Title: First Impressions
Characters/Pairings: Foyle, Sam, Milner
Spoilers: The German Woman
Summary: Sam and Foyle's first week working together.
Disclaimer: Anthony Horowitz owns Foyle's War and its characters – I'm just playing with them!
Author Notes: This is the kind of fic I've written regularly in other fandoms, but this is the first time I've done a look-inside-their-heads fic for an episode of Foyle's War. Bits of the dialogue are taken verbatim from Anthony Horowitz's script.
Sam Stewart stared at the doors of Hastings Police Station a moment longer, then took a deep breath and went inside.
"Yes, miss?" The man at the desk looked at her with little interest, she noticed, despite her uniform.
"Sam Stewart, reporting for duty," she said, giving him a salute.
He gave her a bemused look. "Duty?"
"Um, yes. I'm the new driver for DCS Foyle." Hadn't anyone told them she was coming? she wondered anxiously. "The MTC sent me."
"Oh, yes?" The sergeant looked only slightly less bemused than before, and Sam felt her heart sink. "Well, his office is down there." He gestured along the corridor, and she saw a door at the far end with 'DCS Foyle' clearly marked on it.
She gave him a nod, then marched down the corridor. As she approached she could hear a typewriter clattering. She took another deep breath, then knocked firmly on the door.
She opened the door and stepped inside to see a man seated at a desk with a typewriter in front of him. He wore a red tie and a grey waistcoat, but his suit jacket was off. He looked neat and trim, and rather surprised, as she asked, "Chief Superintendent Foyle?"
She marched across the room, stopped in front of his desk, then saluted. "I've been assigned to you as your new driver."
He looked stunned, she thought, and quailed a little. Hadn't the MTC let him know that she was coming? she wondered again.
"Huh." He shifted in his chair, then looked up at her. "S-Stewart?"
So he had known she was coming, which meant that he was surprised because she was a girl. She was getting used to that.
"Samantha Stewart, sir."
He was scowling slightly, and she did her best not to flinch. "You can call me Sam," she said, smiling at him cheerily. She'd been told he was a very clever man, and she'd been excited to be assigned to drive for a policeman, so she desperately wanted to make a good impression on him.
Christopher Foyle was furious. Not that anyone, least of all this chit of a girl, could tell, because he'd long since trained himself not to show his emotions: the less his face showed, the less of a clue those he was interrogating had about his thoughts and feelings, which gave him the advantage.
Summers! he thought savagely. The man was laughing at him, mocking him because he kept trying to get away from Hastings to do something more useful. How the devil could Summers have thought that Foyle would accept a woman driver a young and pretty one, at that? Not only could Foyle not accept it, but the men wouldn't either, and he'd be forced to waste valuable time in sorting out whatever stupidities they decided to perpetrate against Stewart just because she was a woman.
He looked up again at the smiling and eager face of his new driver and resigned himself to the fact that she'd have to drive him for a few days at least, just until he could get hold of Summers and the MTC, and demand that they send him a proper replacement.
He sighed softly. "Take a seat, Stewart," he said, gesturing at the chair opposite. "I need to finish this, then we'll go."
"Yes, sir!" She threw him another salute, before sitting down.
"You don't have to keep saluting me, Stewart," he said.
She gave him a nod, then settled back into the chair, while he resumed his typing. At least she's quiet, he thought as he finished off his notes.
She soon proved him wrong, however, when she started to tell him all about how she'd wanted to join the WAAF, and how her father was a vicar. He tried to tune her out; he had no interest in her personal history, given that she wasn't going to be staying. He did, however, catch her comment about being glad of the war, which struck him as callous.
"It's, um, very unusual for, um, a ranking officer to be assigned a driver from outside the Force," he told her; he was trying to warn her that she wouldn't be staying long, no matter how good her knowledge of the area might be. He signed the paperwork the desk sergeant had given him, watching the man's face as Sam responded to his comments.
"Yes, yes, that's what I said when they told me, but they said they couldn't get anyone else, so here I am." She smiled brightly, but Foyle ignored the smile, attractive though it was; she couldn't stay.
"Right." He picked up his hat and turned away, expecting her to follow him out to the car.
Sam could tell that, despite her best efforts, this Mr Foyle was not very pleased to have her as his driver: he'd barely looked at her, and his responses to her attempts to engage him in conversation were all dismissive.
He's going to send me away again, she thought sadly, as he turned away from the front desk and walked off without a word of instruction. She was disappointed: he had a fascinating face, and he was supposed to be the cleverest policeman in the area, so she'd hoped this would be an interesting assignment. She glanced at the desk sergeant, who was obviously amused and not going to offer her any help, then turned to follow Foyle. She dreaded to think what Mrs Bradley was going to say if Foyle sent her back to the MTC, when she'd barely been in Hastings five minutes. She stiffened her spine and decided that there was only one course of action available – she'd have to do something really clever and make such a good impression on him that Foyle would forget she was a girl.
"So what are you investigating?" she asked, as they set off for the quayside at his instruction. "I hope it's something juicy – a spy-ring or a nice grisly murder."
"I think we should get something straight right from the very beginning," he answered. "You don't ask me what I'm doing. You don't ask me what I'm investigating. You simply take me to where I want to go." Sam glanced over at him and saw that he looked quite impatient. "Is that understood?"
"Whatever you say," she answered cheerfully.
"Good." He gave a nod, as if to underline his satisfaction at her answer, and she drove the rest of the way in silence.
She pulled up where he directed and he started to open the door. "If you'd just wait here. Thank you."
"How long will you be?" she asked as he started to get out. "Are you meeting someone?"
"Excuse me, did you not understand what I've just been – "
"What?" asked Sam, puzzled. Surely he at least intended to tell her how long she'd have to sit here for, she thought.
He looked at her and she leaned back in her seat, then he seemed to switch gears. "Never mind, just… wait here, would you?"
He got out of the car and Sam sighed softly, disappointed.
As he made his way across the shingle, moving between the drying sheds, towards the spot where he was supposed to be meeting his contact, Foyle put his new driver out of his mind; he'd deal with her afterwards.
He wondered, as Keegan punched him in the ribs and made a run for it, whether it might have been better to bring one of the constables with him – but it was too late to worry about that now, the man was getting away, and Foyle would have to give chase, as undignified as that was.
Sam was bored sitting in the car, so she climbed out, then paced around it, before looking in the direction in which Mr Foyle had gone. Perhaps she'd just wander that way and see if she could spot what he was doing; she assumed he was meeting someone. Perhaps it was an informant who was planning to tell him about a German spy-ring, she thought excitedly. She set off across the shingle in his wake.
She hadn't gone very far before she saw a man, wearing a suit and hat not unlike Mr Foyle's, running towards her. He was looking back over his shoulder as if he were being chased, and she instantly decided he must be Mr Foyle's contact, and that he was probably being pursued by Mr Foyle himself. She swiftly picked up a metal dustbin lid, and as the man looked forwards again, Sam lifted the lid and hit him with it, sending him sprawling onto the shingle.
Foyle, who had been chasing the man, came to a halt and looked down at the man, then up at her, his face a picture of surprise. Sam dropped the dustbin lid, rather guiltily.
She looked up from the fallen man to her new superior officer. "Yes, sir?" she said anxiously.
Mr Foyle adjusted the knot of his tie. "Thank you." He walked past the unconscious chap and Sam, and she couldn't help letting a little smile twitch the corner of her mouth: she sensed that he was impressed, despite himself, and she hoped that meant he wouldn't send her away after all.
Once in the car, as they made their way back to the station, Foyle cleared his throat. "That was quick thinking of yours, Stewart," he said.
He looked across and saw that she was smirking a little. "Thank you, sir."
"What made you hit him?" he asked; he'd been curious about that from the moment Keegan had met Sam's dustbin lid.
"Well, sir, he was obviously running away, and as you were on your own, I thought you might appreciate it if I stopped him."
"How did you know he was running away from me?" asked Foyle.
"Well, I didn't know for certain, of course, but it seemed likely. He clearly didn't belong to the fishing community, not when he was dressed like you rather than as a fisherman, so I deduced he was the man you'd gone to meet."
"You deduced it?"
She looked across at him, grinning. "Yes, sir. I'm a big fan of murder mysteries – Edgar Wallace, Agatha Christie, and the like. That's why I was so excited to be assigned as your driver."
"I see." He didn't say any more, but his brain was busy. He ought, he knew, to reprimand her for not staying in the car as he'd ordered her to do, but he couldn't bring himself to condemn her initiative, not when she'd saved him the trouble of tracking Keegan down a second time by knocking him out. Just because he appreciated her quick thinking, however, did not mean that he was going to encourage her; it was important that she knew her place and kept to it. If she couldn't do as she was told, he would definitely send her back to the MTC.
Foyle didn't quite believe it when he heard the air raid siren go off as he was talking to Judd at The Bell, and when Sam came rushing in, asking if it were a false alarm, he was inclined to agree with her, until he heard a whistling noise.
"Get down!" he shouted, grabbing her and pulling her down to the floor with him. He heard her startled exclamation, then the world exploded.
He wasn't sure for how long he was unconscious, but he didn't think it was very many minutes before he came to again. He groaned as he forced himself upwards to survey the room. Sam lay beside him, still and silent. He reached out with a shaking hand to check her pulse, sighing with relief when he found it beating steadily under his fingers.
"Sam." He touched her shoulder, hoping she wasn't too badly injured. If he'd got her hurt just two days into her new job, he'd never forgive himself.
"Sir?" She didn't open her eyes immediately, but her voice was strong when she spoke to him.
"Yes. You all right?" he asked anxiously, even as he noted other people were also beginning to stir.
"I think so, sir," she answered, although she sounded shaky.
He helped her to sit up, noticing that she had a graze on her left cheek, and he reached out to brush his fingers lightly over it. "You're not bleeding, anyway," he said, as his fingers came away dirty, but not bloody. "Think you can stand?"
"I'm sure I can, sir." She sounded quite chipper, he thought, and he had to admire her spirit.
Foyle got to his feet, then reached down a hand which Sam seized in a stronger grip than he'd been expecting: for such a slight young woman, she was quite tough. He put his hands on her elbows, ensuring she wasn't going to fall over if she was suffering from dizziness, and peered into her dark brown eyes.
"Well, it doesn't seem as if you're concussed," he told her.
"No, sir." She leaned in closer and he realised that she was ensuring he also wasn't suffering from a concussion. "Are you all right, sir?"
He nodded. "Let's see what we can do to help, shall we?" he suggested, gesturing at the rest of the room where others were also beginning to get to their feet.
Foyle made himself let go of Sam, and turned to see what he could do.
As Sam bent to help an older woman up off the floor and onto a chair, she tried not to think too much about how good it had been to be held by Mr Foyle, or how she'd felt touched by the concern in his eyes as he'd checked the graze on her cheek. She hoped that he was warming to her and that he wouldn't feel the need to send her away after all. She dared to hope that she'd impressed him yesterday with her quick response to the fleeing Keegan; he certainly hadn't reprimanded her, as she'd feared that he might because she'd disobeyed his direct order to stay in the car.
When they'd done all they could at the pub, Foyle suggested they go and have lunch somewhere, and Sam agreed cheerily, realising that she was ravenously hungry. As she drove to the next village she could feel Foyle's eyes were on her and she was aware, also, that he was resting his hand on the back of her seat. She snuck a glance at him as she paused at a junction, waiting for a tractor to pass, and saw that his blue-grey eyes had lost the stormy look they'd had earlier.
"Everything all right, sir?" she asked quietly, wondering if he was worried that she wasn't capable of driving.
"Mmm?" His tone was absent-minded, she thought, and she decided that he hadn't really been looking at her at all; his mind was probably on the case and he'd mostly likely be annoyed if she distracted him.
"Never mind," she said, preparing to pull out onto the main road.
"Sorry, Sam," he said. "I was just thinking about young Tracey."
"I don't think you can blame yourself for her death, sir," she said softly, glancing sideways at him.
He looked startled, as if it hadn't occurred to him to take Mr Judd's words seriously, and Sam felt foolish for bringing it up.
"I don't. Ultimately the Germans are to blame for what happened to Tracey, although I do hold Judd responsible as well."
"Yes, sir." She didn't know whether to be pleased or not: he was discussing the case with her, or some part of it, rather than dismissing her concerns, but she still felt silly for mentioning it – she didn't know why she'd assumed he'd be blaming himself. After all, she hardly knew the man. Maybe it was his pensive manner that had put that idea into her head.
"Think we dare risk another pub in order to have some lunch?" he joked, gesturing with his left hand at The King's Head, which was a short distance further up the road.
"I'm willing to brave Gerry, if you are, sir," Sam said, grinning at him. He twitched the corners of his mouth downwards and for a moment she thought he disapproved of her response, then she saw the sparkle in his eyes and relaxed again.
"That's the spirit," he said cheerily.
As Foyle followed Sam into the pub, he found himself thinking about her in a more positive light. She'd kept her head and done a good job of looking after the wounded at The Bell, despite the fact that she'd been knocked out herself. And she'd reported back to him on what the lad Ray had said about his girl, Tracey, after driving Ray home, and Foyle hadn't even had to ask. Then she'd tried to comfort him over Tracey's death, thinking that he might have taken Judd's words to heart. Perhaps he had been too hasty in his decision to send Sam back to the MTC; there was no doubt that he could make use of an intelligent, level-headed, quick-witted and compassionate person, even if it was wholly unorthodox to let her get involved in any way with his cases. Then again, if AC Summers would find him a Sergeant, he wouldn't need to get Sam mixed up in his cases – although he suspected she would involve herself, anyway.
They found themselves a table in a quiet corner, and Foyle saw Sam seated before going to the bar to place their orders. He carried their drinks back to the table and noted Sam had taken off her hat and set it aside, together with her leather driving gauntlets. The graze on her cheek was a lot less noticeable, thanks to the ministrations of one of the ambulance men who'd cleaned it to ensure it wouldn't get infected.
"I got us both lemonade," he told her, setting one of the glasses down in front of her. "Better not to drink alcohol after a bang on the head."
"Or when I'm driving," Sam said, smiling.
"That too," he agreed. "They'll bring lunch in a few minutes."
"Thank you. This is jolly decent of you, sir."
He shook his head. "You've earned it, Sam." To his surprise she blushed, her freckles disappearing in the tide of red that flooded her fair skin. He wondered if she'd been that deprived of praise that the mildest compliment could induce such a reaction, and he immediately resolved not to withhold any praise he felt she'd earned.
The barmaid brought their lunch out, what Foyle always called a ploughboy's lunch, which consisted of a large hunk of bread, a thick wedge of cheese, and some pickled onions.
"Do you suppose they'll ration all foods eventually, sir?" Sam asked, looking at her plate.
"Well, I hope not, but I suppose it's a possibility."
"It's bad enough, them rationing bacon and sugar," she said, dolefully. "P'raps I should've become a Land Girl after all."
Foyle lifted an eyebrow at that, watching as she broke off a hunk of the cheese and put it on the bread, then bit into both.
"You considered it, becoming a Land Girl, I mean?"
She nodded and he waited for her to finish her mouthful, barely resisting the urge to smile at her enthusiasm for the simple meal.
"Yes, sir. One of my uncles has a farm, so I grew up helping out at lambing season and during the Harvest."
"So what made you join the MTC instead?"
"Well, I wanted to be in the WAAF – that would've been much more glamorous."
Foyle raised both eyebrows. "Glamorous?"
"Mmm. I don't mind that I ended up with the MTC, though."
"Well, if I'd been at the WAAF, I'd never have been posted to Hastings, and I'd have missed out on working for the police!"
She beamed at him from across the table, and he twitched the corners of his mouth down to keep himself from smiling back. Her enthusiasm for his work was amusing because she clearly had no idea how much boring routine it involved, but he didn't want her to think he was laughing at her or mocking her. Still, if she continued to drive him she would soon learn all about the dullness of most police work.
Of course she's going to continue driving you, Foyle. You know you can't let her go now. If she wasn't a young woman, you'd be stealing her away from the MTC to work for you permanently.
He felt that it was a shame he couldn't take Sam on in an official capacity, as she clearly had the makings of a first-class detective.
"He lived over the pub, had rooms," Sam told Foyle. "These are his keys."
"Where did you get those?" Foyle asked, sounding surprised.
"Out of his pocket." She smirked at him.
"Oh, well done."
Foyle's unrestrained response transformed Sam's smirk into a full-blown grin. She'd thought he might tell her off for taking Judd's keys, but instead he was clearly pleased. She wondered what had happened to make him change his mind about her 'simply taking him to where he wanted to go'; not that she planned to remind him of his words.
"That could have been us," Sam said quietly as they watched the mourners leaving the church following Tracey's funeral service.
Foyle shifted slightly, pressing his shoulder against hers in a gesture of comfort. She looked sideways at him and he wondered if she minded the touch, but then she gave him a half-smile and pressed her own arm against his in return.
He liked the way that he and Sam could so easily communicate without words; he'd always been reticent about his feelings and emotions, despite Rosalind's attempts to get him to talk more; thus it suited him that Sam could read his gestures or the expressions on his face so well. He did wonder how she'd learned to do that so quickly – they'd only been working together for a few days, after all – but she often seemed to understand him without their needing to exchange a word.
How did we manage to build up such a good rapport in such a short space of time? I ought to squash her pretensions to being a detective – she's no business doing anything but driving me around – but there's a sort of sweet relief in having her involved when we're so in tune with each other. If Summers had sent me a Sergeant, as he said he would, I probably wouldn't have let Sam get drawn into helping me to investigate, but now that she has, I don't feel inclined to make her stop, even if Milner agrees to become my Sergeant. I think the three of us will make a good team.
"Thought you might like a lift." Foyle twitched his head towards the car, and Milner looked from him to Sam.
"Ah, this is Sam Stewart, my driver. Sam, this is Paul Milner, who's going to be my new Sergeant."
"Pleased to meet you, Mr Milner," Sam said cheerily, before she moved to the car to open the back door for him.
"Hello." Milner felt a little shy of this glamorous young woman in uniform: she looked smart and healthy, and very upbeat.
They got themselves settled into the car, then Sam asked Foyle, "Where to, sir?"
"We're taking the Sergeant home," Foyle said. "He won't be joining us at the station just yet, but I wanted the two of you to meet." He put his hand on the back of Sam's seat and turned to look at Milner in the back of the car. "Sam has a yen to be a detective, Milner, so you'll find she asks a lot of questions and throws out theories nearly as fast as she drives. Don't feel obliged to take notice of everything she says, however."
"Yes, sir." Milner looked uncertainly from his new superior officer to the driver, his eyebrows rising when he heard Sam giggle.
"Oh really, sir, it's too bad of you to say such things to Mr Milner, instead of letting him get to know me for himself."
"Forewarned is forearmed, Sam," Foyle rejoined, his mouth twitching.
"You know, we're like the Three Musketeers," she said. "All for one, and one for all."
Milner frowned; it seemed to him that this young woman was awfully free and easy in her manner towards the DCS, and he was surprised that Foyle put up with it.
"There aren't enough of us for the Three Musketeers," Foyle said.
Sam threw him a puzzled look. "There are three of us, and there were three of them."
"Mmm, but you're quite clearly d'Artagnan, which means we're missing either Athos, Porthos, or Aramis."
"Well, sir, you're obviously Athos, because he's the oldest."
"Miss Stewart!" choked Milner, shocked.
"What?" asked Sam, glancing at him in the driving mirror. "I didn't say Mr Foyle was old, I said Athos was the oldest, and since Mr Foyle's the oldest, he's clearly Athos."
"Definitely d'Artagnan," Foyle commented, actually smiling in response to Sam's remarks.
Milner felt quite confused. He'd always heard that DCS Foyle was a strict disciplinarian, as well as being a quite brilliant detective, and yet he was not only allowing this young woman to tease him, he was encouraging her and responding in kind!
Foyle must have noticed his confusion, because he gave Milner a wink. "Don't mind Sam," he said. "She goes off on flights of fancy every now and again."
"And you let her, sir?" Milner asked.
"I don't think I can actually stop her," Foyle told him, then smirked when she spluttered in obvious outrage. "Don't worry about Sam, Sergeant. She's a very good driver, and very capable in a crisis."
Milner settled back onto his seat and listened as Foyle and Sam continued to talk about the Three Musketeers. He wondered what it would be like if his wife were more like Miss Stewart; Jane was only a year or two older than Sam, so far as he could tell, yet his wife had an altogether more staid manner, and he couldn't imagine her engaging in the sort of teasing conversation that Sam and DCS Foyle were currently enjoying.
He was drawn from his reverie by Sam's chirpy, "Here we are then!" as she pulled up outside his house, and he suddenly wished he could go back with them to the station. Their easy camaraderie made him feel quite lonely when he considered his wife's recent behaviour. He smiled, however, and thanked Sam for driving him home, then manoeuvred himself out of the car. Foyle had already fetched his case from the boot, and Sam took his key from him to unlock the front door, as Jane was at work.
Ten minutes later they were gone, on their way back to Hastings station, and Milner was left with the resolution to return to work as soon as possible. He had a feeling he'd feel more comfortable there, despite being crippled, than he was likely to feel at home.
"Will Mr Milner be all right, sir?" Sam asked as she drove away from the house.
"Why do you ask, Sam?"
"Well, he seemed quite subdued. I rather expected him to be happier about the fact that he's out of the hospital."
"I imagine he's feeling a bit disoriented at the moment," Foyle answered. "He'll probably be brighter once he's back at work." He didn't tell her that he suspected Milner was struggling to cope with the after-effects of his injury, which apparently included awkwardness in his marital relationship. It was no one's business but the Milners', and he felt that they'd stand a better chance of working it out if they weren't subjected to interference from outsiders, no matter how well-meaning.
"I don't think we helped, either, with the disorientation."
"Well, he seemed a bit shocked by our conversation." She glanced sideways at him, one eyebrow raised. "I think he thought it was wrong of us to be teasing each other."
"Perhaps he did, but as I permitted it, neither you nor he has any reason to think you did something wrong. Unless you consider it inappropriate of me to tease you."
Sam smiled. "If you hadn't allowed me to tease you back, I'd have thought it unfair, but you're the boss; it's your right to tease me if you so choose."
Foyle grunted an acknowledgement as he considered this. "Technically, you're right, Sam," he said after a few minutes. "But morally, I think you're wrong. I am your superior officer, but it's up to me to treat you with respect and courtesy, because if I don't, the others won't. When it's just the two of us, or three including Milner, then a certain amount of teasing is acceptable, but if anyone ever makes you feel uncomfortable – including Milner or myself – then I expect you to tell me at once. You're under my care, as is Milner and everyone else with whom I work, and I take that role seriously."
"Yes, sir. Thank you."
He gave her a nod and settled more comfortably into his seat. Sam was probably right in thinking that Milner had been shocked by their teasing, but he had a feeling that Paul Milner was inclined to take everything a little too seriously at present. While that was understandable, Foyle thought it wouldn't do the young man any harm to be subjected to Sam's cheerfulness. He knew he'd already benefited from Sam's good humour and lively manner, particularly when it came to having to deal with AC Summers and his contemptible attempt at bribery.
He sincerely hoped that the next AC would be a more honest man. As for sending Sam back to the MTC and requesting a different driver, that was a foolish notion and he wondered what had possessed him to consider it. He had a feeling that getting through the war was going to be a lot easier with Sam Stewart in his life.