DISCLAIMER: Would that they were mine – but then this wouldn't be called FanFiction!
'High expectations are the key to everything.' Sam Walton
She had high expectations of this new job. The move to a different station and one with a female Superintendent gave her, she felt, a better chance to shine and show up all these old fashioned male coppers. It had been endlessly frustrating to work for DI Barton, with his football mentality, provincial attitudes and countless repetitions of the phrase ' good old- fashioned police work'. As if using a computer tainted the information somehow. Not to mention the way he took credit for people's work and shifted away from any blame with the agility of a tightrope walker. There had been better DIs, but they had been younger, so you had to wonder why the old fogeys were kept around.
Sophie sighed and hoped that her new DI would be younger and more forward thinking. It was unlikely to be a woman, given the scarcity of female DIs, but it would be nice to work with someone who had accepted the move into the 21st century.
Jean Innocent was welcoming and gave the impression that her new Sergeant was lucky to be working with DI Lewis. Apparently, the previous DS had only reluctantly accepted a prestigious position at Scotland Yard because family commitments necessitated a move to London. Sophie found it difficult to understand how anyone could possibly be reluctant to make such a move. Still, it gave her what the boss seemed to think was 'a fantastic learning opportunity with one of our best officers'.
At their first meeting, DI Lewis did not live up to the hype. He was old, due to retire soon she gathered, and grumpy and seemed preoccupied. But over the next couple of days he mellowed somewhat and even went so far as to apologise for being abrupt when she missed the link between two had never apologised for anything. Sophie noticed an interesting variety of responses when she was introduced to people at the station. There was an obvious respect for Lewis, envy on the part of a few of the other Sergeants, but a few odd comments that made little sense.
For example, Constable Otterly had sighed and shaken her head at Sophie.
" Lovely as it is to meet you, you are a disappointment you know."
"Oh, well, I'm sorry, I suppose."
Lisa Otterly laughed, " Sorry, that was rude. I just meant that DI Lewis' last two sergeants were both serious eye candy and, pleased as we are to have another woman join us, there was a theory going around that Innocent had a stereotype for the job. Both unavailable of course, but we were optimistic about that bit."
" I'm not sure how to take that," Sophie grinned.
"Oh, don't mind me, I didn't mean you weren't eye candy, just not the type I go for. I'm sure a lot of the blokes around here have been more than welcoming."
"To be honest, I'm not keen on workplace relationships. They tend to end badly for at least one person, usually the woman."
" I wouldn't say that to..."Lisa had looked about to say something important when she was called away but there had not yet been any opportunity to resume the conversation.
The work so far had been pretty routine, mostly finishing up previous cases with the highlight being a jewel theft which turned out to be a misunderstanding. So, Sophie welcomed a call from her boss with details of a suspected murder, midway through the following morning.
" I'm tied up for a little longer with this liaison thing, but I'll be there as soon as I can. Hooper's already on his way, as he was in the area and uniform have informed SOCO."
" Right, sir, a student you said?"
"Yes, a second year theology student. Look, I suppose I ought to...Yes, ma'am, on my way. Sorry, got to go."
Sophie wondered if it was wrong to be pleased that someone was dead. Well, not that they were dead so much as that she had an opportunity to impress her new governor with her efficiency. He had been very terse with Hooper the day before and she had not been deaf to his change of tone when he mentioned the man's name just now. She decided he would be glad to see she had taken charge of the crime scene when he arrived and she was not going to let the constable cause any problems, he reminded her too much of Barton.
Typically, when she arrived at the college, Hooper was the first person she saw. From the expression on his face, he was all set to take over and get one over the newbie. That, decided Sophie, was not about to happen.
"Female, student, age 19, ID says Fiona Jackson,found by visitor from another college in Professor Milligan's room, SOCO on the way. I have sent uniform knocking on doors around the college, but no other witnesses come forward yet. I thought you might like to...",
"I'll go and see the body and speak to the witness, you find out where she lived and make sure uniform speak to the porter, see who has been in and out of here this morning." Sophie directed firmly, keen to establish her authority before her boss showed up.
"Righto. The porter's not seen anyone else going to that part of the college as most of the rooms had to be closed after a student left taps running and caused a flood." Hooper grimaced, although Sophie was not sure whether at the student's carelessness or for some other reason. She certainly heard his distaste for academics in his voice as he continued , with unnecessary stress on the title," Dr Hathaway found her at 10.27, apparently, when he came to speak to the Professor. In my opinion..."
"We need evidence, not opinion, constable. Leave the doctor to me."
Hooper paused, obviously torn, " Well, I suppose I should warn you ..."
"Hooper, get on with your job and I'll get on with mine."
He shrugged and turned away, but Sophie thought she caught a mutter of " on your own head". Honestly, did the man really think she had not seen dead bodies before? He seemed to think he knew so much more than she did.
There was a uniformed constable stood outside of the Professor's room and it would be one she had not met before, especially as she could feel herself being closely observed as she was forced to produce ID to gainaccess. She was surprised to see a tall, fair man in a suit stood in the room and resolved to have words later with the copper, who was meant to be keeping the scene secure. The offender just casually tilted his head into the room and said "Dr James Hathaway" before tilting his head the other way and intoning "Sergeant Sophie Harding" for all the world as if he was at a cocktail party. It was hardly protocol and did little to reinforce her authority, she mused, with pursed lips. Dr Hathaway immediately came forward with his hand outstretched. As they shook hands, Sophie took stock of the man in front of her and could not decide whether to be amused or annoyed when she realised that he was doing the same. Well dressed, attractive in a cool detached way with just the hint of a private smile lurking on his lips. The smile was filed for later consideration, as amusement was a strange emotion in the situation.
"I understand that you were visiting Professor Milligan."
"Yes, we had arranged to meet for coffee, but I was early. I had a text to say something had cropped up, but that the paper we were talking about was on the desk. So, as I was here, I came to get it. "
Sophie was all set to tactfully talk the witness through finding a dead body, only to be given a textbook, unemotional recitation of the event, complete with an assurance that the body had not been touched. Indeed, the implication was that Dr Hathaway had kept uniform away from the scene rather than the reverse. Coupled with his calm demeanour, the wealth of information he gave and that strange smile, it all added up to suspicious circumstances.