "Well, sir, it's just that . . ." She fell silent and Tommy could see her struggling to find the words; he had an idea of what she was thinking and trying to say, but he knew he couldn't help her. Suddenly she raised her head so that her chin almost jutted out and she met the Commissioner's gaze without blinking. "I am not exactly a model, sir, am I?"
Tommy gave her a quick smile; he rather wanted to tell her that whilst she might not be a model, she was far better than any model he'd ever seen or known - for one thing she wasn't empty-headed. He knew that was unfair, not all models were empty-headed but they all had one thing in common: an obsession with how they looked, what they ate and who was looking at them.
He looked back at the Commissioner who was now the one to have slightly pink cheeks. "You will be quite suitable, Sergeant Havers," he said, not meeting her eye.
Barbara nodded. "Understood, sir," she said her tone contained no censor or anger at all; in fact she even smiled a little.
The Commissioner swallowed and glanced swiftly at Tommy who said nothing. "Thank you, Sergeant Havers," he said. Then he stood up, opened his desk drawer and pulled out a DVD, which he handed to Tommy. "It won't make pleasant viewing," he said, "but I believe you should, you both should, watch this."
Tommy took the DVD and held it in a loose grip; somehow even holding it made him feel unclean - he had no idea what watching it would do to him. "Yes, sir," he said, and after nodding to the Commissioner he turned, strode to the door and opened it for Barbara.
They walked in silence back to Tommy's office, Tommy still holding the DVD between his finger and thumb, Barbara with her hands in her trouser pockets. When they reached it Barbara turned to him and said brightly "I'll get the telly and DVD player, shall I?" and she smiled.
Tommy forced himself to smile back. "Yes, please, Barbara," he said and watched her walk off. Part of him wanted to suggest they each watched it alone, but he suspected that might just make her laugh and make a joking reference to his toff sensibilities.
She returned pushing the trolley with the TV and DVD player on it and to his surprise also two mugs of coffee. "I couldn't find any popcorn," she said lightly, handing the mugs to him as she manoeuvred the trolley into his office. For a moment he stood and watched her (albeit fighting his natural instinct to take over pushing the trolley and fixing the TV and DVD player up) she seemed totally relaxed, uncaring even.
Once she'd finished she looked up and smiled at him, "Well?" she said, "come on, let's see what's in store for me," and she took her mug from his hand, stared at him until he went further into his own office and shut the door behind him. She then moved the chair that was in front of the desk to the other side, sat down, crossed her legs and handed him the remote control.
"So that's an X-rated film, is it?" she said after they'd watched the film. "It's rubbish," she declared and then laughed. "Can a human really get their body into that position? You know the one I mean."
Tommy stared at her. "I don't know, Barbara," he said firmly. "I don't make a habit of -"
She stared at him. "Of?" Tommy just shook his head.
She smiled. "Come on, sir," she said lightly, "admit it; it really was rubbish and funny." And she began to laugh again, as she'd done on and off during the entire, thankfully short, film.
It was infectious and against his will, Tommy began to laugh as well. "It was indeed rubbish, Barbara," he said. "It really was."
"I think I'll be in more danger of twisting or breaking something than being -" Suddenly she stopped laughing and fell silent and just looked at him. He knew she was thinking about the four dead girls all of whom had appeared in the films; one of them hadn't even been sixteen and she'd been so badly - He shook his head and tried not to think about the pictures he had seen.
"Barbara," he said, touching her hand, "you don't have to do this, you know. I can -"
"No, sir," she said, shaking her head firmly. "I do have to do this. I have to do it for Katie and Sugar and Melody and most of all for Crystal." As she spoke the names of the murdered girls she glanced at a photo of each of them, her gaze lingering over Crystal - the youngest of them all.
"But it will be dangerous, Barbara."
She nodded. "I know. But I'll have something that none of these poor things had." She fell silent for a moment and stared at him. "I'll have you, sir. You'll keep me safe; just as you always do."
Tommy swallowed hard and for a moment had to glance away from the intensity of her gaze. "But what if the Commissioner is correct? What if they don't need another camera man?"
She swallowed. "Well, you'll just have to leave me with a rusty carving knife, won't you? Not that I'll have anywhere to conceal it." She spoke lightly, but for a second Tommy saw the fear in her eyes. He vowed there and then that no matter what, even if he had to say he'd pay for the film to be made, he would not leave her alone with the people who had already killed four times.
"Well," she said breaking the silence, "I think I'd better try out some of the positions. Now if I just -"
Tommy stared as Barbara slid to the floor, pulled her shoes off and started to twist her arms around her body in a very strange way, whilst pulling one of her legs up into a position no leg should ever get into. "Barbara!"
"Sir?" she looked up at him from beneath her hair which she hadn't bothered to get cut for months as far as Tommy could tell.
He just looked at her and shook his head; a moment later he was laughing as she toppled backwards and lay trying to untangle her limbs frowning up at him. Even as he laughed he made a silent vow: I'll keep you safe, Barbara, he promised, I'll keep you out of danger.
He kept the first half of his promise; but he'd always know he wouldn't be able to keep the second half. In fact he had to let her get into danger in order to tie-up the case and get the evidence they needed to bring the murderers down.
He'd been lucky in that the two men who made the films were quite happy to have an extra camera man around, well an extra pair of hands really as he did many other things than just be behind the camera, so he didn't have to leave Barbara by herself and he was armed at all times. The Commissioner had agreed he could be armed, so he'd drawn a gun from supplies and it never left his body.
To his surprise once she'd swallowed hard and stripped for the first time, Barbara had seemed completely unfazed by being naked and filmed doing things he certainly had never known a woman do in the bedroom or anywhere else. In fact more than once he'd caught sight of her and knew she was actually having to stop herself from laughing as the so-called artistic director made her get into first one position and then another.
He wasn't certain that he could have been so blasé about it, had he been the one on the bed and not behind a camera. He was glad she was so relaxed though; glad that she was in effect shrugging off what she was told to do; glad that she could treat it with the contempt it most certainly deserved.
Once the filming was over and she was dressed he knew that was when it would happen. He hated doing it, he hated taking the money he was given and just walking out of the room - but he knew he had to it. He had to let her get into danger, as much as every part of his being screamed at him not to do so.
So he made a show of leaving only to creep back and his hand on the gun in his pocket he waited outside the studio until he heard her screams. They should have shaken him, made him afraid, they were so shrill, so loud, so frightened. However, he had heard her real scream; he'd only heard it once, but it had stuck in his mind; he doubted it would ever leave him and these screams were nothing like that had been.. She was deliberately making as much noise as she possibly could to cover any sound he might make creeping back into the room.
In the end it was all rather easy as a naked man, especially an aroused naked man, is really so very vulnerable. And they dealt with the two men as they always did: as partners. He put two bullets into the shoulder (he'd have liked to have done more damage, but he decided the families of the victims deserved a trial) of the man standing over Barbara with a knife, whereas Barbara somehow managed to get one leg free and kneed the other man who had been kneeling over her. As he'd fallen to floor clutching himself, Tommy, against his will, actually winced for a moment.
He cuffed both men, called for a car to take them to the Met and finally looked at Barbara who was still lying tied up on the bed. To his amazement she was smiling as she looked up at him. "Well," she said finally, "are you going to untie me, sir, or just stand there?"
He shook himself and hurried to undo the knots. She sat up and rubbed her wrists and he handed her her jumper, she smiled her thanks as she took it and pulled it on over her head. "I'm taking you out to dinner tonight," he said, not even attempting to make it a question. "I'll pick you up at seven."
He parked his car a short way away from her flat and carrying the relatively small bouquet of michaelmas daisies and carnations (she really wasn't a roses girl) he made his way to her flat. As he walked he wondered, not for the first time, if he'd made a mistake booking a table at the Savoy. He'd wanted to take her somewhere special, somewhere really nice, and of all the restaurants he knew, the Savoy was actually the most relaxed and friendly. But was it her?
When she opened the door he realised he had made a mistake. It wasn't that she didn't look nice, she did, in fact she looked very nice, lovely even. Dressed in a simple outfit of black trousers, a white top and a dark green fitted jacket with a scarf around her neck, she looked far smarter than he'd ever seen her. She'd clearly taken some trouble with her hair as it framed her face and looked as if it had been styled rather than just had a brush or her hands pulled through it; she even had a small amount of make-up on. A hint of blusher touched her cheeks and her lips shone with a clear gloss and her eye-lashes looked longer and thicker. But as nice, as lovely, as she did look, he knew she'd be out of place at the Savoy - no matter how relaxed and friendly it was.
He wasn't quite sure what to say or do, so in the end he settled for just holding out the flowers. "For you, Barbara," he said softly.
She smiled at him and took them. "Thank you," she paused for a second and he watched her, "Tommy," she said softly and then stared up at him, clearly waiting for some kind of response to the use of his given name; he smiled reassuringly at her and she smiled back. "They're beautiful. I love michaelmas daisies and carnations."
At least he'd got something right. "Barbara," he said as he watched her put them into a vase of water; she turned and looked at him. "Look, I have booked a table somewhere, but where would you really like to go?"
"Anywhere's fine," she said. He went on staring at her. Finally she shrugged and said, "Okay, since you've asked, there's a new Italian restaurant down the road. It's not fancy, maybe a step or two up from Pizza Hut, it's nothing like you're used to and you don't get dozens of knives and forks to choose from, but it's very nice - or so I've heard."
Tommy nodded. Suddenly it sounded perfect. "We'll go there," he said.
She looked at him, "Are you sure? I mean you're not really dressed for Pizza Hut or even something a step up from it."
"I'm only wearing a suit," he said swiftly.
She laughed. "You're only wearing a suit that cost, what was it . . . ? Five, six, seven hundred - or more? And one that definitely didn't come off the peg. Whereas I -"
He couldn't help himself; later on he told himself he couldn't help himself; even later on he told her he couldn't help him. One second he was standing smiling at her, listening to her talk about his suit, the next she was in his arms and his mouth was on hers and he was kissing her and she was quite definitely kissing him back.
TWO HOURS LATER
It had taken them an hour, but finally they'd left her flat and were now sitting in the restaurant and it was, as she'd been told, a really nice place. The family that owned and ran it were Italian and made them feel quite at home; Tommy got the impression it was the kind of place you could turn up dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt or a DJ and bow-tie and you wouldn't feel out of place. As they ate their meal and drank the wine the owner had recommended (one Tommy had never heard of) Tommy felt completely relaxed and he knew he'd never been more content, not had he enjoyed the company of someone else so much.
Barbara was clearly relaxed and enjoying herself, her eyes sparkled, she met and held his gaze, she laughed and smiled, she teased him (as she always did) and made references to his toff background several times - she seemed very happy to be in his company and called him by his given name more than once and each time she said it, it seemed to come more naturally and Tommy knew he wanted to hear her saying it for the rest of his life.
THREE HOURS LATER
They stood in doorway of her sitting room, he held her in a loose embrace and she smiled up at him. "Are you sure you don't want to stay, Tommy?" she asked quietly.
He bent his head and kissed her cheek. "I want to stay very much, Barbara," he said. "But I'm not going to."
"Because I care about you too much - in fact," he paused for a second to be quite, quite certain because he knew he had to be quite, quite certain before he said the words to her. "In fact, Miss Barbara Havers," he said softly, "I love you."
She stood just looking at him for a moment before a rueful smile came over her face and she even sighed a little. "Well, Mr. Thomas eighth Earl of Asherton Lynley, do you know what? I love you too."
And to his surprise she reached up and pulled his head down and kissed him with passion as well as love before she broke the kiss, pulled herself out of his arms, took his hand and led him, making it quite clear she wasn't about to take no for an answer, into her bedroom where she closed the door behind them and moved back into his arms.
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