Disclaimer, Pairings, Content, Rating & Spoilers: See Chapter 1.
A/N: Again, my apologies for the slow update – your patience really is appreciated!
For NT fans, just a note to say that Boyd had a son, Luke, who died as a result of a heroin overdose (actually it's slightly more complicated than that but I won't say any more in case you ever want to watch it!) at the end of S7 of WTD – I kind of allude to it in this chapter so that might make it make more sense!
Also, in canon, there is not too much mention of the characters' lives outside of work – we get the impression that Boyd is divorced, and Grace wears a wedding ring which as fans we've kind of decided means she's probably widowed….They never got together in the show but, dammit, they definitely should have done ;-)
Finally, NT fans, please *please* feel free to let me know if the characterisation is at all off – I'm still very conscious of getting them right and I'm not sure I always achieve it. This is particularly true this chap where I attempt some Sandra/Gerry one-on-one….Thanks :-)
"Say that again."
Peter Boyd's deep baritone was edged with barely-concealed antagonism, his eyes darkening further towards intense obsidian, a stubborn muscle in his jaw twitching as he fought to maintain an even timbre despite the rising irritation in his chest.
From her seat across the expanse of his desk, Grace gave a heartfelt sigh, mentally preparing herself for battle. "I'm just giving you fair warning, Boyd. It may not come to anything…."
"You'd better pray that it doesn't. What the hell possessed you…?"
She ignored him, undeterred by the threat lacing his tone. "It'll all depend on whether Strickland permits Epping Forest to be searched and what, if anything, turns up."
"So, if a whole load of bodies materialise then we'll be called in to do the grunt work, will we?"
The profiler raised an amused eyebrow. "Is that what I said?"
"As good as."
"Look, it could be a huge case, Peter. UCOS just won't have the resources to handle it all alone."
Boyd blew out a dismissive breath. "They could just as easily second some Constables from CID…."
"That's nonsense and you know it. Something of this magnitude requires specialism, something both us and UCOS have in spades."
He frowned darkly, sarcasm saturating his tone as he addressed her anew. "Grace, it might have escaped your attention given that you've currently jumped ship…."
"Temporarily." The psychologist's voice was unswervingly calm as she held his gaze. "You need to let this go…."
"…but we're up to our fucking eyes. We can't just drop everything to go and be at Sandra Pullman's beck and call."
She sighed again. "Why do you have to see it like that?"
"Well, how else should I see it? She'd still be running the investigation, wouldn't she?"
"And yet you can't see how it might be a problem for me to work under another DSI?"
She rolled her eyes in irritation. "That's just ego talking, Boyd."
"You're damn right it is."
"You don't think a case like this might warrant you setting it aside for once? Seeing the bigger picture?"
"Come on. If the shoe was on the other foot do you really think she'd work under me?"
"Actually, yes, I think she would."
"Please." Boyd sliced the air disdainfully with his hand. "Don't give me all this female solidarity crap."
"I think she'd be humble enough to lay aside her own sense of self-importance if she thought there was a chance to crack a major murder case." Grace leant forward in earnest, imploring him throatily as she felt her heart splinter at the impending notion. "For God's sake, Boyd; we're talking about children here."
He held her gaze for a protracted moment, indignation coursing through his blood as he felt himself begin to deflate beneath her scrutiny, memories of his son swirling unbidden though his mind, his voice coarse with emotion as he replied, "I'm aware of that."
She gave a gentle sigh, though continued to keep her eyes locked on his. "So use it as the bigger motivator, then."
"Don't blackmail me, Grace. It doesn't suit you."
"That's not blackmail. It's trying to make you see that perhaps in this instance rank might be irrelevant compared to…."
"It's not about rank; surely you know me better than that."
"It's about authority…."
"It's about ownership…."
"Control, then. You don't like not having control over what happens with the CCU."
"Of course I don't; and likewise I wouldn't want that control taken away from another DSI with their unit." He ran an irritated hand through his silver hair and gave a heavy sigh. "We've always managed our case-load without calling in reinforcements, even when it meant working twelve, fifteen hour days; why can't UCOS do the same?"
"Well, for one, they're not serving officers…."
"Not my problem."
"Oh, very compassionate."
"Look, if they can't take the heat, Grace, then they shouldn't be in the fucking kitchen."
The profiler shook her head disapprovingly. "They're a good team, Boyd…."
"Not good enough, by the sounds of it."
"Oh, will you stop it?" Grace's voice was beginning to harden in irritation. "It's got nothing to do with how skilled they are and you know it."
"Maybe they should stick to playing golf or bloody lawn bowls or…."
"Says he who'll have to be carried out of here in a box."
"I'll know when enough's enough; I won't be stringing it out until I'm next to useless."
She looked at him scathingly. "You do know that Jack Halford's on that team, don't you? As in ex-Chief Superintendent Halford, QPM?"
"That was more than twenty years ago..."
"And Brian Lane? Who's easily one of the sharpest minds I've ever come across..."
He inclined his head sardonically. "For an alcoholic..."
"For heaven's sake, Boyd, it's not that UCOS is somehow deficient in its personnel! It's just a matter of man-power with the sheer potential size of this case."
"And did you not think we might have enough of our own work to be getting on with before you volunteered us to hold their hands?"
"Look, I know you like to think of us as an autonomous unit but the fact is, Boyd..."
"The fact is, Grace, that I don't appreciate decisions being made on my behalf about the cases my unit undertakes."
"All I did was make a suggestion." Grace's voice was doggedly firm. "Whether or not it gets acted upon is very little to do with me."
"It was a damn fool suggestion," Boyd countered savagely. "And one that wasn't your place to make."
Grace raised her chin fractionally in defiance. "I'm not going to apologise, Peter..."
His knowing smile was without humour. "I didn't for one minute think that you would..."
"It makes sense from every angle to pool our resources on this one...and once you step back a bit I've got no doubt you'll see it too."
"I've got no intention of stepping back."
The profiler rolled her eyes in exasperation. "Metaphorically, I meant; as you damn well know."
He exhaled emphatically. "You should have talked to me about it first…before planting the seed in Pullman's head."
"Alright," she conceded wryly with a raised palm, her eyes connected unflinchingly to his. "Guilty as charged on that score…."
"Sentence to be determined at a later date…."
"…but there wasn't really time. The idea just presented itself during a discussion about the case and I didn't feel I could sit on it."
"In other words you didn't want to give me the chance to object."
"That too." She tried a slight smile. "Are you going to be okay with it?"
"I'm not going to have much of a choice, am I, if the order comes down from above."
"No…but you can make everyone's lives easier by agreeing to it graciously."
His lips formed a wicked grin, dark eyes twinkling roguishly. "You mean without being a total arsehole about it."
She returned his smile, glad for the slight abating of the tension between them. "I did mean that; yeah."
"I haven't decided yet." He sobered momentarily and gave an expansive sigh. "I wasn't exaggerating when I said we've got a lot on, you know; Spence and Kat have been here 'til gone nine every day this week."
"Hm." The psychologist raised an eyebrow. "Don't think it's escaped my attention that you've been sloping in not much before midnight yourself."
"And there's me thinking you were asleep." He smiled widely, boyishly. "If you didn't want to have sex with me, Grace, you only needed to say."
She rolled her eyes though was unable to prevent a smile from tugging at her lips. "Getting back to the matter in hand…."
"And therein lies the problem." He gave a throaty chuckle. "Freudian slip, Doctor?"
"Boyd!" She admonished his increasing amusement before shaking her head incredulously. "Whatever happened to 'keeping-it-out-of-the-office'?"
"Oh, bollocks to that."
Grace tutted long-sufferingly and ignored him. "Can we please get back to this issue of secondment? It'd be nice to go back to UCOS this afternoon and tell them you're on board, at least in principle and if necessary?"
He paused for a long moment and inclined his head, professionalism readily reasserting itself as he told her, "I need to review our current cases, see what's actually urgent in terms of priority…."
"And I expect I'll get a call from Strickland and from Maureen Smith to hash out the exact terms…."
She fixed him with a good-natured warning glare. "Boyd…."
"In principle…and only if absolutely necessary; those are my terms, alright?"
Grace smiled warmly, relief flooding the expanse of her chest. "Good."
"Though if something comes up here that I think requires our immediate attention then the deal's off; just make sure Pullman knows that."
The profiler raised a defensive palm. "It's not Sandra you need to say it to…."
"And there's no way in hell that I'll be calling her 'ma'am'."
She laughed loudly. "Her own team don't even call her that."
"You'd be better off sticking to 'Guv'."
He groaned deeply as her laughter intensified, frivolity written into every contour of her face. "Piss off back to her then, why don't you?"
Grace chuckled anew and rose to her feet, resisting a powerful urge to reach for him across the rich mahogany of his desk. "I'll see you later, Boyd."
He called her name as she moved to step out of the door, grinning wildly at her as she looked back at him quizzically, her hand resting lightly on the door jamb. "If I'm in bed before midnight tonight, am I on a promise?"
"Oh, for God's sake; are you sixty or sixteen?"
"Neither, as it happens." His expression was wantonly rakish and she felt her pulse quicken against her will beneath his intentness. "Do I get an answer then, or what?"
She looked at him witheringly though her sapphire orbs were dancing, well aware that her skin was becoming slightly flushed. "What do you think?"
He shook his head slowly as he regarded her and folded his arms, his voice resonating deeply through the bones of his chest as he ground out, "I think…that you're a bloody tease."
Grace laughed huskily and pushed herself away from the door anew, deliberately swaying hips as she walked away from him and enjoying his reactive invective as she felt his eyes trace every retreating curve of her body. She marvelled briefly at his obvious and unashamed affection, the unfamiliarity of his attention in a novel arena still surprising her, before deliberately compartmentalising her thoughts and returning her consideration to the tasks ahead of her. God, I hope he'll be true to his word, she thought sombrely as she walked down the silent corridor and towards the building's exit, otherwise the next few months could well prove to be a total bloody nightmare….
"Right," Sandra said grimly into the telephone handset, her heart sinking further in her chest even as she felt herself set her jaw with stern determination. "Thanks for letting me know. Get off home and I'll meet you at the first site in the morning; we'll go through all of the details then."
She replaced the receiver before releasing her breath into the silent office, her chest shuddering with the force of her exhalation, and she pinched the bridge of her nose as she felt the stirrings of a tension headache forming behind her eyes. With a further sigh, she pushed herself from her chair and strode into the squad room, approaching the white board before catching a movement out of the corner of her eye and startling slightly, her heart pounding momentarily before her mind caught up with her reflex.
"Jesus Christ, Gerry, you nearly gave me a heart attack!" she admonished fiercely, azure eyes flashing as the object of her irritation held up two palms in defence. "What the bloody hell are you still doing here?"
Gerry gestured towards the outer door with his thumb. "Having a fag; not against the law, is it?"
"It's nearly ten pm."
He shrugged nonchalantly. "Thought I'd hang about until the search results came in."
"That's not like you." Sandra raised her eyebrows teasingly. "Latest flame cancel at the last minute, did she?"
Gerry pouted indignantly. "No, as it happens. My life doesn't actually revolve around women, contrary to popular belief."
"Well, anyway, you're in luck," she replied flatly after holding his gaze unwaveringly for a long moment, moving back towards the white board and reaching for a pen. "I just had a phone call from Emily Gardener, head of the search team."
"And…," she broke off with a heavy sigh before continuing, "they found two more bodies, two and three miles respectively from the Laplin children."
"Bloody hell." Gerry blew out his breath and approached her, coming to stand next to her at the board. "Same type of burial?"
"Looks that way." Sandra turned towards the board and began to write. "I've told Emily to secure the sites for the time being; we'll see about having the bodies removed to forensics in the morning."
"What about cause of death?"
"On first glance it looks similar to the Laplins; single knife wound to the throat. They'll obviously do more extensive testing once they're back at the lab."
"Any idea how long they've been in the ground?"
The Superintendent shook her head, her blond hair catching softly against her collar bone. "No. I'll ask for a rush on the tests tomorrow."
Gerry grimaced. "Bloody forensics; they'll probably tell you it's a four to five week wait."
She grinned wickedly. "They wouldn't dare."
He returned her expression gleefully. "True enough."
She held his warm gaze for a sustained moment before sobering once more, the breath escaping her lungs in a soft rush as she leant her weight against the board. "It's not like I wasn't expecting this…."
"No," he agreed with equal sincerity, his body unconsciously mirroring hers. "Though when you have it from the horse's mouth…."
"So we're looking for a prolific child-killer, multiple victims over God knows how many years…." She broke off and pushed her hair back from her face as her eyes scanned the information now jotted across the expanse of the board, her heart contracting painfully in her chest. "Doesn't really bear thinking about, does it?"
Gerry gave a grunt of accession. "Makes you wonder about the state of humanity, that's for damn sure."
"And then some." She sighed anew, silently debating the wisdom of her impending statement before forging stoically ahead. "We haven't got the man-power for this, Gerry. A case of this magnitude, if it turns out to be as big as we think…."
"You mean you need more than three old duffers working nine-to-five?"
She smiled slightly at his boyish tone, her lips curving in amusement. "A lot more."
"We'd bust our balls for you, you know. And Brian's the absolute king of making sure we get paid enough overtime."
She gave an almost imperceptible shake of her head. "It wouldn't be enough."
"Did you not hear me about the ball-busting?"
The Superintendent rolled her eyes. "Gerry, we could all bust our balls…."
"I hate to burst your bubble, Sandra, but you don't actually have…."
"…from now until Christmas and it still wouldn't be enough." She exhaled forcefully, her features forming an expression of characteristic indomitability as she continued, "I've already asked Strickland about the possibility of the CCU coming in to help…."
"Now I don't think there's any doubt about it."
He turned to face her, accurately reading the sincerity etched into her body language with a deepening sense of dread. "Bloody hell; you're serious!"
"Of course I'm serious. We need them, Gerry."
He gestured dismissively. "Oh, bollocks do we."
Sandra's gaze had hardened to flint. "Did we not just have a conversation about busting our balls?"
"Yeah, and I agree that we can't do it all on our own…."
"So there you go."
"…but we don't need the CC bleedin' U! Do you really want Boyd strutting in here and taking over?"
She looked at him disparagingly, her cerulean eyes glittering. "I'd like to see him try. As you bloody well know."
"He's a prize twat, Sandra…."
"You've never even met the man, for God's sake!"
"Why them, eh? Why not just bring in a few wooden-tops to save us the bother of all the donkey work?"
"Because that would get us nowhere. We need expertise, Gerry, and like it or not, that's something Boyd's lot have got coming out of their ears."
"Yeah? And so have we; decades of expertise, as it happens."
Sandra released a tense breath though she felt her energy deplete almost instantly, suddenly lacking the requisite reserves for a continued battle, and she rubbed a hand wearily across her eyes. "Look, I'm not saying we're not up to it…."
"I'm more than sodding up to it."
"Mind out of the gutter, Gerry." She smiled lopsidedly at the suggestive edge to his tone, a familiar fondness creeping into her heart as she surveyed his impish visage before she reluctantly steered herself back on topic. "We just need a bigger team, that's all. More perspective and more pairs of eyes."
"I could think of a dozen officers we could call on…."
"But none with the CCU's experience. If we want to crack this case it's specialised knowledge we need, not just extra hands for paperwork and door-to-door."
Gerry gave a deep sigh as he turned her words over slowly in his mind, allowing a few moments to tick by before addressing her again. "You'd still be in charge, though, wouldn't you?"
She shot him a caustic glance. "Doesn't that go without saying?"
"Even though you and Boyd are both Supers?"
"Are we seriously having this conversation, Gerry?"
He raised a palm and grinned at her, affection spreading though his chest at her characteristic fire. "I'm only asking, Guv."
"Of course it's still going to be my investigation…."
"UCOS' investigation," he corrected wryly.
"With me at its head. That's not even remotely up for discussion."
"And Boyd'll go for that, will he?"
Sandra smiled knowingly. "I'm hoping Grace will put in a good word."
He grunted in acknowledgment, pale eyes twinkling. "So she is shagging him, then. I bloody knew it."
The Superintendent's smile broadened playfully. "Well, I wouldn't have put it quite like that…."
"Well, go on, then."
She laughed. "Funnily enough, Gerry, I didn't exactly quiz her on the fine details."
"But she's definitely knocking him off, isn't she? She must be."
"I think the preferred term is 'in a relationship'," Sandra intoned dryly. "And why's it a foregone conclusion that she must be?"
He shrugged and flashed her a wolfish grin. "Well, you know…."
"Oh, right." An expression of realisation had settled across Sandra's features and she rolled her eyes in disdain. "He couldn't possibly listen to her for any reason other than…?"
"Than the fact she lets him give her one on a regular basis...?"
"Gerry, grow up, for Christ's sake!" Sandra retorted hotly, aggravation beginning to gnaw at her gut. "She's his advisor in a professional context, regardless of what is or isn't happening behind closed doors."
"Give me a break, Sandra. You're not telling me a bloke wouldn't be more easily swayed by a woman he's sleeping with than one he isn't?"
"I'm just saying their personal relationship isn't necessarily the overriding factor, that's all."
"But you're prepared to exploit it if it'll get him on-side?"
She gave a one-shouldered shrug, slightly chagrined. "If it helps."
He tutted in mock-disgust and shook his head. "That could almost be considered pimping her out, you know. Whatever happened to the sisterhood?"
"Oh, sod off."
He gave a raucous laugh. "Touched a nerve, have I, Guv'nor?"
Sandra deliberately ignored his jibe and continued, "I'm sure she can bring him round…."
"God, yeah," he intoned with husky enthusiasm, greedy ardour flaring in his eyes. " I can't think there's too many men who could say no to her."
"Yes, alright." Her tone was clipped and she was surprised to feel a caustic spark of jealousy flicker at the edges of her stomach, the sensation startling her as she struggled to control it. "You've made your point."
"I'm just saying…."
He blinked, slightly taken aback by her acerbic reaction and with a concerted effort he forced away his instinct to reassure her. She could never hold a candle to you, Sandra. No-one could…. "Right, well….there's not much more to be said then, is there?"
She shook her head to reassert her control, business-like coolness returning to the timbre of her distinctive alto. "I'll confirm it all with Strickland in the morning. Hopefully it won't take long for him to square it away with Maureen Smith."
"So Boyd's lot will be descending on us sooner rather than later?"
"That's the general idea. The sooner we can get cracking with this, the sooner we'll be able to make some headway."
He nodded, irritation nestling beneath his ribs at their characteristic and studious avoidance of the notably strained atmosphere. "Nothing else we can achieve tonight, then."
"No. I'll finish up; you get off home."
She tried a weary smile. "I don't normally have to tell you twice, do I?"
He shrugged, the gesture deliberately exaggerated. "It's past last-orders now, anyway."
"So go home to bed then, you old git."
He grinned, resisting the urge to invite her to join him before replying, "You know, I might just do that: comfy pyjamas, hot chocolate….."
"Oh, God," she groaned. " Is that all life has to offer when you're the wrong side of sixty, then?"
"Well, what d'you want to hear? That there's some gorgeous forty-something blonde waiting for me in the altogether?"
She gave a small shake of her head, unable to prevent the soft admission as it filtered through her vocal chords. "No."
"So, there you go: pjs and hot choccy it is." His retort was light though he held her gaze for a long moment, drinking in the slender lines of her face, the electric intensity of her eyes before giving her a wide smile, a deliberate effort to overcome his despairing frustration. "I'll see you in the morning."
"Yeah. 'Night, Gerry."
She watched him as he gathered his coat and made his way from the office, releasing an agonised breath into the stillness and sinking into a chair as her mind flickered retrospectively over their previous few minutes' interaction. What the hell was that? She pondered morosely with a confused frown. It's Gerry Standing, for God's sake. Gerry bloody Standing. I do not imply to Gerry bloody Standing that I….What? That I, what? She sighed heavily, pushing away the memories that threatened suddenly to overwhelm her. It was years ago…and it was a stupid, drunken mistake…wasn't it? I'm not going to go there. I can't. With a renewed sense of resolve, she stood once more and focussed anew on the evidence board, all conflicting thoughts of her colleague banished back behind her astringent mental locks.