Disclaimer: I don't own Ashes to Ashes. BBC, Monastic and Kudos do.
This is something rather unusual. When I wrote "Decision Time", I had no thought of writing a sequel, but then this idea came along saying "Write me! Write me!", so I did. References to "DT" will be fully explained in due course, but all the same you will find this story much easier to understand if you've already read "DT".
I'm not sure yet what my fic response will be to the new, darker mood of Series 2, but I hope that this - which leapfrogs to a later time - will do to be going on with. Most of it was written before Series 2 started, but I might have to make minor amendments to later chapters, depending upon what happens during the rest of S2.
As always, your feedback would be very welcome.
Revenge is a dish best served cold - Sicilian proverb
London - February 2020
A young WDC with a birthmark on her cheek, her mousey brown hair in an untidy French pleat, stood close to the side wall of the old house, gun in hand. She knew that, on this cloudy day, her shadow would not give her away, and that the overgrown garden would shield her from casual observers. And if he knew she was there, it didn't matter. She was going after him anyway. She had waited so long for this. Nothing was going to stop her now.
Her radio crackled into life. "Weston! Where the bloody hell are you?"
She angled it to her mouth, keeping her voice as low as possible. "I'm outside the house now, Guv. No sign of anyone having gone in or out. He's in there alone. I'm going in."
"Like hell you are! He's almost certainly armed. He's known to be dangerous. The place could be booby trapped for all we know. His friends could turn up at any time. Stay right where you are until we arrive. That's an order. We're only a couple of minutes behind you, and backup's on the way."
"No, Guv. If I wait, he might get away, and I'm not letting that happen. I'm going in now."
She shut the radio off and crept around to the back door. From her previous observations she knew that it fastened with a single slip catch which could be undone in ten seconds by a credit card. Probably to give him a quick getaway. But he's not getting away from me.
"It's all right, Mum," she whispered. "I'll make him pay at last. Be with me." She took a deep breath, flipped the catch, and disappeared inside.
Half a mile away, a tall, golden-haired man with brown eyes swore vilely into his radio, knowing already that he would not be heard. He grabbed the steering wheel and slammed on the accelerator. The powerful silver-grey Nissan took off like a rocket.
"What's up, Guv?" one of his companions ventured.
"Weston's gone into the house alone," the driver snapped curtly. "Have your guns out and ready. We don't know what we'll find when we get there."
"Dad," the driver muttered under his breath as he skidded around a corner on two wheels, "help me reach the silly cow in time!"
The back door opened onto a passage which led through to the front hallway. On one side was a door to the kitchen. It was ajar and she moved it cautiously with her foot. It swung open to reveal a thin man in his seventies with long, straggly grey hair, who was eating a frugal breakfast.
"Police! Hands up!"
He looked up with some surprise and put his hands up, yet perhaps he was not so surprised as he should be. She felt a surge of adrenaline. At last, Mum. At last.
"Arthur Layton," she said steadily, "you are under arrest on suspicion of people trafficking, drug trafficking, money laundering, the use of explosives, and - " her voice wavered for a moment - "of the murder of Detective Inspector Alexandra Drake. You do not have to say anything - "
"Well, well, if it isn't Molly Drake. The little ugly duckling."
She hadn't seen or heard him since that terrible day, but that insinuating voice still had the power to send chills down her spine. In the moment of her triumph, she suddenly had a perception of how he saw her - a police officer, wearing a dark trouser suit, consciously trying to be as much like her mother as possible, but small, plain, dumpy, without her mother's glorious beauty. All at once she felt diminished. She pulled herself together.
"I'm DC Weston now. I've changed, Arthur. You changed my life forever that day. That's why I'm here."
"I know, darlin'. I've been keeping an eye on you. Just as you have on me."
"Looks like we'll have to add illegal access to Government records to the charge sheet, then," she said lightly. This was bad, she knew it was bad. She shouldn't be allowing him to draw her into dialogue. He wasn't holding a gun, but there might be one, hidden among the breakfast things or on the dining chair beside him, out of her sightline. She should cuff him and get the hell out. But that pale gaze seemed to hypnotise her. Was this how he made Mum feel, all those years ago?
"So, what're you goin' to do then? Shoot me?"
"Oh, no, Arthur. I'm an officer of the law. You won't turn me into a murderer. That would bring me down to your level. I'm here for justice. You'll go down at last for what you did to my mother and to me. I'll see to it that you die in jail."
"Shouldn't count on that, darlin'," he murmured nonchalantly. "Are you so sure your friend Evan White wants 'is day in court as much as you do?"
"Evan?" she snapped back. "He's committed to this, always has been."
"Are you sure?" he wheedled. "Are you sure he wants you to hear what I was goin' to tell your mother if he didn't play ball?"
"Don't you dare talk about her!" she hissed. "You knew she wasn't armed. She was so gentle. She didn't stand a chance. You shot her down in cold blood!"
"Had a job to finish," he said, stone-faced. "That was what I was trying to tell White. Thought she was the end of the job. Turns out you might be. You and one other person. I'm waiting for him before I finish this."
"Him, who? Evan?"
"No, not White. Someone else. Another old score." The sound of car brakes screeching to a halt outside intruded on their consciousness. "Sounds like 'im now."
The Guv. He wants the Guv.
"To hell with waiting for him! You're under arrest, Layton. You're coming with me, now." Still holding her gun steady with her right hand, she reached with her left for the cuffs at her belt. She could hear the Guv bawling orders outside, then the unmistakable sound of his size sixteens pounding in through the back door and down the corridor, his minions in his wake.
"Just a few more seconds..." Layton crooned lovingly, reaching down with his right hand to the chair beside him.
"KEEP YOUR HANDS IN THE AIR!" she shrieked. Suddenly she was shoved to the ground from behind and a shot rang out over her head. She heard a scream of pain, and raised her head to see Layton, moaning and clutching his bleeding right hand as DS Bill Meredith jumped clean over her, dragged Layton face down across the table, and cuffed him. Layton struggled, and DC Frank Fordham edged around the group to help hold him down.
"What the bloody hell did you think you were doing, Weston?" an all too familiar voice snarled, directly above her. She raised her head to see the Guv standing over her, smoking gun in hand. Layton looked up.
"Well, well. DCI Hunt, I presume."
"Thought so. You're the image of your father, but you've got your mother's eyes. Hunt and Drake, Drake and Hunt. Those two names always were my nemesis. Pity I couldn't be yours. Lost my chance to take out son and daughter together."
"Daughter?" Hunt was perplexed for once.
"Her." Layton jerked his head towards Molly, who still lay on the ground. "Should get her to tell you what her real name is."
Hunt opened his mouth to blast another question, but was forestalled by a shout from Fordham, who had just worked his way around the back of the table.
"Jesus! Guv, we've got to get everyone out of here, fast! There's a bundle of dynamite on the chair here, and wires leading out from it. Looks like they lead to the other rooms. He's rigged the whole house."
Hunt hauled Molly to her feet by the scruff of her jacket. "Bill! Read Layton his wrongs and take him back in Weston's car. I'm not having him bleeding all over the Nissan. Frank, call Bomb Disposal and get uniform backup. Weston, get the street evacuated and organise a cordon. We'll talk later."
Layton giggled weakly as Meredith hauled him out. "Hope you haven't shagged this one, Hunt. You'll be sorry if you did."
"And stop his foul gob while you're at it!" Hunt bellowed after them.
A/N: The "I presume - you do"exchange is lifted from Hugh Wheeler's book for Stephen Sondheim's A Little Night Music. Nobody who has seen Judi Dench and Patricia Hodge perform that dialogue will ever forget it.