"Cartwright," The Guv announced grandly. "It’s time that I showed how proud of you I am. You did a good job today! You are a brilliant bird."
"Thank you Guv," she blushed and scooted slightly closer to Sam.
"Because I’m so proud of you - you Cartwright are allowed to buy me a round. Make it a double because you’re such a good lass."
"Course Guv," she smiled. "I’ll get this round. Same again for everyone?"
"Water," Sam answered. "I’m fine with water."
"Shut up Gladys," the Guv announced. "Make Tyler’s a triple. And bring him two." The Guv reached into his pocket and then pressed a coin into Annie’s hand. "I’ll pay for his. That way he can’t refuse."
"How do you figure?" Sam asked and swayed slightly as he turned to look at the Guv.
"Because I am your Guv," he announced and thumped his fist on the table. "And tonight you, picky pain Tyler, Sammy-boy, Gladys, Dorothy, what was I saying?"
"That I was drinking scotch and not water," Sam prompted.
"You are getting rat arsed tonight Tyler. You did a good job today and you deserve to cut loose a bit. So by order of me, DCI Gene Hunt, your Guv, you my little deputy dawg are hereby ordered to get so drunk you don’t remember who you went home with in the morning. So take along one of those tape recorders because I want all the details about Cartwright naked."
"Right Guv," Sam smiled as Annie returned with their drinks and handed him a large tumbler of scotch and an even larger one of water. With as drunk as Gene currently was he’d be able to water down his drink enough to stay sober and still keep the other man happy.
"What’s she doing here?" He heard Ray slur and turned to look at where the other man was pointing. Cynthia Baxter was standing somewhat nervously in the doorway of the Railway Arms.
The Guv shifted beside him. "I invited her Raymondo. Expected her here an hour ago." Turning his attention he called out. "What took you so long Cindyloo?"
"I wanted to finish what I was working on Guv. Took a little time."
"Chris," the Guv shifted closer to Sam and reached for another chair, placing it between himself and Skelton. "Get Cindyloo a drink. What are you having?"
"Scotch," she smiled. "No ice, no,"
"No ice no water," Sam answered.
"Yeah," she smiled. "How did you know?"
"I’m a good detective," he giggled then and wondered if he was drunker than he’d first thought. Probably. He turned to talk to Annie. Wasn’t sure why, their conversations were generally pointless. Making dates that neither of them would ever push to keep. Light flirting, little bit of banter. Nothing real, nothing substantial. Empty promises. Every so often she’d push for him to actually take her on a date, not just suggest it, and he would come up with some excuse about not wanting to ruin her reputation on the force. She was a new detective, he’d promoted her, they didn’t want anyone to get the idea that it was anything but professional.
He didn’t know why he did it but he did. He emptied his scotch in one gulp and didn’t notice that Chris had returned with another round for everyone, placing his silently next to his elbow.
Gene did the same thing as well, flirted with random women, made sure he ogled the occasional girl on the street, told an off color joke, looked at the porn mags. Pretended to, Sam thought. He’d never once actually seen Gene looking at one, they just lay about at the station for everyone to see.
Both of them tried to keep up the appearances of a lie. He finished his next scotch and tried to pay attention to what Annie was saying. If they didn’t keep up the lie, if Sam didn’t occasionally date (no one could blame him when they didn’t work out, not with someone as strange as Sam), if the Guv wasn’t a man’s man, others would begin to talk. They were detectives and eventually they would detect that perhaps the Guv and his little deputy dawg were always together. Attached at the hip as Annie had once said. Would begin to wonder why they were always together, not just at work but everywhere. People could accept that the Guv and his DI were best friends, they were good partners and there was nothing at all wrong with two men being the best of friends. If there wasn’t the occasional woman though, Sam shook his head. If there were no women then people would start to wonder if friends were all they were and that was something that the Guv couldn’t allow. Talk he was screwing a plonk? Sure. Talk he was screwing Sam? Career ender.
"Tyler why are you so sour faced?" The Guv asked. "Cartwright flash your tits let’s see if Sammy here can’t brighten up a little."
"Tits are not the answer to everything Guv," Sam rolled his eyes. "No offense Annie. I was just," he turned to look and stopped. The Guv had an arm slung over Cynthia’s chair and he felt his hackles rise. She was turned slightly so she could face the Guv and he was sure that in that tight space their knees were touching. He liked Cynthia Baxter, would like, had liked, he was never sure of the tense of things but he was not going to be happy about her flirting with Gene. That was something that would need to be dealt with. Gene needed to have a beard. Sam understood that. He just didn’t have to like it.
"Just thinking about the Assad case," he mumbled.
"Don’t be!" The Guv announced. "Another drink for Tyler. Raymondo it’s your round."
"Actually," Cynthia broke in. "I think it’s mine. Same again for everyone? Triple for Tyler to catch him up with the rest of you?"
Triple for Tyler indeed he thought peevishly and glared at the Guv. "So what’s with the forensics bird coming to the pub Guv?" Ray asked quietly once she was at the bar. "Not usual for you to invite the science geeks."
"She deserves it," the Guv said judiciously. "That fingerprint of hers is what broke the Tiggs case. We’d have got him eventually but that thumb print was what sealed the deal."
"Don’t let him lie," Sam broke in and tried to push his personal feelings about Cynthia and the Guv out of his mind. "We’d have never even suspected him without that print. We expected Carsons finger prints at the scene. Never would have thought to question it."
"Can’t believe it was a copper that killed her," Chris hiccuped. "Doesn’t seem right."
"Unrequited love," Sam shrugged. "Makes a man do funny things."
"Besides," Sam saw the Guv look over his shoulder at Cynthia who was still getting acquainted with Nelson as he poured the drinks. "Doesn’t hurt to be nice to forensics. She’s handling the Assad case personally and she’s made it a top priority. Not going to work on anything else until we’re through. Baxter is good and she works quick. Oswald told me on the sly that Scotland Yard’s already been vying to have her transferred there. Be a shame to lose her when we’ve finally got someone in forensics on our side. So you all be nice and treat her like part of the team."
"Yes Guv," Ray agreed.
"Wilco Guv," Chris slurred. "She going to fetch the tea like Annie does? Know where to find the hidden Garibaldis?"
"You want Garibaldis DC Skelton I recommend Oswald’s desk. Has packs in there. Likes to munch on them between autopsies." Cynthia announced as she came back.
"Oswald’s got a stash of Garibaldis?" The Guv asked as he took his drink.
"Well we don’t get quick pops to the canteen all the time like you do. Garibaldis are in Oswald’s desk. I keep the cheese doodles underneath a packet of papers I was supposed to send upstairs a week after I got hired and still haven’t filled out. Chocolate is in the back of the specimen fridge. Oh and the pink wafers are in the chemical closet."
"You’ve got pink wafers in the chemical closet?" Sam asked scandalized.
"They’re wrapped. We don’t keep the open container in there." She retorted defensively.
"How many containers?" The Guv slurred.
"We buy them by the dozen. Don’t want to take a chance of running short if we’ve got a long night do we?"
"A dozen packs of pink wafers?" The Guv repeated. "In your chemical closet?"
"2 dozen just behind the fingerprint powder," she nodded.
"Baxter," the Guv looked at the forensics investigator appraisingly. "I must say you have just given me one hell of a stiffy."
"Good because with the news I have for you Guv you’re going to love me so much it’ll make every girl in Manchester’s heart break."
"What’s that then Baxter? You’re having my love child aren’t you? My looks your brains he’ll be bleeding Prime Minister before his old man ever retires off the force. Live my retirement in luxury."
Cynthia took a sip of her scotch while the others stared at her. " Sorry, no. Did I forget to mention? I finished testing the first batch of the bricks you took from Assad. They’re Afghani heroin in a millimeter thick shell of standard grade road tar. I estimate from the 3000 kilos you took, disregarding the dummy bricks on the perimeter that were actually solid road tar, you stopped a 2700 kilo stash of heroin from entering Manchester. According to Oswald, who’s more in the know than I, that DCI Gene Hunt gives you the biggest single narcotics bust in Manchester history. I’ll have a definitive answer tomorrow afternoon."
Sam looked around the table at the open mouthed shock the others had fallen into. "Baxter," the Guv sounded strangled for a moment. "This is the first time I have ever said this to anyone and I can’t think of anyone better to say it to."
"Dr. Baxter, I’d like to buy you a drink." The Guv said and Sam felt his own jaw drop along with the others.
"Careful," Chris mumbled drunkenly. "The Boss had a thing for her first. Besides you said we can’t scare her away. She’ll think we’re all, what are we all Ray? You called the Boss one earlier. Right kinky perverts."
Sam reached for his glass and swallowed quickly to hide his grimace as it turned into a smile. He’d never seen anyone shoot scotch through their nose before. Nice to have someone else around to keep the Guv amused at the pub. Might even persuade him to give forensics more of a chance. Learn from her. Sam pushed his glass of scotch away and sipped the water. Maybe he was just a bit pissed.