The Director’s office was the last place CT wanted to be. There was work to be done, and at any rate being called to his office was rarely a good thing, at least in her experience. No, she wasn’t a perfect little lapdog like York or Carolina. She wasn’t being called to his office for a nice pat on the head, she knew that much.
But she knocked on the door and stood back until he invited her in anyway. It wasn’t like she had much choice. She only knocked on the window, because she knew he hated the sound of her knuckles rapping on glass.
He wasn’t seated behind the desk when she came in -- he was standing over it, hands clasped behind his back. She hated that. He looked so fucking imperious.
“Connecticut,” he said, in that slow, awful drawl of his. He was the only one who called her by her full designation. “Please. Take a seat.”
“I’d rather stand.”
“If you insist,” he said, and she’d known the Director long enough to see the momentary displeasure tug at the corners of his mouth. “I’d like to have a word.”
“I thought so,” she said.
“It’s about your productivity,” he said. CT’s face hardened slightly, but she didn’t flinch. Of course it was. She couldn’t remember having a conversation with him about anything else in the last two years. “I have certain...concerns about your work lately.”
“And those would be?”
“I fear the quality of your work is not up to par,” said the Director. Every word came out so slow, like the steady drip of a leaky faucet, and it made CT’s palms itch. “You seem to lack a certain enthusiasm for your work here, Connecticut. That does not make for a job well done.”
“I turn in everything on time,” CT said, and she couldn’t keep her voice from dropping to just above a snarl, couldn’t quite keep her teeth from clenching around the words. “Early, even! And I’m never late to work! I hardly ever call in -- ”
“And yet,” said the Director, his voice so suddenly sharp that CT found herself cut off, “and yet I find that I am dissatisfied with your work of late. You have, at times, unduly rushed your investigations. You project an unseemly attitude around clients. We are a business, Connecticut. We maintain professionalism at all times. Would you care to explain yourself?”
CT swallowed, her mouth suddenly dry. The accusation that she was anything less than diligent and thorough in her work stung more than she cared to admit, but she just clenched her jaw and kept her face straight. “I have worked very hard since I came here, sir,” she said, the words coming out in staccato. “I’ve taken every case you’ve assigned to me and I’ve completed it. Hell, I’ve even wound up doing paperwork for half the office, too, when everyone else sees fit to shove it off on me. And yet, after two years, I’m still getting the same mediocre, low-grade case work you started me on. Would you care to explain that, sir?”
She thought she detected just the slightest flare of anger in the Director’s face, but it was was so minute, so brief, it was hard to tell. He unclasped his hands and placed them on the desk, leaning forward.
“Do you have a problem with your assignments, Connecticut?”
“Of course I do!” The frustration that had wound itself around her so tightly sprang apart, tearing itself through her voice. “I’ve worked hard for you, sir! And yet, it’s York and Carolina and everyone else who gets to do the real work, the important work, while I do everyone else’s paperwork and shuffle off to do hours-long surveillance on the wife of some loser client, who isn’t even cheating on him! I thought that if I worked hard enough, if I proved myself to you by doing everything you asked of me, then maybe you’d respect me enough to -- ”
“Connecticut,” said the Director, his voice cold, “you have never been in law enforcement. You are not ex-military. You are not qualified to operate on assignments of the same caliber as our other detectives.”
CT couldn’t come up with a response to that, not right away. Her mouth opened, tried to form words, but nothing came out. It didn’t matter if he had a point -- it hurt.
“May I remind you, Laura,” he continued, and his eyes were unforgiving behind his glasses, “that your initial employment here was a condition of an agreement I had with your father.”
CT’s stomach sank like it was weighted down with concrete. Anger flashed over her face, contorted her features -- and she almost lashed out, she wanted to, but she didn’t. She’d known the Director for too long to be so foolish as to think it might help somehow.
“I know that,” she spat, hands balling into fists at her sides. “I know that! But that doesn’t mean I haven’t worked hard at this job! I want this job!”
“If that is truly the case,” drawled the Director, “then you had better let it show in your work.” He shuffled a small stack of papers on his desk, straightening them into a neat pile. “That is all, Connecticut. You are dismissed.”
“Dr. Church, I -- ”
“I said, you are dismissed,” he said, biting out every word. CT couldn’t argue with that tone, she knew, and as she turned and left his office, a strangled noise of frustration made its way from her throat. The window rattled when she slammed the door.
York and North were hovering over the coffee maker when she stomped her way into the break room. She needed a drink of water, something to cool her down, because she felt like she might erupt and punch a new hole in the wall. The other two detectives looked up when she grabbed a bottle of water from the cooler, twisting the cap off with her teeth.
North’s brow furrowed, and York leaned against the counter, cocking his head to the side. “You need a hand with that, Connie?”
“Fuck you,” she snarled, spitting the cap out, and she stormed past them back toward her desk. Not qualified my ass, she thought, viciously chugging down half the bottle in one go. She didn’t need to be an ex-cop to be a good detective. She’d make him see that, one way or another.