Hi! This is my first 21-JS fic. Normally I write Supernatural but I need a bit of a break so I'm heading back to the 80's for some time out :)
This fic takes place early S3 when Booker is still new, but after Penhall returns. It mainly focuses on Hanson, Booker and Penhall, and if all goes to plan there'll be a good Tom-whumping and across the board angst. No slash though (sorry if that disappoints) Rated T just to be safe. Happy reading :)
Disclaimer: I don't own them.
Hanson slammed his car keys down upon his desk and whirled to face Booker. The taller man seemed far more interested in fixing himself a cup of coffee than listening to anything Hanson had to say, and proceeded to collect his mug from his desk and flip it upside-down over the trash, not even flinching as black sludge slid out.
Hanson's eyes went wide as new coffee was poured in over the swampy remnants of the old. Booker was dysfunctional; completely defective. How the hell had they ended up working this case together? He couldn't think of anything (out of the ordinary) that he'd done to piss Fuller off enough to warrant this type of punishment. It just wasn't fair.
"You want some?" Booker's dark eyebrows rose ever so slightly, but the rest of his face remained set in its seemingly permanent self-assured expression.
Hanson felt his lip twitch and his knuckles tingle in irritation. "No, I don't. And have you even heard a word I've said?"
Booker made his way back to his desk and plopped into his seat. He used an important-looking sheet of paper as a coaster and reclined with a wide yawn, stretching his arms above his head.
"I'm being serious, you idiot." Hanson was incredulous. "You can't just go and flush a kid's head in the toilet because some moron tells you to."
The briefest splinter of a smile flickered its way across Booker's lips and he sipped his coffee, as if trying to hide it.
You're enjoying this, aren't you? Hanson folded his arms and shifted impatiently, his gaze fiery as he shot daggers at his ridiculously juvenile partner. Why on earth couldn't he have been partnered with Penhall for this one? At least his best friend knew when and where to draw the line, and had some respect for his fellow co-workers. Booker was nothing but a pig-headed know-it-all, who apparently took great pleasure in being a complete jerk.
The coffee mug found its way back to its makeshift coaster and slopped more brown liquid down its side, turning the paper yellow. Booker's sunken eyes rose slightly, his mouth opening as if he was about to say something.
But Fuller's voice rang out across the office and over-rode any response he'd been about utter; "Hanson, Booker!"
Hanson's head snapped around at the sound.
"My office, now!"
Good, Hanson thought, spearing Booker with one last glare before turning to stalk across the room. Perhaps Fuller had heard about what had happened and was about to give their newest recruit an earful. The thought of witnessing such an event shed a small amount of light on what had been an incredibly shitty day. Hanson smiled inwardly.
He entered the office and stood to the side of Fuller's desk, shoving his hands in his pockets and rocking back on his heels as Booker entered the room and the door was closed behind them.
Booker calmly took one of the chairs and lowered himself into it, leaning forward with his hands dangling between his knees.
Hanson waited, biting his lip.
Fuller sighed and dropped into his seat. With a wave of his hand he said impatiently, "So? You've been there just over a week now. I need to know for sure if you think we have a case."
Hanson's expression could have sliced the air, but Fuller's eyes were on Booker as the taller of the two young men pulled himself straighter in his chair and stared at the floor before looking up. "I do," he said, before Hanson could respond.
"Sir-" Hanson started, feeling his frustration welling within him.
But Fuller held up a silencing hand. "Do you think it could be the same group responsible for the robberies and whatnot going on around the area?"
Again Booker responded before Hanson could get a word in sideways. "There's no hard evidence to point to them directly, but there's a good chance, yes."
"And they trust you?" Fuller was staring very intently at Booker.
"Sir-" Hanson tried again.
"They do," Booker replied, "to a certain degree. They're testing me."
Hanson couldn't hold his tongue any longer. "Sir, they're getting him to bully kids."
Fuller finally looked at Hanson, resting his gaze on the irate young man a moment before returning it to Booker.
"And he's actually doing it!" Hanson's tone begged for someone's- anyone's attention.
"They have this dare system," Booker explained. "It's small stuff for now-"
Hanson's sharp snort cut him off. "Small stuff? That kid could have drowned in the toilet the way you were dunking him!"
"Were you there?" Fuller's words were like a slap in the face.
Hanson's next argument stuttered and stopped, before dying upon his tongue. No, he wasn't there. But that didn't mean he hadn't gone up to the kid afterwards to check that he was alright. The kid had been a wreck.
"I knew what I was doing," Booker growled.
Not likely, Hanson found himself thinking, his mind smouldering.
"These dares," Fuller continued, as if Hanson hadn't spoken at all. "Do they dare each other to do things, or just you?"
"They dare each other," Booker told him. "It's their idea of fun. Throw a brick through a window, or hassle some kid, slash some guy's tires… It's how they get their kicks."
"Set fire to trash cans out the back of restaurants, steal an old lady's purse and injure her in the process, spray-paint obscenities across kindergarten class windows…" Fuller shook his head. "The Mayor's up in arms about it. He wants them stopped."
Booker cleared his throat and leaned forward once more. "That's the thing; I can't prove it was them. But if I earn their trust then they might let something slip. Or they might ask me along for their next evening on the town and we could bust them then."
"Good enough," Fuller concluded. "Keep working on them." He scrubbed a hand over tired eyes and leaned back in his chair. His gaze fell back upon Hanson.
Hanson was annoyed beyond belief, but he'd seen that look a thousand times before and knew that his complaints about Booker would have to wait. Fuller wasn't in the mood. It had been a tough week for all of them.
"Have you managed to get anything out of that Stevenson kid yet?"
Hanson sighed. No, he hadn't.
"You still think he's involved?"
God, who knows… The case was just annoying all round. He'd gone into the school as a nerd, while Booker had taken the role of a tough guy. Barry Stevenson had been a surprise; the kid had appeared out of nowhere, seemingly determined to befriend Hanson and get a foot in the door with the group that Booker had decided were the main suspects. At first Hanson hadn't given it much thought, but after a day or two he'd realized just how highly Barry regarded the four or so boys that wreaked havoc upon the school and anybody smaller than them, and had decided to pay the kid more attention.
"He's eager to please," he admitted now, his voice terse. "But those guys treat him the way they treat everybody else. I don't think he'll ever be as chummy with them as he likes to believe. And I don't think he's been involved in, or knows anything about, their out of school activities. Not the details we need, at least."
"They see him as a bit of a joke," Booker added. He didn't turn to look at Hanson. "They humour him by talking to him, but aside from that there's no other contact, not that I've seen anyway." His lip twitched. "I think they get off on the admiration."
Hanson nodded, and then was surprised to realize that it was the first time he and Booker had agreed on anything since they'd been assigned the case. He stopped nodding, shifting his weight and clearing his throat.
Fuller took a moment to consider the information. Eventually he shook his head. "There are a hundred rumours, and all of them point to this group of kids as the culprits." He picked up a pen and tapped the end upon his desk, as if trying to drum out his irritation. "But until we can prove it was them, we have no grounds for any arrests."
Hanson watched the pen bounce against the hard surface.
"Rumours aren't enough," Fuller muttered, and then curled the pen into his palm.
Booker sat up straighter.
"Today's Wednesday," the captain declared. "Most of the incidents have been occurring on weekends. Let's not allow anything to happen this coming Saturday or Sunday. If they're planning something, I want to know about it." His gaze settled upon Booker, who nodded, before it travelled to Hanson.
There was a heartbeat of hesitation, before Hanson nodded as well.
"Good." The pen was replaced in its holder. "You're free to go, Dennis."
Booker raised a brow, briefly looking over at Hanson before obediently pushing up from his chair.
Hanson was as stiff as a post, his hands still shoved in his coat pockets.
"A word if I may."
Oh here we go, Hanson thought, already sure that he knew what Fuller wanted to speak to him about. He hadn't even been given the opportunity to voice his full opinion on Booker's work ethics before he'd been shot down.
Booker pulled the door behind him, slightly harder than was necessary. Fuller's gaze met Hanson's and their eyes locked.
Great, we're going to have a staring contest. Hanson shifted uncomfortably, not wanting to look away.
Eventually Fuller broke the contact, clasped his hands and leaned forward on his elbows. "Tom," he started. "Do you know why I assigned the two of you to this case?"
Road-testing a new form of torture? Hanson bit back the comment and instead settled for shaking his head. "No."
Fuller didn't appear surprised. He sighed. "You're both outstanding police officers." His tone wasn't as harsh as Hanson had expected, which was a minor relief. "You're both driven by a need to see justice served, and are willing to go that extra mile to catch the bad guys."
There was a 'but' coming, and Hanson knew it.
There it was.
"-you seem to have trouble working as a team." Fuller paused. "And if you can't work together as a team of two men, how the hell are you supposed to work together in this office?"
Hanson opened his mouth, but was cut short before he had the chance to speak.
"This is an important case, Hanson."
Of course Hanson knew that.
"I don't need to remind you how vital it is that we bust these guys."
"I understand that, sir."
"Then understand that you and Dennis need to sort out whatever trust issues you may have so that you can bring these morons down together."
There was a heavy silence.
Fuller wasn't that angry. Hanson had expected him to be angry. This was more like… a friendly warning. Hanson pursed his lips and locked his jaw, but forced himself to nod.
"You're not that different, you know," Fuller told him with a slight smile. "You and Booker, you're very much alike."
The small amount of light in the captain's features succeeded in lifting some of the weight from Hanson's own. "I don't know about that," he said stiffly.
The smile lingered for a moment longer before fading. "Do me a favour. Give him a chance, okay?"
Hanson swallowed roughly.
"I know you mightn't always agree with the way he does things, but I seem to recall many times when I haven't been overly impressed with the way you've seen a job through, either."
There was another heavy pause.
"That doesn't mean you're not a good cop," Fuller clarified, waving a finger. "God knows, you are. I've just had to learn to have faith in you."
It was like a corny line from a movie, but Hanson knew better than to argue his point. He'd do his best to work with Booker and solve the case, but only because the quicker they got it done, the less time they'd have to spend in one another's company. Besides, Fuller should be having this conversation with Booker, not him. He wasn't the one acting up.
"Now go. I want today's report on my desk by five." Fuller groaned and abruptly grabbed a stack of papers, shuffling and sorting them into smaller piles.
It was as good a dismissal as any, and Hanson willed his legs into action and began to make his way towards the door. One last comment from Fuller stopped him as he turned the handle.
"And if you see Doug," the older man said. "Tell him to get his ass in here." He muttered something under his breath that Hanson didn't quite catch. "There's only one person in this office who'd actually think it's funny to glue the lids on all my pens."
Now Hanson smiled for real. He nodded jerkily, refusing to turn around in case the captain saw his expression. Quickly he stepped through the door and closed it behind him. Booker shot him a questioning glance as he returned to his desk, but he refused to grace it with any form of explanation. Groaning inwardly, he set about organizing his scribbled notes from his day at school.
He'd keep an eye out for Doug, sure. But Fuller would have to wait in line. His friend owed him a drink, and Hanson's need for escapism came well before their captain's need to chew Doug out.
Barry Stevenson squeezed the brakes and brought his bike to a stop just outside his house. Gavin was leaning against the mail box, tossing a pebble up into the air and catching it in the same hand. The bigger boy looked bored, lazily pulling himself upright as Barry swung off the bike and regarded him quizzically.
"Have fun packing shelves?" Gavin's tone bordered condescension.
Barry shook off the remark and attempted to appear unfazed. He squared his shoulders and gave a slight shrug. It was a job, and it gave him some extra pocket money. He wouldn't do it if he didn't have to.
"I've come to ask a favour," Gavin cocked his head to the side, watching Barry's reaction, "on behalf of the boys. Of course, there'd be something in it for you, if you agree to do it."
Barry was listening. "You guys got a proper task for me this time?" It was difficult to keep the eagerness from his voice. The last task they'd given him was lame, to say the least.
Gavin paused, before nodding. "Something big's going down this weekend."
Barry liked the sound of that.
"We need a place, out of town, to conduct some business. I told the boys you'd be the man to help."
Barry hesitated. Of course he wanted to help. He just didn't know that he'd be able to. "You're thinking about my parents' cottage?"
Gavin smiled. "Damn straight."
Barry laughed nervously. That would be a pretty big favour.
The bigger boy tossed the pebble once more and snatched it into his palm. "It'd be your ticket in, if you agree." His eyes flashed coolly.
Barry's conscience was waging war against the rest of him. "If my parents found out…" he said uncertainly.
"They wont," Gavin quickly supplied. "It'd only be for the weekend."
If it was only for the weekend, perhaps he'd be able to get away with it. Barry chewed on his lip, thinking. He already knew that Gavin wouldn't tell him what they needed the cottage for. He hadn't passed enough tests to be privy to such information. But if he agreed to do this then he'd be into the group, no questions asked.
"My ticket in?" he asked after a moment.
Gavin nodded convincingly.
It seemed like a sweet enough deal. "What about the last task you gave me?" Barry had, as far as he was concerned, completed it to the best of his ability and should be exempt from continuing further.
But Gavin shook his head. "That one stays. We need you to keep going."
Barry's shoulders slumped slightly. Tom was such a drag. He didn't understand why it was so important he made friends with the guy. He wasn't a babysitter.
Gavin must've read his mind. "Believe me, it's important," he said. "And the fact that you're doing it shows loyalty to us." He smiled. "We like that."
Barry squeezed a smile in return. Sure.
"So, are we in agreement?" Gavin shifted impatiently.
Oh, what the hell. The worse that could happen was his parents would find out and ground him; big deal. He nodded. "Leave it with me," he said, trying to banish his reluctance and sound confident. "I'll get you the keys."
Gavin stepped forward and clapped him on the shoulder. "Good man." He let his hand linger a moment. "I knew we could count on you."
Barry's throat was dry. "Sure."