Rating: Blue Cortina for language and violent themes.
Word Count: 1200+ words.
Notes: The title is french for ‘what’s that?’, but it is also a line from a Talking Heads Song. A great big thank you to bakednudel who beta-read this for me and convinced me it wasn’t complete rubbish :D
Summary: Chris works on cases too! Some days, Chris is sure he’s coming down with a dose of the crazies. He keeps coming up with theories about where Sam goes when he’s not at the station, and these theories usually include dark alleyways.
There are times when the light glints off Sam’s eyes just so. He has these… well, Ray refers to them as “fucking psycho moments”, but Chris likes to think of them as “episodes”. It’s hard to know whether you’re going to encounter the sane Sam or the loony one. Chris worries about Sam sometimes.
Chris likes him. How could he not? Sam doesn’t automatically treat him like a div. Okay, sometimes he does. Chris is the one most often asked to get tea and biscuits. But Sam also teaches him things, important things, so he can handle being the refreshment bringer if it means he gets new skills for the job.
Then there are those moments, like today, when the light is glinting off Sam’s eyes, and he’s had one of his episodes, and there’s been a murder – and Chris can’t help but think Sam might have done it. He feels guilty. After all, the boss is whiter than white, isn’t he?
But you hear about these stories, don’t you? The smooth manipulator. It’s always the nice guy, the one you don’t expect – and who’d expect Mr. Moral to be a murderer? Chris, that’s who.
There’s been a spate of murders. They all have a similar M.O. The victim is usually a young woman, barely out of her teens. She always has long blonde hair. And the murderer leaves objects at the scene.
“Guv? There’s been a report of another one.”
They arrive in the alley indicated and it’s hard not to feel sick at the sight of the young blonde-haired woman whose throat’s been slit. Her eyes gaze up lifeless, and her mouth is a round gaping hole.
“That’s awful,” Chris says quietly. Ray nods his head and pats him on the shoulder. It’s not much of a consolation. Sam glances at them and nods his head, but Chris thinks he sees a small smile hovering just under the surface of his expression. He’s imagining it.
Oswald arrives within twenty minutes. He gets Chris to hold the bag as he collects up the clown doll lying near the body.
Sam’s changed some since he first arrived. At first Chris didn’t notice. Then he brushed it off. Originally, Sam was all about wanting to do things the proper way. He took great stock in ‘proper procedure’ and ‘note taking’ and ‘recording’. It’s been weeks since Sam’s insisted on him fetching the tape recorder, but Chris does it anyway. And he does his notes just as Sam showed him, even though Sam shows no interest in seeing them anymore.
Sam’s episodes always used to be about wanting to get out. Out of where, Chris wasn’t sure. Lately, his episodes have usually been less specific, but he did once hear Sam raving on about choices and how, if he had a choice, why wouldn’t he go all out? Chris didn’t understand what he meant.
“We need to catch this bastard soon. He’s making a mockery out of all of us. Come on Sammy-boy, you’re the expert when it comes to this science mumbo-jumbo. Haven’t you got anything?”
Chris watches Sam as he shakes his head.
“I’m going to go out for a bit,” Sam says. “I shouldn’t be more than an hour.”
Lucky for some. Chris goes down canteen and eats the luncheon meat and potato croquettes offered. Maybe he should have asked if he could tag along.
“Chris, get your coat,” Ray says, grabbing his collar and helping him up.
“There’s been another one.”
“Yeah. We’ve a location so we’re heading out.”
Chris gets his coat and sees Sam’s returned. He explains the situation and they’re off.
Some days, Chris is sure he’s coming down with a dose of the crazies. He keeps coming up with theories about where Sam goes when he’s not at the station, and these theories usually include dark alleyways. He once saw a splash of red on Sam’s shirt, convinced himself it was blood. He asked Annie to investigate for him. She came back and told him it was jam. He still felt uneasy. This time it was jam, sure.
Every now and then, Sam will look at him like he’s peering right through. Chris is sure he knows. But, well, what does he know? Does he know that Chris is completely mad and imagining his boss as a cold-blooded killer, or does he know that Chris knows his secret?
It’s dark here. Dark and grimy. It’s a warehouse newly abandoned, but it’s got all the hallmarks of being derelict.
Chris runs through but stumbles over something. Another dead body. This one is propped up with the little clown doll next to it. Chris shakes his head. He hears a noise and goes running. Sam follows close behind.
They open a door to what used to be an office and see a man crouched down by the table. There’s blood all over his hands and the look in his eyes is pure unmitigated terror. Sam slams his elbow into the back of the bloke’s neck and hauls him up. Ray cuffs him. They cart him off to the station.
Chris isn’t part of the interview. The result is a conviction. The Guv is all grins and congratulations.
“This is a cause for celebration!”
Everyone gathers around the bottle of whiskey pulled from a filing cabinet. Marlowe nudges Chris out of the way, but he doesn’t say anything about it. He never says anything about it.
“Right there, Sammy-boy – you’re first.”
He doesn’t quite know why, but the arrest doesn’t sit well with him. There’s a darkness in Sam, and Chris thinks he may be the only one who sees it. It’s all just a little too convenient for his tastes. The man was clearly fearful, and he looked more shocked than anything else. Chris contemplates telling the Guv, because the Guv knows Sam and seems to understand him. He wouldn’t tell Ray, he’s not clear-headed enough to do anything helpful in the situation. He’d just make angry accusations.
He wishes he could still talk to Annie about it, but she just stares at him like he’s lost a banana, and it doesn’t fill him with confidence. Chris decides he’s going to confront Sam about this face to face. He doesn’t care if he’s being a prat or if it’s dangerous. He has to know.
Sam looks up and stares him in the eye. “Chris.”
“So, I was wondering…”
“You’re not a murderer by any chance, are you?” He tries to keep his tone neutral, casual, not filled with intense fear.
Sam frowns and looks back down at the newspaper in his hand. His voice is also neutral, casual, but there’s a hint of something else in there. Threat.
“Whatever gave you that idea?”
“It’s just,” Chris starts. He sees the set of Sam’s jaw, the whitening of his knuckles, the slightly wild opening of Sam’s eyes. He’s got his answer. “Nothing. I’m having a lark.”
Chris knows he’s going to have to catch Sam on his own terms. But now, he’s given it away. Things aren’t safe. There’s no claim for ignorance. Before, there was space there. The suspicion was all self-contained, not out in the open.
The thing is, Chris doesn’t know why Sam’s doing it. He thinks that’s the next thing he’s got to figure out. What does the blonde hair mean? Why the clown? He needs motive, evidence, proof.
Chris is going to have to step forward and make a difference by himself. Somehow, the thought of that terrifies him even more than the thought of having a serial killer for a boss.