Tit for Tat
By Auburn Red
Disclaimer: I do not own these characters. They belong to John Sullivan. There are also a couple of cameos/guest appearances from the cast of Mad Men, particularly Peggy Olson, Pete Campbell, and Don Draper and they belong to Matthew Weiner and Lionsgate. Many of the chapter titles are lines or titles of songs from the '60's. Chapter one is a line from "Incense and Peppermints" by Strawberry Alarm Clock. This is sort of based on what we were told in Rock and Chips and Only Fools and Horses but it's also a What-If /Alternate Universe story. So, don't get too confused if it deliberately goes against canon and things get revealed a lot earlier than they are supposed to.
Chapter One: Dead Kings, Many Things I Can't Define
He hadn't expected to fall in love. That just happened. But when Freddie Robdal had returned to London he had two goals in mind: 1) To get the hell out of England and 2) To take Joan and Rodney with him.
He had remained in hiding for the past three years after that botched robbery,a total disaster from start to finish. He had heard that many people assumed that Freddie "The Frog" Robdal was dead and that was fine with him. Well he could only fool people for so long and he had a list of enemies that could travel from London to Portsmouth. It was a good time to relocate and maybe start all over. Of course he had a cash-flow problem and could do a few simple jobs before he left, but he was damn sure that he wasn't leaving alone.
During Freddie's time in hiding he tried to avoid the questions that he couldn't answer, the what-if scenarios that played over and over in his head, about Joan. Was she still in Peckham? Was she married to that lout Trotter? What about Rodney, was he doing all right? He would be six now.
He had offered so many chances for her to leave with him and she had refused. Freddie was not used to taking no for an answer and he wasn't going to take it now. He would leave London and they were coming with him. Nothing would stand in his way, nothing.
Freddie watched people move in and out of the pub as he swallowed his third lager. He glanced at the telephone feeling like a nervous young boy asking a girl out for the first time. His heart raced and his palms sweated as he dialed the number that he knew all too well. He had rehearsed this conversation and was prepared for it, but was not prepared for what she would say. How easy would it be to convince her? Well this time he wasn't taking no for an answer.
He was not prepared for the wheezing male voice that answered. " 'Ello, Trotters," he asked.
Robdal started. It was Ted Trotter, Joan's father-in-law, that old oaf. He decided to speak. "Yes, I'm trying to reach Joan Trotter, please?" He lowered his voice in a slight disguise.
The voice was silent for a minute. "Sorry you're too late," he answered slowly. Freddie cursed inwardly. "Do you know what time that she will be back then?"
The old man sighed. "Well since she currently lives in Highgate Cemetery, I don't think that we shall see her until Judgement Day," He paused for a moment. "She passed away two years ago."
"What?" Freddy gasped. He couldn't believe it.
" So you see," the old man said jovially. "You're late because she's late follow? She's the late Joan Trotter."
"I get it," the criminal said through clenched teeth annoyed at the old man's absent mindedness. He hung up the phone in a daze ignoring Ted's frequent "Hello's" in response.
A couple of hours later, Freddie approached Joan's grave flowers in hand. He hoped the old man was lying or just confused-certainly he didn't act the bereaved soul. But the grave told him otherwise. It was hard to miss the thing, it was a huge ornate eyesore with more angels and frescos than the Sistine Chapel. He practically had to wince at the gaudiness but sure enough the words on the grave edged into his brain: "Joan Mavis Trotter Wife of Reg. Mother of Del Boy and Rodney She fell asleep 12 March 1964." She had been dead for the past two years. The criminal lay the flowers purposely to block the words "Wife of Reg." That bastard didn't deserve to have that reputation. He was a drunk, a lier, an abusive monster who made life a living hell for the woman that Freddy loved and his son. He didn't deserve either of them in his life.
But if Reg Trotter was all of that, then what did that make Freddie? He left her. He should have taken her and Rodney then. He kissed his hand then rested it on top of her grave. "I'm sorry," he whispered. "I did fail you, but I won't fail you again." Rodney was his and Joan's son not Reg's. That man shouldn't have the title of "Father." Freddie couldn't have Joan, but Rodney was still his. He could be the father to him that he should have been to honor Joan's memory. But he could also stick it to Reg Trotter and make him suffer in the most unimaginable way. He took what could have made Freddie happy now Freddie was going to the same to him.
Del Boy Trotter stood in front of his new van, okay it wasn't the best looking van in the world. It's fenders could use some work, one of the wheels looked like it would fall off eventually, but there it was bright yellow with the name Trotter's Independent Trading Co.. No one could mistake it for anyone else's. This was his and it was the chariot that would lead to his future as a millionare. Life got in the way as it so often does, but that didn't mean that he couldn't dream and hope for a better future than the present that he had.
He opened the back door to the van as Rodney sat in the front working on something, Del couldn't tell what. His school bag still hung off one shoulder and he was still dressed in his uniform as Del had picked him up from school. The young boy's back was hunched over what looked like a sketchpad. He was probably drawing something which was a good thing for now since his baby brother was often lost in art work, it kept him distracted and occupied. He wouldn't be complaining how bored he was, well yet.
Del picked up the briefcase of jewelry and took a step away from the van just as he collided into another person. "I'm sorry, it's my fault," the woman said in an obvious American accent.
"No blame's all mine," Del answered. He knelt down to pick up the woman's portfolio as she picked up his case. He smiled. She was rather pretty with short brown hair cut in a modern style and was dressed in a lovely tailored red business suit. She was maybe his age or only a few years older
Del couldn't resist a wolfish grin. "Hey there Little Red Riding Hood," he said referring to her red business dress and quoting the Sam the Sham and the Pharoah's song. The woman rolled her eyes and smirked at the obvious come-on.
They exchanged their cases and he couldn't resist a peek at the name: "Property of Margaret Olson; Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce." "Good lord, you have more last names than Elizabeth Taylor," Del teased.
The woman laughed. "No, it's just Olson. I work for Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce."
"Law firm?" he asked. She was probably a secretary.
"No advertising agency," she said as if reading his mind she continued. "I'm a senior copywriter." She said that with the same pride that he had when he explained one of his trades. He caught it. It was a way of putting yourself ahead of people who were willing to believe the worst of you. You never let them forget who you are because they sure as hell won't let you forget who they think you should be, whether by economic status, background, or he imagined in her case, gender.
Del smiled again. She glanced at him very suspiciously as if expecting something. "So are you on Holiday or something?" he asked.
" 'Or something' ," Miss Olson replied. "It's a business trip."
"Well, Miss Olson or do you prefer Margaret-" Del said drawing his voice out
"-Actually I prefer Peggy," Peggy Olson answered.
""Well Peggy, would you like a souvenir of your trip?" Del asked as he opened his briefcase and waved at the selection of necklaces, watches, bracelets, brooches, and the like.
Peggy rolled her eyes. "Thanks but really I'm not interested."
He pointed and held out some of the items. "Come now Miss, this here is genuine gold and each piece is only 50. It's hard to ignore a price like that, it's a fraction of what you could get at Harrod's, or Grace Brothers, or Bloomingdale's. You could take them back to New York or wherever you're from, as a memento. You could say it was given to you by one of The Beatles." He nodded upwards indicating his shag mod hair cut.
She took out one of the watches similar to the one Del Boy was wearing on his wrist as if humoring him. "Thanks again Mr.-" she said reading the side of the van "-Trotter but really I'm not interested."
He waved his hand. "Please call me Derek or Del, Mr. Trotter is my father." The two laughed. She started to walk away. "I could bring them down to 45."
"You could bring them down to 25 and I still wouldn't be interested," Peggy said about to walk away.
Del winced. He could see this opportunity slipping by but then again there could be other opportunities that he could pursue with this American bird. "Well if you change your mind, here's my card," he said. He wrote on the back, "Ring me anytime; Del Boy." She read the card just as another voice called, "Peggy."
Peggy and Del looked up to see two men approach her. They were both dressed in fine tailored suits, the type of suits Del would have killed for. One was close to Del and Peggy's age and looked the market trader up and down with clear hazel eyes that read instant disdain for him. "Peggy we have a meeting to go to," he said. The older man was also looking the young Englishman up and down as if sizing him up. He seemed enigmatic as if it were hard to tell whether he approved or disapproved but was certainly able to see through him.
"Sorry Pete-," she nodded at the young man then turned to the older man "-Don. I got a little lost."
"Well we still have that meeting with Mary Quant later," Pete said obviously irritated. "If we don't get there McCann will get there first." He looked around warily as though they were in enemy territory with spies around every corner. He looked again at Del with that withering expression. "You don't need to spend time with the-" he was obviously trying to find a proper adjective "-locals."
Del wasn't a fool. He could see what this Pete bloke thought about him. He never let a verbal match slip by. He leaned over to Peggy. "Forgive me, but your husband and your father seem to be a bit on the stuffy side."
The two men exchanged confused glances. Don's expression seemed to clearly say 'Do I really look old enough to be her father?' and Pete continued to glare. "We're not married."
"Congratulations," Del remarked.
"Actually we work together," Peggy answered.
"Condolences," Del quipped. He turned to the two men. "I did not mean to keep her but I was only trying to find the proper gift to enhance her beauty." He opened the briefcase and continued to spiel about the jewelry. Peggy rolled her eyes, but seemed to smile at the compliment.
Don removed the lit cigarette from his mouth and grinned almost like a cheshire cat. "Kid, here's my advice from one salesman to another: work on your presentation. It's flimsy. You have to make people think that they want what you're selling. You know what you want to give them. But reinvent yourself first if you want to reinvent how people see your product."
Del shrugged pretending to not care, but he could see himself through this Don fellow's eyes. What he said obviously worked for him, particularly about reinventing oneself. He might keep it in mind. He was kept from answering by a tug on his sleeve. "Del," Rodney said. "Are you done yet?"
Del held up a finger and then knelt down to his younger brother. "In a minute, Rodney."
Don then pointed directly at Rodney. "Another tip lose the kid when you're out. Leave him at home. It just makes you look desperate and takes the focus off what you're selling."
Del glowered. This American could say what he liked about him, but Rodney was a different story. All pretense and charm disappeared. "Maybe if you had a kid of your own, you'd understand."
Pete and Peggy warily stepped back as if to say "oh no you didn't say that." Don's face just darkened as though Del had deliberately stepped on his toes. "I think we'd said enough. Come on Pete, Peggy." He turned on his heels and Pete followed. Peggy hesitated for a minute wearing a faint expression on her face that indicated she was embarrassed for Del then walked back to the trader.
"Del, I think I'll buy a couple of necklaces please," she said. Del handed her one necklace then put another one around her neck. He accepted the 100, that she gave him.
"If you're not satisfied you can ring me," he said. "Actually, you can ring me anyway." She smiled and thanked him following her co-workers.
Freddy kept his eyes on Del Boy Trotter as he continued to talk to the Americans. Of course he would know the young cocker anywhere. He was older than he remembered and appeared more confident than the little brat that he knew last. When he saw Rodney emerge from the van, his heart leapt in his throat. The last time Freddie Robdal had seen Rodney, he was an infant. He wasn't prepared for how much his son had changed over the years. He certainly looked as he did as a child but he could also see some of Joan in him. He saw the American woman buy two necklaces from Del Boy then leave. Freddie threw his cigarette out his car window and was about to get Rodney, but he stopped. It was too public, not yet. He didn't see Reg Trotter anywhere, but he decided that didn't matter. Del Boy Trotter was as much to blame as his father if not more so. Joan said that she wouldn't leave unless she could be sure that Del could be taken care of financially, which never happened. This was as much revenge on Del as it was on Reg. Rodney would be free from either of those two and the name Trotter which was never his. All he had to do was bide his time.
"Del can we go to the sweet shop?," Rodney asked. "I'm hungry."
"Not yet, Rodders," Del answered. "I still got to sell a few things alright?"
"But Del please," Rodney asked.
"No," Del answered. "Besides our Mum, God rest her soul, wanted to make sure that you ate properly. She told me on her death bed, 'Look after him, Del Boy. Make sure that he obeys you in everything and tell him not to eat too many chocolates and sugar because it makes him too hyperactive later.' "
Rodney eyed his older brother skeptically. "Fibber! Did Mum really say that?"
Del looked shocked. "Now, would I lie about something like that?"
"You said that Father Christmas did a re-check and I was on the 'Naughty' list after all," Rodney quipped. "You said that your watch was real gold. You said that-"
"-Alright alright," Del agreed. "I do stretch the truth on occasion. We'll go later yeah?"
Rodney sighed. "Okay, fine." He said. He was about to say more when Del faced a few other potential customers. Rodney looked right and left. The shop was just around the corner and Del left the money that the American woman gave him in plain sight. Rodney slipped a fiver into his pocket and sneaked away from the van. The bell to the door jingled as Rodney walked inside. He could smell chocolate as soon as he entered. An elderly woman smiled at him from behind the counter. "Can I help you dear?" she asked.
"I would like to buy two chocolate bars please, Miss," Rodney said. "One for me and one for my big brother."
"Oh how sweet," the woman said in a patronizing tone. She handed the chocolate bars to Rodney as he gave her the fiver. "Thank you miss," Rodney said as he left the shop.
Freddie could see through the rear view mirror, the small boy entering the shop. This was the perfect opportunity. He revved up his car edging so close to the shop but still so it wouldn't be too noticeable. He waited inside the alley until Rodney emerged. He had the white bag from the shop in hand and was already eating his chocolate bar. Freddy didn't wait. He opened the car door and picked Rodney up. The boy managed to get only a gasp out before Freddy closed his mouth shut and pushed him inside the car closing the door behind him. Then he drove his automobile through the alley until it was lost in the traffic.
Del accepted the money from the middle-aged couple. "Thank you sir, mum," he said. After they left, Del counted the money that he earned that day. Wait a minute-this wasn't right. He was about five short. He wondered if he miscounted. "Rodney, I think there's five missing do you know anything about it?" He turned to where he thought Rodney had been standing near him but he wasn't there. "Rodders?" he asked. He glanced inside the van and opened the doors. He wasn't there neither was his school bag. He must have taken it with him. He rolled his eyes. It figured the little plonker would deliberately disobey him.
He headed straight for the sweet shop. The sales woman had her back turned to him so he cleared his throat. "Excuse me, mum," the woman turned to him. "Did a small boy come in here, about six years old fair hair maybe not five minutes ago?"
The woman smiled. "Why yes he did. He bought two chocolate bars one for himself and one for his brother. Such a darling lad. He left shortly after."
Del smirked. "Thanks mum," but he thought, Darling? You don't have to go home with him. He left the store. Okay, he went in but where did he go afterwards? Del cupped his mouth with his hands and bellowed, "Rodney, where are you?" he yelled. No answer. "Rodney Charleton Trotter you answer me at once!" He knew that Rodney would do anything to avoid being addressed by his dreaded and much hated middle name. He hoped that it would do the trick. But no it didn't.
Del ran to the corner of the alley calling Rodney's name again. He felt his foot step on something. He leaned down and saw a white paper bag. Del picked it up and saw two now smooshed chocolate bars, one that had already been bitten into. He threw the bag and chocolate into a rubbish bin angrily. "Well there's the bloody chocolate that you just had to have, now where are you? " He hoped that Rodney was hiding from him or had just wandered off. He was beginning to get very frustrated as he called him. "Rodney where are you, you dipstick?" He wandered into the alley even looking behind the dumpster. "Rodney," he yelled his voice very sharp and annoyed. He kicked the dumpster. "Where the hell are you?" He walked down the road calling again, this time more worried. "Rodney, answer me please."