Anger Management

Dr. Grace Foley sat at her desk, shuffling the final pages of her report on their latest suspect into a neat pile. Satisfied, she placed the pages into a folder and dropped it onto the edge of her desk with a resounding slap, ready to give to Det. Supt. Boyd for his perusal. The report had taken her some time and a great deal of thought had gone into it, thus the relief Grace felt at having completed it was not insignificant. She leant back in her chair, savouring the moment while it lasted. It was not long. Soon her relief melted away and the remaining problems of their latest case resurfaced back to her foremost thoughts.

Currently sitting in the holding cell was one Tobias Armitage, an odious thug of a man, too arrogant by half and slimy enough that Boyd had commented to her that he was sure there was a trail following Armitage. Grace felt that the slug analogy was not entirely unwarranted in this instance. Armitage had originally come under the Police radar when he had been arrested for a recent attack on a young girl. The attack had been thwarted when a passer-by had approached, Armitage fled the scene and the girl had escaped with her life. It soon became clear that not everyone who came into contact with Toby Armitage had been that lucky.

After he had been arrested, his DNA had been cross-referenced in the Police database, where a match was found to a previously unidentified sample of DNA, left at the scene of the murder of a young woman, Robyn Phinn, in the early 1990s - this was where the Cold Case Unit got involved. There followed a comprehensive detailing of Armitage's background and movements over the years, as well as a thorough search of his premises. The search of his home had thrown up some interesting evidence, in particular, a cleverly hidden box of photographs. Though, Grace thought slyly, not nearly cleverly hidden enough to escape the notice of their forensic scientist, Dr. Frankie Wharton.

The box had contained a number of photographs, all of young women, and from the condition of the photos, suggested a time period of about 20 years. In Grace's mind, this had pointed towards the possibility that they were dealing with a serial killer, the photographs acting as mementoes, textbook stuff really. Her suspicions were later confirmed when Robyn Phinn's photograph was recovered. Spence and Mel had been set the task of finding names to faces, and possible matches to cold cases and missing persons.

Boyd, with Grace's assistance, had been interviewing Armitage, and therein was the current problem they were facing. Armitage had proven to be very reticent and unforthcoming in interviews, and the usual tactics they employed to get suspects to talk had fallen flat in the face of such cold detachment. Boyd was fast becoming unbearable to be around. He had enough evidence to take a conviction to the Crown Prosecution Service for the murder of Robyn Phinn, in spite of Armitage's defiant silence. It was the probability that Armitage had struck before and since Robyn Phinn, and perhaps had disposed of the bodies that was causing Boyd a great deal of frustration.

The two men had been locked in an ongoing battle of wills for most of the day, when Grace realised that Boyd was dangerously close to losing what admittedly little patience he had. They were getting nowhere and Grace insisted on taking a break, partly to let Boyd calm down, and also to reassess their options. Grace received a withering look for her suggestion, but she was not to be put off, and when she glared right back at him, he reluctantly acquiesced, leaving the interview room with a reverberating door slam.

That was how Grace found herself currently ruminating in her office. Boyd had retreated to his own office, no doubt brooding for England, so she had taken advantage of the break to put the finishing touches on her profile of Toby Armitage. Deciding enough time had elapsed for Boyd to cool off, she stood up, file in hand, and stepped into the main office where Mel and Spencer were currently knee-deep in old case files. Grace noticed the blinds were closed in Boyd's office as she gave the door a sharp knock. She wasn't sure if that was a good or bad sign. Nudging the door open slightly, she peered in. He wasn't there.

'Where's he gone?' Grace asked, waving her folder in the direction of Boyd's office.

Spence looked up from his computer screen and shrugged.

'He came out and mumbled something about going to the lab.'

Grace stood still for a moment, her mind whirring. She'd known Boyd a long time now, and she felt it was entirely reasonable for her to say that she had a good idea as to how his mind worked. He'd been running a short fuse for most of this case, and Grace knew it was only a matter of time before it blew. He'd clearly shut his blinds to make her think he was still there, and she would not have noticed him sneaking past her office, so engrossed had she been in her report. There was only one place he could have gone.

'Gone to the lab, my arse' she muttered to herself, as she stepped back into her office.

She slapped her file back onto desk and picked up her phone.

'Frankie?' She called. 'Is Boyd there?'

Frankie's reply was the one Grace had been expecting. Boyd hadn't been by the lab all afternoon. Grace replaced the receiver and sighed resignedly. She'd bet everything she owned that Boyd was interrogating the suspect on his own.

Steeling herself, she made her way to the interview rooms. Entering the observation area, her suspicions were confirmed. Boyd was pacing the room like a wild animal, gesturing erratically, while Armitage sat with an infuriating smirk gracing his features. Grace shook her head ruefully; she should have known his compliance with her earlier had been too good to be true. How often had it been when she'd practically have to drag him from the interview room? There was silence in the observation room and Grace reached forward to switch the microphone on. Boyd's impatient tones suddenly filled the small room as he fought to break down the prisoner.

Grace sat down and deliberated on her best course of action. Boyd did not have his earpiece in, so she could either go in and interrupt, or continue to keep an eye on him and observe in silence. She opted for the latter; she didn't feel that Boyd would appreciate her intervention at this point, and she wasn't in the mood to be on the end of one of his rants. His voice began to rise in volume and Grace winced. How many times had she told him that shouting did not yield results?

Boyd was pulling out the photographs of the young women, and slamming them down one by one in front of Armitage.

'Where are they, you piece of shit!' thundered Boyd as he leant over the table threateningly.

Grace sat up straighter when she saw Boyd's sudden invasion of Armitage's personal space. Concerned that things might quickly get out of hand, she picked up the phone and dialled Spence's extension.

'Spence? Could you get down to the interview room, please?'

No sooner had she uttered these words there was a crash from the room in front of her. Boyd had Armitage out of his chair by his lapels and was shaking him against the wall.

'Answer me, Armitage! Or by God, I swear I'll make you!' growled Boyd, fiercely.

'Come on, then,' taunted Armitage with a leer.

As soon as she saw Boyd's hands move towards Armitage's throat, Grace had her hand on the handle of the door and had pushed it open, thanking whatever deities were listening that Boyd had not completely taken leave of his senses and locked the door.

It all happened so fast, that later on, were it not for the physical evidence, Grace would wonder that it happened at all. Rushing into the room, she called out to Boyd and grabbed his arm. Boyd turned to look at her, a look of potent fury on his face.

'Keep out of this, Grace!'

With a forceful movement, Boyd wrenched his arm from Grace's grip. The strength of it surprised Grace and sent her stumbling off-balance. Her left foot caught the leg of Armitage's chair and she felt herself falling backwards, her head taking a glancing blow to the edge of the table. Grace yelped in pain as she landed on the floor, and her hand immediately flew to forehead.

Dumbstruck, Grace was vaguely aware of Spence entering the room and hauling Armitage out of Boyd's now slack grip.

'Now look at what you have done,' snickered Armitage with a sneer as he was removed to the holding cell.

Grace slowly raised her gaze to Boyd. He stood there frozen, staring at her in undisguised horror. Grace moved her hand from her head when she felt a warm trickle - there was blood on her fingertips.

Suddenly Mel was there and Grace was being helped off the floor. The movement seemed to jolt Boyd back into life as he took a small step forward.

'Grace,' he whispered, his voice cracking slightly.

Mel glared furiously at Boyd, and before Grace could react, she found herself being ushered gently out of the room and back to the office. Spence was waiting for them when they arrived and he pulled out a chair immediately for Grace to sit in.

'We should get you to a Doctor, Grace, you're bleeding,' murmured Spencer, placing a hand on her arm.

Before Grace could reply, Frankie came bursting in.

'Christ Grace, what the hell did he do?' Frankie moved to examine the cut on Grace's forehead more closely. 'Bastard,' she muttered in disgust.

'I'm all right; it's only a scratch. I don't need to go to hospital,' assured Grace, finally speaking up. At her colleague's identical expressions of scepticism, she elaborated further.

'I'm fine, honestly. It doesn't even hurt, well not much. It's my own fault -'

Mel cut her off, indignant on the profiler's behalf.

'Grace, no way was this your fault -'

'I shouldn't have tried to intervene; I should have waited for Spence. I should have put a stop to it as soon as I knew he'd gone in there alone.'

Frankie had brought over the first aid box and was cleansing the small cut above Grace's left eyebrow. Thankfully there had been very little blood after the initial knock. Spence had stood up and seemed to be preparing his next words with care.

'Grace,' he began seriously, 'we all know that this was not your fault. We also know that Boyd's anger has been spiralling out of control for some time now. Something has to be done. Who knows what he would have done had you not gone in there when you did.'

'It's been a difficult case for him, Spence. The Commissioner has been breathing down his neck to get a confession out of Armitage, what with all the press coverage and -'

'All of us, Grace,' broke in Spence, 'have been pissed off something chronic at times during this case. It hasn't been easy. Armitage has been frustrating the hell out of all of us, but the point is we control ourselves. I'm sure anyone of us would like to give him a slap, but we don't. You don't need to make excuses for him.'

Spence dropped his gaze to the floor for a few moments, but when he looked back up again, his features were full of resolve.

'He's out of control, Grace.'

Grace sat absorbing what Spence had said, and she knew he was right. Why should she continue to make excuses for Boyd? She who had many a time found herself a recipient of Boyd's verbal ire, had now found herself a victim of his physical violence, something she never would have entertained before. This was the crux of the matter for Grace. She knew Boyd, and she knew he was not an inherently violent man, he hadn't meant to hurt her. In that moment when he had stared, unblinking at her, his horror had been palpable. He had regretted his actions immediately.

'You're right Spence, he needs help.'

Grace looked up into the faces of her concerned colleagues and resolutely made a decision.

'I'm going to go and talk to him.'

She moved to stand up when Mel moved forwards and placed a restraining hand on her shoulder.

'I really think you should see someone first, Grace, you hit your head after all.'

'It's only a scratch, Mel, really it is. I promise if I feel anything is wrong I will see a Doctor immediately,' reassured Grace. 'I need to see Boyd first.'

'Don't you think it'd be best to leave him calm down a bit first?' asked Spence.

'No, no,' answered Grace, distractedly. Her mind was already racing ahead and bracing itself for the imminent confrontation.

'Shouldn't one of us come with you?' offered Frankie, hesitantly.

'No, thank you,' replied Grace with a small smile. 'Look, I know Boyd should have had better control of himself, and what he did was irresponsible, but please don't be too hard on him.'

The younger members of the team merely looked at each other as Grace slowly crossed the office, once more in the direction of the interviewing rooms. She had no definite idea that Boyd was even still in there, but since he had yet to re-enter the office, she felt her surmise would be correct. Unless of course, he had decided to leave through one of the back fire-exits.

As she walked passed all the case files, down the corridor, she wondered what sight would greet her if he were there. She touched a finger gingerly to her forehead, just above her left eye. It really was a small knock.

Slowly she entered the observation area. She saw him straight away; he was sitting at the table, his elbows resting firmly on the surface, palms supporting his head, and his fingers in his hair. His gaze was fixed on the table and he appeared to be in deep contemplation. Grace watched him for a moment, one hand resting on the handle to the door that separated them.

Did she really want to go in there? Did she want to do this right now? Face him like this? How many times had she warned him about his volatile temper, for her warnings to fall on deaf ears? That look in his eyes when he'd flung her arm off him; she'd never seen it before. He'd seemed lost in the red haze, completely forgetting where he was. She hoped to never see it again. Perhaps he deserved to left a while longer to mull over the consequences of his actions, what it had come down to.

Grace sighed; she knew she was kidding herself. She cared about Boyd, he was her friend, and she cared about what happened to him. Why else had she gone rushing in there to prevent Boyd from doing something that would damage his career irrevocably? It was time for him to acknowledge his problem, time for him to realise that a conscious effort was needed on his part to control himself.

Grace took a deep breath and steeled herself. With an ironic smirk, she realised the advantage that had come from this whole unfortunate incident - he had no choice but to bloody well listen to her now.

She opened the door and stepped into the room, her demeanour full of purpose. Boyd looked up in surprise at the disturbance of his self-imposed exile. His eyes widened at the sight of Grace, standing there looking at him expectantly and he stood up suddenly, sending his chair back with a screech. Taking a few measured steps towards her, he ran his hand through his hair and held the other hand out in an entreating gesture.

'Christ, Grace I…' he began haltingly, 'I'm…I'm such a complete shit! I am so sorry.'

Boyd turned away from her in that moment and heaved a heavy sigh at the wall. Grace could tell he was struggling to find the right words.

'I'm so ashamed if myself, Grace,' he whispered softly. 'I just - I don't know what came over me.'

He turned back around to face her slightly and cleared his throat.

'I am more sorry than I can ever say.'

His eyes fell to his shoes, anywhere but at her face. He almost looked like he was preparing himself for a blow, or at least an angry tirade. While Grace was annoyed with him for taking matters into his own hands where suspects were concerned, yet again, the consequences of his actions this time had been what no one had expected it all. Thus, this wasn't the time for anger or bitter recriminations from her, that would get them nowhere in tackling Boyd's escalating problem with his anger.

She could see that he was extremely shaken by what had occurred. Part of her was warmed by his contrition; it was not often that she got any indication that Boyd valued their friendship as much as she did. If he had said that it was her own fault for intervening, well, let's just say she wouldn't have been held responsible for her actions.

'You're right,' spoke Grace, finally taking pity on him. 'You are a shit.'

Boyd's head snapped to hers at that and he looked at her for a few moments. Boyd allowed his lips a small quirk as he recognised the glint in Grace's eyes.

'Not a complete shit, then?' he asked cautiously.

'No, not a complete shit,' answered Grace, her expression betraying nothing. 'Just a shit.'

Boyd nodded solemnly in agreement.

'There's hope for me still?'

Grace could read the seriousness of that question in his face, and she gave a small sigh, her body relaxing, removing all pretence.

'Of course there is, Boyd, but you're going to have to make an effort if we are to get anywhere with this. Starting right now, we are going to come up with a plan of action before this day is over to make sure this,' she gestured at the room at large, 'never happens again.'

Boyd nodded in deference to her judgment, the firmness in her tone brooking no room for argument, even if he'd wanted to. Grace noticed that his eyes never lingered long on her face, and when they did, they were almost always flicking over the graze on her head. Suddenly he turned around with a noise of disgust.

'Bloody hell, Grace, I can hardly bear to look at you,' he spoke while rubbing his face tiredly with his palms. He turned back round sharply.

'All I can see is that gash on your head.'

Grace raised her hand to the cut currently gracing the spot above her left eyebrow. The skin was tender, but it didn't hurt unless she pressed it.

'Forget about it, what's done is done. Besides, it's hardly a gash as you so melodramatically put it,' stated Grace, trying to lighten the mood.

Boyd ignored her attempt at humour, and he stepped a bit closer to her to inspect her a bit more clearly.

'Does it hurt?'

Grace could hardly say that she was used to seeing Boyd like this. He looked like he'd been severely taken down a peg or two; she felt he'd lost about two inches in height, so deflated was his demeanour.

'No,' she replied, smiling slightly, 'but believe me, if it was hurting, you'd have one to match.'

Perhaps she was too soft where Boyd was concerned, but she couldn't help but try and cheer him up. He managed a small grateful smile and Grace noticed that his eyes were regaining some of their sparkle.

'I'd be more than happy to oblige and allow you a free shot,' offered Boyd.

Grace knew that all joking aside, he was quite serious.

'I appreciate the offer, but not right now.' Grace appeared to think for a moment. 'Perhaps I could have it in writing, though? To redeem at a later date?'

Lord knows there had been times in the past when Grace had wanted to deck him, she was in no doubt that there would be times in the future too.

Boyd gave a quiet chuckle at this.

'I'll get it sorted as soon as possible.'

'Excellent. Now, come on,' Grace motioned towards the door. 'Let's go and have a cup of tea in my office. I feel like I'm interviewing a suspect in here.'

Boyd decided not to comment on the irony in that statement as he followed the profiler out of the door.

Grace led the way into the main office, where Spence and Mel were still hard at work. Both looked up at their entrance, and Grace offered them a smile of reassurance. Spence nodded and returned to his files, neither officers acknowledging Boyd in any way.

'I suppose I'll have to apologise to them for my behaviour,' spoke Boyd once they were in Grace's office. He chose to sit on the sofa, and Grace pulled up a chair to sit opposite him.

'Yes, you shall,' remarked Grace, as she busied herself with the kettle. Personally, she couldn't stand that stuff that came out of the machine. Giving the cups a good stir, she turned round to find him watching her, and then pointedly looking at her bottom desk drawer.

'Go on, Grace, I know you keep it in there. Just a little drop, we could both do with it I'm sure.'

Grace didn't doubt the validity of that statement.

'Oh all right then,' she relented, opening the drawer and bringing out a small bottle of whisky. A small amount was added to each cup, and then she handed Boyd's over to him.

'Just don't say I never give you anything.'

'Cheers,' said Boyd with a smile.

Grace put her cup down on her desk after taking a couple of sips, the liquid making her feel pleasantly warm. She folded her hands in her lap and wondered how best to approach the heart of the matter. Despite what had happened to her after she had run into that interview room, she most certainly hadn't forgotten why she had gone in there in the first place, strangling suspects was not in the Police Handbook, however much Boyd liked to think to the contrary.

'Well then, Grace, what is your verdict? Tell me, what is to be done with me?'

She knew his flippancy was merely a front.

'Why Boyd? Why did you do it? What did you possibly think strangling him could have achieved?' asked Grace, firmly. 'Have I not told you before that you cannot take the law into your own hands?'

Grace thought maybe that she should have omitted that last bit. She knew he hated 'I told you so' moments, and she didn't want this to turn into another one of their slanging matches. Boyd surprised her however; instead of flaring up in indignation, he leant forward and placed his head in his hands.

'I don't know what I was thinking…I wasn't thinking. You know that I wouldn't have strangled him to death, Grace, I just…he is so bloody well infuriating! Sitting there like he owns the place, not giving a shit that he could be going down for multiple murders. What kind of man is that, Grace? We've already got him for one murder, God only knows what he's done with the other girls!'

His voice had risen slightly during his speech and he was now on his feet pacing. Grace decided to say nothing, he was obviously trying to get it all off his chest. He had his back to her when he let out a noise of frustration.

'I'll tell you what I can't stand, Grace,' he murmured, his voice quiet once more. 'I hate…absolutely hate that I let him get to me so much that I did what I did today.'

He flopped back onto the sofa with a loud sigh. He was silent for a moment, and when he did speak again, he was studiously looking at his hands.

'You know you're the last person I'd want to hurt, Grace, and…oh bugger it, I end up hurting everyone in the end, don't I?'

He looked at her then, as if expecting a reply, but still Grace was quiet. She sat unmoving as he rubbed a hand over his chin.

'I…I just - I don't want you to be frightened of me, Grace.'

Grace was struck by his quiet, earnest tone and leant forward in her chair slightly.

'I'm not frightened of you, Boyd -'

'Oh, really? I bet you'll think twice if this ever happens again! Christ, I'm frightened of me, Grace! I don't know what I'm capable of anymore.'

Reaching forward to place her hand on his arm for a moment, Grace spoke carefully and resolutely.

'I am not frightened of you, Boyd. You are a good man, you just have a problem, one to which you've already admitted to, and that is the first step out of the way. You need to sort out your issues, we both know what I am referring too, and to learn to stop letting cases affect you so personally and emotionally.'

'How do I do that? Will you help me?'

Grace looked to be weighing up her options.

'I can help you to a point, Boyd. But, we both know that this is not a job for me. I'm too involved, and, well, I can't always get you to listen to me,' she remarked with a wry smile.

'I listen to you all the time!' exclaimed Boyd, affronted.

'Of course you do!' answered Grace, sarcastically. 'Seriously, I think this is going to have to be a third party -' Boyd gave a loud groan - 'I can arrange some anger management sessions -'

'Please, no, Grace -'

'Yes! Look, I know that talking about your problems to some therapist is your idea of hell, but you are going to have to try. It's not going to be some quick-fix solution, but as long as you give it some effort, Boyd,' here she gave him a sharp poke, 'then that is all anyone can ask for.'

Grace stared at him, daring him to object. Boyd threw his hands up in defeat.

'All right, all right, fine. I'll go and see your therapist,' he said the word looking like he'd swallowed a lemon, 'and I promise I will at least try and be a sap and talk about my,' he shivered, 'feelings. God, I hate being all sickly sweet and touchy-feely, can't I just -'

'Boyd,' warned Grace.

'Sorry, boss,' stated Boyd, looking appropriately contrite.

Grace folded her arms and looked at him sitting there, she was dying to smile and in the end a small chuckle escaped her.

'God, it's the therapist I feel sorry for.'

'Grace!' admonished Boyd in indignation.

Grace laughed fully this time and Boyd looked at her with a haughty expression.

'I'm glad to be such a source of amusement to you, Dr. Foley, perhaps you'd like to have a front row ticket to watch me make a fool of myself in front of some quack?'

Grace gave a wide smile at this.

'I don't think so, Boyd, I see enough of that round here.'

'Oh, ha, ha,' said Boyd with derision, failing to hide a smile of his own.

Boyd looked at this watch and then out into the main office.

'I think I'd better go and talk to them now,' he sighed.

'OK,' replied Grace, 'and don't worry about the case, Boyd. Let Spence and Mel, and Frankie for that matter, do their jobs, and I'm sure we'll be able to pin something on him in the end. We still haven't got names for all the women yet, these things take time. We cannot make Armitage talk, and no one is going to blame you if he doesn't.'

They were both standing up now and Boyd placed a hand on Grace's shoulder.

'Thanks, Grace, I…I'm feeling better now than I have done in a while.'

Grace nodded, biting her lip to stop a smile breaking out.

'It's been very cathartic, hasn't it?'

'Oh, Grace, you didn't! What is it with C words that make me cringe?' asked Boyd in mock despair.

Grace shrugged, she had an idea but now wasn't the time, she thought with a smirk. She was brought back from her thoughts by Boyd's clearing of his throat.

'Your head, it is definitely all right, Grace?'

Grace stood still as Boyd lifted a hand and gently moved part of her hair, that to some extent, covered the small cut on her forehead; she'd almost forgotten it was there. She thought he might even touch it and her forehead tingled in anticipation, when he stepped back and lowered his hand.

'I am sorry Grace, truly.'

Grace went to speak but found her throat unexpectedly dry. She swallowed and smiled at him.

'I know, Boyd, and it's fine, I promise.'

He smiled back at her in response and opened the door.

'Into the lions den I go,' he quipped, and then he was gone.

Grace sat down behind her desk, a small smile still playing round her lips. She had no doubt that Spence would give him a hard time for a few days. Rubbing her hands together, she resolved to get a session set up as soon as possible. She knew she had a few contacts that would be suitable for Boyd's situation, so she started to rummage around for her address book, purposefully ignoring the slight tingle that lingered on her forehead still.

FIN

A/N Poor Grace, we've all seen the episodes, if only she knew that Boyd's anger, if anything, gets worse after the Anger Management sessions!

Thanks for reading. This was my first WtD fic, so I'd be very grateful to know what you thought of it.

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