Characters: DCI Sam Williams, DCI Frank Morgan, OC - Pete Martin
Summary: This is pretty much a character study: Who is Sam Williams and why is he the man he is?
Warning: For people who are familiar with my usual stuff, I have to advise you that this is NOT my usual stuff. In particular there is no Sam/Gene interaction, and no sex. (I’d still quite like you to read it though...) I’m sorry to say that Gene doesn’t even appear in this Volume, although I think it might become clear that he was in my mind at all times while I was writing this.
A/N: This fic is based on the premise that every word Frank Morgan spoke was the truth as he knew it. The story is in two sections and this section - An Unhappy Man - takes place in the days before Episode 1.01. The second section of the story, as yet unnamed, is 80% complete, and comprises missing scenes from episode 2.08. For most of the seven months I spent writing this fic, it didn’t have a title, then one day the words “Carlos Dominguez, An Unhappy Man” popped into my head. It’s a song by Paul Simon, and it languishes somewhere on a reel-to-reel tape in my loft, but it could have been written for Sam Williams.
I have been fortunate enough never to have had any contact with Children’s Homes. My impressions and descriptions here are therefore all guesswork and Tracy Beaker, and I don’t mean to cause any distress to anyone who has lived in, or worked in, a Children’s Home. In particular, St Barnabas’ Home for Orphaned Children does not exist. I have invented Frank Morgan’s computerised activity-logging procedures for the purposes of the story, but I make no guarantee that there were such procedures in effect at the time.
As you may have guessed by now, I’m rather uncertain about this fic for a number of reasons; it’s the first time I’ve written dreams and flashbacks in any significant way, and it’s the first time I’ve written something that didn’t have the Gene/Sam relationship right at its core. (It’ll probably be the last, too.) I hope you find something here to enjoy.
Finally, huge thanks to Jools (TRA) for encouragement and wonderfully positive feedback in the early days of writing this. Also to lozenger8 and m31andy for their help when I nearly gave up on it.
An Unhappy Man
“Sam? Got a moment?” Sam Williams looked up at DCI Morgan, standing in the doorway to his office. “Of course, Sir.” He gestured to the visitor’s chair.
“Frank, Sam. Frank,” Morgan said, sitting down in front of the desk. “Same rank now, you know.”
“I know, Sir. I still haven’t got used to it.” Williams placed his coffee carefully on the coaster and waited, wondering what Morgan wanted. The man was assessing his desk: uncluttered as ever. Williams had no complaints about the new clean-desk policy, in fact he flattered himself that it stemmed from something he himself had mentioned to Morgan in one of their monthly meetings. Morgan took a moment to arrange his pens on Williams’ desk, then he looked up and spoke.
“Gene Hunt, Sam. DCI, ‘A’ Division. Heard of him?”
‘A’ Division? In the centre?” Williams thought for a moment. He kept in touch with the careers of all the DCIs; when he was told nearly six months ago of his unexpected promotion, he had updated his information, wondering which one he might replace when the official notification came through. He’d been betting on that fool Sweetman, but in the event he’d been given a new role, a desk job, because - he suspected - they did not trust him not to lose control again. He had thought the job a very suitable reward at the time, recognition of his particular skills, but now he wasn’t so sure. Boredom was creeping in, although he would never admit as much to Morgan, who was still waiting for a reply.
“Oh yes,” Williams said at last. “Didn’t he shoot an unarmed youth without issuing a proper warning first?”
“That’s right Sam. Two years ago. Sloppy procedure – typical of the man, by the way; reflects badly on all of us. And that’s only one incident. They managed to put a good spin on it at the time, not too much damage in the papers, but there are too many instances of poor policing for it to be ignored any longer. We - that is the Chief Superintendent and I - want him removed.”
Williams felt a small thrill of - what, anticipation? Fear? He put his pen down carefully, automatically straightening his files on the desk. “With respect, Sir, I’ve only just started here. I’m in the middle of a programme to re-assess our entire policy on forensic evaluation of evidence in situ.”
Morgan coughed. “Er, no, sorry, Sam. You misunderstood me. Whilst I quite agree you would make an admirable replacement for Hunt, we mustn’t get ahead of ourselves. No, if it were that simple we would have put you in there as soon as your promotion came through. Hunt’s Superintendent – Rathbone, odious man – would be only too glad to get rid of him, but there are procedures to be followed.” He smiled ruefully. “Only right of course. Can’t get rid of a man just because you don’t like him.”
Morgan smoothed his waistcoat; Williams watched as the fastidiously scrubbed nails moved over the buttons. “No, despite his rather - primitive - methods,” Morgan continued, “Hunt has a good record, apart from that one black mark. Remarkably few complaints given the reports that we hear. His division has an adequate clear-up rate and good intelligence on what’s coming up, but he can’t be allowed to carry on beating up suspects. He even hit a witness last month - a woman! Put her in the cells - to ‘cool down’ apparently.”
Morgan leaned forward, fixing Williams with his eyes. “The public are beginning to take notice of the way we do things, Sam. Policing has to progress, and be seen to progress.”
“I completely agree with you, Sir. So where do I come in...Frank? If you’re not going to replace Hunt?” Williams couldn’t quite see where this was going at present. It didn’t seem likely Hunt was asking for someone to write him a set of procedures.
“Oh we’re going to replace him, Sam.” Morgan smiled conspiratorially, picking up a pen and sitting back. ”We’re going to get hard evidence of the way he does things and present it to the Chief Constable in a very public manner, so that he has to do something about it.”
Williams considered the idea for a moment. “That would require a thorough investigative process, Sir,” he replied thoughtfully, tapping a pencil against his teeth. “It might take six months. Perhaps more, if it has to be done quietly.”
“And that’s where you come in, Sam.” He gave Williams a bright, encouraging smile. “It would mean going undercover again. It’s essential we take a methodical approach – well I don’t have to tell you that, do I, Sam? Think you can handle it?”
Williams stared at his erstwhile superior in shock and well-concealed fear. “Sir, I would be the first person to volunteer, as you know. Always. But after the last time, the doctors said if I went undercover again I was at risk of “severe and permanent depersonalisation”, which I understand would mean I could never work again.” He moved his right hand under the desk, hiding the way his fingers had convulsed around the pencil, then swallowed hard and continued. “I’m not proud of that, Sir, but I think it means I’m not the right man for the job.”
“Sam, Sam.” Morgan leaned over the desk again as Williams fought the urge to lean back. “You’re the best man for the job. You have all the attributes we need – you’re analytical, professional, tenacious, meticulous: and you have more experience in this sort of operation than anyone else in ‘C’ Division.”
Williams continued to look doubtful. “But I’m of equal rank to Hunt, Sir. And he has - what - four years’ seniority? What could I do?”
“Hunt’s DI is about to retire. You’d go in as his replacement, Sam. It’s not that long ago, you remember how to do it. And you’d still get your DCI salary of course.” Morgan had an answer for everything, Williams thought. He was starting to feel pressured again, always a bad sign.
The advantage of going in as a DI was that he would be close to Hunt, Morgan explained. The man was known to operate a relatively informal hierarchy, preferring to rule his domain by sheer force of personality. “To go in as anything less would take too much paperwork, Sam, and more acting from you.”
“How do you mean, acting, Sir? Er, Frank?” Williams asked, puzzled.
“Simply that you’ve been warned in the past about failing to follow orders, Sam,” Morgan said briskly. “I’m sure you remember what a disaster that was six months ago; especially for the hostage.”
Williams’ face tightened with the effort not to react. A man of his abilities, he thought defensively, should not be expected to take orders from idiots, whatever their rank. But it was his own failure to obey, he had eventually come to understand, that had been one of the key reasons for the whole debacle.
Belatedly, he understood the point Morgan was making, and nodded fractionally.
“So you see. Now, Hunt may have what appears to us to be a dangerously relaxed attitude to departmental discipline, but he hasn’t reached the rank of DCI without knowing how to deal with insubordination. There’s no point in setting all this up if you’re going to have him throw you out in the first five minutes. He’s likely to accept a more ... independent ... attitude from an Inspector than from a Sergeant. If you’re a Sergeant you have to do exactly as you’re told.” Morgan looked at him dryly. “So you go in as a DI.”
“I’d need a few days to think about it, Sir.”
“Of course. But don’t take too long about it, Sam.” Morgan stood up, replaced his pens in his top pocket and moved towards the door. ”Wouldn’t look good to turn down an opportunity like this. Do this right and you win the prize, Sam. Your own Division at 37. Even I had to wait until I was thirty-nine.”
He turned, his hand on the door. “It won’t be easy, Sam. It will be like going back in time, going over there. But keep your eye on the prize, and when you succeed, you can come home knowing you’ve made a difference.”
Alone in his office, Williams picked up his neglected coffee and considered the proposal. Morgan had not disagreed with his assessment of six months for the job, he realised. Even though it would not be his first undercover operation by a long, long way, it was likely to be the longest, and therefore - despite Morgan’s flattering dismissal - the most dangerous to his mental health.
Although he usually tried to ignore the fact, he had been forced to recognise on a number of occasions that his mental health was not as robust as he might wish. On his ignominious return from the Davis operation six months ago, he had been sent to a Dr Handley for assessment. Much of what the doctor had told him had failed to penetrate his lingering confusion, but he did remember the doctor warning him in the strongest terms that if he experienced any more such episodes he might never recover. Not just no more undercover, but no more work. Possibly no more independent life at all.
And he knew it could happen. It had happened, briefly but very publicly, on his very first day back after the Davis operation. He had suffered short occurrences throughout his time at the Home and the tough school all the orphanage children attended, although he’d managed to hide those by taking a lot of punishments for day-dreaming.
And always – still - in the back of his mind lurked the shadow of the lost time when he was twelve, after the coach accident. That episode would never be more than a blur of lights, sounds and half-remembered voices, and it had lasted six weeks. He had read the - his - case notes, of course; Morgan’s predecessor had sent for them before putting Williams into his very first undercover operation.
Ten years ago now; it didn’t seem possible. It had been like reading about someone else; there had been no spark of memory at all. Six months ago he had been thoroughly unnerved to find the same sense of distance on reading the notes about the hostage situation in the bank. He didn’t remember anything after following Davis into the building.
Still, he thought, sipping his cold coffee, my own division, at only thirty-seven. That was attractive; a prize indeed, surely worth a risk or two. He knew that Morgan would, as each time before, provide full backup and a complete story for his new identity. All he had to do was learn it, and become that person for a time. He’d done it before, and he knew he could do it again.
Putting aside his fears for the moment, he stood up and paced his office, thinking hard. Eventually, noting the light failing outside, he decided to go home and do some more detailed thinking and planning, putting together some of the little everyday details that would support the cover story. It was a pity Pete had moved on, he thought as he drove home through the light early evening traffic; it would have been good to talk to him about this. They could still talk on the phone, of course, but it wasn’t the same.
Unusually for him, Williams had found it relatively easy to develop a rapport with Pete Martin, although he had never been quite sure why. Despite his profession, Pete had a vivid imagination, and soon after arriving in Hyde he had enjoyed helping Williams to plan the details of an operation. They’d worked together over a week or so of evenings, concocting his character’s history and a stock of anecdotes for awkward moments.
As he prepared his dinner, chopping and mixing with a confidence and abandon he wished he could bring to other areas of his life, Williams thought that if only Pete had a phone in his flat, he might have talked to him about this latest operation. But the phone was outside the landlady’s door, and she objected to people standing there chatting. That was exactly what Williams needed at the moment, he realised. A chat with Pete would clarify his thoughts and cheer him up into the bargain, but in the six months since he’d left they’d only met once and spoken on the phone three or four times.
Clearing away his dinner plate he vowed to phone Pete soon; it would be good to catch up with him again. It was time he took a few days off; perhaps if he decided not to take this assignment they could get together next week some time.
The dreams started again that night.
* * *
Sam Williams lies alone in his bed, groaning as he twists and turns.
It’s all green. There are lots of leaves. Sammy walks secretly through the undergrowth; he knows he shouldn’t be here. The trees are ever so big, all the way up to the sky and down to the ground.
“Mummy will be cross with me, there’s all mud on my special wedding shoes. They’re very smart, wedding shoes, they’re not like ordinary shoes, they have buckles on. Billy next door says they look silly but Mummy said they don’t, they look smart. But she will be cross with me about the mud. I don’t know where she is.“
Sammy is a bit nervous; the trees really are very big.
“I don’t know where Daddy is, as well. Daddy, come back. Are you hiding? Where are you?
“There’s a lady, look. Hallo lady! The lady is running. She’s a pretty lady, she’s got a red dress on. You can get dolls with red dresses. I haven’t got one, because I’m a boy and boys don’t play with dolls. But Billy next door’s sister, she’s got a doll with a red dress on. I don’t like it, it’s even bigger than Ivanhoe. Dolls should be little.”
“Billy says his sister’s doll comes alive in the night-time and it’s going to get me one night. I don’t think I like dolls. Mummy says dolls can’t do that really because they’re not alive, but Billy says this one is.”
“The pretty lady is running past all the big trees. The sunshine makes pretty patterns on the leaves. I don’t think the lady likes the patterns. She’s running. Nice lady, wait for me! I think I’m lost. Is this lost? Mummy said if I’m lost I’ve got to ask a lady.”
Sammy keeps walking, looking for the lady. He’s too little to be here by himself. He knows he shouldn’t be here. “Red dress lady, where are you? Are you playing a game? It’s a noisy game, pretty red dress lady, your Mummy will tell you off.”
Williams sits upright in his bed, muttering in agitation. His eyes are open, he looks all around, but he doesn’t see his bedroom. After a few more moments he sinks back onto his pillows, still murmuring incoherently
He’s amongst the trees again; the sunshine-dappled leaves move like shadows on water.
“You shouldn’t make so much noise, pretty lady. Wait for me, I don’t know where to go. Am I lost?”
Sammy stumbles on a root; he can’t watch the lady and the ground at the same time. He’s getting a bit frightened now.
“Daddy! Hallo Daddy, where were you? Did you find the lady? I think she’s scared, Daddy, she was making noises. Can we find the lady now Daddy? Shall we take her home?“
“Daddy? Daddy, I think I’m lost. Wait for me, Daddy.”
“Daddy, come back, Daddy. I want Mummy. I’m lost.”
Sam Williams lets out a stifled cry. He sits up again, moves his arms over his head and cowers down. As he shouts “No!” he wakes himself slightly, then he lies down and curls up in the bed, hands over his face. “No, please don’t,” he whispers.
Williams left the office mid-morning, walking through the back streets to a phone box well away from the station.
He’d decided he needed medical advice on exactly how much danger he might be putting himself in, mentally, by taking on this assignment. During the course of the morning he’d considered various options; he had finally decided it was best to go back to Doctor Handley herself and as soon as possible, but he didn’t want anyone at the station telling Morgan about it.
“I’m sorry Sir, but Doctor Handley is – unavailable – this week, and her colleague Doctor Whittaker is very busy; I can’t just...”
“Please,” he insisted as politely as he could manage. “It has to be this week. Check my records if you like; you’ll see Doctor Handley fitted me in at short notice last time.” He heard the edge of tiredness and fear in his voice, but he forced himself to relax his grip on the phone. He spoke again more smoothly. “I’m sorry, I know it’s difficult. I wouldn’t ask if it wasn’t really important.”
Finally, after speaking to Doctor Whittaker personally, he got a private appointment, early in the morning in two days’ time, and noted it carefully in his diary. Then he walked back to the station via a newsagents’, planning to use the purchase of a paper as his excuse for being out. As he entered the station, he was dismayed to see Morgan standing near the lift. Hoping it was just coincidence, Williams held the newspaper up in greeting and explanation, and smiled briefly as he kept walking.
“Ah, Sam, good,” Morgan said, walking towards him. “They said you wouldn’t have gone far. We need to talk; it won’t take long.” He gestured up the stairs.
As he followed Morgan up to his office, Williams tried to think of valid reasons to delay answering the question he knew was coming. He really needed the doctor’s advice on the matter before committing himself.
“Right then Sam,” said Morgan briskly as they sat down. “We need to get the paperwork moving if we’re to get you in as Hunt’s DI. If we miss that window it will be a lot harder to place you in ‘A’ Division without arousing suspicion. So, when would you be ready to go? I thought next Monday? Gives you almost a week to prepare.”
Williams stared at him, surprised. “Monday? Sir, I thought I had a few days to think about this?”
“I’m sorry, Sam, but really, how much thinking does it take? This is a golden opportunity for a bright young man. On the spot when the next DCI job comes up. And you’re going to make it come up! To be honest, Sam, I didn’t expect to see you dragging your heels like this. Modern policing needs men who can seize opportunities. Carpe Diem, you know! “ He sat back comfortably and watched Williams, piercing eyes focussed on Williams’ hands.
Williams put them in his pockets and mirrored Morgan’s posture in a conscious attempt to placate and look relaxed. He thought carefully and then said “As I explained to you yesterday, Sir, the doctors told me they were very concerned about my mental health when I came back from the Davis job. Now, as I believe I also said yesterday, I’m not proud of that, not in the slightest, but it is a fact. I would like to talk to Doctor Handley before we finalise this.” Thinking fast, he added, “I could probably get an appointment for Thursday or Friday.”
“Sam, this is ... ”
Williams ignored him for once. “Sir, with respect, I have to point out to you that I may not be the best man for the job; I wouldn’t want to jeopardise an operation of this importance by making a complete idiot of myself and ruining everything like last time.” Even just thinking about the last time brought him out in a cold sweat. Apparently he’d gone berserk, banging desperately on walls and crying to go home. It might even have been funny if the hostage hadn’t been stabbed and almost died as a result.
“Well, I’m disappointed, Sam,” Morgan said, his tone cool as he stood up. “I didn’t expect this; I thought you would leap at this opportunity. There’s a whole Division out there stuck in a time warp, and we - yes, we, Sam - can help them, bring them into line with modern practice. I wouldn’t have chosen you if I didn’t think you were ideally suited to the job.” He walked to the door, and held it open for Williams. “You’ve got till tomorrow, Sam. I need men who know where they’re going. Men who want to make a difference.”
Finding himself abruptly in the corridor, Williams walked back to his office in a state of shock.
...continued in Part 2a