AUTHOR: Nikki Harrington
FANDOM: The Dalgliesh Mysteries
PAIRING: Adam Dalgliesh/John Massingham
SUB-GENRE: First Time
SUMMARY: Set a couple of weeks after Keep On Hoping. It's the Met's Christmas party and Adam is thinking about John and what his true feelings for his younger college are. He has convinced himself that he cannot do anything about his feelings, not only if John unlikely to return them, but he is John's boss. Then something happens to make him reconsider. But dare he take the risk?
WORD COUNT: 3,150
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.
Adam stood near to the wall sipping from a glass of what he considered to be barely drinkable wine, watching and listening to his younger and more junior colleagues apparently thoroughly enjoying themselves.
It had been a considerable number of years since he had attended a Met Christmas party; even before he had become a highly ranked officer he hadn't enjoyed them. In fact it was a rare occasion that anyone over the rank of Chief Inspector - with the exception of the Commissioner who always made a point of dropping in for half an hour or so - attended them. They preferred to let the junior ranks let their hair down without their more senior and older colleagues making them feel inhibited.
However, this year the Commissioner had evoked a three-line whip, insisting that every senior officer put in an appearance at the party, even if they only stayed for twenty minutes. He had insisted the younger men and women needed a morale boost and what better than to see their older colleagues in attendance.
Adam could understand why the Commissioner had insisted all senior ranks attended. It had been a hard year for the Met; in fact it had been a very hard year. Of course no year was easy and loss free, but this year had been exceptional - in particular the last three months. Eight officers, including a deeply respected, loved even, Superintendent had needlessly lost their lives in ways that had left even the most senior and battle-hardened men and women reeling.
Adam had truly believed he had seen everything during his years as a copper and that nothing could truly shake or shock him any more. However, as he had stood, John at his side, staring down at what was left of Superintendent Clive Holden, a man who had joined the Met the same week as Adam had, even he had struggled with what he saw. After a second or two of just staring at the 'body' of the man even he couldn't recognise, he had sent John back to the car. John had hesitated for no longer than a second or two before hurrying from the room. Holden's brutal murder really had shaken everyone from the most junior officer all the way up to the Commissioner.
So, yes, Adam really could understand why the Commissioner had evoked the three-line whip. He couldn't claim to be enjoying himself; he didn't deny he would far rather be at home with a bottle of decent wine, a book and some classical music. However, he was well aware that the Commissioner had been correct to do what he had done. The younger members of the Met had quite clearly been pleased, touched even, to see their senior officers join in the 'fun', if only for a short time. The morale booster had worked, even if for the time the senior officers had been present the tone had been somewhat muted and more deferential.
Adam was aware that he was the only senior office still there and given he was in effect hovering on the fringes of the party, he suspected not many, if indeed any, of his younger colleagues were aware he was still there. To be honest he didn't know why he was still there; his twenty minutes had been up more than an hour ago. Actually, he knew full well why he was still there; he was just trying not to admit it.
As he watched his junior colleagues, he mused for a moment how different his life could have been. How, if the relationship he had formed whilst at university had continued, he wouldn't be standing where he was; he wouldn't be what he was: a Commander in Scotland Yard. Few, if indeed any, of his colleagues, junior or senior, would believe what had happened during his final two years at university.
He had been involved in a passionate, deeply passionate, intense, far more intense than he could have ever imagined, far more intense than any since, relationship. A relationship with another man; a man some two decades his senior, who had returned to university as a post-graduate student. Even now, if he allowed himself to, which he rarely if ever did, he could still recall the feel of his lover's hands on his body, the taste of his mouth on his.
He had truly believed their relationship would last beyond university - in fact his lover had said as much. And then one day out of the blue, his lover had told him he was being unfair to Adam and that he was setting him free. The next day, after they had spent all night arguing about it, his lover had simply left, never to return again. Adam had never seen nor heard from the man again; he could be dead and Adam wouldn't know.
Devastated beyond words and sure his life was over, Adam had nonetheless found, from somewhere, the mental strength to sit and pass his finals before deciding, almost on a whim, to join the police force. He had never looked back - well not consciously. However, even he couldn't control his sub-conscious and his dreams.
He idly wondered had his lover not walked away from him what would have become of him; what he would be doing now. He certainly wouldn't be in the police force. He also wondered what his family, especially his father, would have thought. Would they have been disgusted? Disappointed? Would they have shunned him and cut him off from the family? Despite homosexuality being against everything his father had been taught and against everything, as far as Adam knew, he believed in, Adam somehow didn't think his father would have disowned him. He would have been disappointed, of that Adam was sure, but he wouldn't have disowned his son.
Anyway, that was all decades behind him. He hadn't looked at another man since the day his lover had walked away from him. At least he hadn't for years, and he had never believed he would. Loving another man had been a different life; he had been a different person; a quite, quite different person. That side of him was behind him. Never again would he go to another man's bed or be in another man's arms. And that is what he had truly believed. And then he had been partnered with John Massingham.
Young, full of raw talent, too self-assured at times for his own good and the good of his career, yet lacking in self-assurance at other times, irritating, somewhat over-indulged, Adam had nonetheless seen the potential in the young man and had been happy to keep him as his partner after their first case. Indeed he had asked for him to remain with him - something he hadn't actually told John.
As time went on their working relationship had become first-class and they were well respected by other teams. Maybe it was inevitable that as they grew closer as partners, friendship would develop; even now Adam wasn't certain. However, one day he realised that he didn't just view John as his partner and his subordinate; he also viewed him as a friend.
It had happened after a particularly nasty and intense case which had ended with the death of someone John had been convinced shouldn't have died. He had believed that he should have been able to save the young girl. Adam, more case hardened, older and more philosophical than John was, whilst being upset they hadn't been able to save her, had been more realistic than John. No matter what they did, they couldn't save everyone. No one was to blame; they couldn't have done more than they had done; there was nothing he would have done differently; there was nothing John could have done to have saved her. John however had felt differently, had brooded on the death and had blamed himself.
In an attempt to shake his young partner from his melancholy, Adam had taken him out to dinner where, after several glasses of wine, he had explained the facts of life to John and finally had forced an agreement from John that they couldn't have done anything else. That whatever they had done or not done the girl would have died. It was only when he had left John at his front door and got back into the taxi which would take him home, that Adam had realised he hadn't just reached out to John as a colleague, as a junior officer, he had reached out to him as a friend. He realised that he regarded the younger man as a friend; a good friend; a real friend - something he actually had very few of.
Despite the age difference and other differences, their friendship had blossomed and had actually led to a better working relationship. They quite often had lunch together, normally in Dalgliesh's office, and had dined out together a few times. Adam knew without a shadow of a doubt that if he was ever in need or any kind of help he could turn to John - and he believed John knew the same was true in reverse. At least he hoped John knew that.
However, it was no longer just friendship he felt for John; it was more than that. Somewhere down the line, and he honestly didn't know when or where, he had started to have the same feelings for John as he had had for his university lover. Of course he had never and would never say anything. To do so would be wrong on so many levels - the fact that John was his subordinate was only one of them.
Also, despite their friendship he honestly had no idea if John had ever had any interest in someone of the same sex. Yes, he had gone to public school, but despite what books and films portrayed, not all boys who went to public school had sex with other boys. And even those that did, for the most part only did so whilst at school. In all the years he had worked with and known John he had seen a number of girls pass through John's life and he guessed bed. At times he hadn't quite been able to keep up with them. One day John was talking about Susannah and how she was the one and the next day he was talking about someone else.
Liking John, caring about him, occasionally daring to fantasise about him being in his arms and in his bed, loving him even, was so wrong on so many levels that Adam rarely allowed himself to think about him in those terms. He was John's direct superior officer; it was impossible. Even if John did by any chance have feelings for him, it wouldn't be possible. Whilst he was his direct boss it wouldn't be right or even permitted. To be honest he wasn't certain the permitted part was true or if it was at the discretion of the Commissioner. After all there were married couples in the Met and other couples who dated and they weren't necessarily of the same rank. However, none of them, as far as he was aware, involved a direct boss and subordinate. And that is what he and John were.
And that is what they would go on being once they moved to the new squad. The squad he would head with John as his second in command; his right hand man. As he took another sip of wine he suddenly realised to his surprise that actually John and he had never talked about whether John would go with him or not; it had just been assumed. Assumed by everyone - even the Commissioner had assumed it. Did John actually want to join the new squad? Or was he doing so just because it had been assumed? Adam was sure that had John not wanted to do so he would have said something, officially or even unofficially - and he hadn't. Thus, they would both move to the new squad and he would continue to be John's direct boss. Therefore any relationship beyond that of colleagues and friends would not be possible.
He sighed as his gaze came to rest, not for the first time, on John. He was also stranding more on the edge of the party rather than in the middle of it and was with a small group of men. Adam realised all of the men John was with were Inspectors or Chief Inspectors, so much for cross-rank fraternisation. He wished John would detach himself from the group and come and talk to him. In fact it was his hope that John would appear by his side that had kept him at the party.
However, he finally decided he really had had enough; he actually really wanted a glass of decent wine. Plus his head was starting to throb somewhat from the noise, the smoke and the scent from the array of perfumes and aftershaves. If John hadn't come to talk to him yet, he wasn't going to do so. With another sigh he put his glass down and made his way towards the door.
"Sir!" Adam stopped and turned around. Looking slightly flushed as if he had hurried across the room John stood looking at him. "You aren't going yet, are you, sir?"
Adam stared at the younger man, pushed aside his desire to pull him into his arms and kiss him and instead said, "I've had enough, to be honest, John. I'd rather like a decent glass of wine."
"Oh," John said, he sounded, at least Adam thought he did, disappointed. "I was just coming to talk to you. Sorry I couldn't get away before, but you know how Neil Carter can talk."
Adam did. He smiled. For a moment he considered staying, simply to be with John. He could stay. He could drink another glass of almost undrinkable wine; he could stay and talk to John; he really wanted to talk to John. But - "Do you have a taxi booked?" he heard himself ask.
John shook his head. "No. I don't bother. I don't like to be tied to a set time of leaving."
"In that case why don't you come with me? We can go back to my home and have a drink."
John hesitated for a moment and Adam thought he saw something flash through John's eyes. However, he told himself he couldn't have seen it. A moment later John smiled and said, "I'd like that sir; I'd really like that."
Adam smiled back. "Good," he said. "Let's go."
Adam stared at John who sat opposite him and tried not to let his mind go to places it really shouldn't go. Bringing John home with him had been both wonderful and more than a little dangerous.
Wonderful because he enjoyed John's company and they had slipped into an easy conversation and enjoyed a bottle of good wine, whilst classical music played in the background. Adam decided he could quite easily get used to John being in his home - which was a very dangerous thought to have, as well as an impossible one. Having him there was also dangerous because being alone with John in his home, in a relaxed situation made him realise quite how deep his feelings for his partner went, and quite how much he wanted him not only in his home but also in his bed.
He hid a sigh and pushed such thoughts from his mind as he made himself look away from John for a moment or two. When he looked back he saw that John was staring at him somewhat intently, he seemed to be appraising him almost. And for a moment Adam thought he saw something in John's steady gaze that told him John's feelings for him were not just those of friend and working partner. Again he pushed that thought away; of course John didn't have romantic and sexual feelings for him; of course he didn't. And even if he did, Adam was his direct boss. It was impossible.
"I was wondering, sir," John said, cutting into Adam's thoughts.
"Oh, yes?" Adam raised an eyebrow.
"About the new squad. I think I might be having second thoughts about joining it."
Adam frowned. "Why? Don't you want to continue to work with me?" He hoped he had managed to hide the disappointment from his voice, as well as the almost fear that he was going to lose John completely.
John sat a little more upright. "It's not that, sir. It's just . . . Well, I know joining the squad is a marvellous opportunity and a great chance to further my career. But I'd still be working directly for you. If I didn't join the squad then I would have the chance to head up some cases, wouldn't I?"
Slowly Adam nodded as part of his mind began to churn. "Yes, John, you would. However, joining the squad would also give you more authority. Part of my role is going to be political and involve a number of committees. Thus, there would be times when you would be in charge."
John was silent for a moment and simply held Adam's gaze. He went on staring at Adam as he emptied his glass and, without taking his gaze from Adam, put it down on the table. He moistened his lips as he went on staring silently at Adam. Adam found he had to fight his now nearly over-whelming urge to move across to the sofa and take John into his arms.
"But I'd still be working directly under you, wouldn't I?" John said, staring intently at Adam.
Adam frowned. He wasn't suggesting . . . He couldn't be trying to say he . . . He couldn't; he simply couldn't. He was misreading John. He had to be misreading him. He didn't mean -
Suddenly to his surprise and disappointment John stood up. "I'd better go," he said, pushing his hands into his trouser pockets and once more staring hard at Adam.
Adam bit back a gasp as a look of desire flashed through John's eyes. However, a second later, if that, it had gone and he told himself he hadn't seen it. Or had he? John hesitated for a moment or two, before turning on his heel and heading towards the door.
"John?" Swiftly Adam stood up and strode across to him.
John looked up at him. "Yes, sir?"
Adam made his decision. He put a hand on John's shoulder. "Don't go, John," he said quietly, as he took a half step nearer to John.
John's eyes widened. "Sir?" His tone was slightly hesitant, as was his look.
"Adam," Adam murmured, as he lowered his head and found John's mouth with his own.