I don't own Ashes to Ashes.

For AliceM.

The infamous, extended, and ever-so-slightly altered Vault Scene.

Basically, Chris, Ray and Shaz take a while longer getting there, giving Gene and Alex a chance to talk...

----

Gene Hunt didn't like to think he was afraid of death... in fact, he liked to think that of all the people he knew, he was the most accepting and embracing of the fact that, some day, they were all going to die. It didn't mean he liked the thought of it; did he think the idea of rotting away in the ground or getting burnt to a crisp was particularly pleasant? No. But he did accept that such was life, and sooner or later they all had to die... He'd just always thought he'd go out one of two ways... fighting, with a gun in his hand, a bunch of loyal coppers behind him, a load of scummy-criminals in front of him, and a hip-flask of whiskey in his pocket, and he'd die getting that last collar, that final rush of justice having been served still fresh when a bullet or knife entered his chest... it was a morbid way to go, he knew, but it was brave, and it stood out, and he liked to think that that was what he was like...

The other way, the way he would prefer to go, really, but that he doubted would ever happen, was in the arms of a beautiful woman, with a couple of children downstairs playing a crude, Gene-inspired version of scrabble because their mother wanted to be with him alone one last time... they'd have had tearful goodbyes and whispered concessions of genuine emotion that made him feel choked up, and then they'd move downstairs, and his wife –because she had to be his wife, because when he finally met this woman, she'd have to be known as his- would lie down in his arms that one final time, and he'd fall asleep knowing he'd made a difference to someone's life in a way that wasn't just job-related....

He didn't ever consider getting locked in a vault and boiling, and if he had considered it, he wouldn't have imagined it with a gobby posh tart, and no light to speak of other than a flickering flame that was slowly burning out his lighter... So it looked like he hadn't achieved the perfect death... but at least he got to enjoy the sight of a sweaty, half-naked Alex Drake before he copped it... he supposed it wasn't so bad...

---

Alex Drake was terrified of dying; she always had been and she was positive she always would be, because death meant the end. Death meant everything was over and there was nothing left to do, no more that you could do, no more difference that you could make, and the idea that the world went on without you seemed impossible, because how could you know anything existed beyond your own subconscious? Death chilled her to the bone, and if she thought about death when the lights were out, Alex stayed awake all night.

When Alex thought about death, she panicked and hyperventilated... or at least she used to. But how did you react to dying in your own head, when you knew you were actually ALIVE somewhere else, twenty-odd years in the future? Because she couldn't, surely, be dead, when there was still a her somewhere else? But stuck in this prison, this prison that, if she was to believe herself, was a construct of her own imagination, she could feel death practically pawing at her... and the only thing stopping her from going into panic was Gene Hunt, a brash, hard-edged man who could inspire fear in your heart at the drop of a hat. Because she asked if she could die... she asked, and she sounded younger, scared, like a child again, and he hadn't asked her if she was mental, or said there was no way out of it, he did something she wouldn't ever have expected but was intimately grateful for; he moved his arm and he invited her into his embrace, letting her scuttle closer in the overbearing heat of the vault without complaint.

And in those moments, she found comfort in the sound of his heartbeat; it was fast, erratic even, like it was going into overdrive and working harder than it had ever known, but if she were to touch her own chest she knew her own heart would echo that desperate plea for cool and fresh air... She found comfort in the refreshingly cool chain of his gold necklace, glinting in the light of the flame and standing out against the pale colour of his white vest. Her fingers traced it repeatedly as she snuggled into him, treasuring the coolness of it and hoping it wouldn't warm up... but it would, because her fingers, and Gene's chest, were practically saturated with sweat and heat, and she knew that in a few precious minutes there wouldn't be that cool reassurance anymore...

"Gene..." she whispered as the lighter sputtered briefly.

"I know," he replied... but how could he know, when she wasn't even sure what she meant to say herself? Sorry, maybe, but it wasn't that, because she did that easily enough when she had to... She couldn't even understand for herself why suddenly, since slipping into his embrace, it didn't matter that they were about to expire in a sealed box... she couldn't explain it, even as her hand slid from the rapidly heating metal to cover the left side of his chest, feeling, as well as hearing now, the rapid pulse of his heart, the harsh beating, the forcing of liquid through tight veins at a faster rate than should have been possible when they were sat so stationary... she was in jeans and her bustier, and both were sticking to her. She could feel the fabric of Gene's shirt plastering itself to her cheek, and without thought she sat up slightly, peeling the cotton from his shoulder and pushing it slightly down his arm so that she could place her cheek on bare skin. Gene didn't respond, simply flicking the lighter once more and sustaining his grip around her shoulders.

"Gene," she whispered again, and this time she didn't trail off, and he didn't claim to know what her question was, he simply waited, turning his head slightly to look at her. "Are you scared?"

She saw his Adams apple move up and down slightly as he gulped, and she edged impossibly closer, unsure how it was possible that she hadn't melted into him yet with the heat of their bodies and the heat and vacuum of the room... She looked up into his face, saw the sweat on his brow, and the slight mole above his lip that she found strangely attractive, especially in the flickering light... and she looked into his blue eyes, which were reflecting the orange glow in their depths and giving him a surreal, oddly comforting, air of warmth. "No, Bols, I'm not scared." His spare hand - the arm that wasn't securely round her shoulders - moved to cover her slightly smaller, daintier hand on his chest, twining their fingers together as he looked at her, "there's nothing to be scared about!"

She felt tears brimming in her eyes, and she hoped that once they started falling she could pass them off as beads of sweat... "Yes there is..." She said quietly.

"No, Bols, there's not." His grip tightened on her and he whispered, "it's just life, Bollykegs... just the next part of living."

"It's not though, is it?" She whispered. "It's nothing... there is nothing... how can you not be afraid of the fact there isn't anything there?"

The arm round her shoulders was rubbing soothing circles into the bare flesh of her upper arm as he said. "Maybe I believe there is somethin'... dunno what, and I don't want to... that's all part o' the next step... but I'm not afraid of there being nothin'... d'you believe all the scientific lar-dee-dar bollucks you hear, Bols?"

"Most of it." She admitted.

"Like the big bang?"

"Yes..."

"And about descending from apes?"

"It's been scientifically proven," Alex said softly. "So yes... I do..."

"Then you, my dearest Bollyknickers, are a lost cause. Don' think you'll find an ape pullin' on his ol' todger, an' where'd we 'ave picked that up from if we come from bloody monkeys?" Alex snorted at that; the image of an ape in such a compromising situation was one she found to be of great amusement.

"Survival of the fittest, Gene," she managed, breathing heavy as she tried to cope with the laughter and the oxygen deprivation. He chuckled, weakly, she noted, but it was laced with true amusement as he squeezed her hand that little bit tighter on his chest.

"You reckon the primates got a little bored an' 'ad a competition, 'ey Bols? Which monkey-dongs biggest?" Alex knew he was stringing the conversation out as long as possible, trying to avoid the subject of death and darkness, but she found she was grateful for it, and smiled into his chest.

"I'm sure the females of the species were wise enough to know that size isn't everything..."

"Bollucks to that, Bolly, and you know it. Fella whips out a little ol' cocktail sausage and tells you he'll still ge' the job done, you'd either die laughing or run away!" She managed a weak smile, but his words sank in as they sat there.

"I wouldn't die..." And the fact they'd come back to it hung around them like a stench, permeating the air that was full of sweat and dust, and draping itself around her like a cold blanket. And as she shivered, Gene released her hand, scooping her under the legs and settling her gently across his lap, against his chest, as she began to shake and cry. "I can't die..." she repeated softly. "I can't die..." and it became her mantra, repeated over and over as their breathing got heavier and the lack of air intensified. They were both nursing headaches, both sweating profusely, but neither moved from their embrace. Gene's fingers tangled in her hair as he soothingly ran his fingers along the nape of her neck, whispering gently into her ear.

"You won't die..." and he repeated it so often, louder than her own shaken, heavy whisper, until she stopped her own repetitions and settled into the rhythm of his, letting the erratic beat of his heart echo in her head, his gruff, oddly soothing voice washing over her ears like a balm to a wound. And though she knew it couldn't be true, knew that there was no way out and that they would die, sooner or later, she began to believe it, even though it made no sense to do so. And after a while, after his whispers had sunk into her consciousness, she built up the courage to whisper her question to him once again.

"What would you do, Gene," she whispered, "Last few minutes on earth... what would you do, right now?" Her head was tucked into his neck so that he couldn't see her face, but he could feel the soft smile teasing against her lips, could hear the gentle flirtation that meant they weren't on the brink of hysteria, and he whispered his reply right into her waiting ears.

"I'd kiss you." He said honestly. It was gruff and it was nervous, but it was honest and true and she knew it to be just that. "What would you do?"

"Right now?" She asked softly.

"Yes, Bolly, right now. What would you do?"

Smiling, peeling herself slightly away from his sticky chest to look at his candle-lit face, she whispered, "I'd kiss you back."

He looked at her for several moments, eyes slightly darker, narrower, flicking from her lips to her eyes, and then back again, all the while with his Adams-apple moving up and down as he gulped to wet his nervous, dry mouth.

"Are we going to die, Gene?" She murmured quietly, her hand moving to his neck as her heavy breathing filled the silence that stretched between them as he thought... Because he couldn't lie anymore; it was past eight, and Ray wasn't here, there was no air supply, no escape... and yet she was calmer than she had been now, as though she had accepted their fate and was simply trying to make the most of it... but there was a small part of him becoming nervous, scared, worried... and that part of him needed to keep that little spectre of hope...

"I don't know, Bolly... I honestly don't know." He looked at her, eyes meeting in the darkness, and if it hadn't been going at full-pelt before, his heart was pounding now.

Her brow was covered in sweat, small droplets running down her face, and he couldn't remember ever seeing her as clearly, as beautiful, as she was in that moment, with all her makeup streaming down her face, and her emotions laid bare before him...and then she whispered, so quietly he was barely sure he heard it, "I'm scared."

From the corner of her eye, reflecting the soft glow of the lighter, tears began to run and stream down her cheeks, sliding across the contours of her face, caressing the curves of her cheekbone in a way that made him ache inwardly, wishing he had the guts, the bravery, to simply lift his hand to her skin... His body ached with muscle cramp, his head was spinning, he was sweating profusely, and there was a big chance he wouldn't make it out of this alive... and all he wanted to do, all he could think about, wasn't that he had regrets or dreams he'd never fulfilled, or that he honestly didn't know what he should expect after his eyes closed the final time... no, all he could think about was the fact Alex Drake was crying, and he didn't have the nerve to take the initiative and caress the streaming tracks from her face...

He ran a hand down her arm and whispered, "don't be." And in that instant, a warm fire flared in his stomach and he suddenly possessed that uncanny ability to reach for her face with his hand, cupping her cheek as his thumb brushed aside a tear, a bead of sweat, another tear... She was so soft, so beautiful, so her, and he never wanted to let go of her, never wanted to tear his fingers away... She was tilting her face to his, her lips parting slightly, her breath still heavy and laboured, tears still falling freely... and instead of meeting her mouth with his, he twisted his own face to the right, brushing his lips gently across the corner of her eye. He felt her shiver, could taste the salty tears on her skin, combined with the yet more bitter taste of sweat... he pulled back slowly, twisting her face to press his lips to the other eye, softly, tenderly, catching each tear as it fell and treasuring it for being so completely and intimately Bolly... his mouth moved over her cheeks, barely touching the skin as he brushed down to catch stray tears and droplets from along her jaw... she was sighing, still crying, but stilling in his hold as he moved along her jawline to her chin, pressing a brief, chaste kiss to the dimple she formed as she smiled in nervousness... then he opened his half-lidded eyes to meet her gaze, a question in the look he gave her that she answered with a small, barely noticeable nod... but he saw it, and to him it meant the world. He brushed his mouth lightly across hers before placing a slightly more insistent touch to her lips. She slowly moved her arms around his neck, and he could feel the pulse point thundering as her arm pressed lightly to it...

Her mouth was moving softly against his, and though he knew that using all their oxygen in a tangle of tongues and a joining of mouths was a bad idea, he couldn't stop it, didn't want to stop it... because if he was going to die of oxygen deprivation, he'd rather people thought he was wrapped in a heated embrace, as opposed to trapped in a rapidly boiling vault... He could feel his desire for her growing, but it wasn't enough to really be sexual, not really... it was too hot, too stuffy, too difficult to inhale enough oxygen to give her any type of experience... so he put his all into his kiss, hoping she understood how he wanted her... His teeth caught her lip briefly between them, nibbling gently and tenderly before sliding his tongue into her seemingly cool mouth... Then their tongues were touching, teasing, twining around each other, and even though lights were bursting in front of his eyes as the last of their oxygen seemed to dwindle away from them... he didn't care... she shifted, with difficulty, in his lap, chest heaving, breath coming short, eyes lidded... he didn't have enough oxygen in his body to help her, couldn't feel any air as he attempted to inhale through his nose... and just as blind panic set in, just as his fingers made a reflexive clutch at Alex's waist, the vault door flew open and the lights flickered on, and air rushed into his lungs in a cool flush that made him gasp... and looking at her, listening to her, he knew the same had just happened to her.

There was a moment where they stared into one another's eyes, emotions mixed, terror and lust and desire and fear building up simultaneously, just before they saw Ray and Chris rounding the corner... he gave her an unceremonious shrug with the little energy he'd managed to regain, but other than that, he and Alex both found an inability to move...

"Look out..." Gene managed to rasp. Ray and Chris were frowning, as though their superiors should have leapt up at once and run back into the action... but running was the last thing Gene could think of doing as he felt the tight cramp beginning to wash away as his breathing returned to normal, the oxygen beginning to wash at the acidic cramp that had built up in his legs... he managed to pull himself to his feet after five or so minutes, using the wall as a support and feeling the dizzying giddiness as he readjusted to movement... another few minutes and he could walk, slowly, over to the filing boxes, and his fingers worked slowly through the many files until he found it; Artemis. Gathering his overcoat, which he threw over himself despite the overbearing need to leave it off and stand in a freezer, he tucked the file into a large inner pocket, and extended a hand to Alex. "Come on Bols," he murmured. She took his hand, looking at him in confusion as he pulled her to her feet, their eyes remaining fixated on one another as they both searched for answers...

And before he thought about it, he'd leant forward to gruffly whisper in her ear, "We're not done." And he didn't let go of her hand as he lead her from the vault, his legs screaming in protest as they hurried. His whole body spoke out against him, screeching for him to stop, to stay still and let himself recover... and he knew that, a step behind him, her hand still in his, Bolly was feeling just the same, equally pained and equally resistant.

---

It wasn't until much later that night, or perhaps even early in the next morning, that Gene came to her door, his body finally recovered, his skin no longer flushed red, and said quietly upon her answering; "they say the world's gunna end in ninety-five Bols." And of course they didn't, they'd never mentioned it, but he didn't care... "Means I've only got fourteen years to romance you out of them knickers... so I say I do it now and save us both the trouble."

He didn't even wait for her to reply as he leant forward to press his mouth against hers again.

And when she responded, he couldn't believe how good she tasted.

He'd barely noticed earlier, content with the fact that, if he was dying, at least he'd gotten one wish of kissing Bolly... now he could taste the mint of her toothpaste, the strawberry of her lip gloss, the slight hint of wine that said she'd opted for a night cap after having gotten ready for bed... nothing had ever tasted so good, and as she wrapped her arms around his neck, he wondered if anything ever would again.

"Bols..." he murmured into her mouth. She just pulled his head back, fingers tangled into his hair as she pulled him gently inside, steering him blindly backwards towards her bedroom, fingers fumbling at the handle so that in the end Gene opened it instead, half-opening his eyes to manoeuvre her towards the bed, pressing her down into the silken sheets as his fingers moved across her lower back, slipping up and beneath her loose blouse and up her back, tracing and caressing and tickling in the hollow of her spine as he continued to move his mouth and tongue against her own. Her arms slid down his chest, fingers making deft work of his buttons as they kissed, sliding the fabric from his shoulders, surprised to find bare flesh.

"No vest, Guv?" she murmured softly.

He kissed her again. "Since you'd seen me in half me delicates I didn't think you'd mind so much... might even be to your advantage." Another soft kiss and his fingers were at the hem of her shirt, lifting it up between them, breaking the mouth contact with enough brevity that he discarded the offending item, but they were kissing, caressing and touching again within a moment, his arms wrapping around her as his fingers danced across her back. "No bra, Bols?" he teased.

She dragged his mouth to hers before whispering, "didn't expect anyone to find out."

He chuckled, pressing his body into hers, aligning them together and feeling the way she fit against him. His erection was pressing into her thigh and he felt her shift her leg ever so slightly, repeatedly, causing an increasingly wonderful, heated friction against his underwear. After he emitted a soft growl, she giggled into his mouth, taking pity on him and reaching down to his belt, unbuckling it before reaching for his zip, loosening it and pushing the trousers down his hips gently and slowly. His hands mirrored hers, heading for the baggy jogging bottoms she was wearing and pulling briefly on the drawstring before lifting her up briefly by the hips, pulling the loose trousers and modest pants down past her feet, pulling his mouth from hers to kiss his way down her stomach, stopping only to take in the swell of her breasts briefly, then passing over her centre, returning to her skin when he was level with her knee, still tugging the trousers from her body as he tenderly kissed and caressed his way to her ankle. Then he pulled back, dropping her trousers on the floor, pulling his own from his feet and laying back over her again, one hand tracing her side as the other cupped a breast, squeezing and teasing, stroking the hard nub as she reached around him again to tug on his black boxer shorts.

"Off," she murmured softly, and though it wasn't a demand or order, he obeyed quickly enough, shoving the offending garment from his body and lifting her in his arms so that he could place her central to the bed, settling himself in beside her as his fingers traced the contours of her body; every curve was caressed, every inch of skin brushed, each hair on her arms forced to stand on end... And though he wanted to explore her, though he wanted to taste her, and touch her and tease her, he couldn't; the need to be within her, together and conjoined, was overwhelming, and the fact it was so close to happening, to really coming true, made him shiver with longing... and though he was scared to ask, he whispered to her softly.

"Bols... I don't think I can wait..."

"No," she whispered. "Nor can I..." He kissed her, moving his hands to cup both sides of her face as he tenderly, gently, teasingly rubbed his mouth to hers.

"Can do all the other bollucks later," he muttered softly.

She nodded, teasing as she whispered. "We've got fourteen years, apparently..."

"We sure do Bols... sure do..."

---

It wasn't what he'd dreamt of at all; in all his dreams, he'd taken her quickly, torn her clothes from her body and made her scream until her voice was hoarse. He'd never thought about what it would be like to make slow, gentle love to Alex Drake, and he decided later that it was a flaw in the plan of his life.

They didn't wait; he barely even brushed his fingers against her heat before he settled between he legs, always kissing her, always enjoying the flush of her bare, naked, warm skin against his. Had they been physically able in the vault, he wondered how different this would have been, how frenzied a coupling it might have become; she'd been so sweaty she was glistening, and as much as he hated to objectify her, she'd looked like a sex goddess, with her hair in disarray and her mouth parted, eyes wide and glittering...

Now he slid into her slowly, persevering gently to treasure every inch as he slid into her this first time... he could feel the heat, the tightness beginning to envelop him, and he was sighing against her, into her mouth, enjoying every moment, listening to the pitch of her breathing and the sighs of her pleasure as he moved within her... he pulled back from her mouth briefly as he slid in fully, watching her mouth open in an 'o' and enjoying the look of bliss, the pleasure that was building in her eyes... "Look at me, Bols," he murmured. Because it was heaven, seeing her like this; she was a different woman to the toffee-nosed swot who sometimes graced his office with her presence. She was a beautiful, free, uninhibited angel, and much as the swot had worked her way into his heart and his head, he knew that he would never know her again as he did in this moment...

Her brown eyes locked onto his, and as he slid his hips backwards and forwards in slow motion, he saw such a range of expressions that he wanted to physically combust. There was that moment when he nearly withdrew, when her eyes would narrow, mouth closing briefly, before he changed his movement, sliding inwards, and the narrowed eyes would suddenly widen, mouth opening into that beautiful, perfectly shaped and pronounced 'o' that no other woman could ever achieve... She was warm against him; her breath on his neck as he looked in her eyes was warm and sent tingles down his spine. Her breasts pressed into his bare, much less well-sculpted form, felt warm and blissful and natural. Her skin wasn't coated in that thick layer of sweat he had known that afternoon, but instead glistened slightly in the light as she pressed her hips up lightly to meet his own, wrapping her legs around the backs of his thighs to pull him in deeper.

Neither of them moved to change the pace, each of them enjoying the intimate, warm connection that flowed between them. He moved into her, eyes on her mouth for several moments before he bent down to kiss her again, slow, sensual and tender... she was perfect...

She was perfect, and when he could feel himself building to climax, overwhelmed by how good she felt, how warm, how welcoming, how sensual... when he could feel himself building up to his own peak, his hand slid between them, seeking out that tight bud of nerves that would allow her to join him in completion before they pulled apart... She moaned softly as he brushed against her, pressing herself tighter against his hand and shifting her hips to grind into him. His eyes nearly rolled into his head as she rubbed and gyrated and ground, both into his hand, and into his own hips, moving around him so that he was practically whimpering...

"Gene..." she whispered, "I think I'm nearly there..." He kissed her, thumb pressing and rubbing into her twice more before she trembled and shook in his arms...

"I think so too," he managed, rubbing her once more to bring her further over the edge before gathering her to him, still sliding into her as she tightened around him, her heat flooding him as she gasped and moaned into his mouth, pleasure practically blinding him as spots burst before his eyes for the second time that day, and he erupted into her with a soft groan, gently nibbling and caressing her tongue and mouth as they both came down, not moving as they lay there, completed, sated, and yet wanting nothing else... all the movement he made was to roll onto his side, continuing his lazy exploration of her mouth as his hands danced down her spine, over her buttocks and the backs of her thighs, leaving lazy patterns in their wake as he held her to him. It didn't seem so bad, he thought, getting stuck in a vault with a posh gobby cow... not in hindsight, anyway...

---

Later, cuddled under the blankets with their legs and arms still intertwined, still buried in one another after another, faster coupling, Alex toyed with the hairs that scattered his chest as she spoke. "Promise me, Gene, that any time I think I'm going to die, you'll shag me just like that."

He snorted in a very un-gentlemanly fashion, but his arms gathered her closer to his chest as he teasingly gave her his response; "if you do this every time you think you're gunna die, Bols, maybe I should make a few more threats on your life."

---

To AliceM;

I hope this was ok; I know you wanted a bit of the emotion/smut combo, and though I tried, I couldn't bring myself to let them do it in the vault when they could hardly breathe... so there's a little combo in there, plus a little humour, and I hope it makes up for the fact they weren't getting filthy in the vault.

Mage of the Heart