Title: Slow Burn
Rating: PG – Green Cortina
Word Count: 800 approx
Notes: Slash (implied). No warnings, other than its un-beta’ed.
It had been there right from the start, really. Right from the point DI Tyler first walked into CID and was bodily yanked into the Guv’s office. At the time it had felt like a gathering storm: humid heat and thunderclouds, and everyone tense, just waiting for the heavens to open.
The first time Phyllis had noticed it, though, must have been a few weeks later. She was standing at Chris’ desk getting him to translate his illegible handwriting, and she watched them through the window of the Guv’s office. They were yelling at each other, the Boss waving his arms around for emphasis, the Guv getting redder in the face, when they seemed to simply stop. They nodded at each other, and then both came out of the office, shoulder-to-shoulder, barking orders in agreement. All that passion and energy focussed in the same direction, scorching a path in front of them, and gawd help Billy Stringer and his gang because he really didn’t stand a chance against the two of them together.
The point at which she really started to wonder was much later, on that night of the Lancashire Police Dinner and Dance. They were in the office dressed to the nines, all of them waiting for the mini-bus; Ray with a new girlfriend and Chris with her younger sister, and Sam with Annie on his arm. She’d never seen the Boss in a dinner jacket before and it suited him; he cut a nice figure, did DI Tyler. Annie looked lovely in her new green dress, and Phyllis really thought the Guv was looking at her. Well, who could blame him; Annie was a pretty lass and since his wife had left him there was nothing really stopping him from looking wherever he wanted. Annie had been straightening Sam’s tie when Phyllis glanced over at the Guv and saw the spark of something sharp and hot in his gaze. Gene hadn’t come with them that night, and watching Sam and Annie dancing close together she thought perhaps that was just as well.
None of it lasted. Ray and Chris had ended up drunkenly propping up the bar so that was the last Ray saw of Shirley and her sister, and Sam and Annie apparently decided just to be friends. Phyllis couldn’t really understand why (well, she could understand Shirley looking elsewhere – she liked Ray, bless him, but when was he going to realise that doing his Bernard Manning impersonation was not the way to impress a girl). No, she couldn’t really understand it because Annie and Sam had seemed like such a good match. Well, apart for the fact that the Boss was a bit mad, and when it came down to it you needed a bloke you could count on, not one who talked to thin air and had a strange fixation about telephones. Not that Gene would be a better match, what with the age gap and everything, and Annie would probably have more sense, but Phyllis thought he might try it on anyway.
She was wrong, though. He didn’t try it on. In fact, the Guv didn’t seem very interested in Annie after that. But then there was that forgery case to take their attention, with the long hours and the undercover work. She clearly remembered the day they busted the ring, with drinks all round, everyone relieved and happy. And the Boss toasting the team, and then the Guv toasting Sam for having nabbed Kendal as he tried to do a runner. Phyllis had seen it then, as Gene and Sam grinned at each other and suddenly there was heat in the pub that had nothing to do with the alcohol or the crowd of sweaty male bodies. Something which burned clear and bright and made her look away, convincing herself that her imagination was working overtime in the heat of the moment.
It took a few months and a bullet in DI Tyler’s leg before she finally saw what had been staring her in the face the whole time. He’d lost a lot of blood before the ambulance had got there and by the ashen look on the Guv’s face you’d have thought he’d been shot, too. She’d never be best friends with the Boss but she liked him well enough to pop into the hospital one evening with a bunch of grapes for him. The nurse told her to be quiet in case he was sleeping which was the only reason she tip-toed into his cubical and saw them: Gene holding his hand, lips pressed to Sam’s forehead, quiet smile on the Boss’s face. She ducked away, of course, before they saw her, her face burning with embarrassment. But the main thing that stuck in her mind as she ate the grapes on her way home was the warm intimacy between them, and the affection which shone through the tiredness and pain in Sam’s smile.