I've had this oneshot unfinished on my computer for ages, and finally decided to do something about it and get round to posting it - I hope you enjoy it! As usual, it would be lovely to know what you think - reviews are greatly appreciated :)
On the streets of London, havoc reigned. Car thieves roared along the river, shop windows were smashed with abandon, and drugs swapped hands with an almost unheard of ease. The knights in shining armour of CID were nowhere to be seen. The question spreading like wildfire throughout the city was: what had caused this unprecedented situation? Where were the hardened crime-busters of London Town? The answer was simple. Rather embarrassingly, they were locked in.
"Christopher, when I said we weren't going anywhere until we'd cracked this case, I meant it." Gene Hunt paced around the room like a caged tiger, his ferocious expression doing nothing to dispel the image. "When I told you to lock the door and throw the key out of the window, anyone but you might have detected the tiniest hint of sarcasm." He came to a halt in front of his hapless DC and shoved his hands into his pockets with alarming force. "I know you're not exactly the brightest button on the cardigan, and how you made CID will be forever beyond me, but even I didn't think you were capable of quite this level of insurmountable stupidity."
"Guv," Chris protested, immensely grateful for the desk that stood between him and the wrath of his vengeful DCI. "How was I supposed to know you weren't being serious? I thought you had some kind of plan –"
"Last time I looked, DC Skelton, locking the brains and bloody beauty of CID into this room and throwing the key out of the window did not constitute a valid method of tackling a murder case. If you want to make an argument for the contrary, I suggest you write it down and –"
"Guv, go easy on him," said Alex wearily, several hours locked in a single room with three increasingly bad-tempered men and an exhausted Shaz beginning to take their toll. "It's a mistake anyone could make –"
"Is it?" Gene swung to face her, looking set to fire back a spectacularly cutting retort, his expression livid. Alex rolled her eyes and sank her head into her hands in exasperation.
"At least we solved the case. You said it yourself, we wouldn't be able to do anything about it until morning anyway. And someone will come along with a key soon enough."
"Will they really? It's two thirty in the morning, or had you not noticed? The only person who turns up anywhere at this time is Father bloody Christmas, and excuse me for being a pessimist, but I don't think he's coming, so it looks as if we're stuck in here. Together. Until morning."
"Great." Ray sighed heavily and glared at no-one in particular. His expression thunderous, he muttered something under his breath and flung himself down in front of his desk. "Can't even take a leak. Nice one, Chris."
"Get over yourself, Ray. I'm sure you can hold on," snapped Shaz waspishly, her usual good humour another casualty of the long night they'd spent holed up in the station.
"Sure, are you?" Ray grumbled. "You're not a bloke –"
"Thank god," retorted Shaz sharply, rounding on him with a ferocity born of too much stress and too little sleep. Alex winced in anticipation of the chaos that would no doubt follow as Shaz and Ray sniped at each other, Chris tried and spectacularly failed to make peace, and Gene became more and more infuriated until he finally exploded at the whole lot of them.
"Hang on, there might be a simple way out." Desperate to distract everyone's attention, Alex put on a bright smile and attempted to be resourceful. "Anyone got a hairpin?" It worked, at least for a moment. Gene, Ray and Chris all stared at her as if she'd gone mad.
"Oh yeah, hang on a sec," said Ray sarcastically. "Do you want to borrow my lipstick as well while you're at it?"
Alex shot him a withering look. "Shaz?"
"Sorry, Ma'am." Shaz shrugged, but then her face brightened. "Here, you can try with a paperclip if you want, though. I've got plenty of them. You could straighten it out...might work." Not for the first time, Alex thanked her lucky stars that there was one person in CID who didn't need an annotated diagram to cotton onto the simplest of suggestions.
"Oh yes," said Gene scathingly. "And then when we've escaped from this spot of bother with the aid of a single hairpin, Miss Blyton, perhaps we can all sit down for lashings of ginger beer, providing no more smugglers turn up before tea-time."
"Thanks, Shaz." Ignoring him, Alex took the proffered object and, taking no notice of the glances she knew were passing between Gene and Ray, launched an assault on the door. For the next four and a half minutes, there was silence. Even Gene didn't so much as breathe a word. Finally admitting defeat, Alex rocked back on her heels and sighed. The lock stayed resolutely unpicked. "Bugger."
"The intrepid escape plan failed, did it?" Gene scowled. "What a surprise."
"I'd like to see you try," Alex growled. She held out the paperclip to him. "In fact, why don't you?"
"I hope you're joking." He glared at her. "When I want to get through a door I don't dip into my make-up bag, I break the ruddy thing down."
"Well, go on then. Be my guest."
"This is my bloody station!"
Resisting the temptation to take out her exasperation on the doorframe, Alex gripped the edges of her desk and closed her eyes, counting to ten under her breath. Gene continued to glower at the door as if the force of his gaze alone could make it implode, Ray muttered something unintelligible and lit another cigarette, Chris wandered aimlessly back to his own desk, and Shaz perched on the edge of hers, frowning slightly.
After a few moments, Alex looked up and sighed. "For goodness sake," she said finally. "We're going to end up tearing each other's throats out before half an hour's up, at this rate. There must be something we can do to take our minds off this."
"What do you reckon, nice cosy game of I-Spy?" suggested Gene sarcastically.
"Actually, Guv, not a bad idea," said Alex cheerily. As long as she could keep everyone sufficiently occupied, she hoped, they might inflict only minimal damage on each other before they were released. "I'll go first, shall I?"
"You must be bloody joking," groaned Ray. "First this div gets us all locked in, and then you want us to sit in a circle and play some little kiddies' game to keep us quiet? ...Ma'am," he added hastily.
Chris cleared his throat uneasily. "I don't mind, but I think...I think Ray's got a point, Ma'am..." Even Shaz looked unenthusiastic.
"Oh, come on, you lot, cheer up," said Alex, valiantly trying to lift the mood. "I'll go first, okay? I spy with my little eye...something beginning with...D."
"Div?" suggested Ray with a pointed glance in Chris's direction.
"Well...I was going for diary, but fine, I see your point," responded Alex, earning a reluctant twitch of the lips from Ray and an indignant splutter from Chris. "Your turn then, Ray."
"No chance." He glowered at her. Eager to keep the peace, Alex shrugged and turned away from him, trying in vain to keep the smile on her face.
"You know what?" Gene snapped, resolutely ignoring her. "If someone doesn't make me a vat of industrial-strength coffee right now I'll be tempted to fire the whole lot of you. Ray, jump to it."
"Me?" said Ray indignantly. "I'm not making coffee. That's not a bloke's job, no way."
"I just asked you to do something, DS Carling," said Gene in the dangerous tone which Alex knew all too well and never relished being on the receiving end of. "I am not in a good mood. If you value your life, I think you'd better get on with it."
"All I'm saying is –"
"Do I look as if I care what you're saying?"
"It's just not –"
"Will you all just cut it out?" Shaz leaped to her feet. "I'll make the bloody coffee, if it means so much to you. At least it'll get me out of this bear-pit for a few minutes."
"I'll give you a hand." Chris jumped up hastily and backed away from Ray and Gene, who were looking daggers at each other.
"Did she just –" Forgetting about Ray for the moment, Gene spun around, his eyes narrowing. "Oi, Christopher, did your girlfriend just compare me to a vicious, carnivorous, hulking great animal?" But Chris had vanished through the door.
"Well..." Alex muttered under her breath, running a hand through her hair. "She wouldn't be far wrong, Guv."
"Something you'd like to share, DI Drake?"
"I said, she couldn't be more wrong, Guv." She ducked her head to hide her smile as Gene eyed her suspiciously.
The minutes ticked by. Alex rearranged her stationery, filed her nails and reapplied her lip-gloss as Gene continued to stare into space, the furrows in his brow deepening with every passing second. Ray had dug out a magazine from somewhere, the contents of which Alex didn't like to enquire into, and was chuckling to himself at something that probably wouldn't have borne repeating anyway. Inactivity, Alex observed wryly, wasn't something CID really did. After some minutes, Gene finally swung his feet off his desk and broke the silence.
"What are those two doing in there, harvesting the coffee beans? You'd think making a decent cup of coffee wouldn't pose too big a problem, but then along comes Chris Skelton and you have to rethink all your notions of human capabilities."
"You could try making it yourself once in a while," suggested Alex, stacking a sheaf of files neatly onto the top of the pile on the corner of her desk. "Gene Hunt in the kitchen. Now there's something I'd pay to see."
"You would, would you?" He glared at her. "For your information, I know my way round a kitchen all right. Had to learn to cook when the wife left, didn't I?"
"Really?" Alex lifted one eyebrow. "I was under the impression you just moved into Luigi's when your wife left."
"Well, not permanently," he said defensively. "I make toast. And...y'know, I sometimes heat up a tin of beans. Don't want to overcomplicate things."
"Heaven forbid," said Alex dryly.
Luckily, Gene's retort was lost as Chris and Shaz reappeared in the doorway. Chris lowered a tray of coffee mugs onto the nearest desk and Shaz added a packet of Garibaldis, earning herself an approving nod from Gene.
"You know the way to a man's heart, Shaz."
"Stomach, more like," she retorted, smiling reluctantly nonetheless. "Thought they might sweeten you all up a bit, you could do with it." She settled back into her chair with her mug and grinned at them all. "Anyway, me and Chris have had an idea."
"Shaz has had an idea," corrected Chris, with an apprehensive glance at Ray.
"Oh, here we go." Ray rolled his eyes in anticipation. "What is it this time? Last time you two had an idea, we all ended up stripped half-naked and chained to a fireplace."
Gene raised one eyebrow and smirked slightly. "You make it sound like that's not your idea of an enjoyable evening, Raymondo."
"Not when I'm surrounded by masked psychos waving white-hot pokers uncomfortably close to my knackers, it's not!"
Chris winced. "All right, so that wasn't a great idea –" he admitted.
"Wasn't your best, no." Alex shuddered at the recollection of that particular incident.
"Go on then." said Gene, snapping a biscuit in two and dunking half into his mug. "Surprise us with the wonders of your mind, Christopher. What's the idea?"
"Well..." Chris shifted uncomfortably. "Like I said, it's really Shazzer's idea..."
Shaz beamed at him and turned to the others. "Truth or dare!" she announced brightly.
"Truth or what?"
"Truth or dare," Shaz repeated, reaching for a biscuit. "Don't tell me you've never played truth or dare before, Guv."
"Of course I have, you half-witted, feather-brained –"
"Guv, that's –"
"Shut it, Christopher."
"Anyway, what do you think?" continued Shaz cheerfully. "We're going to be stuck in here for hours, we might as well find something to do. Truth or Dare's always fun, me and Chris try it sometimes but it's not as much fun if there's only two of you –"
"Bloody hell, you two know how to have a good time, don't you?" said Ray, lighting another cigarette and chuckling. "And there was me thinking –"
"Anyway," said Shaz pointedly, glaring at him. "Anyone want to give it a go?"
"Why not?" Alex smiled, glad that someone else had come up with a reasonably sensible suggestion for once. "I think it's a brilliant idea, Shaz."
"Thanks, Ma'am." Shaz looked at her gratefully. "What do the rest of you think?"
Gene sighed heavily. "This doesn't involve fancy dress, singing or dancing around like a poofter, does it?" Shaz shook her head and he rolled his eyes, taking a slurp of coffee. "Oh, go on then."
Ray scowled. "I'll do it, but only to shut you up, all right? And I'm not going first," he added hastily.
"That's all right, I'll go first." Shaz beamed. "And I pick...truth."
Ray perked up slightly. "All right, you asked for it. No backing out now." Alex waited in slight trepidation for the question, hoping that they weren't about to be treated to a prime example of the sordid workings of Ray's mind. Unfortunately, she was disappointed. "Who," Ray asked with some glee, "of the people in this room would you get your knickers off for if you had to pick?" Clearly relieved, Shaz opened her mouth to answer, but he held up his hand to stop her. "Oh no, I'm not making this easy for you. You can count Chris out of this one. Your choice is me, the Guv...or DI Drake."
Shaz's eyebrows shot up into her hair. "Excuse me? What are you implying, Ray?"
"Well, I don't know what floats your boat, do I?" he said defensively. Quailing under her glare, he sighed. "Fine. But that only leaves me and the Guv." He blew out a stream of cigarette smoke and winked at her. "What do you say?"
"Sorry to disappoint you, Ray, but you'll have to get someone else to massage your ego for you."
Ray chuckled. "Anything else you're offering to massage? Because –"
"Only in your dreams, Ray," said Shaz firmly.
"In my dreams, eh? I'll let you know." He tipped her a lewd wink, apparently not remotely put out that she hadn't chosen him. "The Guv, then?"
Biting back a laugh, Shaz turned to Gene. "No offence, Guv, but you're not really my type."
Gene looked from her to Chris and back again. "Well, I can see that, and knowing what your type is, I'm pretty glad I'm not it."
Alex couldn't hold back a laugh as Ray nodded fervently and Chris frowned, his face a picture as he tried to work out how insulted he should be. This was certainly more enjoyable than she'd expected. Perhaps being locked in had its upside after all.
"Raymondo, I believe you're up next," said Gene, amusement evident in his tone however much he tried to hide it. "You game?"
"Course I am." Ray cracked his knuckles and tried to hide his nerves. "And you're not asking me some poofter question. I'm going for dare."
"Interesting." Shaz's eyes flashed. "I hope you don't think that's going to be the easy option."
Ray narrowed his eyes. "Bring it on."
A couple of minutes' discussion ensued, during which a suitable dare for Ray proved almost impossible to find. Finally, Alex slapped her hand down on the desk and laughed. "Got it. What about a spin the bottle round?" she suggested. "You know, Ray spins, and whoever it lands on he has to kiss. What do you think?"
Ray spluttered. "You mean...whoever it lands on? Not just if it's you or Shaz?"
"Whoever it lands on," Alex clarified, a twinkle in her eye. "Male or female. Agreed?"
Gene and Chris looked positively terrified, but Shaz laughed. "I'm up for that, Ma'am."
Alex looked at Gene and Chris and shrugged. "Well...Ray has no say, so I'm afraid you can't outvote us." She sighed in mock regret. "Sorry."
Gene stared at her and then at Ray, the conflict clear on his face. "I don't believe I'm agreeing to this," he said finally. "Got a bottle, then?"
"Shaz, go and raid the Guv's wastepaper basket, would you?"
"Oi, hang about! What do you mean, raid my wastepaper basket?"
"Oh come on, Guv," said Alex pityingly. "I know there'll be at least six empty bottles in there."
"Bloody women." Gene muttered, but he didn't try to stop Shaz as she hurried into his office. A couple of minutes later, the five of them were stationed in a rough circle around Ray's desk, an empty bottle lying in front of them.
Ray gulped. "Are you sure there's nothing else we could –"
"Grow a pair, Ray, and get on with it," said Shaz with undisguised glee. Looking decidedly nervous, Ray reached out and flicked the bottle so that it spun in a circle between them. Alex held her breath in anticipation. She had one particular result in mind, and she knew Ray's reaction to that would be priceless. She bit her lip as the bottle slowed. Yes.
Ray looked up and blanched, his face a picture of horror. "You must be joking."
Chris gazed back at him. "Oh bloody hell."
Alex laughed out loud, and Shaz looked as if she'd won the lottery. Even Gene chuckled, looking from one to the other with obvious amusement now that he knew he was in the clear.
"Go on then, Raymondo, pucker up."
Ray was wearing an expression that suggested he'd just been asked to swallow a bucketful of slugs, and Chris didn't look much happier.
Shaz rolled her eyes. "Come on, a peck on the lips will do, it's not like we're asking you to stick your tongue down his throat."
"You'd better not be." Ray glared at her and turned back to Chris, who was hovering on the edge of the group as if contemplating making a run for it. "Oh, this is going to be revolting. Come on then, let's get it over with."
Chris's face was a picture as Ray leaned towards him, his eyes screwed up tight as if not being able to see what he was doing would make it less real. Alex, Gene and Shaz watched from the sidelines with bated breath.
"Come on, Chris, don't be such a wuss," said Shaz with some exasperation, after several seconds had passed. "It's just like kissing a girl."
Chris drew back and looked at her in disbelief. "I'm warning you, if you ever grow a moustache like this, it's over."
"Stop fannying about, the pair of you. That's an order." Gene pulled a hipflask out of his pocket and took a swig. "Get a move on, we're waiting."
Chris grimaced, swallowing nervously. "Best just get this over with, right, mate?"
"All right, you asked for it." Ray grabbed Chris's tie and yanked him across the desk, touching his lips for the briefest of seconds before shoving him away so hard that he staggered backwards, looking slightly shell-shocked. Shaz cheered, Alex clapped and Gene stared at the pair of them as if torn between disgust and sheer incredulity. Ray and Chris, wearing identical expressions of revulsion, scrubbed at their mouths with their sleeves and scowled at each other.
"What a touching display," said Alex. "What do you think, Shaz?"
"Oh, yeah." Shaz widened her eyes innocently. "You'd almost think it was real, wouldn't you, Ma'am? If you didn't know better, I mean. Very convincing."
"All right, all right, give over, the pair of you." said Ray grumpily, pausing in the middle of gulping down as much coffee as he could lay his hands on in an attempt to wash out his mouth. "Your turn now, Drake, we'll see how much you're laughing in a minute."
"Oh..." Alex laughed uneasily. "Well...I'll go for truth, then." Ray and Chris exchanged gleeful glances, and even Gene looked interested. Only Shaz looked apprehensive.
"Ok..." said Ray, slowly. Alex wouldn't have been surprised to see him rubbing his hands together in glee, but he settled for a grin. "What d'you reckon, Chris? How about –"
"How many notches on your proverbial bedpost, Bollykecks?" interrupted Gene suddenly, looking at her keenly.
Caught off guard, Alex blinked. "I beg your pardon?"
Chris and Ray exchanged delighted glances at his words, and the fascination was evident even on Shaz's face. Alex laughed. "Well, I suppose...not many, really. I met my ex-husband when I was sixteen, and after we split up I had a couple of brief relationships when Molly was younger, but that's about it."
Eyes gleaming with undisguised amusement, Ray jabbed his cigarette at her. "Hang about, what about that bloke in Luigi's? The one with the red braces? Didn't look like he was after a nice quiet drink and a chat."
"Oh." Alex winced. She'd hoped the others had forgotten about that little mishap by now, but apparently she had no such luck. "Well, him too, then. But that's it!" she added hurriedly.
Ray looked crestfallen. "Are you sure?"
"Pretty sure, Ray, yes! Sorry to disappoint you, but that really is it."
"Yes, Chris, really! There's no reason to look so surprised. Honestly, you'd think – have you lot all got me down as some kind of scarlet woman, or something?"
Shaz took a hurried gulp of coffee in an attempt to hide her expression, swallowed too quickly and started to choke violently. Keen to avoid answering Alex's question, Chris banged Shaz on the back rather too enthusiastically and, catching her unawares, sent her sprawling on the floor, a sight which Ray found infinitely amusing. Only Gene held Alex's gaze, looking slightly incredulous.
"You're sure, Bolls? Four blokes? Thirty-five odd years on this planet and that's all you've got to show for it? Strikes me your bedpost needs livening up a bit."
"You offering, Guv?" she asked lightly.
"Christ, no." He took a slug of whisky and tucked the hipflask back into his pocket, glaring at her. With a final gulp, Shaz resurfaced from her choking fit, mopping her streaming eyes, and Ray, still chuckling, turned to Gene.
"Guv, Shaz didn't answer her question properly." Ray shot him a challenging stare. "Same question."
Gene paled. "What if I want dare?"
"If you want dare...what d'you reckon, you lot, some kind of karaoke –"
"All right, all right, truth it is," said Gene unwillingly. "What's the question?"
"Same as Shaz." Ray exchanged a significant look with Chris.
Gene gave him a disgusted look. "What, who would I rather sleep with?"
"That's the one. Although, since there's only Drake and Shaz for you to choose from –"
"I hope," muttered Chris, clearly still mindful of his unexpected clinch with Ray.
"We'll throw in that bird from records, you know, the one who got plastered at the Christmas party and asked Chris to pay a visit to her grotto and check out her fairylights."
Alex blinked. "What happened?"
"Shaz threw a plate of mince pies in her face."
"Oh, of course she did." Alex frowned. "I'd forgotten."
"I'm not surprised, Bolls, you were well away."
"Come on, Guv, we need an answer," pressed Ray. "Who's it going to be?"
Gene considered, and started to answer, very slowly. "Anyone who'd pick Fenchurch East's resident div over the Gene Genie, no matter how drunk they were on the night in question, is out of the equation, thank you very much. And I can hardly shag the brains out of Chris's girlfriend, can I?"
"No, you bloody can't."
"Keep your hair on, Christopher, it's all hypothetical." Gene looked directly at Alex. "Looks like it's your lucky day, Bollykecks."
"My joy knows no bounds," replied Alex dryly.
Shaz grinned and raised her eyebrows. "You don't sound very joyful, Ma'am."
"Well, I..." Alex spluttered, feeling her cheeks prickle with heat. "It's hardly the most...the most..."
"I can see where you're coming from, Ma'am, I wouldn't want to do it myself," said Chris, chewing reflectively on a biscuit. Alex could have kissed him for his timely interruption, but she was prevented from doing so by the dawning look of glee spreading across Shaz's face.
"You haven't had your turn yet, have you, Chris?" she asked sweetly.
"Er, no..." Chris eyed his girlfriend with some trepidation. "But I really don't mind..."
"Oh, don't be silly," Shaz admonished. "You'll have dare, won't you?"
"No, I –"
"Fab." Shaz grinned. "Okay, I want you to pretend you're in love with the Guv."
"Pretend I'm what?" Chris spluttered. "No way, I've already had to...y'know...with Ray."
"Yeah, but this is easier," said Ray, who was looking at Shaz with a new respect. "You don't have to do anything, just say stuff."
"I don't know, do I? Just tell him why you love him."
"But I don't love him!"
"It's not difficult, Chris," said Alex with a wide smile. "Just talk to him like you'd talk to a girl. I could do with a laugh."
"Come on, Chris." Shaz laughed. "Just tell him you like his...I don't know, his..."
"Manly physique?" suggested Alex brightly.
Chris looked horrified. "Manly physique?" he croaked. "You said talk to him like I'd talk to a girl."
"Well, unless you want to praise his shapely –"
"All right, all right." Chris swallowed and turned to face Gene with the air of a man condemned to instant death. "Guv, I just wanted to say I...er, well...I love your..." His face contorted with mortification. "...your manly physique." He cast a helpless look at Shaz, who motioned for him to carry on, her face alight with amusement. Chris closed his eyes in pain. "It makes me want to...to run my hands over your firmly toned –"
"Am I interrupting something?" The five of them swung round to find Viv standing behind them, a key in one hand and a look of incredulous amusement on his face. Chris turned beetroot red.
"I was just...er, that is, we were just..."
"No, no, don't apologise." Viv grinned. "Don't stop on my account, Chris. You were saying...?"
"...firmly toned biceps," Chris muttered under his breath, after a long pause.
"Well, I never." Viv looked as if all his Christmases had come at once. "I have to say, Chris, I'm not altogether surprised. I'd always suspected –"
"Oh shut it, Skip."
Viv grinned. "What are you all doing in here, anyway? I thought you'd left hours ago. I've only just got in for the early shift, and I heard voices..."
"Long story, Viv," said Gene. "Nice of you to show up, though, I was beginning to think we'd be in here until morning."
"Well, it is four o'clock," said Viv with a glance at his watch. "I'm sorry you had to wait this long."
Gene tucked his hipflask back into his pocket. "Not at all, Skip. From my point of view, you got here just in time. I'm not sure I wanted to hear what else Chris had up his sleeve."
Chris turned scarlet. "Give it a rest, Guv," he muttered, shooting a reproachful glance at Shaz, who tried unsuccessfully to hide her smile behind her hand and look suitably guilty.
"Well, I'm bloody exhausted." Ray yawned widely and grabbed his jacket, following Viv towards the door. "Got time for five hours' kip before work, I'm out of here."
"Yeah, reckon I'll be heading off too," said Chris after a moment, extricating his jacket from beneath a pile of papers and shrugging it on. "Coming, Shaz?"
Shaz nodded. "Just a sec."
She moved to collect the used mugs, but Alex stopped her. "Leave them, Shaz. I'll do it."
"Are you sure, Ma'am?"
"Absolutely. You go home and get some sleep." She tugged the mugs out of Shaz's hands and gave her a gentle push towards the door. "You'll help me, won't you, Guv?" Gene shrugged and made a non-committal noise, but Alex took it as consent.
"Thanks, Ma'am." Shaz gave her a wave and pulled Chris through the door, letting it swing shut behind them.
As soon as she'd heard their footsteps retreating down the corridor, Alex swept the mugs onto the tray and leaned back against the desk, arms folded across her chest. "So, you'd hypothetically shag my brains out, would you, Gene?"
Gene looked almost comically surprised. He opened his mouth, but for a moment no sound came out. Then he cleared his throat and frowned at her. "Hypothetically speaking, Bolls. If I hypothetically found myself in the hypothetical situation of having to hypothetically choose between you, Shaz and a bird with a frankly alarming number of festive fetishes, then perhaps I might do you the honour."
"Right." Alex picked up a file and pretended to flip through it. "And if I let you hypothetically shag my brains out, that would be what you would hypothetically call livening up my proverbial bedpost, would it?"
"Okay, so –"
He cut her off. "And just so you know, since we've been stuck in here all night, I'd hypothetically give you the morning off as well."
Alex laughed. "You make a tempting hypothetical offer."
"Do I?" Gene looked slightly surprised.
She nodded. "You do, actually."
"Well then." He clapped his hands together. "What d'you reckon?"
Alex laid down the file and raised one eyebrow. "I'm up for it if you are."
There was a brief pause, and then Gene frowned and cleared his throat uneasily. "We're...not being hypothetical anymore, are we?"
"Not really, no."
The line between his eyes deepened. "I thought not."
Alex nodded matter-of-factly. "Yeah, me too."
"I...y'know, I just...thought I'd check."
"Right." She smiled.
He paused. "I'll get my coat."
Thanks for reading! If you've got time, a review would be lovely :)