After about three months had passed since her first meeting with Hunt, Alex Drake was ready to give up. Hunt had been bypassing her entirely. Whole cases had slipped her by as he 'failed to mention' he was investigating something or had 'been too flamin' busy' to need any help.
Little did she realise back then, that just around the corner, her relationship with Hunt was about to change entirely, and in more ways that she could have even forseen.
Several times she'd walked into the office to find absolutely no-one there at all, as they were all out on a case, save for her own DIs sitting there, looking annoyed. Well, Taylor looking annoyed at least, as he seemed to be the only one that actually bothered to really engage with her. Long was a lost cause, and spent much of his time these days fiddling around on a Rubicks Cube.
She admitted, she had become quite relaxed with Taylor of late. Although she was well used to having male friends in her normal life, she was relieved she had found someone who seemed so – modern. Especially as the loneliness, and Hunt's dogged attempts to keep her firmly out of the loop, had been getting to her. Also, she had to admit, even in eighties fashions Taylor was rather attractive, not that she had ever rated a man by his looks, or would ever seriously consider any relationship with a colleague. All the same, she hoped Taylor could overlook her own horrendous padded shoulders that, try as she might, she could not rip out of her suit jacket.
So when Taylor asked her to go for a drink one lunchtime, she gave in.
"You know Hunt's just testing you out," Taylor said to her, as they both sat in the Old Justice, the station's local pub that she vaguely recognised from 2007. He shifted in his seat, his blue eyes gazing at her steadily. "I mean, in some ways the fact he's trying to bypass you, means he thinks you're worth trying to get round. Otherwise he'd probably take you along for the ride just so'd he have someone to make the tea. It's obvious he knows that's out of the question. You'd have his balls."
"Yes. It's like he doesn't know what to do with me." she agreed, herself sipping on a flat lemonade as her ears recognised the strains of Neil Diamond's 'Love on the Rocks'." Pelligrino water hadn't quote made it to London, and Duran Duran obviously didn't stretch to Bermondsey, she mused.
"Well, yes. I mean, he probably also doesn't really know how to work with you. He's never really had to deal with a woman on his level...and let alone a..erm.." his voice trailed away. Taylor reached up an nervously adjusted his pencil-thin tie.
"Someone of mixed race? It's okay you know, you can mention it. And for the record, my father was the son of an African immigrant, and my mother a good white Garden of England girl. They met while at work; him a doctor, her a nurse. You could say public service runs in the family."
She sipped her drink again, before continuing: "But if Hunt won't give me a way in, I need to find one. It's really important that I get to work with Hunt. For lots of reasons."
The main one being to get close to him, and...betray him. Whatever she had to do, to get back to Molly. She felt the hairs on the back of her neck raise up at the thought.
In those first few weeks, Alex had had a lot to deal with. She'd also, being a single woman rather than a single mother, had a lot of extra time to think. And she had come up with her own theory on why it was that both her, and Sam Tyler, had been drawn to the same man albeit in different times. This was no straight coma she was in, she was certain. She accepted that in her own time, her body was no doubt laying in a hospital ward. But her mind, her personality, was in no dream. It was really in the past.
How then had two officers both been pulled to the same man? She had her own theory on this as well. Gene Hunt, she was certain, somehow had the force of personality to demand it.
It had taken her a while to figure out, but now it seemed almost obvious. Gene wasn't a cancer. He was a leech, who had almost pulled the wool over her eyes the first time she met him just as he had done so well to poor Sam Tyler. A leech that somehow made you feel a rapport with him, even a loyalty, when in reality he needed you to save his sorry arse from himself.
Afterall, had Sam Tyler – who had obviously returned to 1973 as Sam Williams – not argued his case for his and saved his career? Not to mention his life in that train job?
So it seemed sensible that she too, was there to save his life, career, or both. It was obvious he was in need of psychological help and who better than her to offer it. His drinking had always been bad, but her expert eye had seen his hands shake on one too many occasion now for her to believe his claims it was 'social only'. No, he was no longer borderline alcoholic, but the real deal.
But if I'm here to save your life, Hunt, I'm certainly the wrong woman, she had thought to herself that very same morning, as she had walked to work, looking out upon a London she had only seen in photographs and distant memories. She had been 10 in 1981. There was nothing, not even a sympathy for a man slowly killing himself, that would keep her from her daughter.
For now, though Taylor, was talking.
"You could always go to Nantwich. He'd demand Hunt let you in."
"No, that's no good. I need Hunt to trust me. And to do that I have to show him I can manage without any help. Especially Nancy..I mean, Nantwich - who he hates possibly even more than he hates me. But..."
Her voice slipped away, and before she could say another word, it happened again.
She looked around her. And then – flash. She was in 2007. She was sitting in the Old Justice gastropub, which was buzzing with office workers, wining and dining contacts and clients. The wooden bar of 1981 was no more. In its place, a steel and pine monstrosity. The Old Justice's aged barman had also disappeared, and in his place was a snake-hipped young Italian man, who was now peering at her with a look of surprise. Just as she opened her mouth to reply however...
Not for Alex Drake hospital noises, machines, murmuring nurses. For Alex, there was only momentary visions of her own time. The future.
"Drake...Alex! Are you okay?" Taylor was holding onto her arm, looking in to her face, alarmed. "What the hell happened there? You spaced out entirely."
"It's okay, I'm fine," she breathed, steadying herself against the table at which they sat.
Momentarily, she spoke again: "In fact...I've just had a thought. I need to stop this, Taylor, and start using what I know. Of the future."
"Of the what?" he looked incredulous.
"Listen. It might seem incredible, but I've got a good understanding of how the work we do, profiling, will make a difference to future policing. So what I need to do is solve one of these cases Hunt would normally keep me out of, before Hunt does, by our methods, proving our methods. Do you understand?"
"Absolutely," he replied, his blue eyes glinting. "And I think I know just the case. Charles and Di's do. The bomb threat."
"A bomb threat? At the royal wedding?"
"Yes. Hunt got a letter yesterday from some nutter threatening to put a series of bombs on the route to the cathedral. He was of course immediately convinced it was from some 'socialist monarch-hating deranged hippy bastard high on dried cabbage'. Suffice to say, he is now charging around the city tearing up any Socialist Worker offices he happens to come upon."
Drake looked at Taylor. "And why didn't you say this before..."
Taylor smiled. "I'll come clean. I wanted to get you out for a drink."
Back in her time, she would have given him a withering look and left him smarting as he sat. But this wasn't her time, she knew, and Taylor was the closest thing she had to a friend. She needed someone to talk to, if nothing else, to keep her sane. That is, if she wasn't already totally do-lally.
"I know. And I'm flattered." She reached out and touched his hand. "But this job is important. And so is cracking Hunt. So help me catch up with him. I'm going to lay down a challenge not even he could resist – even from a 'bloody tart.'"
Gene Hunt leant back in his chair and yelled. "Why am I surrounded by bloody idiots?" He was holding court, as usual, in the main office. Around him sat his wider crew, fronted as normal by Ray and Chris. Not for the first time, Hunt tried desperately to ignore the full-on fluffy perm that Ray had taken to wearing lately.
"If I were a sheep, I'd be thinking you're head looked like a pretty good chance of some humping action," he had yelled when he had first witnessed the monstrosity. But Ray had been undeterred. He had taken to London – and its women – like a duck to water. As Chris had suddenly developed which Hunt thought was a slightly disturbing love for the electronic box aka 'computer' that he claimed would 'make their lives easier'. "The only way that piddling thing would make my life easier if it happened to blow up and take your bloody head off," he had yelled at Chris in response.
For now, though, Hunt had other things on his mind. There was three days to go before Charlie and Di's big day, it was a warm July, and they were still no closer to a solid lead as to who or what had threatened to blow parts of central London sky-high. He had to admit it, he was getting desperate.
Not that he was going to admit it to her. She had come to him, just a day or two ago, with that bloody Taylor at her heels. He looked as smug as shit, as normal. So obvious the slimy shit was doing whatever he could to get into her knickers. She, on the other hand, had made a surprising amount of sense.
"Give me a copy of that letter," she had said. "It's all I ask. No help, no conversations needed, nothing from you. Just a copy of it, and let me and my team see if we can figure this thing out before you and yours. If we do, I hope you'll see fit to start involving us in what the hell is going on. If not, well - " she had smirked - "I'll wear a pretty dress to work, cook your dinner, and even laugh at your jokes. Excuse me if I bail out of the idea of conjugal duties though. No job's worth that. Deal?"
He had looked at her, standing there, and finally admitted it to himself. She was an utter bitch. But an extremely hot one, with – he admitted – amazing skin and legs to die for. A bit too skinny for him, but even in that bloody manly suit she looked good enough to eat. If only the silly cow would just stay home and stop pretending at being a copper.
"No deal. You're going to use some of your people aren't you. I imagine it's probably one of yours doing it anyway, bloody bastards, always causing problems," he had snapped back.
"By 'my people' I imagine you are referring to the wide range of communities that live in London that just happen to be black. I wondered how long it would be before that chestnut came up. Why on earth you think most of them would care about your bloody beloved monarchy I have no idea." she glowered at him. "No. My theory is this isn't anything to do with anti-monarchists. Or poverty. Or the have and have nots. But give me that letter, and I'll prove it."
He had to admit, he had been intrigued. His own leads had taken him nowhere, save for many a grotty bedsit and grungy office full of bearded types who professed to care for the common man. I mean, he was a paid-up Labour supporter, and loved nothing better than a good union who actually made a difference, like the miners' one that so far had managed to ward of Thatcher's attempts to put them out of jobs...though he wasn't sure where that was going to end up. But when it slipped into nasties at the Queen it started to be about something else entirely.
So he had given her what she wanted, and let her go.
What the hell she thought she was doing, he had no idea, he now thought as he gazed across at his witless, if loyal, team.
As if to answer his question, suddenly the door pushed open, and there she stood. "Hunt. If you'd like to go down to cell three, you'll find our bomb threat suspect awaiting questioning," she said, with not a little bit of 'told you so, you fat bastard' in her voice. "Though you'll not be able to excuse getting anywhere with your fists, mind. Don't you know it's not nice to hit ladies."
Hunt had been incredulous. He had to admit, not once had he thought a woman could have been behind the threats. Not that he thought women were too nice for such fund and games – he's met plenty of twisted birds in his time. But it just hadn't added up...
"She was never serious, it was obvious from the letter. Just mentally ill, but with a fixation, for some bizarre reason, on our good Prince Charles." Drake continued, as she strode purposefully into the office, Taylor trailing behind her with a strange expression on his face, as if he was just as surprised as anyone. "To begin with, much of it focused on Diana, rather than our future King. Any serious anti-monarchist wouldn't really bring that level of personality into it. Also, the letter itself was made up of letters cut out of 'Woman'. Not your average read for a hardened anti-monachist. Finally, Bucks Palace already had a series of letters it had received from a woman claiming that Diana was, 'an evil blonde'. Exactly the same phrase used in..."
"Okay. Shut it." Hunt raised a hand. His team looked at Hunt, then at her, then back again. "You bloody win. This time."
Later that evening, in the pub, she couldn't resist sidling up to Hunt as he sat slumped with his cronies drowning what she hoped were at least some sorrows. The main thing, catching the woman – although she doubted very much she had offered any real threat – had been accomplished, and now at least the poor thing was going to get the treatment she had so obviously needed. But she couldn't resist baiting Hunt ever so slightly over what had been an obvious success.
"Well, I hope this means you'll be making better use of profiling," she said, as she sat herself down on a stool directly next to the big man. Over in the corner, Taylor watched, smirking. "You've got to admit, it brought results."
Hunt didn't even raise his eyes from his pint. Instead, he downed it, laid it back on the table, and slurred: "Well, who's a clever pair of knickers. Yes, I said so, didn't I? You did your bit. Have no idea how, but somehow you managed it. Bloody luck if you ask me, but there you go. Can't do any harm to amuse ourselves with what you do in future."
She began to smart. He was so bloody stubborn. "There was no luck, Hunt. It's science. If you've spent as many years as I have trying to understand the criminal mind. And profiling is used a lot on the Continent..."
He turned to look at her.
"The only thing worth picking up from the Continent is how the bloody Les Agents don't hold back with their batons to knock seven sorts of shite out of the wops. As for the criminal mind, by now, you may have noticed, I'm trying to understand the totally shit-faced mind. And I don't really need you or sodding Tory boy over there," he pointed an unsteady hand at Taylor, "shoving it down my bloody neck. Okay, so you're part of the bloody team. So what, sling your blody hook."
An hour later, he was pissed and laughing, and she was sitting, stony faced at the bar. Taylor put out a hand, touched her arm.
"I don't know what you were expecting.," he said. "But Hunt never gives much ground, ever. It's why he's such an annoying bastard. The fact he admitted you'd helped at all is in fact, the most ground I've ever heard him give. I'd consider that a win."
"Whatever," she replied. "I'm going." She turned and looked at Taylor. "Walk with me?"
Ten minutes later, they were outside. They strolled wordlessly together, as her mind churned over the problems that seemed to face her. How she was ever going to get close to Hunt, gain his trust, she had no idea. But obviously just being a good copper wasn't going to be enough. There was never going to be any sort of - friendship.
Suddenly, she felt a hand on her arm, stopping her in her tracks. Taylor. She could tell immediately from the look on his face that his intentions had taken a new turn. "Alex..."
She in turn placed a hand on his chest. "Taylor." she replied. "Let me stop you right there. We're work colleagues and friends. You've been a great support to me since I started. But this isn't the time or the place. And to be honest it probably never will be, for as long as you directly report to me."
But he shook his head, smiling. "No. I know you say that, but it's not how you really feel. I know you're lonely, Alex. I can tell. You're out of place here. I can make things easier...". He then reached out an arm and pulled her closer to him.
Alex stiffened. "Taylor, no. I'm serious." But when she tried to pull away, the grip he had on her arm tightened.
"So, my dear, am I," he replied. In the darkness now, she could barely see his face. But his voice said everything she needed to know.
In a flash, she twisted her arm out of his grasp, her body automatically moving into the self defence techniques that had been drummed into her time and time again as a young PC. But as she pulled loose, his other hand reached out and grabbed her by the neck, slamming her up against a nearby wall where she was momentarily winded.
"You bloody women, all the same," he muttered. "Expect us to listen to all of your shite, and then freeze up when things get a bit interesting. You've been all over me since you got here."
"Hardly," she wheezed. But by this time, he wasn't listening. So she looked down, saw an opportunity, and prepared to kick the shit out of right where it it would surely hurt.
Whoomp. But she never got the opportunity. Before she even had time to even get close, Taylor was pulled off her at speed, and himself then thrown like a sack across the narrow street.
"You bloody shit," Hunt shouted, and he picked Taylor up, and then slammed his fist straight into the younger man's face. Alex heard a familiar sound of cracking bones. Taylor yelled in pain. Undeterred, Hunt then began to punch him repeatedly in the stomach. Not once, she noticed, did he appear worse for wear of a drink or two. In fact, it as if not a drop had passed his lips.
"Hunt. HUNT! I had it under control," she said, as she pulled herself together. "Stop it."
"Do you mind," he said. "I'm just ' - whump - "enjoying "- whump - "myself." Taylor's cries had now fallen away to nothing.
Momentarily, Hunt twilred around on his heels."All done," he replied, as Taylor fell, stone cold, to the floor. "And before you go ON - I imagine you could have bloody handled it. I just didn't fancy leaving your chances of surviving a walk with a serial-bloody female bothering bastard to fate."
"You mean – he's done that before?"
"You mean, turned into a nasty bastard? Yes of course. Why'd you think they stuck him on your team with that other loser Long? It's luck alone he's not crossed the line entirely. It's hard though to bang up a copper, even these days. I would've warned you, but as I say I thought you'd probably be pissed of I didn't give you the opportunity to smack the crap out of the tosser. Though I guess tonight - I just wanted to be sure."
Alex stood, there, totally shocked. She had of course had men – and indeed women – offer unwanted affections before. She had also had a few go over the line. But she had normally seen it coming. This time, she had had no idea.
Hunt turned to her, and looked at her closely, gave hee the once-over. Apparently satisfied, he continued: "No harm then. Though just remember, I don't know what blokes you've been used to before, but at this station, there's no man that's going to really take a female copper seriously, no matter whether or not she might have any talent or not. In fact, as your level, they probably actually want to get at you. So any bollocks any of them give you about how glad they are you're here, is just that, bollocks. They're trying to get into your pants.
"You did a good job today. I admit it," he said. "And I also admit, you seem to have a knack for figuring out what the hell warped thought are going on in tiny minds of the scum that we have to chase. But you've got to admit, your ability to gauge men seems to be as far off the button as Mr Spoon with a piece of shit spaceship. In other words, bloody crap. So just stick to the job."
As he turned to walk away, he turned for an instant, and gave a faint smile. "Drake. I mean, if you must have some school girl crush, for god's sake see the nose in front of your face. How you've resisted me so far is anyone's guess, you silly bint."
And with that, he swept away.
NB If people are liking this please review and tell me - it helps sustain discispline to carry on! Lindalove