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Title: In Their Quilted Coats ch. 1
Author: Pip
Pairing: None yet, but yes, it will be Richard/Pip eventually. And I have no idea if Pip is actually me or not. I don't think I could write me truthfully if you paid me a million dollars.
Warning: Umm, AU, obvs. Richard's wife and family don't exist, because I refuse to break up a home. He did, however, have his accident in this universe. Also, I should probably warn for Jeremy Clarkson in general.
Feedback: Would be treasured beyond pearls.

Heartfelt thanks to tigertale7 for the beta, and for playing in my universe with me every time I beg. Much love, bb.

First posted Aug, 2008

Andy walked into the portakabin, a red-headed woman trailing behind him. "Pay attention, you lot," he said shortly. "Since you insist on acting like children, you now have a babysitter." He pulled the rather nervous looking young woman forward. "This is Philippa. You may not make your usual idiotic demands of her. She has the right to refuse any idiotic demand you do make. She has the right to run any demand past me first, so don't even try. She has the right to give you a proper bollocking whenever you deserve it. She has the right to shout at you, herd you, reprimand you, manage you, bully you, and pretty much do anything she wants to, short of actually murdering you."

He looked down into her wide-eyed face. "Much as they like to think otherwise, they are replaceable. However, it's a pain in the arse, so we'd rather not have to. Do your best to avoid homicide, yeah?"

Philippa--a head shorter than Andy, pale, a bit on the overly plump side--nodded rapidly.

Andy returned his attention to the three men sitting around the table, cups of tea now forgotten in front of them. "Any questions?" he barked.

Jeremy opened his mouth.

"No," Andy immediately said. "Anyone else?"

James cleared his throat. "What precisely is her job function? Philippa." He glanced at her apologetically. "Philippa's job description? I think it's important to clarify that up front--"

"Assistant talent--and I use that word lightly--coordinator. Her job is to try and keep you sods from chucking your toys out of the pram and to get you where you're supposed to be on time. Any other questions? No? Good."

Andy had one foot out of the portakabin door before turning back to add, "Oh, and Clarkson? Try not to reduce this one to tears on her first day." With a slam of the flimsy door, he was gone.

Philippa clutched her clipboard to her chest. "It's--it's a pleasure to meet you, gentlemen. I hope--"

"Good God, you're not American, are you?" Clarkson demanded. "I won't have my tea being made by an American."

"Shut it, Jez," Richard spoke for the first time. He turned a pleasant smile on Philippa. "Have you seen the show before?"


"So you have at least some idea what you've gotten yourself into?"

She nodded. "Some, yes. And for the record, Mr. Clarkson, I'm Canadian, not American. And I'm quite good with tea, actually."

"Canadian," Jeremy repeated, looking suspicious. "You're not going to polite us to death, are you?"

"Don't worry, Mr. Clarkson, Canadians can be every bit as rude as you Brits." She said it sweetly.

James glanced at Richard, amused. "A hit," he murmured.

Jeremy huffed. "We'll see about that. I won't coddle you, girl; if you're to be our minder, you'd better do it properly. What kind of car do you have?"

"At the moment, none," she answered, sounding like she'd been expecting the question. "I only just arrived in England two weeks ago."

Richard raised an eyebrow. "How are you getting here?"

"Bicycle," she explained succinctly.

"Not another one!" Jeremy groaned. "First Hamster, now our bloody babysitter. This is a fucking car show, and I'm surrounded by gits on bicycles!"

"I do intend to buy a car as soon as I can," Philippa said quickly. "I might need some advice, though, considering you have very different models over here."

"Porsche 987," James said.

Richard snorted. "A 987? Are you mental? She should go with the 911 all the way, the Carrera Cabriolet."

"Don't be stupid," Jeremy said. "Mercedes-Benz SLK."

James rolled his eyes. "Fine, if she wants to look like a middle-aged arsehole trying to look like a 30-something ponce."

"Not true," Jeremy argued. "I have one, and it's dignified, but with a bit of pizzazz, too."

"I rest my case. And no one says 'pizzazz' anymore, Clarkson."

"Women look fantastic in the 911," Richard averred. "Just think of it, Jez--Kristen Scott Thomas--"

"She's still not forgiven."

"Fine," Richard sighed. "Fiona Bruce, then. Picture Fiona Bruce in a gorgeous little dark blue Carrera Cabriolet, sunglasses on, the wind in her hair..."

Jeremy looked thoughtful. "You do make a good point, Hamster."

"I've always sort of wanted a Land Rover," Philippa offered.

The three men stared at her, until Richard laughed. "I think I'm going to like you."

"Okay, maybe not a Land Rover," she smiled. "Actually, I'm going to have to set my sights on something a bit more modest than a Porsche or a Land Rover. They don't pay babysitters the way they used to."

"Fiat Panda," James promptly said. "Excellent fuel mileage."

"Ford Escort," Jeremy decreed. "After all, she's certainly not Kristen Scott Thomas, is she?"

Shocked, James sharply said, "Jeremy! Don't be a pillock."

Richard was the only one to see Philippa's face just before she looked down at her clipboard.

"What? I merely suggested--"

"Shut it, Clarkson," Richard snapped. "Figure it out."

"Well," Philippa said brightly, not looking up. "Andy told me the most important things to organize for tomorrow, so I have a few questions about tea and cookie preferences."

"Have a seat, Philippa," James suggested, pushing a chair out from the table with his foot.

She sat. "Thank you. And please call me Pip. Only my grandmother ever called me Philippa."

"Pip." Richard smiled. "It suits you. Welcome to our dysfunctional family, Pip. Andy's the dad, you're our new mum, and we're three of the brattiest little shits you've ever met."

She did look up then, and met Richard's smile with a small one of her own. "As long as none of you call me Mum. All right, then, tea or coffee, Mr. Hammond?"

"Jesus! None of that, it's just Richard. Tea, and not decaf, no matter what anyone else tells you."

"What kind? And do you prefer loose or bagged?"

James perked up. "Our last governess only gave us store brand bags. Horrid stuff."

Pip laughed. "And did she make you wear play clothes made of curtains, too? What do you prefer, then? And don't say whiskers on kittens."

"Fusker does have an impressive set of whiskers. Oolong, loose if possible, and English Breakfast. We'll have to find a proper strainer, though. Our last one got used to filter a handful of bolts out of a quart of oil."

"Of course it did. Fusker's your cat, I assume? You should bring a picture of him tomorrow, I'd love to see him." She made notes of the tea selections on her clipboard. "And I'll take care of the strainer, Mr. May, thanks for letting me know. What about cookies?"

"James," he said, pulling at a thread protruding from his cuff. "Here at the heart of the Empire, it's biscuits, not cookies; I can see I'm going to have to educate you in being a proper Brit before Clarkson eats you alive. I like sponge fingers, and oatmeal. Rich likes anything with chocolate."

"And gingersnaps," Richard added. "Plain old orange pekoe will do me, as long as it's strong enough to stand your spoon up in. Loose, bagged, I don't mind either way."

"Wait a bloody minute," Jeremy interrupted suddenly. "I didn't mean it that way, you imbeciles. I do have a sensitive bone in my body, and I don't mean the one under my zip."

Richard covered his face with his hands. "Could you save that shit for her second day at work, Clarkson, you giant arse?"

Pip's knuckles tightened on her pen. "How did you mean it, then, Mr. Clarkson?" she asked calmly, meeting his eyes.

"In the sense that, considering you're likely paid rubbish for babysitting three twats, you're simply not in her league," Jeremy said gruffly, then added, "financially," to be certain.

It seemed to have done the trick, because Pip loosened her grip on the hapless Biro. "Quite true. And what kind of tea would you like?"

"The English Breakfast and pekoe will be fine--proper British tea, none of this poncey Asian piss. And you might want to put up some coffee, dark roast, for when we're all hung over. Usually every Monday."

Pip added coffee to her list. "Anything else?"

"Digestives," Jeremy said.

"Hob Nobs." Richard's face brightened.

"Those are the oatmeal things with chocolate on them, right?" At his nod, she wrote it down. "All right. Anything other than tea and cookies? I mean, biscuits? I am here to keep you happy, after all."

The three men looked at each other and shrugged. "Liquor?" Jeremy suggested.

"I'm afraid I've already been warned not to give you any," she replied, the corners of her lips turning up ever so slightly. "I believe Andy's exact words were, 'not a fucking drop, they already drink the pubs dry as it is'."

"Oh, cock," James said sadly.

"All right, I think I'd better get over to the studio for the staff meeting. Apparently that's where I'll learn everything I need to know." Pip stood up, once more clutching her clipboard to her chest, and cleared her throat. "I'm very pleased to be working with you Richard, James, Mr. Clarkson." She looked at each of them in turn in what was clearly a rehearsed speech. "I'll do my very best to take good care of you, and please let me know if you're unhappy with anything at all. I gladly welcome any and all advice. And..." she faltered. "Well, I guess I'll see you in the morning."

Richard and James both rose to their feet to shake her hand across the table. "Looking forward to it," James murmured politely.

"Have fun, Pip," Richard encouraged. "Don't let Clarkson put you off. And you can call him Jeremy, by the way. Right, you pillock?" He kicked Jeremy's chair.

Jeremy waved his hand carelessly. "Call me whatever you like. It's going to become 'miserable fucking sod' within the week anyway."

"You forgot 'drunken' and 'old'," Richard added helpfully.

The following morning Pip was fussing over the tea things, waiting for the second kettle to boil, when Jeremy entered the portakabin.

"Came back, did you?" he said, his voice sounding very loud in the still room. "Good. Here, you'll need this." He tossed a small black object at her.

Catching it with one hand, Pip saw it was a BlackBerry. At a loss, she stammered, "But--but Andy already gave me my daytimer."

"You haven't a hope in hell of keeping us organised with a bloody book. If you don't know how to use it, get Hammond to show you." He sat at the table and spread his hands out on the surface. "I can't stand the things, the buttons are too small. And May still uses a sodding typewriter. Which tea is mine?"

It was a moment before she pointed to the blue teapot. "That's the English Breakfast. The pekoe will be ready in a few minutes." She unplugged the now-boiling kettle and poured the hot water into a second teapot, a white one with ugly brown flowers and a chipped lid. Setting the kettle aside, she watched as Jeremy poured his tea and added a splash of milk, then took a careful sip.

"You didn't have to do that, you know," she said, indicating the BlackBerry.

"Of course I didn't," he barked, leaning back in his chair. "But believe me, it'll make your life a lot easier, Clarkson, Hammond and May notwithstanding." After a moment, he gruffly added, "Besides, you haven't been here long enough yet for a 911 Carrera."

Pip slowly smiled, understanding. "Thank you, Jeremy," she said as sincerely as she could. "I appreciate that." Turning, she opened a cupboard and took out a biscuit tin; removing the lid, she held it out to him. "Don't tell the others, I'm not supposed to feed you until your tea break later."

Rubbing his hands and giving a gleeful cackle, Jeremy surveyed the contents of the tin for a moment before picking out a digestive and a chocolate wafer.

By the time Pip returned the biscuits to the cupboard and rinsed out the new tea strainer, both of Jeremy's treats had vanished. Just in time, as Richard came stumbling through the door, yawning.

"Tea. For the love of Pagani, someone get me some bloody tea." He collapsed into a chair and propped his head on one hand, his eyes closed.

Wordlessly, Pip poured a cup of orange pekoe, properly dark. When Jeremy pointed two fingers at the sugar bowl, she dropped two cubes in the mug and gave it a stir, before adding some milk at Clarkson's nod. Pushing the mug over to Richard, she wrapped the fingers of his free hand around the handle.

Without opening his eyes, Richard slurped at the hot, strong tea until he'd downed more than half of it. Finally he opened one eye to gaze blearily up at Pip. "Marry me."

She snorted.

"On the pull last night, Hamster?" Jeremy asked loudly. "Hope you wore a condom. You don't want to catch the clap again."

"I've never had the clap!" Richard bellowed, hands gripping his head. "I wish you'd stop telling people that!"

"I hope you at least knew where you were when you woke up this time." Jeremy picked up the BlackBerry and began trying to press buttons with his pinkie.

Richard scrubbed his eyes with his fingers. "I never woke up, because I never went to sleep."

"Careful, there are delicate young ears in the room. Not to mention Flip over there."

Richard raised his head at that and he squinted around the room. "What? Who?"

Pip sat at the table with her own mug and poured herself a cup of tea from Richard's teapot, topping his up as she did. "I can only assume he means me."

"Flip?" Richard repeated, then frowned at Pip with bloodshot eyes. "Don't let him even start, or he'll never stop."

She smiled and glanced at Jeremy. "It's all right, I don't mind."

"Hmph," Richard grunted.

"So, who was she? Or he?" Clarkson asked.


"Your reason for being up all night. Christ, maybe we should start calling you Slow. Where is May, anyway?"

"Fuck off, Jez. There was no she, and there was most certainly no he," Richard growled. "It's that goddamned farm. I bought a place in the country a few months ago," he explained to Pip, sounding only slightly less grumpy. "I love it, it's brilliant, but the bloody house inspector was clearly on Clarkson's payroll, because bits of it are falling down around my ears. Last night the water tank went. I was up all night mopping up the mess by bloody flashlight. I finally finished around dawn, just when that fucking rooster started up."

"Turn him into a pie," Jeremy advised. "May will cook it up for you."

"I'm seriously considering that idea," Richard said, looking exhausted and a little morose.

"It sounds like you're having a rough time of it," Pip said sympathetically. "Would coffee help?"

"Oh god, yes. Bless you. Marry me."

Smiling, she rose from the table. "You said that already."

"It must be a good idea if I thought of it twice." Richard laid his head down on the table. "Remind me when I wake up to call around for a plumber."

"Where is May?" Jeremy asked again, looking at his watch. "If he doesn't get here soon, I'm going to write him out of the script. Flip, call his mobile for me, would you?"

Pip finished putting the coffee on, withdrew a sheet of telephone numbers from her daytimer and picked up her new BlackBerry. Her tongue between her teeth, she dialed James's number and then tried to figure out how to initiate the call. It took a moment, but she finally located the proper button. "James?" she eventually spoke into the phone. "It's Pip...Pip. Philippa? We met yesterday... Yes, right. Well, you're due in hair and makeup in less than half an hour, so Jeremy suggested I check that you're on your way. Is everything all right?... I see... Cheese? Well, I--no, no, it's not--sure. Yes, I'll tell him... Okay, see you soon." She found the end button and pressed it, looking bewildered.

"Don't tell me he's stopped at that bloody cheesemonger's again," Jeremy groaned.

"Umm, okay."

"He did, didn't he?"

"You told me not to tell you."

"Lovely, now the office will smell like feet and arse for a week," he complained. "He can't just pick up a good English cheddar, no, he's got to go for that foreign rubbish that reeks from three miles away."

"I'll wrap it up well, and encourage him to eat it outside," Pip said soothingly. "He said he'll be here in about ten minutes, so why don't you head over to makeup, and I'll wake Richard and send him on with James when he arrives."

Jeremy pushed his chair back from the table and rose, looking down at his friend. "No, leave him," he said quietly, and Pip's eyes flew to Jeremy's face. Clarkson ran his hand through his hair, then said, "Since the accident he's had less stamina, not that the stubborn bugger will admit it. When he pushes himself too hard, he pays for it. We'll film May's and my segments first, and do the three of us afterward. It won't matter to the crew, we're just filming on the track. Leave him be for now."

Pip nodded. "Do you think there's anything else like that I should know?"

"Get May to fill you in later. I think Hamster's been more open with him regarding what he's still struggling with. They're quite good mates, really." He suddenly fixed her with a gimlet eye. "You're not responsible for him, but I want you to keep an eye on him. If you have any concerns at all, you will tell James, Andy or I. Understood?"

"Understood. I'll talk to James as soon as I can."

"Good girl, Flip." He turned to leave.


He looked back over his shoulder, one hand on the door knob.

She smiled at him. "Thanks, you miserable sod."

"Piss off," he muttered, and left, closing the door on Pip's chuckle.

James wandered in almost fifteen minutes later with a white plastic carrier bag.

Pip eyed it sideways. "So what did you end up getting? And how pungent is it?"

He grinned. "Clarkson complained already?" At her nod, he looked smug. "Wouldn't be nearly as much fun if he didn't. Last time it was Stilton, and it nearly made him drop to his knees and beg for mercy. This time I bought a lovely little Limburger. Victory shall be mine."

"That very well may be," she said, taking the bag from him and holding it at a distance. "But you're late, and you no longer have time for tea. You're to go straight to hair and makeup."

"Blast," he said, looking longingly at the tea. "Ah well. It will be worth it when Jez is rolling on the floor holding his nose." His glance landed then on Richard, still asleep with his head pillowed on his arms. "Are we letting him sleep?"

"Jeremy said to, yes. He was up all night last night with a water heater emergency."

"I told him not to buy that bloody farm," James frowned. "It's too soon."

"Speaking of which, Jeremy also suggested that you fill me in on what he's still dealing with. It might help to know what to expect or what to watch for. Would that be all right?" she asked. "I don't want to intrude on his privacy, but--"

"No, that's perfectly sensible," James agreed. "You'll see him mostly in his downtime, I should think, and he tends to be less even-keeled than when he's on camera. After we're done for the day, then? Don't leave before I find you."

"Sounds good," Pip replied. "Listen, can you possibly have someone give me some warning before they need him?" She gestured to Richard. "I should get some coffee and food into him before he's expected to be energetic."

James nodded. "I'll tell Andy, he'll take care of it."

"Thank you. Now get going! So far I've only delivered one out of my three charges, which is not my best start ever. Go!" She made shooing motions, shaking her head as James strolled out in as leisurely a fashion as he'd ambled in.

Once the door had closed behind him, Pip heaved a huge sigh and sat at the table across from Richard. She watched him sleep for several minutes, gathering her thoughts. He remained still, his normally spiky hair flat, his face hidden in the crook of his elbow.

"I don't know what the hell I'm doing," she murmured. "And you three are really, really overwhelming. Please tell me I haven't made a colossal mistake?"

There was, of course, no answer.

Two hours later, Pip had tidied up the tea things, put James's well-wrapped cheese in the tiny fridge, explored the few amenities and supplies provided in the portakabin, and figured out how to save phone numbers in her BlackBerry. With James, Jeremy and Richard all having multiple numbers each, Andy and several other staffers she knew she'd need contact with, as well as some general numbers Andy had given her, it took some time to enter them.

Pip decided it was time to go in search of food. She had no idea how long Richard would sleep, or at what point they would call him in for filming, and she did think he'd need a bit of something to get his energy up. On Top Gear, Hammond was nothing if not enthusiastic.

Heading outside and closing the door quietly behind her, Pip went in search of the catering table; she had been informed it was set up daily in one of the offices off the studio. It took her a while to locate the right room, but when she found it, it was the work of a moment to load up a plate with sandwiches, raw vegetables, some cheese and crackers, and some fruit for dessert. She received some funny looks from people she hadn't yet met, but thanks to the pass on a lanyard around her neck, no one hassled her.

Food in hand, Pip returned to the portakabin. Richard hadn't yet woken, but there was a message scrawled on a piece of paper beside his head. She had no clue whose writing it was, but it said Richard should report to hair and makeup at one p.m. She resolved to rouse him a half hour before then so he could properly wake up and eat his lunch.

At twelve-thirty, Pip duly sat down beside Richard with a steaming hot mug of coffee. "Richard," she said, and when he didn't move, she repeated it a little louder. Still nothing. "Richard." She put a hand on his arm and gave it a gentle squeeze.

He shifted, snuffled, then buried his face deeper into his arms.

"Come on, Richard, time to wake up," she urged, giving his shoulder a little shake.

"Are y' sure it's entirely necess'ry?" he mumbled, not moving.

"I'm afraid so. They'll need you on track in a while."

His head tipped to the side and one bloodshot eye opened. "How long've I got?"

"There's no rush." She remained silent for a few minutes, letting him slowly stretch and work his way upright.

Richard craned his neck and rubbed his shoulder.

"Stiff?" Pip asked, and he grunted. She retrieved the bottle of ibuprofen she'd discovered in one of the cupboards during her earlier explorations and shook two out. "Can you take these?" She held up the bottle.

He squinted at it for a moment, then muttered, "Yes."

Dropping the two pills into his outstretched hand, she simultaneously pushed the mug of coffee closer. "Cream or sugar?"

"Both. Please."

Pip fetched them and set them in front of Richard, along with a spoon. As he doctored his coffee, she fetched her purse and began rooting around in it, finally pulling out a tiny bottle with a pleased noise. "Eye drops," she explained. "Your eyes must feel like sandpaper right now."

"Feels like there's a whole bloody beach in there," Richard agreed unhappily, taking the bottle from her. He tilted his head back and squeezed two drops into each eye. Nose still pointed to the ceiling, he fumbled the cap back on and held it out for Pip to take. "Thanks."

"You're welcome." She sat at the table and picked up her BlackBerry, scrolling through the icons to try and familiarize herself with what was on it.

Richard finally wiped the excess moisture from his eyes and tipped his head back down. "That should do the trick," he said, picking up his coffee and taking a large swallow. "That's excellent, that is."

"Good. There's plenty more if you want it. And here's your lunch, as well." She slid the napkin-wrapped plate over. "Oh, and what area do you live in? I'll get you a short list of available plumbers and you can call them with the particulars later."

Richard tossed a cracker into his mouth, crunched it a couple of times, then spoke around it. "You know," he said conversationally, "When Andy told us he was hiring us an assistant, we thought he was a bit daft, to be honest." He lifted the top slice of bread on the sandwich to see what was inside. "Ooh, roast beef. Lovely." He picked it up, then grinned at Pip. "Day two and you're already a godsend. At this rate, you'll be indispensable by Friday."

She smiled back at him. "Here's hoping--job security, you know. My goal is to get you three to the point where you can't find your way out of a paper bag without me."

He laughed. "That won't take long, in James's case." He chewed on his sandwich for a minute, then said, "Outside of Haslemere. I used to live in Gloucestershire, but it's easier to be closer to both Dunsfold and London, and it leaves me more time on the farm."

Pip typed the name into her BlackBerry. "There. Now as long as I can find that again, I'll be able to do some research for you. Jeremy said you know how to use this thing?"

His eyebrow rose. "Don't you?"

"Nope," she said cheerfully. "Jeremy just gave it to me this morning, and I've never gotten my paws on one before this."

Richard's second eyebrow joined the first halfway up his forehead. "Hang on. I could have sworn you just said Jeremy gave it to you."

"He did," she confirmed, and then her face fell. "Why, is that--? Oh, no. Shouldn't I have--? Should I give it back to him?"

"No, no, not at all," Richard quickly said. "Honestly, there's nothing wrong with it. I'm just a little...surprised, that's all."

"He said I hadn't a hope of keeping everything organized with a book," she explained with a touch of anxiety. "I think it was also a bit of an apology for yesterday."

"Right, now I'm gobsmacked," Richard snickered. "Clarkson, apologize? He didn't so much as bat an eye when he ran over my foot with the Peel P50."

Pip's eyes widened. "He ran over your foot?"

"I won't say it wasn't on purpose because I wouldn't put it past him, but the thing does only weigh one hundred and thirty pounds. Okay, with Jez it's four times that, but it wasn't exactly a Bentley Continental, right? Besides," he looked pleased with himself, "I talked my way into the segment on the Gumpert Apollo, which drove him mental." He took a big bite of his sandwich.

Pip sighed and shook her head. "It's going to take me a while to understand how you three work together without killing each other. Jeremy runs you over, spreads rumours you have an STD, and James is torturing Jeremy with stinky cheese."

"Oh, no, not more Stilton," Richard groaned, dismayed.

"Worse. Limburger."

"Oh, god."

Pip pointed over her shoulder with her thumb. "It's in the fridge. Do they usually come in here for lunch?"

"No. Morning and afternoon tea, if we get it."

"Okay. So I'll be making your tea early and then making my escape."

Richard laughed. "I think I'll join you. Tea and BlackBerry lessons on the stairs, then?"

"Deal," Pip grinned.

"May! I'm going to kill you!" Jeremy shouted at an impressive volume. Across the wide lawn and massive airstrip, a flock of birds startled into the sky. "I'm going to rip your bollocks off, roast them in pig urine, and then feed them to Gordon bloody Ramsay!"

Richard leaned closer to Pip where they sat on the steps of the portakabin, drinking their tea and eating gingersnaps. "Bet you a fiver James is pointing out that you would technically be poaching them in pig's urine, not roasting," he murmured as they heard James's voice, the reply muffled through the door.

Pip stifled a snort of laughter behind her hand.

"I don't fucking care, you bloody fucking pedant!" Jeremy bellowed. "I'll bloody well shish kebab them, and you can serve them up with that godawful insult to cheese and a side of Spanish rice!"

"No bet," Pip choked out.

James's voice became audible; the two sitting on the stairs outside could clearly hear the glee as he spoke. "Come on, Jez, just give it a try, you'll quite like it. Here."

"Augh! Sod off, you sadistic pillock! Flip!" Jeremy shouted, "Flip, he touched me with it!"

Pip shouted over her shoulder, "James, don't touch Jeremy with the cheese."

That was all Richard could take, apparently, and he doubled over laughing.

Andy frowned when he saw Pip arrive trackside with James and Richard, but no Jeremy. "Where's the other one?" he asked her.

Pip replied, "He'll be right here. I made him stay to clean up the teapot he broke when he threw Limburger at James."

Andy looked at her for a moment. "The fact that you said that without even a twitch worries me."

"I think it means she's either the exact right person for the job, or the exact wrong person," James commented.

"Fifty-fifty odds, not bad," Richard said cheerfully. "Who wants to lay a fiver either way?"

"If I've told you once, Hammond," Andy said, "I've told you a thousand times. No betting on the longevity of employees, it makes them nervous. Not to mention that it's far too easy to nobble 'em."

"Quite right," Jeremy agreed, coming up behind them. He was slightly out of breath. "Remember Jason Dawe?"

"I had nothing to do with that!" Richard objected.

"So you say now. But he tells a different story."

"Enough," Andy said firmly. "Pip, for the rest of the week, I want you to shadow these three everywhere. Learn their schedules, both on and off camera, learn the lingo of filming in the UK, of cars and things that go fast, meet the people they work with. At times you're going to have to be their intermediary, so you're going to have to learn their language well enough to be able to interpret that into normal English for the rest of us. Any questions so far?"

Pip shook her head. "None yet, but I'll keep a list for later."

"Good. James, Jeremy, Richard, please curb your natural inclinations to be devious little twats and help her out for the first while. The faster she gets a handle on everything, the faster she'll be making your sorry lives easier. All right, let's get to work, everyone!" he shouted, and walked over to the cameramen.

"In other words," Pip said to the three men, "Explain everything to me. In short sentences."

"Film," Jeremy said loudly and slowly, waving his arms about. "Cars. Make go fast."

"Berk." James lifted two fingers in Jeremy's direction.

Richard patted her once on the back. "You'll pick it up, no worries."

"We'll find out soon enough," she smiled. "Jeremy, tell me what they're doing?" She moved to his side, listening attentively as he explained the reflectors that were being set up to eliminate any inconvenient shadows, the sound guys doing their checks, one camera being set up on the crane.

Richard and James strolled out of earshot. "Well?" Richard asked quietly.

James shrugged. "Too soon to tell, I think. Jez seems to like her, and she came back for a second day despite him. She doesn't seem to know much about the business, though."

"I find that odd," Richard agreed. "But Andy's not in the habit of hiring useless hacks--"

"Other than Jez."

"Other than Jez," he grinned. "So he must know something we don't."

James shoved his hands in his pockets. "She does make a decent cuppa, I'll give her that."

Richard rolled his eyes. "I hope there was more on her CV than tea brewing." He looked back at Pip, who was now intently watching Andy as he pointed everyone to their places. He turned to walk back to the crew, and James followed.

"She seems nice enough, though," James ventured.

"She does. So are we going to tutor her, then, in the hope of keeping her around?"

"Why are you asking me?"

"Because you don't take well to newbies," Richard pointed out with a grin, "And you're going to have to be a bit patient and help out if we're going to make it work."

Affronted, James said, "I'm perfectly pleasant with newbies. I'll have you know I've already--" He stopped.


After a pause, he continued, "Already agreed to have a cup of tea with her once we're done for the day."

"Well done, James," Richard said, surprised. "Well done indeed. In fact, we should all do that; what do you say to the four of us going out for a 'getting to know you' pint tonight?"

"Yes, fine. Whatever you say," James replied a bit weakly. "I think they're ready for us," he added, pointing to where Clarkson was cupping his hands around his mouth and bellowing in their direction.

Chapter 2


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Jan. 31st, 2011 09:31 pm (UTC)
*icon*!!! Okay, see, I love this already. :D Behind-the-scenes fics are fantastic, especially when they really seem like real blokes as they do here. *reads on!*
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )