The Valley of the Dying Son

I don't own Ashes to Ashes/Life on Mars or any of the characters etc.

Basically, I gave up on the idea of a post s3 GALex fic, for now, as I feel totally disappointed in how the series ended, and can't bring myself to write it as of yet; however, I'm not giving up, and am simply filling in the gaps until I feel more positive, by entertaining myself with this fic, centred around Gene's past, and how he came to be whatever it is he is and... Well, that's really all I can say for now...

I hope you'll like it. It's different to anything I've written before, so we'll see how it goes :)

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He smiled briefly, catching his reflection in the mirror of the hall as he made for the front door; he had to concede to a slight degree of arrogance – he did look good in uniform. It suited him. It felt good, too, although he doubted he'd feel the same way when mid-summer came around and he was forced onto the beat in scorching sun and full Bobby regalia... but it'd be worth it, he told himself. Worth it once he found his feet and started working his way up the ladder... As soon as he got used to the way things worked and how to do things, it would all pay off.

He adjusted the black tie, self-consciously rubbing his neck and dusting invisible specks of dirt from his jacket; his fingers brushed the cool metal of his epaulette number, and he stopped, turning slightly to the side and smirking in satisfaction. The silver numbers glinted in the dim light of the farmhouse, and he allowed the familiar, warm glow of pride to swell in his chest as he looked at them; 6620 – Police Constable Gene Hunt... that was him, right there. It wasn't the goofy ears, or the lanky limbs or the swept back hair; it was 6620. He was a copper at last; all of his waiting, his frustrations, his anger at feeling so useless and defenceless, had finally paid off; he could make a difference, change things, do justice, and nail any bastard scum that got in his way... The thought thrilled him.

With a final glance at his reflection, he stepped through into the living area, smiling as he saw his mother tottering on a wooden chair, pinning up a set of coronation flags that she'd found in the corner shop for two shillings and claimed before Gertrude Bossley could get her hands on them. With his hat tucked under his arm, Gene stepped forwards, touching her gently on the shoulder and waiting for her to turn before he began speaking.

"See yer later, Mam," he smiled, nodding at the flags with a smile. "Careful they don't fall onto the bookshelf again; you'll be flailing around like a fish out of water, an' I'll be too busy catching scum to help you." She slapped him lightly on the shoulder, smiling despite herself as she shook her head.

"Don't you be telling me what to do, Genie," Madeline Hunt said firmly, pointed her finger accusingly. "You might be a policeman now, but you're never too old to go over my knee!" Her youngest son felt his lips twitch into a smirk as he nodded.

"Yes, Mam," he agreed, glancing at the clock on the wall in anticipation; he felt a slight tug of disappointment as he saw there were still five minutes to wait. With a sigh, he turned back, biting back a noise of annoyance as his mother straightened his hair; he could only assume that she didn't see the look of repulsion on his face, since she gave no recognition of his annoyance and continued until every hair on his head was flat. When he looked up, he caught her bright blue eyes shimmering, and he swallowed; he might have mistaken them for tears of joy a month ago, but not now.

"Still no news?" he asked, swallowing slightly as she jerked back to earth with a sudden shake of the head.

"Sorry dear?" She queried, swiping at her leaking eyes with the back of her hand and stepping down from the chair gingerly. "What were you saying? I was in a world of my own."

Gene sighed, shaking his head and allowing her to step forward, placing both arms around him in a motherly gesture, the top of her head barely level with his chest as he put one arm around her shoulder. Ever since Stuart had disappeared, she'd been acting like this; breaking off in conversation, drifting off to her own little world and allowing tears to brim in her eyes when she allowed herself to dip too far into grief... When the bastard showed up again, Gene had a good mind to punch the useless git into an early grave and shove whatever drugs he'd been doing this time right up his arse.

"He'll be back," Gene murmured, tone edged with a hint of steel that evidently showed the vicious anger in his stomach, causing his mother to draw away and look at him assessingly for a moment; she took several seconds, meeting his steely blue gaze with her own tearful one before nodding slightly and choosing to ignore the chilling note in his voice.

"Of course he will," she smiled, nodding with false conviction. "He always comes back..."

Gene nodded abruptly, swallowing back anger and frustration, even as Madeline went on, apparently reading his mind. "And don't you be getting ideas into your head about when he gets back; I saw the pair of you wrestling like bulls the last time, and it'll do you no good fighting. He'll do as he needs to, and sooner or later, he'll stop..."

"Or die," Gene growled bitterly, reaching into the pocket of his new jacket and drawing out a cigarette and box of matches, lighting up swiftly and taking a long drag. "One or the other," he muttered, "sooner or later."

"Don't you be saying things like that, Gene," she scolded, slapping him again; it was more forceful this time, and he nodded his understanding, gritting his jaw as he did so.

"Sorry," he muttered, taking another drag. "But if he saw yer right now, he'd drop them needles faster than a hot baked turd in a -!"

"That's enough of your foul mouth," she reprimanded, shaking her head, her eyes narrowing as she glowered at him; he had the good grace to fall quiet, although he didn't doubt that she read the torrent of anger that raced through his brain and caused his fingers to twitch with anger and anticipation, suddenly finding himself itching to break up a brawl, just for the opportunity to bang some heads together.

"I'll get your photo back tomorrow," Madeline said, softly changing the topic as she nodded towards the film canister on the sideboard; Gene felt himself smile, and was about to reply when his attention was directed surely and swiftly elsewhere.

There was the distinct crunch of gravel outside, the sound of an engine, the slight sputter as it died out, and then Gene grinned, feeling adrenaline pulse through his veins as he pressed an apologetic kiss to his mother's cheek and headed for the door, holding the helmet firmly under his arm and jogging swiftly away, even as Madeline called after him.

"You be careful, Gene! And don't you start bad-mouthing any of your superior off-!" He cut off her voice as he closed the farmhouse door behind him, practically sprinting down the path to stop firmly in front of the battered old car that sputtered weakly from under the bonnet, driven by an as yet unrecognizable figure... A moment later, Police Constable Morrison stepped out of the driver's seat, flaming red hair streaked with grey flying slightly in the wind, uniform straight and pristine, even though his eyes were shot with blood, as though he'd been drinking; Gene saw those same eyes narrow as his new mentor looked him up and down from head to toe.

"Sort yer uniform out," he growled, nodding to Gene's un-donned helmet and glowering. "You look like a tramp in fancy dress." Gene followed the orders swiftly, jamming the helmet on and standing straight as Morrison nodded his reluctant approval; feeling his pulse throb with excitement and adrenaline, Gene obeyed silently as the other man motioned for him to get in the car.

"First rule of the force," Morrison growled, starting the car up and grimacing against the loud sputtering noise of the engine. "You do as I say, yer don't fall down any holes, an' as far as you're concerned, the world revolves around me, my bacon, and my bloody car; understood?"

"Yes, sir," Gene nodded, biting back the immediate response that they were of the same rank in favour of simplicity.

"An' don't expect to be picked up every day either; you find yer own way to the station from now on - I'm only 'ere today 'cause me Mam had some new whiskey in she wanted me to try."

Gene nodded again, and Morrison turned his eyes back to the road, blinking a few times before putting his foot down and taking off down the gravel path in a slightly uneven line; Gene took a few moments to wonder if his companion was safe to drive, then promptly decided that he didn't care.

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"Bloody hell!" Gene exclaimed, blanching as the car shuddered to a halt, directly before the crowd of drunken brawlers spilling from the nearest pub, roaring with indignation and fury as they flew at each other with glasses and bottles; Morrison answered his unasked question with a grunt, evidently annoyed as the engine died down and he placed a hand on the door.

"This is why pubs close at eleven," he growled. "Bloody bastard landlord thought he'd 'ave a lock in, and us lucky buggers get to clean up the shift at nine AM." He opened the door with a grunt, settling one foot on the pavement and glancing back at Gene's pale face with a dark glower. "Buckle up Hunt, yer soft nonce; if I get glassed, I'll personally cut off yer manhood and feed it to a bunch of piranhas."

Gene blanched, getting out of the car in a hurry and grimacing as a tall, fat man flattened his skinny, short opponent with a single punch to the face; other uniformed officers were spilling out of patrol cars similar to Morrison's on the other side of the street and a moment later all hell broke loose as one particularly stupid bobby aimed a kick between a menacing punters legs; Gene took a few seconds to search blindly for a weapon, his hand eventually coming to a close around the truncheon at his waist and allowing him to draw it swiftly into the face of an oncoming assailant.

He felt a thrill of victory, a sudden rush of adrenaline and power, before there was a sharp, blinding pain at the back of his head, and he crumpled.

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"I told you to be careful, Gene," his mother's scolding voice was the first thing he was aware of, but he felt himself groan his anger, embarrassment and frustration a moment later, pushing her hand from his shoulder and sitting up quickly – too quickly it transpired; the world was spinning violently and sickeningly, and a moment later he lay down again, groaning with pain as his hand touched the back of his head.

"Didn't they tell you to avoid glass bottles at all costs?" Madeline muttered, pulling his hand away.

"I wasn't looking at the bloody bottle, Mam," he growled. "I was too bothered by the ruddy great fat bloke trying to knee me in the-!"

"Mind your language!" She reprimanded swiftly. "You're worse than a sailor with your gutter mouth; it's not polite, Gene!"

Gene mumbled something incoherent, accepting the cup of water she pushed into his hands and swallowing with a grimace. "Haven't we got anything stronger?" He muttered, though he still drank obediently as his mother tutted disapprovingly, before opting to ignore his latest comment.

"It's a good thing that nice young man pulled you off the floor," she murmured, "you'd have been deader than a very dead corpse if he'd left you by the sounds of it!"

"You mean Morrison?" Gene asked, sitting up again and ignoring the violent nausea that followed. "You mean he got out ok?" He felt relief edge into his tone, but it dispersed a few moments later as his mother pushed him back down, shaking her head and speaking with utter disapproval.

"Not Morrison," she answered. "Someone called Harris, I think it was – Ben Harris... Morrison stayed well out by the sounds of it; Betty Diller saw the whole thing – it's a wonder nobody was killed, what with him slacking off for a drink!"

"Betty Diller talks out of her arse!" Gene snapped suddenly, surprising both himself and his mother with the sudden surge of unaccountable loyalty. "Morrison's a copper; he does something useful with his life! She spouts more crap than a regurgitating bog in a-!"

"Gene!" She snapped again, and this time he stopped, though his hands still fisted angrily in the sheets. "Your language is as bad as your fathers used to be!"

Gene glowered at her, his eyes wide, pride stinging slightly, but then he was out of the bed, on his feet in seconds, ignoring the swaying feeling of sickness and the taste of vomit rising in his throat as he headed out of the bedroom door, slamming it behind him and moving down the stairs as swiftly as he could; he heard her sigh in apology, heard her protest his movements, but by the time he'd bothered to take note, he was already in the kitchen, searching behind the saucepans for his father's dusty bottle of whiskey, which his mother had not yet got around to moving from its place in the rarely touched drinks cupboard.

He'd twisted off the lid and downed two gulps by the time Madeline appeared in the doorway, and a moment later he turned away from her, his mouth set in a grim line as he took another swig; he could feel the burn down his throat, feel the searing sheen of tears that coated the surface of his eyes, feel his trembling hands relax, feel himself breathe a relieved sigh... A moment later he lit up a cigarette, discarding the match and tossing it aside, even as she started to talk, her words making little or no impact.

"Put that away!" She insisted, nodding towards the whiskey, her voice cracking slightly. "It was bad enough when your father was doing it, Gene; don't you be getting yourself hooked, too."

With an air of defiance, Gene grabbed the neck of the whiskey bottle, picked it up, and walked out of the room, stopping only to take a large gulp as he stood in front of her; he caught the hurt in her eyes, felt a slight twinge in his gut, then took another swig of whiskey and went back up the stairs.

He was out cold an hour later, with half a bottle of the stuff down his neck.

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"Get this runt a pint," Morrison muttered, pushing Gene towards the throng of uniformed officers and accepting a whiskey from the barman. "An' throw in some pork scratchings, too."

Gene grimaced, rubbing his aching head and eyeing the pint being pushed into his hand with uncertainty; it was the third day in a row he'd felt like this, and beer had never looked less appetising... But at the look from a nearby officer, he bit the bullet, chugging half of it down before settling the glass gently on the table; a smirk, an accepting nod, and Gene felt himself sigh with relief.

Coppers pub, he thought to himself, smiling and looking around at the midday crowd waiting to be offloaded to their respective posts; it felt good, and so, surprisingly, did his head, now that he'd downed half of the cool beer in one... Perhaps hair of the dog wasn't a myth after all...

He was about to down the other half of his drink when Morrison clapped him on the shoulder and jerked his head towards the door, and as quickly as they'd entered they were leaving. "Get moving newbie; coronation starts soon, an' if yer think the folk in 'ere are rowdy, you should see the lot at The Horseshoe... If that crown ain't on the Royal locks by lunch, we'll be draggin' 'em into the cells covered in sick, sweat and vomit."

Gene grimaced, swiftly taking another gulp from the pint of bitter, before following PC Morrison back out into the street.

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He couldn't help but frown as the crowd jostled one another, huddling around a small wireless radio that the barman had settled gingerly on the bar, each of them trying their best not to spill their respective drinks.

There was the unmistakeable tang of excitement in the air, radiating off people in waves as they toasted the soon-to-be Queen of England, and he felt a slight glow of pride in his stomach; Her Majesty's Royal Police Force did, as it happened, sound good. The room was draped with coronation flags, and someone had found a picture of the new monarch and pinned it over the price listings, making it instantly noticeable to anyone who was trying to order a drink.

A tug on his shirt made Gene look down, into the face of a nervous, if mischievous looking boy who was smiling shyly up at him. "Mrs Lutterworth's got a television," the boy muttered, jerking his head towards the door. "Come and watch; it's not far!" A wave of disappointment crested over Gene's desire to follow as he sighed, shaking his head.

"Sorry, pal," he murmured regretfully, offering a small smile. "Someone's got to look after this lot; besides, I'm with a friend."

"Your friend won't notice!" The boy insisted, nodding towards the bar swiftly. "He's talking to that fat man!" Gene followed his eyes, and sure enough, PC Morrison could be seen at the bar, standing out in his police uniform as he downed his second large whiskey of the day, whilst chatting enthusiastically to a familiar fat man whose name Gene couldn't quite place. He watched for a few seconds, ears searching for the noise of the radio, and failing; it was impossible to make anything out, and although he could imagine that the pub would fall silent once the Coronation service began, a wistful part of him was eager to see it, to watch it as it played out... Watching Morrison for a little while longer, Gene saw him order up another whiskey, and he felt himself smile. After four days with the bloke, he knew there was little more interesting to him than a shot of whiskey, so the likelihood of being pulled up on it was slim... The boy was right; he wouldn't notice.

With a last glance, and a small nod of agreement, Gene followed the boy out into the street, laughing as the youngster turned walking into running and called for him to follow; he did so, jogging easily beside the boy and up the colourfully bedecked street, coming to a stopping outside an average looking house which was teeming with unusual excitement and adrenaline.

Gene's escort took a few moments to tuck his shirt back into his trousers, hurriedly dusting himself down and flattening his hair, before leading the way into the house with an encouraging grin in Gene's direction.

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The sight Gene was met with as he walked down the hall towards the living room caused him to start slightly, watching on in baffled surprise as a stout lady in a floral blouse handed out small cups of fresh lemonade to a huddle of fifteen excited children all seated with their legs crossed on the orange coloured carpet, before a small television, which was placed on a tall table so that all occupants of the room could se. Behind the children stood a crowd of ten or so adults, three of the more elderly of them cramped together uncomfortably on the two-seater couch, along with a very pregnant lady, whilst the rest of them huddled around the chair and against the wall, holding untouched glasses of wine while watching the telly with an air of dignified respect.

The boy at Gene's side ran forwards and sat himself down, taking a glass of lemonade and murmuring something quietly to the lady in the blouse, before she moved across the room towards Gene; for a moment, he thought she'd ask him to leave, but a second later she found him a spare, clean, sparkling glass and filled it with wine, pressed it into his hand and landed a smacker on his cheek as she beamed up at him. He blinked with surprise, managing a slight nod of the head as she spoke.

"Happy Coronation Day, dear," she smiled, patting him on the arm as she moved across the room to stand beside a man who could only be her husband, since his right arm slid instantly around her waist as the service began.

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He'd never been one for celebrations, really; the drinking he could empathise with, but everything else had always fallen flat. But, he had to admit, when the crown settled on the new Queen's head, and she stood up with orb and sceptre in hand, there came a strange sense of joy and new beginnings, which had nothing to do with the cool glass of wine in his hand. Glancing across at his companions, he caught several women with tears leaking from their eyes, at the same moment that the men raised their hands in salute; he didn't even realize that he'd joined in with them until the same young boy from the pub tugged at his sleeve once more, grinning wildly up at him.

"Are you coming to the party, sir? There's gunna be music, and balloons and food and lemonade!" Excitement crept into the boys tone, making his words sound slightly breathless as he hopped from one foot to the other; Gene couldn't help grinning.

"Leave the nice policeman alone now, Billy," a soft voice scolded, and Gene glanced round to see the heavily pregnant woman, now cradling a sleeping toddler in one arm as she ruffled the boys' dark hair. "I'm sure he's very busy, today of all days."

"So you won't be there?" Billy asked, sounding disappointed as he turned back to look at him. Gene knelt down, resting one arm on his knee as he looked into the young boys saddened eyes.

"Course I will," he smiled, ruffling Billy's hair with his free hand and holding the wine glass in the other. "Right after I'm done keeping the streets clean; save us a lemonade, 'ey?" With a grin at the boy's mother, a word of thanks to the still sobbing Mrs Lutterworth in her floral blouse, and a quick swallow of wine, he left, jogging back down the crowded streets decked in red, blue and white as he headed back to The Horseshoe.

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As it turned out, he ended up at the party far quicker than he'd planned; PC Morrison had apparently become too swept up the jovialities of the day to concentrate on keeping order, and when Gene reached him he stank so strongly of whiskey that it was a wonder he wasn't bleeding the stuff.

In the end, the new PC found himself watching on practically sober, whilst his mentor joined in with the conga, his uniform becoming more and more ruffled as he went. He wasn't the only one enjoying himself, but more than once Gene had to drag a drunk away from a potential fight, usually arising over the simplest of things, such as the alignment of a balloon, or the symmetry of the drinking glasses. Once, a particularly rowdy pair of teenagers turned on one another, and Gene was forced to break them up with a harsh word and a jab in the ribs with the truncheon; they weren't drunk enough to argue, and were apparently so relieved to be free of a verbal warning for underage drinking that they made no further move at all.

All the while, Morrison got more and more drunk, and eventually he was to be seen giggling at a table with a sour looking woman whose face could have rivalled the back end of a pig; for some reason, Morrison seemed to be of the opinion he'd hit the jackpot, and his hand was edging further south with every drink she swallowed – in the end, Gene only laughed as his mentors mouth was assaulted, finding himself caught up in conversation with an enthusiastic Billy, who, it transpired wanted nothing more than to be a policeman.

"I'll stop murders, and shootings, and burglars, and kidnappers, and them nasty men that mummy doesn't like to talk about because they hurt women!" Billy listed them off with bright eyes, his smile shining with enthusiasm as he downed glasses and glasses of lemonade. "And I'll stop bombs, and I'll scare criminals, and I'll send them to prison until their heads fall off!"

Gene found himself chuckling along with amusement, good-heartedly accepting the lemonades that Billy pushed into his hands and drinking them silently, whilst secretly wishing his mentor wasn't so half-cut that Gene couldn't have had something more substantial himself.

It didn't matter though, he told himself. It was the first week; he'd have plenty of time to enjoy himself later.

With a sigh, he took a swig of lemonade and indulged Billy with an edited recount of his fight the previous day, omitting the rather painful glassing over the head, and including him instead with several more stories of crunching heads than could be considered strictly true; the boy listened in rapture, and Gene couldn't help the pleased smile that tugged on his lips.

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The house was quiet when he arrived back, now slightly more drunk after several drinks in The Railway Arms with a crowd of off-duty officers celebrating the coronation. A note on the scrubbed wooden table told him what he had already expected; his mother had gone to watch the coronation with Elizabeth Barnet, who had taken the fact she shared the new monarchs name as a sign that she should host the largest gathering of people in the whole of Manchester, complete with croissants, vol au vents and liver pâté - so much for patriotism.

Still buzzing slightly from the drink, the celebrations and the general atmosphere of the day, Gene headed up the wooden staircase, standing at the window on the landing and looking out into the expanse of open field before him, a cigarette at his lips as he took in the shadow of the house on the floor, and though longingly of escaping to a house of his own one day.

He'd never really liked this house; or perhaps it wasn't the house, so much as his experiences there... Whichever way he looked at it, though, most of his memories were filled with his drunken father beating around his mother, with her taking whatever she got and explaining all too often that he hadn't meant it... And then Stuart... well, some of the memories with him weren't all bad, but recently- Gene couldn't remember when he'd last heard his brother laugh. The last time he'd even seen him, Stuart had been so off his face with drugs that Gene could barely look at him, taking one glance at the white face and the bloodshot eyes before heading to the pub, getting record-breakingly drunk, and then sneaking off to the park with Wendy Bartridge... He smirked slightly at that, and then took another drag on his cigarette, sighing.

It wasn't a nice house, he concluded; there was nothing welcoming about it - not to him, anyway, despite the regular compliments about its quaintness and its setting. For him it was a prison, and he knew the only reason his mother had stayed was family loyalty; if her father hadn't broken tradition and left it to her rather than Gene's uncle, Madeline would have left a long time ago. Because away from the gesture her father had made, all it was to her was pain, suffering, and a constant reminder of Gene's layabout of a father, who had spent his time putting a large dent in the money jar when he hadn't been at war, before he finally buggered off to kingdom come a few years ago – in Gene's opinion, the bastards death couldn't have come soon enough.

Gene knew that since his father's death, and since battling with her own demons before deciding to stay, Madeline had begun to slowly erase every ounce of him from the house. She had taken on the painstaking task of redecorating the whole place by hand, having already stripped the wallpaper in the bedroom and painted the walls a pale yellow, moved the living room setup around and swapped all of the furniture, and gotten well and truly rid of the old rickety table that had been long situated in the kitchen; he wasn't certain it had helped her, but he had never questioned it; he knew she'd do as she saw fit and there was little he could do to help matters.

Smoking silently, he took in the gentle countryside, the slope of the hill, the fence separating Madeline's land from their neighbours... he'd never liked the neighbours, either, come to think of it. After the first time he and Stuart had been caught playing football on the top of the hill, it had become a silent competition to see who could get the closest to the neighbouring farmhouse without being caught... They hadn't ever finished the game, but he had the sinking suspicion that the old owners had long since passed away, leaving the house abandoned and the field unclaimed; since Stuart had taken up drugs, he'd barely even thought about growing up with him.

With a last drag on his cigarette, and a soft sigh of exasperation, he headed towards his bedroom, placing his helmet on Stuart's old bed and moving to unbutton his jacket, fingers easing the cool metal through the slits in the material...

It was a moment later that he froze, his head snapping upwards as the sound of drunken slurring reached his ears, accompanied by the crunch of feet on the gravel path outside.

"Bloody kids," he muttered, about to return to the task at hand, assuming they would stumble blindly onwards and collapse at the end of the road; a second later, he heard the loud crash of splintering glass, followed by the pattering of feet on grass, then scrambling limbs and falling objects as someone climbed through a window.

Anger rose in the pit of Gene's stomach, and a moment later he'd pulled the truncheon from his belt, hefting it in his hand and heading out onto the landing, treading lightly, avoiding the screeching floorboard on the uppermost step and moving down the stairs with stealth.

The lights were still off, and the doors were closed; the kitchen was silent, and the only noise came from the living room, slipping under the crack in the door as a combination of incoherent mumbles and pained grunts. Gene's heart thundered in his chest, adrenaline pounding through his veins, and as he passed the mirror in the hallway he caught a glimpse of himself, illuminated by a slither of moonlight coming through the nearby window; his hair was mussed, his uniform slightly dusty, giving him the rather impressive air of danger and darkness, but it was the glint in his eyes that gave him confidence- the same glint that Gary Cooper got in his eyes when he was about to face up to Frank Miller... He edged closer to the door with a smirk on his lips, listening carefully, hearing distinct mutterings, the knocking of objects, the grunts of annoyance... As he got close enough, he pressed his ear up against the wooden door, frowning as the room on the other side fell quiet, then feeling his heart race ever faster as an owl hooted outside; he heard a nervous gasp, a grunt, a quiet click, and a second later he'd stepped back, aiming a well placed kick at the hinge that had been creaking for years; the door banged open and he barged into the room, truncheon in hand and face of thunder.

At the same moment that he entered, the sole occupant of the room turned round, dark eyes mad, brown hair in disarray and tattered black coat hanging from his shoulders; Gene just had long enough to note the flaring anger in the other mans eyes, and to take in the small black shotgun in the man's right hand, before a loud bang sent everything plunging into darkness.

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So, I took a few liberties; I'm not sure if Gene lived in the farmhouse or if he was passing by, but it suited my purposes to have it happen this way. I also have no idea what the person who shot Gene was like, so for me, he was just a hobo with a gun... If Keats can be the devil, tramps can have guns :p

Anyway, let me know what you thought of this first instalment :-)

Thanks for taking the time to read.

Mage of the Heart