chamekke: (mcu_agent_carter_pensive_by_attice)
[personal profile] chamekke
Title: Infinite Jest
Author: chamekke
Rating: Green Cortina
Word count: 6,000
Notes: Written for [ profile] nepthys_uk, as part of the Ficathon 2010 on [ profile] lifein1973, using her prompts 'ensemble, humour, DCI Litton's game of one-upmanship'. Huge thanks to [ profile] draycevixen for her encouragement and suggestions.
Summary: Two DCIs. Two egos. One station.

* * * * *

The greatest battles often begin on the most peaceful mornings.

This one was so quiet, in fact, that the men of CID were not remotely surprised when Gene stormed into the squad room with a face like thunder. "Tyler, my office. Now," he growled, striding ahead without waiting for an answer.

Sam found Gene brooding at his desk. "Guv? What's happened?"

"Litton," Gene spat. "Called me on the carpet in front of Superintendent Rathbone. Said Chapel Street should be his case, not ours."

"That's ridiculous," Sam said. "It was a small-scale jewellery blag. There was no evidence that criminal gangs were involved."

"Exactly what I said. And Rathbone agreed with me. Eventually."

Sam was puzzled. "Then what's the problem?" Behind him, the door cracked open an inch.

"Rathbone wants me to keep Litton informed of our progress. 'In the event a connection to organized crime is established', he said. And didn't that set Litton to gloating, the smarmy little bastard. He'd love to get his perfumed paws onto our case files."

"But surely that's not a bad thing?" Sam said reasonably. "Inter-jurisdictional law enforcement is the way of the future. Sharing data would help us pool resources, solve crimes more efficiently—"

"Now you sound like Rathbone!" Gene shook his head. "Any 'sharing' with Litton would be one way, you mark my words. We give, he takes—for his own advancement. I'm not prepared to dance to Rathbone's tune so Litton can have another squeeze at the Mayor's tits."

The door swung open and Annie entered, looking nervous. "Guv, I've got some new information on Mrs Grundy. Turns out she wasn't at her sister's in Glasgow as she claimed, and her husband—"

"Not now, love," he said irritably. "You want to be useful, fetch me a cuppa and a packet of garibaldis."

Annie glanced at Sam, hesitant but determined. "Sir, you expressly told me to inform you immediately if—"

"Tea and biccies, chop chop!" Gene snapped.

Annie's face fell and she disappeared. Shaking his head, Gene turned his attention back to Sam. "I told Litton in the corridor what sort of sharing he can expect from us. If he wants anything, he'll have to dance for it."

"How'd he take it?" Sam asked curiously.

Gene smiled grimly. "Not well pleased. But I think he knows where he stands. And it's not in my squad room."

* * * * *

The next morning, Sam was coaxing a dubious brown liquid from the coffee machine when an inarticulate roar of rage filled the air. It seemed to emanate from Gene's office.

Coffee forgotten, Sam ran in and found his DCI standing in front of his wall poster of The Good, The Bad and the Ugly.

Which was now a defaced poster featuring three men with frocks. Someone had block-printed the name HUNT under "Bad", while "Good" was TYLER. Sam tried not to betray his amusement at seeing CARLING written under the word "Ugly".

"Oh, guv," Sam said with feeling.

Gene reached out to touch the poster, then pulled his hand back.

"A frock," he fumed. "On Clint Eastwood. A ruffled frock. It's an outrage."

"It shouldn't be hard to find out who did this—"

"Find out?" Gene's voice pitched high. "I know who did it. Bloody Litton, that's who. Couldn't tolerate Rathbone giving me the case. This is his poxy idea of revenge."

Sam held out his hands. "Look, you don't know it was him. We need to investigate—"

"I know who it was." Gene's eyes narrowed. "And he's going to regret it."

Uniformed constables fled out of Gene's path as he stalked down the corridor towards the lift, radiating fury. Sam slipped into the lift with him just as the doors were closing. He put a gentle hand on Gene's chest. "Please," he said. "Bear in mind that it could be someone else."

His DCI gave him a look of utter contempt. When the lift pinged its arrival on the fifth floor, Gene shoved past Sam without another word and entered the RCS offices.

Sam was shocked at his first sight of Litton's squad room. The detectives' desks were tidy and clean, the room smelled fresh (there was a remarkable absence of cigarette smoke), and the atmosphere bustled with purpose. Sam felt a qualm of outright envy when he saw the condition of the filing cabinets. They actually looked as though they might contain file folders. Neatly labelled. In order.

One of Litton's men looked up and spied Gene. "DCI Hunt, innit? D'you want me to announce—"

Gene pushed past him and burst into Litton's office. "Oi! Stink boy!"

Litton was already rising from his desk, his face a comical mixture of surprise and annoyance. He glanced from Gene to Sam, clearly trying to gauge what was going on.

"Gene. Always a pleasure to welcome a fellow DCI to our humble workplace. To what do I—"

"How dare you insult the great Sergio Leone?" Gene snarled. Litton blinked.

"What exactly are you on about?"

"You know bloody well what I'm on about! I will not tolerate anyone putting a frock on Clint Eastwood. Clint! "

"Guv—" Sam pleaded. But Litton was smirking now, a red flag to the bull.

"I've no idea what this is about, but rest assured, I have no interest in Clint Eastwood or his absurd spaghetti westerns."

"Don't play the innocent with me, you jumped-up little ponce!"

"Don't be a fool." Litton moved past them and indicated the door. "You got your way with Rathbone, Gene, just as you wanted. Now, why don't you run along and play with that case like a good boy, instead of coming in here and making a nuisance of yourself?"

Sam followed Litton's gaze. Eight of Litton's detectives were standing just outside his office, and they were already bristling, fists half-clenched in readiness for a brawl. He shot Gene a warning glance.

"Fine," Gene said. "But I'll not forget this."

Stalking to the door, he spat out his last words. "This score isn't settled."

* * * * *

"Guv, this is a seriously bad idea."

"Just shut up and stand guard!"

It was 11:55 PM, and they were in Litton's office. The last of the RCS men had left at 11:30, and after a few anxious moments (during which Sam cursed his lack of recent practice in lock-picking), they'd managed to get into the squad room.

"We're already guilty of breaking and entering. Can we please stop before we add burglary to the charge list?"

But Gene was already rifling the drawers of Litton's desk. "Ah," he said with satisfaction, holding up a bottle of Paco Rabanne. "Knew it'd be here somewhere. Unopened, too." He threw open the window and before Sam could make a move, Gene thrust out his arm and poured its contents onto the pavement below.

"Bloody hell, Gene! Someone might've been standing under that!"

"Not a chance! Everyone with sense is down the pub." Gene drew his hand back in. "Bugger, my sleeve's wet through. At least the rain'll wash Litton's stink off the steps."

He pulled a milk bottle out of his coat pocket, carefully decanted its contents into the Paco Rabanne container, and grinned at Sam. "That'll sort him. He won't be wafting down our corridor quite so sweetly now."

"What did you—" Sam stopped himself and rolled his eyes. "Second thought, I don't want to know."

"Good lad! Now, have you got that lipstick you wheedled out of Cartwright?"

"Here you go, guv."

Gene pointed at him. "You are not telling anyone about this, ever." He dialled up the stick and applied it carelessly to his mouth, then pressed his lips to the diploma on the wall next to Litton's desk, leaving a line of scarlet kisses on it. Sam's mouth dropped open, and he felt something deep inside himself twitch in a highly unnerving way.

Gene held out the lipstick. "Oi, make yourself useful! There's three more diplomas and eight certificates to go, and they're not going to kiss themselves."

* * * * *

Litton unexpectedly found himself in the position of calming down his men.

"There's no real harm done," he told them, rubbing at one of the kisses with his hanky and showing them the result. "Stupid git didn't think to knock out the glass first. Get one of the plonks up here to clean off the lot, shouldn't take more than five minutes. That efficient little blonde…" He snapped his fingers, trying to remember her name.

"WPC Jones?" his DI prompted. Litton nodded, pleased.

"That's the one. Almost as much use as ornament." He tapped his fingers on his desk thoughtfully. "Now, this calls for retaliation, but not escalation, capisci? Hunt has information I want, and there's no reason to let this get out of control." He glared at his team to make sure they got his point. "A nice, simple practical joke will let him know he's on notice."

One of the junior detectives piped up. "Can we be sure it was Hunt, sir?"

"Oh, it was Hunt, all right," Litton scowled. "Has his crudity and lack of imagination all over it. We'll meet his prank but not raise it… Claude, isn't it?"

"Cliff, sir."

"Go get a few tins of black shoe polish and, let's see, some Vaseline. Tonight we go in and polish up every phone receiver in CID. And maybe a generous dab of Vaseline on the doors and doorknobs, yeah? Simple but classic, mildly annoying but no more than that."

Litton smiled as his men trooped out. His hand hovered briefly over the flask of Paco Rabanne on his desk until he remembered that the older bottle in his filing cabinet still had a good half-inch left in it. He swapped the two bottles round and gave himself a couple of good slaps with the older stuff: lovely.

After all, WPC Jones was expected momentarily, and Litton reckoned that the least he could do for the pretty little thing was freshen the air up a bit.

* * * * *

Sam held up his hands. "No, we are not going up to RCS and punching their teeth in."

"Why not?" Ray demanded. "They've got it coming, the bastards!" He indicated himself, Chris, Vince and Geoff. All four men were wearing thunderous expressions and shiny black ears to match. Sam kept his face straight as he answered.

"Because this is an end to it. Litton put one over on us, Gene and I put one over on him. He retaliated again, yes, but in a small way. Frankly, I’m surprised he didn't go further. I'd say we're pretty much even."

Gene's ear was no longer black, but it was suspiciously pink. He tugged at it now. "I'm not so sure of that, Tyler. He's gone after my men now. 'S not just between me and Litton any more."

"Come on, guv," Sam wheedled. "It's nothing that can't be put right with a bit of soap and water. Let's stop before things get nasty." He waved a hand toward the piles of work on the detectives' desks. "This is no time to get caught up in a prank war. We're swamped right now."

Lowering his voice, he added meaningfully, "And if we take our eye off the ball, Rathbone might just hand Chapel Street back to Litton again."

"Right!" Gene barked. "There are to be no practical jokes unless I say so. You lot, go wash your ears. And Cartwright, get a rag and wipe down the door handles so nobody else loses a tea cup. This farce is ending now."

Annie's eyes flashed, but she obeyed at once.

As she applied a cloth to the Vaseline-slicked surface of the door pull, she thought carefully about what to do next.

* * * * *

Sam sat down to his desk, grumpy about arriving late to work. He hadn't slept well the previous night after the Test Card Girl had turned up to taunt him. Said at one point that he was obsessive-compulsive. A bit of a mouthful for a young girl, even an imaginary one, and obviously untrue at that. The unfairness of her accusation niggled at Sam as he pulled open his desk drawer.

Which promptly shot out of its slot upside-down, dumping its contents onto the floor.

Sam frowned for a moment, then knelt to retrieve the mess. The drawer took some effort to fit back in; it almost felt as though someone had sandpapered the runners so that they wouldn't work well.

He frowned at the mess of notepapers and biros as he picked them up. Each piece of blank paper was somehow flawed, either smudged or torn or slightly folded. Sam shook his head, feeling more bothered by this than he liked to admit. He tossed all but one of the pages into his rubbish bin, then picked up a biro to write himself a reminder to pick up more paper supplies. When he pressed the tip to the paper, no ink came out.

Sam shook it, annoyed, and tried again. Same result. He picked up another one. It didn't work. When the third biro proved to be just as useless, he licked his lips and went for one of his neatly sharpened pencils. The lead collapsed as he began writing, leaving an unsightly charcoal smear on the page.

Sam turned the pencil around and tried to erase the mark with the rubber end. Weirdly, the rubber didn't remove the mark: it intensified it. Sam peered at the pencil and realized that the end appeared to have been coated with—he sniffed cautiously—mayonnaise?

He looked about for the India rubbers that had been in his desk drawer. They were nowhere in sight. However, Sam's fountain pen was still on the top of his desk, gleaming innocently. He removed the cap and pressed the nib to paper. It spat out a fat bleb of ink that ran down the barrel, instantly staining his thumb and first two fingers. As Sam looked at his hand, appalled, the squad room burst into laughter behind him. Even Annie seemed to be suppressing a smile, hand pressed against her mouth.

"Got a problem, boss?" Ray asked innocently, and Sam glared.

His qualms about the prank war had just vanished.

A moment later, it was Ray's turn to be confused. Time for break and a keek at some tits. Problem was, his girlie mags were nowhere to be found, and the only gum he had was the tasteless wad he'd been chewing on since he left home.

"Anyone seen my Just Jugs?" he called out. No one answered.

Ray searched the drawers of his desk, then rifled with increased urgency through the papers and files that were stacked on top. Finally he found his magazines on the bottom, and pulled them out with a grunt of contentment. Which modulated effortlessly into an outraged screech when Ray opened the first copy of Just Jugs and discovered that the very best pages, centrefolds and all, had been gummed together with half-chewed wads of his favourite gum.

The other men on the squad turned, first to stare, and then to grin.

"Look!" Ray shouted, holding up another three magazines, all of them effectively ruined by the highly strategic application of fruit-flavoured chewing gum.

He stared at Sam, and across their perennial gulf of personal differences and mutual antipathy, there was an unexpected meeting of minds.

They rose as one to have a quiet word with the Guv.

* * * * *

Most of Gene's men were yawning, and both Vince and Geoff had astoundingly bad cases of bed hair. Still, the team were all present and accounted for. Even Annie was there, dressed as neat as a pin and smiling quietly to herself. Gene was pleased to see that she was as keen for revenge as his men.

"Right!" He clapped his hands to get their attention. "Now I know it's two in the morning, and you're all wanting to get back to bed. If we do this properly, we can be done in ten minutes or less. Tyler?"

Sam stepped up. "It's simple. We take everything off every RCS desk: files, papers, typewriters, the lot. We move all the desks around: musical workstations. Then we pile everything back on the desks… the wrong desks. Everything pristine, no messing with their casework, but—" He paused, grinning. "They'll have to be detectives to find it."

And the men put their backs into it, eager to be done as soon as possible. Annie proved to have a flair for directing them to and fro, as well as a near-photographic memory for which desk was which. In a short time the squad room was tidy and clean again, its dozen-odd desks skilfully rearranged.

"Well done, lads!" Gene praised. "Just one more thing."

He rooted about in a carton and pulled out a lidded bucket. "Angler mate donated a few crickets. Put a handful in each desk and we're done. A little extra surprise for Litton and his boys."

In a few more minutes, RCS was dark and deserted once more… but filled with the musical sound of chirping.

* * * * *

Litton scowled at the scene outside his office. Cliff was screaming incoherently, and jumping even higher than the crickets were. Who knew he suffered from acridophobia? He watched as Jeff pulled the man out of the room and down the corridor.

"The gloves are off now," he said. "We have to match them prank for prank."

"It'll be difficult pulling it off," his DI said thoughtfully. "Both sides will be on guard from here on in."

"No problem," Litton said. He stroked his moustache and smiled. "There's many ways to skin a cat. And there's no rule says the next one has to be in Hunt's office. Or even in his squad room."

* * * * *

"They've got four men down in CID right now," Litton's DI reported. "DI Tyler, DS Carlson, the Skelton lad, and that weird bloke with the watery eyes. They've got a pot of coffee in front of them and while they seem to have nodded off for now, I reckon they could waken easily enough."

Litton checked his watch. Three AM. "Right," he said. "We have to do this quick, and do it quietly."

He led his mob to the CID locker room and pointed to the lockers. "What they did with our desks, we do with these. Remove any stickers or posters that could help identify them, then empty the contents. Then you're going to play musical lockers and put them back in the wrong place."

He grinned. "And make sure they're upside-down, eh? No reason to go easy on 'em."

As the junior detectives did the heavy lifting, Litton and his DI worked on their secondary project in silence. Litton retrieved a bag of unused balloons, pulled one out, then carefully measured a spoonful of talcum powder into it. He then passed it to his DI. Litton watched intently as the man sealed his lips around the opening of the balloon, biting gently on the lip, then blew carefully into the balloon as it expanded pinkly under his slender fingers. Litton's DI looked up for a second, his eyes crinkling into a smile, and Litton felt heat rising in his cheeks. He bent his head down and worked on the second balloon.

The last step involved putting the filled balloons into the lockers and squeezing the doors shut without actually bursting them. When Vance tried to apply too much pressure, a balloon exploded its contents all over him and he stood there, mildly astonished, the white powder drifting down his shirt. But Litton clapped him on the back and laughed.

"That's the nearest we'll come to enjoying this party," he said. "Now you clean that up and head back home. Good work, all."

He looked thoughtfully at his DI as the man disappeared down the corridor ahead of him. It had never occurred to Litton before, but perhaps there was a benefit to pulling pranks that no one had ever told him about.

* * * * *

"Right," Gene said. "This one's for Litton himself."

He and his men were standing in CID, waiting for Sam and Ray to finish their recce and report back. Gene counted out the operation on his fingers. Brains of the operation: himself. Picklock extraordinaire: Sam. Watchmen and muscle: Chris and Ray. Scissorman: Vince. Pillow-sherpas #1 and #2: Clive and Geoff. Garden gnomes: that leonine-haired chap whose name no one could quite remember.

Annie had been designated to ring each of them at three AM so that they'd have time to wake, dress, and assemble at CID for four o'clock. She'd just joined them now, slightly out of breath but looking as though she was enjoying herself as much as they were.

Sam and Ray appeared a few moments later, both grinning. "Road's clear," Sam said happily. "RCS rigged the squad room door and Litton's office as well. Nothing we couldn't take care of, though."

Ray nodded in agreement. "Locks were a doddle, once the boss showed me the trick."

"All right then. Torches ready?"

Gene led them into the darkness of RCS and then into Litton's office. He drew the blinds and then moved the beam of his torch over the walls. Litton's wall of diplomas and certificates was as pristine as they'd ever been. Gene shook his head, then addressed his men.

"Scissors and pillows. Now."

Clive and Geoff pulled eight pillows out of their bags and slit them open. The other team members pulled out every drawer in Litton's desk and cabinet, then dumped in pillowful after pillowful of feathers and goose down. The feathers danced in the air, and the men were hawking painfully by the time they finished. Still, they looked well pleased with themselves.

"God, I'm glad that's done with," Sam said with feeling. Gene shook his head.

"Just the beginning, Sammy-boy." He held up a bottle of inexpensive Scotch and poured it onto the upholstered seat of Litton's desk chair as Sam watched open-mouthed.

"Guv, that's—that's your whisky!"

"No sacrifice is too great where the reputation of CID is concerned!" Gene declared. "And anyway, I'm not that wasteful, only half of it's Scotch. Once he's sat down on it, Litton'll only smell half drunk."

Next, he produced a small paint can and brush. "Now for the 'peace' de résistance… or should I say, war."

Sam rolled his eyes as Gene led his team outside, leaving the door slightly ajar. He tied a thin piece of string around the doorknob, then coated it with a layer of matte black paint. Drawing the door closed, he added a layer of shellac to the door itself, then posted a WET PAINT sign above it.

"There," he said with satisfaction, "He'll think the sign is for the door, not the handle."

"Uh, guv?" The leonine-haired man piped up. "What about the garden gnomes?"

"Glue one to each chair. Nice cheerful sight for Litton's mob in the morning, eh? And, oi!" He pointed. "Don't forget Litton's office. He gets the one with the wheelbarrow."

When they were done, Gene led his men back to CID for a quick celebratory Scotch. Behind them, a dozen gnomes sat in the dark, waiting patiently as the glue dried beneath them.

* * * * *

A full day went by without any reaction from Litton and his mob.

Two days.


The CID team were becoming jittery. Chris was snapping at everyone, heedless of rank. Vince and Geoff had stopped speaking to each other. Ray opened his desk every morning as though he expected a cobra to jump out of it, while Sam had begun looking suspiciously at every pen he touched. Gene thought privately that this was far more effective than any actual prank could have been.

When Ray was called down to the morgue to look at the body of a robbery victim, he inwardly thanked his lucky stars that he was going to have a legitimate reason to get away from CID. He seized Chris by the collar and took him along as a favour; the boy was practically jumping out of his skin, could use a bit of peace and quiet.

The mortuary attendant was unfamiliar, but Ray didn't pay this much heed since he knew there was plenty of turnover in the job. The man nodded to them both, then indicated a couple of occupied gurneys on the far side of the room, only half-visible in the dim light.

"I'm readying those two for later. Your man's here." He pulled up a third gurney, the body covered by a green sheet. Then he shot them a warning look.

"You want to brace yourselves, now. This one's not a pretty sight. I'll leave you to take a look when you're ready."

As the man left, Ray reached out to the sheet, tingling with curiosity. Corpses didn't bother him, mostly, not even the gory ones; dead people weren't people any more, he reckoned. But that wasn't to say there still wasn't something fascinating about looking at them. Chris's eyes were wide open and he visibly swallowed as Ray pulled the sheet back.

And blinked. What the flippin' Nora was the attendant talking about? The man under the sheet was completely unremarkable. A bit hairy, certainly, with a full beard and moustache covering half his face. And the blood on the top half was scarcely attractive, but—

Hang on. Didn't the morgue doctor normally clean the body up before showing it to the cops? And why were all the lights suddenly blinking off?

The thought had no more flickered through Ray's mind when the corpse sat up, stretched out its arms toward Chris, and moaned horribly. The shock was so great that Ray staggered backwards and knocked against the morgue wall, gasping for breath. In that moment, the corpses on the other two gurneys also started moving. An ice-cold drip of terror snaked down Ray's spine and he felt the primeval urge to run. Now.

Until he saw that Chris had passed out on the floor in a dead faint.

In an ecstasy of terror, Ray picked up Chris's limp body up and carried him out the door like a gawky male Sleeping Beauty. Then, as sense began to reassert itself, Ray turned to see the three 'corpses', wrapped in their sheets, laughing wildly and making a dash for the lift. Ray tried to put Chris down in time to go after them, but it was too late. They had escaped.

* * * * *

"It was childish, guv, but not that serious. They couldn't know it'd be Chris who'd go with Ray."

Gene folded his arms. "Serious enough. They locked Oswald into a closet so they could pull this prank. They're messing about with people outside CID now."

Sam suspected that Gene's opinion might be different if he'd had the ingenuity to come up with it first. He smiled diplomatically. "Well, it's our turn again. Let's not react hastily. We've got the weekend to come up with something."

* * * * *

Except that when Gene returned to his office on Monday morning, it had been freshly sodded with wall-to-wall grass.

And was occupied by three sour-looking Swaledale sheep, who promptly greeted him with a chorus of derisive baa-s. (Not to mention a smattering of sheep pellets.)

When Annie heard this, she decided that enough was enough. Sheep were all very amusing on paper, but this was her guv Litton was humiliating. And that would not do.

* * * * *

Phase One was the trickiest.

Annie faked a call from Superintendent Rathbone's office saying that Litton was being specially honoured that night at a private dinner hosted by the Lord Mayor, and could he please appear with his team in black tie at Warrington's Coronation Hall for seven o'clock tonight?

When Litton dialled operator assistance to check with the mayor's office, the girls patched it through to WPC Jones, who apologized for the short notice and soothed his ruffled dignity with such skill that Annie, listening in, had to force herself not to applaud. When Litton placed a third call to Rathbone, Jonesy adopted a new voice and explained that the Superintendent had gone home early as he wasn't feeling well and wanted to rest up for the event.

Phase Two involved buying the supplies. That was easy.

Phase Three was the execution.

Phyllis checked that RCS was abandoned, then stood on guard and nodded at Annie and Jonesy as they carried in their supplies. The two women gloved up, then quickly splattered the walls and windows with a coat of high-gloss varnish. Once this was done, they cracked open tin after tin of red glitter, hurling the sparkling stuff at the sticky surfaces. (At this stage they had to suppress giggles.) Next, they unscrewed the light bulbs in the desk lamps and replaced them with red ones. The final step was to take down the fluorescent tubes and to turn on the desk lamps.

It wasn't what Annie had wanted. She would have preferred more props, more advance time, and the muscle to do a more elaborate job. Still, needs must. She thanked her partners in crime and headed home to curl up with a book and some Horlicks.

* * * * *

Litton strode into Gene's office crackling with rage, his anxious DI at his heels. Sam followed after them and tactfully closed the doors.

"You've gone too bloody far, Gene!" Litton shouted.

Gene leaned back in his chair and smiled. "Sorry, Litton? Something wrong?"

"You know bloody well what's wrong! Calling me and my men out to a non-existent function in bleeding Warrington and turning our squad room into a, a—second-rate bordello behind our backs!"

Sam shot a startled glance at Gene, who glanced back and shook his head almost imperceptibly.

"No idea what you're talking about, sonny-jim. Perhaps you've got enemies other than us."

Litton lunged at Gene, wild-eyed. His DI pulled him back and spoke for the first time.

"What my boss is trying to say is, it's time to call an end to it."

"I'm not!" Litton snarled. "I'm here to say that if you don't stop now, I'll take this to Rathbone and my superiors—all the way up to the Chief Constable if I have to—and make sure the lot of you get the sack."

The DI's eyes met Sam's in a silent appeal. "Sirs, it would make more sense for us to call a truce and begin working together. No reason to bring the police force into disrepute. Especially as—" He coughed tactfully. "These sorts of conflicts have a way of getting into the papers."

Three pairs of eyes swivelled to stare at him. It seemed to Sam that the image of Jackie Queen shimmered in the air between them for a moment, a minatory phantom. Litton pursed his lips, no longer struggling, and seemed to deflate.

Gene drummed his fingers on the desk, reflecting. Then he looked up at Litton.

"No more pranks," he said.

Litton nodded. "No more pranks."

"And you won't get in our way on the Chapel Street case."

"And you'll share what you know, in case you're wrong and a criminal gang is involved."

Sam put out his hand to Litton's DI. "Agreed."

Gene ruminated some more, then stared at Litton and gave him a terse nod.

"Agreed. Provided…"

* * * * *

"Sir, you wanted to see me?" Annie said. She looked nervous.

"Close the door behind you."

She closed the door. "Guv?"

Gene's eyes were boring into her. "I had an interesting conversation with DCI Litton this morning. You'll be happy to know he's agreed to suspend all further practical jokes against our team."

"I was present at your announcement, sir."

"He further assured me that there would be no individual reprisals against myself, DI Tyler, or DS Carlson."

She blinked. "Sir?"

"DS Carlson. Which he believes to be the name of our detective sergeant."

There was a long pause, during which Gene looked thoughtfully at the spot on the wall where his poster had been.

"It must have been a slip of the tongue, sir."

"It slipped at least three times during the course of the conversation." Gene regarded Annie again, his expression still neutral. "Struck me as odd, mind. Given that whoever wrote Ray's name on my poster spelled it right."

"Perhaps it wasn't DCI Litton who wrote it, then." Her words hung in the air for a moment, and Annie hastily added, "Must've been one of his men."

"Or it may not have been a man at all."

Annie breathed in sharply.

"Have anything you'd like to say to me, WDC Cartwright?"

She avoided his eyes, her cheeks reddening slightly.

"Come on now. I'm not as bad as all that, am I?"

Annie lifted her chin and stared at him. "I did it, sir. I defaced your poster."

"Mm-hmp. Why?"

She hesitated.

"I asked you a question."

She visibly summoned her courage. "I knew no one would think of me, sir."

"That's more a how than a why."

"It's both, actually." As he raised his eyebrows, she added, "I was… frustrated, sir."

"Tyler letting you down in bed, is he? Always knew he was a bit of a poof."

Her expression became suddenly fierce. "You give me orders, I follow them to the best of my ability. Which is better than most, frankly, sir. One minute I'm told I've done a good job. The next, I'm being shooed out of the room, told to shut up and fetch the tea. No matter how well I do, it's always back to square one—"

Gene watched as she pressed her lips together and stopped herself.

"You're the first female detective 'A' Division's ever had," he reminded her. "When Sam put your name forward, I thought he was mad to do it. Still not convinced he wasn't."

He stared at her until she nodded.

"Objections were lodged. I kept peace by saying you were probationary. Never bothered telling you because, fact is, I knew you weren't. Your place on the squad is permanent. Provided you don't bollocks it up by pissing off your DCI!" His voice rose to a shout.

"Do you think for one moment that Chris hasn't done his share of fagging for the squad? D'you think no one's noticed how young and keen you are? You're a bleeding threat in the eyes of half the squad, and if reminding everyone you're a lass is going to keep the team settled and happy, by God I'll have you trotting for teacups until your hair is white!"

Gene glared at her. "And if you've got a fraction of the sense I thought you had, you'll sit tight, hold your tongue, and prove them wrong. It'll take time, but then you've got that on your side, haven't you? Unlike some of the lads." He stabbed the air with his forefinger. "So don't tell me it's not fair. Life's not fair. So belt up."

Annie's eyes were wide, fixed on his. "Yes, guv."

"As to my wall," Gene said. "Replacement poster runs to five quid, but I reckon you owe me a frame and glass on top of that. Wouldn't do to have someone ruin it with a marker pen."

He allowed his expression to become marginally less forbidding, and she swallowed.

"Sir. About last night…"

"Now that," Gene said approvingly, "was what you'd call enterprising. How'd you do it? Had some help, did you? I reckon that must have taken three bodies minimum… and some fancy phone work."

"I can't really say who—"

He waved his hand. "I'm not asking who. Point is, you kept up the side. Far as Litton is concerned, it was CID who pulled that prank. Anyone asks me, I'll say he'd be right."

Annie smiled, relieved. "Thanks, guv."

"Now bugger off and get me a cup of tea. And?"

She paused at the door. "Yes, sir?"

"Get one for yourself. You've earned it."


(no subject)

Date: 2010-11-09 07:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Whoo! Go Annie!
Great story, very clever!

(no subject)

Date: 2010-11-09 04:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you ♥

(no subject)

Date: 2010-11-09 01:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This made me giggle immensely. I love your Annie and her quiet but vicious revenges.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-11-09 04:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thanks for your kind comment. I love Annie, too. Wish the series had given us more of her - and the female WPC "nameless ones" we saw her with in 1.05.

(It's just a fancy of mine, but I like to think that Jonesy is the WPC in 1.05 who said "Kinky" :-)

(no subject)

Date: 2010-11-09 03:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Aw, that was great! Annie was delightfully devious, and it's awesome that you got to put your research on the Nameless Ones to good use. :D

Also have to admit that the bit with Sam and Gene putting on lipstick and kissing all of Litton's certificates will be making me giggle the rest of the day. And nice work on the parallel Litton/Litton's DI sexual tension. ;)

(no subject)

Date: 2010-11-09 04:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh, that worked, then. *is relieved*

I have to admit, I was thinking of Father Ted and his strangely similar rivals on Rugged Island when I wrote those parallel bits. Not that there's any slash in Father Ted, of course. Erm...

(no subject)

Date: 2010-11-09 07:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh that was just glorious! I snort!giggled all the way through it. Love how you've constructed a sort of hall of mirrors with the reflections between CID and RCS - Geoff and Vince, Jeff and Vance etc - very clever indeed. Naughty!Annie is wonderful and of course Gene being more than one step in front of her is simply brilliant. He's a complex bugger that man, but a genius Gene-Genie with it. Love it. *hugs the author damned hard*

(no subject)

Date: 2010-11-10 03:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
*blushes* Thank you for the lovely feedback!

And I'm especially glad that the hall of mirrors approach worked for you. Once I realised that Gene's team and Litton's mob probably have far more in common than they'd ever admit, it pretty much wrote itself :-)

*hugs back happily*

(no subject)

Date: 2010-11-11 01:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
YAY!!! Thank you so much for writing this for me - it was just the sort of thing I was hoping for, only better ♥.

I loved the way you drew out the similarities between the teams, and the pranks themselves were a delight - especially the lipstick (and the lovely slashy overtones *g*). You've got the voices (Gene in particular) off pat, and I LOVE that the culprit turned out to be Annie!

I've been sporfling away here, and this is going straight into mems where I shall pull it out and re-read whenever I need a bit of a laugh. Thank you again for this super treat :D

(no subject)

Date: 2010-11-11 03:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you, I'm absolutely delighted that you liked it! Especially the lipstick bit ♥

BTW, I did start with one of your other prompts (Sam/Gene, taking a risk, "It's a dirty job, but someone has to do it"), but that one's currently at the 6,000 word mark and looks like it'll require at least 25,000 words to tell properly. So, some day you'll be getting another fic :-)

(no subject)

Date: 2010-11-14 03:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh, this is brilliant. So many great ideas. I loved the escalation and how quickly both departments lost the moral high ground. And their glee. And their utter commitment. You know Litton and Gene could have done this forever. I love how the RCS is like the mirror version of the CID. Sam and Litton's DI should meet up for drinks once a week and sigh about their bosses.

And Gene's lecture/praise at the end was great. Annie and Gene interacting is so rare and it was done so well here. It's like he's proud of her and baffled by her. And she's immature and strong both at once. I really like everyone's characterization here.

Nice going on 6000 words, by the way. I'm trying to wrap up a 4000 word fic and that's exhausting, I can't imagine lengthening it. I'm in awe.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-11-15 06:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yes, both sides enjoyed it enormously, even if they wouldn't admit it. Honestly, I think the prank war functioned as a surprisingly healthy team-building exercise for both sides. For one thing, not only was Annie included in the team by the end of it all, but even Sam and Ray were getting along for once. (And on the RCS side, if nothing else at least Litton will finally manage to remember that Cliff's name isn't Claude.)

Sam and Litton's DI should meet up for drinks once a week and sigh about their bosses.

You know, they really should? They truly are mirror images of each other - except that Sam would never misspell a fellow police officer's name, natch. Otherwise, similarities abound. (BTW I did take some satisfaction in making a *senior* officer the sole Nameless One of RCS :-)

It's like he's proud of her and baffled by her. And she's immature and strong both at once.

Yes, that's exactly right. I'm so glad that you saw that.

Nice going on 6000 words, by the way. I'm trying to wrap up a 4000 word fic and that's exhausting, I can't imagine lengthening it.

It was a difficult effort, so I really appreciate your lovely feedback; it's good to know it worked. And your 4,000-word fic is utterly magnificent! ♥

(no subject)

Date: 2010-11-20 02:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Hey! I FINALLY found the time to read this, and I'm so very glad I did, because IT WAS AWESOME!!! Haven't read anything quite like this before, and it's absolute fun!
Really thought Gene's voice in particular was spot-on throughout. Love the mentions of the other members of the teams. The morgue prank was spectacular. And Annie - Oh Annie, yes Annie! She rocks. Love that it ends with the Gene/Annie scene, which plays out just perfectly.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-11-22 03:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you, I'm glad you liked it. Thanks especially for mentioning that the morgue prank worked for you, because TBH I very nearly left it out altogether :-)

(no subject)

Date: 2010-11-22 02:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
So glad you didn't leave out the morgue prank! It was a great escalation!

(no subject)

Date: 2010-11-28 11:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

This was fantastic fun, loved seeing all the pranks unfold and the reactions of both sides.

And really liked the revelations Gene made at the end of the story to Annie giving this a serious side as well.

Thank you.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-11-29 03:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm glad you enjoyed it - especially the ending. It really seemed likely to me that the CID team would feel threatened by the likes of bright young Annie zooming up behind them; it could explain some of the mocking behaviour in 2.04, for example. And Gene probably would take this into consideration in the way he deals with Annie, walking a tightrope (to some extent) to maximise team harmony overall.

Thank you for the lovely comments!
Edited Date: 2010-11-29 03:44 am (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2010-12-06 06:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

You really did a lovely job with this idea, the details of the pranks, Annie's observations and reactions along the way and Litton's cunning DI.

Very nicely done, petal. ♥

(no subject)

Date: 2010-12-07 05:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you! Quite honestly I don't think I would have made it to the finish line without your kind encouragement and exquisitely gentle kick up the arse. Your next vindaloo and Party Seven are on me! ♥

(no subject)

Date: 2011-05-28 08:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This was a real treat to read, definitely bookmarking for revisiting! Oh Annie. ♥

(no subject)

Date: 2011-06-27 06:41 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you for the kind feedback <3

(no subject)

Date: 2011-09-09 09:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Afternoon, gents! Paco Rabane!

I love Litton! This was a joy to read.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-09-10 06:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I love Litton too... is it obvious? ;-)

Thank you for the sweet comment. I'm really pleased you liked it ♥

(no subject)

Date: 2012-02-08 02:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Hah! Really enjoyable, and I loved how despite it being a CID vs. RCS war, the women were the ones to both start and stop it. :)

I am curious, though - how did you come up with the pranks?

(no subject)

Date: 2012-02-09 07:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you for the lovely comment ♥

I am curious, though - how did you come up with the pranks?

Heh, funny you should ask!

This fic was written shortly after a (much smaller and very gentle) prank war broke out at my office, so I was researching pranks for personal reasons as well as authorial ones. Sadly, the pranks documented on the internet weren't suitable, for the most part, so I was forced to invent some entirely new ones. Mostly I imagined myself into the personality of the person carrying out the prank, then tried to base it on the way they saw the 'prankee'; hence Annie's gag with Sam's desk and Ray's magazines. And then there was the question of what was expedient -- if you can't get into the squad room, there's always the mortuary ;-)


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