I don't own Ashes to Ashes

So, I decided, after a little bit of hesitance, to start the sequel to The Art of Living – I don't know how fast it will move, as I'm trying to focus on Enduring Hope at the moment, but I felt the need for some smutty intervention, even though the plot sort of begins at the very end. Hope you'll enjoy it – could be sensitive at some points, as before, but I hope it'll be worth it!

It picks up almost exactly where it left off... about two months down the line :-)

Hope you enjoy!

"Alex, where the bloody hell is my tie?"

Gene Hunt's gravelly voice drifted up the stairs, followed by excitable yapping and scrabbling of claws on wood, as the large Alsatian scurried around beside him, woofing playfully at his heels.

"Wherever you left it!" Alex called back, dragging on a pair of knickers and glancing around for her hair brush, just as heavy footsteps could be heard pounding up the wooden staircase, across the landing, and through the open bedroom door.

"It ain't bloody here!" He snapped, storming in and jerking back the bedcovers swiftly. "I laid it out last night an' its bloody well disappeared!"

"It hasn't disappeared!" Alex replied in an exasperated voice, turning to him and rolling her eyes, the hairbrush in her hand now, waving for emphasis as she went on. "You probably forgot to put it out and it's still in the wardrobe or something! It really isn't that hard to find a tie!"

"Not that bloody hard?" Gene snapped, tossing the pillow he had been searching under back down and snapping his head up to look at her for the first time. "I blo-!" He stopped in his tracks, gaze tracking the length of her body, his eyes falling on the full bare breasts, the silk and lace of her dark blue knickers, the neatness of the gentle curls in her hair.... Mostly though, his eyes were drawn to the gentle bump of her stomach, the slight swell that said she was carrying his child... Argument forgotten, he shrugged off his blazer, tossing it onto the bed and walking over to her a moment later, surprising her by tugging the hairbrush from her hand, dropping it onto the floor and letting it clatter noisily as he pushed her gently against the wall, his mouth suddenly on her neck, hand stroking the curve of her stomach tenderly.

"Gene," Alex murmured warningly, her hands on his shoulders. "Gene, we're almost late as it is, you can't-!"

"Screw it," he mumbled, hand drifting lower and teasing into her knickers, fingers stroking her gently as his mouth kissed and sucked at the tender flesh of her neck. "They were late fer ours..."


"No buts," he growled, slipping two long fingers into her heat and grinning as she let out a whimper, her knees buckling beneath her. "I want you," he mumbled, nipping at her collarbone. "Gunna have you, too..."

His thumb rubbed her clit, his fingers stroked her insides, and a moment later Alex had caved, wrapping her legs around his waist as he carried her back to bed.

"I told you we'd be late," Alex muttered softly under her breath, tapping her fingers impatiently against the car door as they sat in the seemingly endless queue of traffic.

"You didn't mind too much if I recall correctly," Gene murmured in reply, letting his gaze travel to her dress-covered crotch as his tongue wet his lips. He caught her blush, saw the way she bit her lip, and a moment later he'd slipped his left hand to her lap, stroking up her thigh and under her skirt with gloved fingers. "You were beggin', actually, if I recall correctly..."

"I'm pregnant," she mumbled softly, not bothering to protest his attentions, and closing her eyes as he applied pressure to her clit with two skilled fingers. "I'm not thinking straight..."

"Don't blame you," Gene grinned. "It's hard to think straight when you're getting shagged halfway to death by someone as well-hung as yours truly." He casually flicked his cigarette butt out of the open window, the other hand still teasing and stroking her gently through the fabric of her knickers. Glancing over at her, he smirked, seeing the slackness of her jaw, hearing the hitch of her breathing, the slight gasp as he caught her clit... He glanced at the road, briefly assessing the traffic, and then looked back at her as she pushed her hips eagerly into his hands.

"How late are we?" He asked, swallowing and wetting his mouth as he watched her.

Alex glanced blearily at the watch on Gene's wrist, letting out a soft whimper as he pressed slightly harder, grazing her clitoris once more and making her shiver as she spoke, voice heavy with arousal. "Fifteen minutes," she managed, whimpering slightly; a moment later, he'd changed gear, swerved into the other lane, and slammed his foot to the pedal as he took off down a side street, ignoring the loud honking of numerous car horns as he swerved in front of oncoming traffic. Alex's whimper of frustration at the sudden loss of contact only served to spur him on, and less than five minutes later they were parked up roughly in a seemingly empty street.

He was on her a second later, one hand squeezing at her breast, the other burying itself in her centre, knickers pushed aside as his mouth assaulted her own.

"Church..." Alex mumbled half-heartedly, ever as she tangled her hand in his hair and pushed up into his hands. "Wedding..."

"Bugger the wedding," he growled, taking her lips with his and nibbling suggestively as his fingers pushed deep into her, feeling her tight and hot around him as he thrust them in and out. "You've had two yerself - you know what they look like." He hissed as he leant against the gearstick, and a moment later he'd unclipped her seatbelt, stepping awkwardly over the gearstick and between the seats into the back of the car, tugging her with him, and then promptly turning her so that she was sat on the backseat with her legs apart.

"I've got something much better to look at," he growled, pushing her down onto the leather seats and pushing his hips firmly into hers. "You'll like it," he promised, drawing one of her hands towards his crotch and placing it there suggestively as he pushed his tongue eagerly into her mouth. Alex moaned, rubbing him through his trousers, even as she whispered against his mouth.

"Gene, we should really be there..."

He shook his head, tugging off his gloves and discarding them as he sank his fingers back into her heat, biting at her lip and pushing his hips into her hands. "Un-Christian, Bolly," he murmured, lips on her neck. "Thou shalt shag whenever thou see fit... Can't go against His almighty word..."

"I don't think that's quite how it goes," Alex gasped, laughing slightly. "I think it's more like-!"

"Shut it Bols," he mumbled, twisting his fingers and feeling her inner muscles clench around him with arousal. "There's a traffic jam; technically, we'd be late anyway..." His breath was hot against her face as he went on. "Him upstairs obviously thinks I've been neglecting you..." He pushed his fingers even deeper, thumb scraping her clit as she frantically undid the fastening of his trousers, pushing one hand into his boxers and stroking him swiftly, gently twisting her wrist and applying just the right amount of pressure as he growled out his pleasure.

"Again," Gene mumbled softly. "Do that again, Bols, and don't bloody stop..." He fell on her then, mouth biting down on the flesh of her breast as he pushed the dress aside, fingers driving her towards her peak as she worked him expertly, teasing his balls, stroking his tip, trailing her nails up his length...

"Get your clothes off," she murmured harshly, pushing up at him as he worked her to the brink of orgasm, feeling herself tremble on the edge as she whimpered. "Hurry... I want you inside me..."

He groaned, pushing his trousers down with his spare hand and easing himself between her legs. "I will be," he growled, teasing her with his straining tip; she let out a soft whimper, but shook her head agitatedly.

"Shirt," she whispered breathily. "Take the shirt off..."

Gene hissed slightly, considering ignoring her and simply plunging deep; she wouldn't say no... but Christ, it was hot when she bossed him around... With a groan, he made quick work of his shirt and tie, tossing them over the front seat and instantly turning back to her; he swallowed hard when he saw that she'd somehow managed to wriggle out of the dress, leaving her only in her underwear, with huge, gorgeous breasts encased in dark blue lace to match the pants he'd already tugged off once that day.

Gene wet his lips, leaning over and dragging the knickers from her body for a second time, keeping them in his hand as her fingers slid over his chest and back, tongue teasing his nipples, nibbling lightly at the sensitive skin; he growled, and a moment later he was buried inside her, throwing her leg over his shoulder to give him more room to manoeuvre, ploughing into her with a groan of pleasure that sent shivers down her spine.

"You're filthy, Bols," he growled matter-of-factly, nipping at her ear. "Practically naked, in a car..." He bit at her neck as she wrapped her other leg around his back, urging him deeper as she tightened her hold. "Anyone might see..." He thrust faster, hissing as she reached down between them, rubbing herself into orgasm with her head thrown back, mouth open.

"You like that?" Gene growled, pushing harder, deeper, closing his eyes as she spilled over him, moaning beneath him as she brought her hand up to his mouth, pushing one wet digit between his lips.

"Yes," she whispered, stroking his lip with the tip of her finger. "Do you?" In answer, he took her finger deeper in his mouth, tongue flickering out to stroke up its length, growling deep in his throat as she urged her hips up to meet his thrusts.

"Harder," she murmured. "Harder, Gene... please..."

He complied, pushing her hand away from his mouth and grabbing her by the hips, dragging her over his length and grunting with pleasure; a few hard thrusts, a quick stroke of his balls, and a few moments later he was coming, biting down hard on her breast through the fabric of her bra and bringing her along with him, releasing hard and deep into her with a loud, wanton growl of pleasure, before collapsing onto her, his head on her shoulder as her hand tangled in his hair, body shaking beneath him as their ragged breathing sounded loudly in the confines of the car.

"Am I forgiven?" Gene asked a few moments later, his breathing still heavy and hot against her neck as he remained buried inside her, still quivering with the aftershocks.

He felt her nod, felt her shake slightly beneath him as she pressed a breathy kiss to his head. "If weddings always get you like this Gene, we should've been late for ours..."

He chuckled, nibbling at her collarbone as his hand slid over her stockings. "You bloody were," he muttered. "An' if I'd known you were gunna be late, I'd 'ave 'ad a calming wank in the bogs beforehand."

Alex smiled, kissing him gently and pushing him lightly on the shoulder. "Lovely, Gene," she murmured sarcastically. "Really, truly lovely... We should probably go now though..."

"Mmmm," Gene murmured, pulling back to meet her eyes with his; for a moment he said nothing, but then he leant forwards and caught her lips with his.

"I love you," he mumbled softly, nibbling gently on her lower lip for a moment; before she could reply, he'd tucked her knickers into her bra and pushed away, grabbed his shirt from the front seat and tugged it back on.

"Come on, Bols," he muttered, gently slapping her thigh with the flat of his palm; "I need a drink."

They arrived just in time to see Chris and Shaz walk back up the aisle hand-in-hand, Alex desperately trying to flatten her now ruffled hair into a look that was slightly more presentable, whilst Gene stood unashamedly with his own hair in disarray. Shaz grinned tellingly at Alex as she passed, waggling her eyebrows suggestively towards Gene's ruffled appearance; Chris, on the other hand, was apparently too baffled and ecstatic to notice anything except the woman on his arm, and passed by with a grin bigger than the Mersey stretched between his lips.

Gene stood with one arm around Alex's waist, hand resting gently on the small swell of her stomach, lips in her hair as the congregation filed out of the church.

"She looks gorgeous, doesn't she?" Alex smiled, watching as Shaz and Chris were drowned out in a crowd of well-wishers.

"You looked better," Gene mumbled softly, sliding his lips to her cheek and continuing to stroke her belly. She flushed visibly, and he grinned, moving to take her hand and draw her out of the church. "Sorry we missed it," he muttered half-heartedly, unable to keep the grin from his face.

"No you're not," she smiled back, returning the pressure on his hand with a small laugh.

Gene smirked, reaching for a cigarette and moving slightly away from her as he lit up, though her hand remained clasped in his spare as he did so. "You're right," he answered, exhaling in the opposite direction before he glanced back at her, still grinning. "I'd take shagging you over a wedding any day of the week."

Alex smiled, waving at a beaming Shaz as she spoke. "As would most people," she teased. She glanced back in time to see his eyebrows rise inquisitively, and she laughed, leaning forwards to briefly brush his cheek with her lips, before pulling away from the overwhelming smell of cigarette smoke. "Come on," she grinned, tugging him towards the happy couple, "if we congratulate them now, you don't need to stay until the end."

"Right you are," Gene muttered, taking a drag on his cigarette, and then dropping it to the floor, stubbing it out with his toe. "Say well done, get pissed, shag yer brains out..." he eyed her lustily, then smirked. "Reckon I can handle that."

"I hope so," Alex replied, allowing him to pull her tighter against him as they got closer to Shaz and Chris. "I'd hate to think you were going to let me down after your earlier performances..."

"That a challenge, Bolly?" He growled in her ear, even as he reached for Chris's hand, shaking it with a firm nod as Alex smiled up at him, turning to whisper to him and standing up on her tiptoes.

"Only if you want it to be, Mr Hunt..."

His hand tightened on her waist, and he drew a breath in sharply, pulling her into his body with his hand on her arse, ignoring the baffled look on Chris' face as he did so. "Do I get a medal?" He growled suggestively.

"If you want a medal, Gene, you can have a medal," she murmured, lips brushing the pulse at his neck as she added, "but I'm sure you can think of something else to reward yourself with..." Her tongue traced beneath his jaw suggestively, and then she'd pulled away, embracing Shaz in a hug at the same moment that Gene bit back a wave of lust.

"I've thought of my something else," he murmured in her ear several hours later, dropping gentle, sloppy kisses on her shoulder as she leaned back into his touch. He was more than a little drunk, and his large hand slid suggestively up to her breasts, cupping one and squeezing through her dress with total disregard for everything but her.

"Mmm...?" Alex replied absently, watching Chris and Shaz sway happily on the dance floor. "What's that then?"

He shifted her in his lap, finding her hand with his and placing it surreptitiously at the top of his thigh, just brushing his crotch through the fabric of his trousers as he lifted his lips to her ear. "You," he mumbled, briefly taking her earlobe between his teeth. "Sucking," he growled. "On me..."

"Sounds lovely," Alex mumbled, closing her eyes as he slid his hand to her thigh. "As long as you hold up your end of the bargain..."

"It's holding up," he murmured, guiding her hand more firmly. "See? S'impressive..."

"Very," she agreed, smiling slightly. "But I'm not doing anything with it here."

Gene grunted something incoherent, and then shifted her off his lap, standing up and swaying slightly against her. Alex laughed, steadying him with two hands on his shoulders and rolling her eyes when he began kissing his way up her neck. "Gene, let's go home," she sighed, gently tugging on his hair. "You can kiss me there all you like..."

"Spoilsport," he mumbled, goosing her with one hand, but he straightened up swiftly, pulling her by the hand and stumbling only once when his foot caught on a chair leg. Alex waved at Chris and Shaz, offering continued congratulations, whilst Gene grunted in annoyance, clapped a drunken Ray on the shoulder, and then led her from the reception without another seconds delay.

"S'fine," he slurred, fingers fumbling with the zip at the side of her dress, a frown of utter concentration on his face. "S'fine... s'just stiff..."

"I bet it is," Alex laughed, stroking his hair as he pouted slightly, victoriously jerking the zip down after several moments of difficulty and grinning as he finally tugged the dress from her body, tossing it off the bed before his mouth fell to the curve of her breast sucking hard, pushing firmly into her as he ripped the knickers from her body, shirt and tie still hanging loose around his neck.

"Stiff enough?" he murmured, snapping off her bra and taking her breast deeper in his mouth.

"Lovely..." She moaned softly. "Mmmm... yes... definitely..."

"Good," he grunted, pulling out and flipping her onto her stomach, drawing her to hands and knees before plunging into her again, hands cupping her breasts as he thrust hard and deep. Alex whimpered, pushing back at him and urging him on. "Should've got you preggers sooner, Bols," he mumbled, nibbling at her neck as she threw her head back in pleasure. "You're hornier than a priest in a brothel these days..."

"Are you complaining?" Alex asked breathlessly, biting down hard on her lip as he went on.

"God no..." He groaned, feeling her clench around him and instantly biting on her shoulder, eyes closed as he pinched her breasts with one hand, stroking his length into her as his other hand dug into her hip, blunt nails leaving red marks that were sure to bruise... "The hornier the better... in my –shit!" He broke off as she clenched again, inner walls tightening around him and leaving him gasping. "Shit!" He groaned again, pushing deeper, wrapping an arm around her waist and groaning slightly. "Oh God," he grunted. "The hornier the better," he repeated, gasping. "Definitely..."

His hand slid instantly downward, searching for her swollen clit as he felt himself tighten, breathing heavy, thrusts erratic as he hurried her to her peak, releasing inside her in a hot stream as she threw her head back again, his name on her lips as she came violently around him.

Gene shuddered, gasping harshly as he lowered her to the bed, his arm across her hip, eyes closed and lips at her throat as he mumbled incoherently.

Alex quivered, limbs warm and heavy from her orgasm as Gene enveloped her in his arms, lips whispering up to her jaw.

"See," he mumbled in her ear. "I deserve a medal..."

"Give me half an hour," she murmured, "and I'll see what I can do..."

Gene shifted closer, pressing her back into his chest and speaking gruffly. "In the mornin'," he mumbled. "Too bloody knackered now..." He gently twisted her head towards his, catching her mouth and sucking gently on her lower lip. "Night Mrs Hunt," he whispered, dragging the duvet over them both, hand coming to rest on the gentle swell of their child in Alex's stomach.

"Goodnight Gene," Alex murmured, covering his hand with her own and allowing her eyes to flutter closed, a soft smile on her lips as he nuzzled gently at her throat.

Gene had woken her with a warm tender kiss, turning her in his arms and guiding her hand to the straining length of his erection, groaning lightly as she grasped him, her stroke falling into a rhythm as she suggestively threw one long leg over his hip. He'd smiled, shaken his head, and pushed her lower; if she'd had any objections, she'd failed to voice them, and a while later he came into her mouth, groaning his release as his fingers tangled in her hair...

In the office three hours later, it was still all he could think about, and he watched her from his office with a gentle smirk on his lips, silently enjoying the sight of her; slim, long legs, huge tits, and the swell of her stomach that gripped at his chest and caused his heart beat to treble. Every now and then, he'd catch her eye, see her hand resting across the slight bulge, see the corner of her mouth turn up in a genuine smile, and he'd grin, light up a cigarette, and watch her for another five minutes, regardless of the mounting piles of paperwork on his desk; being married wasn't such a chore, he'd come to realize – or at least, it wasn't when you were married to a woman who was randier than a nun, dirtier than a hooker, and as gorgeous as Brit Ekland and then some.

He leaned back in his chair and smirked, lighting up a cigarette as Alex buried herself amidst a particularly taxing case, leaning forward to give him a delightful view of her cleavage.

Alex headed into the small kitchen area a while later, taking two cups from the shelf and smiling as the diamond of her engagement ring caught her eye, settled next to the small gold band that Gene had given her on their wedding day. She felt her lips twitch, felt the muscles in her cheek stretch as she recalled everything; the smile on his face, the warmth of his hands in her own, the smell of his aftershave as he'd taken her in his arms and kissed her as he lowered her to the bed, the feeling of his mouth on her neck as he'd whispered softly against her skin, promising her everything, anything...

"Good girl!" His gruff growl in her ear brought her back to reality, and she jumped as his arm slipped around her waist, blushing red as he nibbled lightly on her ear. "Knew you wouldn't let me die of thirst," he mumbled, kissing her jaw gently as she absently stirred his drink, biting on her lip.

She felt him frown, felt his eyes scan her face for any giveaway of her thoughts, and then he chuckled, the vibrations of his chest echoing through her as he squeezed her slightly tighter in his arms. "Stop thinking about me naked," he told her quietly, hand slipping to her arse. "It's bad enough havin' to work with that bunch o' tossers out there fer eight hours a day, but if I get thinking that you're horny an' up for it, I'll be more frustrated than a cannibal in a salad bar!"

Alex grinned, taking a sip of hot water and shaking her head. "I'm always horny and up for it, Gene; I just have a reasonable sense of decorum when it comes to shagging in work hours."

"Bollucks do you," Gene muttered, grimacing at her tasteless drink and reaching for his coffee. "If I offered, you would."

"In which case," Alex replied, smirking. "I trust you not to offer."

He rolled his eyes, narrowing his eyes as she took another sip of water. "You still drinking that shit?" He asked, frowning. She nodded, shrugging slightly.

"It's all I can drink," she murmured absently. "Tea tastes like vomit, coffee tastes like urine, and the one time I tried hot squash I vomited all over Ray's brand new shoes."

Gene chuckled, taking a sip of coffee. "Serves him right, the useless tosser," he murmured, pressing a kiss to her forehead. "What were they made out of anyway? Camel skin?"

"No," Alex laughed, shaking her head. "It was suede; he thought they were bird-pullers, if I recall correctly."

"If you're trying to pull a bloody pigeon, maybe," Gene muttered in an undertone, wetting his lips and glancing at the clock. "Right, come on," he said, nodding towards the clock, "same said tosser and Poirot pulled in the jewellery store blaggers we were after; bloke looks like a sailor, and the bird looks like Minnie Mouse with a gun."

"You mean she's black?" Alex asked without thinking, frowning slightly.

"No," Gene answered swiftly, grinning to himself as he stepped back and took a large gulp of hot coffee. "I mean she's got ears bigger than 'er tits, an' a nose to rival 'er fella's wotsits!"

Alex laughed despite herself, taking a sip of her water and then pushing away from the counter top. "Well," she said softly, "with a description like that, how can I possibly resist accompanying you?"

Gene chuckled, dropping a kiss to the crown of her head and combing his fingers gently through her hair. "My point exactly," he mumbled, grinning as she rolled her eyes at him.

"No need to be so modest, Gene," she grinned, cupping her tea with both hands. "Nobody's going to hear you."

"No Bols," he smiled, leaning forwards to whisper in her ear, "but I'll make damn sure they'll hear you." He waggled his eyebrows suggestively, and then delivered a smarting smack to her behind, chuckling as she gasped in evident surprise. "Now get yer tits out of my face an' do some bloody work, you lazy bint!"

Alex looked indignant, eyebrows raised in mock shock for a brief moment, before she closed the space between them, one hand on his shoulder as she stood on tiptoe to murmur softly in his ear. "I will," she whispered, nipping his ear. "You know how much I like to work..." She drew away a moment later, hand brushing his crotch as she nodded towards the door.

Gene simply smirked, waving his arm and indicating that she lead the way; with a roll of the eyes, Alex walked ahead, fully aware that Gene's gaze remained firmly fixated upon her arse. For a moment, he enjoyed the view, briefly wetting his lips as he felt a familiar stirring in his groin, fuelled further by the playful banter.... Then, with a grin, he spoke up, his voice teasing; "Oh, and Bolly?"

She turned back, smiling with a false sweetness. "Yes, Gene?"

"Minnie Mouse isn't black..." He smirked to himself, taking a smug gulp of coffee before walking past her, grinning at her somewhat surprised expression, before taking full advantage and goosing her firmly; she bit back a yelp, glowering at him as he moved ahead of her to the double doors that led out to the corridor.

"Parcel for you, Ma'am," Viv said as the pair of them passed his desk, reaching under his counter and drawing out a large, industrially wrapped box, secured with brown tape and addressed plainly to 'Detective Inspector Alexandra Hunt'. She felt Gene stand at her shoulder, eyeing the package with burning curiosity and evident interest.

"Do they do office deliveries on underwear now, Bols?" He murmured suggestively in her ear, smirking slightly as she rolled her eyes and Viv turned away; if he hadn't been so dark-skinned, Alex thought, they could certainly have seen him blush. "I wouldn't have minded you sending them home..."

She frowned, shaking her head and tugging the package towards her. "I haven't ordered anything," Alex murmured, looking at the stamp and frowning. "And this was processed in Birmingham; it's not even local..." With a frown, she searched for the start of the tape, pulling it away with difficulty.

Gene shrugged, taking a swig from his coffee and nodding towards it. "Maybe it's a belated 'your-husbands-a-bastard-here's-some-sympathy' gift," he smirked, stepping closer, and then rolling his eyes as she tugged hopelessly at the tape.

"'ere," he muttered, pushing his coffee into her hand and tearing the parcel open; a moment later he drew out a smaller box, and sighed in frustration at the sight, rolling his eyes in annoyance. "It's like bloody china dolls!" He protested, tearing at the parcel as Alex placed his drink down on the counter, waiting patiently as he ripped back both tape and lid, before pushing the now open box towards Alex; she peered in, rolling her eyes at the polystyrene balls filling up the box and then pushing her hand in with a slight look of confusion, rummaging awkwardly at the bottom.

Gene sighed, pulling out a cigarette and lighting up, half-heartedly watching as she sent numerous pieces of polystyrene tumbling across Viv's desk; the look of concentration on her face disappeared at the same moment that Viv nudged Gene forcibly in the arm, pointing at the bottom of the second box with a gulp.

"Guv," he muttered, "look..."

His eyes followed the direction of Viv's finger, and a second later he'd grabbed Alex's hand, tightening his grip on her wrist and forcing her to relinquish her hold on the mystery item; when he drew her newly empty hand out, it was dotted with droplets of red to match the odd stain on the bottom-left corner of the box, and Gene felt his mouth go dry.

"Skipper," he murmured, voice slightly uneven. "Put that back in the other box and get it to forensics; I want a turnaround by tonight - if that isn't blood, I'm Michael Parkinson's left bolluck."

"Yes, Guv," Viv muttered, nodding and moving forwards quickly.

Gene glanced worriedly at Alex, who was still eyeing her hand with a blatant air of bewilderment, before he gathered her swiftly into his arms, pressing his lips to her forehead as she frowned in surprise.

"Gene, I don't think it's anything too-!"

She didn't get to finish her sentence; as Viv collected up the box, the bottom flaps gave way, sending the polystyrene tumbling to the floor, just pre-empting a loud clattering noise as a small bundle fell to the floor.

He heard Viv swear, felt Alex tremble in his arms, and felt a horrible twist in the pit of his stomach as he recognised the shape of a naked toy doll, smeared with red and with the plastic arms outstretched as if in invitation, hands red and garish to the eye, with a similarly red cross etched into the plastic stomach.

"Bugger me," he heard Viv mutter, before Alex's rasping breath drew his complete attention, and he enveloped her firmly against his chest, swallowing hard against the lump in his throat as Viv hurried to box it back up.

Hope it was alright – let me know what you thought!

Mage of the Heart