Disclaimer: I don't own Midsomer Murders, ITV does.
SPOILER ALERT: There be MASSIVE spoilers for 'Blood on the Saddle' ahoy, so DO NOT READ if you haven't watched the episode, unless you want to know what happens at the end of the episode.
Author's Note: It's finally finished! This was meant to be up back in February, as it was my birthday present to AlternativeRocker, but I hadn't quite managed to finish it, then I had many other things, like a laptop virus which held my up for about a month... But now, I have finished it! I'm not quite sure where the angst in this came from, but I fear Jones may be a bit out of character... Anyway, on with the story, and happy (very belated) birthday Lee! :)
Those Hidden Feelings
As soon as he had made the shot, Jones froze. Barnaby turned to him and clapped him on the shoulder after the man fell, congratulating him on the excellent shot. It was right on target, the inspector said, good shot Jones, he said. But Jones wasn't listening. Not really. He'd just had to shoot a man so that he wouldn't "shoot" them. So he wouldn't shoot them with the real bullets they knew he had.
He'd almost killed all of them at some point while they hid in the house, looking for some kind of weapon to disable him with. It was pure luck that Barnaby had found the pistol and remembered about the live round he had been sent in the post, probably by the woman they were trying to protect: the one who'd been responsible for this in the first place.
The live round. The only one. The single shot he'd had, or they would have been killed. Jones blinked. No, don't think about that, he thought. The rational part of his brain knew it was true though.
"Thank you, sir..." he said to Barnaby, as the chief inspector walked off.
Jones dropped the pistol, and turned, on autopilot, heading back to his car. The woman had been taken care of by some other officer (to be taken back to the station and locked up), and the man he had shot was going to the hospital to be treated before he too was locked up. A job well done, Barnaby would say.
Jones' mind went to his girlfriend as he got in his car, after wishing Barnaby goodnight and promising to write his report as soon as possible. Stephens. He would have to tell her. She wouldn't know about the shooting, not unless she read it in the report. Or Barnaby told her. Would he do that? Probably. It would be a comment made in passing, such as "Did you hear about Jones' good shot? He saved our lives, didn't you, Jones?" and then there would be that look from her. As in, "Why didn't you tell me?" or maybe "I'm ashamed of you." or maybe even "I'm proud of you." He shook his head. He'd have to tell her.
But what would she think of him? Would she ignore him for a while? Would she call it off? Would she leave the station? He couldn't tell her. He didn't want that to happen. But he couldn't let her find out from someone else what he'd done.
He'd have to tell her.
Without realising it, Jones had made his way back to the police station. He sat in his car in the car park, thinking about what he was going to say to Stephens. And when. He sighed. He was better off doing it sooner rather than later, and hopefully before Barnaby said anything first.
Sighing again, he got out of the car, locked it, and headed up into CID. There was no-one around. So there is a God, he thought wryly. He removed his jacket and placed it on the back of his chair, before heading into the locker room to pick up his things.
He noticed a note stuck to the outside of his locker. Immediately he recognised the writing to be that of Stephens. It simply said 'Meet me at the back entrance to the park at 4:15. Don't be late! x' Jones smiled, then frowned. He really didn't want to have to tell her about the shooting, but it was better than her finding out. He looked at his watch: 3:45. He still had half an hour, but he'd have to leave soon in order to get parked and get to the back entrance.
He took the note off his door and opened his locker, staring at his reflection in the mirror. He looked a bit pale (maybe he was in shock still), and his eyes looked a bit dull. This will not do, he told himself, you'll have to do something about this before you see Stephens, else she'll immediately know something's wrong. To be fair, she'd probably realise something was up anyway, what with her being a detective (and a bloody good one at that). He sighed. He didn't think he had enough time to have a shower then, so he settled for washing his face in an attempt to make himself look a bit more presentable, before taking his bag out of his locker and closing it again. He looked at his watch as he left the locker room: 4pm. He'd have to get moving.
Picking up his jacket, he scribbled a quick note to Barnaby: 'Off home. Report tomorrow.' before leaving the building.
Jones arrived in the park just after ten past four, flowers in hand. He was still worrying about what he was going to say slightly, but he was sure he'd be fine. He hoped that she wouldn't judge him for what he had to do.
Stephens arrived at the park a couple of minutes later, and was surprised to see Jones there before her. "Hey Ben!" she called, waving at him as he turned to face her.
Here we go, he thought. Plastering a smile on his face, he walked over to her. "Hi Gail." he replied. "I got these for you..." He handed the flowers to her.
She sniffed the flowers appreciatively. "Thanks, they're lovely!" She looked back up at him. Though he was smiling, she could tell that something was wrong; the smile didn't quite reach his eyes. "Is something wrong? Has something happened?" she asked, concerned.
Jones faltered for a second. He knew that she would catch on eventually, just didn't think it would be that quickly. Well, here goes nothing, he thought. "I... Shall we walk?" He took her free hand and they walked around the park for a bit. He was trying to organise his thoughts into something that wouldn't sound too serious and make her worry too much, while she was left wondering what was up.
They soon reached their favourite spot, a bench in a secluded spot overlooking a pond, surrounded by trees. He gestured for her to sit down. This was a good place for them to talk, he thought.
Stephens worried about the way Jones was avoiding the topic. He didn't look very well in her opinion, like there was something he wanted to tell her but didn't know how, or didn't want to. She knew she had to give him time to think and not push him into talking, or he wouldn't tell her at all. She realised the walk had probably given him time to properly think over what he wanted to say, which was hopefully a good thing.
He sat down on the bench after her, looking at anything but her. He stared out over the pond for a while, trying to calm his racing heart. She gently placed a hand on his knee and he glanced at her, biting his bottom lip nervously. Somehow, this comforted him enough to start to talk about what had happened.
"I know you want me to tell you what's up… and I will, but can you just promise first that you'll let me speak and not interrupt?" he asked. She looked as though she was going to protest. "Please. I need to just say this without being interrupted; else I won't say it at all…" He looked at her pleadingly, and when she nodded her agreement, he smiled a barely there smile, looking away from her again.
Jones could feel her eyes on him still, but he stared out over the pond and started to talk. "You know the case we had? The one with the cowboy re-enactments? Well, we've closed it now. I just have to write my report tomorrow. That woman, Susan Fincher, she was the one that did it. Well, kind of. She was the one that masterminded it; she got Adam Burbage to actually carry out the killings, making him believe that he was the sheriff in some Western film. He very nearly had us too."
He glanced at Stephens out of the corner of his eye. She was still watching him, looking more worried than she had before, though she was keeping her promise. Still, he carried on. "You know that note Barnaby got sent in the post, claiming Mrs Fincher was next? Well, there was one live round in it. I think that was what tipped him off in the end. We had her with us when we went to her house, and Burbage came out of nowhere and started firing at us. Real bullets, too."
Stephens looked even more worried, if that was possible. "We managed to find a gun and some blanks that I fired back at him, but that didn't really work. He just ended up thinking I was a very bad shot. Well, when Barnaby remembered that he had this one convenient live round, he gave it to me, and told Burbage that we'd come out. As he'd called the draw, Burbage couldn't do anything to us but wait for the draw to happen. Fortunately for us, Barnaby drew first. But…"
This was it. The moment he had been trying to avoid. He took a deep breath before he spoke. "I had to shoot a man today, Gail." He still refused to look at her. "I was standing behind Barnaby, and as soon as he drew his 'gun', I had to fire. We only had one shot at this, or we would have been killed. …I hit him in the shoulder, so at least it was non-fatal…"
He paused, thinking about how he wanted to phrase what he was going to say next. "When we were in the house, Burbage almost killed all of us. In fact, at least twice he got far too close to me for comfort…" He turned his gaze away from the pond and looked at her. "But all I could think about was you, and what you mean to me… and how I'd never really said anything like that to you… When the shots got so close, I thought that… that I'd never get the chance to tell you…" His voice broke at the end of the last sentence and he looked away from her again, not wanting her to see the tears starting to well up in his eyes.
Stephens frowned, biting her lip. Barnaby had called her to tell her about what had happened in the house, but she didn't think it would have affected Jones this badly. Clearly Barnaby hadn't either; else he might not have let the sergeant go home without at least talking about the events of the day first.
Sighing inwardly, she scooted closer to him on the bench and put her arms around him, pulling him towards her. "It's ok…" she whispered as she hugged him.
"How can it be ok?" Jones cried, pulling away. "I could have killed him! He could have killed us!"
Stephens forced him to look at her. "But you didn't kill him, and he didn't kill you. Now he'll have to face what he did by being stuck in jail for a very long time, hopefully…" she replied patiently. She put her arms around him again, hoping he wouldn't pull away. "You did a very brave thing today. I wouldn't have been able to do what you did, had I been in your position. I know you might not be intensely proud of it, but you did. Even if you had killed him, it would have been in self defence. And I know neither of us say what we mean to each other very often, but it's always there in our actions. Well, I think it is, anyway…"
She loosened her grip on him so that she could look him in the eye. "I'm proud of what you did today, Ben."
His eyes widened in surprise. "…You are..?" he replied, shocked.
She smiled, before leaning in to kiss him gently. "Yes," she said when she pulled back, "and don't you forget it!" She let him pull her into another, more passionate kiss.
When they pulled apart, Stephens smiled at Jones again. "So, how about dinner? You can pick where, and I'll even pay!" she suggested.
Jones smiled back, standing up and stretching. "Sounds like a good plan." Turning to help his girlfriend to her feet, he spoke quietly again. "Thank you, for this, all of it…"
She nodded. "No problem." Holding his hand, she pulled him away from the pond in the park. "So, where are we going then?" she asked, as they walked hand in hand into the sunset.