Title: A Step In The Wrong Direction
Fandom: Midsomer Murders
Disclaimers: Characters belong to Caroline Graham
Feedback: Is lovely
A Step in the Wrong Direction
He stared out over the river and saw none of the wild activity of the
warm late summer evening that was going on in the water. He wasn't a
poetic man but he'd been known to enjoy the slow wash of a sunset
falling into twilight. He didn't see that either although tonight it
was particularly magnificent.
He saw Tom's smiling face, his eyes warm with love and tenderness, and
he felt weary and sick. He had no idea what to do. There was no-one
he could turn to to talk about this. The police offered counsellors
for every kind of situation but what could they tell him that he
didn't already know? He should leave. Was going to; he knew that in
his heart. He would work hard, take his exams and make his own escape
route. All that love for those two women and none for him. Respect,
yes. He had earned that, slowly, over the years. An easy-going
friendship, always a warm welcome. But not what he wanted. He went
round and round the situation and found no way in and only one way
"Ain't you got no 'ome to go to?" Troy jumped, knocked over the
remaining half pint that he hadn't touched in the last hour. The
landlord stood over him. "I was just about to lock you in, y'know."
"Sorry. Lost track of time." He was cold and when he dug in his
pocket for his keys found the fabric of his jeans damp with the dew.
The landlord rolled his eyes at the romantic dreamer and sent him on
Troy drove home slowly. His flat felt empty and unlived in. It was
really; he spent so little time here.
Sleep was a long time in coming and when it did he dreamt of him,
walking with him, talking, not touching and he woke unrefreshed. He
stared in the mirror as he shaved and wondered why he had ever thought
Tom might want him. He read too much into those little touches, those
private smiles Tom gave him as people gave themselves away to them.
They were meaningless.
His welcome at the Barnabys' was, as always, warm. Joyce made him
coffee and Cully offered him her toast. He took it and smiled and
wondered if they knew that what he really wished to do was take Tom
away from them. No, what he really wanted to do was have Tom come
away with him, to choose him. To throw away his family, his whole
sense of place, his beautiful home, all for him. God, he was an
Troy told Tom about taking the exams over the pub lunch he'd bought
him. If he'd expected anything less than the enthusiasm and
encouragement, had expected any sign of regret, he was disappointed.
Tom wanted him to leave. He was a copper, saw everything. Maybe he
even saw this. The thought of that made him feel sick. He couldn't
finish his lunch; his appetite had vanished and his relief was
heartfelt when his phone rang and he was called away.
"You don't need me to deal with that. Come and fetch me in an hour,"
Tom said, dismissing him and returning to his lunch. He was glad to
Troy found every reason for them to work separately on this case.
They had a lot of ground to cover, so many people who knew the victim
and so many, it appeared, who loathed him utterly and absolutely.
At night he studied for long hours until he couldn't keep his eyes
open. Twice he had woken up to find himself sitting at the table,
creases in his face from where he'd fallen asleep on his arms over the
books. Every time he sat down to study he pictured himself out of
Midsomer, away from here, away from Tom's kind eyes. The studying
became an excuse that worked well. They would meet at the station,
have both cars, have more independence from one another. Tom was
supporting him in every way. Couldn't wait to be rid of him.
The exams were awful but at least they were over in a couple of days.
Not like the way he felt about Tom. That would never be over while
he stayed here.
Joyce rang him late one night, two days later.
"Gavin, is Tom with you?"
"He hasn't come home. He hasn't rung me." He could hear panic rising
in her voice.
"I'm sure it's OK, Mrs Barnaby. Is he not answering his phone?"
"It's turned off. When did you last see him?"
Troy swallowed. "About six o'clock."
"It's nearly eleven now."
"I'm sure it's fine. He was going to follow something up for a case.
He was going out to one of the villages to nose around. I'll go and
find him." He sounded confident and assured and Joyce responded to
that, asking him to ring as soon as he found him.
He sat for a few minutes in the car before setting off. He had lied
to Joyce with ease; Tom had said nothing of the sort. He had a good
idea where he might be but Gavin was probably the last person he would
want to be found by.
"Would you like to come for a drink, Troy? Nice summer evening for a
"No thanks, Sir." He'd been proud of his casual refusal.
And then Tom had wandered over and put his hand on his shoulder and
bent to whisper in his ear so the WPC wouldn't hear. "A date, Troy?"
His mouth had been warm and close, his voice full of a smile.
"No, Sir. I have some things I need to do." Why hadn't he just lied,
it would have been easy and painless.
Tom's hand had slid away and he'd stood and looked down at Troy and
his eyes had been full of hurt. This was the first time he'd ever
managed to turn him down and he felt like a louse.
When he'd said goodbye ten minutes later, Tom had waved him away,
engrossed in a paper.
Troy headed for his boss' favourite pub, the one by the river where
he'd made his decision all those weeks ago.
"Sorry, I can't serve you," the landlord smiled, smug in his knowledge
that he was on the right side of the law with this copper. "Kickin'
out in ten minutes."
"I'm looking for someone. Is the garden open?"
He headed for the door before he got an answer.
Tom was there, sitting at the furthest table, his usual one, staring
out over the river. Several empty pint glasses stood on the table and
Troy thought of the car in the car park and knew that that was where
it was staying for a while.
"Ah, Troy. Finished all those important things you have to do?" The
bitterness, so unusual and out of place, stopped him in his tracks.
He stared down at a drunk Tom Barnaby and felt that he didn't
recognise him. In the dim light he could hardly see his face but this
slurring man was not someone he knew.
"Sir, your wife was worried," he said quietly.
"And you came to find me." He swigged the remains of the pint and
thudded the glass down on the table. "What a good sergeant you are."
"Are you going to tell me I'm drunk Troy?"
"No, Sir. I was going to suggest I should take you home." He kept
his voice quiet and calm with effort. Chief Inspector Barnaby was
drunk and he needed to get him out of here and into bed. A familiar
image followed that thought; Tom in his bed reaching out to him,
begging for him. He crushed it but anger at himself made his voice
sharper than he meant. "Can you walk?"
"I'm not that far gone." All the same it was good that he was there
to catch him as he stumbled when he stood. Gavin didn't let go of him
either as they made their way to the car, neither speaking. He could
feel the play of muscles in Tom's arm through the thin cotton of his
shirt. The alcohol must be keeping him warm because the air was
Tom sat heavily in the seat and made no effort to put the belt on.
Troy sighed and held it out for him but he simply stared through the
windscreen and said nothing. In the glow of the streetlight he could
see the lines on his boss' face, carved deep by the years. He could
feel the warmth radiating off him as he reached over to do the belt up
and felt his body respond with a thrill. Gavin swore internally and
clicked the belt into place with more force than necessary.
Tom's breath was on his cheek, close to him and he knew he should get
away from him. His attempt at a quick withdrawal was scuppered by
Tom's hand gripping his arm so he almost overbalanced and landed in
"Gavin." He thought his heart would stop.
"Tom." He seemed more alert now, noticeably less drunk.
"Sir," Troy affirmed, needing to keep this situation under control.
He couldn't look anywhere but at Tom, balancing himself with one hand
on the door frame, his other arm held in a tight grip that he could
only escape from with minor violence.
They were only inches apart and Tom's eyes held his and he said
nothing. He could smell the beer on his breath but it wasn't
"Gavin. Why did you turn me down?" The bitterness had gone, replaced
by something that might have been sadness.
He managed to make it sound like he'd turned down more than the offer
of a drink.
"I told you..."
"You lied to me." The voice was quieter. "Why didn't you want to
come out with me?"
He tried to pull away. "I need to ring your wife, Sir."
For a long time Tom Barnaby stared at him and then the pressure on his
arm vanished and he nearly dropped into his lap again.
"Mrs Barnaby. I've found him."
"Is he alright?"
"The locals appeared to think that the appearance of a Chief Inspector
was a good excuse for some serious drinking," he lied smoothly.
"Is he very drunk?" her voice was somewhat chilly but at least he knew
it wasn't personal.
"A bit," Troy said cautiously, turning to find Tom's eyes on him.
"Oh." Definitely icy now.
"He ... he can stay at my place if you'd prefer." The offer was out
before he could stop it. Tom was still watching him, saying nothing.
"That might be better. I'll see him tomorrow." She hung up with a
"I think you're in trouble, Sir."
"Thank you for rescuing me from it, Gavin. You're a good man."
He hoped that the blush wouldn't show in the sodium yellow light.
Tom didn't need a hand out of the car, although he hovered just in
He thanked god that his cleaner came on Thursdays and the flat was in
a reasonable state. She'd even left him some flowers cut from her
garden which sat incongruously on the table in a pint glass.
"Would you like some water, Sir? Or a cup of tea?"
Tom stood in the centre of the room and simply looked at him.
"I'll make the sofa bed up," Troy said, desperate to get away from
that unerring gaze.
"Gavin." His voice was very quiet and Gavin paused halfway to the
bedroom and turned back. He could see sadness on Tom's face and
something that might have been despair.
"Sir, I'm sorry I turned you down." He took a step towards him.
"So am I." Tom reached out and took Gavin's hand and held it loosely,
his thumb tracing a slow circle on it.
He couldn't speak. The heat spread up his arm and through his chest
making him breathless.
The silence wasn't awkward. They simply gazed at one another. Troy,
who usually took in Tom's face in quick glances and sideways looks
stared hungrily, eyes consuming the strong features that were so
familiar to him.
"Gavin," Tom said softly and smiled and at last Troy found the courage
to reach out and take his boss' free hand in his own, twisting their
"Tom," he whispered, not daring to think of anything more than
standing here with the freedom to look and touch even if it was only a
It was Tom who kissed him, leaning in and finding his mouth in a
gentle caress. He must have felt the shiver that went through Troy
because he withdrew and Troy breathed out a 'no' and stepped into the
space and found the willing mouth with his own. If the kiss was a
little clumsy at first, it didn't last. Tom's tongue touched Gavin's
lips and he opened his mouth to the pressure and welcomed it.
They pressed against one another, the kisses wild and passionate, not
drunken in the least. Gavin didn't want to think about the whys and
why nots of this happening. He would accept anything Tom offered him
tonight and live with the consequences in the morning. And so it was
he who tugged on Tom's hand, drawing him towards the sofa.
But it was Tom who said, eyes holding his "Don't you have a bed?" and
didn't wait for an answer before pulling him towards the half-open
door and the double bed beyond it.
Tom's fingers were halfway down the buttons of Gavin's shirt when he
"Tom?" he mumbled, doubts and fears tumbling through him as his legs
hit the edge of the bed.
The hot mouth found his nipple, sucking and licking and Gavin's words
were gone and all that came out was a wordless cry of need.
For all his thoughts of this happening, Gavin had never been in this
situation before. The only man he had ever wanted was the one who was
holding him now. He was half shocked when he realised that Tom had
done this and knew his lack of experience showed in his clumsy touches
and caresses. But when he wrapped his fingers round Tom's thick hard
cock and saw the fierce ecstasy in his face and felt the fingers
clawing at his spine in desperation he nearly came himself at the
thrill of it.
Tom made love to him. Gavin knew that this wasn't fucking. The older
man was gentle, careful and possessed so much self-control. It was
only when Gavin came, his cock throbbing in Tom's hand that his lover
lost the final shreds of control and thrust into him without restraint
and Gavin groaned with pleasure at the sensation of Tom coming inside
And then they lay wrapped up together, entwined, exhausted.
"When did you know how I felt?" Gavin asked quietly. He wouldn't
conceal his feelings any longer, wouldn't lie to Tom who knew him so
Tom didn't answer for a while. Eventually he said, "Honestly? I
wondered a long time ago. I couldn't think about it. But today when
you turned me down, it really brought home to me that I was losing you
completely. You wouldn't even tell me the truth."
Gavin didn't mention Joyce. Tom would never leave her and he would
"Don't go away when you pass those exams of yours."
"I might not pass," he said with a smile.
"You will." Tom's absolute faith in him was both wonderful and
frightening. What if he let him down?
"We'll cross that bridge when we come to it," Gavin whispered.
He lay there, listening as Tom's breathing softened into sleep and
knew that he would still have to leave.
[BritSlash Contents Page]
[BritSlash Fiction Archive]