Rating: White Cortina
Word Count: 500 approx.
Disclaimer: Belongs to Kudos and the BBC. This is just for fun, not for profit.
Lady Luck Won't You Please Smile Down On Me
Gene Hunt has always been a gambling man. Not to the point of addiction, mind you; he knows his limits (and those of his wallet).
But he’s always been up for a bit of a flutter on the gee-gees or the boxing ring and this game starts like any other: with a simple wager and Watney’s Party Seven. Easy. Like flipping a coin or rolling dice.
The bet is so much the sweeter for being made in front of the team – seeing the grins and the hands being rubbed together – no matter who’s right, the whole team will win. But it isn’t Ray’s smirk he’s looking at, it’s Sam’s: chin raised, defiant glint in his eye, and Gene, always one to put his money where his mouth is, steps up to the challenge. It isn’t a big deal, after all; just a way of spicing things up a little. He can take it or leave it.
But it doesn’t stop there.
“Tell you what: let’s make it a round of drinks in the Arms for the whole team.”
At first, he thinks it’s all about the winning.
The sense of elation at having one over on Tyler, the know-it-all little git; and Gene relishes victory, savouring the taste like a fine malt, proving time and time again that good old fashioned police work and a liberal dash of gut instinct can get the job done just as well as Tyler’s fancy-pants forensics and cross-referencing.
But somewhere along the line they lose count, each of them claiming to be ahead in the overall tally, and he wonders when it became less of a way to wind Tyler up and more a way to keep himself entertained.
“I’ll bet you a crate of beer, Guv.”
“All right. I’ll see your crate of beer and raise you a bag of nuts for each man.”
“You really are childish, aren’t you…”
They shake hands over an open case file and Gene winks with the easy confidence of a man who cannot lose.
So then he thinks maybe it’s not the prize, it’s playing the game: watching Tyler’s eyes light up with the flare of anticipation; the push and pull over evidence and intuition; the cut and thrust of competition. Knowing when to raise the stakes and when to cut his losses.
It’s an art, that. Like sparring. Like dancing.
Although he’s not always sure who’s calling the tune.
Some days, Gene wishes it could be as simple as flipping a coin or rolling the dice. But it’s not, and it’s the biggest gamble he’s ever taken.
And he’s starting to suspect that Tyler might not be as bad at bluffing as he appears to be.
“Right then, Tyler, dinner.”
“What, for the whole team?”
“Course not – d’you think I’m made of money? You and me.”
“And what do you get if I win?”
Gene feels the odds tip in his favour as Sam grins, amused and sly - and just like that what started out as an exhibition sport isn’t open to spectators anymore. He blinks as the rules are re-written in front of his eyes and then he allows his own grin to spread, slow, cocksure.
Because the game may have changed but they’re after the same prize, and - if he’s really, really lucky - this time he and Sam will both win.