I don't own Ashes to Ashes
I'll be honest... I was disappointed with the ending, so here is my interpretation of events, from the moment Alex enters the pub.
Her hand closed around the door handle and she stepped in with trepidation weighing down her limbs, her heart breaking bitterly in her chest as she turned her back on everything she knew; the daughter she'd lost, the man she'd loved and the lives she'd lived... Gone...
And she stepped into warmth... warmth that should have made her smile, filled her with happiness and caused her to sigh with blessed relief; the warmth of a welcoming pub, a celebratory drink and a happy atmosphere where there was no worry and no doubt – just companions, friends, relaxation...
But the warmth didn't reach her; nothing reached her. As she stepped over the threshold, all she could see for miles was stars- stars, drifting by at incalculable speeds and yet appearing not to move at all... There was no carpet, no ceiling, no floor, no walls but the one at her back... And she saw Nelson, standing at her elbow with his hand held out, a warm smile that should've cheered her on his lips; but it didn't. She felt cold, bitter, unhappy and lost, and there was something terrifying, bitter and regretful about this whole scenario, her whole existence as she knew it at this moment.
"What'll it be?" Nelson smiled, white teeth stark against the dark colour of his skin and the backdrop of starry skies that hung down behind his back... She glanced at his hand, at his face, at the door she had not yet let slip closed behind her... and she blanched, feeling vomit twist her stomach, vomit that shouldn't have existed because this whole existence was unreal...
And yet now it became the only existence that mattered; an existence where one man had given up his afterlife to help estranged coppers find their feet, come to peace with their deaths and pass into the abyss with a smile upon their lips... but the smile he promised wasn't present; not for her. How could it be? Because how could she smile on this side of the door?
Her eyes leaked tears like burning acid down her cheeks, staining her skin and splashing onto her clothes, and her heart hammered loudly in her chest, hammering against all odds of death as she teetered on the edge, hammering for the man who had stolen it away and still held it unknowingly in his hands...
Did death matter? She wondered sadly, watching the beautiful stars and feeling a horrible sense of grief overpower her entire being; if this was death, then why was she so terrified? If death was floating stars and shimmering lights, then why did she feel so isolated, terrified, bitterly heartbroken... If death was this beautiful scenery for every last millisecond of existence, why did it repel her so viciously, so corrosively?
"Because I'm not ready," she whispered softly to herself, answering her own question; her voice echoed through space, through time, through this bizarre contingency of life, death, existence and non-existence, and she realized it in the blink of an eye. "I'm not ready," she repeated softly.
"What's that?" Nelson asked, his accent slipping slightly, just as Sam had said it did sometimes... But when Alex looked, she saw the knowing look, the slight twinkle in his eyes, and she breathed a sigh of relief at the realization that he had understood.
"If I go," she murmured softly, "if I wait... I can come back, can't I? When I'm ready... when- when I'm ready, I can move on?"
Nelson smiled, nodding as he motioned over his shoulder without any shred of argument, as though he had expected nothing else; the stars disappeared, the floor materialised before her, and she was no longer stood on the brink of existence, but instead upon the soft red carpet of The Railway Arms. Across the room, people drank at the bar, laughing, joking, flirting, teasing... And Nelson's smile said it all.
"I'll keep yer drink on the bar," he assured her, his accent back in place as she smiled. "Say the same to Mr Hunt; it's on the bar."
Alex felt herself smile, and despite the tears that streamed down her face, and the ache in her chest where her daughter was meant to be, she felt relieved. Leaning forward, she touched Nelson's shoulder, brushing her lips to his cheeks and smiling softly.
"Sam was right about you in the end, Nelson," she whispered. "You did know more than you let on..."
He smiled, eyes twinkling as he nodded his head, saying nothing.
"Was he happy?" She asked softly, feeling her heart constrict slightly. "In the end, was he-? Did he seem happy?"
"He had his Annie," Nelson smiled assuringly. "Like two peas in a pod..." he waited for a moment, then nodded back the way she'd come – back to Gene. " Just like you," he murmured. He smiled knowingly, watching the slight embarrassed grin on her face, before grinning himself and jerking his thumb. "Shut the door on yer way out, 'ey?"
Alex nodded, smiled, and then turned back, drawing the door open again and stepping back into the street, hit instantly by the fresh, cool air, the silent street, the warm lamp glow; behind her, she heard laughter – familiar laughter – as Ray, Chris and Shaz found their contentment, their forever... their peace... And glancing down the street, at the lonely figure who stared up at the sky with his long black coat hanging from his shoulders, she knew she'd found her own.
"Gene!" She called, her voice full of emotion as it echoed down the street.
She felt herself running, saw him turn towards her with a look of combined surprise, relief and incredulous bemusement on his face, but she didn't care; her heels clattered on the pavement, her long coat billowing behind her as she ran without hesitating, ignoring the look of reprimand on his face as she threw her arms around his neck, feeling the tears fall swiftly down her cheek and onto his neck as she was struck by overwhelming grief and relief, clinging to him as he made to protest.
"Bolly, you daft tart, you're meant to be-!"
"This world's about peace, Gene," she whispered softly in his ear, immediately quelling his protests and feeling her tears fall, her throat hitch... "I'm not ready yet... I'm not-!"
"You 'ave to go, Bols," he mumbled, though she felt his arms slide around her back and draw her closer. "You ain't meant to be-!"
"Gene," she whispered softly, drawing back to look at him with tears in her eyes. "What happens to-? What happens to you? What about you?"
"What about me?" He murmured in reply, swallowing hard. "You know me, Bols; a pint, a curry, a shower an' a shit, an' I'll be bouncin' off the walls like a ping-pong ball on LSD."
She ignored his comment, shaking her head as she spoke. "You're here," she whispered, stroking his cheek and feeling her lip tremble. "You're always here - looking after everyone, keeping them all safe... but who looks after you, Gene?"
"Obvious, ain't it?" Gene asked, smirking. "Luigi's my chef, bartender and butler," he frowned, then added, "'course, he's buggerin' off now, so I'll be stuck with that wang-eyed bird at the chinky, but beggars can't be choosers, an' she makes a mean-!"
"Gene," Alex whispered. "I'm serious..."
He swallowed hard, meeting her eyes, and then shrugged. "Nobody," he murmured. "That's how it goes, Bols; my world, my job, my rules... Any bastard who disagrees is gunna get my boot up his arse faster than a-"
"Gene," she whispered again, touching her hand to his cheek. "I'm not going..."
"Like hell aren't you," Gene glowered darkly, his eyes narrowing. "You get in there an' order me a pint; I'll be along before you know it," he smirked, nodding towards the pub with a smirk. "Time passes fast in 'eaven y'know, Bolly?"
"Maybe," she agreed, nodding slowly but not pulling away. "But who am I meant to share it with?"
"Loves young dream and the Perm-from-Hell not good enough for you, Bols?" he murmured, nodding again towards the pub, but then swallowing slightly as she moved her wet face to within an inch of his own, speaking softly.
"If I'm dead, Gene – if we're really dead... then I've lost my daughter..." Her voice cracked and splintered, but she carried on, tears slipping silently down her cheeks. "And heaven won't bring her back to me..." She swallowed, her hands grasping at the lapels of his coat as she looked up into his eyes. "This-" she tugged slightly at his coat, as if to emphasise a point, "you are heaven enough for now..."
"You pulling my todger, Bols?" Gene asked, although his hand contradicted his question, gently smoothing over her hair in a shaking movement that sent shivers down her spine. "You know heaven's a pub, right?"
"Molly can't drink," Alex replied softly, slipping her hand over his and tangling their fingers together. "So it looks like I'm sticking around for a couple of years..."
His blue eyes drilled into hers, searching her face for the slightest hint of hesitation and uncertainty; there was none. A moment later, he'd sighed, nodding almost reluctantly as he tentatively leaned forwards to kiss her forehead. "Ok..." he mumbled, stroking her hair. "If- if you're sure, then-"
"Yes," she answered instantly, closing her eyes as his lips pressed to her skin. "Just because we're dead doesn't mean we can't live..."
He frowned, apparently amused by the irony. "Well, that's a bit of a contradiction, Bols..."
"Everything is," Alex murmured, breathing in his scent and blinking back tears of relief at his presence, and tears of sadness at the pain that ripped through her as her daughters face filled her mind... She felt Gene's sigh against her hair, felt his hand reach into her coat, drawing out the scarf she had stowed next to the hammering of her heart and draping it gently around her neck with a tender touch, before he tilted her face gently up towards his.
"She'll be okay," he told her assuringly, voice soft. "She's half you; if she isn't naggin' someone's ear off an' gettin 'er way, I'm Saint Peter."
"You practically are," Alex mused, stroking his familiar coat softly. "Without the halo and the white robes, of course, but-"
"It was a figure of speech, Bolly," Gene muttered dryly. "An' I ain't Saint Peter; I'm not celibate, an' I ain't spendin' the afterlife 'aving it off with me left hand..."
"You're disgusting," she muttered, rolling her eyes, half-smiling as he leaned forwards and brushed her lips with his, one hand still smoothing gently through her hair... It was short, sweet, and gentle, but when he drew away she was trembling.
"Come on, Bols," he murmured, his voice husky with emotion. "Duty calls..."
"Yes," she agreed, nodding slowly. "Yes, it does..."
Gene smiled sadly, glancing back at the pub they were turning their backs on just once more as he squeezed warmly at her hand. "You're sure, Bols?"
"Yes," Alex nodded without hesitation. "I'm sure..."
He felt his lip twitch, and a moment later he had drawn her against his chest, draping one arm around her shoulder as they walked down the street slowly, his hand gentle as it rubbed reassuringly at her arm.
"I'd offer you a lift, Bols," Gene muttered a few minutes later as they rounded the corner. "But my car got busted by some foreign bastard with a bunch of cronies..."
"Walking's good," Alex smiled softly, resting her head on his shoulder and sighing softly. "We've got forever..."
Gene glanced at his watch, and she could practically feel him frown. "Dunno about that, Bols; Luigi's closes in four an' a half hours... fancy a drink?"
Alex laughed, feeling his lips touch against her forehead as they headed down the street, Gene's arm draped gently around her shoulders as Nelson's familiar voice sounded in their ears.
"It's on the bar, mon brav; whenever you're ready."
Hope that worked for you – it's helped me to get it off my chest at any rate *breathes*
Mage of the Heart