AUTHOR: Nikki Harrington
FANDOM: The Dalgliesh Mysteries
PAIRING: Adam Dalgliesh/John Massingham
SUMMARY: John and Adam are in the car and John is thinking about how his feelings for his boss have changed over the years. However, he is certain that Adam isn't interested in men, plus with him being John's boss there is no way anything could come of it. Or is there?
WORD COUNT: 3,100
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I have taken a few liberties with the actual canon of the new squad and also I imagine with the way the Met actually works.
DISCLAIMER: I don't own these characters, nor am I making any money from them. I merely borrow them from time to time.
John kept his hands at exactly two and ten o'clock and his speed below the limit as he drove Dalgliesh back to the Met. From time to time he would risk a glance sideways to where Dalgliesh sat staring out of the side window, silent as he so often was.
In the very early days of their partnership, a partnership which had spanned almost a decade, John would attempt to make idle conversation as he drove. However, he had very quickly learnt that Dalgliesh wasn't impressed by, nor did he indulge in, idle conversation. Thus, John had learnt to keep silent unless Dalgliesh spoke to him.
Over the years this had changed, to an extent at least. As the two men had grown to know one another better and had transcended the differences of their ranks and had becoming friends as well as partners and boss and subordinate, Dalgliesh had relaxed more and had been happy, or at least prepared, to chat from time to time.
However, nearly ten years on, for the most part, especially if they were in the car, John tended not to speak unless Dalgliesh spoke to him first. It was somewhat different in the office, somehow Dalgliesh seemed more approachable, more human, more relaxed. They quite often had lunch together in Dalgliesh's office, where rank and the job seemed to take second place to their friendship, and John found it easier to be the first one to speak, as well as to speak about trivial matters.
Today, however, he was silent; keeping his own counsel, concentrating on being the perfect driver and keeping an eye on his boss on occasions. Dalgliesh may appear to be concentrating fully on what was outside of the window, however, they had worked together for long enough for John to know that he was aware not only of John's presence and of his driving, but also of the fact that John did, from time to time, take his eyes from the road for a second or two in order to glance at him. Clearly Dalgliesh was prepared, for whatever reason of his own, to allow this minor infraction of the rules of the road. It wasn't as if he didn't know what a highly skilled driver John was. Even so, John did choose his moments when he glanced at the man sitting in the passenger seat very carefully.
Dalgliesh hadn't just been quiet since getting into the car, he had been silent from the moment he had rung through to John to tell him to get the car and to tell him to where they were going. Apart from greeting John with a brief, almost terse nod of his head when the two men met, he had neither spoken nor acknowledged John's presence. He appeared to be lost in his own thoughts, in his own world; John might even say he was brooding.
He knew why: the case they were on; except, it wasn't technically an actual case, not as such. They were on their way back from an inquest which had confirmed what everyone knew: senior cabinet minister Hugh Harrison had taken his own life. Due to the fact that Harrison had been a senior cabinet minister when his death had been reported, even though everything had pointed to suicide (including a suicide letter) Dalgliesh and John had been assigned to the case - which had, as expected, been open and shut.
John suspected that Dalgliesh was brooding somewhat because Harrison had been one of his few actually friends. Also, because Harrison had been being blackmailed over his relationship with a man some thirty years his junior. Thus, he had in effect been driven to take his own life. John knew how deeply Dalgliesh despised blackmailers, and knew that given Harrison had been a friend he would despise them even more.
He sighed silently as he once more glanced at his boss and allowed his thoughts to go to where he rarely allowed them to go. Adam Dalgliesh was more than just a working partner, boss and friend to John; he was the man John desired; the man he loved; the man he wanted. Just as their friendship had developed over time, John's desire for and love of Dalgliesh had grown over the years.
He had thought he had left that side of him behind when, upon graduating from university, he had decided to make a career in the police force. Things had changed by then, but not that much; no one was going to welcome a gay or even bi copper. Thus, he had said goodbye to his experiences at boarding school and university, had shaken the hand of the boy who had been his long-term, albeit non-exclusive lover during two of his three years at university, and had gone out into the world determined that any sexual relationship he formed, any desires he had, would be with and for a woman.
Throughout his training and his early years in the Met that had been the case. John had played the field, moving from girl to girl with reasonable frequency. He never made promises he knew he had no intention of keeping; he never told a girl he loved her; he never led her on in any way; he was, in every respect, the perfect gentleman. He was sure the day would come when he would want to settle down, but as a newly qualified Inspector he hadn't seen that happening any time soon.
He had worked diligently in his role as Inspector, putting in extra hours as and when needed and even when not needed. He was ambitious as well as having a desire to prove that just because he had a title (albeit a minor one) and had gone to public school, had grown up with a butler and spoke with a rather posh accent, he wasn't empty-headed, and that he had gained his promotion on merit, not because of his background.
Then one day he was assigned, on what he believed to be a temporary, basis, to Superintendent Adam Dalgliesh. John knew about Dalgliesh - everyone in the Met did. He knew about the deaths of his wife and son in childbirth; knew how he had all but closed in on himself and become a recluse, and had rarely smiled since the day they had died. He knew quite how exacting Dalgliesh was - a perfectionist even - and a stickler for rules and regulations; knew that he was known as 'the Commissioner's blue-eyed boy'. In truth, John had not been looking forward to working with him. However, he had told himself it was just a temporary pairing, thus he hadn't really given it any real thought.
Then he worked his first case with Dalgliesh. At the end of it realised he had learnt far more in those few weeks than he had hitherto learnt in his entire career, and had found himself hoping against hope that maybe Dalgliesh might want him to assist him again. A week later he again found himself in a car with Dalgliesh driving him to a crime scene. A month later he he was Dalgliesh's accepted and acknowledged partner.
Their working relationship was good and he liked as well as respected Dalgliesh. Over time Dalgliesh trusted John more and was prepared to let him take more responsibility than a lot of Inspectors were given. That turned into friendship and then one day John found himself looking at Dalgliesh and realising friendship was not all he felt for his boss; it wasn't all by quite some way. He had, of course, made quite, quite sure he kept his new feelings hidden from Dalgliesh. However, over the years it had become harder to do so - even though he rarely consciously allowed himself to think of them.
He sighed silently again and deliberately pushed his mind from thoughts of what it might be like to be in bed with Dalgliesh, to be in his arms, to kiss him, to touch him, to let him know how he felt about him. After all, he was certain Dalgliesh wasn't interested in men and had never indulged in any kind of homosexual activity, not even though he had been educated at a minor public school. He couldn't be interested; he was still in love with his dead wife - or at least with the memory of her. Yes, he had allowed himself the odd dalliance since her death, for a while John had believed he just might marry Deborah Riscoe. But ultimately they had all ended; if in fact they had ever truly begun, because no woman, no one, could live up to the memory of Jean Dalgliesh.
Yet there had been the odd occasion when John had thought that Dalgliesh was looking at him in a slightly different way, was looking at him as if he - But he always pushed those thoughts aside because even in an alternative reality whereby Dalgliesh did like men and did actually like John outside of friendship, he would never permit himself to do anything about his feelings. He was John's superior; he outranked him; he would never permit himself to sleep with someone directly under his command.
But what if he wasn't directly under Dalgliesh's command? Would that be different? Yes, they would still be of different ranks, they would still both work for the Met, so Dalgliesh would still be his superior, but if he wasn't his working, direct superior might it be different? There were other couples, married, living together or just dating, and several of those relationships were between people of different ranks. Of course they were all between a man and a woman, but even so, rank was rank.
Not that that would happen because in the New Year they would both be moving across the new Special Investigation Squad; the one that would deal with sensitive crimes. Dalgliesh would head the squad and John would be his right hand man. Thus, he would continue to work directly under Dalgliesh; nothing would change.
It amused him slightly when he thought about the fact that everyone, right from the Commissioner down the ranks had just seemed to assume that when Dalgliesh moved, John would go with him. He couldn't actually remember anyone, not even Dalgliesh himself, actually asking him if he wanted to move, and he certainly never undertook an interview for a position! It was simply taken as read that he would go; that their partnership would continue.
It would be an excellent thing to have on his CV and he knew many of his colleagues were envious that he had a place. He knew other places in the squad had been fought over vigorously, with people going out of their way to try to prove that they had what it took to be part of the new, high profile squad. He would be a fool not to want to be part of it and he did want to be part of it. He did want to continue to work with Dalgliesh; he did want to go on spending most of his working hours with Dalgliesh. However, his desire to spend a good proportion of his non-working hours with him was increasing considerably.
What if he said he had changed his mind and actually didn't want to move, but wanted to stay where he was? That he rather liked the idea of heading up cases himself, which he would be able to do. That would also look good on his CV, even if it wouldn't be as good as being part of the new elite squad. He knew that as Dalgliesh's right hand man he would have a degree of autonomy in the new squad and have more responsibility than he had now. But if he didn't go with Dalgliesh he could have more. And if he didn't go with Dalgliesh maybe he could have even more.
Except he would be taking a considerable risk if he told Dalgliesh he had changed his mind about moving to the new squad with him. There was no guarantee that he would get what he wanted. Dalgliesh had never given any indication that he might like men in general and John in particular. Well, John knew he liked him, knew that he did see him as a friend, but that was a long way from being anything else. He would be a fool to give up such a wonderful opportunity just on the off chance that Dalgliesh might like him as more than a friend.
He glanced at his boss again, letting his gaze linger for a moment or two longer than the previous times he had looked at him. He really did want to more than just Dalgliesh's friend and colleague - but could he risk losing being able to work with him?
"Keep your eyes on the road, John." Dalgliesh turned his head and looked at John.
"Sir," John said, hastily looking back at the road. He also made a miniscule adjustment to the position his hands were in on the wheel, as he realised they had slipped slightly from the perfect ten and two o'clock he always kept them in when driving Dalgliesh anywhere.
As he continued to drive he saw out of the corner of his eye, to his surprise, that not only had Dalgliesh turned away from staring out of the side window, but that he was now staring at him. He almost started when Dalgliesh said in a fairly flat tone, "Harrison was a fool."
Years of working with Dalgliesh made John aware that his boss was waiting for him to reply. However, he honestly wasn't certain what to say. Had Harrison and Dalgliesh not been friends, he might have been easier. However, as it was . . .
In the end he settled for simply saying, "Sir?"
"To in effect give in to those who were blackmailing him and to all intents and purposes publicly confirm that he was ashamed of having a male lover."
So the letters had been true. John hadn't liked to ask Dalgliesh and Dalgliesh hadn't, until now, volunteered the information. He had suspected they were true, now he knew. "Do you think he really was ashamed?" For a second he dared to risk a quick eye flicker in Dalgliesh's direction.
Dalgliesh sighed. "Yes and no. I know he was deeply conflicted. He had been brought up by very religious parents who believed firmly that homosexuality was a sin, thus part of him found it hard to accept his feelings and what he was. He also didn't want to bring disgrace on them or on his party. And yet . . . Times have changed, John, what was once seen as disgusting isn't seen that way any longer. I told him that. I thought he had listened to me; believed me. Maybe I could have -" Dalgliesh fell silent and again turned away from John to stare out of the window.
John was silent for a moment or two as he thought frantically for what - if anything - to say. Did Dalgliesh expect him to say anything? Would he be angry if he said anything? Surly not, he wouldn't have said anything if he hadn't expected John to comment, would he?
Calling on his years of being Dalgliesh's friend and partner he said, somewhat cautiously, "You don't blame yourself, do you, sir?"
Dalgliesh sighed softly. "No, John - at least not seriously. It was his decision; he chose to take his own life. It was his choice. Maybe I could have said more - but doesn't everyone think that? I did what I could; it was his decision. I just happen to believe he was a fool for doing what he did. He didn't have to."
"Did you ever meet his lover?"
"Once. He was a very nice, very genuine young man. They should have had many happy years together. And if Hugh was really determined not to bring what he saw as shame on his party, he could have applied for the Chiltern Hundreds. He didn't have to go on being a government minister; he was wealthy enough not to have to work should he have chosen not to. Or he could have returned to being a solicitor, thus he would no longer be in the public eye. He had a choice."
John was more than a little taken aback by Dalgliesh's words; he never would have believed he might think like that. In fact he was so stunned he spoke without actually thinking for once. "Love before duty?" he said. "Do you believe in that? Sir," he added swiftly, when he realised quite what he had said. "I mean - Sorry, sir. I . . ." He fell silent as he realised Dalgliesh was staring at him. He wasn't totally surprised when Dalgliesh didn't answer his question. He was just pleased that his boss didn't become angry or point out that John had overstepped the mark.
Instead of answering John's question, Dalgliesh after simply staring at him in silence for a moment or two, asked a question of his own. "Do you have plans for tonight, John? Are you seeing Abigail?"
"Um, no, sir. In fact Abby and I broke up a few weeks ago. Other than loading and running the washing machine, I don't have any plans."
"In that case, would you like to have dinner with me?" It wouldn't be the first time they had gone out to dinner; it didn't happen very often, but it wasn't a unique thing.
John had to prevent himself from sounding too excited at the prospect of spending the evening with Dalgliesh. Thus, he bit down on his urge to really exclaim his pleasure, smiled and said, "Thank you, sir. I'd like that a lot."
For a moment Dalgliesh didn't answer. Then he smiled and said quietly, "Good." A second later he added, even more quietly, "So would I."
They spent the rest of the journey talking about an open case and the new squad whilst John prevented himself from grinning like an idiot as he once again dared to allow himself to hope. Even as he listened to and answered Dalgliesh, he also began to give serious consideration to his thought of explaining to Dalgliesh that as much as he wanted to join the new squad and continue to work with Dalgliesh, that he felt he would prefer the opportunity to in effect be a bit more of his own boss.