Hi, I already have an Ashes story on the go, but I came up with the idea for this and thought I'd see what people thought of it, then maybe alternate between the two. I'm on holiday at the moment, so it might be a couple of weeks before I update again (if you want me to, of course =D ) but after that, updates should be more regular.
The title is taken from a line in the Paramore song 'Misguided Ghosts' which I love, and I thought it fit pretty well to my plans for the story. If I continue, you'll probably find that this story will be a little darker than my others and hopefully, a little deeper – crime-wise. Anyway, I'll shut up now so you can get on with reading it! I hope you like this first chapter and please review!
Disclaimer – I don't own Ashes to Ashes. =D
Chapter 1 – The Writing on the Wall
Slouching in his seat, Gene watched as Alex attempted to refill her glass for what felt like the hundredth time that night. The rest of CID had stumbled out of the restaurant to head home hours ago, but after Alex had insisted that she could easily drink any man under the table, Gene had stayed – if only to watch her stumble around afterwards, pissed as a camel on whisky and hopefully pointing her delectable arse in his direction.
"Whoa, Bols," he mumbled, reaching out to grab her wrist as the glass began to overflow and red wine splashed onto the table. "Think yer've had enough, t' be honest."
Frowning slightly, Alex plonked down the bottle and lifted her drunken gaze to his. "Are you giving in then?" she asked, her words slurring slightly as she leant forward to rest her chin in her hand. "I told you I could drink you under..."
"Bolly," he said quietly as he propped his own head up on his hand. For a moment, he was distracted by the inquisitive, intoxicated look in her wide eyes before he shook himself out of it. "I am more than confident in my ability to drink you completely under the table, but las...last time we got this pissed, yer ended up underneath some thatcherite wanker."
Looking indignantly at him, Alex sat up a little straighter and frowned at him. "Well that's not going to happen this time, is it?"
"I dunno, Bols. You tell me," he said, raising an eyebrow slightly as he leant forward a little on his hand. It was all he could do to stop from smiling slightly when she drunkenly slurred her words, the posh lilt to her voice slipping slightly.
"I mean, you're not going to walk out on me again and leave me all alone, are you?" she pointed out, looking at him questioningly. "Then again, you're known for being unpredictable," she added in a mutter.
"No," he told her, downing the last of his whisky. "I'm not going t' do that." He stood up and looked down at her as she stared back up with those same wide, intoxicated eyes. "C'mon, I'm takin' you t' bed."
For a moment, Alex's eyes all but popped out of their sockets before she pulled herself to her feet, not without difficulty, and turned to him. "Well I'm afraid, Mr Hunt, that you might be being a little pres-pre..." she paused, trying to get her words out properly, "Presumptuous."
"Oh zip it, yer drunk toff. Here," he said, putting an arm around her so she could lean on his shoulder. He didn't really want to be dragging her up from the floor. "I'm just makin' sure yer get into bed without collapsing on the floor, and then I'll 'ead home like a good boy."
"Don't be ridiculous," Alex protested lightly as he gently pushed her towards the stairs. "You're in no fit state to drive; you can sl-sleep on the sofa again."
Alex, seeming to sober up ever so slightly as she gathered her bearings, picked up a blanket from the floor and flung it onto the sofa. "If you need another one, just ask," she told him, wincing as a bout of dizziness hit her for a moment.
"That's fine thanks, Bolly," Gene replied, glancing awkwardly between her and the sofa. "Don't mind if I use yer bathroom, do you?"
"Oh yeah, sure. It's just through the bedroom on the right," Alex said as she followed him into the bedroom and started to clumsily remove her jewellery.
When Gene emerged from the bathroom a few minutes later, it was to be greeted by the sight of his DI rolling up the sleeves of a black nightshirt that left very little to the imagination. Trying very hard to control the direction of his blood flow, Gene allowed his all too appreciative gaze to wander up the length of her bare, flawlessly toned legs and to freeze at the point where the lace of her dark purple knickers was just visible before it disappeared beneath the hem of her shirt.
"I like to think my face doesn't look too bad either," Alex remarked jokingly as she caught him in the act. True, she could have stopped him sooner, but the sight of him with ruffled hair, un-tucked shirt and free of his tie and jacket was one that was unexpectedly, and strikingly, attractive.
Gene jumped slightly as his eyes darted straight back to her face. She was looking at him with a drunken, teasing smile on her face and he wondered how long he had been staring at her for. "Right, yeah, sorry, Bols. Night." And with that, he made his leave, taking care to keep his gaze averted.
Alex smiled, her head feeling dizzy again. Her bed suddenly looked very inviting. "Night," she replied softly before collapsing back on to the crimson covers and falling asleep almost immediately.
Once Gene was sure Alex was asleep, judging from the soft lull of deep breaths sounding from the nearby bedroom, he slowly slipped off the sofa and crept, as silently as he could, towards her bedroom door. He didn't know what made him do it, or why he wanted to do it...an urge in the pit of his stomach, he supposed.
But there she was. Laid on her back, one hand resting comfortably over her stomach as she slept soundly, an irresistible pout resting on her lips. Unknowingly, Gene let out a sigh as he quietly crossed the room to the side of her bed. Her breathing was deep, slightly staggered in places due to the drink.
He smiled slightly, looking down at her. Who could have known that Alex Drake, feisty and argumentative as she was during the day, slept like an absolute baby at night? And then, without knowing why the hell he did it, he bent down and lowered his head, gently pressing his lips to her forehead. "Sleep tight, Bols, you daft tart," he murmured, before quietly sloping off back towards the sofa.
"Ah, Christopher!" Gene exclaimed, looking up from his desk. "How good of you to knock."
Chris frowned, pausing where he was. "But I didn't –"
"Exactly." Gene nodded and gestured to the door with his cigarette. "Would you like to try that again?"
"Um, right, yeah, okay. Sorry, Guv," Chris mumbled as he backed out of the Manc Lion's den and shut the door before tentatively knocking on the glass pane.
"Come in, Chris! And what can I do for you?"
Chris opened the door and hurriedly slipped in, acting like a confused hedgehog, as per usual. "Well we've 'ad a body reported, Guv. Cleaner found it – thirty-five, Bridge Street. Male. Forensics are already on the way."
"Bugger," Gene muttered as he stood up and stubbed out his cigarette. "There goes my quiet day. Why do the bastards always 'ave t' get themselves murdered on my patch?" Without further ado, he strolled out into the main office and pulled on his leather driving gloves. "Right, team. Let's fire up the Quattro!"
"Christ on a bike, do yer think 'e was compensatin' for something?" Was Gene's first comment as they drew up outside a large, exquisite looking townhouse, not all that far from Park Lane.
"Great," Alex remarked sarcastically as they got out of the car. "There's a man's body in there and you're speculating about the size of his –"
"Dick!" Ray spat as someone from forensics barged into him in their hurry to get inside the house.
A look of displeasure crossed Alex's face as she gave a resigned sigh. "Yeah, that."
"Bloody hell," Gene muttered as they surveyed the terrible scene before them. "Well whatever this was over, it certainly wasn't anything as trivial as penis envy."
For once, Alex couldn't even sum up the words to reprimand her DCI's crudeness. She was too busy staring, transfixed, at the mutilated body that was gazing back up at her with wide, glassy and unseeing eyes.
Sprawled across the ruined cream carpet, the nameless victim was wearing nothing but a pair of expensive looking pyjama bottoms, which left the rest of his bloodied body exposed. A multitude of sporadic stab wounds littered his well-formed torso, some still seeping droplets of shining, crimson blood. Many had clotted over, dark red wounds that contrasted starkly against the now ghostly pallor of his skin.
Alex blanched; the rusty scent of blood and death hanging in the air was sickening and it was all Alex could do to not gag at the dramatic, blood-strewn scene. Drops of blood were splattered in an abstract line leading towards a nearby doorframe, a deadly trail of breadcrumbs. Gasping, Alex raised a hand to her mouth as she took in the shining glimmer of blood that was plastered on the wall above the doorframe. The blood formed a series of numbers, glittering with malice.
4 2 7 4 7
Gene frowned and stepped forward, one hand hovering uncertainly near his DI. "You alright, Bols? Didn't know yer 'ad a weak stomach."
She shook her head and glanced over to where Ray and Chris were talking to forensics, seemingly untroubled by the mutilated body still in the room with them. "I'm fine, but, look." As she pointed towards the numbers, written in crimson, Gene followed her finger and allowed his frown to deepen.
"Four, two, seven, four, seven...what the 'ell is that supposed to mean?"
"I think it's a sort of code, or a warning, left by the killer. It will either signify some kind of motive, or a threat, intended either for the victim or us. A lot of murderers like to think that they can outsmart the police, so they leave clues, for their own entertainment more than anything else. Or, it's some sort of symbolic message as to why the victim was killed, or who the murderer is targeting."
Quietly impressed, Gene merely raised an eyebrow. "Christ, Bols, do yer ever stop thinking?"
"No," she said, a slight smile appearing on her face. "God knows where you'd all end up if I did."
Gene's lips twitched into a smile which fell into a grimace as he glanced towards the body again. "Right, let's leave the science poofs to clear all this up. Looks like we've got a murder to solve."
"Window's broken 'round the back, Guv," Ray said as he and Chris walked away from where the crime scene investigator had been filling them in. "And 'e," he a jabbed a thumb over his shoulder towards the portly investigator, "Says that according to a passport and bank statements they've found, 'is name was Simon Taylor and 'e was a right flash git an' all."
"I'm sure he didn't say the victim was a 'right flash git', Ray," Alex said, frowning slightly as she glanced back towards the body. "And judging from the dying expression on his face, he didn't know his killer."
"Eh?" Gene exclaimed, peering closer at Simon's face. "How d'yer work that one out, Bolly? It's just a stiff, yer can't do all yer psycho-bollucks on a flamin' body."
"Look," she said with a sigh, pointing to the slightly open mouth and wide eyes. "Surprise. He was taken completely off guard, with no forewarning. He didn't know his murderer, but we're going to have to assume that his murderer knew him."
"Christ, well done, Bols, I'd never 'ave guessed that. No, I just thought the mad bugger must be goin' around killin' posh gits for the fun of it!" He frowned for a moment. "Mind you..."
Alex merely shrugged at him. "You never know," she replied, smirking slightly as her voice took on a mysterious edge. "Some people aren't always what they seem. People who are usually aggressive can be surprisingly tender in private..." she trailed off, her eyes fixed on him knowingly.
Gene suddenly felt a rush of panic surge through him...she hadn't been awake, had she? But immediately, he pulled up the barrier that was his Manc Lion persona again and shrugged. "Some people are inconsistent buggers, Bolly." His next few words tumbled from his mouth, and just like the kiss the night before, he had no idea why he did it. "And some of 'em just care."
An odd look crossed her face at that, and it was almost worth the trouble just to see that expression of shock and confusion plastered across her usually so matter-of-fact face.
Well, that's all for the moment! I hope you liked it and thanks for reading, please leave a review as to whether I should continue or not!