DISCLAIMER: I own nothing.
A/N: My response to Gemenied's "Make Spencer Happy" challenge.
He skulks near the back of the big, untidy room with its confusing tangle of desks and chairs, keeps his head down and hopes his presence will pass unnoticed. The general opinion amongst the team is that their temporary DCI is a damned good detective but a complete bastard of the highest order. No-one's going to be sorry to see him go in a few days' time, least of all Spencer himself who got off on the wrong foot two months ago and has yet to redeem himself. Yeah, Detective Chief Inspector Peter Boyd is a bastard; a hard-headed, quick-tempered cannonball of a man who has managed to cause massive disharmony and resentment, and complete administrative chaos in his short tenure as their interim commander. He's also made an impressive dent in the team's backlog of unresolved investigations, and for that at least he will presumably be lauded by his superiors. Not that they seem to like him much, either.
Spencer Jordan is not a happy man. Not on this particular morning. His temporary boss is a royal pain in the backside, his salary isn't stretching as far as it needs to, his girlfriend is on the verge of leaving him and it seems unlikely that he's going to get any credit for the preceding evening's successful arrest – not given his angry toe-to-toe altercation with the man who's currently standing at the front of the room shouting his head off. DCI Boyd can certainly shout – no-one could ever deny that. He has the kind of voice that carries easily through walls and doors, and it seems he has both an extremely good grasp of basic Anglo-Saxon and an extraordinarily impressive lung capacity. Seasoned officers with a lot more years' service than Spencer are looking at the floor and shuffling awkwardly as the angry tirade about their general incompetence and their apparent complacency continues unabated.
Sometimes Spencer seriously questions his choice of career. Being a fully-fledged detective is considerably better than being a uniformed plod, but even so…
Boyd is no longer shouting. The decibel level has dropped to a far more acceptable level, and Spencer finally risks a covert glance towards the front of the room. Boyd is tall – a little taller than Spencer himself – but he isn't a particularly big man; not in the way McDonald or Armitage are big men. A stiff breeze wouldn't knock him over, true enough, but it's his aggressive stance and his square shoulders that give him real physical presence. Very late forties, tough, greying; not bad looking according to the female members of the team. Spencer has to fight the impulse to look away like a naughty schoolboy when the dark gaze falls on him. An edge of defiant belligerence makes him stare flatly back. He's not going to be intimidated by a man nearly fifteen years his senior no matter what rank he might hold.
To be fair, Spencer thinks as the daunting gaze moves on, unlike several other senior officers he could name, he's pretty sure that Boyd doesn't have a single racist bone anywhere in his body. He's unequivocally egalitarian in his open dislike of just about everybody. Male, female, black, white, gay, straight – Spencer doubts Boyd makes any distinction. He just doesn't like people who piss him off, and pissing Boyd off seems to require absolutely no effort at all. As most of the people present for the morning briefing have found out to their cost in the short time Boyd has been in charge. At least he'll be gone soon, and there's no way their incoming permanent commander can be anywhere near as difficult to please and to get on with as their temporary one.
Spencer has an idea that as soon as the forthcoming honeymoon period's over, he will take some annual leave. Go abroad, maybe. Take Julia with him if he can persuade her to stay long enough to suggest it. A few weeks of sea, sun and –
"Jordan," the hard, far too-distinctive voice barks harshly. "With me. The rest of you, get on with some bloody work."
Great. It looks as if today could actually get considerably worse before there's any remote chance of it getting any better. Trying hard not to look quite as sullen as he feels, Spencer pushes through the sudden melee of his colleagues and joins his superior. "Sir?"
"We're going to interview Rowland," Boyd says curtly as he shrugs back into his jacket.
"Sir," Spencer acknowledges. He's bewildered, but there's nothing much else he can say. He's not used to senior officers who routinely spend most of their working hours out of their offices actually doing police work. Not used to the assertive, hands-on approach that Boyd seems to favour. How the man gets all his paperwork done, Spencer has no idea.
"Get a move on, Jordan."
He's not sure how the older man seems to be able to move so quickly and silently, either. All Spencer knows is that he's suddenly forced to head more rapidly for the door than he expected, and somehow he's still trailing in Boyd's wake as they walk down the shabby corridor towards the stairs. It's not good for his ego; not at all. He's already in enough trouble, however, so he merely grits his teeth and follows. They make their way through the building and out into the enclosed car park at the rear, scattering several uniformed officers as they go. Boyd doesn't just have a reputation on the first floor. Spencer tries to ignore the sympathetic looks being cast in his direction.
"Here," Boyd says abruptly, throwing a bunch of keys at him. "You can drive."
Better and better. Now he's got to worry about scratching the bloody man's damned car, as well. Joy.
Very little that's unnecessary is said, and they're on their way back to the station before Boyd abruptly orders, "Pull in over there."
Over there is a row of several narrow parking spaces beside what appears to be a small and surprisingly wild-looking urban park. Lots of trees, a couple of asphalt paths cutting through short piebald grass; a fenced-off play area for young children that's attracted a lot of graffiti. Ordinary. Largely-deserted. Spencer does as he's told and at Boyd's impatient jerk of the head, he gets out of the car. Falling into step with his superior, he finds himself asking, "Do you think Rowland's telling the truth, sir?"
Boyd glances at him, expression cool and impassive. The eyes, though, are shrewd and intelligent. He says, "What's your opinion?"
The question takes Spencer by surprise. It doesn't seem to be in any way rhetorical. Cautiously, he offers, "I think he's definitely hiding something. Something that maybe doesn't incriminate him, but…"
"Mm," is the noncommittal response. "That would be my best guess, too."
The walk a little further, then Boyd stops. Automatically, Spencer stops, too. The car's no longer in sight. Nor are any of the very few other visitors to the uninspiring park. He turns slightly, looking to Boyd for some kind of explanation, but before he can say or do anything, a hard fist catches him on the point of the jaw. It's not a playful sort of punch. It comes fast and sharp, and the considerable impetus behind it instantly snaps Spencer's head back on his shoulders and makes him stagger clumsily. There's no attempt at a follow-up, there's just that single powerful blow that cracks into his jaw at speed. His head's spinning slightly, and he thinks he can taste blood.
"That's for pissing me about last night," Boyd says simply.
Spencer stares at him in shock; brings the back of his hand up to his mouth and yes, there's a smear of blood. Not much, but enough to make him wince slightly.
"Now you have a choice," Boyd says. "Three choices, in fact. You can listen to what I've got to say, you can report me to DCS Roberts for assaulting a junior officer, or you can hit me back. But if you choose that last option you better make damned sure you put everything you've got into it."
Something unexpected is stirring in Spencer. Something that feels a lot like a very grudging sort of respect. This man does not play by the rules. This man is as tough as he is straight-down-the-line. An old-fashioned sort of copper. One of the old school. Aware that he's mumbling slightly, Spencer risks, "I could always try to play the race card…"
The response is a distinct sneer followed by, "I punched you because you're a cocky, insubordinate pain in the arse, Jordan, not because you're a cocky, insubordinate black pain in the arse."
Against the odds, something about that cool, self-assured honesty makes Spencer grin momentarily before muttering a sober, "Sir."
Boyd is watching him without any particular emotion. "Well? What's it to be?"
For a moment, Spencer seriously considers hitting him back. He's younger, almost certainly fitter, and he has a suspicion that Boyd's impressive aquiline nose would fracture very satisfactorily if punched hard enough. But Detective Constable Spencer Jordan's no-one's fool, and it looks as if there just might be a far more potentially profitable offer on the table. He says wryly, "I'm gonna listen to you."
"I was right," Boyd says, starting to walk again. "You're nowhere near as bloody stupid as you look."
"You are fucking joking?" McDonald says many hours later as they share a table in the corner of the small canteen. There's an unmistakable note of total incredulity in his voice.
Spencer shakes his head. "Nope. Paperwork's got to come through from Division, and that'll take a few days, so keep quiet about it, yeah?"
"You're mad," is his friend's pithy verdict. "You're really going to leave a good job in CID for something that may never happen?"
"It's happening," Spencer assures him. "All the funding's already through from the Yard and the Home Office. C'mon, promotion and transfer to a specialist unit? Better money, better prospects? It's a done deal, Mike."
The big man shakes his head. "He's a fucking nut-job, you do know that? We only got him 'cos they didn't know what else to do with him. Wife's divorcing him for unreasonable behaviour, kid's gone off the rails and run off God knows where…"
A completely new and unanticipated twinge of loyalty makes Spencer say, "Well, at least he's more interested in getting real results than in meeting bureaucratic targets."
"Spence, you really need to think about this, mate. No good's going to come of a snap decision."
"I'm bored here, Mike," Spencer admits honestly. He leans back in his chair and surveys the older man. "Bored and skint. Twice I've been passed over for promotion in the last eighteen months; this way I get to have a say, really make a difference."
"Bollocks," McDonald tells him brusquely. "He'll take you down with him. When everything goes tits up and they finally kick him out of the Force altogether, you'll end up right there on the outside with him."
"Maybe," Spencer says with a slight shrug.
"Fucking idiot," McDonald says gloomily.
When Spencer finally unlocks the door to his rented flat and finds that Julia and all her possessions have gone, he isn't greatly surprised. So much for the idea of a romantic summer break. He vaguely thinks about calling her as he kicks his shoes off and goes to see if there's any beer left in the fridge, but most of his mind is on other things. If he cared to think about it, his lack of reaction would tell him everything he needs to know about the state of their relationship. His thoughts aren't on Julia. His thoughts are on the future and the unforeseen opportunities that suddenly seem to be opening up for him. He's starting to emerge from an ennui he hadn't previously realised had taken such a firm hold of him.
Detective Sergeant Jordan, Spencer thinks as his fingers close around a cool glass bottle. It has a certain ring to it. Detective Sergeant Jordan, Metropolitan Police Cold Case Unit.
He's grinning as he heads towards the sofa. There's football on the television and if he's really lucky the supply of beer will hold out until bedtime. He'll order a pizza, make himself really comfortable. No-one to nag him, and a great future unexpectedly ahead of him.
His phone rings just before halftime. According to the caller ID, it's his soon-to-be permanent boss calling. Grimacing, Spencer answers quickly. "Sir?"
"Spencer," the deep voice says, the background noise indicating he's driving. "Get yourself over to DI Cooper at Bethnal Green. Something's come up – could be very interesting – and I want a firm claim staked on it before Thompson's bunch of wasters from Limehouse turn up."
Spencer should point out, of course, that as yet neither of them technically have any jurisdiction at all, but he finds himself already on his feet, already saying, "On my way, boss."
"Don't call me boss… and for fuck's sake put a damned suit and tie on," Boyd's voice says irritably.
Slightly problematic, but Spencer's grinning widely to himself as he replies with another laconic, "Sir."
Even having to abruptly abandon the beer, the pizza and the football doesn't dampen his spirits. For once, Spencer Jordan is a happy man. One day he might look back cynically and snort at his own naiveté, but if that day does ever dawn, it won't be soon.
- the end -