Word Count: 1190
Notes: Slashyish towards the end. No warnings otherwise.
Just shows how much you know, doesn't it?
‘Didn’t think I’d find yer still here at this hour, Tyler…’
Less accusatory than usual, less annoyed about everything. More, well, concerned if that were at all possible.
‘…seeing as it’s yer birthday and whatever. Thought you’d be off wi’ yer mates, gettin’ pissed and pullin’ some scrawny-arsed poofter talent.’
Sam sighed and pushed his pencil behind his ear, stared somewhat sorrowfully at the Guv now perched on the corner of his desk.
‘I don’t go in for scrawny-arsed talent.’
‘Oh. Thought that’d be yer type.’
‘No. Not at all. Absolutely not at all. The opposite, if anything. Just goes to show how much you know, doesn’t it?’
The sort of exchange guaranteed to make Sam feel more sad and lonely than the spitting fury his DCI so often drove him to.
‘Hmm. Well anyway, what are yer doin’ stuck behind a pile o’ reports that nobody gives a rat’s fart about when yer should be out havin' a knees-up?’
‘Not exactly got a whole bunch of mates have I, specially now Annie’s moved on.’
‘Poor lass. Never was goin’ to happen, you an’ her. Wrong sort of arse altogether. S’pose when she finally realised that, leavin’ was the best thing she could do. Spare her blushes over fallin’ for a gay boy like that.’
Why did the Guv have to tease him about relationships on such a regular basis? He’d hoped it would've eased off by now, but it never had.
‘Rubbish! She got the transfer because she’s bloody good at her job, nothing to do with anything else. ‘
‘Bright kid, Cartwright. Always knew it, right from the beginning. Got the makings of a bloody good detective, that’s why I grabbed her out o’ the Women’s Department in the first place. Trust the Gene Genie to be the one to spot potential!’
But it was said with a laugh in the voice.
‘It was me and you damned well know it was!’ and this time Sam couldn’t help but break into a grin, the wind-up was so obvious.
‘That’s more like it! Bring on Smiley Sammy Sunshine. Can’t have yer gettin’ all morose on yer big day.’
‘It’s just another day. I’m too old for birthdays.’
‘Well, as yer here an’ don’t seem particularly intent on goin’ anywhere else in a hurry, if yer specially lucky I might just be able to find a drop o’ Scotch buried somewhere in the murky depths of me office. Care to join me?’
However down he might be feeling, that was an offer Sam couldn’t refuse. The Guv’s cheering-up mechanism was a law unto itself but whenever it rolled into town, it was well worth staying around for the show.
And it wasn’t just any old Scotch either. It really was from the murkiest depths of the ever-locked corner cupboard, a hardly touched bottle of seriously peaty, rare as hen’s teeth, Islay single malt. This wasn’t simply a drink, it was an honour.
‘There yer go, Tyler. Cheers! Happy birthday!’
For long moments both men cogitated the wonders of the distiller’s art. When the Guv spoke again he seemed somewhat mellowed, more tentative than usual.
‘This whole Billy-No-Mates business…’
‘Well, we’re more than just colleagues, aren’t we?’
‘I bloody well thought we were.’
‘Seriously hope we are…’
A top-up was required at this point, and a little introspection on both parts.
‘I mean, we are mates, aren’t we Tyler? There for each other through thick and thin, good times and bad?’
‘Damned well better be. I don’t go doling this stuff out to just any ol’ DI of mine yer know. Special privilege this. Very special indeed.’
‘And I appreciate it, believe me.’
Sam wasn’t sure whether it was only the whisky that was the source of the warm glow somewhere deep inside. It was the same sort of warm glow he got thinking about the Guv when he was alone at night. The sort of thinking he hardly dared admit to himself, let alone to anyone else. But usually the glow would disappear and he’d end up feeling cold and empty and not all the whisky in the world would help with that.
‘So yer bloody well should appreciate it, Tyler. Don’t even get this out on me own birthday.’
‘Why on mine then?’
‘Well, as I were sayin’, we’re mates, aren’t we? Not just colleagues.’
‘We do make a good team.’
‘Nah, yer daft idiot. S’more than that. Friends. Good friends.’
‘Surprised someone like you would want to be friends with someone like me.’
‘What d’yer mean?’
‘You know. Scrawny-arsed nancy poofter bender type.’
The Guv poured them each another shot of the precious golden liquid.
‘Just goes to show how much you know, doesn’t it?’
And with that he reached forward, retrieved the pencil from behind Sam’s ear and began to scrawl on a blank sheet of paper. Arm curled protectively around to shield his work from prying eyes, the Guv looked like nothing more than an overgrown schoolboy. Especially when the tip of a very pink tongue peeped out to aid his concentration.
Sam watched and waited and wondered, warm glow showing no signs of dissipation at all.
Finally it was done. The Guv folded his paper, thought hard for a moment then wrote something inside. Then he pushed the finished item across his desk and took a large mouthful of whisky, rolling it around to savour the full goodness before swallowing hard and looking worryingly like it had all gone down the wrong way when in fact it hadn’t.
The drawing was of a Cortina, but a Cortina whose headlamps were goggling eyes and whose radiator grill curved upwards into a beaming smile. Beside it stood an accomplished caricature of a waving Guv, fag in mouth, buttie in one hand and bottle in the other. Sam could only laugh and nod in surprised acknowledgment of the Guv’s hitherto unrealised skills as a cartoonist.
‘It’s good, really good.’
The Guv only harrumphed dismissively and took another sip, waiting for Sam to look inside. More whisky disappeared rather quickly when the page was finally turned.
For a moment the cogs in Sam’s brain stopped turning.
Happy Birthday Sam. Remember – you’re only as old as the man you feel. Which will hopefully put you somewhere in your mid forties before very long. Gene.
‘Better not go sticking that on yer desk for all the world to see. Chuck it away if yer want.’
‘No. Never. Put it in a safe place. The safest. Where it belongs.’
Carefully Sam tucked the makeshift card into the breast pocket of his shirt and patted it into place.
‘So… What do we do now?’ he asked gently.
The Guv swirled his drink and drained the last of Islay’s finest.
‘Pub?’ he mumbled from the depths of his glass. ‘Or… not?’
‘Not,’ Sam smiled back. ‘Most definitely not. More like home, I’d say.’
The Guv breathed out deeply as if a great weight had been lifted from him.
‘I can work with that one,’ he agreed.